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Bodywork Modalities

People often want to know what kind of massage/bodywork I do (i.e. massage types or massage modalities). Is it swedish massage? Is it deep tissue massage? Is it myofascial release? The answer is that I use a combination of different modalities to suit each client on each visit. Most of my clients would probably say that my treatment work most resembles deep tissue massage.  I choose to describe it as structural bodywork, with a focus on correcting issues in the body and in the process we relieve your symptoms.

Here are brief explanations of some modalities that I use:

  • Myofascial Release - Myofascial release is focused on releasing the muscle tissue ("myo-") and correcting imbalances in the connective tissue ("fascia"). The muscle and the connective tissue combined as a unit is called myofascia.  The myofascia is often responsible for restrictions, pain, and other imbalances within the body. Myofascial release utilizes gentle to firm pressure with time to achieve its results.  Myofascial release is also a part of many other massage modalities including; structural integration, neuromuscular therapy, deep tissue massage, soft tissue release, etc.

  • Structural Bodywork- Structural Bodywork focuses on realignment of the body for optimum efficiency. Most all structural bodywork is accomplished by affecting the fascia or myofascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles, bones, organs, etc. of the body, and helps to maintain the relationship of these structures to each other in space. By finding where the fascia is shortened improperly, or is restricted, we can make corrections that will allow you to move more comfortably and with less effort.  As structures of the body move more freely, the pain felt due to the restrictions, or improper relationship of body parts subside.  Structural bodywork was brought to public attention by Dr. Ida Rolf.  Her study and teaching brought about Structural Integration which is realignment of the body within the field of gravity.  While sometimes we are working to realign the full body within gravity, other times my clients just want to work on one problem area, such as a troublesome shoulder.  When we are more focused like this, the work is more properly called structural bodywork, and not structural integration.

  • Structural Integration - Structural Integration is similar to structural bodywork in the goal of realigning the body, but is more specifically trying to optimize the body in the field of gravity.  It also is not focused on correcting "problems" or symptoms, but rather is working to improve the system as a whole unit.  Structural Integration typically also has a specific sequence of sessions called a series, with the most typical series consisting of 12 unique sessions.  Each session has a set of goals that works toward improving the whole system, and each session builds upon the work achieved in the previous session(s).  For a more detailed look at Structural Integration, click here.

  • Paul St. John NeuroMuscular Therapy - Neuromuscular therapy utilizes the principles of some neurological and physiological laws, to understand why the body comes to dysfunction.  As such, neuromuscular therapy focuses on areas of your body that lack proper blood flow (i.e. ischemia) and areas that refer pain (i.e. trigger points).  For a much more detailed look at St. John Neuromuscular Therapy, click here.

  • CranioSacral Therapy - Craniosacral therapy (a.k.a. cranial sacral therapy) focuses on the cranium (i.e. skull) and the spinal column, tuning both to create a more balanced nervous system.  Dr. Upledger discovered during a surgery that the membrane surrounding the spinal column moved.  Looking into this unknown phenomena, Dr. Upledger found that the fluid in the spinal column (and its three membranes), pulses and has its own circulation.  Continuing his research, he found that there were ways to subtley manipulate the movement of the fluid, and use that in a therapeutic manner.  Craniosacral therapy is known for being gentle and relaxing.

  • Deep Tissue Massage - There is a confusion in the massage community (and public) regarding deep tissue massage.  Deep tissue massage is massage directed at the deeper layers/muscles in the body (such as psoas, multifidi, rotatores, obterator internus, etc.).  Heavy pressure massage is massage that uses a lot of force to work into the body.  Many people think that they are the same, but there is a distinct difference.  One can do deep tissue work with light pressure or force, if the body is ready to recieve that kind of work.  In this way, the deep structures can be released without any negative consequences (usually inflammation).  While heavy pressue massage can get to the deeper structures by brute force, you often are irritating all the layers that you are working through.  My experience shows me that the body is like an onion in the sense that if you want to work more deeply, you need to work out the layers above it... one layer at a time.  This yeilds the best results, which are most long lasting.

  • Soft Tissue Release - Soft tissue release is a unique combination of pinning a muscle while using Active Isolated Stretching to facilitate the release of the contracted muscle.  This is similar to the pin-and-stretch technique, but it also uses the nervous system to facilitate the relaxation of the muscle being released.

  • Muscle Energy Technique - Muscle energy technique uses the body's own antagonistic muscle releasing feed-back loops (in the nervous system) to help facilitate the release a tight muscle. It combines opposing muscle contractions at specific lines of stress in the muscle, as well as specific stretching to achieve results.

  • Manual Lymph Drainage - Manual lymph drainage is focused on making the lymph system of the body more efficient, and relieving its blockages. The lymph system is responsible for uptake of waste fluids from between cells, reducing inflammation, and also plays a key role in the body's immune system (since it acts as a storage facility for white blood cells).

  • Pin and Stretch - (a.k.a. Active Release Therapy, or ART)  Pin and stretch is a technique where the therapist will lock (i.e. pin) some soft tissue in place while lengthening (i.e. stretching) the same soft tissue.  This has the effect of reducing restrictions that are located within the tissue.  You can think of it as being similar to using a rolling pin to roll out and lengthen bread dough, though the action of pin and stretch is a bit different than that of using the rolling pin.

  • Contract Relax Stretching and Active Isolated Stretching - Both of these methods of stretching utilize the body's nervous system to facilitate relaxation in the muscle you are trying to lengthen.  These are sometimes handy in creating release during your massage session.

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