How I Use It to
I’ve been practicing
Structural Integration since 1982, for over 20 years, and I have over 17,000
hours of experience.
I’ve also been trained in massage, acupressure, reflexology, and even a little
chiropractic and kinesiology.
Scanning: Read Bold
Before I became a Structural Integrator I worked as an electronics engineer, having a BSEE from Syracuse University and graduate studies in business from Rutgers University. As an engineer I worked in design, development and “de-bugging” of equipment for ten years, including a stint on the Space Shuttle computer systems.
Now I do what I sometimes call “people engineering.” Instead of working with electronic circuits, I work with body structure and look at a body as a system that can be logically improved, or debugged, once you know how it’s supposed to work at its best.
Along these lines I have written three books in this field, Understanding the Cause of Back Pain, and How to Get it Fixed, How to Make Your Body Work Better and Do More for You, and How to Make Your Athletic Best Better. I have also written a number of articles describing the specific benefits, and the reasons for those benefits, that Structural Integration has on physical performance, pain removal, psychological well being and stress reduction.
This writing brought out my engineering skills. I had to analyze, and
explain in simple terms, just what was happening in a body and how to make it
work much better. To do that, you have to understand why it looks the way
it does at the beginning, and what you have to do to take it to the end. You
should also know what to expect along the way, both in improvements at each step
and in the releases of negative energy and emotion that come out of the old form
as it’s being transformed into the new.
So one of my strengths is in understanding what happens in the body as the Bodywork process continues. Another is being able to communicate all this to my clients, so they are knowledgeable about what they are experiencing.
To do good Structural Integration it helps to have a very keen ability to analyze body structure as a whole system of interconnections. Through a visual “body reading” of the particular person and with the knowledge of how things are supposed to look and operate, we can know why a body is out of alignment and in continual tension and/or pain. And by knowing how the many interconnections work, and using the expertly developed system, we know where, and in what sequence to lengthen the whole body to correct the condition. This requires a lot of training and experience.
Almost all other healing modalities apply local therapeutic treatment, right where they’re trying to heal damaged tissues of the muscles, bones, joints and nerves, or to improve performance by making those tissues “healthier.” ie; If the leg muscle hurts, you massage the leg muscle. If vertebra L4 is misaligned, you adjust L4. If the liver is stressed, you put acupuncture needles in liver points. And all of these have value in making the body work better. Plus, there are indeed overall body massages, complete spinal adjustments and inter-acting acupuncture flows. But, in general, efforts to help specific muscles, bones and joints are focused right on those muscles, bones and joints.
Treating the body as an intricate system of interconnecting muscles, bones and soft connective tissue is one of the two major features of Structural Integration that makes it different from other treatments. (The other is that we’re lengthening the soft connective tissue instead of massaging muscles or manipulating or cutting bones.)
This method “fills in” another modality for healing and improving performance that many people miss. It works instead on restoring the proper length and openness to the soft connective tissue system. I’ve explained how this improves performance. But that better condition will also remove the excessive tightness that causes injuries and prevents injured tissue from healing. What most people, including many elite athletes and professional trainers, don’t recognize, is that these excessive tightnesses can just as easily be coming from a distant part of the body as from the nearby muscles. And that’s where this specialized knowledge of Structural Integration makes its big contribution.
We want to return the whole structure to a balance where the muscle “tone,” or tightness versus looseness, is just right. We want to make it like a properly tuned automobile engine that can stay relaxed or move quickly with great agility, and have the person feel great in both conditions. Then the person’s body isn’t too tight and isn’t too flacid. To do this, we lengthen the soft part, the muscles with their fibers and connective tissue, and we organize it with the hard part, the length of the bones. The better we can do this, the better the forces of tension and resisting tension can be throughout the body.
In this condition the body stands up more properly aligned in the field of gravity, and from side to side and front to back, all with a lot less tension on any joint or tendon and with a lot less pull or tightness in any muscle. This dynamic system also transmits its muscular forces in any one area, outward through the whole rest of the body; the body adjusts itself as a whole interacting unit. So, when there’s a quick, strong muscular action, there’s less chance of one particular muscle tensing up. When there’s a fall or blow, there’s a better chance the whole system will yield better instead of break. And even in such everyday activities as evening walks, the muscle system moves more powerfully yet there’s less tensing up.
This explanation has one more factor. We all accumulate shortness in a lot of body areas. In fact, it turns out in all body areas. Since shortness anywhere pulls through our bodies to everywhere else, it means all these tightnesses are pulling against all the other tightnesses. It therefore turns out that large areas of muscle groups, and often the entire body, needs to be treated to correct what other people might think is an isolated problem.
Once this is done, all those tightnesses are removed, or at least greatly reduced. Massage and physical therapy, for instance, can then treat inflamed and irritated tissue better, since the tensions that were causing the ongoing damage are released. Chiropractic can put more vertebrae in alignment, easier, and they stay in longer, when the whole-body muscle shortnesses that kept misaligning the spine are no longer short. And back surgery is often not necessary because the pulls that made the vertebrae too close together, and caused the bulging disk and/or nerve irritation, are no longer pulling like that.
Over the past 20 years, I have found that back and neck tightness is often caused by accumulated shortness in the legs, arms, abdomen, chest and even the head. (There is often tightness coming from acupuncture and reflex points due to metabolic problems, but the soft connective tissue invariably is also shortened as well.) My opinion is that it is physically impossible to fully correct problems in the neck and back without also lengthening the soft connective tissue in the muscles of these other areas.
A second strong point I have is my hands-on technique, developed through training with various experts in the field and during sessions with athletes. The hands-on technique is another major factor in being able to do highly effective Structural Integration. I believe that it should have three features, to move lots of soft connective tissue, to feel good to the recipient and to feel good to the practitioner. Unlike the experience people have had with some other Structural Integration practitioners, my treatment doesn’t cause a lot of pain, and in fact usually feels good, even “great.” And like many others who do this kind of work, I spread the “bunch-up” back out rather than trying to force muscles to “let-go” by banging or harshly pressing into them, as is done by some “deep tissue” massage therapists. At the end of my sessions people feel alert, alive and “good,” and not beat up.
My own unique strokes also feel like “cushioned” massage or “muscle release” strokes. So we comfortably break up the muscle tension at the same time we re-lengthen the connective tissue shortness. This allows me to do more, deeply, sooner than with other techniques. Properly organized Structural Integration also feels empowering, because we release the muscle groups in the order that the body wants to unravel in. This not only reduces pain, it creates a physical experience of openness that has an “order” and stability to it.
I also know a great deal about other body and body-mind methods, and make use of them in my sessions. These include my self-help stretching methods (that can be applied to improve one’s yoga abilities). I give nutritional and herbal tips for greater health and energy. And I show people how to clear the body’s energy field and acupressure flow system of negative residues, and then strengthens them positively. I am also very skilled in special techniques that remove old trauma and negative emotional patterns, out of the body. So I consider myself a systems engineer for the body.
Structural Integration is definitely a powerful performance enhancer. And these benefits can regularly be reproduced in person after person because the system is so well worked out using scientific principles.
This unique understanding of the human body is no where near as widely known as other methods. It's not part of medical or chiropractic care, and doesn’t get accomplished during therapeutic massage. I call it, the missing link in human performance enhancement.
Thanks, Lou Gross.
Copyright 1995, 2002 Louis A. Gross All Rights Reserved