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Demystifying massage and bodywork

Every industry speaks its own language. For example, the term “bodywork” has little meaning to anyone except “bodyworkers.” So, what does it mean, and why is it important to your health?

A universal truth: We all have bodies. Just as cars are worked on by auto body specialists, human bodies also need work. Bodywork refers to treatments which have a beneficial effect on the health of your physical body. Bodywork is often natural, without pharmaceuticals or equipment, mainly using the specialists’ hands and acquired skills.

Since bodywork is a vague term, let’s further investigate who practices it, and then, who needs it. Bodywork commonly refers to massage therapy and energy medicine.



Massage therapists are often called bodyworkers. However, within the practice of therapeutic massage lay many specialties.

Swedish massage is a foundational tool for most styles of massage. Swedish involves fluid strokes of the therapist’s hands and arms, with the purpose of relaxing the body. It soothes the nervous system, plus it aids lymphatic flow, boosting your immune system.



When most people seek massage, they think of Swedish massage. It may be practiced with light or firm pressure, depending on the therapist’s strength and the client’s needs.

Another common style of therapeutic massage is deep tissue. Swedish is often first used to calm the body and warm up the tissues. Then deep tissue is applied. It involves firmer pressure and techniques to target a problematic area in the body. It is especially helpful for dismantling scar tissue from old injuries. It is not appropriate, however, for acute situations such as new injuries.

A popular new style of massage is Thai Massage. It resembles partnered yoga, being done to your body by a trained therapist. It stretches muscles and connective tissue. It has been practiced in other cultures for centuries, and is based on restoring the flow of “chi,” or life-force, within the body.

Other types of massage therapy considered to be bodywork include sports massage, myofascial release and trigger point therapies, rolfing, shiatsu and acupressure, and medical massage.

Energy medicine is often considered bodywork, not to be confused with massage therapy. Some types include Reiki, polarity, shamanistic healing, and cranial-sacral therapies.

During Reiki, for example, divine energy is drawn from the universe to help the body heal itself. Though gentle in nature, energy medicine can be surprisingly powerful in healing the body from injury and disease.Others who could be considered bodyworkers includ

e acupuncturists, fitness trainers, chiropractors, and physical therapists.

A form of natural medicine, bodywork is well-suited for soft tissue repair. Muscular aches and pains from whiplash, sports injuries, and work-related tension benefit from bodywork.

For a Free copy of the Guide, “Natural Therapies for Pain Relief”, call 948-0179. Nina Schnipper is a Nationally-Certified fitness trainer and medical massage therapist, specializing in pain relief and women’s upper-body strength.


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