I hear from many clients something that goes like this:
Therapist: "So, I'm curious to know what you noticed after our last session?"
Client: "Well, for several days afterward my body felt really great. I felt more open, more relaxed, and with better range of motion. But then after a few more days it seemed to go away."
I've thought a lot about this and how we can have a powerful experience with bodywork and then gradually it seems to dissipate. I think there could be many reasons. But the issue I want to address is one that suggests that the benefits of bodywork are short-lived.
Think of it like this:
You get in your car and you get on the highway. During what part of your trip does your body register movement or change in velocity? When you accelerate, right? But once you're on the highway you no longer notice that you are speedily traveling down the highway.
Bodywork, especially modalities specifically addressing the fascial system, is very much like that. After you receive Structural Integration you get up off the table and suddenly feel your feet, your back, or your hips in a fresh new way. It often feels like you are feeling them for the first time. So what happens in a few days when you no longer notice this? The reason, I think, is due to the changes and once-new sensation falling into the background of everyday life where things like the hum of the fridge, dust bunnies under the bed, or a dripping faucet go unnoticed. Like many things, unless they are novel, or we become deliberately aware of them, they pass unnoticed. So it doesn't mean that the fridge isn't working, or that our spines literally become longer, it's that our brain is extremely adept at tuning out familiar sensations in order to allow for new ones.
When we apply this concept to bodywork we know with certainty that something has changed from before we got on the table. But to say those changes are no longer there because you don't notice them is false. As is usual with Rolfing or Structural Integration, clients can choose to have pictures taken of themselves before beginning the 10 sessions (see my article about the 10 sessions), after 5 sessions, after 10 sessions, and 6 months after the last session. What is remarkable is not only the profound changes from session 1 through 10, but that the body becomes progressively more aligned in gravity after 6 months without further bodywork. This indicates what bodyworkers everywhere and what recipients of this work can attest to: the work is progressive.
So rest assured, even though you experience that deep state of relaxation (sometimes referred to as massage-brain), and a general sense of well-being and health per usual after receiving a session, when that experience starts to fade, know that more profound changes are taking place as you go about your week. It's in the research, it's in the science, and it's in the countless stories of people who have had this experience. Old holding patterns are breaking, and new neural connections are being made, allowing your form to function in a more effortless and joyful way. A session of bodywork or massage doesn't last for just a few days, it lasts a lifetime.