Updated: Oct 9, 2018
This picture demonstrates some dramatic changes in a young girl that have occurred simply by addressing tension relationships in her fascia. This before and after picture is dramatic, and can't be attributed to her simply standing taller, strengthening her 'weak' muscles, or sucking in her belly. The changes you see here, are thanks to Structural Integration, a form of manual therapy that endeavors to stack the body, and enhance alignment through manipulation of connective tissue, or fascia.
These type of transformations occur all of the time with structural integration work, fascial release, and intelligent movement. By increasing movement and proprioception through the fascial system, lifting or maneuvering connective tissue layers and plains, we can dramatically change the way you move, stand and feel. Structural integration is never about zooming into areas of pain or dysfunction, but rather looking at the stacking of the whole, or the relationships between various body parts.
In picture A the girl looks bloated, overweight, and hanging off her back fascial tissue to hold her upright. Picture B shows a more harmonious balance between two of the major fascial lines running along the front and back of the body (see the picture with the green lines for a simplified representation of the Superficial Front and Back Lines of fascia.) Here the girl looks taller, leaner, and physically more balanced.
Let's hone in on a few key areas:
Ankles: notice the changes before and after. In picture A you can see the angle at the front of the ankle is greater than 90 degrees with a heavy posterior loading of the foot. After the fascial work her ankle is less than 90 degrees, with more even weight through the foot, allowing for a much healthier knee alignment. You see see the structural ramifications of this angle up the whole chain.
Hips: A keen eye will spot that her lower shin is externally rotated, her thigh internally rotated loading tension through her sacrum and causing her to look like she is lacking strong bum muscles. In the before picture A you can clearly see the whole pelvis has shifted further forward over the toes, and is tilted down at the front allowing the abdomen to spill over to look more overweight. In pic B you can see that the hips have been shifted back by opening up the tissue around the groin, releasing the tissue around the side and back knee. You can clearly see how tension at the front of the low groin and whole inner leg is pulling her abdominals down, making her look bulky and front heavy.
Thoracic Spine: In picture A you can see the whole torso is shortened and compressed causing her organs and tummy to sit forward of her frame. Her neck looks shortened at the front as a result of a rib cage that is being pulled down at the front, causing the girl to have a forward head posture. In picture B you can see the front ribs have been lifted to create more space for the organs, thus creating a taller torso, and a neck that can stack straighter above a secure rib cage.
After tracing along some of these changes in the girls posture, hopefully you can start to see how the arrangement of your fascia (not just bones and muscles) can influence your stability, posture and aesthetic appearance. This is why we focus so much on fascial release strategies like mobilising the foot and ankle, opening up the breath, and performing whole body movement that helps these fascial links work together with more harmony.
Structural integration assists every single aspect of your life
Fascia is the system that touches all other systems, and so by upgrading your fascial arrangement, you can increase wellness, fitness, strength, mobility and even cognitive function! By increasing posture and movement efficiency, the body becomes more resilient and balanced. Just take a look at the body language above, which posture looks more capable, comfortable and energetic?
We have seen huge changes in emotion, mood, posture, digestion and even height (our record for changing height is 3cm taller after some visceral manipulation.) Structural integration is designed to be done in a series of 12 continuous sessions, but it can be done ad hock to assist in healing, pain reduction and overall function. It's often a much more gentle therapy than traditional massage, and one that encourages active participation via movement from the client, to increase the effectiveness.
If you want to experience for yourself, reach out and we are happy to assist!