manual therapy are general terms that refer to body manipulation therapies used
for relaxation and pain relief. Massage is a well-known form of manual
The idea behind bodywork is that people learn—or are
forced by injury or stress into—unnatural ways of moving or holding their
bodies. This causes discomfort and may contribute to health
The aim of bodywork is to realign and reposition the
body to allow natural, graceful movement. Bodywork, along with identifying
possible contributing causes of unnatural movement and posture, is thought to
stress and ease pain.
Some of the most
common forms of bodywork are:
The Alexander technique, which focuses
on proper alignment of the head, neck, and trunk. It emphasizes improving
health by increasing awareness of proper posture.
The Feldenkrais method, a gentle form of
bodywork that increases flexibility and coordination. Feldenkrais exercises are
intended to help increase a person's awareness of body movement and develop new
patterns of movement.
The Trager approach, which people use to
help relearn natural movements and exercises so their bodies can function
better. Practitioners teach gentle, rhythmic motions to improve flexibility and
promote relaxation (called psychophysical integration) and dancelike exercises
to increase awareness of body movement (called Mentastics).
Deep tissue massage, which attempts to
treat chronic tension in deep muscles of the body. Deep tissue massage is
thought to relieve pain and increase flexibility.
Rolfing, a form of deep tissue massage
that practitioners use to realign the tissues that cover and connect all
muscles and body organs (fascia). Bringing the body back into proper alignment
is thought to reduce pain, improve flexibility and energy, and reduce muscle
Dance/movement therapy, which has many
of the same characteristics as the types of bodywork described above with the addition of
creative and expressive art elements.
What is bodywork used for?
People may use bodywork
to promote relaxation, relieve stress, and reduce pain associated with certain
disorders of the muscles and joints, such as
Is bodywork safe?
Bodywork can be a safe form of
therapy when a qualified and experienced practitioner performs it. Its
effectiveness is not scientifically proven. Talk with your doctor before you
start any bodywork program, so you can choose the most appropriate form of
bodywork for your specific condition.
Many states license
practitioners who provide bodywork therapies. Your doctor or local hospital may
be able to help you find a qualified bodywork practitioner.
tell your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking
about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical
treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and
rely only on an alternative therapy.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.