What does a personalized approach mean?
Each body is structurally and functionally different. As importantly, clients will have diverse backgrounds with greater or lesser knowledge of their bodies. The process addresses both the structural and functional body and creates interventions to alter the harmful habits and compensation patterns we individually develop in daily life. All sessions are modified to meet the needs of each person, whether they are from a health and fitness background or never addressed these concerns before.
Why is this approach so important to my health, body, and physical condition?
Overtime we develop habitual movement and postural patterns accommodating to repetitious activity, mental and emotional fixations, and compensating for injury or pain.
Certain muscles become stronger to maintain these patterns, while opposing muscles become weaker, creating an unbalanced body. During activity, the body tries to conserve energy recruiting the stronger muscles before weaker ones, thereby strengthening the unbalanced pattern. Although the body saves energy to the system performing that pattern, an unbalanced movement pattern is not energy efficient to the system as a whole.
This means that during a typical exercise routine, not individualized to our specific needs, there is the danger that bad habits become stronger, thwarting the purpose of the exercise. Tissues of the body respond to the unusual patterns by enforcing areas of high force, and over time lack of circulation caused by restriction, overuse, or under use, create rigidity and dehydration in other areas, leading to more restriction and less adaptability to the system as a whole.
Cyclical by nature, habitual movement creates habitual vantage points and mental constructs. In other words, the way we interpret the world becomes limited and feeds the movement system, which is in turn depleting us. The cumulative result is a fatigued body and mind, as well as joints and nerves worn down from unbalanced forces, leading to further pain and potential injury. Habits are circular, limiting us to see and choose other possibilities. As we become less adaptable, we lose a key trait to our survival as a species. The goal of this approach is to release us from our habits, enhance our ability to be adaptive, and retrain the body to be more energy efficient.
What is the process?
An initial structural and functional analysis of each individual’s body is made through observation of standing/sitting postures and movements, such as walking and knee bends. If appropriate, muscle and joint biomechanics may also be tested. For those individuals who spend the majority of their time performing particular motions during work, exercise, or hobbies, this information is invaluable and will be incorporated into the assessment. Artists, professionals, workers, athletes, and dancers are examples of special populations that perform movements that must be considered. An assessment of these movements (i.e. painting, running, skiing, tattooing, cooking) or static postures (i.e. sitting at a workstation) is imperative to come to reasonable goals for strength and balance.
The purpose of the assessment is not to compare the body to an ideal, nor achieve perfect symmetry. Balance and symmetry are not the same. We need to find balance among the forces in our lives, but we do not lead a symmetrical life, nor should we expect our bodies to lead one. Instead, the assessment considers, without judgment, the current predilection of the body, the overall pattern, and the relationships between parts, where the body is less adaptable, and where compensations may be occurring. Additional assessments will be made throughout the process to chart change and plan future sessions.
Structural Integration and Bodywork:
Based on the above assessments, a series of bodywork sessions is designed to meet the individual’s needs and goals.
Posture Training: Structural Integration and Bodywork catering to the individual is complimented with corresponding yoga, strength training, and movement re-education exercises. Yoga alignment principles and resistance training are combined to create a personalized program that will enhance and prolong the effects of the hands-on structural work. While the whole body will be worked, core strengthening and balance work will be emphasized in order to integrate the body. As the body comes into structural and functional balance, stress will naturally be reduced.
Ergonomic consultations are made of workstations, home living, and any other environments or interactions with objects or tools during activities that take a significant amount of the client’s time. This ensures that the client can take their new body patterns into their daily life and have prolonged effects. Product selection, and redesign of spaces will be suggested and implemented, catering to different budget levels, and degrees of change. Often, much can be achieved through simple instruction and minor interventions.
What is the Joint Effect of all the services offered?
The complementary relationship of Structural Bodywork and Posture Training creates a more adaptable body. An adaptable body is able to adopt integrative, fluid movements that are energy efficient to the whole system. Ergonomic interventions assure that the body will not revert to poor habits and will promote new healthy ones, maintaining the progress achieved through Structural Bodywork and Posture Training.
Why should I use this approach, rather than try something else?
All of the services are well-established alternative and mainstream health and fitness modalities, which when combined and modified to the individual, promote stronger, more comfortable bodies, ease of movement, and stress reduction. The complimentary effect of these modalities creates sustainable effects on the body.
The approach involves both intervention and education. By addressing the concerns of the body and the environment it functions in, balance, the key to health, can be achieved. An active participant in the conscious and educational process, each individual is empowered to take responsibility for their life and make lifestyle changes to ensure that balance is maintained.
Furthermore, all the pieces of the puzzle are overlooked by one practitioner, which ensures that practitioners are not working at odds with each other. Having all your needs met saves you time, and keeps you motivated and focused.
What is the difference between going to a physical therapist, a regular massage therapist, or doing myofascial release?
The answer to this question is two-fold. One is the question of choosing between these therapies, while the second is a question of whether one therapy is enough. To answer these questions people must ask themselves what they are truly seeking to accomplish, and how do they view their potential?
Physical therapy can be a necessary intervention to rehabilitate after acute injury as well as address chronic conditions. Specifically, physical therapy is a branch of rehabilitative health, which uses specially designed exercises and equipment to assist patients to regain or improve their physical abilities. As a clinician, I have recommended and at times strongly encouraged clients to use physical therapy. It is often a focused approach to a specific injury or problem that may be necessary before more integrative work can be done. I could coach my clients through exercises, enhancing their movement and encouraging their tissue to heal in an efficient manner after injury. However, the result of the services offered at Full Body Potential has the possibility of a greater human potential. It is not, I repeat, is not “fix it” work.
I challenge you to think of a piece of artwork that moves you; perhaps it is a painting, a sculpture, theatre, or piece of music. Regardless of the type of art, think of that particular piece and ask yourself why it moves you. Some of you may answer the melodic guitar strums, or the colors the artist uses, but perhaps some of you will say, it simply does. I bet those who could find specific reasons still know there is just something special that moves you, something you can’t put your finger on. This is very much the way Structural Integration (Bodywork) affects the client. It is not massage, which can have therapeutic effects, such as greater circulation and relaxation, or myofascial release, which can give a sense of unwrapping of body patterns. No, SI work is directive and analytical, yet cannot be reduced to a technique or diagnostic tools. SI work is a philosophy. It looks at the way the physical body interacts with the sensory, emotional, and communicative aspects of physical motion. For example, releasing the facial structures does more than address the structure, but addresses the expressive aspects of our being. Therefore, the difference is not whether one is better than another. It is a question of whether you are striving for a greater human potential or simply a physical intervention.
The second question, whether one therapy is enough, I believe can be answered by looking at the three major factors that, in one way or another, sustain any disease. There are causative agents (toxicological, biological, metabolic, physical, emotional, etc.), constitutional weaknesses (genetic or acquired), and factors that block healing (environmental, lifestyle, psychological, etc.). True healing requires a multidisciplinary approach that addresses all these factors. Furthermore, I challenge that constitutional weaknesses are not necessarily a negative factor but simply a unique one. Once the individual characteristics are recognized, causative agents and factors that block healing can be addressed.
Ida Rolf did not believe that one intervention (psychology vs. physical therapy) was necessarily better than another. She said, however, “ The body is what I can get me hands on.” Therefore the process begins with the body and what we end with is an elevated human potential.
COPYRIGHT © 2009, LISA TERNES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.