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of Structural Integration Bodywork - Section 2



        Along with the actual physical restrictions of tightness and lack of flexibility, the body actually stores the energy of past emotional upset and hurt.  So a lot of the emotional charge that went on during old traumatic times, or even recent physical accidents, is actually still present within us. 


by Lou Gross, School Certified Master Postural Integrator
25 years successful experience
For more information & free consultations, call 321-726-9083


 Emotional energies like grief, anger and fear that occurred in the past incidents literally get stored inside the physical tissues.  It’s not just memories in our brains and peripheral nervous systems, but actual material that got “impressed” into the shape of our fascia and even in the makeup of the collagen fibers in the fascia themselves.

Collagen has been discovered to be a kind of organic crystal that can actually store received energies, like magnetic tape.  So when a Bodyworker or massage therapist presses on that fascia, the pressure squeezes out the energy imprint in the collagen fibers at the same time it spreads them so the muscle becomes longer and freer.  (While this may seem farfetched to the inexperienced, it has been a well known phenomena in the body-oriented psychological field for over half a century.  I myself have seen it countless times.)

When we’ve held in fear, sorrow and anger, as we’ve tried to deal with difficult, and especially traumatic situations, those emotional energies not only get stuck in the collagen fibers, but also in some other energy storage locations in the body, too.  And most of them go in directly, in a physical way, without any mental thinking or decision making.  Sometimes we were forced to hold them in, even if we didn’t want to, as when a child gets slapped or spanked for expressing anger, or even tears.

The muscular compression necessary to keep these emotions in gets stored as well, and it shows up as our shape.  People with a lot of held in anger may look angry, those with a lot of stored grief may look sad, especially around the eyes, those who were forced to give in and give up look that way in their body shapes.  These shapes store the emotional charge of the feelings right in the same muscles in which we sense the emotion, and in the emotional centers inside the abdomen and chest.  The muscles will also store the oppressive and angry emotional charge of the people who hit us, as they forced us to hold in our own feelings under fear of being hurt worse.  So in that tense area we also have the fear, and even terror, we experienced during that repression.  You see, all the feelings of the past trauma, ours and the people around us, get embedded along with the chronic tightness.

This compression of feelings by tight muscles can also effect the organs and manifest as up-tightness or physical disease. And the embedded feelings keep the person repeating the same behaviors they expressed in the past incidentsThey operate directly from the physical location, without any reasoning or analysis happening in our conscious minds

These muscular tensions create the same kinds of ongoing shortnesses that physical activities do.  And because we express ourselves with our muscles and movements, the shortness and energy blockage in the fascia now limits even our own, present day emotional and interpersonal range of expression.  This limitation happens in our personal lives, and it also shows up when we try to express ourselves professionally and creatively.

Often times, the compressed muscles that are holding in a particular emotional expression also limit the ability to express the same kind of emotion in the present day situations that warrant it.  Some people can’t cry and others never express anger or self-assertiveness, even when it’s appropriate, and even when it comes up inside them. Some of these folks can develop a happy personality on top of this physical restriction and hardness in the deeper muscles, but it’s relatively shallow in its ability to express with the whole body.  And there may also be bouts of depression, explosions of rage and/or a lack of candidness about one’s own behavior.  This is caused by the trapped tensions and feelings.  And they can get “triggered” by current life situations.  In large part, it is simply a remaining physical limitation caused by past experiences that could even be a series of episodes, going back through our entire lives.

Here’s a simple example of emotional energy storage. I did the manipulations for an elderly woman, to help her leg and pelvic tightness.  But when I went over the area of her hip, where she broke it and fell two years earlier, that tissue released the fear of falling that got stuck in her when the accident occurred..  Right after I did the manipulations in the muscles around the hip, she said she didn’t want to flex her ankles (the way she normally did for exercise) because she was afraid that she’d fall down.  But she was lying in a reclining wheelchair less than two feet off the ground.  A few hours later she was fine again.

Another example indicates that we can be aware of the material that gets released as it flows out of the body.  When lengthening a friend’s arm, I spread tissue over an almost imperceptible little scar.  He said that as soon as I did that, a picture of the minor incident that caused the scar, 15 years earlier, came to his mind.

Much more serious traumas come up.  And things people had long forgotten are remembered.  The experiences of abusive childhoods become clearer, including for people who never remembered much about their childhood.  But at the same time the scenes get clearer, a lot of the emotional charge of the incidents goes away.  That’s because the Bodywork has squeezed out the old “material” that was defining the feelings.  Yet, because it was mentally forgotten, we don’t recollect what happened until the energy that gets released shows itself to our conscious awareness. This same kind of increased awareness, and release of emotional trauma, occurs when we release the embedded material from adult auto accidents, periods of loss, rapes, events of war, and so forth.

Did you ever notice how the affects of long ago stressful or emotionally upsetting experiences still remain years later?  This is why.  They remain because some of their energies got stuck in our bodies.  They’re like video tapes of old soap operas.  And they stay with us long after the episodes are gone and our conscious minds have moved on.

