Take a good look at these photos before and after 12 bodywork sessions. I hope you are impressed! And these changes are to someone old enough to retire!
These are the terms I use for "panel beating" the body to restore it to its normal state. By normal, I mean the state that optimises the health of your body in the eternal fight against gravity.
Many people are hunched over, due to working on computers, texting on phones, stress (the fight or flight syndrome prompts us subconsciously to hunch to protect our internal organs from attack). I call this a Head Forward Posture with Rounded Shoulders. The weight of the head is not transmitted down through the spine, so muscles in the neck, shoulders and back are overworked to prevent your head from collapsing onto your chest, for example, and this in turn can lead to headaches, and over longer periods, to a hump in the rear base of the neck.
Other people develop distortions in their body from the birthing process, from repetitive actions, eg being very one handed or one footed in sport. I always spin on my right foot when dancing for example, and that rearranges my posture!
Postural Correction and Postural Bodywork are the terms I have always used. The pioneers in the field have trademarked their approach, with names such as Rolfing (after Ida Rolf) or Structural Integration
When it comes to relieving aches and pains and headaches, often it is a question of lengthening tight muscles. When it comes to changing your posture, it is a question of retraining your fascia which determines the structure of your musculature.
In 2004 I was studying Myopractic with the osteopath Dr Neil Skilbeck. Part of his assessment techniques are to compare the client's leg lengths. Often one hip is rotated or hiked up compared to the opposite hip, leaving one leg shorter than the other, and this can be a cause of scoliosis or curvature of the spine. We also learned techniques for correcting leg length discrepancies by realigning hips. I have been using these techniques ever since.
I was first introduced to Structural Integration in a Myofascial Release class in 2005 at the now defunct Perth Academy of Natural Therapies. I owe the lecturer, Subhadra Gerard, a big, huge thankyou! As a student, I spent close to $20,000, most of my life savings, in fact, on books and DVDs, the books mainly from Amazon and the DVDs from Terra Rosa, in the days before youtube.
Two of the books were Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers (2001) and Structural Bodywork by John Smith (2005), the latter hot off the press when I purchased it. The Structural Bodywork book was the first of many of my books to fall apart from being referred to so much!
Anatomy Trains might appear to be an odd title for a book. I'll do my best to briefly explain without infringing copyright and without taking up too much of your time. A train line has track, stations where you can change trains, express trains, local trains and branch lines. Thomas Myers theories are that the body is similar (in my words) to the London Underground with a bunch of lines and stations.
Some of the key lines are the Superficial Back Line, which goes from under your feet, up the legs and back and over your head to the eye socket. Muscles here help you stand erect. The Superficial Front Line extends from the top of your feet to the the side of your skull via the SCM, Sterno Cleido Mastoid muscle. In many people there is a constant battle between the muscles and fascia of the Superficial Front Line and Superficial Back Line and people end up with poor posture and pain. The basic issue is that a four legged animal has its internal organs in a relatively inaccessible place. Man stands erect, and all the internal organs are vulnerable in the event of a fight. Sometimes negative emotions cause guarding of these organs, causing round shoulders and a head forward posture. Sometimes it can be the nature of work people do or looking down texting on phones. Structural Integration means rebalancing the body to correct postural imbalances and balancing the muscles, fascia and other connective tissues in the "Anatomy Trains"
In all, Myers identified eleven train lines. The other lines are
Arm lines (four)
Functional lines (two)
Deep front line
The Functional Lines are less to do with maintaining posture, more to do with athletic activity such as a javelin throw, throwing a cricket ball, bowling a cricket ball or a baseball pitch where one side of the body provides lower body stability and strength whilst the other arm releases an object with as great a speed as possible.
I have been incorporating Structural Bodywork or Structural Integration in my practice for 10 years now. Although I have always had explanations of the work I do on my website, I have not previously mentioned Structural Integration in its own right, because to me it is at the very heart of Remedial Massage. I am constantly trying to achieve long lasting relief from pain and that usually entails rebalancing people's posture.
There are courses you can attend so you can become a certified practitioner of Structural Integration, but I have not felt the need to do them for the following reasons:
Here is what John Smith, in Structural Bodywork wrote of the Guild like manner in which structural bodywork has traditionally been taught :
"Historically, the various systems of structural bodywork have been administered by official bodies, usually established by their founders to train and certify new students. Like all such institutions they tend to be highly proprietorial and to guard their methodologies most fiercely, often patenting their approach and its brand name. This attitude is understandable; it is due in part to the genuine need to protect valuable systems from abuse and facile imitation. In many cases, however, this vigilance has led these organizations to become exclusive, self-serving and anti-competitive. Happily this guild-like mentality appears to be on the decline.."
But the guild-like mentality is still there 10 years on! For me, information should be free. Tim Berners-Lee should be everyone's hero, but most people have never heard of him. He invented the internet and designed the formatting language, HTML, on which the internet is based. TimBL as he is known is still chair of the World Wide Web consortium. Rather than patenting the internet and HTML, he made it free. He could have made himself the world's richest man but he chose to share his invention with mankind.
Over the next year or two I may well take the course as I find you always learn new things. However, I think I will always have a problem convincing people they need to have 12 sessions to get a result! I guess it comes from my philosophy that Jesus sorted people's problems in one go!