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What is Structural Integration? A Client's Perspective on 3 Sessions

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

Session One

The first thing I noticed in session one is how self conscious I am about my body. This was less about anyone else seeing my body, and more about my perception of myself. As someone who has never owned a full length mirror, having to face myself was a feat in and of itself.

I was shocked to learn that Rock was able to find the fascial line that started at my feet, and work up the front of the body to find areas of adhesion. We think of our bodies as so separate - we see a podiatrist for our feet, a physical therapist for our knees, and a pelvic floor specialist or gynecologist for our pelvis, but when you think of the body as an interconnected web of fascia, that way of thinking feels so antiquated.

Immediately after the session, I felt two inches taller and slept like a baby that evening. I appreciate that Rock has clients stand up and walk between sides, which really helps you feel the difference, which is subtle in some ways and profound in others. I exercise regularly, but feel like I don’t have the right structural foundation that allows me to move correctly.

One area that I hope to address through this process is my “puffy” ankles and knees. I’ve had them for as long as I can remember - my parents said they remember noticing them around age 11 - but just because something has been that way for a long time, doesn’t mean it should be nor that it can’t be changed. As a relatively young 29 year old, I’m hoping that through this process, I am able to find ways to move my body in a way that sets me up for a lifetime of movement.

Session Two

In my second structural integration session, we went up the back of the body, but before we did so, we started with my plantar fascia. I truly felt like I had new feet! We are really honing in on my stance - focusing on walking with my feet in the right position and standing without locking out my knees. While this feels so rudimentary, I think it is the retraining of my basic structure that will allow so much else to fall into place later on. I feel like a baby learning how to use all of my limbs and muscles all over again!

Rock adjusted my hips, which was definitely intense in a good way. I think we’ve all heard that we store tension in our hips, and this definitely rang true for me in this session. I felt a bit “raw” afterwards, and needed to take it easy and rest throughout the evening. The emotional rawness was a bit more of a surprise, but makes sense when we think about the years of physical and emotional tension that can get locked into our bodies. Bessel van der Kolk said it best: the body keeps the score!

One surprising fact that I learned in this session is that when we worked on the fascial lines that run through the butt, I would have bet all my money on the fact that there is a bone in the middle of my butt, and was shocked to learn that there in fact, is not!

During this session, we did the Styku analysis that told me my weight, body fat percentage, etc. This was definitely upsetting, but as Rock says, “Denial is more than just a river in Egypt!” This, combined with the hip release, brought up a lot of feelings that I tend to shove down and not address. I’ve learned and felt so much (physically and emotionally) in just two sessions, and I’m feeling excited and hopeful for what is possible!

Session Three

With the holidays, getting covid, and other constraints, we had a little under a month between sessions. I was nervous that I would lose everything I gained from the first two sessions, but Rock taught me that these changes actually continue to take place in the body over time, which made me feel better!

In this session, we went up the back of the body again, but with more of a focus on my hamstrings and knees. Since I am relatively young, I don’t feel too much tension in my knees, but I have been feeling a bit more “aches” during the heavy resistance portions of my Peloton spinning classes or when I do a lot of squats.

After Rock worked on one of my hamstrings and knees, he had me stand up and walk around. I felt that the difference was there, but not too noticeable. Then, he told me to do a squat. I was SHOCKED. I truly think that you don’t know how bad you feel until you actually feel better, and I was able to do a squat without feeling anything at all. I thought I could chalk it up to a fluke, but Rock proceeded to address the other leg and I was so shocked that I couldn’t stop laughing. It felt like I didn’t have knees at all! The freedom I felt in my legs and knees was astonishing.

In my training with Rock, we are working on my squat. We noticed that my left knee has a bit more aches and pains, but my right knee is weaker and starts to fatigue quickly during my squats. Through structural integration, we are working on re-aligning both of my knees so that my left knee doesn’t compensate for my right, and my right knee is actually using its full musculature! I left this session giddy and could not wait for the next one.

Three things I’ve learned in three sessions of structural integration

It doesn’t matter how much weight you lift if you aren’t moving correctly

Rock regularly shares stories about people that “lift heavy” but have blatantly improper form. The work that we do in the gym can only be completed by proper alignment and care of the structure of your body. It’s vastly more effective in the long run (and the short run, for that matter) for me to do squats with proper alignment and a 7 pound kettlebell than to have improper setup with 20 pounds.

You can’t change what you don’t look at and quantify.

Going through this process has helped me to face some of the fears that I’ve built up over time about my body. We all have stories that we tell ourselves about our bodies, and they are shaped by so many things, society, our families, our communities, culture, etc. Structural Integration has helped me realize that by not looking at the way my pelvis is working, I’m just running away from a problem that will 100% catch up with me at some point.

Structural Integration is for every body.

When I came into this, I thought that structural integration was only for people whose bodies were extremely out of whack. That’s so far from the truth. Rock has taught me that Structural Integration is truly for everyone, and the earlier you start, the better. Our bodies are so much more malleable when we are younger, not just from a physical standpoint, but emotionally as well. We don’t have as many years of bad physical form and built up emotional tension stored in our bodies. By the time we are in pain, undoing all of those years can be time consuming and much more intense. What a gift this would be to start Structural Integration at adolescence, and have a “tune up” every few years. In our day and age of sedentary lifestyles and heavy technology use, I really think we would all be so much better off!

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