So patterns of behavior and belief systems about the world that were created in very difficult times have gotten embedded in the body structure and in the ways we move.  In certain kinds of circumstances, we live in the past because of what we’re physically stuck with.  This includes conditioning from our childhood, infancy and even birth, including traumatic experiences that we don’t remember at all.


Structural Integration Bodywork breaks up and releases a lot of this old trauma at the very same time it is removing the physical tightness.  It even works for auto accidents, spousal abuse, muggings, loss of a parent, child or spouse, and even experiences of war.

The result of removing both physical restriction and emotional energies is

1.)   a form that operates much more fluidly in response to whatever nerve instructions or circumstantial demands that are placed on it, and

2.)    a more alert mind that will, quite naturally and automatically, stay more focused on the present and what’s really happening around us now.

And I want to emphasize that this happens immediately from the Bodywork manipulations.  No mental analysis is required.  And while breath concentration and other kinds of meditation also increase our powers of awareness and attention, the Bodywork processing does the clearing all by itself.

Our relationships to ourselves and to the world around us change for the better.  Many of my clients often say they feel as if an emotional weight has been lifted out of them.  It also becomes easier to open our hearts.

A clinical study made at a mental hospital in the 1970’s showed that after Structural Integration, the frequency and duration of anxiety attacks were both less.  In general, all of us become more centered, less anxious, more aware and have greater range of emotional experience as well as physical movement.


This can be a BIG help in psychotherapy.  In regular verbal psychotherapy some people go round and round in circles and can’t seem to break out of their self-defeating patterns.  Others know they have problems but can’t seem to get to the source of the blocks.  This form of Bodywork, (and some body-oriented verbal release techniques), regularly help both these problems very quickly.  Some kinds of massage work can accomplish a similar effect that the Bodywork does, but to a lesser degree.  And even without the physical manipulations, the release techniques can be used to access whatever is already loose and accessible in the internal organs and in the structural “energy field.”

As I said, when the Bodywork manipulations release the energies of the old experiences, that energy comes to consciousness at the same time the emotional charge dissipates out of the body.  So people can get more in touch with the issue and, its charge actually gets smaller.  Then, the improved structural length, lack of tension and better “organization” also makes the person more open, more positive, and more self confident.  This better body “form” also improves our abilities to access and release other emotions and psychological issues as well.

Since a lot of traumatic experiences get what is called “repressed” by actually being covered up with additional layers of tight muscles and hard fascia, this Bodywork improvement enables people to find this stuff, and deal with it better because it isn’t so “big,” and they, themselves are “bigger.”  When these tissues are released, people get in contact with things that were bothering them, but which they couldn’t even get a handle on. 


Here are a few specific details about emotional “body storage.” A lot of resistance and “won’ts” is located in the muscles of the back of the thighs.  A lot of hopelessness and “I can’ts” is located in the muscles on the inner thighs.  A lot of blocks to feeling and a lot of fear is located in the abdominal muscles.  And a lot of sorrow and hurt is located in the chest muscles.

All these areas have a number of layers of muscle and fascia.  Recent experiences are stored in the outer layers and the more formative, childhood experiences are stored much deeper down.  And as a general rule, the outer tightnesses cover up access to the embedded anger and resentment.  The next layers down embody that anger and resentment.  And the layers below that embody the fear.  So, for instance, when a person has a habit of “stuffing” their anger and displeasure, it gets stored in the middle layers and the outer layers have to also become tight to hold this energy in.  The deepest layers embody the fears that say, “If you tell people that you’re angry or that you don’t like what they’re doing, you’ll get hurt.”

This information needs to be kept in mind, especially when working with people who were abused a lot as children (but for the rest of us as well).  The release of the outer muscle layers makes us better doers and cope-ers in the adult areas of our life that we’re already good at.  People usually become more proficient in their work and physical activities.  But the restrictions to personal satisfaction and the causes of our self-sabotaging behaviors are located in the deeper tissues and the internal organs those muscles cover up.  There is a tendency for physically and emotionally abused people to get stuck in the energies of the middle layers, identifying with “I won’ts,” and transferring that resistance onto the treatment itself.  They may even stop the treatment.  To really feel better and have our needs met, it’s important to do the releasing deep inside ourselves.

So, in conjunction with psychotherapy, the Bodywork will significantly eliminate a lot of the negative energies and their propensities that control our behavior.  And since the releasing increases the “size” of our own consciousness in our bodies, it enables us to understand and discuss our issues with the therapist in a more aware way, instead of having the issues run us with their previously overwhelming energies.  The process releases us from being stuck.

Of course, this also increases our abilities to learn and develop better ways of relating.  More aligned and integrated body structures actual create more open and communicative behavior.  And the lack of old embedded negativity and “protection” allows people to think more positively, without a lot of “competition” from their old tapes, including those of mistrust.  Significant, immediate improvement is made regardless of the person’s initial level of therapeutic awareness.

I have worked in association with a number of psychiatrists and psychotherapists, and a number of my clients have also been in therapy with their own therapists.  All those I’ve treated who are also in psychotherapy or Reichian-Bioenergetic kinds of therapy, tell me that the Bodywork in conjunction with it produces better results and faster and more satisfying progress than with their psychological therapy alone, even if the Bodywork was done for purely physical reasons.

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