Massage vs. Bodywork

What’s the Difference?

About Massage

In today’s culture, massage has become synonymous with relaxation and a tranquil environment, untouched by the hustle and bustle of daily concerns.

There’s candlelight, soft music, and scented candles. It all sounds wonderful, does it not?

Massage offers a time and place for stress to melt away. In addition to providing an opportunity for relaxation and release, massage helps improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage.

However, what if you are not “mentally” stressed but are dealing with discomfort and pain? Even more, what if you are in chronic pain?

This could be the very reason you are anxious!

The relaxing atmosphere of massage leaves something to be desired in these cases. A good massage can help take the ache out of a sore back or hip, but often it doesn’t last longer than a few days.

Dealing with chronic pain can be a truly difficult hurdle in life, and no one knows this more than a massage therapist.

About Bodywork

When a person is dealing with pain, discomfort, lack of function, or a combination of different ailments, massage does not have a thorough enough approach to improve these conditions.

Something more has to be done. It’s call Bodywork.

Bodywork is centered around approaching an individual’s complaints and conditions through treatment of what “causes” them to occur.

For several people the term “tight” is used as a way of explaining where they feel their pain and dysfunction. But in most cases, the area of pain is a compensation created by shortened, or tight, tissue elsewhere in the body.

Bodywork uses advanced techniques of soft tissue manipulation. This process lengthens areas of “true” shortened tissue and reeducates muscles for proper movement, all of which leads to:

  • Decreased pain
  • Better range of motion
  • Results that last for much longer periods of time

Treating the Root Cause

Bodywork looks beyond the immediate symptoms to find an underlying pattern that may have given rise to that symptom or cluster of symptoms.

The spot that first registers pain is often the “weakest link” in a complex web of imbalances.

Changes to the myofascial network cannot be made all at once. Bodywork proceeds somewhat stepwise by a series of approximations towards a more harmonious condition of structural balance.

Typically, a series of sessions is required with enough time allotted between treatments to allow the person to adjust to the changes.

There are several bodywork techniques available, including:

Goal Oriented, Site Specific

Each person’s structure is unique.

There are some structural patterns and themes that are widespread, and generalizations can be made. However, effective bodywork must be tailored to each client’s structural idiosyncrasies.

Adjustments made to the body and the types of strokes applied must be selected with care and cannot be protocol driven.

Going from Massage to Bodywork

Therapists in the field of massage have clients who come in every day with nagging aches and pains that interfere with the most basic of activities.

For massage therapists and their clients, the question then becomes, “What more can be done?”

Unbeknownst to most people, advanced therapy techniques and methods have been in use as far back as the 1960s!

The Science Behind Bodywork

You might be thinking, “Why have I never heard of this before?”

It is generally accepted that bodywork methods didn’t gain much recognition in the public eye because they simply lacked good science to show they provided real benefit to the body.

However, in the last decade a large body of evidence has shed light on the benefits of many of these advanced therapeutic methods.

As a result, therapists all over the country have adopted these advanced techniques and incorporated these methods into their practices.

Advantages of Bodywork Therapy

The key difference between bodywork and standard massage therapy is the level of training.

Massage therapists often lack the skill and training necessary to provide long term relief from chronic pain and are unable to describe in detail why a client may be experiencing pain.

Contrast that with a bodyworker with advanced training in anatomy and physiology. Bodyworkers thoroughly assess a client’s body, allowing the session to be very detailed in its approach and provide not only better pain relief, but longer lasting results!

Hands-on techniques for bodyworkers differ greatly from that of an average massage therapist. Instead of using long, connected strokes throughout the body to help relax the client, bodywork techniques are very focused and geared towards releasing what is called “soft-tissue.”

Soft-tissues are a ground substance that give shape to all the muscles as well as the organization of bones, organs, and nerves.

Bodyworkers directly engage and manipulate this underlying tissue, releasing areas where the tissue has become restricted or tight, and in so doing, the therapy allows the body to reestablish healthy organization and function.

For these reasons, when someone asks us “What’s the difference?”, we tell them that bodywork is a “goal oriented, site specific type of therapy focused on helping balance the body”.

Treating Causes, Not Symptoms

The therapists at Hands On Healing focus on treating conditions based on causes, not symptoms.

Rather than have a client come to our studio to receive “just a massage” (even though we provide such a service), each session is focused on assessing a client’s conditions and complaints as something specific to their body.

Bodywork therapy offers many advantages, including:

  • Elimination of “cookie-cutter” techniques
  • Better results from each session
  • One-on-one interaction between therapist and client
  • Long-term treatment options
  • Continued improvements over time

For more information about our bodywork services, contact Hands On Healing.