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This book will
tell you about an injury prevention treatment that simultaneously
increases performance, decreases pain, shortens recovery time and reduces
the needed recuperation period for many existing injuries.
does it faster and more thoroughly than other treatments you may be
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by Lou Gross, School
Certified Master Postural Integrator
What It Is: Structural Integration Bodywork is a very specialized manipulation of the fibrous, malleable soft connective tissue of the body. From a Sports Medicine perspective this treatment does two things. First, it lengthens tight muscles faster than any other technique and gets at the deeper ones that most other techniques can't. And second, it detects and removes "systemic" patterns of tightness that other treatments rarely detect or resolve. In addition, the Structural Integration process, applied through a series of treatments, organizes the whole body toward maximum economy of effort and most integrated and least restricted movement. Used as a therapy for removing tightness, it is also a performance enhancement treatment.
How It's Different: There are two major differences in approach, between this work and almost any other kind of treatment you may be familiar with. Almost all other Sports Medicine treatments, including chiropractic and stretching, are “neuro-muscular, bone and joint“ oriented, and are usually locally focused. If you have a problem in the leg muscles, you treat the leg muscles. On the other hand, Structural Integration Bodywork, formally known as the Structural Integration Method of Connective Tissue Manipulation, is “soft connective tissue“ oriented and is both locally and systemically oriented.
Practitioners like myself know that pulls, stiffness and tightness are not only local in origin, but are part of tightness and structural imbalance in the whole body. This is especially true of back problems. We also know that many muscle and joint problems are actually caused by soft connective tissue problems in the bellies of a number of muscles. It’s short and hard connective tissue in and around the muscles that is rarely stretched out and almost never massaged out. There is usually a lot in the hamstrings, upper adductors and other hard to lengthen areas.
While this technique is a very powerful therapy for lengthening individual parts, the greatest and longest lasting effects come from treating the entire body. The soft tissue network, called fascia (fah sha), goes around and through every muscle, and is a continuous interconnected web. Shortness or distortion anywhere in this network pulls and stresses muscles and bones everywhere in the body. In fact, everyone grows up with a somewhat randomly organized body with varying degrees of shortness and misalignment.
The purpose of Structural Integration is to organize this network into a more integrated set of parts so that the relationship of bones and muscles gives the best performance. This improved organization simultaneously aligns us with the constant and very influential force of gravity so that it adds energy to our own neuro-muscular activity, and to our internal physiology and energy fields. Everything then works together better, and economy of effort is greatly increased at all levels of metabolism and activity.
Organizing the structure by changing the shape of the fascia also improves physiology in many ways. It expands the volume of air we can get into our lungs, it increases neurological and organ function, and it greatly improves the rate and efficiency of cell respiration. A structure of this type maintains itself at a higher energy level that is also more coherent, or clearly and more harmoniously organized. This has a tendency to ward off disease, lends itself to creating a positive emotional outlook, raises the level of mental clarity, alertness and intuitiveness, and adds both power and sensitivity to movement. It also works toward refining artistic expression. In this regard, we are creating more efficient and higher performing individuals who are less troubled by pain, exhaustion and injury.
How It's Compatible: Structural Integration Bodywork, which I refer to as Bodywork throughout this book, is not a substitute for other Sports Medicine treatments. Yet, by improving the competency of the fascial, soft connective tissue component, it increases the effectiveness of almost every other treatment and skill. Lengthening the fascia of the muscles allows them to release back to their full muscle fiber lengths when the action has been completed. This allows every neuro-muscular and joint manipulation therapy to work with freer and more accessible muscles. It also improves the physiology of interstitial fluid, just as massage does on the outer fascia of the skin and external muscles. Only, the Bodywork does it down through all the muscles, to the bones.
This is an established method taught in a number of schools and applied by thousands of practitioners on many continents over the past 30 years. It was developed after much research and practice by a physiologist-biochemist with in-depth knowledge of yoga, osteopathy and homeopathy.
