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Acupuncture Meridians & Fascial Lines

The myofascial line of the Superficial Back Line

The picture shows the fascial plane of the superficial back line (SBL) which corresponds closely to the UB meridian.  

This image is based on extensive research into fascia, as presented by Tom Myers in his book Anatomy Trains. His research is based in Western science, anatomy, and dissection of cadavers.  

Through understanding current findings on the fascia and their lines of connection, we can gain a deeper insight into the meridians and the effects of acupuncture.

Acupuncture points on the UB meridian (SBL) on the legs and around the ankle can treat conditions like lumbar pain, neck pain, and occipital headaches. Points like UB 40, UB 57, and UB 60 are commonly used for treating these conditions. 

This image reveals a direct Western anatomical basis for comprehending how UB points on the legs can benefit the back, neck and occipital region.

Structural Integration

Structural Integration (SI) is a natural and effective way to help your clients alleviate chronic pain, improve posture, and enhance overall well-being? As therapists, SI can be used to help benefit our clients by realigning their body to restore balance and harmony.

 

Learning structural integration increases our skill sets and gets to foundational problems that many people have - poor posture and misalignments. When the body is not aligned properly it can cause diverse problems including headaches, migraines, neck, back, and shoulder pain, as well as problems in the hips, hands, elbows, knees, ankles, and feet. 

 

Knowing how to address postural problems and structural imbalances is necessary for many of the most common health conditions that we see in our practices.  

Structural Integration works on the fascia to improve posture and alignment. This work has the capacity to change chronic patterns that underly common health problems.

If you are interested in working with the myofascia, it is essential to understand how to use various structural integration techniques to alleviate pain. Since the myofascia are a vital part of the muscle-skeletal system, it is necessary to have quality hands on tools to address fascial problems for some of the most common health complaints that people have. 

Structural Integration & the 10 Session Series

Principles in the First Session

 

Some of the first teachings in our structural integration online class include the importance of starting on the superficial levels of the myofascia. This allows us to use a strategic method by starting with the outer layers and progressing to deeper levels. 

The priority in the first session is to open the ribcage, create ease in the breath, and increase the volume capacity of the breath. As the lungs are one of the most superficial organs because of the way they exchange oxygen and CO2, working on the ribcage is related to working on superficial structures. 

Starting in the shoulder girdle and in the clavicle is a great place to start as it is in the upper portions of the thoracic cavity and many people hold tension in their shoulders. By freeing up the the shoulders and clavicle it can also help to release tension in the neck. Working the pectoral fascia is also a beginning movement because of the relationship of the pec muscles to the thoracic cavity and breath. Techniques to free the pec minor muscles are also taught in lesson one. 

The 10 Session Series

Structural integration typically consists of ten sessions, each focusing on a specific area of the body. These sessions are designed to systematically address imbalances and restore overall alignment. Here is a brief overview of the ten sessions:

Session 1: "Opening the Breath" - This session focuses on releasing tension in the ribcage and diaphragm, allowing for greater breath capacity and improved posture.

Session 2: "Aligning the Lower Body" - The second session aims to align the pelvis, legs, and feet, promoting stability and balance.

Session 3: "Balancing the Pelvis" - This session focuses on aligning the pelvis and addressing any imbalances or asymmetries.

Session 4: "Freeing the Legs" - The fourth session works on releasing tension in the legs, improving flexibility and range of motion.

Session 5: "Integrating the Upper Body" - This session addresses the alignment of the shoulders, neck, and head, promoting better posture and reducing upper body tension.

Session 6: "Releasing the Arms and Hands" - The sixth session focuses on releasing tension in the arms and hands, improving mobility and function.

Session 7: "Addressing the Core" - This session targets the core muscles and fascia, promoting stability and strength.

Session 8: "Integrating the Sides" - The eighth session aims to balance the sides of the body, addressing any asymmetries and promoting overall alignment.

Session 9: "Aligning the Body in Gravity" - This session focuses on the integration of the entire body, ensuring optimal alignment and balance in relation to gravity.

Session 10: "Integration and Maintenance" - The final session is dedicated to integrating the changes and providing tools for maintaining the benefits of structural integration in everyday life.

