As you might have guessed, the ten series is made up of ten sessions or goals, that are designed to provide a framework for the ultimate goal of aligning the human body with the field of gravity.
At its most fundamental level, Structural Integration (SI) is a process of improving and optimising the human body’s relationship with gravity, making sure all the major blocks of the body, the head, torso, pelvis etc. are organised around a vertical line. This line was not intended to be the militaristic line of ‘stomach in, shoulders back’ which requires effort and force, but a line of uprightness that was characterised by grace and effortlessness. If you give the body enough space and enough order then this vertical line becomes apparent.
The series is the legacy of Dr Ida Rolf, who’s life work into the potential of the human body led her to look at the structure of the body and how it can be manipulated to increase performance.
How do you achieve this?
SI practitioners use the ‘fascia’ of the body to change its alignment. Fascia is the dense fibrous connective tissue that gives the body it’s structure. It is continuous throughout the body and is malleable due to it’s visco-elastic properties. An SI practitioner uses their skill and knowledge of the anatomy of fascia and how it responds to gravity to achieve segmental arrangement of the ‘building blocks’ of the body.
What does a session look like?
Active movement is key to producing change in the person undergoing SI. Often the practitioner will be holding an area of the person, then getting the person to move in a very precise way that helps change the properties of the fascia to influence the whole structure.
Think of a massage, where the person, not the masseur is doing the moving, only much slower, and with smaller movements.
To organise a person’s building blocks, where would you start? Top? Bottom? Left/right? The answer is you start on the outside.
Below is a description of what happens in a ten series. Whilst each individual undergoing the treatment has the same ten goals, how each one gets there can be as individual as they are.
To find out more about SI and whether is could be appropriate for you, contact us on 01225 571084. Alternatively, why not take advantage of our new patient assessment a low cost, risk free review of your body and how SI might be the answer.
SESSIONS 1-3: "THE SUPERFICIAL SESSIONS"
The human body is built in layers, the outermost being the skin. People think their skin is floating free of the whatever the layer beneath is, but in actuality the inside of the skin has attachment points than can restrict our movements and change how we use our bodies. The first three sessions of the series are concerned with using this layer to create change.
Session 1 – Breathe!
Superficial fascia attaches along the midline of the body, and at folds. In the first session we are using these attachments on the sternum, the spinous processes of the back, crest of the pelvis and ancillary areas to help the person increase their ability to inhale and exhale. The pelvis always gets some attention, in this session we are attempting to work with the rotation of the thigh bone to ensure it gives adequate support to the pelvis and that the ‘front to back’ movement of the hip is able to happen. All this comes together to feel like the front of the body has been made longer.
Session 2 – Quite a feet
An upright body needs a proper base of support, in the second session we are concerned with ensuring the feet, ankles and lower legs are adaptable and differentiated from each-other allowing adequate movement from each. Toe movement is freed from ankle movement allowing better ‘toe off’ in the walking pattern, the calf muscles, hamstrings and spinal muscles are focused on helping create a lengthening along the back of the body. All this work should culminate in a ‘horizontal hinge’ at the ankle to help support the pelvis and low back.
Session 3 – There’s another side to you
In this session, the goal is to help balance the front and back of the body by working on the sides. A sizeable amount of time is spent working from the side of the pelvis to underneath the shoulder, then arranging the shoulder to help it ‘rest’ appropriately on the thorax, finally we again work with how the legs move in relation to the low back by focusing on the tissues around the lower ribs and pelvis. Often the person receiving this session feels like their ‘arms are lighter’ and they can breathe right up into their armpits!
SESSIONS 4-7: "THE CORE SESSIONS"
This group of four sessions is sometimes known as the ‘deeper sessions’. This is for two reasons, the first being that the fascia we are targeting is no longer superficial, it is the deeper tissue that surrounds, discerns and is continuous throughout the body’s segments, and that the focus is on aligning the more ‘core’ areas such as the pelvic space, the thorax and the cranium.
