A Structural Approach to Movement

Pages: 2-11
Year: 1986
Notes on S.I

Notes on Structural Integration – May 1986 – 86/1

Volume: 86/1

In physics, movement of an object is described by its trajectory: the sequence of its locations in space over time. The movement equation s = f (t) describes the relationship between place and time. When forces that don’t cancel out come into play, “s” is at least a square function of time. They effect an acceleration which when constant is proportional to the square of time. For the classical case of the falling apple, where movement is one-dimensional and a = g, the function reads: s = gt 2/2 + k1t + k2. Differentiating the function with regard to time gives the rate of change of the distance travailed per time unit: velocity. This is a linear function of time: ds/dt = v = gt + k1. Differentiating again, we get the rate of change of velocity: acceleration, which reads d2s/dt2 = dv/dt = g.

Calculus serves to illustrate two aspects of the reality of mind relevant to the approach chosen.

1) Differentiating a function takes it one level down in complexity. A square function becomes linear, a linear one a constant, a constant zero, as it does not change. It is said that the differentiated function is by one degree of lower order than the original one. At the same time, differentiating a function raises its level of abstraction by one degree. Velocity is a more abstract concept than a trajectory. Everyone who drives a car knows this by experiences where he correctly anticipated the course of another car but was surprised by its speed. Complexity is inversely proportional to abstraction. It may seem surprising that the abstract, which we are used to consider difficult, is simpler than the concrete. But it is of course the purpose of abstraction to find simpler – and more generally true – principles to understand better the obfuscating reality.

2) Differentiating a function and abstracting, the ?pulling Sways of some aspects, involve a loss of information. The integration part of calculus provides rules for how to retrieve part although not all of it. The irreversibly lost information is represented by the appearance of a constant on the higher level which is not contained in the differential. Such, when dv/dt = g is integrated: Sdv = gdt, resulting in v = gt + k1, the curve has been produced from the differentiated function, but its location with regard to the coordinates is indeterminate. K1 defines it. This means that with one measurement of the velocity at any given time, the whole velocity function is produced and allows to know, predict, and reconstruct all velocity values for any time.

Calculus represents a formalization of how we function habitually in the world. We have been given genetically or acquired by induction or deduction a set of abstract principles from which we conclude constantly on the reality which is on a higher level of complexity. All measuring, evaluating, and judging implies a comparison -conscious or not- of reality perceived with a simpler, abstract model. It is often amusing to see this process at work with children and usually annoying with politicians.

The principle makes sense out of the direct observation of reality which is meaningless. For the formalization in calculus this is not automatically true, just as with everyday abstractions. If we describe the course a dog takes meandering in the street by s = f (t), we may get his velocity and acceleration, but we would not know why the dog walks where he does. For the falling apple, differentiation brings that sense about because its acceleration constant reveals a deeper connection which one may call ?causal?.

Movement is certainly primary to human experience and of extreme concreteness and complexity. In fact, its omnipresence and unquestionned existence tend to make us forget about it. It is en vogue to examine and speculate on the acoustic effects on the unborn baby, where the mother’s heartbeat seems to provide something like an existential tranquillizer, but it is less prominent in our minds that the baby also moves by then and that some mothers dialogue by responding to it. Freud stated as the starting point of libido development the Funktionslust, and he had very much the kinesthetic pleasures of movement in mind. In fact, movement is so intimately related to one’s ?self? that the practical practice of education, the military, and the penal systems has forever used its restriction to alienate their subjects from themselves and render them malleable for their disciplining.

In a social context, a term which basically denotes the moral values prevalent and shared by the circles one is part of, movement underlies and closely approaches behaviour. Even in a cosmopolitan town like Zurich, it is often easy to distinguish between a farmer, a worker, a white-collar and an upper echelon manager by their movements only (1). The abstraction for determining this movement certainly doesn’t consist in a sharply defined template. It rather seems to form a range containing desirable and acceptable ways of moving and excluding offending ones. They seem to be judged mainly according to whether they signal conforming with group values or not. Sex differences are very apparent as when it is almost impossible not to see the man in a transvestite walking on high heels. And they come through strongly in structure as shown by men s preference for internal rotation of the arms, denoting an action mode of use, against women’s external arm rotation more apt for receiving. Or, the ~hold-yourself-straight~ imperative of traditional education clearly contains an element of effort: neither conservative parents nor sergeants like their subjects to stand erect with ease.

