Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fascia that is Only Skin Deep

Structural integration (Rolfing, Hellerwork, KMI, SOMA) is known for being deep. Depth is what attracts most clients. “I really want you to get in there,” one client tells me. “I’m glad this isn’t one of those petting massages,’ says another. The process of affecting the body’s fascial network is profound, but sometimes it is only skin deep.

I took a workshop from Liz Silverman Stewart this past weekend – Tracking the Recipe; Sessions 1-3 Review. Liz knows our proclivity to go deep and she encouraged us to work instead with the most superficial layer in the first session.

Unlike deeper, more complex, fascial layers that split, divide, dive and twist, the superficial layer is a single continuous sheet, like an internal wetsuit. Gil Hedley, a master anatomist, has dissected this layer, which you can see at his website. (Don’t look if seeing dissections grosses you out. Do look if you want to see many images of fascinating fascia.) If the superficial layer is not flat or free, it binds to underlying structures and limits movement. Releasing the adipose layer opens a window to the deeper layers in the following sessions.

Release of the superficial layer can be intense like deep work, especially when the entire layer is engaged, or at least much of the layer. That is what I practiced during the workshop. I also received a session in this manner and can feel the space it created for my whole body to move more freely, as though I changed out of clothes that were too tight in places. I can feel the glide of my adipose layer sliding easily beneath my skin giving my movement a sumptuous quality. My forward bends feel delicious from my hips to shoulders and even into the back of my arms.

Releasing the superficial layer is one way that structural integrators help our clients become more comfortable in their skin. (The fascia graphic is from the Hellerwork Client Handbook.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sound the Trombones for Undulation Break

I’d like to sound the trumpets, please. I have exciting news. Actually, it is more appropriate to sound a trombone so the notes slide from one to another as fluidly as an undulation. I’ve been silent on this blog for the past few months as I’ve worked on another project, which has now come to fruition. Undulation Break, a software program that prompts people to take short exercise breaks from their computers, was released this week.

Since I published Relieve Stiffness and Feel Young Again with Undulation, people have asked me for undulation videos. Undulation Break includes 22 videos and the user can choose how often each one comes up on the computer. In addition, I created a video to explain how it works, which is available on YouTube.

I used to work at a desk all day and I used to have chronic neck pain and headaches. An answer to this problem is to interrupt the stillness of what I call screen-eye lock. It takes movement to transform stiffness and tension into renewed productivity. Undulations are my favorite movement as they allow the body to get what it needs rather than responding to the mind’s dictates. Even though I don’t work at a desk all day anymore, I still enjoy the undulations on my computer for the times when the screen attracts my eyeballs like a magnet and my computer posture resorts to a slump.

In addition to the videos, Undulation Break also includes 16 different music tracks, 20 reminders for fluid movement and a small library of help and hints for good posture and ergonomics. I hope you’ll try Undulation Break. You can download it and use it for 5 days for free at

The program is based on a stretching program created by Para Technologies. It was designed to prevent repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and eye strain.

Now that I’ve finished with my video career and this commercial, I can return to writing. You can expect more regular posts with book reviews (Stretch to Win by Ann and Chris Frederick is coming up) and exercises in the weeks to come.