Structural bodywork is a “hands on” somatic practice that transforms our structure, makeup or arrangement. Human bodies have a form that can be softened, lengthened, balanced, and to a certain extent, reorganized to reduce biomechanical stresses, create greater freedom, grace and more efficient function.
The word structure refers to the body’s connective tissue network, in its integrated wholeness, including everything from the web of fascia to the skeletal superstructure. Of all the connective tissue in the body, the fascia is the most receptive to change. Fascia is often described as ‘the organ of support and structure’, but has also been found to have major biomechanical functions such as generating rhythmic movement, as well as, immunological and other protective functions.
The aim of structural bodywork is to improve our client’s functionality by effecting structural change at a tissue level. The soft tissue changes of structural bodywork are longer lasting and quite different to those of the standard massage, being facial rather than tonic. This work incorporates proprioceptive, movement oriented aspects to educate the physical body, and occasionally other aspects directed at a psychological or emotional level. This method recognizes an accompanying emotional or psychological shift may be necessary for the body to accept some structural changes.
Most dysfunctional body patterns are the result of the body’s failure to intelligently negotiate its relationship with gravity. Recognizable signs of bodies struggling with gravity are hyper-extended knees, ridged or swayed backs, collapsed or “pumped” chests, “text” necks or forward head posture, and elevated or hunched shoulders. Structural dysfunction can also manifest in subtle ways such as inefficient movement patterns, stressful work habits, or an inelegant restricted gait.
An intelligent application of bodywork techniques can align and integrate the human structure.
“It’s rare to find a person with structural integrity, a body stacked properly with respect to gravity, free to move… Mind, I’m not talking about posture. I’m talking about structure. Posture is holding your structure as well as you can. When structure is properly balanced, good posture is natural. A man slouches not because he has a bad habit but because his structure doesn’t make it easy for him not to slouch. Structure implies the relationship of parts and it implies gravity.”
“ You can change human beings. You can change their structure, and in changing their structure you are able to change their function. Structure determines function to a very great degree and to a degree, which we can utilize. The basic law of Rolfing is that you add structure to the body. In doing so you are demanding a change in function. This is the basic reason why Rolfing works as it does.”