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Does Structural Integration (SI) Hurt?

Written by Chris Corrales

April 10, 2018

Does Structural Integration hurt?

Ok, this is an awesome question especially for people who are new to Structural Integration.


I met with a doctor yesterday whose colleague described Structural Integration as “Deep tissue 3x!”


Haha, well that’s nothing to laugh about, but using a blanket statement like, “Structural Integration is excruciatingly painful” is silly.

I can’t speak for all SI practitioners, but 98% of the time my clients aren’t cringing in pain. If my client is experiencing pain from my work I back off.

I’m sure that if you’re any good at what you do, you’ve experienced this in your path to learning: the beginning of your learning process was exerting unnecessary amounts of energy and didn’t really get you anywhere.

(In case you missed my video where I talk about pain, here it is.)

When I first started wrestling, I put all my strength and power I had into the first 30 seconds. Well, with 5 minutes and 30 seconds left in a match, horrible strategy, it didn’t work well.

Creating pain is not necessary to relieve it.

Remember, one of the most important ideas I’m trying to constantly get across to you is that Structural Integration is NOT massage. Most massage therapists link painful work with effective work. That’s simply not true.


So, doing deep work without refinement is, IMO, not good Structural Integration.

Actually many massage therapists are surprised that I can help clients, often times, get dramatic amounts of change with ease.

It may seem counterintuitive that if muscles are tight that they don’t need to be slammed with a jackhammer! I get that, but it’s simply not true.

Tough muscles are like dirt. At first they can seem resistant to change, but teach them to be calm and soften (like adding water to dirt) and the dirt becomes mud like, with appropriate pressure rigid muscles become resilient.


Out with the old paradigm, in with a new, more sensible one:

Tissues can’t be “broken up” (if that were the case we’d melt with every step), rather manual therapy is an effective way of changing the nervous system tone of tissues, and that’s how change happens.


Full disclosure here, in the past few decades there have been lots of  Structural Integration practitioners who reacted to the reputation of the work being painful and consequently got trained in more gentle methods of manual therapy. The issue with that is if you (as a client) have made the educated decision to receive Structural Integration you have certain expectations that particular results will be achieved, but if a practitioner’s work isn’t in alignment with the marketing message – there’s a problem.


My point is that a practitioner can use an appropriate amount of pressure, without causing pain, and still be true to Structural Integration and it’s unique effectiveness.


How is that possible? With the speed of entry and exit of touch. Slow touch is less surprising and has less of a chance to be interpreted as a threat. Slow letting go also gives the client’s acute sensory receptors time to respond to a change.

Touch should not be erratic, it should be thoughtful, precise, and perhaps powerful, but not painful!


I hope this has been insightful in regards to Structural Integration’s reputation, and informative in making a decision whether or not it is a good fit for you.

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