“Our bodies aren’t all the same. Nor are our movements the same or ‘more natural’ than anyone else’s. Our intention is not to find the perfect posture, there is no such a thing. The emphasis is on finding a relationship with our own body that is comfortable, pain free, adaptable, and functional for the demands we face. How that looks like is of less consequence than how it feels. Feeling and moving with ease in our body is a relationship worth pursuing”.
James Meredith – Board Certified ATSI Structural Bodyworker & Remedial Therapist
Structural Bodywork is a unique form of hands-on, and integrative movement therapy bringing the body into balance with our vertical line of gravity. By doing so we enhance our natural mechanisms for healing, while creating new and adaptable space to move into.
In structure and function gravity is either working with, or against us. If we lose vertical height, adaptability in the feet, balance in our pelvis or stability in our head position, our centre of gravity changes. In turn our body counter balances this shift to work in the most efficient way possible. Often these changes in the body occur as our connective tissue, or fascia (the biological fabric of the body that holds our shape), becomes ‘stuck’ and inhibitive. Fascia is the 3-dimensional connective tissue interconnecting every cell, muscle, ligament, bone, and organ in the body. It is a continuous net of tissue that exists from head to toe without interruption, holding our posture and movement patterns. Common complaints such as back pain, repetitive strain and headache, can all be symptomatic of a body held out of alignment by ‘stuck’ and inhibited connective tissue.
By treating the fascial system, we can ease this burden felt in the body and address poor postures, dysfunctional movement patterns, persistent pain, physical injury, and stress.
Fascinating Facts about Fascia
- Fascia comprises of both elastin and collagen fibres surrounded by a viscous material called ground substance. The two fibre types allow the fascia to be strong yet highly elastin, giving it the ability to move, generate and absorb force, and at times it can be the source of pain and dysfunction.
- Fascia contains more receptor sites than any other system in the body. These are sensory nerve centres that allow the body to register and respond to pain, pressure and mechanical change. What we feel, and how we respond, in many ways begins in our fascial system.
The 3 Series – Duration: 3 x 90-minute sessions
The 3 Series provides a structured format of bodywork bringing the body into balance with the vertical line of gravity. Beginning from the ground, solid foundations are created through the feet, legs, pelvis, back, ribs and arms, working all the way up to the neck and head. Each 90-minute session involves postural and movement assessments to check function and to identify restricted areas. A plan is then created to give you support and movement where you most need it.
The 3 Series is an interaction between participant and practitioner through visual and movement assessment, myofascial release technique, and integrative movement practice. A subjective history is taken of any previous injury or trauma, and lifestyle goals to create a pathway for achieving change.
In practice, Structural Bodywork works on two levels. It begins as a body reading for posture and a movement assessment designed to correlate a clients’ complaint or goal with their existing movement patterns.
The hands-on component of the work is performed on a massage table or for certain moves on a stool or bench. The practitioner will use their fingers, hands, or arm to contact certain tissues, and then ask you to move in specific ways while they open and reposition the targeted areas. The process of opening these tissues can involve some burning, like a stretch, or exercising some long unused muscles. The pain, if the sensation gets that far, should be short and bearable. Always talk with the practitioner to find the right level depth for you that allows the maximum value for each session consistent with your comfort. The idea is to achieve a balanced body that is pain free. You may feel some of the stored pain that leaves your body, especially in traumatised areas.
To find out more on fascia and myofascial release click HERE
With new space comes an opportunity to move in new and energy efficient ways. It can take a while to feel a home in your new body, so time is encouraged between sessions to move, observe, and integrate what you have leant into everyday life. Where indicated, and energy levels allow, exercises may be prescribed to promote and enhance your goals. Individual movement patterns will be prescribed by your practitioner to maximise and sustain the changes made.
Individual Session Breakdown
Initial Consultation – for new clients
- Get to know your practitioner
- What to expect from the 3 Series
- Medical History
- Structural and functional assessment
Session 1 – Balancing the Lower Body
- Finding our stable base of support
- Bringing ease and adaptability to the feet and their relationship with the body in stability and movement
- Legs and pelvic girdle
- Balancing the structures that support the upper body and abdominals
Session 2 – Balancing the Upper Body
- Review of the first session
- Addressing the alignment of the thorax, arms, and neck
- Finding our breath
- Ribcage, abdominals, and the diaphragm
Session 3 – Balancing the Spine
- Looking at spinal bends and rotations
- Bringing it all together
- Integrating our structure and function
Getting the most from your 3 Series
The 3 Series is a project of realigning your body, educating your kinaesthetic sense, and reclaiming your whole physical self. You may find that some of the following ideas are more to your liking, while others do not fit your situation – consider them all, and then take what you like.