In dance, the primary art form of movement, the abstraction is of course mainly esthetic. It is a curious fact that even such templates of long standing are largely unconscious or at least don’t seem to lend themselves easily to be formulated. During a TV report on this year’s international competition for ballet students in Lausanne, a judge was asked to comment on the strength and weaknesses of the dancers shown. She was quite helpless. But still the judges usually agreed on the grades they gave. Or, when the world champions in artistic Rock’n Roll and the national champions in traditional competitive dancing were shown, dancing at the same time to the same music on the same stage, it looked as if they were doing two completely different things. There at least it was clear that the esthetic abstraction of the artistic couple was based on the properties of extrinsics while the ?traditional one strove to implement those of intrinsic movement. Largely intuitive abstractions do exist which are shared widely by the judges and the spectators, but they can’t be spelled out.

Just as in the field of dance, in the areas of health, sports, well-being, and awareness countless systems of movement exist. The fact suggests that there is no convincing abstraction which would allow to describe correct movement from that point, or conversely, that the sheer complexity of movement permits a wide variety of abstractions from which to judge ?right?, or ?beautiful?, movement. However, for the Rolfer who is used to help with movements difficult to practitioners of almost any discipline often with instant success, there remains the suspicion that there exists a sensible basic template for correct movement which serves to understand better all ways of movement.

Feldenkrais’ method of Functional Integration merits special consideration as it appears to be the most developed system to date. He recognizes the economical abstraction when he states that correct posture allows for easiest movement in all directions (2). Posture should not be considered as static here but should be understood as maximal balance with minimal movement. However, he doesn’t arrive at a specific geometrical description of what constitutes correct posture. This is not surprising as his method leads one to find one’s own individual ideal posture, implying that it looks different with everybody by virtue of the fact that everybody’s structure is different. It seems indeed impossible to define an absolute ideal of movement without the concept of structure also being defined. Still, Feldenkrais’ ingenious method and great intuition serve well to draw out optimum movement based on the structure that is.

But his main abstraction seems to be the neurological programming of movement in the sense that it relates to its physical implementation like the map to the territory. And indeed, his greatest successes seem to be with neurologically damaged patients, where his approach IS convincingly productive. A limitation to this concept lies in the fact that we don’t really know much about what happens in the central nervous system. And a danger is posed by focusing on what we know, especially the hierarchy of brain levels and concentrating on its historical development, in that the looking back tends to blind one to looking forward toward the ideal – what Ida Rolf called normal(3). In one of the rare concrete statements, Rywerant writes that in walking the hip of the stepping leg rises (4). He correctly identifies this as part of the primary pattern of walking – without commenting further. But we have known for some time that in what could be called the adult pattern the hip sinks. He doesn’t seem aware of the fact that in the ontogenesis of walking a qualitative change happens in the hip movement. This apparent blind spot may partly be due to Feldenkrais'(5) emphasizing the harmony in growth. The postulate may serve well to smoothen the practical work, but it does seem to blur the perception of evolutionary processes which are characterized, just as the development of a musical piece, by a sequence of harmonious passages and disharmonious steps onto higher levels of order.

The purpose of this paper is to show that structure represents a meaningful differential of movement, an abstraction which allows to become quite concrete about what constitutes normal in the sense of ideal in movement. For the curious, there remains the question of what the differential of structure would be. As we consider structure to remain constant over the short periods of time in question, it would be zero. The object under observation disappears from sight and what remains is the earth’s gravity field and the laws of mechanics. This constitutes of course Ida Rolf’s rock bottom from which she concluded on what she called normal structure.

The First Principle of Movement: Function Respects Structure

If movement is the integral of structure, the rules which regulate integration say that many kinds of movement are possible but that only those – still a variety – may be judged correct which don’t violate structural principles – if structural theory IS correct. Just as many systems of metaphysics exist, only those are correct which don’t violate physics – if physics is correct.

The symbol of structure is the Line. When Oman is something built around a lines, the formulation implies that the Line is not a property of the body. It symbolizes the gravity field of the earth. When we sometimes loosely state that ?someone has a line? or not, this ?line? – in quotes – could represent the sum of the geometrical axes of the blocks of the body. The ?line? then is an expression for our judgment on the actual degree of order in a body and denotes how far from or how close to the Line the ?line? is. The statement also implies that when the distance between the ?line? and the Line is narrow, within a certain quantitative range, we ?have? the ?line? – and it is understood that the two never coincide exactly. The notion seems to express the experience and the fact not well understood yet that when the ?line? is within that range, the structure is supported by gravity, while it is torn down when the ?line? is beyond it.

From a conservative point of view, when someone ?has a line?, the question arises how it can be preserved. Movement is here considered as a danger to the ?line? threatening to upset it, and in fact it often does. For movements of the whole body which are traditionally fully described by a translatory and a rotational component, the ?lines? should remain unchanged. For inner movement, which physics so aptly calls deformation, the ?line? should bend harmoniously without sharp angles, dents, and shortening. It then distributes the forces acting on the body optimally into the ground.