It directly fixes "spasm" injuries. And while its purpose isn't to treat already damaged tissue, it does remove tightness that directly causes injury, that "spreads' the pain and that aggravates tissue that needs to heal. It also makes stretching much easier.
WHAT THE TREATMENTS ARE LIKE
Sessions are 1-4 hours long: Most practitioners do a visual "body reading" and often use Polaroid photos to show the person where the tightness is, how it's hindering his or her movement and how it's causing pain or setting up an injury. Then we manipulate the soft connective tissue of the muscles with our fingers, hands and arms, following a muscle group by muscle group organization. We spread the tissue as if we're working with putty, rather than squeezing, stroking or pressing it as is done in massage. A number of practitioners also teach special stretches and "integrated" movement techniques that add to the Bodywork improvements.
Each session creates improvement in the area worked. And each succeeding session builds on the work before it by working on other, related muscle groups. We start on the outside of the body and as each layer of tissue loosens and lengthens, we work into the next deeper sections. As more and more parts of the body are treated, all the parts benefit further and the whole body maintains the benefits longer. At various times we compare photos from different sessions to see the progress that has been made and compare what we see with what the person feels.
Typically, people notice that they're standing straighter, without effort, their reach and stride are longer, everything feels lighter, more alive and loose, even parts they didn't know were tight, and breathing is fuller with the spine, pelvis and shoulders participating. There is also a feeling of much greater relaxation, even in the midst of intense activity. Almost everyone feels some improvement from the first session, and significant improvement from the first 6-10 hrs. A complete structural alignment for an average size person takes about 10-15 2-hr sessions.
Improvements are long lasting: Very noticeable benefits from even the first few sessions last for weeks, months and even years. In all cases, any chronic shortness and lack of flexibility or “stretch-ability” that was removed is gone forever. New tightness from current activity can be removed much easier and faster than it took to loosen the old accumulations. Tune-up sessions between games, events or performances immediately remove tightness, restore increased range of motion, flexibility and speed, lessen the chance of pulling a hamstring or other muscle, and remove tightness from the back. But rather than being a massage, they are re-alignment tune-ups.
WHAT THIS TREATMENT CAN DO FOR YOU
It makes you look better and feel better and improves your innate ability to perform better! It noticeably increases speed, power, flexibility, dexterity, mechanics, accuracy, balance, coordination and mental concentration. It improves economy of effort, posture and "bearing" and raises one's center of gravity. It reduces recovery time greatly. Athletes and dancers who have gotten very tight regain quite a lot of their flexibility, running ability, strength and endurance. It can increase everyone's value during the season and in the length of their careers.
Musicians, singers and actors can express themselves with greater power of projection, larger and more articulate range of emotional expression and less tension in the whole body as well as in the hands, mouth and face. Singers experience a broader range of verbal tone and octave, and, along with actors, more articulate verbalization.
This treatment also improves the physiology of the fascia and many other metabolic functions, all over the body. This, in turn, improves cell respiration, blood nourishment and waste removal.
In just a few hours treatment it can remove weeks, months, years and even decades of bunched up tightness, including tightness you weren't even aware you had, but has been unconsciously limiting your performance. It routinely removes accumulated stress, tension, soreness, and fatigue, and decreases generalized pain and trauma from existing injuries.
At the same time, it significantly decreases the chance of non-contact injuries such as back spasms, disk problems, hamstring, Achilles tendon and groin pulls and, to some degree, shoulder separations, knee and ankle sprains.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
The rest of this book tells you how it's done, and why it works Reading the table of contents and the introductions to each section will give you an idea of the subject matter and how the book is organized. After reading Section I, you can either read the rest of the book in order or skip around to whatever next section you are interested in.
At the end of Chapter 7, at the end of Section I, is a brief summary of the other sections. It describes just what you’ll see in the Table of Contents.
