Structural fitness begins with an assessment of your unique structural pattern. we will look at mobility, strength and coordination. The goal is to make your work, hobbies and play pain free for the long term. After assessing your structure I will show you movements that are specifically targeted to correct your structural and functional imbalances. I will also send you home wth a video of the exercises we worked on. Rolfing Structural integration is my hands on approach while structural fitness is what you can do with your own body, how you can move differently to achieve the same goals and promote the longevity of the changes we get through the manual therapy.
In the initial assessment I consider the repetitive motions a person does on a regular basis and what complementary movements will help balance out the equation. If we consider movement as nutrition, we want a balanced diet. Our bodies respond to the demands we place on it. Fascia (and coordination) will mold itself after the repetitive movements, building tension patterns. Look at the contracture that happens when an elderly man breaks his forearm and it’s held in a cast for several weeks. After not moving the humerus for this extended period, he’s developed frozen shoulder. The humerus has lost much of its range of motion and has to be re-patterned. The same is true if we sit in chairs 8 hours a day. Our hips and spine will certainly shape itself around this input. What is the movement nutrition you need, based on how you’ve been moving on a daily basis and what injuries you’ve sustained?
In our deep ancestral past we were more complex movers, we were in constant relationship to the nature outdoors, to the wild, and our bodies reflected that. The “movement culture” of conventional western society is now very sedentary, lots of repetitive movements in structured flat environments as well as a lot of images we’re told we should look like. I’m interested in reorienting people towards a state of exploration, moving through the environment in novel ways.
Many people’s lives are so full and complex that the thought of adding more discipline to it seems unrealistic. For this reason relating to movement in terms of a cultural practice, in terms of how you are with your people, how you relate to them, how you embody space while you’re with them is useful. In this context, you’re just adding value to things you already do, whether its squatting to talk or hang out, or doing any kind of stretch or movement while you’re engaging with others, engaging with your work, your family or your hobbies. So its not just that you might add some structured movement to your day, the structural fitness “homework,” but also that you’re examining how you are in your body throughout your day, and how you can bring more lucidity, freshness and spontaneity into your body, in the lifestyle that you currently have.
For more references on this subject see resources page.
My main question is: How do you need to treat your body to do what you want to be able to do. What shapes and activities will you want to engage in so that you can know your own body more deeply and how to resolve the inevitable challenges it faces.
I want to show you ways to be comfortable in your body. People come to me and say they have bad posture, I’m teaching a model of posture-over-time. What postures (body shapes and coordinative movements) are you not taking, those are the things you will lose the ability to comfortably do. For people who work sedentary or repetitive motion stressful jobs, they may think of fitness in terms of running. I want to give them a structural context for embodiment, showing if you sit all day, and then run at night and on weekends, 95% of the time that will eventually lead to pain. It doesn’t work.
I like to define posture not so much as the static position you’re in right now, but looking at your movement over a period of time.
Posture, over time, is the series of shapes you take during that time. So if its over an hour, you may have practiced the posture of yoga, the posture of typing/staring(interacting) at/with a screen, etc.
Posture is body positioning or shaping as well as coordination (of the sum total of the joint relationships, the muscles, nerve shape and nervous system..) that occurs over a period of time. Time period could be in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years. What are my movement habits? Eventually, where is my weakest link movement wise, ROM, strength, cardiovascular,
Q and A:
Is Structural Fitness related to physical therapy?
Not really, I don’t have the training of a PT. I have been studying and practicing Yoga, Qi gong, Meditation, Capoiera, Continuum Movement and Gyrotonic, animal movement, body weight exercises and fascial science since I was a teenager and have put all this together to help assess where a person is in terms of structure and movement and a vocabulary of movements to help address their imbalances.
When I’m considering someone’s structure, I’m primarily looking at two things, one is good joint range of motion (ROM), and the second is balanced strength.
For example, folks who spend many hours a day working on a computer will often develop common issues such as a spine that doesn’t backbend well and is solidified into a head forward posture, as well as a lot of tension built up around the hips.
I look at the squat to determine what ROM in the ankle, knee, and hips have been lost, and use this position both as a diagnostic and as a way to build presence in the body as well as an effective pose to open what is tight, and once the squat is more open we look at how to stay in integrity in the position. This is a basic functional movement that historically any premodern human would be more or less comfortable in.
Hanging does a number of beneficial things for the body in a short amount of time. Hanging builds grip strength, decompresses the spine and differentiates the shoulder girdle from the thorax. If you have hyper mobile shoulders then you'll want to explore scapular shrugging while hanging, and not just be in a dead hang. If you have tight shoulders you'll want to explore a dead hang. A daily practice of hanging for 30 seconds at a time is great for the spine and keeping shoulder tension down, for most people. One on one we can examine whats best for you.