Session 4 – The inside up
The fourth session is mainly concentrated on the inside of the legs, from the ankles and feet (building on the work done in the second session) all the way up to the pelvis. In this session we are working from the floor up, the intention is not only to use the abductor muscles to influence the rotation of the hip but to feed into structures higher up into the pelvis that we cannot work on directly, but will help give the pelvis and thorax ‘lift’. It is not uncommon for a person receiving this session to feel like they have a longer stride and a feeling of volume in the abdominal area.
Session 5 – The middle of something
This session is the middle of the series, and is focused on the middle of the body, the front of the lumbar spine.
In the 5th session we build on the work done on the legs during the 4th by developing length from the pelvis up to the thorax by way of the muscles that cross the front of the hip, namely the iliopsoas and the quadriceps. All of the work done so far is in preparation for the lengthening of the lumbar spine and the ability of the hip to fully extend that we hope to gain in this session. If the hip can fully extend then the feet and toes can perform their job of propelling the body forward during walking.
Session 6 – Good to see the back of you!
After spending a couple of sessions mainly trying to get lift and length on the front of the body, the focus now switches to the back, from the soles of the feet all the way up through the calf and hamstring muscles to the gluteals and the pelvis. The areas worked in this session (gluteals and deep lateral rotators of the thigh) are functionally related to the abductors and iliopsoas muscles worked on in the previous two sessions. In this session the aim is to try to create and effective relationship between the pelvis, sacrum and lumbar spine, through reducing pelvic and spinal torsions and allowing the efficient transfer of forces up through the body when walking. Often after this session people feel they can bend forwards easier and feel more flexible in their lower body.
Session 7 – Taking it to the top
The 7th session is concerned with ‘putting your head back on top of you’. By working with the structures that influence neck and head position we are aiming to change the forward head posture that most people tend towards. This tendency is first addressed by working through the arms, then shoulders, then up into the superficial then deep structures of the front of the neck. As the session progresses we may wish (with permission) to work inside the mouth to help address the deeper structures involved with head position, then we finish off balancing the work on the front of the neck with addressing how the head position is being influenced by the structures on back of the body (sub occipitals, trapezius, splenius group). After this session people often feel like they have been stretched up into the top of their head!
SESSIONS 8 - 10; INTEGRATION
Up to now separation and differentiation of the body’s structures has been the goal, with the focus being how the person is aligned in a static position. The final three sessions have no defined areas to be worked on, but have the very specific goals of integrating a person’s movement with the field of gravity. As Dr Rolf said ‘Anyone can take a body apart, but only a few can put one together’.
Sessions 8 and 9 – Up and down
These two sessions share similar goals, with one focusing on the lower body and the other with the upper body. Which one first depends on which is the less integrated (usually the lower body), by that we mean which set of limbs has more influence on the lumbar spine when the limbs are moved. What we hope to achieve is that each set of limbs are able to move freely, with balanced expansive movement while all the time allowing the lumbar spine and pelvis to maintain their stability and independence from the limbs.
Session 10 – All together now!
The tenth session is all about integrating, well, everything. Essentially it is attempting to ensure that the limbs are integrated in movement with each-other, so all four limbs move in a coordinated pattern across an expansional core (torso and spine). The SI practitioner is mainly contacting the structures of the thorax, abdomen and pelvis while asking for movement of the limbs in a specific way. By the end of this session the person should feel like they have coordinated movement across many joints in varied ways
The end? Will everything be perfect at the end of the ten sessions?
The answer is no, the series will take you as far as is possible in ten sessions. As the body is constantly adjusting to the demands of life and gravity there should now be a more fluid reaction to those demands, becoming ‘stuck’ in one place becomes less common. Throughout the series the person is given movement cues and ‘memory hooks ‘ to try to help maintain and develop the changes the series has produced.
Some people come back for top ups in the form of a mini ‘3 series’ if they feel they need to but at least 6 months should be left between the end of the ten series and any more sessions as changes keep occurring after the end of the series.
“I wish I had contacted Jay sooner with my persistent bad neck. The treatments have made a massive difference to my daily life.” Molly Keel from Bath