Pagina principale Bodywork : what type of massage to get, and how to make the most of it

Bodywork : what type of massage to get, and how to make the most of it

Swedish massage, aromatherapy, shiatsu, Rolfing, Alexander Technique, reflexology, CranioSacral Therapy - these are all different kinds of what is referred to as bodywork. One of the most widespread and powerful of the "complementary therapies," bodywork is helping millions just plain feel better and/or achieve a greater integration of body, mind, and spirit. Whether you're a longtime bodywork enthusiast or someone who has had little or no experience with massage, Bodywork is the essential guide, answering all the key questions about every different kind of major bodywork therapy. And unlike the other books on massage and bodywork, this is not a how-to; it is a guide to getting bodywork. There is a dizzying array of massage and bodywork available to all of us - yet few people have the time, energy, or money to explore each one in depth and discover which is best for them. Bodywork gives a vivid, first-person narrative account of what each type of bodywork actually feels like. It also includes: * a definition of each type of bodywork
the origins of each type and the theory behind it
healing properties and/or spiritual and relaxation benefits
contraindications
how much a session will cost and how many sessions you will need
resources for further information
and much, much more - all at the reader's fingertips. Bodywork draws upon the resources of dozens of talented practitioners, the author's own extensive training, and all the latest literature. It presents enough information to be of interest and value to the professional, while at the same time being totally accessible to the general reader.
Anno: 1995
Edizione: Hardcover
Editore: William Morrow & Company (first published August 1995)
Lingua: english
Pagine: 440 / 472
ISBN 10: 0688125816
ISBN 13: 9780688125813
File: PDF, 23.96 MB
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What Type of
Massage

to Get-

and How to Make
the Most of It
The complete guide
to the

experience and

benefits of receiving every
different kind of

and bodywork

massage

therapy,

including Swedish Massage,
Shiatsu, Feldenkrais,

Myofascial Release,
Trager, Reflexology,

Aromatherapy, Alexander,
Therapeutic Touch,
Reiki,

and more

•

THOMAS

CLAIRE

ISBN 0-688-12581-6

.Swedish massage, aromath
ing, Alexander Technique, r^flS0i^y, CranioSacral Therapy these are all airo/ent kinds of
what is referred to as bodywork. One of the
most widespread and powerful of the "complementary therapies," bodywork is helping millions just plain feel better and/or achieve a
greater integration of body, mind, and spirit.
Whether you're a longtime bodywork enthusiast or someone who has had little or no experience with massage, Bodywork is the essential
guide, answering all the key questions about

—

every different kind of major bodywork therapy.

And

unlike the other

bodywork,

books on massage and
not a how-to; it is a guide to

this is

getting bodywork.

There

a dizzying array of massage and
bodywork available to all of us—yet few people
have the time, energy, or money to explore each

one

is

depth and discover which

in

is

best for

them. Bodywork gives a vivid, first-person narrative account of what each type of bodywork
actually feels

a

like.

It

also includes:

definition of

the origins of

behind

each type of bodywork

each type and the theory

it

ealing properties

and/or

spiritual

and

relaxation benefits

contraindications

how much a session will
many sessions you need

cost

and how

resources for further information

—

and much, much more

all

at the

reader's fingertips.

With a section on getting started featuring
tips on how to get the
most out of a massage
and how to select a practitioner, a
comprehensive glossary, an "At-a-Glance"
introduction to
each chapter, and even information
on spas
Bodywork' is truly the bible for
this field—
the authoritative state-of-the-art
text on these
widely acclaimed relaxation
and heak^thprnpies.

It

is

also great fun to read.

Bodywork draws upon

the resource
(continued

on

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Digitized by the Internet Archive
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https://archive.org/details/00book314233188

BODYWORK

WHAT TYPE OF MASSAGE TO GET—
AND HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT

Thomas

William

Claire

Morrow and Company,

SausaRo

Inc.*

Public Library

Sausaiiio, California

84965

New York

IMPORTANT: PLEASE READ
intended to increase your knowledge about massage and body-

The information in this hook is
work therapies and by no means is intended to diagnose or treat an individual’s health problems or ailments. The information given is not medical advice, nor is it presented as a course of
personalized treatment. There may be risks involved in connection with some of the practices
suggested

book,

in this

may

just as there

be risks involved

in

connection with any type of phys-

bodywork therapy, or
medical treatment you may now be undergoing, you should

or therapy. Therefore, before starting any type of massage or

ical activity

before discontinuing any course of

consult your

own

health care practitioner.

The following trademarks, registered marks, and service marks are used throughout this book:
AMMA Therapy, The American Center for the Alexander Technique, Aston-Patterning, Bonnie
Prudden Myotherapy, ClubSpa, Feldenkrais, Awareness Through Movement, Functional Integration, Feldenkrais Guild, Flellerwork, Holotropic Breathwork, International Institute of

Reflexology, Original Ingham Method, Jin Shin

Do BodyMind

Acupressure, Jin Shin Jyutsu,

LooyenWork, Manual Lymph Drainage, MLD, On-Site Enterprises, Oasis Center,
Ortho-Bionomy, Ohashiatsu, Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapy, Pilates Method, Polarity Wellness Center, The Radiance Technique, Rolfing, Rolfer, Rosen Method, Rubenfeld Synergy, SynKripalu,

ergist,

SomatoEmotional Release, Transcendental Meditation, Trager, Mentastics, TragerWork,

and Zero Balancing.
Copyright

©

1995 by Thomas Claire

No

book may be reproduced or

any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information
storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Inquiries should
All rights reserved.

part of this

be addressed to Permissions Department, William
the Americas,

It is

New

Morrow and Company,

Inc.,

Morrow and Company,

nizing the importance of preserving

Inc.,

what has been

and we exert our best

and

its

imprints and affiliates, recog-

written, to print the

books we publish on

efforts to that end.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Thomas.
Bodywork what type of massage

Claire,

:

of

it /

Thomas

to get

—and how to make the most

Claire,

cm.

p.

Includes index.

ISBN 0-688-12581-6
1. Massage.
2. Touch
therapies.

