Even though it may not always be explicitly expressed, back work is an integral part of every Structural Integration session. But each time we work on the back as we advance through the 10 sessions, it is with a somewhat different intention.
In Session One, we seek to support the mobility of the shoulder girdle and its ability to move independently from the thorax, so back work focuses on releasing the trapezius and latissimus fascial layers adhered to the upper and mid-back and sides of the thorax. To support the mobility of the lower back and the ability of the pelvis to shift position, One also focuses on releasing the gluteal fascia adhered to the edges of the posterior ilia, the fascial attachments of the hamstrings adhered to the ischial tuberosities and the dense lumbosacral fascial layers keeping the lower back rotated and limiting its ability to extend.
In Session Two, back work is focused upon releasing fascial adhesion between the erector layers. Releasing adhesion between the iliocostalis, longissimus and spinalis layers will be a critical precursor to easing rotation of the thorax and supporting the ability of the thoracic spine to extend with the breath.
In Session Three, back work focuses on supporting the mobility of the body’s outer sleeve. As SI practitioners, we see the myofascial layers of the ‘back’ as part of the larger three-dimensional myofascial sleeve or envelope surrounding the thorax, shoulder and pelvic girdles. Thus, back work in Three is focused on releasing fascial adhesion limiting the mobility of the entire sleeve before being able to ease lateral flexion of the thorax, rotation of the back and torsion between the girdles and thorax.
When we reach sessions Four through Seven, we focus on supporting the mobility and structural integrity of the spine and its spinal curves. So back work in Four emphasizes supporting the structural integrity of the back by supporting the ability of the legs to extend fully and bear weight equally. This session also affects the side-to-side balance between the pelvis and sacrum, and torsion between the sacrum and lumbar spine.
Back work in Five is primarily focused upon the mobility and structural integrity of the lumbar spine. By working to create mobility and balance between the rectus abdominis and iliopsoas layers, we in turn affect the relationship between the pelvis and lumbar spine, and it becomes possible to ease torsion between the two.
In Session Six, back work focuses upon the mobility of the sacrum and its ability to respond to the movement of the breath. By working to create mobility and balance between the iliopsoas and lateral hip rotators, we in turn affect the relationship between the pelvis and sacrum, the side-to-side balance of the SI joints, and torsion between the sacrum and lumbar spine.
Session Seven back work addresses the mobility and structural integrity of the cervical and thoracic spinal curves. By working to mobilize the deep flexors adhered to the anterior surfaces of the cervical spine, and by creating differentiation between the occipital and cervical spine, we support the head’s ability to shift position and the cervical spine’s ability to extend. And by supporting the mobility of the sphenoid and cranial base, we support the mobility of the entire spine.
Back work in sessions Eight, Nine and Ten focuses upon easing rotation and torsion between all the major spinal junctions. By working to ease rotation of the cranial base and cervical spine, we ease strain at the occipitocervical junction. And by working to ease rotation of the shoulder girdle and torsion between the shoulder girdle and upper thorax, we ease rotation and torsion at the cervical thoracic (C7-T1) junction.
We ease side-to-side imbalance between the SI joint and torsion at the lumbosacral (S1-L5) junction by working to ease rotation between the legs and pelvis. By working to ease rotation and torsion between the pelvis and lower thorax, we ease strain at the lumbothoracic (L1-T12) junction. And by easing rotation between the shoulder girdle, thorax and pelvic girdle, we ease strain and torsion at the dorsal (T8-T1) junction.