Home - Fixing Backs, Pain, Stress and Tightness with Structural Integration

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Part 1 of 2 - The Method & its Goals
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What Sessions are like, What they accomplish.
How they make you feel great,
What my own "add-ons" also give you.


"What it is" & "How it's Different"...
     So that it adds benefits
     To what you now do.

"How it's Compatible"
     with your other treatments...
     even enabling them to do more.
 "Includes Descriptive Testimonials"
Olympic Athletes, Track Coach,
      College Athletic Trainer, Chiropractor,
      People who work out.

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by Louis A. Gross  BSEE
Founder of The Institute for Enhanced Performance

School Certified Master Postural Integrator, since 1983
Body Structure & Bodymind Performance Specialist
A Resource for Body Professionals of all Kinds
27 years successful experience
For more information & free consultations, call 1-321-726-9083




Stills from Chariots of Fire for my own enjoyment as a non-profit encouragement.
Click on thumbnails to enlarge.


Structural Integration Bodywork is a very specialized manipulation of the soft connective tissue of the body, called fascia (fah shah).  This is the gelatinous material that surrounds and goes through all our muscles, holding all the muscle fibers, blood vessels and nerves together. It's made of tiny protein fibers in a fluid, and it's malleable.
        Fascia's shape can be changed.  Everyday activities, athletics and especially intense work outs make it shorter and more compressed.  This treatment makes it longer again.

        From a Sports Medicine perspective this treatment does two things.  It lengthens tight muscles faster, and often further, than any other technique and gets at the deeper ones that most other techniques can't.  It also detects and removes "systemic" patterns of tightness that other treatments rarely detect or resolve.

        In addition, the Structural Integration “process,” applied through a “series” of treatments, organizes the whole body toward maximum economy of effort and most integrated and least restricted movement.
        Used as a therapy for removing tightness, it is also an athletic performance enhancer.

For a 13-printed-pages, in-depth explanation of the how and why, see Athletic Performance Enhancement Booklet
For a 20-page detailed explanation of how tightness causes pain, see
Fixing Accumulated Shortness


         Lou makes my body work the way it's supposed to work.  The treatments allow me to do what I do, easier, and more fluently.  After each session my flexibility, range of motion, speed and balance are all better.
          After the third session, I had the best workout I ever had in my life

Mike Powell, WORLD RECORD HOLDER Long Jump




There are two major differences in approach, between this work and almost any other kind of treatment you may be familiar with.

        Almost all other Sports Medicine treatments, including chiropractic and stretching, areneuro-muscular, bone and jointoriented, and are usually locally focused.  If you have a problem in the leg muscles, you treat the leg muscles.
        On the other hand, this method, formally known as the Structural Integration Method of Connective Tissue Manipulation, issoft connective tissueoriented and is both locally and systemically oriented.

Practitioners like myself know that pulls, stiffness and tightness are not only local in origin, but are part of tightness and structural imbalance in whole groups of muscles, even into other body parts, and also a systemic tightness, or fascial shortness, "pattern," manifesting in the whole body structure.  This is especially true of back problems, & neck, shoulder issues. 

We also know that many muscle and joint problems are actually caused by soft connective tissue problems, specifically:  short and hard soft connective tissue in and around the muscles that is rarely stretched out and almost never massaged out.
          For example, pain over the kneecap is often in the tendon of the quadriceps muscles on the top of the thigh.  But the cause of that tendon pull is the shortness in the fascia of those muscles and in their "interconnected" muscles on the front of the pelvis. These get bunched up, for instance, with a lot of running and cycling, especially with the effort needed to go uphill.
         In addition, those muscles are also being held tight by the shortness of the hamstrings on the back of the thighs and the adductors on the inside of the thighs.  Further, the thigh muscles are held in tightness by the lower leg and torso muscles.
           Another example is tight Illio Tibial Tract problems - in which many other kinds of practitioners try to massage or stretch right on the outside of the thigh.  But this IT Band, as it is sometimes called, is actually a tendon extending from the combination of the Gluteus Maximus and Tensor Fascia Lata muscles,
and also affected by the Gluteus Medius and Minimum muscles, to name a couple others.  If the sides and front-rear of the pelvis in the muscle-fascia parts are first lengthened, one can then spread the fascia down the IT Band and it feels better.