RA780.5.C57
615.8'22

Printed

234

in

5

—Therapeutic

1995

—dc20

94-38083

the United States of

678910

BOOK DESIGN BY

use.

Title.

I.

1350 Avenue of

York, N.Y. 10019.

the policy of William

acid-free paper,

utilized in

JESSICA

SHATAN

America

CIP

3.

Mind and body

DEDICATION

This book

is

my

the dream;

my

gratefully dedicated to:

friend

my

and colleague Alice

agent, Jeanne Fredericks, for sharing

for giving

it

a

mother, for giving birth to

body; and

all

it;

Pisciotto, for nurturing

my

editor, Will

other healers, wherever you

it;

Schwalbe,

may

be.

PREFACE

You might

ask what special credentials

I

bring to writing Bodywork.

make

Like you, I’m an ordinary person trying to

mented world, exploring

all

the

sense of a frag-

amazing potential and beauty

it

has

to offer.
I

did distinguish myself academically, where

of the country’s leading universities with

I

graduated from some

numerous honors,

And

ing National Merit and Fulbright scholarships.
the eyes of the business world,
financial analysis, so

much

where

I

was

a

succeeded

in

whiz with numbers and

became U.S. treaand most prestigious luxury goods com-

so that at an early age

surer of the world’s largest

I

includ-

I

pany.

But

I

am

also,

completion. In

and always have been,

my

late thirties, the

a seeker of

mid-point of

life,

I

wholeness and
began to

feel a

transformation taking place inside myself, almost as though some

Contac time capsules had kicked in. I began to know there must be
treasures more precious than money, luxuries deeper than skin-care
treatments, and more certainties to life than death and taxes. That
realization led me on my own journey to examine numerous metaphysical traditions and ways of understanding my own being. The
quest ultimately led me to experiment with various bodywork practices, which allowed me to make the shift from head to heart in a
gentle, gradual, and undeniably powerful way. Through personal
experience, I have learned that we each have teachers who are
patiently waiting to guide us
ney.

My

teachers.

when we

are ready to begin our jour-

preparation for writing this book has led

The

idea for this project

that could guide

me

in the

was born when

I

me

to

my

greatest

looked for a book

many-faceted world of massage and body-

was unable to find a book that was comprehensive yet individual enough to convey what each approach actually feels like.
work.

I

Preface

Vlll

bodywork on my own, beginning tentatively, with a few small steps. I took an introductory workshop and
experienced a bodywork treatment here and there. Eventually,
though, left my secure position in the financial world and committed myself to the profession of bodywork and to writing this book. I
studied countless
totally immersed myself in this exciting field.
I

undertook

my

education

in

I

I

hours over a course of years to master a variety of techniques as a

attended and graduated from the
massage therapist.
Swedish Institute School of Massage Therapy and Allied Health Sciences, in addition to completing The Ohashi Institute’s advanced program of Ohashiatsu. am also a practitioner of Therapeutic Touch
and a Reiki Master. I’ve studied CranioSacral Therapy, reflexology,
and a variety of energetic healing modalities. I progressed to the role
of teacher, presenting workshops and lectures on a variety of bodywork practices. I’ve explored every approach presented in Bodywork
and have been fortunate to receive treatments from some of the most
gifted practitioners of the healing arts. I have read hundreds of books
and thousands of articles to synthesize and crystallize the informalicensed

I

I

tion presented in this book. All of these experiences have served as

potent learning tools.

have been privileged to work with a
wide variety of exceptional individuals. It is they who have been my
greatest teachers. In Ohashiatsu, we practitioners call ourselves

Most important, though,

“givers” and those with

I

whom we work

“receivers.”

We

quickly

however, that the terms are interchangeable for it is my
receivers who have given me my greatest understanding of the art of
bodywork. It is with deepest appreciation to them that I offer you
learn,

the fruits of
I

It is

would

my

make Bodywork

as well as inquiries

and

Thomas

exploration.

also like to thank those of

goal to

comments
tations,

my

my

workshops,

referral services. Please write to

Claire

P.O. Box 1040

Grand Central

Station

York, N.Y. 10163-1040

are reading this book.

as useful as possible.

about

Clairefontaine, Inc.,

New

you who

me:

I

welcome your

lectures, consul-

author’s note

The profession of massage and bodywork therapy
with practitioners engaged
define their work.
include

all

I

in

is

an evolving one,

word to use to
word “bodywork” to
book as it is the most

discussion as to the best

have opted to use the

of the practices presented in this

comprehensive term available. “Massage,” which is generally used
by professionals to refer more specifically to Swedish massage and its
variations, is the term which many laypersons have come to equate
with any kind of touch therapy. The use of the word “massage” in
this book’s subtitle is meant to signal to the general reader that this
book is about sensitive, skilled touch. However, some practitioners
of disciplines presented in this book would not consider their work to
fall under the traditional classification of massage. The author
respectfully acknowledges that their work is appropriately meant to
be considered within the broader context of bodywork.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I

wish to express

my

gratitude to

all

the teachers, practitioners,

and family members who offered support
completing this project. In particular, I wish to

receivers, students, friends,

and assistance

in

thank the following:

My

who

me

to pursue a career in healing:

Stanislav Grof, M.D.; Brugh Joy,

M.D.; Dolores Krieger, Ph.D.,

teachers,

inspired

R.N.; Ohashi and the staff of The Ohashi Institute;
wolf,

my

Native American medicine

woman;

Oh

Shinnah Fast-

Reiki Masters Penny

Gnesin, Leonie Rosenstiel, Ph.D., and Miss Elaine; the faculty of the

Russ Beasley, Lucy Liben, and Jill
Thompson; and the faculty and staff of The Upledger Institute, particularly Gayle Breman, Robert Harris, and John E. Upledger, D.O.,
Swedish

Institute, especially

O.M.M.
Tiffany Field, Ph.D., and her dedicated staff at

Touch Research

Institute.

The

gifted practitioners

who

shared their time, experience, and

enthusiasm for bodywork as they collaborated on the experiential
portions of this book: Rob Bauer, Heather Brown, Vicki CalpenaEklund, Deborah Caplan, Ken Frey, David Frome, Bruria Ginton,
Greta, Janet Macrae, Laura Norman, Roger Tolle, Lisa Wiener, and
Reese Williams. Without them,

this

book would be merely words.

