Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2018

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Body parts can get stuck together. This can have structural causes, such as when scarring causes layers of connective tissue to adhere to each other, or be a functional issue, such as when it's hard for the brain to move just one part without also moving other unrelated parts at the same time. Structural and functional coupling both have useful roles—to some extent, the more things that participate in a given movement, the more support, stability, and power we have. But when body parts are over-coupled and work more than they need to, we not only waste energy, but also sacrifice coordination, grace, and refinement. 96 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 8 technique THE SOMATIC EDGE Decoupling the Ankle and Leg By Til Luchau Ida Rolf and Moshe Feldenkrais, seen here in 1974, pioneered contrasting but complementary body therapy approaches. Though Rolf explained her method in terms of physical tissue-level changes, she also cited Feldenkrais (who emphasized learning and awareness over structural change) as one of her primary influences. Image courtesy W. Silva. As massage and manual therapists, our collective legacy includes methodologies that address both structural and functional over-coupling. Dr. Ida Rolf's structural integration, true to its name, originally emphasized the "structural" or tissue-based aspects of over-coupling. She speculated that the deep pressure classically associated with her method changed the physical properties of the body's connective tissues, freeing them up where inelastic or stuck. 1 "Differentiation" was the traditional goal of the middle phase of her 10-session series; she said this freeing-up was necessary before a new, more integrated order could emerge. 2 Moshe Feldenkrais, on the other hand, emphasized awareness and sensory-based distinctions over tissue-based differentiation. He called his hands-on method "Functional Integration," reportedly as a friendly riposte to Rolf's emphasis on structure (in medicine, one definition of "functional" is "nonstructural"). Rather than using direct pressure to liberate over- coupled parts, Feldenkrais's method 1

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