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Anatomy Trains Structural Integration is a form of hands-on bodywork that may align, restore and bring the locomotor and sensory systems of a human being to a new level of integrated function; this will help find balance and structural adaptability from the ground up, while creating awareness of what is hiding behind this intelligent system called human body. 

WHAT IS FASCIA?

 

Fascia is the connective tissue that holds and forms our structure. It is also a communication system that works best when it is in balance. It responds to gravity but also to different stressors, like overuse or misuse of the body, by phases of shortening, lengthening, thickening, and tightening the body structure. This may lead to injuries and chronic pain patterns that are difficult to break out of.

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Images courtesy of Tom Myers, www.anatomytrains.com

WHAT IS FASCIA?

 

Fascia is the connective tissue that holds and forms our structure. It is also a communication system that works best when it is in balance. It responds to gravity but also to different stressors, like overuse or misuse of the body, by phases of shortening, lengthening, thickening, and tightening the body structure. This may lead to injuries and chronic pain patterns that are difficult to break out of.

Connective tissue (fascia) is a remarkably versatile bit of biology. It forms every supportive tissue from the fluid blood to the solid bone, and a host of sheets, straps, and slings in between. The muscular tissue moves us around, but it works through the connective tissue fascia, tendons, and the ligaments at every turn, and it is the connective tissue complex that holds us in the shape we are in. When we are injured or stressed, no matter the source, there is a neuromuscular response – usually involving some combination of contraction, retraction, immobility, and often rotation.

 

These patterns put some muscles under strain (where they develop painful trigger points) and pulls at this fascial fabric, requiring it to shift, thicken, glue itself to surrounding structures, and otherwise compensate for the excess sustained muscular holding.

UNDERSTANDING THE ATSI SERIES

 

Anatomy Trains Structural Integration springs from the pioneering work of Dr Ida P. Rolf PhD., as developed by Thomas Myers. ATSI consists of a multi-session protocol (usually 12) of deep, slow fascial and myofascial manipulation, coupled with movement re-education. Tom Myers uncovered through his own research the existence of the myofascial meridians and developed the 12 ATSI Series, method organized in terms of coherent myofascial continuities. The ATSI ‘recipe’ for structural integration is based around Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians textbook by Tom Myers, published by Harcourt Brace (Elsevier) in 2001 and updated in 2021’s fourth edition.

 

ATSI is one of several schools that train practitioners in ‘Structural Integration, following Ida Rolf’s legacy.  Structural Integration is practiced as an old-world craft with a 21st century comprehension of how your body structure works.

 

The ATSI ‘brand’ of structural integration concentrates on doing deep, lasting, and significant work, with anatomical precision, blended with movement and sensitivity to the unfolding individual experience.

 

The design of ATSI is to unwind the strain patterns residing in your body’s locomotor system, restoring it to its natural balance, alignment, length, and ease. Common strain patterns come about from inefficient movement habits, and our body’s response to poorly designed cars, desks, telephones, and airplanes, etc. Individual strain patterns come from imitation when we are young, from the invasions of injury or surgery or birth, and from our body’s response to traumatic episodes.  Beginning as a simple gesture of response, movements can become a neuromuscular habit.  The habitual movement forms one’s posture, and the posture requires changes in the structure – the body’s connective tissue ‘fabric’. In other words, a gesture becomes a habit becomes a posture and eventually lodges in our structure. These changes are rarely for the better – anything that pulls us out of alignment means that gravity works on pulling us into more misalignment or increased tension to counteract the force.

 

ATSI is designed to unwind this process and reduce structural stress. The method depends on a unique property of the body’s connective tissue network.

THE ATSI SERIES:

 

The Anatomy Trains series can be done in 3 or 12 series. The 3 series is an introduction to structural bodywork. A full Anatomy Trains Structural Integration series includes 12 sessions.

