A history on Postural Integration and what is fascia release?

Postural Integration was developed in the late 1960s by a professor of philosophy and psychology called Jack Painter (1933-2010).  Jack was a lecturer at the University of Miami and became keenly interested in many different styles of therapy and studied things like massage, acupuncture, Zen, yoga, Rolfing, deep fascia release, breath work and Gestalt. Jack was also very much influenced by the work of Wilhelm Reich and his concepts of Vegetotherapy and sexuality, as well as Alexander Louens concepts on Trauma Release and bio energetics. He was truly a pioneer in the humanistic growth movement of the late 1960’s.

Jack found, that each of all of the above mentioned therapies, however powerful and effective, were not complete in themselves and started to combine many different approaches and schools of thought to work on many different levels at the same time. This eclectic combination, he called Postural Integration.

Postural Integration primarily works on the body armouring, which in turn realigns the posture of the body. Through the traumas of life, both physical and emotional, however subtle those may have been, cause the connective tissue also known as fascia to contract. The body contracts the fascia in an attempt to protect and armour the person from further hurt. This armouring gets steered by the autonomic nervous system in the subconscious part of the brain. The brain and body remember those traumas long after the person may have forgotten about them. In this, the body and mind are intrinsically linked; hence Postural Integration is a body-mind integration modality.

Postural Integration

As we age, the body-mind may become more and more contracted as the emotional baggage increases. This is often very visible with the elderly. You can literally see them carrying their baggage on their backs. This is not exclusive however to the elderly, as many young people already look like they are carrying heavy burdens, with postural misalignments and pain.

This psycho-emotional, somatic, holding seems to recreate patterns in our lives and we have no knowledge of how to change ourselves. It’s as though these internal issues cause the external world to be a direct reflection of our internal state.

Let me elaborate on this point. If for arguments sake, you have suffered a deep rejection early on in life, you may end up deeply rejecting yourself because you don’t feel worthy of acceptance, and you may well continuously recreate relationships that reiterate your initial rejection, in order to remind you of something that’s happening within. It often causes you and others to reject yourself time and time again. We are often unable to change these patterns even though we might be well aware of them.

Postural Integration rests on four pillars or approaches to bring about deep and lasting change. These pillars are:

  1. Deep body release work through opening and manipulation of the fascia.
  2. Emotional release work.
  3. Fine energy work, charge and discharge
  4. Integration

Postural Integration is an eclectic combination of different styles that engages the client in such a way, as to be an active participant in their journey of self discovery. In this, Postural Integration is unique in its approach. We employ many other techniques like breath work, Gestalt, Body readings, imagery, trauma release exercises, Meridian stimulation and counseling.

Postural Integration has different phases. First we work on the superficial fascia which lies directly under the skin and gives each person their unique shape. Then we work on intermediary fascia which lies a little deeper. Once the tissue is softened enough on the superficial as well as intermediary levels, then we can work on the core fascia, sitting deep in the body where we store the strongest and often oldest emotional holding and armouring, and where we protect ourselves often by default. This, we call the release phase of the work.

By then, the body and mind is soft and malleable, where we can literally reshape the posture of the body in the Integration stage of the work.

What is Fascia and how does it affect our health?

Fascia is a complex network or web of protein collagenous fibres, elastic fibres and Fibroblasts and is the main structural organ of the body. There are different types of fascia that have different textures and compositions. Fascia is sometimes more soft and elastic and sometimes more dense and leathery and sometimes even hard, as is the case with cartilage. It is always very tough. Each muscle is surrounded and penetrated with fascia similar to the segments of a citrus fruit, and the fascia gives each muscle its structural integrity and range of movement.  Fascia binds each muscle to the skeleton by means of tendons, which is also a type of fascia.

It is the most abundant tissue in the body. It binds muscles together, differentiates organs from each other and keeps them in place, keeps the skeleton upright, has an intimate connection with the metabolic interchange of cells and forms a fundamental part of the water metabolism and the mechanism through which the body guides and distributes fluids. It forms an intricate web coextensive with the body, central to body and central to its well being and performance. Each cell has structural fascia in it.

Most blood vessels and nerves run through the fascia, so if there is a contraction or armouring, it will compress the blood vessels and limit blood supply and thus oxygen and nutrients, also restricting the removal of waste products. As a result, the cells are thus more likely to be more malnourished and prone to mutation.

The skeleton is literally floating in connective tissue, and the bones serve as digits to which bands of the fascia connect to in a type of tensegrity system. If you could imagine a sail boat and imagine that the mast is the skeleton, the fascia would be the ropes that hold that mast in place. Without the ropes, the mast would be without proper support and just fall over.

At this stage, little is known about the fascia, as it was considered of little importance by the medical profession. Only in recent years has its function been reconsidered and the role it plays in the body and how it affects our health. It is now gained much recognition by the medical profession and vast amounts research is being done conducted by leading scientists around the world, particularly in Germany.