FAQ: Structural Integration and the 12 Series
For your inquisitive mind…
- What is KMI Structural Integration Bodywork?
- Why use a series of sessions rather than proceed with single sessions?
- What makes Structural Integration work unique?
- Gravity Busters: A Film on Structural Integration
- What can I expect during a Structural Integration session?
- How do I dress for my Structural Integration sessions?
- The KMI 12 Series
- What is ScarWork?
1. What is KMI Structural Integration Bodywork?
Structural Integration addresses imbalances and restrictions of movement in our body’s – muscles, bones and fascia (aka ‘connective tissue’). Structural Integration was developed by Dr. Ida Rolf during her search for solutions to family health problems. The ‘KMI Structural Integration’ approach is based around the work of one of Rolf’s students, Thomas Myers. Myers’s ‘Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians’ concept of a ‘functionally integrated body-wide connection among the muscles within the fascial web’ takes a systematic view of traceble meridians of myofascial/locomotor anatomy.
Individuals come to a KMI Structural Integration practitioner because they are experiencing pain in some area of their bodies, or they find that they have restricted posture or movement patterns; our clients may be dealing with limitations due to an old injury, surgery or illness, some may not be aging as gracefully as they could while others may be looking to improve their athletic capability. The intent of this work, (especially when undertaken as a series of sessions), is to get to the actual root cause(s) behind your immediate concerns to improve your longterm quality of life.
Structural Integration re-educates the body towards an improved vertical and horizontal alignment. We view our KMI series as a project, which has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Sessions of KMI Structural Integration are ‘system-oriented’, not ‘symptom-oriented’, meaning that the process involves – defined territories where the work occuring during each session is not driven by ‘chasing’ after symptoms. This unique ‘recipe style approach’ helps us create an individualized plan for you, allowing your practitioner to be both confident that they are getting at successive territories throught your body while ensuring each individual is getting the exact work that his or her unique physical pattern requires. We believe that this approach helps create a more balanced individual inside and out.
2. Why use a series of sessions rather than proceed with single sessions?
Because this work does its best in short, intense periods of work, followed by longer periods of ‘absorption’. Our intent through this process is to create the conditions whereby you become independent and stable and on your own within a relatively short period of time; we create neither a long-term dependency on the therapist or continued work. Of course people come back for more work, but generally not on a continuous basis unless there are chronic underlying issues. For Athletes, we expect if not encourage you to continue your training while going through this unique form of manual body work.
3. What makes Structural Integration work unique?
During your sessions, you may notice that your Structural Integration practitioner may or may not address areas where you are having pain or restrictions. This is because the root of these problems often lie some distance from your present concerns. It may take several sessions or even most of the series to get into the specifics of your particular structural pattern.
In this way, Structural Integration mostly resembles classical acupuncture, chiropractic or osteopathic therapies – where ‘symptoms’ are considered secondary to ‘building the primary constitution’. For example, if a shoulder injury’s underlying cause is due to a lack of support from the rib cage, what’s the point of fixing the immediate problem (the shoulder) if you don’t at the same time attend to the cause (lack of support coming from the rib cage)? In the KMI series we begin by building up your body’s supporting structures which progressively builds the support, sturdiness, and balance throughout your entire structural system. When there is a whole new ‘frame’ underlying your posture and movement, you benefit from the reduction and incidence of injuries, as well as, keeping old injuries from coming back and disrupting your everyday activities.
KMI Practitioners also welcome and value input from other therapies. Structural Integration is compatible with osteopathy, chiropractic, cranial work, massage, yoga, pilates and other forms of bodywork and exercise. We recognize that no way is the ‘one true way’ in manual and movement therapy, and we are always learning from other disciplines. Sometimes we absorb what we learn into our work, sometimes what we learn tells us when to refer to the other competent professionals within the wide spectrum of available healing therapies.
Another way in which you may find KMI work is unique is that it is ‘not imposed’ on our clients; you will actively participate in your sessions and throughout the series. You will not be lying passively on the table (such as you would during a session of massage). Rather, at times you will be asked to move during and between application of the work. Your movement produces several benefits – it lessens the sensations created through the work by spreading them out, it engages your proprioception (inner sensing) that helps integrate the work, and it also helps the practitioner stay on the right layer of fascia during the release.
Lastly, this work is applied gently and sensitively, with full client input. The work should be below a tolerable pain threshold for each individual; the client and practitioner work out (with one another) where the pressure and intensity level should be for maximum benefit. Another way you will participate in this work, is that your KMI practitioner will want to hear about how the process is affecting you – physically, emotionally, in your daily activities. Letting your practitioner know what’s up is very helpful in getting the best work for you!