Karen Anderson and Richard Kaplan for sharing their experiences
of shiatsu and Reiki, respectively.
The following individuals, who, along with those already cited,

commented on portions of the manuscript of this book so
might embody the power of their collective wisdom and expe-

generously
that

it

John Beaulieu, N.D.; Sue
Brenner; David Burmeister; Bernard Burt; Dwight Byers; Howard
Douglass; Bob Edwards; Cindy Gaydos; Chris Griscom; James Hack-

rience: Judith Aston;

John Barnes,

P.T.;

Acknowledgments

Xll

Marcy Lindheimer; Kenneth
Lubowich, O.M.D.; Keith Miller; Pat Ogden; David Palmer; Maxine
Pannetier; Arthur Robertson; liana Rubenfeld; Iona Marsaa Tee-

ett;

Brian Ingraham; Arnie Kolodner;

guarden; William Walsh, D.C.; and Zhenya Kurashova Wine.
Christina
Italy, for

Newburgh

of Spa’Deus in Chianciano Terme, Tuscany,

her gracious hospitality.

The many professional and helpful people at the many national
bodywork organizations contacted. You are too numerous to cite
I

you know who you are.
My sister, Dorothy Mraz; my writer colleague Bingo Weyer; and
my good friend Ron Mencz, for encouraging me to complete this proindividually, but

ject.

Victoria Klose for her thoughtful and careful copyediting of the

manuscript.

9

CONTENTS

Preface

vii

Author’s Note

ix

Acknowledgments

xi

Getting Started:

How

to

Use This Book

3

Helpful Hints

5

How to Make the Most of Your
How to Choose a Practitioner
A Note

Massage

6

7

on Gender

8

Introduction

9

What

9

Is

Massage?

Bodywork

A

Is

Not

a Substitute for Medical

Treatment

Overview of the History of Bodywork
The Role of Massage and Bodywork in Health Care

10

Brief

United States

I:

12
13

13

Traditional Western Massage

Swedish Massage at a Glance
Swedish Massage and

Chapter

1:

What

Swedish Massage?

Is

in the

11

The Common Foundations of Bodywork
Touch Research Institute: The Scientific Evidence
The Evolving Role of the Massage Therapist

Part

10

1

Its

Variations

The Origins of Swedish Massage
The Theory Underlying Swedish Massage
The Typical Format of a Swedish Massage

21

21

Session

22
22
25

Contents

XIV

The Experience: Get Rubbed the Right
The Benefits of Swedish Massage
Contraindications to Swedish Massage
I

Way

Background and Training of Practitioners
For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading
Variations on Swedish Massage

Medical Massage: Working from a Doctor’s Rx
Sports Massage: Maximizing Peak Performance
Trigger Point Therapies: Releasing the Pressure Points

On-Site Massage: Massage

Comes

to the

Workplace

Specialty Practices: Endless Variations

26
32
34
35
35
36
37
37
39
42
47
48

Part II: Structural/Functional/Movement
Integration: Somatic Education
The Rolfing Method of Structural Integration

The Rolfing Method

Chapter

2:

What

Rolfing?

Is

Glance

of Structural Integration

The Origins of the Rolfing Method of
The Theory Underlying Rolfing

A Typical

at a

Structural Integration

Rolfing Series

The Experience: I Get Rolfed
The Benefits of Rolfing

72
72
73
73
74
74
74
74

Background and Training of Practitioners
For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading

Other Approaches to Structural Integration
Aston-Patterning

Guild for Structural Integration

Hellerwork
at a

Glance

The Alexander Technique: Aligning

Chapter

3:

What

the Alexander Technique?

Is

57
57
57
59
62
64
71

Contraindications to Rolfing

The Alexander Technique

55

77
the Spine

The Origins of the Alexander Technique
The Theory Underlying the Alexander Technique

79
79
79
81

Contents

XV

The Typical Format of an Alexander Lesson
The Experience: Align My Spine
The Benefits of the Alexander Technique

91

Contraindications to the Alexander Technique

93

Background and Training of Practitioners

93

For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading

94
94

The Feldenkrais Method

97

84
86

I

Chapter

4:

The

Movement
What Is the
The
The
The
The
The

at a Glance

Feldenkrais Method: Awareness

Through

Method?
Feldenkrais Method

Feldenkrais

Origins of the

Theory Underlying the Feldenkrais Method
Typical Format of a Feldenkrais Session
Experience: Awareness Through Movement

Method
Feldenkrais Method

Benefits of the Feldenkrais

Contraindications to the

100
100
101
101

104
105
110
111

Background and Training of Practitioners

111

For Further Information

1

Suggested Further Reading

112

Part

III:

12

Other Contemporary Western Bodywork

Practices
Myofascial Release at a Glance

Chapter

5:

119

Myofascial Release: Physical Therapy Joins Hands

with Massage Therapy

121

What

121

The
The
The
The
The

Is

Myofascial Release?

Origins of Myofascial Release

121

Theory Underlying Myofascial Release
Typical Format of Myofascial Release
Experience: My Myofascia Is Released

122
122
123
129
129
129
130
130

Benefits of Myofascial Release

Contraindications to Myofascial Release

Background and Training of Practitioners
For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading

Contents

XVI

The Trager Approach

at a

131

Glance

Suggested Further Reading

134
134
134
135
136
137
146
146
147
147
148

Rubenfeld Synergy Method at a Glance

149

Chapter 7: Rubenfeld Synergy Method: Touch Therapy
Meets Talk Therapy

151

What

151

Chapter

6:

The Trager Approach: Meditation

in

Motion

Approach?
The Origins of the Trager Approach
The Theory Underlying the Trager Approach
The Typical Format of the Trager Approach
The Experience: I Get “Tragered”
The Benefits of the Trager Approach
Contraindications to the Trager Approach

What

Is

the Trager

Background and Training of Practitioners
For Further Information

The
The
The
The
The

Is

Rubenfeld Synergy?

