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Massage and Bodywork in Boston's Back Bay:
Massage Therapy & Structural Integration
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FAQs

What is the difference between Structural Integration and Massage Therapy?
Why does Structural Integration help?
What will I experience in a Structural Integration session?
Are there emotional benefits to Structural Integration?
Do the effects of Structural Integration last?
Is there a difference between Structural Integration and Rolfing®?
What are the typical goals of each session?


What is the difference between Structural Integration and Massage Therapy?

Massage Therapy provides you with a number of benefits, such as relief of muscle tension and pain. Structural Integration changes the structure of your body to correct the sources of tension and pain. It encourages your body to find new ways to organize and balance itself.

Structural Integration aligns and balances your body by lengthening and repositioning the connective tissue, known as fascia. The fascia wraps around muscles and bones, and as it is lengthened it allows your muscles to move more efficiently. The practitioner applies pressure, working your entire fascial system in a systematic way. When restricted fascia is released and lengthened your body can return to its structurally optimal position.

Why does Structural Integration help?

The continuing pull of gravity, the stress of daily activities and physical injuries can pull your body out of alignment. The fascia gradually shortens, tightens and adjusts to accommodate the misalignment. When your body is out of alignment it creates inefficiency and imbalance resulting in stiffness, discomfort and loss of energy.

When your body is aligned and balanced it moves with greater ease. It requires less energy to function. Good posture is effortless and breathing is easier. Your body becomes more flexible, more coordinated, and athletic performance improves.

What will I experience in a Structural Integration session?

Structural Integration is performed in ten sessions. Each session is approximately 75 minutes in length. The ten sessions are administered progressively, each session builds upon the last until complete integration of the body is achieved. 

At the beginning of the first session you will spend some time speaking with your practitioner about your goals and intentions as applied to your unique situation and structure. Men receive the work wearing boxer briefs or running shorts, women typically wear comfortable athletic shorts and a bra. The practitioner will observe your structure, how you stand, walk and other general movements. The specific goals of the session will be discussed. You will lie on a massage table and sometimes asked to participate in the session by breathing into the area or to make small, specific movements.

During the session you may experience a warm, pleasant sensation from the area being worked on. Some individuals may experience momentary discomfort. The practitioner applies the appropriate pressure, based on your needs and feedback. During most of the sessions the practitioner will help you become aware of habitual patterns of movement and imbalances and will help you work toward making changes in these patterns in your daily life.

After the basic ten series is complete you may want to allow a period of time for the body to adapt and fully integrate before scheduling additional structural integration work. After the waiting period you can return for tune-up sessions to further the process of integration. In some instances practitioners will work with clients in ongoing sessions to achieve specific goals.

Are there emotional benefits to Structural Integration?

While Structural Integration is primarily concerned with physical changes in the body, it affects the whole person. We are made up of emotions, attitudes, belief systems and behavior patterns as well as the physical being. All are related. Align the physical structure and it will open up the individual's potential. Clients often report positive changes, stating less stress, greater self-confidence and improved ability to handle life's challenges.

Do the effects of Structural Integration last?

YES! Photographs taken of clients years after the Basic Ten Series show that changes are still present and structure often improved. Keep in mind however, as life changes, bodies change in response. Any injuries, accidents, lengthy illnesses and emotional stress may necessitate additional work.

Is there a difference between Structural Integration and Rolfing®?

Dr. Rolf originally called her work Structural Integration. Later, her techniques became known as Rolfing® and this term has been trademarked by The Rolf Institute. David Cobb learned Structural Integration from teachers who are dedicated to her original teachings at the Guild for Structural Integration in Boulder, Colorado. 

What are the typical goals of each session? 

Session One:

  • Improve the breathing by beginning to free the rib cage.
  • Begin to horizontalize and mobilize the pelvis.

Session Two:

  • Begin to create "functional" horizontal hinges at the ankle.
  • Begin to lengthen the back.

Session Three:

  • Free the 12th rib.
  • Begin to add length to the sides of the body.

Session Four:

  • Continue to horizontalize and mobilize the pelvis by releasing the knee from the groin, freeing the legs from the pelvis.

Session Five:

  • Continue to horizontalize and mobilize the pelvis by adding length to the abdominal wall.

Session Six:

  • Continue to horizontalize and mobilize the pelvis by freeing the sacrum and posterior thighs.

Session Seven:

  • Create a horizontal head to match a horizontal pelvis. Most of the work is done to the head and neck in this session.

Session Eight:

  • Integrate the hip girdle with the core. Look for fluid movement between the legs and low back, and check for restrictions within the hip girdle.

Session Nine:

  • Integrate the shoulder girdle with the core. Look for fluid movement between the arms and the low back, and check for restrictions within the shoulder girdle.

Session Ten:

  • Put it all together. Check for an open balance across the torso and between the limbs.

 


 

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