The forces are ever-present gravity with its compressing effect, acting from the gravity point of the body or the gravity points of each segment, and it is balanced by the support force of earth, acting on the support point of the body or the support points of the segments respectively. With movement, isotonic muscle contraction which accelerates a mass adds additional force vectors to the body (F = ma). They can be partly balanced by countermovements, but there is always a net component which must be guided into the ground and is balanced there by friction. The phenomenon becomes apparent in experiences as when one has gone on the icy street in fine leather shoes waving a casual hello to a friend – only to find himself sitting on his behind.

When muscles contract, they pull two parts together and so primarily shorten the body somewhere. For the gravity/ support pair of forces, that shortening puts segments out of alignment and adds gravitational strain to the structure which must be balanced by more muscle contraction. But also for the kinetic/friction pair it is essential that the configuration of the lines along which the force is transmitted to the ground be optimal.

These considerations stress the primacy of balance from two aspects. Structurally, a balance must be established which puts the body into the range where it is supported by gravity instead of destroyed. Functionally, this balance must be preserved quantitatively by minimizing the effort necessary for movement and qualitatively by keeping geometrically correct ?trajectories? which serve to partly cancel out the kinetic force vectors within the body. The ?line? remaining long and harmonious indicates that this strategy has succeeded and allows for evaluating the correctness of a given movement.

The model used to describe the action of muscles needs to be modified, though. It is always a surprise how deeply ingrained It is in our thinking. It states that muscles work when they contract, or relax and do nothing, just as an engine turned off does nothing. However, this either/or mechanism is only true for the physiological unit, the half a dozen to several hundred muscle cells innervated by the same axon from one neurons. The muscle as a whole however follows the more/less mode, it is always in a state of contraction somewhere between zero and tetany, even when one is asleep. The degree is expressed by the tone of the muscle which may be approximated by the product of the percentage of units in contraction per time unit times their crosssectional value.

This more accurate model makes it possible and necessary with the colloquial use of the words extensions and ?ease> to distinguish an active component of tension, given by the tone of the musculature, from a passive one which derives from the state of the connective tissue network. It leads to the view of the fascial web being spanned up by a complex pattern of tone of musculature. This in turn leads to the realization that a given movement, understood as a change in the configuration of this two-phased network, may happen in two sharply distinct ways: it may be effected by an increase in tone of the flexors, or a decrease in tone of the extensors. Both are subject to voluntary control. The energetic consequences divide qualitatively, as with the first mode more energy is expanded, while the second one not only requires no energy but actually reduces energy consumption. In view of the postulate that energy expansion should be minimized to conserve balance, the second mode must be preferred. Ida Rolf expressed this laconically: ?when flexors flex, extensors extend?. It may also be stated figuratively that movement may either happen by shortening the flexion side and leaving the extension side as it is, or by lengthening the extension side holding the flexion side constant.

First Example: Folding

Movement in the three directions of space is in Rolfing traditionally symbolized by the knee for the sagittal plane, the elbow for the frontal plane, and ?head on top? for the vertical axis, in horizontal planes. The first two are usually immediately available to experience. For the elbow, the example of taking a sip from a cup of coffee may be used. With the contraction mode, lifting and pulling in the shoulder and with it the whole arm, the displacement of the center, the ?line,,, the ?core?, or the spine – whatever name one wants to use – to the opposite side becomes apparent. The imbalance created by it with its consequent loss of support from the ischia is usually felt at once by everybody. Conversely, with the extension mode, when the elbow sinks first and the forearm levers up around it, it is clearly felt that the center remains open and that the support is not impaired: balance is preserved. Encouraging playing with these contrasting modes m everyday movements, e.g. telephoning, is usually sufficient to initiate a change in the movement pattern. The example also serves well to impress that there is no question of better or worse, of more or less, but that there is a right and wrong way from the structural point of view between which one chooses with every movement of the elbow whether one is aware of it or not.

Similarly, the difference is easily made conscious with the knee when lifting it, and with it the hip, in this way displacing the lumbar spine to the opposite side, as opposed to letting it swing forward, dropping the hip. The example also illustrates clearly structural limitations, in that the ease and distance the knee travels depend on the resilience of the connective tissue network.

Movement along the vertical axis is more complex and less easily experienced. It cannot be demonstrated by moving the head alone as it involves the relationship between ground and head, with the whole of the body in between participating. The occasion to start on it arises naturally in the second hour of the standard series. In accordance with the extension mode, the client is asked to reduce the tone of the legs, which makes the knees go forward. Various adaptions occur in the body then, but the most frequent pattern consists in the whole body following the knees forward with the gravity point shifting towards the toes. Another frequent pattern is given by the thorax tilting back. Both indicate a lack of differentiation in the body which is partly structural, partly functional (photo 1).