A Structural Integrator therapist will take a holistic look at your body and the relationships between its parts as well as the interactions with gravity to help restore balance, alignment, and function. At the same time, structural integration supports the internal communication within the body’s myofascial network, creating awareness through movement and touch. An ATSI practitioner will work with the fascia network to balance the slings, strings and lashings of connecting tissue that support you

 

 An ATSI practitioner may or may not address right away the area where you are having pain or restrictions - the roots often lie at some distance from the presenting problem. It may take several sessions or most of the series to get to the specifics of the problem, since we must build up the supporting structure first.

 

ATSI 3-SERIES

 

The series is a process that begins with a fairly extensive interview about your history and current habits. I will start by reading your body structure and based on this analysis, create different strategies suitable for the pattern that your body holds, to facilitate and liberate fascia restrictions creating balance, resilience, and ultimately, evoking a new alignment and posture without forcing it.

 

On the first session, after jointly setting expectations and agreeing on therapy goals, I will start from the bottom up by finding your foundation on the ground through your feet, balancing the lower limbs and pelvic girdle. Continuing in the second session, we will open the breath via the ribs and abdominals, easing the shoulder girdle and neck relationship while enhancing awareness of postural patterns. I will then finish in the third session, connecting the upper and lower body through the spine to find balance and fluid movement. Each weekly session will last about 90-120 min.

View your 3 series as a project, with a beginning, middle and an end: not an ongoing and endless therapy.

 

You will likely return after your 3 series for the full 12-series, or once or twice a year for a ‘tune up’ 3 series.

ATSI 12-SERIES

 

Depending on the outcome of the initial ATSI 3-Series bodywork, we both will decide if progression to the 12-Series is necessary to further achieve the therapy goals. The 12-Series consists of a deeper work following the myofascial meridians which are tracks of connective tissue units that run across the body, connecting everything to everything else in the body structure. Each weekly session will last about 90-120 min.

 

 

Session 1: Superficial front line

Session 2: Superficial back line

Session 3: Lateral line

Session 4: Spiral line

Session 5: Lower deep front line

Session 6: Central deep front line

Session 7: Deep back line

Session 8: Upper pole

Session 9: Integrating the lower girdle

Session 10: Integrating the torso and breathing

Session 11: Integrating shoulders and arms

Session 12: Balancing the lines and joint tissues 

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WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

 

Structural Integration sessions are conducted in underwear or two-piece bathing suit. Most men receive the work in boxers or briefs. Boys under 16 are encouraged to wear athletic shorts. Any client under the age of 16, needs to be accompanied by a legal guardian for the entire session.

The practitioner will need to observe you standing (and sometimes walking and performing other simple tasks) before the session starts to assess your current structural restriction patterns. While every effort is made to make you feel comfortable and warm, there will be times during a session you will be asked to stand and feel the changes that are occurring in your body. This is part of the therapy. Your nervous system is very involved in the process and makes new connections to get the information of a new better pattern/posture.

The ATSI work itself is done on a professional treatment table or a specialized bench. The practitioner will use his or her fingers, hands, or arms to contact certain tissues and then ask you to move in specific ways while these tissues are opened and realigned.

The process of opening our myofascial tissues can be ‘sensation-full’ - involving feelings of stretch, or perhaps some burning, as in a yoga stretch or when exercising long unused muscles. The level of this sensation is in your control and entirely up to you. Pain, if the sensation gets that far, should be short and easily tolerated. This kind of pain is frequently described as a “good hurt.” It is the feeling of being touched in an area that is painful, in a manner and at a depth sufficient to help release that pain.

 

 

You will want to come to each session completely fragrance free and with absolutely no moisturizers, lotions, creams oils or the like on your skin. These lubricants, even if used earlier in the day of your appointment, impede the work significantly. 

 

BENEFITS OF STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION

  • Enhance skeletal alignment and support

  • Reduce effort in standing and movement

  • Decrease restrictions and limitations in chosen activities

  • Reduce pain

  • Decrease body shortness and compression

  • Improve balance

  • Improve ranges of motion

  • Improve biomechanical functioning of the body as a whole by progressively approximating specific ideals of posture and movement, rather than to treat particular symptoms.

 

You can think about the ATSI Series as an adventurous journey where you are the destination. Please allow me to join you to explore and uncover your true potential, freedom and expression of your being!

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