To truly understand Structural Integration, we have to understand fascia and its function. Fascia, at its most basic level, serves as a ‘binding agent’, holding the body’s structural components in place and binding muscles and tendons together. Fascia also organizes the body into envelopes, compartment and layers, much like an orange is organized into outer and inner layers and segments.
As practitioners of SI, we have long known that our clients and their bodies are in a constant state of growth and change. And that fascia is not only the medium that communicates the need to change throughout the body, but also the material that supports these changes. Fascia and fascial organization provide a powerful lens through which we can better understand Structural Integration, and evaluate its efficacy.
This, of course, has not traditionally been a mainstream view, and it has been ridiculed by ‘hard science’ types in the past. But new research has validated this perspective, and the allopathic community is now coming around to it.
In fact, the ‘fascial matrix’ is now recognized by medical science as an interconnected network that touches on and communicates with all other systems of the body. The facial system transmits strain throughout the body in the same way that pulling on the weave of a sweater transmits strain through the entire garment, and it ‘continually adapts its fiber arrangement and density in response to local tensional demands.’ (Pischinger, 2007)
As research at Harvard, Case Western and many other prestigious universities has validated this perspective, ‘a new, cutting edge branch of neuroscience and fascial research has been born, based on the relationship between connective tissue cells and neuronal processes. Those who study the fascia as an all-pervasive system . . . will recognize that one of the most vital relationships in the body has to be the relationship between the connective tissue and the nervous system.’ (Oschman, 2012)
In each session of Structural Integration, we focus upon easing rotation and strain between fascial layers and between the body’s outer and inner fascial layers.
It is easing strain / rotation, and mobilizing the body’s extrinsic myofascial ‘envelope’ that is the primary intent of Sessions One, Two and Three. Mobilizing and easing rotation / strain in the body’s intrinsic myofascial layers is the primary intent of Sessions Four through Seven. And easing strain / rotation between the body’s outer sleeve and its inner core is the primary intent of Sessions Eight, Nine and Ten.
In each session, we work on the fascial layers that limit the mobility of joints and keep the body’s structural components from shifting position. And in each session, we work on the facial layers holding the spine and core rotated and limiting their mobility. We also work in the spaces between fascial layers to support their mobility. And in doing so, we seek to enhance the movement of energy, breath, and ‘information’ through the entire body.
Some things we take on faith and our own experience, and the belief of SI practitioners in the ‘fascial body’ and its importance to overall health and functioning has long been an example of that. Now, however, research is proving what we have intuited. In fact, research projects are now underway around the world to understand the efficacy of manipulative therapies in applications from oncology and immunology to healing wounds.