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Structural Integration Opens Potential

The Rolf Method of Structural Integration is dedicated to the exploration of the concept that the human body has transformational potential for the total being.

Picture an old barn falling down.  That is what time and stress do structures, both human and otherwise.  Perhaps there is another possibility for the “more human use of human beings” as Dr. Ida P. Rolf has put it; for Structural integration involves moving toward an embodiment of ideas and an inquiry into the nature of human structure.

Picture having a body and spirit that are wide and free, living in opening rather than in the painful, narrow construction of old set patterns, closed hearts, and fear-filled attitudes.  Picture a blade of grass—how delicately it responds to the slightest breeze and how it bends low before the hurricane, surviving when the mightiest trees have fallen.  A structure that is rigid and poorly balanced lacks resilience.  A structure that is flexible and in dynamic relationship with its surroundings only bends with stress and then springs back.

As a fish lives in the medium of water, humans live within the field of gravity.  Harmony with gravity enables that medium to become a supporting and energizing factor.  As the fish is supported and lifted by water, so we as human can be supported and lifted by gravity.

Some individuals may perceive their losing fight with gravity as a sharp pain in their back, others as the unflattering contour of their body, others as a constant fatigue, yet others as an unrelentingly threatening environment.  Those over 40 may call it old age.  And yet all these signals may be pointing to a single problem, so prominent in their own structure, as well as others, that it has been ignored: they are off balance.  They are at war with gravity.

                                                                                          -Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D

 Structure Determines Function

How does a body become off balance?  The human body is a miraculous construction of fluid and dynamic interrelationships.  This miraculous body has a plastic quality and can change shape.  Falls, illnesses, psychological stress, even the way a child imitates his/her parents, all leave a mark in the structure as the body’s natural adaptability works to integrate any injury or continuing attitude into the rest of the system.

Thus, when an ankle is sprained, there is swelling and pain in order at first to immobilize the injured area.  Later, after healing occurs, adhesions may remain; and the joint is caught in a less flexible, less efficient position.  As the entire body adapts to favoring the one ankle, a rotation can develop in the pelvis with one shoulder going higher to offset the higher hip and the head moving over to rest in line with the supporting leg.  After years of this pattern, the body becomes “set” as fascia (connective tissue) thickens and hardens around points of stress.  Then an attempt to stand up straight becomes filled with effort, as the constricting areas prevent the body’s natural lift toward verticality.

Psychological trauma such as physical abuse, abandonment, feeling of inadequacy, attitudes of fear and anger, also affect structure.  Tightening against pain, holding the breath to block emotions, slumping in order not to feel too big, become physically locked in the body and thus perpetuate the attitude.

 …no situation exists in a human which a psychologist would diagnose as a feeling of insecurity or inadequacy unless it is accompanied by a physical situation which bears witness to the fact that the gravitational support is inadequate.

                                                                                               -Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D.

The Body is a Plastic Medium

The Rolf method of Structural Integration works to free holding patterns and to move the structure back to a balance of body segments in a vertical line.  This is accomplished through the plastic nature of the connective tissue.  Connective tissue is made up of a protein called collagen and by the fibers in its ground substance then realigning themselves along points of the newly established line of balance.  With controlled pressure and direction, the practitioner’s hands loosen the fascial sheaths that surround the muscles, thus realigning the tissue around the joints.

connective / fascial tissue

Connective Tissue

Connective Tissue

Structural Integration is mainly an educational process, and thus there is ongoing communication between practitioner and client.  The client is often asked to make certain movements while the practitioner is working.  This helps the client to find and feel new patterns of movement.

 The relationship between practitioner and client is a special one.  As trust, honesty, and openness develop, the Structural Integration process becomes an arena for personal transformation on the part of both participants.

Gravity As The Therapist

Results of Structural Integration are as varied as the people undergoing the process.  As the body moves back to the symmetry of its original design, gravity becomes a supporting and energizing force.  The release of stress and chronic pains (especially low back pain) that often follow is not due to having addressed any particular pathology, but rather to the body’s own healing power when freed to assume its proper position.

 …when the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through.  Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.

                                                                                     -Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D.

A feeling of well-being and self-confidence develops as the structure returns to its dynamic, upright support.  The person feels lighter, freer, with a higher level of energy.  Old attitudes that were held and encouraged by stuck body patterns becomes easier to recognize and release.  Daily tasks and athletic performance are often enhanced as energy locked up in maintaining support is freed.

… there is an ongoing psychological change as well toward balance, toward serenity, toward a more whole person.  The whole person evidences a more apparent, more potent psychic development.

                                                                                     -Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D

As flesh and spirit are inseparable, the whole being moves home to the perfection intended in its creation.



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