You'll find explanations for how to use this treatment in combination with chiropractic, osteopathy, acupressure and acupuncture, orthopedic and other surgery and non-surgical medicine. I also mention how to get in touch with me.
Note that there is a section at the end of the book about using Structural Integration to improve expression and performance, as well as personal development. It also explains how to use it to remove stored emotional trauma, including what occurs during athletic accidents.
book is specialized in its presentation. My other books, Understanding
the Cause of Back Pain and How to Get it Fixed, and How to Make
Your Body Work Better and Do More for You have additional information
that adds to what’s in this one. There is also a lot of information on my
website backfixbodywork.com, and I have additional books and booklets on
the Bodywork itself and on Bodymind release and integration therapies.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF MUSCLES.
HOW ACCUMULATED TIGHTNESS AFFECTS US
AN INTEGRATED APPROACH:
A STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION APPROACH
AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION:
THE IMPORTANT WAYS STRUCTURE AFFECTS
HOW TO VISUALLY SEE SHORTNESS,
MISALIGNMENT AND RESTRICTION WITH STRUCTURAL BODY READING.
CREATING A HARMONIOUS AND WELL FUNCTIONING BODY
THE ADVANTAGES OF A STRUCTURALLY
TENSEGRITY AND MORE
THE INCREASING BENEFITS OF THE 10-STEP BODYWORK
FIXING THE SECOND OF 2 BASIC THINGS
THAT GO "WRONG:" MIS-ALIGNMENT
INTRODUCTION TO THE BASIC IMBALANCE,
A STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION ANALYSIS OF
THE CAUSES OF
HOW THIS ZIG-ZAG MAKES THE BACK
A LOOK AT OTHER COMMON PROBLEMS:
ADDITIONAL BACK PROBLEMS,
SPECIFICALLY CAUSED BY SHORT HAMSTRINGS, ADDED ON TOP OF A BASIC IMBALANCE
SOME INSIGHT INTO
MORE DETAILS OF THE BASIC TREATMENT
WAYS TO SLIGHTLY MODIFY THE BASIC
OTHER KINDS OF TREATMENTS WE CAN USE
HOW TO USE PHYSICAL THERAPIES TO GET MORE OUT OF
HOW TO FIND AND INTERVIEW A PRACTITIONER
This is a copy of the same chapter
in the How to Make Your Body Work Better book
HOW TO MAKE YOUR BODYWORK SESSIONS COMFORTABLE
This is a copy of the same chapter
in the How to Make Your Body Work Better book
PURPOSE OF THIS SECTION
INTEGRATION IS DIFFERENT
HOW STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION BODYWORK IS DIFFERENT
HOW IT'S COMPATIBLE WITH CHIROPRACTIC
HOW IT'S DIFFERENT FROM ACUPUNCTURE
HOW THIS WORK HELPS PEOPLE UNDERGOING
This is a copy of the same chapter
in the How to Make Your Body Work Better book
INTEGRATION AS A FOUNDATION,
HOW STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION BODYWORK
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL, PERSONAL GROWTH
TRAUMA RELEASE BODYMIND THERAPY
This chapter appears as an article in the Bodymind Section of my Website
INTEGRATION BODYWORK AS A THERAPY, TO HELP ATHLETES, DANCERS AND OTHER
This section begins the study of tightness by explaining how it accumulates in the body, what it does to us and how we can best get rid of it. I also explain why we're usually unaware that it is accumulating, getting progressively worse until we experience stiffness, pain or injury.