The Relationship Between Structure & Function

The human body is a complex and interconnected system where structure and function are intimately linked. When the body is properly aligned and balanced, it functions optimally. However, poor posture, injuries, and repetitive movement patterns can disrupt this balance, leading to pain and dysfunction.

Structural integration recognizes this relationship between structure and function and aims to restore optimal alignment. By addressing the underlying structural imbalances, structural integration improves the body's function, allowing for greater efficiency and ease of movement. A variety of doctors such as chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists work on improving structure and alignment to benefit a variety of body functions.

 

Learning structural integration gives massage therapists and others the opportunity to work at deeper levels and in more holistic ways.    

Moreover, structural integration emphasizes the connection between the body and mind. It acknowledges that our physical experiences and emotions are intricately intertwined. By releasing physical tension and energy blockages, structural integration creates space for emotional well-being and personal growth.

It is also common that emotional releases happen during structural integration, this can be a profound shift for the client, as long-held emotions and trauma get stored in our body, muscles, and tissues. In somatic therapies, touch and hands-on techniques are recognized as one of the four major methods for releasing pent up emotions. The other three methods widely used in somatic therapies include working with the breath, using movement and sensory orientated processes such as imagery and visualizations.   

Learning structural integration will increase your skill sets and give you a host of new tools.

This can benefit your practice in a number of ways. The 10 session series also helps to increase patient visits, worker in deeper ways, and develop more connection with your clients 

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Adding Structural Integration to Your Practice

Incorporating structural integration into your clinical practice can benefit your clients in numerous ways. Here are some tips for integrating structural integration into your practice:

1. Learn 3 Techniques and Practice them on 3 People: Take three techniques at a time and practice them on different body types to get a feel for how to use the methods taught in the class. As an acupuncturist, I frequently place needles in two limbs and then I use structural integration techniques on specific areas to work synergistically with the acupuncture needles. For instance, I may place needles in the hands and feet but then work on freeing up the ribcage. Using 4 Gates is an effective method to move qi through the body, but then I can use my hands on the clients shoulders, clavicle, and costal arch. 

2. Practice the Teachings with Movements: As you learn the material it helps to practice a movement art like yoga, pilates, tai chi, or qi kung. This will help you to embody good structure and allows you understand structural integration from being in your own body. 

3. Consider how Structural Integration Relates to Your Current Practice: When I started learning structural integration I had already practiced acupuncture and yoga for many years. This gave me an edge in learning how to use individual techniques as used in structural integration. For instance, when I treat shoulder pain, I typically start with points in the legs and feet such as ST 38, LV 3, LV 4, and LV 5. After placing the needles in these points I would then have the client move the affected shoulder. This is a great technique that I learned from Dr. Richard Tan in the Balance Method. With structural integration I learned that instead of having the patient move their shoulder, I could do manual therapies, massage, and structural integration techniques on the shoulder while the needles were in the legs and feet. This is a fantastic method because it allows me to address structural and myofascial problems directly in the shoulder while the needles are retained in the legs and feet.

 

I have also been able to integrate structural integration into acupressure, tuina, and Thai Massage. For instance, Thai Massage has a specific sequence that flows very smoothly. Many people enjoy this sequence and typically I like to maintain the flow of the Thai Massage. However, when there is a specific problem in an affected area, structural integration has given me more specific ways to work in certain regions of the body. So, while doing a Thai Massage I may stop for a few minutes in an area like the hips, back, shoulders, or neck, and apply precise structural integration techniques. This is especially important when you find congestion in the fascia that requires extra attention.     

The course covers all the basic moves that are needed to do the entire 10 session Structural Integration series. You will learn:

  • How to work the fascial planes of the body to create structural changes

  • Learn to use various tools for successful release of myofascial restrictions

  • The importance of vector and pace when applying these tools

  • Various approaches to deal with many of the painful conditions your clients bring to your table

  • And much more

The Comprehensive Structural Integration Online Class 

A hold used in craniosacral therapy, holding the skull
Get the Class Today for $385
Over 11 Hours of Video Instruction

The course videos and PDF booklet covers the entire 10 sessions of Structural Integration. You will be guided through the philosophy and techniques behind each session. The insights in the PDF are a guidelines that can be continually used as a reference tool when you want to revisit the wisdom that Dr. Rolf left the world.

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