Hello, I am so pleased to be starting a blog about Rolfing/Structural Integration, my life’s work.
What I’d like to do today is introduce you to one of Rolfing’s basic concepts, the need to have all your body parts working in an integrated way. Hence our original name, Structural Integration.
I’m often asked why Rolfers suggest a series of sessions in which we work throughout the body instead of focusing solely on whatever is hurting or not functioning optimally.
One’s structure is not merely a collection of limbs and organs, it is an integrated unit in which every part affects the whole, for better or for worse. A simple example: if your head is jutting forward because you’ve spent too much time on the computer and the muscles have frozen in that position, something in your body below will have to move out of proper alignment to balance the weight of the head so you don’t fall on your face. Probably, your chest will cave and your upper spine will curve like a hump and tighten. Conversely, if your spinal alignment is out of true in a way that brings your trunk’s center of gravity backward, your head will have to protrude forward to keep you from falling backwards. So you need to work on your neck to help your back, and your back to help your neck. If your hip flexors (the muscles that lift your leg in front) are overly tight, they will cause your spine to over arch, creating back pain. Tight hamstrings, the muscles in the back of your thighs, can also cause lower back pain by pulling your pelvis out of its correct horizontal position, creating tension in the fascia and muscles of the lower back and altering the proper arch of your lower vertebrae.
Examples of how one body part affects others exist throughout the body, both in front/back discrepancies and left/right imbalances. Though it doesn’t do to look for a perfectly symetrical form, which exists almost nowhere in nature. After all, your internal organs are different from right to left sides, so how can you expect the two halves of the container to be a perfect match??
In addition to working on correcting the body’s structural dysfunctions, it is helpful to look at what external habits and environments may be contributing to them.
Is your computer workstation set up in a way that allows you to sit straight, keeping your spine in balance and your head aligned with that spine?
Are you carrying a heavy bag or backpack in a way that is continuously causing your muscles to overwork and shorten?
Are you sleeping in a position that distorts your spine?
Are you exercising in a way that puts muscle strength and flexibility out of proper balance?
I look forward to delving deeper into these concepts in future posts.
Wishing you all a happy, and above all, SAFE, holiday season!

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