What is Equine Structural Integration?
Equine Structural Integration is a process of reorganizing the soft tissue of the body, restoring full range of motion to the entire system. This is accomplished through a series of treatments designed to break down scar tissue within the connective tissue structure of the body and release compression in the joint systems.
Connective tissue is the support system for the entire body. Just beneath the skin layer you will find a thin white film covering the muscle. This film is connective tissue (otherwise known as fascia). If you were to do a cross section of a muscle you would be able to see each tiny muscle fiber. Each muscle fiber has its own connective tissue sheath surrounding it as well. These sheaths are lubricated and allow the muscle fibers as well as the muscle groups to slide across one another enabling full range of motion. In addition to its key role in supporting muscle stability and functionality, connective tissue also encases and suspends the entire organ and skeletal systems. This is the largest and most complex system in the entire body. As mentioned, it begins just beneath the layer of the skin and like a three dimensional web, spreads through the entire body to it’s core.
Connective Tissue’s Effect on Performance
As mentioned above, connective tissue acts like a lubricated sheath allowing muscle fibers and muscle groups to move freely back and forth over one another in full range of motion. When a horse becomes injured, dehydrated, mal-nourished or simply over worked, these lubricated sheaths dry out and adhere to one another. This is the beginning of the formation of scar tissue and is what is responsible for the restricted range of motion that leads to improper movement that eventually leads to system breakdown and injury. This is because once scar tissue has begun to form it continually impacts the surrounding healthy tissue. The effect is similar to tossing a wool sweater into a dryer. Scar tissue begins to form as a result of the connective tissue sheaths “drying out”. The drying out process is also a shrinking process. This shrinking process leads to restriction of blood flow that reduces oxygen and nutrient supply to the cells and that impacts the health of the surrounding tissue. As a result, the surrounding tissue begins to “dry out” as well. This leads to an obvious conclusion; the scar tissue becomes more and more matted until such a time when movement restrictions become obvious. If we don’t have personal experience with this, we know someone who has. Slowly, over the years, they’ve gotten more and more restricted in movement as a result of a years old injury. There may be different diagnosis by medical professionals but these problems always originate in the connective tissue structure of the body. If this is where the problems originate then it makes sense that if we want long term results to the problems that have arisen we should look to this same structure when considering a treatment program. This is what Dr. Ida P. Rolf determined in her lifetime of study to discover a treatment that would not only prevent but also reverse degenerative disease.