ATSI stands for Anatomy Trains Structural Integration. It is a transformative and integrative form of bodywork. The design of ATSI is to unwind the strain patterns residing in your body’s loco motor system, restoring it to its natural balance, alignment, length, and ease. It helps an individual experience/recover an optimal way of moving while increasing strength, adaptability and resilience.
Consists of a multi-session protocol (usually 12) of deep, slow myofascial manipulation, coupled with movement re-education.
Sessions are typically strategized around an Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridian(*), distinct lines of pull studied by Thomas Myers (Rolfer® and developer of the KMI Structural Integration).
Springs from the Structural Integration work of Dr. Ida P. Rolf, more often know as Rolfing®.
The method focuses on manipulating/integrating the connective tissue system (fascia) in order to improve the body’s organization in movement (massage usually focuses on the muscular system). Though extensively observed in Rolfers ® daily practice for 50 years, it is only in the last decade that a vast body of research has come to better understand the function and prime role of fascia in our loco motor system. We still know very little about this network that yet seems to give our body its shape and assure fluid and organized movement (or lack there-of).
When we are injured or stressed, no matter what the source, there is a neuromuscular response – usually involving some combination of contraction, retraction, immobility, and often rotation. These patterns put some muscles under strain (where they develop painful trigger points) and also pull at this fascial fabric, requiring it to shift, thicken, glue itself to surrounding structures, often resulting in pain and reduced mobility.
Fortunately, the fascial network has a unique property: it is a plastic (malleable) sensory organ which makes it capable of re-negotiation.
Thomas Myers showed that within this continuum of tissue emerge distinct lines of pull which he named Anatomy Train Myofascial Meridians (*).
The process of ATSI is to systematically lengthen those “lines” within the individual’s body in hope to create expansion, balance and ease of movement within the structure. ATSI also offers a rich playground for self-discovery. ATSI does wonders coupled with Somatic practices (like Feldenkrais, ABM and Hannah Somatics), with personal training such as Yoga or Pilates, it also supports well more psychological or developmental journeys. Clients often report the work has profoundly affected their lives.
“Improving balance and alignment generates many positive results that spans from freedom from pain to freedom to BE….”
It is a very personal process that yields unique benefits to each individual. Among the most commonly reported benefits:
Alleviate pain or discomfort/Fuller and easier breathing/Increased energy and overall aliveness/Reduce stress and tension/Improved alignment /Greater flexibility/Feeling of lightness is often reported after just one session/Better balance or sense of stability/Increased self-confidence/Empowerment/Self-actualization
Will these benefits last?
Yes! The acquired new awareness seems to deepen with time, the process of structural integration furthers as time goes by. Nevertheless, as we keep living and aging, some accident, injuries and physical or emotional stress may occur that may require additional work. Life itself is a continual process.
Structural Integration is not a passive model, it is a highly participatory priocess. In fact, without the client’s optimal engagement it can lose its long lasting effect. It is truly a collaboration as a lot of the “work” happens away from the table, when the client is relating to and exploring his environment from a new place. The client attention to his changes in sensation is key to the process.
Structural Integration goes beyond a model of local repair or relaxation. It aims at resolving pain or discomfort from a systemic point of view, tracking the cause often further away than the symptoms. The effect is long lasting as within the process comes a model of education in self-awareness and realization that prevents further discomfort to settle.
ATSI ‘s global approach sets it apart from other kind of manual therapies.
A good SI practitioner is a bodyworker, a compassionate therapist and above all a facilitator of change. The premise of structural integration is that the answer (healing, release, potential) lies within the client. All the practitioner provides is a held space for exploration and movement and an opportunity to develop “critical sensing”, to develop awareness. Once self-aware and attune with his physical experience, the individual seems more present, conscious and authentic in his interpersonal relationships, able to maneuver his life with clarity and harmony with his True Self.
Before starting the series, the client will review his health history with the practitioner, going over any accidents, surgeries, diseases or trauma but also exploring his current and past occupations and hobbies. Together, they will articulate the client’s specific goal for entering the process.
The practitioner will evaluate the clients balance, posture, movements and assess where the body departs from optimal position and function.
Each session is performed on a massage table, standing, or sitting on a bench. The practitioner applies slow deep strokes along myofascial meridians. Some areas of work will provide a warm pleasurable feeling; others may reveal local discomfort under the pressure, which will be adjusted according to the client’s feedback. Many times the client is called to move smoothly under the practitioner’s hand.
As an important part of the process, the practitioner will help the client become aware of patterns of movement and imbalances in their body and will support them in finding ways to change those in their daily lives.