Structural Integration- Session 5 (2/2012)
It has been said that session five is the heart of the Structural Integration ten sessions. It is fitting, it seems, on so many levels. Session five is all about the psoas muscle- which has been described in the session 4 posting. It is one of the most important muscles to address as it is what keeps our pelvis balanced from front to back, and side to side. Without balance in this muscle, and therefore balance in our pelvis- we cannot achieve true alignment. When the pelvis is rotated or tipped forward or backwards, it forces our bodies to compensate above and below. We may begin to have low back pain, which moves its way up to our necks. We may have one psoas that is too tight and pulls one of our legs higher in the pelvis, thereby making our footing uneven. It is also important to understand that it is the counterbalance to our abdominal muscles, and is the primary initiator in moving our legs to walk. When our abdominal muscles are too over-developed, say from repetitive crunches, our psoas can weaken, and stop picking up its proper load- thereby leading to pelvic imbalances and subsequent discomfort and misalignment. Also, after this session, the distinction between movement being intrinsic or extrinsic becomes more noticeable. Many people have weakened psoas’, which can cause other muscles not useful to walking to become involved. These muscles have less power than our deeper, intrinsic muscles (i.e. the psoas); and therefore, we spend more energy walking and further our imbalances as less powerful muscles try to compensate. Once psoas is released, one starts to notice the power and energy to walk and hold oneself upright comes not only with more ease, but also seems to initiate from somewhere deeper within the body- this is a good thing! In addition to these important functions, the psoas also houses an important nerve plexus that relates to the overall health of many of our vital organs. As Ida Rolf explains in her book Rolfing, “the lumbar plexus is a spinal plexus embedded in the psoas, permitting intercommunication between the lumbar plexus and the spinal nerves which emerge from the spine where the psoas attaches. Connections from the lumbar plexus to the autonomic system are extensive and intimate. Restricted movement or other mechanical interference in the psoas thus affects the general metabolic level, since this is monitored by the autonomic system as a whole” and the implications go on (pg 112).
Receiving this work had quite an effect on me. I would say that I felt small progressions and new, incremental awareness’ with each previous session. However, the change created in this session somehow made all the other session changes click in and finally settle. As if, they had been preparation leading up to and allowing this major change to happen. I have had chronic issues with the right side of my low back. I have a hip imbalance, in which my right hip rotates downward, causing a lot of strain and compensation patterns in many other parts of my body. I have done stretches, gotten chiropractic work, been obsessive about my posture and body mechanics- but nothing would work until my psoas was released. Suddenly, it was less energy to walk around and I noticed it the most in my massage work. I usually had the most pain after I gave massages, but after my psoas was released, I was able to hold my body in better positions, and spare my back. What a relief! Now, I just need to release the other muscles that have been hanging on for dear life trying to compensate! They are still not quite sure they should stop over-working. That will be the next session, I believe. In addition to the physical relief, there was a profound sense after this session of having entered and “taken a seat” more firmly into my body. I felt more empowered and like I could conquer the world. Big energy release. I felt really out of it that evening as I adjusted to the newness in my body. Weeks later, I can still tell my back is better than it was.