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What is Anatomy Trains Structural Integration?

Anatomy Trains Structural Integration springs from the pioneering work of Dr Ida P Rolf, as developed, by Thomas Myers. ATSI consists of a multi-session protocol (usually 12) of deep, slow fascial and myofascial manipulation, coupled with movement reeducation. ATSI is one of a number of schools that train practitioners in ‘Structural Integration’, Ida Rolf’s name for her own work.

The ATSI ‘brand’ of structural integration concentrates on doing deep, lasting, and significant work,

with anatomical precision, blended with movement and sensitivity to the unfolding individual experience. The ATSI‘recipe’ for structural integration is based around the “Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians” concept.

What is "integration"?

Similar to Savasana or deep sleep after a-day's work, there needs to be time for the body's nervous system to process, accept or decline the changes that we have just asked of it. The body is most likely to accept changes with enough support and an appropriate amount of new information. We end each session with slow, rhythmic techniques to start the integration process, and it continues for hours, days+ after a fascial-based bodywork session.

What to wear during a session?

Wear minimal clothing for optimal skin exposure and the ability to move freely without exposure. People usually wear full coverage underwear, athletic shorts, a bra that has an open back, or a tank top that can be moved around. I suggest wearing what you think meets these criteria and then adjusting based off what feels most comfortable after your first session. 

Who would benefit from ATSI?

- looking for "smart" bodywork. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based

- stuck in a posture that was created from repetitive habit and looking to live outside of that pattern (forward head posture, hyper-extended knee, "sway back", supinated or pronated feet patterns, etc.)

- tried other body-system protocols and they didn't "stick"

- curious to explore the roots of your pain patterns

- have chronic pain and curious to see if the fascial system is the body-wide system that is holding you there

How do I get the most from my ATSI sessions?

- Keep a journal during the process.

- Leave time for a walk before and after your sessions.

- Let your practitioner "in" during the ATSI process.

- Listen to your body between sessions.

- Break long periods of sitting with movement.

General goals of Structural Integration Work

- Reduce Pain

- Skeletal alignment and support : the bones are aligned in a way that allows minimal myofascial effort for standing

- Reduced effort in standing and movement : decreased unnecessary compensatory movement involved in any given task

- Range of motion: optimal range of movement is better understood and more available

- Generosity of movement: decreased restrictions / limitations in chosen activities

- Length: in the trunk and limbs, in the muscles and across the joints, the body lives in it's full length rather than being held in shortness and compression

- Tensegrity / Palintonicity: the myofascial tissues are balanced around the skeletal structure such that there is a general evenness of tone

- Resilience: improved ability to keep your balance and suffer less negative impact from the inevitable rolling seas of stress

- feeling at home in your structure

The purpose behind the ATSI Method:

ATSI is designed to unwind the strain patterns residing in your body’s movement system, restoring it to its natural balance, alignment, length, and ease. Common strain patterns come about from inefficient movement habits, and our body’s response to poorly designed cars, desks, telephones, and airplanes, etc. Individual strain patterns come from imitation when we are young, from the invasions of injury or surgery or birth, and from our body’s response to traumatic episodes. Beginning as a simple gesture of response, movements can become a neuromuscular habit. The habitual movement forms one’s posture, and the posture requires changes in the structure – the body’s connective tissue ‘fabric’. In other words, a gesture becomes a habit becomes a posture and eventually lodges in our structure.


These changes are rarely for the better – anything that pulls us out of alignment means that gravity

works on pulling us into more misalignment or increased tension to counteract the force. Compensation begets compensation, and more symptoms. ATSI is designed to unwind this process and reduce structural stress. The method depends on a unique property of the body’s connective tissue network.

Especially for chronic and long-held patterns, it is not enough to release the muscular holding, though that is definitely a good start. Freeing and repositioning the fascial fabric, along with re-integrating the movement patterns so that they stay easily in their proper positioning, is the job of ATSI.

-Tom Myers

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