Origins of the Rubenfeld Synergy

Method

151

Suggested Further Reading

152
153
154
163
164
164
164
165

Rosen Method

167

Theory Underlying Rubenfeld Synergy
Typical Format of a Rubenfeld Synergy Session
Experience: I Get Touched and Talk
Benefits of Rubenfeld Synergy

Contraindications to Rubenfeld Synergy

Background and Training of Practitioners
For Further Information

at a

Glance

Rosen Method: Listening to the Body
What Is Rosen Method?
The Origins of Rosen Method
The Theory Underlying Rosen Method
The Typical Format of a Rosen Method Session
The Experience: Listen to My Body
The Benefits of Rosen Method
Contraindications to Rosen Method
Background and Training of Practitioners
Chapter

8:

I

For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading

169
169
169
170
171

171

177
178
178
178
179

Contents

Part

IV:

XVII

Asian Bodywork: Practices with Eastern

Roots
185

Shiatsu: Oriental Acupressure at a Glance

Chapter

9: Shiatsu:

Oriental Acupressure and Other

Bodywork

Practices

188

What

188

The
The
The
The
The

Is

Shiatsu?

Origins of Shiatsu

189

Theory Underlying Shiatsu
Typical Format of a Shiatsu Session
Experience: Balancing the Pathways of Energy

191

Benefits of Shiatsu

Contraindications to Shiatsu

Background and Training of

Practitioners

For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading

196
198
205

205
206
206
207

Variations on Shiatsu: Other Healing Approaches Related to

208
208
209
209
209
209
209
209
210
210
210
210

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture
Moxibustion
Acu-yoga
Electroacutherapy

Cupping
Sotai

Ear Seed Acupuncture
Auricular Therapy
Iridology

Other Oriental Bodywork Practices
Therapy
Jin Shin Do Bodymind Acupressure

AMMA

211

Thai Massage
Tuina: The Traditional Chinese System of Manual Therapy

212
213

Reflexology at a Glance

215

Chapter 10: Reflexology: Baring Your Sole

217
217
217
220
222

What

Is

Reflexology?

The Origins of Reflexology
The Theory Underlying Reflexology
The Typical Format of a Reflexology

Session

Contents

XVtll

223
228
229
230
230
231

The Experience: Feet First
The Benefits of Reflexology
Contraindications to Reflexology

Background and Training of Practitioners
For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading

Aromatherapy Massage

233

Glance

at a

Chapter 11: Aromatherapy Massage: Appealing to the

235
235
235
237
239
240
242
242
243
243
243

“Scentses”

What

Aromatherapy?
The Origins of Aromatherapy
The Theory Underlying Aromatherapy
The Typical Format of Aromatherapy Massage
The Experience: Massage as a “Scentsual” Experience
The Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage
Contraindications to Aromatherapy Massage
Background and Training of Practitioners
Is

For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading

Part V: Energetic Bodywork: Healing with the
Human Energy Field
Therapeutic Touch (TT) at a Glance

Chapter 12: Therapeutic Touch (TT): Modulating the
Energy Field

What
The
The
The
The
The

Is

249

Human

Therapeutic Touch?

Origins of Therapeutic

Touch

Theory Underlying Therapeutic Touch
Typical Format of a Therapeutic Touch Treatment
Experience: Get Energized
I

Touch
Therapeutic Touch

Benefits of Therapeutic

Contraindications to

Background and Training of Practitioners
For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading

251
251
252
253
256

260
263
265
266
267
267

Contents

xix

CranioSacral Therapy at a Glance

269

Chapter 13: CranioSacral Therapy: The Skull Speaks
What Is CranioSacral Therapy?

271

The
The
The
The
The

Other Practices Associated with CranioSacral Therapy
SomatoEmotional Release
Visceral Manipulation
Zero Balancing

272
274
276
279
283
285
286
286
287
287
287
288
288

Reiki at a Glance

289

Origins of CranioSacral Therapy

Theory Underlying CranioSacral Therapy
Typical Format of a CranioSacral Therapy Session
Experience:

My

Skull Speaks

Therapy
CranioSacral Therapy

Benefits of CranioSacral

Contraindications to

Background and Training of Practitioners
For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading

Chapter 14: Reiki: Universal

What

Is

Life

271

291

Energy

291

Reiki?

Suggested Further Reading

292
294
296
297
303
304
305
306
307

Holotropic Breathwork at a Glance

309

Chapter 15: Holotropic Breathwork: The Music of Breath
What Is Holotropic Breathwork?
The Origins of Holotropic Breathwork
The Theory Underlying Holotropic Breathwork

312
312
312
313

The
The
The
The
The

Origins of Reiki

Theory Underlying Reiki
Typical Format of a Reiki Session
Experience: Tapping into Universal

Life

Energy

Benefits of Reiki

Contraindications to Reiki

Background and Training of Practitioners
For Further Information

Contents

XX

The Typical Format of a Holotropic Breathwork Session
The Experience: I Breathe to Music
The Benefits of Holotropic Breathwork
Contraindications to Holotropic Breathwork

Background and Training of Practitioners
For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading
Polarity

Therapy

at a

325

Glance

Chapter 16: Polarity Therapy: Balancing Currents of Energy
What Is Polarity Therapy?

The
The
The
The
The

315
315
322
322
322
323
323

Origins of Polarity Therapy

Theory Underlying Polarity Therapy
Typical Format of a Polarity Therapy Session
Experience: My Energy Currents Get Balanced
Benefits of Polarity Therapy
Contraindications to Polarity Therapy
Background and Training of Practitioners

For Further Information
Suggested Further Reading

327
327
327
329
331

333
339
339
339
340
340

Part VI: Supplemental Information: Simple Tools
Chapter 17: The Spa Experience: Pampering Yourself While

Your Body Works
The Spa Experience: Total Immersion
Suggested Further Reading

346
346
347
348

Chapter 18: Resources for Further Exploration
Networking: Holistic Learning Centers

350
350

Travel Agencies That Specialize

in

Spa Vacations

United States

351

Foreign Learning Centers

357

National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and

Bodywork
Graduate Degree Programs
Support Groups

360
360
361

Contents

XXI

Resources for Further Reading

361

Periodicals

361

Mail-Order Book Companies/Book Publishers
Practices

363
364

Practices

369
387

Professional Associations of Additional

Bodywork from A to Z
Appendix A: Comparative Summary

Bodywork

Glossary:

Appendix

B: State

of

Bodywork

Boards Administering Massage Practice

Laws

Postscript: Unlearning

393
397
405
425

Index

427

Notes
Bibliography

I

have said that the soul

And

I

is

not more than the body,

have said that the body

is

not more than the soul

—Walt Whitman, "Song

.