The client is then asked to let his behind sink toward his heels. It is often useful to first have him stick out his behind with an effort and then release it, assuring that the pelvis stays back and letting him feel the reduction of the anterior tilt of the pelvis by lengthening from the middle back. It should be noted that with a structural posterior tilt of the pelvis or posterior lumbers the pelvis should be held back and up through the whole movement in order to not let it drop more into its structural aberration. With the usual pattern, the upper body and the gravity point shift back over the heels (photo 2).

Some clients have difficulties with sticking their behinds out which seem to be related to self-image and fears in the area of interpersonal transactions. Amazingly though, hesitations with the final step: bringing the upper body forward over the toes, are much stronger. They appear to belong to quite existential levels. For, in almost all cases, the thorax is too far behind, its gravity point behind the Line, or, if forward, the thorax is tilted back. This is demonstrated when asking the client to reduce the tonus in the upper body which leads almost invariably to the thorax sinking down and back. The client may then be asked to feel his sternum and anterior ribs hanging towards his toes with the shoulders following and coming around forward and down. This difficulty is true for externals as well as for the many internals with a conflicting chest. For the congruent internals with a sunken chest there is a similar obstacle, as they usually have the thorax tilted back. And even when this is not the case, they often react with retracting the shoulders into a postural conflict. The problem not only seems deep-rooted in most persons, but it has also crept into the theory of Rolfing. This is demonstrated dramatically by the logo, which shows an admirable lengthening of a congruent internal and a structural conflict built into the chest!

Photo 3 illustrates the position – as well as the difficulties with it. The image of a handharmonica is sometimes helpful, where the (inner) folds widen equally to both sides when it is pushed together. The experience of the client should then be one of sinking by reducing the tonus of the whole musculature throughout the body and folding into himself with the folds spreading far out forward and back. Then, the gravity point of the body descends exactly along the vertical Line. The movement is helped further when the practitioner puts his fingers under the medial arch and asks the client to let his weight sink into them, on both sides. At the same time he should let his feet soften and the heels should slide back to make room for his weight to come down.

<img src=’https://novo.pedroprado.com.br/imgs/1986/1016-1.jpg’>
Photo 1-3

The main effect concerning awareness and change of pattern is with the going up, the ?Unfolding?. The client is asked to stay with the heels back, to keep the feet soft, and to leave the weight in the practitioner’s fingers and even feel it increase when he extends against the ground. It is then easy for him to become conscious accurately when in the process of going up the pelvis goes out of alignment, usually tilts forward more, and when the thorax goes out, usually tilts back. When he has a sufficient degree of integrity, he will be able to keep the blocks aligned without holding,g. the folds stay on the right side of the Line, and he will feel the head come on top at the end of the ?Unfolding? with the last breath of kinetic energy produced by his extension against the ground.

The head does not need attention when it is kept in mind that it should stay more or less in the axis of the upper body and when it is suggested to keep it swimming on top of the body. It will then tilt slightly back, leaving the eyes horizontal, without shortening the neck. The goal is to let the Folding initiate at all folds synchronically: the heels back, the knees forward, the pelvis back and tilting down, the thorax forward. For the head position, the Folding may be initiated by the head tilting back and the other folds following, whereafter the ?Unfolding? concludes symmetrically with the head coming back on top and ?untilting? forward. It is interesting that a difficulty doesn’t arise often, or is easily dealt with by playing with the head position, which is often a problem in Folding in the sitting position when working from the front: the shortening of the chest and belly.

The primary criterion for the correctness of the movement is the relaxation of the feet. If they can be imagined to be as soft as foam rubber, with an imaginary conical prolongation of the lower legs through them to the floor, on the tips of which the body rests without holding, a very high degree of balance is achieved. This requires many attempts, patience, – and a lot of structural work.

Quantitative and Qualitative Imbalance

The concept refers to spinal configuration and introduces a hierarchy in its aberrations. It has been shown convincingly that the recipe was modelled to organize the congruent internal structure’. As for the spine, the internal is characterized by augmented curves, specifically a marked anterior tilt of the pelvis, a deep lumbar curve, an increased kyphosis of the thoracic spine, and an augmented cervical lordosis. Appropriate lengthening of the fascial web as prescribed by the recipe will increase the radius of the curves and lengthen the spine. The average body defined this way has ?too much? of spinal curves and may therefore be called quantitatively imbalanced or aberrated.

But there are clients who have ?too little? curve in parts of the spine, or parts of it where the direction of the curve is actually reversed. Specifically, one may find a posterior tilt to the pelvis, posterior lumbars, deep thoracics, or a kyphotic cervical spine. These reversals of direction of curves are not a quantitative problem and may be named qualitative imbalances or aberrations.

