Frequently Asked Questions

KMI Structural Integration Frequently Asked Questions with Jo Jean BordwellWhat makes KMI Structural Integration different?

Structural Integration was originally created by Ida P. Rolf, PhD. In the 1960’s the Human Potential Movement of the people of Esalon in Big Sur, CA found Ida’s approach to bodywork fit in with their ideal of the perfection of the human experience and her work was coined “Rolfing.” Many students that trained with her went on to teach and expand her theories and many tried to maintain the integrity of her “recipe.” But all schools of Structural Integration have their base in Ida’s methodical method of creating the most efficient posture and balance with the least amount of gravitational pull that would lay the groundwork for pain.

KMI was developed by Ida’s student Tom Myers. Tom was also influenced by the “Whole Systems” work of engineer Buckminster Fuller, the father of the geodesic dome, and by Moshe Feldenkries, the pioneer of movement therapy. These other exposures got Tom thinking about the body as a whole system and how repetitive patterns of movement can create a habit that then becomes part of our structure. Getting to the bottom of the pain is a process. It can’t be solved by a pill or a surgery. Ida Rolf used to say that “pain is the body’s request for more space.” This work is a way to get more space between the layers of tissue that give us support and structure and open the communication pathways between the body and the brain. Lots of research since the 60’s has proved the value of fascia as an essential pathway and Tom has spearheaded many conferences and workshops to bring the researchers and innovators across the world together to advance this work and share their findings.

Will it hurt?

In the beginning Ida Rolf’s work had the reputation for being painful without much regard for the client’s comfort level. Over the years we have discovered that it was not necessary to impose such pain to get good results. KMI was developed as more of a partnership between the practitioner and the client and sustained pain is counterproductive to the changes that we are looking for. This work is done on a massage table, and for certain moves on a stool or bench. The practitioner will use his fingers, hands, or arm to contact certain tissues, and then ask you to move in specific ways while he or she opens and repositions those tissues. The process of opening these tissues can involve some burning, like a yoga stretch or exercising some long unused muscles. The pain, if the sensation gets that far, should be short and bearable. Open lines of communication with your practitioner are essential to the partnership and finding the right level of depth for you that also allows the maximum value for each session. The idea is to achieve a balanced body that is pain-free. You may have to feel some of the stored pain as it leaves your body, especially in traumatized areas.

Why are there 12 sessions?

Making major changes in your posture and the way you use your body is a little like jacking-up your car on all four corners at the same time. You can only move it up a little at a time on each corner or the whole thing will become unstable and tip over. Each session of KMI works on a specific section of the body revealing the stuck (and sometimes painful) places and increasing your range of motion. If we did it all at once your brain could not comprehend all the new changes and you would be very unstable. The 12 sessions allow your body and your brain to integrate each time and when you return for your next session your brain is ready to absorb new information about where your body is in space

Is KMI Structural Integration helpful for a recent injury?

KMI is a wonderful ‘tonic’ for your posture and movement. It can be remarkably effective for chronic pain patterns of a structural nature, but is not designed as a ‘curative’ for any disease, or as a ‘first aid’ remedy for recent injury. Do not undertake KMI without medical permission if indicated, or if suffering from a ‘hot’ (inflammatory) disease. Please discuss any injuries with your practitioner if you are unsure whether KMI is contraindicated.

Can I try out KMI before I commit to all 12 sessions?

You can certainly ‘try out’ a session of KMI to see if it suits you. The first session covering the front of the body and the posture analysis is a good way to feel the difference between massage and KMI. Many people find the interactive nature of the work enjoyable and longer lasting. But the best, most permanent and progressive results are obtained by undertaking the whole series. You can do the 12-session series within a season, and spread it out over three. Spacing the sessions too close together does not give your body time to absorb and integrate the information, whereas drawing the process out too long means you risk losing the momentum essential to the process.

Can I still work out or get any other type of therapy?

Yes, as a matter of fact, sometimes it will even be necessary! KMI is compatible with chiropractic work, osteopathy, massage, yoga and most types of exercise. As the changes are being absorbed by the brain and body you may notice more range of motion, longer visits between adjustments, or just easier movements throughout the day. As your awareness increases you will be working yourself out of old habits and patterns of movement.

Why do I have to move during the session, can’t I just relax?

Your movement increases the effectiveness of the work by 2 to 3 times! Ida Rolf’s mantra was “Put it where it belongs and call for movement.” This partnership lessens the sensation of moving the fascia and gets the brain involved in integrating this new information right away. Your cerebellum is in charge of “where you are in space” and this helps it learns the new position of the tissue even faster. It also gives you control of how much sensation you are ready to experience.

Ahwatukee Massage Therapy, What do wear to KMI sessionWhat do I wear?

Please wear shorts that give good access to the legs. Loose running shorts or any stretchy type work-out wear is great. Even a bathing suit will work. For ladies, a regular or strapless bra, bathing suit top or a sports bra that is not too thick in the back. The spine will get lots of attention and we want to make sure we can get to your skin.