Kinesis Myofascial Integration (KMI) springs from the pioneering work of Dr Ida P Rolf, as developed, by Thomas Myers, one of Owen’s principle teachers. KMI consists of a multi-session protocol (usually 12) of deep, slow fascial and myofascial manipulation, coupled with movement re-education. KMI is one of a number of schools that train practitioners in ‘Structural Integration’, Ida Rolf’s name for her own work. Structural Integration is practiced as an old-world craft with a 21st century comprehension of how your body structure works. Owen concentrates on doing deep, lasting, and significant work, with anatomical precision, blended with movement and sensitivity to the unfolding individual experience. The KMI ‘recipe’ for Structural Integration is based around the “Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians” concept, which are explored in the book written by Thomas Myers, published by Harcourt Brace (Elsevier) in 2001 and a 2nd edition in 2008 (www.anatomytrains.com).
The design of KMI is to unwind the strain patterns residing in your body’s locomotors system, restoring it to its natural balance, alignment, length, and ease. Common strain patterns come about from inefficient movement habits, and our body’s response to poorly designed cars, desks, telephones, and airplanes, etc. Individual strain patterns come from imitation when we are young, from the invasions of injury or surgery or birth, and from our body’s response to traumatic episodes.
Beginning as a simple gesture of response, movements can become a neuromuscular habit. The habitual movement forms one’s posture, and the posture requires changes in the structure – the body’s connective tissue ‘fabric’. In other words, a gesture becomes a habit becomes a posture and eventually lodges in our structure. These changes are rarely for the better – anything that pulls us out of alignment means that gravity works on pulling us into more misalignment or increased tension to counteract the force. Compensation begets compensation, and more symptoms. KMI is designed to unwind this process and reduce structural stress. The method depends on a unique property of the body’s connective tissue network. Connective tissue is a remarkably versatile bit of biology. It forms every supportive tissue from the fluid blood to the solid bone, and a host of sheets, straps, and slings in between. The muscular tissue moves us around, but it works through the connective tissue fascia, tendons, and the ligaments at every turn, and it is the connective tissue complex that holds us in the shape we are in. 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 pulls at this fascial fabric, requiring it to shift, thicken, glue itself to surrounding structures, and otherwise compensate for the excess sustained muscular holding.
Especially for chronic and long-held patterns, it is not enough to release the muscular holding, though that is definitely a good start. Freeing and repositioning the fascial fabric, along with re-integrating the movement patterns so that they stay easily in their proper positioning, is the job of KMI. In this sense, KMI could be seen as a companion to osteopathic or chiropractic care, but instead of thrusting the bones back into place, we adjust the fascial ‘guy-wires’ so that they stay in place – the new alignment simply becomes part of who you are, not something you have to work at or repeatedly see a practitioner to maintain.
Does it really work?
This picture shows one client who has greatly benifited from the work. The photo were taken before (on the left) and after (on the right) the 12 series. It is clear that this client has visibly improved his postural alignment. See how his head, shoulders, hips, knees and feet are now more comfortably balanced on top of one another. That there is more of him aligned along the line of gravity shown. Clearly gravity will now hold this structure rather than pushing it further and further into displacement.
The picture does not tell the whole story. Despite a long history of significant back and neck complaints he has not reported any pain after undergoing the process of structural integration.
I know one thing, that I know nothing – Socrates
There are so many dimensions to the work of structural integration but it is true that the more you, or I, understand about structural integration we realise how little we truly understand.
If you want clarification or have even more questions than you started with then please email or ring and I shall attempt to give you a simpler or more complex answer.
One of the central concepts of how we view the whole nature of the body is that of tensegrity. A term used by Buckminster Fuller whose ideas have further developed our understanding of the unique interconnected nature of our structure.
This picture is an example of a tensegrity structure. Note how it is the guy wires that give the structure the shape, strength and elasticity. See how the struts seem to float within the matrix of guy ropes. If one guy rope is too short or long then it will throw the whole structure out of balance and that to rebalance the structure all guy ropes will need to be addressed.
Now imagine that this is your body, it is not the bones that hold your shape and allow movement but the soft connective tissue (the myofascia). Structural integration aims to make equal the relative length, tension and quality of your guy wires. www.biotensegrity.com
The human body, a tensile structure.
Put strain into just one area of the body and the whole myofascial web changes. Much like if you pull your shirt in one corner the force is transmitted through the surface of the shirt. Imagine that in three dimensions and you get the compensations that we make as a result of injuries and misalignment.