“Change your body, change your life.”
Linda Bienenfeld decided to give Hellerwork Structural Integration a try after witnessing the transformational effect it had on her roommate.
After completing the Hellerwork series, her roommate displayed a presence that blossomed, reflecting newfound self-confidence and energy that led to success in her career and other aspects of her life.
Linda was inspired by that transformation, so she signed up for the 11-session series to experience the modality’s effects firsthand. “I went through the series and a light bulb went on. I felt so different. I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “The outcome was more energy and I felt more joyful. I had no pain and I had much more flexibility. I felt more comfortable in my body.”
In 1980 she began studying with founder Joseph Heller to become a Hellerwork practitioner and has been practicing since she completed her training in 1982. Hellerwork, a type of Structural Integration, aims to reorganize the physical structure of the entire human being and create change in the connective tissue adhesions in the body. It’s comprised of three parts: bodywork, movement education and dialogue. Through bodywork the practitioner uses a hands-on approach, working with the client to break up rigid or dense pockets of connective tissue, also called fascia, to release tension and allow for more fluid movement, greater flexibility, improved posture and less discomfort.
By applying the pressure of the hands and palpating the tissue, the practitioner can help create a chemical change in the fascia to loosen rigid pockets and break apart adhesions. Fascia is made up of different receptors with different purposes that researchers only recently are beginning to understand through organizations like the Fascia Research Congress.
Movement education teaches the client how to move to maintain this fluidity, while dialogue helps identify which events and emotions might trigger certain movements and habits that create problems.
Adhesions of the connective tissue occur as a result of repetitive strain, poor postural and movement habits, lack of movement, stress, dehydration, chemical exposure, scarring and more, Linda said. People are usually inclined to try Hellerwork because of physical pain. “Then, they find their whole life opens up,” Linda said. It creates a chemical shift in the body and people just have more joy. “It’s really hard to explain to people, but when you change your body, you change your life.”
Hellerwork works the same way other holistic modalities do by focusing not just on one symptom of pain, but on the whole person. Fascia adhesions can occur throughout the body, but the discomfort might show up in only one area. For example, someone might feel pain in his shoulder, but the problem might be in the feet.
Linda said doctors often refer clients for Hellerwork as a last resort. She had one client who had been suffering from 18 years of pain after falling on a marble floor. The client had gone through six back surgeries, yet still had pain. A physician sent her to Linda in part because nothing was alleviating the pain. Through Hellerwork, Linda was able to help break up a pocket of fascia crystals located in the area of her rib cage where she fell 18 years ago. During the course of Hellerwork the physician was also injecting homeopathic remedies into the area of the crystals. The client’s pain disappeared after these treatments.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as too much density in the fascia,” Linda said.
Hellerwork also played a role in helping a client heal a broken ankle 21 years ago.
After surgery and three months in a cast, the client returned to the orthopedic surgeon to have the cast removed. When the doctor said he would have to re-cast the ankle because it wasn’t showing the correct range of motion, Linda proceeded to work on her client’s ankle in the surgeon’s office. Within five minutes the ankle moved correctly – and the client didn’t need the new cast.
Whether tissue adhesions are a result of an accident, stress, poor movement or a lack of movement, Hellerwork facilitates a chemical change in the fascia that leads to greater flexibility and fluidity, which can awaken the whole person.
Linda quoted Ida Rolf, creator of Structural Integration, to describe the foundation of Hellerwork. “Ida Rolf used to say, ‘There’s no psychology – there is only physiology.’ It’s more complicated than that, but she’s correct.”
Linda Bienenfeld has been a Hellerwork Structural Integration practitioner for 30 years. She resides in California and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– By Jessica Braun
Jessica Braun is a writer and an editor at WholesomeOne. She can be reached at jessica.braun[at]wholesomeone[dot]com.