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Structural Integration and Structural Bodywork, what's the difference?

Structural Integrationis a process-based approach and is offered in a series of treatments. 
The ATSI 12 series that I offer in my practice consist of (minimum) 12 sessions. 

Structural Bodyworkis based on the same form of manual therapy, and an introduction to Structural Integration. Structural Bodywork is often offered in 3 series or in separate treatments. 


I offer Structural Bodywork, in the form of a 3 series, following the build-up of the first 3 sessions of the12 series. So here we will focus on the more superficial structures on the front, back and sides of the body. If you experience the treatments as pleasant, you can possibly. after the 3 series choose to go for the full 12 series. Because of the structure of the 12-series and the slow work towards the deeper structures, I do not recommend stopping in the middle of a series after a treatment. This can have unwanted effects. If you decide to continue after the 3rd session, I strongly advise you to complete the 12-series completely. 

Is Structural Integration the same as Deep Tissue Massage, Fascia Therapy or Myofascial Release?

While some techniques may feel similar, Structural Integration is a different and specialized therapy. You could say that in SI a series of specialized and organized Myofascial Release techniques are used, tailored to the patterns with which the client presents and presents. These techniques are used in a targeted manner, structured ofar the 12 sessions. 

Structural Integration differs greatly from many of these fascia therapies, due to its holistic approach and specific progressive structure in approach and treatment of the body. The entire body is treated over the 12 series. First of all, the superficial tissues and patterns are shownvein, and then the more deeper structures in the body. 


Is Structural Integration the same as Rolfing?

Structural Integration is based on the work of Dr. Ida Rolf. The series performed by her students was therefore called Rolfing. This first form of Structural Integration is still taught today. From this original Structural Integration / Rolfing training, various directions and schools have emerged.

The work is called Structural Integration. The training I followed is called Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI), and was started by Tom Myers, who himself was trained by Ida Rolf in his younger years. 

There are minor differences between the different schools. As the name suggests, Anatomy Trains Structural Integration is heavily based on anatomy, specifically longitudinal anatomy, the longer myofascial connections throughout the body. 

One of the differences between Rolfing and ATSI in practice is that the full "Rolfing series" consists of 10 sessions, while the ATSI 12 series, as the name suggests, has 12 sessions. 

Structural Bodywork and Integration can have a positive influence:

  • on chronic pain complaints and recurrent pain complaints

  • in case of chronic tension, stress or pain due to poor posture

  • if you have problems sitting at a desk all day

  • with limited mobility during exercise and training

  • on improving athletic performance

  • on mood, mental health and stress

  • to create better body awareness and freedom of movement


Structural Integration focuses on reducing restrictions in the body's fascia and creating better balance. By reducing the restrictions and adhesions in the fascia, your body will move differently - you may experience a sense of more space, and become more aware of parts of your body that may have been "quiet" before. You can feel more connected to your body and find new ways to move. Structural Bodywork can provide more freedom of movement, reduce pain and improve your posture.

What can I expect from my appointment Structural Bodywork & Structural Integration

In every first appointment we will take extensive time for an intake, in which we can discuss any complaints, focus and attention areas, history of complaints and health problems. 
Prior to our first appointment, an online intake form will be sent to you by email with a few questions about it. When you fill it in and send it in, we are both better prepared and we can focus more on the main points and important points that are central to you.
If you don't feel comfortable submitting it online, you don't have to. Feel free to indicate this, and we will discuss this together in the first appointment. 

The intake interview is followed by a Body Reading, in which we look extensively at a posture and movement analysis. With permission, we take photos at the start of each appointment, to keep track of progress (this is of course not mandatory!). This so-called Body Reading comes back at the beginning of each session, to keep track of changes and to set the specific personalized goals for that particular session. Based on what we encounter in the Body Reading, we set out a strategy with associated treatment goals. 
Immediately after the Body Reading we start the treatment, where you spend a lot of time on the treatment couch and get rid of it regularly in the meantime, to evaluate the changes in the body together.

Does the treatment hurt?

It is important to know that SI no relaxation massagee is.The touch and manual techniques can sometimes be intensive or sensitive, but there is always direct contact and communication to determine and coordinate the right intensity together. You do not "undergo" the treatment, but are part of the joint process and sit in the driver's seat. Many people know the term "no pain, no gain". This one definitely doesn't work here! 