4. A sweet little video explaining ‘Structural Integration’; kindly shared by it’s creators (both graduates of The Soma Institute): S. Boyer & E. Boardway!
5. What can I expect during a Structural Integration session?
• A detailed history about your health and current habits will be taken for all first time patients
• Posture analysis
• Photos and/ or video analysis (with your permission, for your records )
• Movement assessment when necessary
• A 90 minute session which includes soft tissue release
The work itself for the most part is done on a treatment table, or for certain moves on a specialized bench (called a Rolfing Bench) and less occasionally while standing. The practitioner will use their fingers, hands, or arms to contact certain tissues and may ask you to move in specific ways while the tissues are repositioning and releasing.
Before and during your session, your practitioner will usually want to observe you standing and/ or walking to assess your current structural pattern.
Cautionary Note: Structural Integration can be remarkably effective for chronic pain patterns of a structural nature, but it is not designed as a ‘curative’ for any disease, or as a ‘first aid’ remedy for recent injury or as a substitute for medical attention. If you have a medical condition, first obtain your physician’s permission before undertaking any Structural Integration Bodywork. Let your practitioner know beforehand of anything medically relevant to your sessions. Check with your practitioner if you are unsure whether Structural Integration is appropriate for your situation.
6. How do I dress for my Structural Intregation sessions?
If you have not had a Structural Integration Session before, the dynamics of the session can be a little different than what you’re used to. Most people are comfortable in their underwear/bra, but if you are not, you can wear short cotton yoga type shorts or a bikini (please no long, basketball type shorts or ‘sport type’ bras).
7. The KMI 12 Series
|Superficial Front Line||Superficial Back Line||Lateral Lines||Spiral Lines||Deep Front Line|
The KMI 12 Series is divided into 3 distinct sections consisting of: 4 superficial sessions, 4 deep ‘core’ session and the last 4 sessions is where integration of the work from these 8 previous superficial and core sessions takes place.
A further way to think about the 3 phases of your KMI series, is to see the first four sessions as a time for building momentum for change which occurs as a result of differentiating the superficial (or outer layers of) fascia and muscles; the next four sessions becomes a time for exploration and opening of the deeper structures through progessively working the Deep Front Line (DFL) and Deep Back Line (DBL) and relating it to its surrounding structures; the final four sessions are a time to relate all the lines to each other (seen as an integration phase) , if you will, a time to clean up any ‘unfinished business’.
Session 1 – Open the Superficial Front Line –
Session 2 – Open the Superficial Back Line –
Session 3 – Open the two Lateral Lines –
- Also differentiating all Arm Lines from above and below
Session 4 – Open and Balance the Spiral Lines –
- Complete superficial fascial tour
Sessions into the core:
Session 5 – Core Release of the Lower Deep Front Line by –
- Opening the leg portion of the DFL,
- Balancing with the Lateral and Spiral Lines
- Opening the pelvis from below
Session 6 – Core Release of the Central Deep Front Line by –
- Opening the torso portion of the DFL
- Balancing with the Spiral Line
- Connecting to the Arm Lines particularly the Deep Front Arm Line
- Opening the pelvis from the front
Session 7 – The Deep Back Line –
- Opening the DBL and relate to the DFL
- Opening the back of the pelvis
Session 8 – Putting the head on the Upper Deep Front Line (aka: The Cranial Session)
- Opening the neck and head portion of the DFL
Session 9 – Integrating the Lower Girdle –
- Pelvis and Leg integration
- Resolving individual patterns
- Integrating Functional Lines to pelvic girdle and legs
Session 10 – Integrating the Torso and Breathing –
- Rib cage
- Breathing integration
- Resolving individual patterns
Session 11 – Integrating the Shoulders & Arms –
- Arm Lines
- Integrating the Functional Lines to the shoulder girdle
Session 12 – Balancing the Lines and Joint Tissues –
- Spinal Functioning
- Palintonic balancing of all the lines
8. What is ScarWork?
All kinds of scars from very old to newly healed (once you have been discharged by your physician) can be treated using ScarWork. Scars result from accidents, operation or cosmetic surgery. ScarWork is performed primarily as a means to improve feeling and functionality in the scar and surrounding tissues, creating better movement between the layers of the skin, fascia (connective tissue), and muscle. Treatment stimulates the circulation, lymphatic and nervous systems to encourage renewed healing and promote tissue health. Clients tell us ScarWork is rarely painful even when performed on new scars.