Improve Your Alignment and Your Mindset with Structural Integration Holistic Therapy

  • author name Ellen Hoffman, ATSI, LMT
massage therapy

Take a moment, without moving or adjusting your body, and ask yourself a few questions about how are you sitting or standing, if at a standing desk. How truly integrated are you in your body?

  • Are my shoulders rounded forward?
  • Is my chin is shifted forward in order to look at the screen more clearly?
  • Is my tail tucked under rounding your lower back?
  • Am I shifted over onto one hip or foot and not the other?

Patterns of Posture Can Lead to Pain and Injury

If you noticed that your posture was a little off, chances are this is a common happening for you in your daily life in a variety of settings and situations. These patterns will alter your structure, muscles, and the connective tissue (fascia), that makes up muscles, long term. These imbalances can lead to reduced range of motion, chronic pain, and injury over time.  Often, it is not a traumatic event that leads to pain. More often it is literally bending over to pick up a straw and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Structural Integration Can Bring Your Body into Balance

Structural integration is a holistic therapy that can assist in bringing your body back into balance, reducing pain, increasing function, and instilling better movement and postural habits.

This scientifically proven manual therapy involves re-education, awareness and therapeutic touch. Structural integration is a specialized form of massage therapy that works on your muscles and their fascia (connective tissue).

Along with the habitual patterns mentioned above, aging, injury, stress and repetitive movements can cause fascia to become less elastic, shorter, or longer. This can lead to feelings of discomfort or tightness in your muscles and will ultimately pull your body out of a balanced alignment, often causing pain and fatigue.

How Does Structural Integration Work?

The goal of a structural integration series is to align and balance your body from front to back, side to side, top to bottom and inside out. This is accomplished by unwinding the fascia and awakening motor neurons to improve movement strategies. As the fascia shifts, your muscles are able to move more efficiently. 

Throughout the series, new options of movement begin to unfold and the true integration occurs as patients walk out of the treatment room and into their lives. Little changes occur over time that lead to a more energy efficient way of moving through space. When the body is in alignment, typically pain is significantly reduced and sometimes non-existent.

Is Structural Integration Right for Me?

A massage therapist trained in structural integration will perform a 360-degree body-reading/postural assessment to examine your patterns to see if this therapy is right for you. The body-reading is done with patients in minimal clothing—a sports bra, full bottomed underwear or shorts—in order to best see your musculoskeletal relationship.

You may be asked to move or stand as pressure is applied and take note of your experience during the assessment.

Afterwards, your therapist will build a tailored treatment strategy to address what was found.

What Does Structural Integration Treatment Involve?

Structural integration therapy normally involves a series of 12 sessions.

  • The first sessions are more superficial, freeing the tissues on the front, back and sides of your body, as well as freeing your shoulders and arms from any binding to your trunk.
  • Next, your therapist will address the core of your body, working into the central stabilization muscles closer to the spine.
  • The final sessions integrate your core and sleeve into your habitual movement, addressing the problems identified in your assessment.

Benefits of Structural Integration

After treatment, people report moving with greater ease, breathing easier, and finding that living with good posture comes naturally. Better body alignment affects your whole self—body, mind and spirit—decreasing stress and increasing your overall energy level.

Learn more about holistic therapies or schedule an appointment at 717-544-3555.

author name

Ellen Hoffman, ATSI, LMT

Ellen Hoffman, ATSI, LMT, is a licensed massage therapist and structural integrator with LG Health Physicians Specialty Medicine. She is a graduate of George Mason University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in Arts Administration. She is also a graduate of the Lancaster School of Massage and completed the Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI) course. Ellen holds a 200-hour yoga instructor certification, is a CrossFit athlete, and attended the CrossFit specialty course in Movement and Mobility.

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