At the same time, during treatments I will regularly invite you to bring your attention to what you feel, to notice differences, before and after, and during some techniques. This contributes to the effectiveness of the treatment and can help to better observe certain areas in the body. The "Interoception" of the body, a magical thing, and a blog article about it soon! 

How can I best prepare for the treatment?

  • Make sure you have enough energy

  • Think about what you expect from the treatment and what you would like to achieve with the treatment

  • Before the first treatment, it helps to have completed and submitted the intake form

  • I advise you to have some time both before and after the session, so that you can arrive at ease and do not have to rush to a follow-up appointment immediately after the treatment.

Writing on a notebook

For example, it can be nice to take some time for yourself after the treatment to be aware of changes in your body. I often recommend taking a walk outside, writing, but at least being aware of your body as you go about your day.

  • Do not do heavy strength training / sports one day before and after a Structural Bodywork session. I do recommend lighter exercise, e.g. in the form of a quieter yoga session, qi gong, tai chi and walking.

  • Do not undergo deep connective tissue massage or chiropractic treatment the day before or after the session

What should I wear and take with me?

  • Wear underwear in which you feel as comfortable as possible during the entire session. During the Body Reading and the treatment, it is important that we have a good picture of your body and can reach it for the techniques.
    Most women wear briefs/women's boxers (or short sports shorts) and a sports bra, or a bikini, for example. Most men wear boxer shorts or sports shorts. 
    Choose underwear in which you feel most comfortable and at ease.

  • Because you spend longer on the couch during the treatment, and to prevent you from cooling down too much, it may be nice to bring a bath towel, plaid or blanket so that you can stay warm. 

  • Do not wear body lotion or sunscreen during treatment. 

What is a Body Reading?

The Body Reading is part of a Structural Bodywork session, and means that we will look at your posture. Based on what we see and notice about your posture, we then functionally test certain structures, in motion. Based on this, we plan treatment goals and associated strategies to get started in the treatment.
During the treatment, you regularly leave the treatment couch to re-evaluate posture and function. 

Only with permission are photos taken before the first session and in between (front, back and side views), to keep track of changes. 
These photos are safely stored in the client file in the MijnDiaD administration system that Physi.Yoga uses. 

What is the difference with physiotherapy?

The main difference between Structural Bodywork and physiotherapy is that physiotherapy often starts from a specific pain complaint, on which the full focus is. Structural Integration and Structural Bodywork zoom out more and the focus is not on specific pain complaints, but on posture and movement patterns throughout the body. System-focused versus symptom-focused. So a more holistic view.
These patterns can strongly influence recurrent pain complaints or chronic pain complaints. 

I also use my specialization Anatomy Trains Structural Integration within my physiotherapeutic treatments, but often more targeted, the complaint is central. Of course we look at the entire body, but with the focus zoomed in a bit more. 

Fortunately, the specialization Anatomy Trains Structural Integration is also becoming better known in the Netherlands and more physiotherapists can and will follow the training as a result. In the Netherlands, this specialization is still in its infancy at the moment. Important that this will change!

Why is Structural Bodywork/ Structural Integration not reimbursed from my additional insurance?

Because Structural Integration is less well known in the Netherlands, in contrast to some other countries, it is currently not (yet) covered by alternative medicine. Together with other Structural Integration Practitioners, I hope to make efforts to ensure that this can be the case in the near future. 

What is fascia?

Fascia is the tissue in our body that connects everything together. This connective tissue connects our muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs like a web or layer. These layers are also connected. These connections are flexible, and if all goes well, specific gliding movements are possible between these layers. Fascia is located throughout our body, and connects everything, provides support and shape. For years, this tissue has been cut away in dissections to expose the other structures in focus, such as muscles or organs, which we thought were the most important. More and more is known about the importance of this tissue.
Just as we can talk about a vascular system, muscular system, skeletal system, we can speak of the fascial system.
Adhesions in this fascial system can limit movement, which in turn can cause problems. Bad posture, an injury, trauma, surgery, stress and overload can lead to disturbances in this tissue.
Often we can experience pain in a completely different area in the body, much further away than where the cause is actually located. This is the reason why we look at the structure and functioning of the whole body.

Watch more videos about fascia and Structural Integration

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