          What Structural Integration does is follow a knowledgeable sequence to unravel all this interconnecting tightness so that all the muscles' fascia spreads out.  Then pain in the tendon can go away because the tightness that is pulling on the tendon is gone.  That sequence works with the actual way the body's bone and muscle system is interconnected as well as the way the fascia is organized.
            In fact, the unraveling is not just loosening but also re-organizing the muscle groups and the whole structure into the way we are anatomically designed for maximum function, or performance. 
The more it is re-organized, the more is is less bunched up or shortened-tight.

            This inter-connected unraveling approach, along with the fact that we're actually spreading the fascia itself, gives very good benefits to hamstrings and other hard to lengthen areas.  
Hamstrings are part of an interconnected muscle and bone network through the entire leg.  To lengthen them the most, we need to lengthen the fascia of all the leg muscles.
Tight shin muscles or tight adductor muscles on the inside of the thigh will keep hamstrings from re-lengthening back to their full shape.  And so will tight abdominals and a tight back.

            This system is "designed" to loosen large amounts of tightness and create lots more flexibility.


          I can assure you that Lou has a wonderful understanding of the human body.  He has a knack for not only treating a particular problem but helping to correct the cause. Often times, that cause is far away from the site of pain.
          Lou has complemented the work we do in the training room
with his own special brand of health careWe all work on flexibility programs, but Lou really attacks the problem and usually has wonderful results.
          I can honestly say that I would not hesitate to send any of my athletes to Lou.  He can be an enormous asset to athletes and medical professionals alike

Rich Riehl, Head Athletic Trainer
Pepperdine University
Trained to work on Olympic Athletes



While this technique is a very powerful therapy for lengthening individual parts, the greatest and longest lasting effects come from treating the entire body.
        We can think of muscles and bones as distinct pieces that we can massage or put ice packs on.  But with fascia, what we're re-lengthening and re-organizing is a totally interconnected substance that's "everywhere."

         Each part affects every other part.  Shorten one place with intense effort and the whole body gets "worse."  Re-lengthen it  and the whole body gets "better."
        Make each part of the body better through a sequence of sessions, and each of the parts, in turn, will also make all the other parts better, too.

        As more of the body is loosened up
, people actually feel a further release in an area distant from where I'm currently working. The upper part of the torso, for instance, might relengthen and relax while I'm in the process of relengthening a part of the lower leg.

        The soft connective tissue "network," called fascia (fah sha), goes around and through every muscle. It starts on the outside of the body just under the skin and goes through the deepest muscles inside the torso, limbs and head.  So the fascia from place to place is not a set of separate chunks.  It is more like a continuous interconnected web.  It's like a set of multi-layered body-suits all woven together.  This gigantic, human shaped piece of fascia makes up the shape of the whole body.  And inside it, are our muscle fibers, bones, organs, blood vessels, nerves and so forth.

           So shortness or distortion anywhere in this network pulls and stresses muscles and bones everywhere else
.  The whole shape gets distorted.  It's like a knot in a sweater or a bunch-up in a shirt.  
         And we all develop lots of these shortnesses, all over.
         Because even children tighten up and fall, everyone grows up with a somewhat randomly organized body structure, with varying degrees of shortness and misalignment pulling and twisting at various angles from various parts.
          We all develop many knots all over.  Structural Integration Bodywork removes knots after knots.
The purpose of the Structural Integration "system" is to organize this network by re-lengthening all the fascia back to the "designed" length of our muscles.  Then the whole structure becomes a more integrated set of parts.  And that relationship of bones and muscles gives us the best performance.

