Osteopathy and chiropractic work to change the relationships in the skeletal and joint structure. The benefit of this type of work is clear to anyone one who with a misaligned cervical vertebrae and the subsequent neck pain or someone with a misaligned rib and the associated difficulty in breathing. Move these bones back into correct alignment and the associated pain or dysfunction will lessen. For those injured as a result of an impact—such as a car accident—skeletal and joint adjustments are often the quickest way to get them back on their feet.
Rolfing and other systems of structural integration utilize the same principle; bring the structure into alignment to optimize functioning of the system. However, SI works at different level of the body in order to align the structure. The skeleton is held in place by muscles and the organ of structure—fascia. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, etc., all form a perfectly tensioned network that creates your shape and determines the ability of your skeleton to move. Often, a chronically contracted muscle or other shortened tissue keeps the skeleton out of alignment. Making adjustments to the skeleton alone is not enough. In order to restore the skeleton and the structure of the body, muscles and fascia need to lengthened and balanced if the change is to last. Further, because these tissues form a body-wide network, balance must be achieved throughout. Think about a tent hung from a central pole with wires spreading the tension evenly throughout the structure. If one line is too loose or too tight it will affect the whole of the structure. This is just as true in the body; it must be balanced as a whole.