The concept suffers from a lack of sharp definition as is present with femoral rotationg. by the exactly definable sagittal plane. For, it is agreed that the spine has ?normal? curves, but their exact radius cannot be deduced from the three dimensions of space. Possibly Schwind’s Line will furnish such an accurate orientation for the tilt of the pelvis^8. For now, a posterior tilt of the pelvis will have to be diagnosed by a pubic bone out and up and the tuberosities deep and narrow. The concept leaves a white spot in the area between normal and straight, although it appears that ?not enough curves falls into the category of qualitative imbalance. But it serves to emphasize that qualitative imbalance represents a more serious disorder than the quantitative one. It usually covers only parts of the curve, not its entire length, and the displacement is usually more irregular.

From the concept follows, as far as technique is concerned, that a blind application of the recipe on a low level of abstraction, as it is designed to lengthen too deep curves, will actually worsen the situation with posterior lumbars e.g. Even a turnaround of the recipe, as easing the posterior tilt of the pelvis by lengthening the back of the body (hamstrings, rotators), will do that but not reverse the direction of the curve to normal. With qualitative imbalance, the strategy for the structural work is not length, but to reverse the direction of the curve by all means regardless of quantitative considerations. ?Betters? is an insufficient qualification of the work here, as ?different? in a geometrical sense is evidently called for.

Concerning movement, the concept implies that better function cannot be achieved by letting go, but that qualitatively imbalanced parts of the spine must be held actively in the normal direction. In Foldingg., a pelvis tilted posteriorly may not be permitted to drop towards the heels but must be kept back out and up. It is self-understood that this would not be attempted by contraction of muscles exclusively, although it is indispensable, but that attention will also focus on lengthening the front from clavicles to pubic bone.

The concept may be extended to the postural field. It demands for Folding that the gravity points of the segments move away from the Line in the correct direction, and that in ?Unfolding? they should approach the vertical again but not transgress it. Photo 3 illustrates that with a thorax habitually tilted back it must be brought forward drastically in order for the correct direction to be experienced. When this is secure enough, the movement may be minimized until it converges with normal.

Second Example: Bending

It may have been noticed that Folding derives clearly from Tai Chi. This movement discipline is entirely directed toward the perfection of balance in movement. But it should be warned that more often than not its students tuck their pelves under and push them forward to approach something like ?straight? in the spine and that almost always the upper body is too far back. While the spine is extremely elongated, the normal curves should still be there including a slight forward tilt to the pelvis. The upper body comes up from the inside with a slight forward curve resulting in a ?hollow? chest with the arms coming around. This solution of the problem of coming up is in strong contrast to the well-known usual one of pulling the shoulders back. But it is also quite different from the more subtle one of bringing the chest up, a method frequently used by dancers and many internals. This is still characterized by pushing the lumbers forward while the correct way lets them slide back.

The Tai Chi position, and Folding as its functional extension along the vertical axis, produce a wide variety of movements according to how the folds are accentuated. Bending is such a variation of Folding. The interest in it stems from a dissatisfaction with the medical prescription for lifting a weight from the ground by squatting and then standing up with what one wanted to lift. I have shown that to many patients in a medical context, usually meeting respectful and somewhat distanced gazes. I’m sure they tried it once and never did it again. I never did it that way. And there is a good reason for it: it is much too strenuous as the whole weight of the body has to be lifted with it every time.

The usual pattern in Bending involves a shortening of the front, bringing the gravity point forward over the toes (photo 4). In Bending forward in a sitting position to stand up, the axis of rotation through the hip joints should remain still in space. This means that the part of the ?line? below the axis, from hip joint to ischia, must rotate back: the tuberosities slide back. In Bending, where the feet form the support point, the turning axis must in addition move back horizontally to assure balance. It is usually sufficient to ask the client to let his pelvis slide back on a horizontal line and let his upper body sink into the hole created by it. Sometimes, the somewhat fierce image of cutting grass helps, where the blade is imagined to take the pelvis back with the upper part falling horizontally and long into the same place now empty.

To emphasize the correct movement and awareness of it, the client is sometimes encouraged to stick out his behind as far as possible and hold the pelvis to an anterior tilt, whereby care is taken to also lengthen the front (photo 5). The pelvis must be held this way throughout the movement in cases with a posteriorly tilted pelvis while with quantitative imbalance the pelvis should be allowed to derotate by letting go in such a way that the sitting bones sink towards the floor (photo 6). The model demonstrates a frequent and a little ironical difficulty. In cases with a strong anterior pelvic tilt, the hamstrings shorten in compensation, and when bending, they pull the pelvis into a posterior tilt relative to the upper body.