.

of Myself

BODYWORK

Getting Started:
How to Use This Book

Few

things are so endlessly fascinating as the

human body

1

.

— The New York Times

Bodywork
any

is

intended to answer the questions of everyone

interest in the exciting field of

who

who

has

bodywork. This includes the

massage each year, anyone
who has ever experienced aches and pains, anyone who wants to
learn more about his or her body, anyone who is curious about all
twenty million Americans

receive a

the treatments advertised in the local health club newsletter or

anyone considering or embarked on a career in bodywork, anyone involved in the health care field, and anyone who has
until now.
never even thought about bodywork
This book is designed to be as complete and as user-friendly as
possible. You’ll find detailed information on a broad spectrum of
favorite spa,

—

massage and bodywork practices selected for their popularity, availability, and diversity of approach.
While this book can be read as a whole from start to finish, each
chapter can also be read on

its

own. The key

features of each practice

are highlighted in a brief “At-a-Glance” table that introduces each
chapter.

A

glossary at the end of the

book

briefly defines all the

body-

BODYWORK

4

work

practices profiled, plus

gaining

many

other exciting approaches that are

popularity.

in

and foremost touch communication. The principal challenge in writing about bodywork is how to convey what it
feels like. Language tends to reflect the left brain’s linear and analytic
approach to intellectual understanding while the experience of bodywork is registered in the intuitive and free-flowing right hemisphere
of the brain. During a session, an individual might experience concentric spirals of thoughts, emotions, spiritual insights, and physical

Bodywork

releases.

is first

These sensations can occur

dance that

may

feel like

all

at

an instant or an

once

in a

multidimensional

eternity.

The feeling component that emerges during the experience of bodywork cannot be overemphasized. The Western tradition has created a
duality between thinking and feeling and has clearly given priority to
thinking. Ever so subtly, we’ve lost touch with our feelings, and we
wonder where the all-pervading sense of loss that characterizes our
way of life comes from.
Bodywork therapies allow us to explore the hidden places of the
soul, to own what is there without shame or judgment. They permit
us to reestablish a direct link with our feeling selves, including our

unconscious desires and

human

potential,

to feeling

know

it is

order for us to realize our

fears. In

full

we make the shift from thinking
Bodywork is the most effective means I

essential that

and experiencing.

of arriving at a place of inner certitude and peace.

Bodywork answers

the question

“What does

it

feel like?”

through

work. These experiential accounts form the heart and soul of this book. Other books on
bodywork take a how-to approach that emphasizes photos of strokes
and techniques. Pictures are two dimensional and static; they can’t
capture the dynamic ever-changing feel of a session. They are like listening to a monaural recording versus sense-surround sound.
a firsthand narrative description of each type of

Bodywork adopts a holistic perspective. The word heal literally
means “to make whole.” Massage and bodywork therapies are holistic

practices that

physical

aim to help you achieve greater wholeness. Relief of

symptoms may accompany attainment of

ever, practitioners

do not

set

out to

not licensed to diagnose physical

fix a

illness.

broken

To

this goal.

part,

How-

and they are

the extent that

many

ill-

nesses are the direct result of stress or lifestyle habits, these practices

can play an important role in promoting health and well-being.
Bodywork is not a how-to book. It is based on the belief that treat-

Getting Started:

ment

is

to Use This Book

5

and presents the
about each bodywork approach so you can decide which

best administered by a trained professional

basic facts
is

How

best for you.

Bodywork methods
together in sections.
tices are

that share

Many

common

elements are grouped

professionals agree that

bodywork

prac-

arrayed along a body/mind continuum. Therapeutic prac-

emphasize physical
manipulation of the body for the purposes of relaxation and physical
rehabilitation. They often employ deep pressure techniques; the client
is primarily a passive recipient of the practitioner’s active strokes; and
the client disrobes to provide full access to the body. As practices proceed along the continuum, they increasingly emphasize the role of the
the mind and spirit in healing. At the furthest end of the spectrum,
practices often involve gentle touch; they are geared toward balancing
the mind, emotions, and spirit as well as the body; clients are frequently viewed as equal copartners in their own healing; and they
usually remain clad during treatment. Since our culture is tending
toward greater inner exploration and integration of body and mind,
tices

at

the

beginning

of

the

spectrum

these latter practices represent exciting areas of development.

This paradigm

is

by nature somewhat

artificial.

The

inclusion of a

bodywork practice in any particular group within the paradigm in
no way indicates that it is superior or inferior to any other. This
model is used only because it is helpful in underscoring some of the
basic differences
fied

among

approaches. Because a

human

being

is

a uni-

whole, any form of therapy that includes physical touch has the

capacity to affect body, mind, and

word touch

spirit.

Our everyday

use of the

to connote both a physical gesture as well as that

emotionally moves us illustrates
granted. Additionally,

many

how we

which

take this principle for

practitioners are conversant with

more

than one bodywork practice and weave sessions incorporating a variety of techniques.

Helpful Hints

any type of massage or bodywork, it’s helpful
to be psychologically ready. Often, people feel vulnerable at the
prospect of exposing their bodies to a stranger. They also may feel
they aren’t worth the time or money they spend for a massage or find
In preparing to receive

it

easier to give than receive.

These fears are often exaggerated and

related to issues of self-esteem. Receiving a

grow

in

massage challenges us to

our self-confidence, to accept ourselves as

we

are, including

BODYWORK

6

we

the fact that

are

worth every penny and every minute of the mas-

sage experience.

