Structural Integration typically occurs within the context of a 10-session series. Each of the 10 sessions has a specific focus, addressing different segmental relationships within the body. The sessions can be understood in “sections” of 3-4-3, unfolding according to how the body tends to open and reorganize itself; each session building on the one before and preparing the body for the next.
Sessions 1-3: The “Superficial Layers”
This session focuses on freeing the lungs to allow fuller breath, and beginning to free the shoulder and pelvic girdles from the ribcage. This is accomplished by working superficial tissue around the ribcage, shoulders, arms, and hips. Neck and back work is included at the end of almost every session to balance and integrate the work into the body. Most people report feeling immediately relaxed after this session and the relaxation lasts for a couple of days.
Next we address your foundation. The feet and lower legs are opened and aligned to better support the body in gravity. Often clients feel a greater sense of support and balance from their feet, as well as better contact between their feet and the ground. Foot problems such as high or fallen arches are also addressed in this session.
Now we move to your sides and establish a lateral line. The goal here is to ease strain patterns in the front-back dimension. You might think of it as giving the body depth by opening the “seams” along your sides. We’ll lengthen the sides of your torso, neck, and hips to allow these major segments to better support each other—improving the relationship between your upper and lower body.
Sessions 4-7: The Deep Layers, “Core” Structures
We move back to the legs in this session, focusing on the inside of the leg from the ankle to the pelvis, at a slightly deeper layer. The relationship of the foot to the pelvis is aligned; torsions at the knee and hip are addressed. Manipulating adductor attachments allows increased range of movement of the pelvis, which starts the pelvis on its way to becoming more horizontal.
Session five continues the work started in four, and brings the body to greater balance. Work continues up the front of the abdomen (the “6-pack muscle” rectus abdominus), quadriceps, and psoas, lengthening the front of the body and providing lift through your core. By freeing deeper pelvic and abdominal restrictions, which can inhibit pelvic movement, the pelvis can continue its shift to a more supportive and balanced horizontal position.
This session lengthens the deep muscles of the back and hips, matching the change achieved in the front in Session five. Starting in the heels, up the backs of the calves, hamstrings, back of the pelvis, and both sides of the spine to the head.
All the work we’ve done so far has been necessary before we could organize the head and neck. This session focuses on the upper shoulders, head, neck. After this session clients often feel more mobility in their neck and an easier relationship between their neck, head and shoulders.
Sessions 8-10: “Integration”
The final three sessions are about integrating all we’ve done. The human pelvis is an amazing structure that links the upper and lower segments of the body, supports the spine in a vertical position, and allows rotation of the spine. To improve these functions, our work has emphasized freeing and horizontalizing the pelvis. Sessions eight and nine revisit the upper and lower segments of the body and work to integrate them with the pelvis and each other to work as a fluid whole. Session eight is often a lower body session, integrating the legs with higher structures, but many clients will benefit more from upper work at this stage.
This is the other half of session eight. If we worked the lower body in the previous session, this one will target upper structures. The ribcage, shoulders, arms, and sometimes the neck and head are the focus, with the goal always being integration.
The final integration: This is our opportunity to complete, for now, all we’ve been able to free. In this session we encourage movement of arms and legs by way of their relationship to the spine. This session usually involves the whole body at a somewhat more superficial layer.
What Happens After the Ten-Series?
The ten-series is designed to leave your structure at a balanced place. But depending on how you use your body and the elements of movement we’ve worked on during the sessions, you may find you need further work.
- Many clients complete a ten-series, get good results, and never feel the need for another session.
- Others, view the 10-series as the beginning of a commitment towards maintaining their bodies, and come in for regular “tune ups”. This is particularly common among athletes, heavy computer users, and adults with scoliosis.
- Some clients feel so much more freer after the sessions that they use it instead of massage.
- Other clients take a break for several months after the ten-series and then request a post ten series, three-to-five sessions in length, which may focus on the client’s specific goals.
- Lastly, some clients only call when they feel the need to come.