Before coming up, the back is permitted to soften, the head tilting down more. This counteracts the average pattern where the head is turned back first. Attention should then be focused entirely to the ground, to the feet remaining soft and the heels staying back. Extension against the floor then first brings the pelvis higher, whereafter the vertebrae are brought back one after the other from bottom to top with ?head on top? ending the movement (photo 7). Naturally, the shoulders and arms must hang down throughout the movement. The lifting may be extended from the erect position by letting the forearms pivot up around the elbows which stay low, and it may even go higher above the head. The client should then focus entirely on sensing the extension between floor and weight.

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Photos 4-7

More About Structure and Function

Structure may be described somewhat poetically by a metaphor where the connective tissue provides the bed in which the river of movement flows. Structure is represented by the landscape through which the river runs. The river bed would be a kind of differential of the valley. Rivers don’t usually run uphill, but we do so habitually as we use mostly more energy than would be necessary.

From a structural point of view, and to order the bewildering variety of possible movements, it makes sense to introduce an energetic term into the description in accordance with the basic premise of Rolfing. In the metaphor, one would describe the course of the river first, which follows the path of the least energy, and other movements through the landscape would then be a function of the energy necessary to deviate from the course of the river.

Graph. 1 illustrates the procedure by the example of knee bending with parallel feet. It relates the angle of knee bending, starting from the standing position as 180° to the angle of deviation from the sagittal plane. Positive angles may be defined as medial deviation, so the graph would approximate an internally rotated femur.

<img src=’https://novo.pedroprado.com.br/imgs/1986/1016-3.jpg’>

The thick line stands for a possible relationship of the angles for the minimum energy spent (En). When more energy is used, the line the knee describes varies to either side. The fact is indicated that the angle of deviation varies more widely at intermediate angles of knee bending than in extension and pronounced flexion. If one wanted to and if it were possible to measure the knee movement at different discrete energy levels, the graph would describe the structural conditions for a particular knee sensibly.

Graph 2 relates the energy necessary to the angles of deviation for a given angle of knee bending. The curves for two angles of bending are given, and their deepest points would indicate the change of the angle of deviation between the two bending phases.

<img src=’https://novo.pedroprado.com.br/imgs/1986/1016-4.jpg’>

The graph should be interpreted to give another view of the structural conditions of a particular knee for bending. The two graphs together would provide a three-dimensional map where the parameters of the angle of knee bending, of deviation from the sagittal plane, and of the energy necessary for it would be related. The goal of structural work would be in graph 1 to approximate the baseline, drawn fat, to the ordinate, and in graph 2 to move the lowest point of the curve on the ordinate.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a more specific expression for a function of the type s = f (E) suggested by these considerations which, when differentiated, would result in something like ds/dE = Eo. This failure is almost certainly not due to its being impossible but to my severe mathematical limitations.

Third Example: Walking

It should have been noted that the examples of movement are presented in a rather old-fashioned way of learning using such principles as dividing into elements and augmenting the conditions for it to enforce correct movements.(9)

As for the stepping leg in Walking, the extrinsic way of lifting the knee stipulates the pulling up of the hip and an increased anterior tilt to the pelvis which assures an angle somewhat better than 180° for the rectus to lift the leg. This mode can be subdivided into two patterns according to the degree of differentiation in the body. With less differentiated bodies, the upper body sways back with the increased anterior tilt of the pelvis. The resulting unbalancing of the body becomes dramatically evident when the client is asked to bring one knee up high and fast. Persons with a better developed sense of balance will bring their upper body forward with this movement with less imbalance resulting. It is easy to experience the difference between the two extrinsic modes when the tilt of the pelvis and the pulling up of the hip are accentuated.

With the intrinsic mode, where the iliopsoas is the prime mover, the initial sinking of the hip with derotation of the pelvic tilt – if the tilt is anterior! – optimizes conditions for the action of the iliopsoas. The fact should be stressed here that in terms of working angles and prestretching, conditions are optimized for the rectus by an anterior tilt, for the iliopsoas by a horizontalization of the pelvis. Of course, the letting go of the musculature between LDH and the back of the knee, this active reduction of tone which is essential for the knee to be able to swing forward, also results in an energetic net gain.

A similar subdivision as for the extrinsic mode can be made for the intrinsic one, but it is usually harder to deal with as it presupposes a higher degree of structural integrity. When clients experience for the first time consciously the knee swinging forward, they will almost always sway back the whole trunk expressing a lack of differentiation between pelvis and thorax. The client is then taught to bring his upper body forward synchronically with the knee swing while at the same time horizontalizing the pelvis. This often requires quite some structural work as the whole back from head to coccyx must lengthen. A certain degree of resiliency in the fascial web is a precondition.

It is often useful and sometimes necessary to experiment with Folding on one leg. The other may be kept back or forward, straight or bent, as long as attention is paid to sensing the hip’s weight. The Folding should be in slow-motion and go deep looking for the moment when the foot contracts. This is quite difficult, and it is not very common – but often revealing – that clients can stand erect on one leg with a balance that permits the foot to be soft.