Bodywork hopes

to take

much

of the fear out of

bodywork by

By walking you through a typical session of each type
of bodywork, this book will help you understand exactly what to
expect. It will empower you to enjoy the nurturing touch that is your
demystifying

it.

birthright.

How

to

Here are

Make

Most of Your Massage
some tips to help you make the most
the

of your visit to a mas-

sage therapist:
•

Do

not eat an hour before and after your session. Digestion diverts

circulation to the internal organs

away from
•

Be

and can draw energy and attention

the massage.

as relaxed

and comfortable

as possible. If the

bodywork

practice

you with a sheet and
uncover only the body part being worked on. While a professional
massage may feel pleasurably sensuous, it is not intended to be a sexrequires

you

to disrobe, the therapist will drape

ual experience.
•

Remove any

jewelry and contact lenses.

therapist’s access to

sure

is

They may obstruct

your body and cause discomfort to you

if

the

pres-

exerted over them.

Whether you talk or not during the massage is up to you. If you
prefer quiet and your massage therapist chatters on about the details
of a horrific day, let her know you want silence. Keeping talk to a
minimum can help you focus your full awareness on the bodywork

•

experience.

Be aware of your body. If something feels uncomfortable or
painful, if you prefer unscented oil, or wish to keep part of your
clothing on, let your therapist know.
• Tell your massage therapist about any medical conditions or trouble spots. Massage therapists will often fill out a short intake form
•

during your

•You may

first visit.

find yourself experiencing emotional releases during a ses-

normal response and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed.
Depending upon the issues that surface, you may wish to seek qualision. This

is

a

fied counseling.

•You may

find

sage treatment.

your body temperature going
If

you get cold, ask

down

during a mas-

for additional covers.

—
Getting Started:
•

Most important: Enjoy

How

yourself.

to Use This Book

7

Massage should he

a

relaxing

experience. After the massage, take a few minutes to revel

peace and calm of

its

afterglow.

because you are so relaxed:

Move

You may

feel slightly

slowly at

first

in

the

disoriented

so you can get your

bearings.

How
It’s

Choose

to

a Practitioner

important to choose a massage therapist

who

is

properly trained

and whom you feel you can trust, no matter what type of
bodywork you try. Here are some hints on selecting a practitioner:
• Bodywork is both an art and a science. As in any healing art, extent
of formal training, years of experience, and natural gifts are all
and

skilled

important
•

is

Check

criteria in selecting a practitioner.

the therapist’s background. Inquire whether the practitioner

licensed or certified and

what

that entails in your area. Back-

grounds vary widely: Some practitioners may have only one or two
days of formal training while others may have attended school for
years.

Ask

recommendations from friends or health care
providers. Try to pinpoint what they like about the practitioner
what they value may be different from what you do.
• Check for professional affiliations. For instance, membership in a
professional organization such as The American Massage Therapy
Association (AMTA) means that a therapist has completed at least
five hundred hours of study in such diverse areas as anatomy and
•

for personal

physiology, pathology, hands-on practical work, and supplementary

courses such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),

first aid,

and

business practices.
•

Look

for an affiliation with a professional office.

chiropractors employ massage therapists on

staff.

Some doctors and

Additionally, what-

ever practitioner you choose should be willing to

work with your

other health care providers.

and the environment

which
he or she works. Is he professional? Respectful? Most important, do
you feel a rapport? A practitioner must inspire your confidence and

•

Note the

attitude of the practitioner

in

trust.
•

Check with your

local

massage school.

graduates or operate an on-site
•

If

It

may provide

a list of

clinic.

consulting the Yellow Pages, look for practitioners under the

list-

BODYWORK

8

Massage Therapist” or “Therapeutic Massage.”
Beware listings for “Massage” and “Massage Parlors” as these are
sometimes euphemisms for sex parlors.

ings “Licensed

Beware any massage therapist who claims he or she can “cure” you
of an illness. Massage therapists are not permitted to diagnose illness.
Most agree their work is geared toward relaxation, which enables the

•

body
•

to rally

its

own

recuperative powers.

Fees should be within the prevailing range for your geographic area

and background of the practitioner. Expect
hour for most types of work.
•

You may want

to discuss a typical

to

pay $30 to $100 per

program of treatment

in

advance. For instance, Rolfing typically involves a series of ten sessions; lessons in the

Alexander Technique can

lessons; while a relaxing

entail

twenty to thirty

Swedish massage can be enjoyed as often as

you choose.
• If you need insurance reimbursement, check beforehand. When prescribed by a doctor, massage therapy is sometimes reimbursed by
insurance plans. You should check with your insurance carrier prior
to treatment to determine its policy. Physicians sometimes need to be
reminded they can prescribe massage therapy as an indicated method
of treatment.

A

Note on Gender

In order to avoid use of the

clumsy s/he construction,

this

book

alter-

nates chapter by chapter the use of she and be in referring to practitioners

and

clients.

This underscores the fact that practitioners of

both sexes provide nurturing, professional treatments.

Introduction

Massage

is

new

the

Doctors prescribe

it.

health treatment in town. Athletes use

Lawyers, social workers,

artists,

computer

programmers, stock analysts, plumbers and your neighbor
benefit

from

it.

all

1

it .

— Health magazine

What
The

Is

field

Massage?
of massage and

bodywork

is

rich

and varied. While many

The
New England Journal of Medicine found no fewer than one hundred
lying
varieties of massage in use. Most people’s notion of massage
on a table in a health spa or resort while a massage therapist plies an
is what is called Swedish
oil-soaked body with soothing strokes
massage. Sometimes referred to as traditional or Western massage,
Swedish massage has historically formed the basis for massage in the
people associate massage with relaxing touch, a recent survey

in

—

—

United States.