- It is recommended that you keep a private journal during the process – you may be surprised at the changes as evidenced by your sensations, dreams, attitudes, or experiences.
- Leave time for a walk before and after your session – this will give you a chance to feel the ‘before’ and ‘after’ in your body, and in the familiar kinaesthetic experience of walking. The walking will help you integrate the changes from the session and allow you chance for your head to clear before returning to the everyday tasks and stressors. You could, for instance, simply park your car several blocks from the office to gain this.
- During the session, the most benefit is derived from letting your practitioner in. It is common to react by tightening or pulling away. If your practitioner is creating too much sensation with their pressure or speed, let him or her know that they should lighten the touch, or slow down. While your practitioner knows what he or she is doing, you know you best. This is your session, and the best results come with your ability to stay with the work and be able to let go with it.
- People have different ways of opening up to the work. It is voluntary but subtle – bring your awareness to the part that is being worked and accept the pressure. But if the pressure is so much that you have to mentally ‘leave’, then the work is too hard, and less productive. The exception to this can be an area that was physically traumatised and is still storing a lot of pain. Here, the pain can be intense, but it is pain leaving your body. In any case, develop a dialogue with your practitioner about how they can best work with you.
- Between sessions, listen to your body. We are accustomed to dictating to our bodies from above. During the series is a time to listen for the messages coming up from below. Your body may want you to use it more – you may feel restless, for instance, so go with it: dance or do some stretching. Your body may give you signals of needing more rest as it repairs itself – go with that if you can.
- Break up long periods of sitting with movement. Give yourself a few minutes break during every hour of sitting, do some stretching during long bouts of desk time or driving. Long-held patterns of sitting can be very damaging to our structural integrity.
- A warm bath on the evenings after a session is often a treat while adding Epson Salts (magnesium sulfate) to the bath will reduce any residual soreness.
- You may notice odd stresses and strains in your body in the days following a session, as your body readjusts its tissues to the changing forces. This is normal. These feelings or pains should be passing – your practitioner will want to know about anything that lasts more than few days, or anything severe or worrying.
- Avoid imposing an ‘ideal’ posture on your body – holding yourself into what you think of as a ‘proper’ posture. The sessions are designed to bring you toward a better balance without effort. Pinning your shoulders back or tucking your tail under to where you think it ‘should’ be will only get in the way. Your body has its own wisdom – allow it to unwind toward its own natural length and balance. In the end, this may conform to some plumb line or grid, but it very well may not.
- Many times, the most helpful thing that the client can do is to notice when old patterns of holding are creeping back in and drop them. Noticing them as they reassert themselves is easier after they have been released in the sessions, but they do have a way of creeping back in. Your job as a client is to notice these holding patterns and just let them go, as often as necessary. After a period of watching the tendency come and go, it will simply relent, and the new position will be your ‘natural’ place. Remaining gently sensitive to what your body is doing is your chief responsibility in this process.
- Your body will also give you messages about your environment. Your way of standing over the sink, or, as mentioned, sitting at your desk may need to change to be consonant with your ‘new’ body. Your practitioner can help you with these adjustments, but you can also stay alert to when you are using yourself in a way that no longer works.
- You can expect that the novelty of the changes you feel right after the session will feel less pronounced toward the end of the week. They are still there – it is just that your body has become more used to them and integrated them. The 3 series is carefully worked out in a sequence that is designed to prevent you from regressing. In fact, you can expect positive changes to keep developing in the months following the end of the series.
- Finally, enjoy yourself! Structural Bodywork is a wonderful way to explore your body posture and movement. It was so important and positive for your practitioner that he or she took it up as a career! We look forward to sharing this voyage of discovery, healing and ease with you.
Structural Bodywork is a wonderful ‘tonic’ for your posture and movement, but it is no panacea. Bodywork can be remarkably effective for long held pain patterns of a structural nature, but it is not designed as a ‘curative’ for any disease, or as a ‘first aid’ remedy for recent injury. Check with your practitioner if you are unsure whether Structural Bodywork is right for you.
To download the 3 Series Flyer click HERE
Written By Absolutes James Meredith – Board Certified ATSI Structural Bodyworker & Remedial Therapist