I decided not to publish the first draft as it read as quite a dry history lesson, even though the people behind the move towards a holistic understanding of anatomy are dynamic, brilliant and captivating! I would encourage you to follow these links if you want to read about some of the people that have helped me develop my thinking in the past few years. (They are ranked in no order - they are simply the 10 people and their books that I turn to almost every day.)
Ida Rolf, however, heads the pack in order of magnitude! The work that she did was ground breaking in relation to the understanding we have today of integrated anatomy. As a Ph.D in bio-chemistry she had a keen grasp of how the cellular structure within us works. After studying many Body-Therapy techniques, including Osteopathy and yoga, she slowly started work on her own approach to movement and body-work therapy: Structural Integration.
Structural Integration has fondly been called 'Rolfing' after Ida Rolf's legacy. It is the theory that during our lives, outside factors, emotional issues, internal illnesses and gravity take a tole on the body and it becomes misaligned. Ida Rolf was the first person to really embrace the fact that fascia, the connective tissue that holds us all together, could be seen as an organ in itself and that it could be readjusted to allow the body to realign and heal. Once the body is shown where it can soften and release through Structural Integration and Fascia Release, movement is then allowed new freedom within the person who is being treated as there is less restrictions that is hindering flow.
Ida Rolf's work with Structural Integration, I believe, led the way for fascia to be looked at in a fully scientific way, which has subsequently led to body-work being researched in-depth into the effect that touch has on the connective tissue, overall health, well-being and improved movement. The idea that until 100 years ago we had missed the largest organ in the body - connective tissue - as a major factor in the anatomy 'systems' is amazing to me.
Do not be fooled when new-papers tell you that massage has no scientific research. It's simply not true. There is a vast community leading peer reviewed research in the field of massage and body-work. To begin with, just visit the Journal Of Bodywork and Movement Thearpies for a taste!
Fascia is the founding reason why I believe Anatomy needs to me looked at again with clarity of vision, and why a holistic language needs to be formed within the body-work. If we want positive outcome within our sessions we need to think less of isolated muscles and static terms of movement (i.e arm flexion), and look at how whole movement is formulated; restricted at first and released afterwards.
Connective tissue also breaks down the argument that was formed throughout the classical view of anatomy. As it flows through all layers, encapsulating every cell, forming sheaths, creating webbed scar tissue and allowing us to be suspended in form whilst gravity pushes us down, I think it is about time we start looking at our bodies with new eyes.
This is why at Cornerstone Therapies I make sure the people that I help understand that there is more to massage than simply moving muscle. We slowly soften and sink into the layers of the body, intending touch to show the body where it's tight and needs to release, where there are areas that need to move and change, as well as relax and sink back. My work is slow; one stroke can take a few minutes, but the intention is deep and thorough as I want to connect with all layers to make sure that not a single stroke is wasted. I am not interested in singular muscle movement as my intention is to move you to a different place! If I were to only treat one muscle in the back (as if I could!) I can't expect the whole of the back to release as I haven't asked it to change state with the isolated part.
The language that body-work has needs to change with the knowledge that we have and the technology that we embrace. I long for the day when we can securely and safely store video data from the IPad generation of gadgets as we could then record movement in its whole rather than have tick boxes for movement tests such as flexion and extension - we could see how the form is reacting for the feet to the head in one move!
Finally, I believe fascia, due to its sliding state, encourages us not to look at people in a static position that is often called the 'Anatomical Position'. Rather, it moves us towards a more realistic view of the natural form, which is living motion, instead of a standing pose.
In the next blog we will look at movement in a bit more depth and see if we can get body-work and movement singing in harmony.