The best subjective indicators of balance are the softness of the feet and the freedom of the head. It may even be stated confidently that someone who can look around the room and out of the window continuing what he is doing without interruption or startling, must be doing something right. The objective sign of balance is the reversibility of movement without upsetting the body. In Tai Chi, where balance is permanent, any movement may be reversed at any time anywhere voluntarily.

With average as well as normal Walking, balance and imbalance alternate cyclically. When the leg goes forward, the body follows it before it has reached the ground, in which phase the movement cannot be reversed. It should make sense to experiment with Walking in a way that keeps balance permanently. Normal Walking will then improve as a side-product. However, this cannot be done on a flat floor as it allows for far too many random adaptions in the body to be controlled. And if one focuses on one at a time, leaving the rest aside, and goes through the body systematically, one will find himself coming back to the original focus without anything gained. The situation is one of chasing random adaptions through the body and quite resembles its structural counterpart.

It has proved more successful in practice to play with Walking on the stairs, beginning with walking down. Ideally, the upper body should be kept easily balanced, with the pelvis, the thorax, and the head moving in lines parallel to the slope of the stairs at a constant speed. To ensure continuous balance, this movement is divided into a vertical and a horizontal component. Actually, the step down is split into three phases.

1. The knee swings forward (photo 8). The ramifications of this have been treated at the beginning of this chapter. It should be stressed that the lower leg hangs from the knee which is held above the next stair step. The movement should be done in slow motion first permitting to experiment with its reversibility at any time. Again, it may be necessary to bring the upper body far forward to counteract the strong tendency to lean back.

2. Folding on one leg (photo 9). Again, slow motion will allow to reverse the movement at any time. There is a strong attraction to put the weight on the lower foot as soon as it touches the step, which is partly due to a primitive reflex, partly to the fact that this position is quite strenuous. Reversing the movement from the moment of touching must be practiced. This phase can usually not be done without a lot of preceding structural work and preliminary movement exercises. It has almost a structural value when done as an exercise, if the position of the feet and knees is in parallel sagittal planes, as it lengthens exactly the extension sling of the leg.

3. Horizontal shift of trunk on forward leg (photo 10). Tendencies which must be watched are for the pelvis to go up instead of horizontal, to rotate toward the backward leg instead of staying in the frontal plane, and for the upper body to lag behind the pelvis. The configuration of the whole upper body above the legs must remain unchanged. Only when the weight is fully on the forward leg, the other leg may be released to swing forward for phase 1.again

<img src=’https://novo.pedroprado.com.br/imgs/1986/1016-5.jpg’>
Photos 8-10

Walking upstairs, phase 1.remains the same. There is often a hesitation for fear of the foot hitting the higher step. The standing leg should be close to the higher step, and it should be experimented with letting the knee swing forward and quite high, holding the lower leg back – the foot rising vertically -, then releasing it and letting it swing forward after the knee only when this has reached its highest point. In phase 2., shifting the weight on the forward leg horizontally, the thorax must be attended to as it tends to stay behind the pelvis, which in turn must be prevented from rotating towards the back leg. The lengthening through the groin of this leg also has a structural quality with regard to the flexion sling. In phase 3., ?Unfolding?, the focus should be on extension against the ground and keeping the blocks aligned on the right side of the vertical.

The Second Principle of Movement: Function enhances Structure

The statement is in clear contrast to the first one advanced earlier. In fact, the two exclude each other mutually as the first one calls for defending against change while the second one demands of movement to influence structure. The conflict resolves when one takes into account that the two principles are on different levels.

The first is on the level of structure. There it makes sense to look at the kind and degree of order actually existing in a body, its structure, being constant for the time being. A quasi dialectic conflict materializes where structure – the thesis ?fights? with movement, its antithesis. The situation is one of ?zero sums where either one may ?wines – but always at the expense of the other. The impression arises that a typology needs to be developed based on the observation of on which side the scale tips. Where structure has ?won’t, the body is encapsulated, rigidified, and movement is restrained and uneconomical. It is typically represented by the ?hard body?. These persons do have a sense of structure, and they often go a long way themselves when restrictions are removed. Its opposite, which is exemplified by the soft body, usually shows a great range of movement and flexibility but often has no sense of structure. Movement is not connected and not related to the center. This tentative typology is proposed here to illustrate the structure/function conflict, but it is not without practical relevance as it emphasizes that in clear examples of the two types, the intention and strategy for structural work must be radically different initially: ?release,? with the hard body, integration with the soft body.

