Whereas the Alexander Technique uses subtle touch
The basic aim is the same, but Structural Bodywork focuses more on the physical. It can feel more like a conventional deep-tissue massage; but it aims at releasing muscles and fascia (connective tissue) in order to bring about correct alignment of the bones.
and intention to change body alignment, Structural Bodywork
uses firm directed pressure and assisted stretching.
Methods of Structural Bodywork include Rolfing (the first and best known), Structural Integration, Looyenwork, and many others. The method I use is my own, based on over 40 years experience, and is performed with the client fully clothed.
The fascia, or connective tissue (right), is like a fine 3-dimensional web of membranes and fibers which reaches throughout the entire body. It wraps every single muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessel, and organ; it forms the tendons and ligaments; and it holds everything in its right position. It could be called the Organ of Shape.
Whereas a muscle can contract and release very quickly (fractions of a second), the connective tissue shortens and lengthens quite slowly.
Although it can change length in a few seconds, it can take days or weeks for appreciable shifts.
So while muscles are responsible for movement, the fascia gives the longer-term structure of the body, the shape of our posture. (Left)
Right: Fascia responds to pressure from outside, to physical stresses imposed by movement, as well as to messages from our nervous system; in other words, our thoughts!
Thus, Structural Bodywork, Yoga stretching, Qigong movements, intention or visualization, and even a changed mental attitude, can all re-structure our fascia and remove limitations to our posture and movement.
When the muscles and fascia hold the bones and joints out of alignment, essential structures of the body are strained. This causes pain, and can damage vital structures.
To the left, you can see how the vertebral disc can be stressed by unbalanced pulls; the functioning of the circulation, nerves, and even the organs (stomach, lungs, bladder...) can be affected.