Massage

is

traditionally defined as the manipulation of the soft

tis-

sues of the body for therapeutic purposes, using a system of strokes

and vibratactive and pas-

that include gliding, kneading, friction pressure, tapping,

massage therapists may engage in
sive movement of the joints, use auxiliary mechanical devices, apply
heat and cold in various forms, and instruct clients on exercises to
achieve improved muscle tone, circulation, and range of motion.
ing. Additionally,

The term bodywork, which has only

i

recently

come

to

mean any-

BODYWORK

10

thing other than auto repair,
traditional

massage as well as

body. Nearly

all

bodywork

goals of relaxation, pain

more encompassing: It includes both
other approaches to working with the

is

practices are united in their

relief,

common

improved physical functioning, height-

and well-being, and increased awareness.
The essence of bodywork is touch communication between a qualified giver and an open receiver. Body/mind modalities, where the
recipient does most of the work herself without focused touch from
another, such as visualization, biofeedback, hypnosis, and yoga, are
not included in this book. Also excluded are other nontraditional
therapies that act mainly by introducing external agents into the
body, such as homeopathy or Chinese herbal medicine.

ened

vitality

Bodywork
Bodywork

Not a

Is

Substitute for Medical Treatment

do not include the diagnosis or treatment of illness or disease, nor any service for which a separate license to practice is required by law, such as medicine, chiropractic, physical
practices

therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, or podiatry.

who

is

suffering

from

a medical

Anyone

problem should seek appropriate

attention from a qualified medical practitioner.

A

Overview of the History of Bodywork
Touch is as ancient as life itself, and it is the sense that is the earliest
to develop in the human embryo. The first massage probably
occurred spontaneously when the first human instinctively rubbed a
Brief

hurt.

As long ago

as 15,000 b.c., cave paintings in the Pyrenees depicted

8000 b.c.,
to promote

the therapeutic use of touch. In

practitioners of yoga in

India used breathing exercises

healing.

More than two

thousand years ago the ancient Chinese practice of manipulating
pressure points provided the first written reference to bodywork. An
ancient Egyptian papyrus from 1700 B.c. provides detailed knowledge of adjusting the spinal column by means of massage.
The ancient Greeks and Romans prized massage for its medical
benefits. Hippocrates (c. 460-c. 377 b.c.), considered the father of
Western medicine, and the physicians Galen (a.d. 129-c. 199) and
Asclepiades of Bithynia (c. 124-40 b.c.) endorsed its therapeutic use.
Julius Caesar was massaged daily for his epilepsy. Early Christians
and medieval royalty practiced the laying on of hands. In the sixteenth century, Ambroise Pare (1517-1590), a French surgeon, intro-

1

Introduction

1

duced massage for stiff joints and wound healing following surgery.
Experimentation with manipulation of bones and soft tissue by
“bonesetters” continued during the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution. In the early nineteenth century, the

modern Western

prac-

was systematized by Per Heinrik Ling (1776-1839).
Ashley Montagu, anthropologist and author of the acclaimed text
Touching, has shown that soothing, nurturing touch is essential to

tice

of massage

life.

Newborn animals must

survive; rats that are petted

immunity

be licked by their mothers

grow and

learn faster

to disease than those that are not. 2

if

they are to

and develop greater

Touch deprivation can

be devastating. Victorian mothers, schooled in the emerging science
of hygiene, maintained a respectful distance from their offspring with

more than half
from what was simply

horrifying consequences: In the nineteenth century,

of

all

and

infants died within the first year of

tragically called “wasting

life

away.” 3

The Role of Massage and Bodywork

in

Health Care

in

the

United States

As early as 1815, some physicians in America began to incorporate
massage into their treatment programs. A well-known proponent and
author on the subject of massage was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, M.D.
(1852-1943), who with his brother, Will (1860-1951), developed
and established the breakfast cereal company that bears their name.
Massage was practiced in hospitals in the United States and included

when the latter evolved into a separate discipline. As advances were made in the use of antibiotics and
surgery, people began to believe that modern medicine could conquer
physical therapy until the 1950s,

Massage, as a therapeutic modality, declined.
In the 1970s, the growth of the human potential movement rekindled interest in massage, and many non-Swedish practices were introduced during this time. Interest in massage has continued to grow
any

illness.

steadily

throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.

With health care costs consuming nearly 15 percent of gross
national product and doubling every five years and no cure for cancer

or AIDS,
icine.

many

people have become disillusioned with orthodox med-

“Traditional medicine

is

failing

its

patients,”

pronounces

a

The New York Times. 4 We are increasingly using complementary and preventive approaches to health treatment. The popular success of Bill Moyers’s series, Healing and the
Mind, underscores the immediacy of this concern.
lead-in to a recent article in

BODYWORK

12

From

CNN to

Time, polls reinforce the same

statistic:

One

third of

Americans are turning to alternative health care. The New England
Journal of Medicine recently reported the provocative results of a survey that revealed Americans pay more visits to alternative health care
providers than to orthodox medical practitioners. These Americans
spend $10.3 billion out of pocket on such visits versus $12.8 billion
out of pocket for

all

hospitalization costs. Significantly, this study

reported that massage therapy

is

the third

most popular of

all alter-

5
native therapies.

Responding to the urgency of this message, in late 1992 the Senate
Appropriations Committee mandated the National Institutes of
Health (NIH) to establish the Office of Alternative Medicine to evaluate complementary health care practices. In its first year of issuing
research grants, this department awarded the greatest number to projects in the field of bodywork.
Bodywork is empowering. It is at the forefront of complementary
health practices that will guide us well into the twenty-first century.

Up

to 90 percent of

all visits

to medical doctors are

prompted by con-

from stress and lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, and smoking. These are all conditions over which each of us has
some control. The practices presented in this book can help you
become more aware of your state of health so as to prevent the onset
ditions that result

of

illness.

The Common Foundations of Bodywork
While bodywork methods can vary greatly, there are recurrent
themes that underlie many of the practices included in Bodywork:
• Nearly all practices were developed by people seeking to cure their
own illnesses first and foremost. The formulation of techniques to
teach their successful approaches followed.
• Movement is life; stagnation is death. Pain and disease arise from
stagnation. (“Disease” literally signals dis-ease, or lack of ease.)
•

The human being

practices
•

The

is

an organized, patterned whole. Bodywork

aim to restore balance and wholeness.

self is the healer.

The

practitioner,

client’s innate abilities to self-correct,

(the literal

meaning of “doctor”),

who

only encourages the

might better be called a teacher

facilitator, guide,

coach, or mid-

wife.

