For many, the idea of a massage is a luxurious and exclusive vacation treat that can cap a relaxing weekend away from the daily stresses of life. Seldom do people consider the clinical effects of bodywork and what it may offer them. Relaxation work, often referred to as Swedish massage, is a wonderful experience that possesses many health benefits to the recipient but rarely digs into the depth of musculoskeletal issues. Clinical bodywork, on the other hand, is designed to progressively peel the layers back, often targeting a few areas of the body in a session in order to gain long term relief. Speaking of digging, Let’s dig a little deeper into what benefits await the client of a true clinical bodywork session.
Probably the thing that people seek the most in health care is relief from chronic pain. So what exactly is pain? Pain can be thought as the bodies most reliable mechanism to communicate a need that is perceived as a ‘top priority’ for the system. In other words, pain isn’t necessarily negative, we just often have no solution to resolve it. One interesting parallel here is Deane Juhan’s idea that pain is the body’s request for space. Without going into too much detail, this can be interpreted as the bodies need for decompression. Through body work, releasing tension in muscles at the appropriate areas help to release joint based compression and relieve pressure on peripheral nerves and vessels. This results in a feeling of pain relief that can often feel constant and debilitating.
Most people in our modern times are acutely aware of how their body looks. We are also interested in how that body feels, and not just from a ‘pain or no pain’ perspective. Bodies must navigate gravity efficiently since we are an architectural structure. If the heavier mass that form the joints that we move at (bones) are not stacked well, gravity forces things to the ground. This puts tremendous stress on the soft tissue around them to keep the system upright. This leads to bodies feeling heavy, lethargic, tight, lacking fluid motion, stiff, etc… Bodywork that addresses posture allows for the system to befriend gravity once again and move gracefully and effortlessly.
For those using their body in competitive performance, improving range and facilitating unencumbered motion is a big goal. Another that may emerge for the active client is overcoming injury. The emergence of acute injury tends to plague many for years following the trauma. There is a tremendous amount of possible injuries that may occur, and each require a potentially different approach. In general terms, and especially with injuries that require surgery, mobility becomes a key factor in the post-rehab return to performance. Scar-tissue accumulation and soft tissue adhesions tend to inhibit the road to optimal recovery and a skilled clinical practitioner can free these areas up to support the number of quality therapy goals already set in motion during rehab.
The perception of massage as a luxury form of relaxation is shifting quickly to include bodyworkers, whose role in essential to the approaches outlines above. If you value these goals for yourself, contact the Florida School of Advanced Bodywork and schedule a session with one of our student therapist or with an instructor. If you are someone who seeks to be a part of this wonderful career helping people with pain relief, posture, and performance, take that first step and call today!
David Phillips, MS, LMBT