Accumulated tightness is what I call shortness, a bunching-up of the body's soft connective tissue, called fascia (fah-sha). All non-contact injuries and chronic pain can be traced to shortness, which also manifests as imbalance and misalignment in the body's physical structure. In this structure, the positions of the bones, including the vertebrae, and the lengths of the muscles, are determined by the shape of this soft connective tissue (and not vice versa as some bone manipulation practitioners believe). Joint misalignments, even when caused by falls and blows from the outside, are held in place by bunched-up fascia.
in athletics is quite familiar with shortness, and the need to lengthen
any place that feels tight. This section explains why shortness in any
particular area is exacerbated by two additional problems most of us are
not usually aware of.
interconnected patterns of restriction and misalignment are maintained by
tightnesses we don't feel and aren't trained to recognize even when we
look in the mirror. So I've described many of the most common patterns of
shortness and misalignment, with examples of actual problems I've seen and
corrected. Balance between
muscle pairs is also important, not only in the flexor/extensor
relationship of the joints but in the muscles that control movement of the
trunk and bones of the shoulder girdle. I describe some of these
relationships, and how they are thrown off by tightness.
section you will find out why there are significant limitations in almost
all other physical therapies to correcting many of these problems, why
stretching and yoga don't do it either, and how and why Structural
Integration Bodywork does.
In fact, the Bodywork actually improves the effectiveness of other
treatments. and makes stretching easier. This treatment might look like
massage because the practitioner's hands are on the soft tissue. But it
is not! You will find an entire chapter devoted to reviewing the
differences between this treatment and massage in treating shortness and
pain. In the appendices you'll find detailed descriptions of how the
Bodywork is complementary to chiropractic, osteopathy, acupuncture,
orthopedic and other surgeries and non-surgical western medicine.
Section I explains the physiological aspects of fascia and how hardened, bunched-up and injured fascia is unhealthy and reduces performance. It explains how to make healthy fascia with the Bodywork, exercise and nutrition, and what benefits that health brings to athletics, the performing arts and general well being. Among these benefits are less restricted movement and greater suppleness, an increased amount of nutrients available to the muscle cells during both intensive activity and rest, faster recovery time from intense effort and faster recuperation time from injuries.
Section I also explains how the physiology of fascia is greatly affected by the shape of the structure. Everything from the pressures on nerves and blood vessels to the alignment of the organs to the gravitational field of the earth is involved. Breathing, especially with a larger rib cage movement, and with many parts of the body participating, has an immediate effect on the health of all cells and the muscular power and endurance of performance.
The section ends with a chapter describing many of the things we look for when "reading" a client's body, both statically while the person is standing still and dynamically while the person is walking, stretching, moving a joint or actively participating in his athletics or performing art.
This helps us in a number of ways. We can learn to see tension, muscle tone, looseness, balance or imbalance and various degrees of alignment. Body reading is helpful in spotting shortness so we can correct it before an injury occurs. Similarly, we can see shortness that is causing existing pain and reduced ability. It helps us make logical sense out of our situations.
the practitioner viewing the client just with his or her own eyes, we can
take Polaroid photos of static structure and video footage of movement and
go over them together. This
also allows the practitioner repeated study which makes his analysis
better. We can even read bodies of people performing on TV.
The point you should get to by the end of this section is that to significantly correct tightness in the body, we have to restore a lot of length in the deep musculature as well as on the surface. This requires an optimal re-organization of the entire set of muscle, bone and joint relationships in the body. The Bodywork does this, to some degree, even when it's only being used as a quick but effective muscle lengthening treatment. But besides creating length, reducing pain and decreasing the chance of injury, an improved organization allows the body's innate and coached neurological patterns more complete control over what postures and movements we want to create.
Structure is therefore a term that defines the form in which our different parts are connected together, regardless of whether we're standing, sitting or lying down. Posture refers to the positions we put this structure into. What we generally call poor posture is really shortened structure, and forceful muscular attempts to correct this condition actually create more shortness and a further waste of energy. Structural Integration is a way to improve what most people call posture by improving the shape of the structure. With this organizational procedure, all postures and movements look, work and feel better. However, when you look at other people's bodies, you'll see that very few people look and function this way. That's because they're stuck in shortness and misalignment.
In Section II I describe the reasons to restructure or realign a body, and the hallmarks that make an aligned body much better than a misaligned one. These include greater quality of performance over a longer length of career.
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