Learn about Structural Integration, a type of manual therapy and movement education.
What is structural integration?
Structural integration (SI) combines awareness dialogue and movement education with hands-on bodywork to realign the body's muscles and fascia. Our physical and psychological habits create our unique shapes and tension patterns. When these patterns involve misalignment (as they usually do), the result is wear and tear that often turns into pain in the spine, muscles, or joints. An aligned posture has more energy and less tension and stress. Through structural integration, I strive to help my clients gain more natural balance, posture, and flexibility.
Each session includes:
Deep Tissue Bodywork
The bodywork makes it easier to maintain improved alignment. Clients experience longer lasting changes when they apply the movement lessons given in each session.
The standard format for receiving structural integration is in a series of 10 to 12 sessions. Each session has its specific focus and benefits. In combination, the sessions have accumulative and synergistic effects. By following this protocol, a person can achieve release in very deep parts of the body, and many people have found this process to give them lasting change and natural relief.
Who benefits from structural integration?
There are thousands of reasons to try Hellerwork Structural Integration, but I find that my clients' goals fall into two categories. Some people are looking for new methods of self-exploration in their personal growth process; others want to regain lost vitality. Hellerwork explores the essence of each client, helping to release the bound layers that restrict true expression. Many of my clients have been supported by this work during a time of transition, such as career or relationship changes or periods of personal growth.
Many clients try structural integration (SI) to recover from pain, including nagging injuries, the stiffness of aging, the results of stress, or a combination. SI's comprehensive approach has helped many people grow past pain. For example, several of my clients have experienced low back or hip pain that occurred suddenly and mysteriously. The pain turned out to be strain resulting from a gradual loss of core strength. This work taught them how to use their bodies in a way that builds strength through daily activities so their pain was relieved.
Another client loved to run, especially because it helped her to release stress. But running caused pain in her legs. Structural integration corrected the imbalance in her connective tissues, and the movement education taught her to run in a way that relieved the excess pressure. A bonus was the dialogue that helped her to become aware of previously unseen sources of stress so she could manage them better.
Bodywork releases structure. Movement improves function. Together, bodywork and movement dynamically create fluidity.
What is Hellerwork?
Structural integration was created by Ida P. Rolf in the mid-20th century. Rolf led and taught at the Guild for Structural Integration and the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration. Joseph Heller studied with Dr. Rolf and was the president of the Rolf Institute in the 1970s. Joseph also studied movement and energy dynamics, which he felt were beneficial additions to the traditional SI protocol. He left the Rolf Institute and formed Hellerwork International in 1978. Hellerwork follows a very similar physical protocol to traditional Rolfing® Structural Integration, but also includes movement lessons and awareness dialogue as part of the process. (Note that many Rolf practitioners also include movement as part of their series now.)
Although Hellerwork and other forms of structural integration (there are over a dozen schools of structural integration) use hands-on techniques, it is not the same as massage.
Click here to learn how structural integration differs from massage.
Common results from structural integration
Frequently asked questions:
What is Hellerwork Structural Integration?
Hellerwork is a brand name of structural integration (SI). It’s a series of sessions that include deep tissue bodywork, awareness dialogue, and movement education that helps you transform your relationship with your body.
Is it similar to massage?
It is similar to massage and different. The primary intentions are for alignment and improved body awareness. Many types of massage work on the body’s muscles. Structural integration focuses on body awareness through the myofascia, the connective tissue that envelops the muscles and holds the muscles to the bones and each other. Fascia is a plastic-like tissue that wraps all parts of the body, including nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Although people most often associate tension and stiffness with their muscles, it is actually the connective tissue (fascia) that accumulates much of this stress.
Is it painful?
Generally, SI is relaxing. When we work on areas that hold tension, clients can feel pain that is proportional to the amount of tension. Practitioners are trained to be sensitive to their clients and give the client the opportunity to direct the intensity of touch and pressure. This is not a no-pain, no-gain process. If the release is too painful, it is probably creating stress elsewhere in the body, which is counterproductive. That is why I encourage my clients to let me know if it hurts, so I can change the pressure, direction, or speed. I firmly believe that it doesn’t have to hurt to release.
Why is it called Hellerwork?
Hellerwork is named after its founder, Joseph Heller. Joseph Heller was a structural engineer who became involved in Rolfing (the original brand of structural integration) in the 1970’s. As a result of his unique combination of expertise and training in structural integration, movement education, and body energy awareness, Heller began to synthesize a new form of bodywork. In 1978 he left the Rolf Institute® and founded Hellerwork.
How long does Hellerwork take?
The plan of the series is organized around eleven sections, each of which focuses on a different part of the body. Each section builds on prior sessions to produce a cumulative effect. You can read the Hellerwork Client Handbook at www.hellerwork.com. (I also give a copy to every client.) However, some clients do not want to commit to a series; in those cases we address the specific areas desired, but still work holistically with connections in the body.
How often do people receive sessions?
Regularity is more important than frequency. Some people come every week, others once a month. Most receive sessions every two or three weeks. It depends on how quickly a body adapts to change, how long it takes to integrate new postures, and a person’s budget.
What type of clothes do I wear?
You can either wear shorts and a tank top or your undergarments, whichever is comfortable for you.
How much does it cost?