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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” concep.
The ATSI “brand” of Structural Integration is different from other comparable trainings such as
those offered by the Rolf Institute, Hellerwork, or the Guild for Structural Integration.
Check out this video of ATSI founder, Tom Myers, explaining the 12-Series.
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.
Borrowed from Tom Myers, founder of ATSI
How is Structural Integration different from Deep Tissue Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is an ON-GOING manual therapy practice that aims to promote relaxation and reduce muscular tension. Structural Integration is a PROJECT. It is a goal oriented framework of manual therapy. There is a beginning & end to the hands on work. Bringing awareness back to clients' goals is a huge component of the work. SI uses active movement, breath-work, walking assessments throughout the session.
What is "integration"?
There is time reserved at the end of each SI session to integrate the information put into the system during the previous 60ish minutes. Similar to Savasana or deep sleep after a-day's work, there needs to be time for the body's nervous system to slow down and process the changes that we have just asked of it. The integration process starts at this moment and progresses for days+ after a fascial-based bodywork session.
What do I 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.
ATSI as a complimentary therapy:
It is recommended to go through the ATSI method as an isolated therapy. This means truly committing to the series-work and viewing it as a stand alone therapy. Doing this will help you get the most out of the work and understand how it alone is affecting your body systems. The sessions should be spaced every 1-3 weeks. Once completed, ATSI could be seen as a companion to physical therapy, psycho-therapy, energetic therapy, movement practices, osteopathic and chiropractic care.
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
Who would benefit from ATSI?
- stuck in a posture that was created from repetitive habit (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?
I send a more detailed copy of this info to clients going through the process. Here are a few tips...)
- 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.