         This improved organization simultaneously aligns us with the constant, and very influential, force of gravity.  Instead of using up muscle effort and energy to keep standing up straight, this change lets us use those muscles much more fully for our athletic efforts.  Gravity is even thought to then add energy to our own neuro-muscular activity, and to our internal physiology and energy fields.
          If you look at your body sideways in a mirror, you might find the pelvis tilted down in front, the thighs leaning forward, the calves bulging backward, the lower back arching backward and the upper back and neck angling forward. 
This is the basic or standard imbalance almost everyone grows up with.
          So a lot of your body is leaning forward and a lot is leaning backward and everything is fixed in this shape by the fascia that is holding all the muscles in their shortened shape.
          This keeps tightness happening all the time, even if you were floating weightless in the space shuttle.  Everything is tight against everything else, even before you add to it, with tightness from your activities.

         The "Structural Integration Method" of Connective Tissue (fascia) Manipulation is not a typical myo-fascial release for this part or that.  It is a system that removes all this tightness and reveals the body's optimum performance by improveing the entire fascial network at the same time that it is fixing local and area tightness for specific issues.

          Everything then actually works together better, and so, economy of effort is greatly increased.  Muscle "groups" actually work together better, which adds more power, and without having to work at control so much.

          And once muscle groups are much more in balance, with each other and with the downward force of gravity, there is a tendency for them to stay in balance, and not retighten as much with effort, either.  People's necks and shoulders, for instance, stay softer once the head and neck are going up vertically from the shoulders.

          Organizing the structure by changing the shape of the fascia also improves physiology in many ways
It expands the volume of air we can get into our lungs, it increases neurological and organ function, and it greatly improves the rate and efficiency of cell respiration.

         A structure of this type maintains itself at a higher energy level that is also more coherent, or clearly and more harmoniously organized.  This has a tendency to ward off disease, lends itself to creating a positive emotional outlook, raises the level of mental clarity, alertness and intuitiveness, and adds both power and sensitivity to movement.  It also works toward refining artistic expression.  And it significantly improves centeredness, awareness and calmness.

          In this regard, we are creating more efficient and higher performing individuals who are less troubled by pain, tightness, dis-organization, blockage, exhaustion and injury.


          From just the first 3-hr session I had more flexibility, my leg stretch was longer and easier and my technique was better.  I also jumped farther than I thought I could.  My 275 lb bench press went up a lot easier, the first time I'd done it really clean.
          Overall, I no longer had the negative pulls that kept me from executing the way I'm trying to.

          My recovery time was also better.  The warm-up had been wearing me out; this time I wasn't as fatigued.  And after my previous jumping workouts, I had been feeling "beat up," and didn't want to do anything for a couple of days.  This time I didn't feel anywhere near as bad and I felt like I could jump again the next day.
My lower back would also be tight for 2-3 days and I'd need a chiropractor to put my back and hip in.    I also wasn't as tight as usual and I didn't need a chiropractic adjustment.

Gordon Laine, Long Jump,
U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM alternate
All-American Triple Jumper


         The most incredible result has been my very fast and easy recovery.  I now have no problem completely recovering from a marathon in just 3-4 hours, to where I would enjoy running again if I wanted to.  The next day I feel just normal tightness, no muscle soreness, no change in gait, no limp, and no tender walking.  I feel like I'm totally back to normal in two days.
         My performance has also increased, including the fact that I pass people at the end of the marathon, going up hill.

Dr BP, Dentist, age 28


           My warm-up stretches before soccer were 4-5" longer, with no effort.  I was faster, and my timing was better in relation to speed and action.  It gives me better control, better balance and a better center.  I feel this is how my body should be.
           The pains that had been hurting me regularly in my right shoulder since a 60 mph motorcycle accident 1-1/2 yrs ago are now totally gone, and I now have more strength in my shoulder than I'd had since the accident.  I'd had no power in it at all.


