by Wayne Still
In our basic training we are taught the important fundamentals of our craft. They stand us in good stead as we begin to practice, we get quite remarkable results following the ten series recipe Dr. Rolf left us. But Dr. Rolf also left us with the admonition that “Where you think it is it ain’t”. This was to encourage us to look further for the cause of an imbalance than where a pain may be manifesting. She taught us to see the body as an interconnected whole piece. So a pain in the neck may be more related to a problem in the knee than any disfunction in the neck itself. In the ten series we work on all parts of the body, finding and eliminating the adhesions formed in the connective tissue that create imbalances in the body. Over time we find the basic skills we learned, while effective for the most part, are not always adequate to deal with the complexities we are presented with.
We are encouraged to take continuing education classes to upgrade our skills so that we are better equipped to deal with the situations we are presented with in our practice. Also our professional associations require us to show that we are upgrading our skills in order to maintain our membership. But taking a workshop is not an onerous task. In our daily practice we are somewhat isolated due to the somewhat esoteric nature of what we do. To be in the company of like minded people who understand our specialized vocabulary is at once invigorating and relaxing. Not to mention the great bodywork we receive from our fellow students and teachers.
I recently took a four day workshop focused on work with the nerves found just under the skin and the soft tissue associated with them. Work with the nerves can be highly effective in dealing with otherwise intractable situations. As an example it was a relief to find that the long ropey adhesions sometimes found in the upper back between the shoulder blades can be successfully released by working with the nerves crossing them at right angles. Nerves and blood vessels are meant to slide freely in their sheathes of connective tissue but when they become trapped in those sheathes they do not slide freely and the tissue can become bunched up. In the case of those ropey adhesions in the back when the nerves leaving the spine going to the ribs become trapped in the tissue it is rolled into a rope like structure which resists all attempts to release it by working along its length. This is another example of “Where you think it is it ain’t”. The problem is not in the tissue itself but with the nerves embedded in it. Finding where the nerves exits the spine and working along their length across the adhesion to allow them to move freely again will usually resolve the issue.
Structural Integration work is defined by its goals. Those goals are to restore balance in the connective tissue system of the body. By so doing we are able to restore ease of movement. Greater ease in the body equates with an enhanced feeling of wellness. Learning advanced methods of achieving balance such as working with the nerves is rewarding to both the practitioner and the client.