Structural Integration is a holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education which aims to align the human body in the gravitational field. It arose out of the teachings of Dr. Ida Rolf, who began teaching Postural Release in the 1950s and then in the 1960s called her Structural Integration work– Rolfing. Structural Integrators use a multi-session approach in which specific strategies are developed to guide each individual into optimal balance. Often connective tissue (specifically fascia) is manipulated to allow body segments to shift to a more balanced position. Re-education of the client’s movement patterns and other modalities are commonly used in the belief that they can achieve or support the goal of improved alignment. Its benefits include an increased use of balance at finer levels of the neuro-fascial-musculo-skeletal system which allows for increased general well-being and physical adaptability and resilience as well as reducing biomechanically caused pain.
Many schools teaching Structural Integration have formed. The original school was founded in 1971 by Dr. Rolf herself, the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, which continues to train students to this day. Following Ida Rolf’s lineage of Structural Integration bodywork, many of her original students formed their own schools. For example, Joseph Heller formed Hellerwork Structural Integration, Bill Williams, MD developed SOMA in 1977, and Thomas Myers founded Kinesis Myofascial Integration in 2000.
My original Structural Integration training, 1983-1993, began with Lakshmana Estabrooks, Physical Therapist and student of Bill Williams, MD, who developed SOMA. Estabrooks synthesized her knowledge of Physical Therapy, SOMA, and therapeutic yoga into a training called Body Aligned, which informs my work to this day.
In 1999, I continued my Structural Integration training with Thomas Myers who developed Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians which gave me a new understanding of whole-body patterning in posture and function. Tom’s work is the result of his 40-year practice in many cultures and clinical settings, and his training with (principally) Dr. Ida Rolf, along with ideas and practices from Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, Buckminster Fuller, European osteopathy, and many movement disciplines including martial arts, Continuum, contact dance, and Aston Patterning. Many credit Myers’ Anatomy Trains as a revolution in soft-tissue patterning. My work as a Structural Integrator is deeply informed by Tom’s “anatomy of connection” and his whole-body fascial and myofascial linkages, in particular the Deep Front Line myofascial linkage.