Film/TV Actor, age 26.


I recommend my two books described on-site:
     Back Fix Bodywork - Understanding the Cause of Back Pain & How to Get it Fixed
     How to Make Your Body Work Better & Do More for You
     If you're an athlete or performing artist, or you work with these people, you can learn from these  books.
Their unique "engineering analysis" approach explains how to improve performance and remove pain so that you can use the information in your own work or training.


Structural Integration Bodywork is not a substitute for other Sports Medicine treatments.  Yet, by improving the "competency" of the myo-fascial component, it increases the effectiveness of almost every other treatment and skill.

Lengthening the fascia of the muscles allows them to release back to their full muscle fiber lengths when the action has been completed.  This allows every neuro-muscular and joint manipulation therapy to work with freer and more accessible muscles.
        It also improves the physiology of interstitial fluid, just as massage does on the outer fascia of the skin and external muscles.  Only the Bodywork does in down through all the muscles to the bones.
          Further, muscles tend to glue onto each other in their fascial sacks.  This, too, reduces length and it significantly reduces articulation of the groups of individual muscles.
          The Structural Integration Method of Fascia Manipulation Bodywork is designed to correct this gluing and separates the bodies of muscles even deep within the thigh's adductors and hamstrings.

This is an established method taught in a number of schools and applied by thousands of practitioners on many continents over the past 50 years.  It was developed after much research and practice by a physiologist-biochemist with in-depth knowledge of yoga, osteopathy and other body methods.

It directly fixes "spasm" injuries.  And while its purpose isn't to treat already damaged tissue, it does remove tightness that directly causes injury, that "spreads' the pain and that aggravates tissue that needs to heal.  
          This is called correcting the cause of repetitive strain injuries.  We remove the tightness around the injured area & in the interconnected muscle system, so that the pulls that would keep the injured area hurting and stressed, are taken away.

          It also makes stretching much easier.
It helps for groin and shoulder problems.
          Hamstrings benefit A LOT.
  It breaks up old scar tissue and it prevents tightness from becoming an injury.


          This is such a great thing you're doing.  We really do need more of this.  I've had chronic hamstring problems since high school.  And I'm just coming off a hamstring injury.  This really helps.  It pushes all that old stuff out, and the stuff from everyday training.
Getting off the table and immediately bending over, I could keep my knees locked and touch my palms flat to the floor, with room to spare.  Getting right off the table, with my legs cold in the outdoors like this, I wouldn't have been able to do that before.

         The next day before my event I felt great!  And afterwards, when I warmed down and stretched, I felt better than I had felt after any race.  It's been a long time since I felt that way, too.

Lynda Tolbert, 100 meter hurdles, Nike International team
1988 & 1992 U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM

          The main benefit is that two days after the first long session, I didn't have any problem with my left hamstring, which had been troubling me for nearly three weeks.  The treatment cured my hamstring condition, and it improved my overall condition as well.
          This bodywork let me train so well and still not have the tightness, in the hamstring and in the rest of my body.

Christina Cahill (Nee Boxer), 800/1500 meters

         I'd had chronic Achilles tendon tightness and operations for tears on both ankles.  The bodywork broke down the tightness in my calves and they now move fluidly.  Scar tissue had built up in the subdermal tissue and that got broken up.
       The treatment was key to also breaking up and loosening the scar tissue under my buttocks at the top of the hamstrings.  I was doing cleans weight lifting 1-1/2 to 2 years ago and pulled too hard, so I tore my upper hamstring, and it was never the same.  Every time I did cleans, it would hurt.  Now, it feels a lot better.  My thighs are looser and lighter, and they move easier and faster.  I've noticed I'm picking up speed in my training.
         I'd also had a misalignment
; when I lifted my right leg it didn't come up straight but twisted outward after it was half way upThat, too, was corrected.

Willie Banks


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