What is it?
My work is primarily informed by Dr. Ida Rolf’s work known as “structural integration.” Structural Integration is what Dr. Rolf called the physical therapeutic work she developed over approximately 50 years of working on many different people. Her students coined the term “Rolfing” which she was not totally happy about.
When Ida Rolf died her students whom had been with her for a substantial amount of time had differing ideas about what the crux of the teaching was, and they split into different schools. Thomas Myers, developed “Kinesis Myofascial Integration” (KMI) as the flagship hands on training school utilizing the Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians, a revolutionary way of relating to the human body. Tom studied with Dr. Rolf in the 70’s. After 20 plus years of practicing “Rolfing”, developed the theory which later became the Anatomy Trains paradigm. While working with clients Tom noticed that when the feet were worked on, the hamstrings and spine were more relaxed and this led him to look for other connections or vectors of pull in the body that operated in the same fashion. He eventually arrived at 5 major lines of pull affecting our bony structure: Superficial Backline, Superficial Frontline, Lateral Line, Spiral Line, and Deep Front Line, along with the arm lines, and functional lines, (see anatomytrains.com). These lines of pull along with their various fascial networks, affect all the major bony structures in the body including but not limited to the ribs, the legs, pelvis, the entire spine and arms.
He then did the anatomical dissections needed to prove the validity of that paradigm.
This work has as it’s premise that we are “tensegrity” ( a marriage of tension – integrity) structures, which means that our bones float in the muscles, and that trauma in one area can affect the whole structure. In order for the bones to be in good alignment, or pain to be resolved, the muscles have to be balanced around the bones, such that the joints can function with the proper balance of stability and freedom. This means that we seek an even tone or “palentonicity” in the whole fascial net; between the front and back, as well as the two side bodies.
I perform a visual assessment of the client’s standing posture as well as ask for various movements that relate to the aspect of the body I’m working with. Through these assessments I determine what treatment would be most beneficial.
For example, when a client comes in complaining of sciatica or pain in the low back which radiates down the leg, I know there is too much tension and a lack of fluidity in the back body, or Superficial Back Line in Anatomy Trains parlance. This excess tension is likely compressing the lumbar spine which is where the sciatic nerve arises from the spinal cord, ( between L3andL4 ). Often in this scenario the Sacroiliac joint (where the Sacrum meets the hip bone or Illium) is sublexated due to too much tension in the fascial network of musculature which affects that joint. That means the hip bone rides up onto the sacrum or vice versa causing pain in the low back. I can do a simple standing assessment to determine if that is the case, and if so I can do a Sacroiliac release to relieve that pain.
Also as part of this issue the Psoas and Illiacus which are antagonists of the Piriformis will be tight and tender. These are aspects of the Deep Front Line.
I will address the Superficial Back Line, by working the layers of the back of the leg and sole of the foot from superficial to deep, separating the various layers that make up the back of the leg to bring ease of movement to as well as greater fluidity to the whole back of the leg thereby affecting the whole back body.
I would then tune into the buttocks which is where the Piriformis lives, working deeply into this muscle which lies atop the Sciatic nerve or has the Sciatic nerve running through it, depending on how you’re built.
Next, I would tune into the Illiacus and the Psoas to release the Deep Front Line aspects of this issue, looking for any other Deep Front Line aspect that needs addressing, such as Adductor Magnus in the inner leg. I work deeply and sequentially in a series of sessions designed to thoroughly address the imbalances in a way that can lead to a resolution of a long held postural pattern that is often the underlying cause of the chronic pain.
My treatments consist of myofascial release, somatic release, neuromuscular therapy, some Trager method, as well as cranial sacral used as an assessment tool.
Having the ability to read the body through a particular lens, in this case the “Anatomy Trains” lens, gives me a pathway for working with whatever I may find in the way of challenges facing the client. With a clear understanding of the vectors of pull affecting the various parts of the body I can often see, either with my eyes or my hands, the underlying causal factors creating the issue in the tissue. I feel very fortunate to have found this work and am indebted to Tom Myers for studying with Dr. Ida Rolf, Buckminster Fuller, and Moshe Feldenkreis. The way Tom took and developed what he received from them and the many other teachers he studied with along the way is a gift to the world.
I look forward to sharing this highly effective structural integration work with many more people! If this work looks like an avenue you’d like to explore please call me and we will set up an appointment.