The first principle permits to define quite sharply a wide range and variety of movements which are undesirable or ?wrong” from the structural point of view. This is by virtue of assessing them with respect to their impact on the ?line?. The second principle is on the level of function and provides the synthesis for the conflict on the lower level. It is characterized by the quality of correct movement which is favorable for both structure and function from an economical viewpoint.(10)

When the framework in which structure and function are evaluated is examined, a basic difference between the two emerges. For structure, there is one theoretically exactly definable normal structure which may be expressed by the ?line? becoming identical with the Line or by other abstractions. In practice, the normal point can be approached from all sides by narrowing the range which contains it. Actualized structures can then be evaluated by the distance to this point quantitatively and by the direction of its deviation qualitatively. This unspooled system corresponds to the fact of two-dimensional geometry that to a given straight line there exists only one ?normal?, i.e. perpendicular line, to a given point. With three dimensions, there is an infinite but limited number of ?normals?. With structure, ?corrects? can only mean normal in the sense of ideal. As ideals can by definition never be realized exactly, it does not make sense to speak of correct structure with real people.

On the higher level of function, an added dimension comes into play as should be expected, and the evaluation framework becomes bipolar as may have been noted in the movement examples given. But in addition, there is a dividing line between the two poles which seems to have characteristics similar to the structural normal point: it may possibly be exactly definable in theory, but in practice it can only be approached and narrowed down – from the two sides here. In the example of taking a sip of coffee, an extension and a flexion mode have been described. When trying to combine the two in such a way that they cancel out and the center remains intact, it becomes apparent that this is virtually impossible. In fact, the more sophisticated kinesthetic awareness becomes, the less it seems possible to find neutral. This neutral movement which the first principle demands if taken strictly is unattainable. Experientially, it turns out that there is no such thing as preserving structure exactly as it is. When sipping coffee, the center is either jammed and displaced or opened. Here it makes sense to speak of correct movement, which does not describe an absolute from which all real movement deviates more or less, but is anywhere in the range between neutral and maximal opening. This is certainly true for repetitive movement, one’s habits, where function determines structure. But if we sharpen our perception, it IS not unreasonable to suppose that every movement has a though microscopic effect on structure. This assumption is supported by the observation in very highly ordered bodies where a single movement may lead to visible structural change.

In the examples, movement has been described from the second principle as it is actually impossible to do so from the first one. But it is just as impossible – although in a different way – to arrive at the second without formulating the conservative one concretely first.


In this paper, I have attempted to further clarify the relationship between structure and function. It appears that from a clear and conscious concept of structure – when ?integrated one level up – a useful and consistent theory of movement evolves.

It is self-understood that in practice the term ?corrector convenient for theoretical purposes – must not be used. Nor should any theory be ?taught?, as this kind of ?educating? which one is tempted to call preaching only spreads confusion. It is sufficient and best to guide the client to the experience of flexion and extension mode. Moreover, it has shown that the duration of such a ?movement session? should not exceed five minutes – and indeed rarely reach that maximum -, as overload sets in fast. Whatever the client has got or not should be left for him to play around with, and later one may come back to it if he so wishes. Failures are always partly due to theoretical and methodological shortcomings of the practitioner, partly to structural or functional limitations of the client. In both cases of the second, structural work is indicated to further evolve the structural base of movement, whereafter often recognition of patterns is immediate. And lastly, this method is extremely sensitive to any nonverbal and unconscious communication from the practitioner that his client should do it right, or do anything at all.


1. Miranda?, a film by Tinto Brass, demonstrates convincingly that the profession of men can even be deduced by observing their naked asses parading on the beach of Rimini!

2. Feldenkrais, Moshé: ?Bewusstheit durch Bewegung?, Suhrkamp, 1978

3. Ida Rolf is quoted and referred to with respect to: Rolf, Ida P.: “Rolfing”, Harper & Row, New York etc., 1978, and Feitis, Rosemary: “Ida Rolf talks”, Rolf Institute Boulder.

4. Rywerant, Yochanan: ?Die Feldenkrais-Methode?, Kubler 86 Akselrad, 1985. The German edition cannot be recommended as the translation is simply grauslich.

5. Op. cit.

6. That is to say that all muscle fibers of the unit relax or contract synchronically, when the neuron fires. The strength of the contraction is modified though,g. by metabolic factors.

7. Jan Sultan: personal communication

8. Peter Schwind, in ?Alles im Lots, Goldmann, Munchen 1984, states as ?the only dogma of Rolfing that the tip of the coccyx and the tip of the pubic bone should be on a horizontal line?. (Ida Rolf, p. 87)

9. There is awareness involved with it too, though. But it is not about sensing what is but focuses on becoming conscious about a bipolar range of possibilities and the qualitative division between the two poles.

10. It should be kept in mind that there are other viewpoints at least as relevant to man,g. esthetic or erotic. They do not come under consideration here because they are much more variable and not so fundamental to the theory of Rolfing as the economic one.

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