Change is possible. No matter how chronic
some relief is possible.

•

a

problem may

be,

Introduction
•

A

compassion and the intention to
The more our society becomes high-tech, the more

practitioner’s greatest tools are

help and to heal.

we

13

crave high touch.

Touch Research Institute: The Scientific Evidence
As one sign of the growing trend toward evaluating the therapeutic
benefits of touch, the University of Miami Medical School established
its Touch Research Institute (TRI) in September 1991. Billed as the
first

center in the world for research on the sense of touch,

vides a

home

pro-

base for a multidisciplinary staff of scientists, including

Ph.D.s and M.D.s.

Its

founder and director, Dr. Tiffany Field, Ph.D.,

has been studying the effect of massage for

many

unflaggingly eloquent spokesperson for the value of

Among

it

years. She

human

is

an

touch.

Dr. Field’s earliest findings was that premature infants

who

received massage treatments for three fifteen-minute periods per day

47 percent more body weight than infants treated
with standard therapy. 6 Later studies showed that massage stimulates
the release of food absorption hormones. This translates into cost
savings: Massaged infants were hospitalized six days less than unmassaged infants, for cost savings of three thousand dollars per infant.
With premature births accounting for eighteen hundred or 10 perfor ten days gained

cent of total

new

births in the University of

Miami

Hospital, the

massaged
infants in this study maintained their weight advantage eight months
after discharge and exhibited greater motor and mental skills than
8
their nonmassaged counterparts. Other studies conducted by the
Touch Research Institute suggest that massage can improve the funcpotential for cost savings

tioning of the

is

substantial. Significantly, the

immune system

reduce stress and depression

formance on the

job.

in

in

men

infected with the

AIDS

virus,

adolescents, and boost workers’ per-

9

The Evolving Role of the Massage Therapist
Concurrently with the increasing emphasis on the role of complementary health practices, the profession of bodywork has been developing more professional and organized standards. Spurred on largely
by efforts of the nonprofit AMTA, the oldest and largest association
of massage professionals, massage practitioners have battled for, and
won, the right in many states to the professional title massage therapist. With support from the AMTA, state legislatures have also
responded to the

call for

more organized recognition of

the profes-

BODYWORK

14

sion.

There are

now

nineteen states that have established credential-

ing requirements. Regulation of massage in the remaining states

overseen at the local

level.

A

is

confederation of professional massage

and bodywork organizations developed a national certification exam,
which was administered for the first time in the summer of 1992.
While voluntary, this examination represents an effort to establish
nationwide

minimum

The number of
over the

AMTA

standards for entry-level massage therapists.

grown dramatically
years. From 1983 to 1995, membership in the
more than elevenfold to a current membership of

practicing massage therapists has

last ten

increased

more than twenty-two thousand, and AMTA-approved schools grew
from nineteen to more than sixty. Associated Bodywork & Massage
Professionals (ABMP), a professional networking organization established in 1986, claims a current roster of more than twenty-one thousand members, and the National Board for Therapeutic Massage and
Bodywork has certified more than fifteen thousand practitioners since
offering

its first

national

Skilled in the latest

exam

in

1992.

knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pathol-

ogy, today’s bodyworkers are professionally trained to help you

maintain your health and support you in your healing process.
Espousing a noninvasive approach to health, they offer you the luxury of uninterrupted attention to your body’s needs. As Dr. Tiffany
Field

reminds

us,

“Before drugs, there was massage therapy.”

10

Mas-

sage therapists and bodyworkers are schooled to talk and listen with
their hands.
gift

It is

their mission,

of touch communication.

often, for yourself.

I

and their joy,
encourage you

to serve

you with the

to experience this gift,

TRADITIONAL WESTERN MASSAGE

Behind your thoughts and feelings,
a

mighty

body he

an unknown sage

ruler,

dwells; he

is

your body

my

brother, there stands

—whose name

is self. In

your

1

.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

T

he most well-known bodywork method practiced

West

is

Swedish massage, also known as

sage. Developed

in

tinually since then.

lotion to the

body

the early

I

800s,

it

traditional

the

mas-

has been refined con-

Swedish massage therapists apply
in a

in

oil

or

series of strokes designed to induce

relaxation, improve circulation, and increase joint mobility.

The techniques

of Swedish

massage form the foundation

many contemporary Western-based bodywork

many

of these practices also incorporate

gained from advances

in

for

practices, but

new information

the study of anatomy, physiology, neu-

robiology, and biomechanics. Generally, these practices are

more specialized than Swedish massage and often involve
advanced techniques and training.
tion of the

most widely

A

representative cross sec-

available of these therapies follows the

information on Swedish massage.

SWEDISH MASSAGE AT A GLANCE
Basic Facts
•

Swedish massage

scientific

is

a therapeutic

approach to healing.

It

applies a

system of activity to the soft-tissue structure of the

human

body.
•

It

its

was introduced by Per Heinrik Ling (1776-1839),

name),

in the early

1800s. Ling integrated

Swede (hence
emerging knowledge of
a

anatomy, physiology, and circulation of the blood with traditional
Eastern healing techniques and his own set of physical exercises.

Theory
Swedish massage works primarily to induce general relaxation
while improving circulation and range of movement.
• Massage induces the relaxation response, which aids recovery from
stress and helps prevent the onset of illness and injury.
• Massage improves circulation, which can help reduce swelling from
injury and enhance the functioning of the lymphatic system, which
controls the immune response. Massage can also flush wastes, such as
lactic acid, from tired muscles to relieve aches and pains.
• Massage breaks up adhesions from scar tissue, which restores flexibility and range of motion.
•

Typical Session

Swedish massage sessions are usually half an hour to one hour in
length. (Treatments are shorter for children, the elderly, and the ill.)

•

Treatment is administered on a firm flat padded table. The client disrobes and is draped with a towel and/or sheet. The therapist exposes
only the area being massaged. Oils or lotion are applied to the body.
•

Therapists use the basic strokes of gliding, kneading, friction pres-

and vibration. They may also incorporate active or pasphysical exercises and heat, cold, or water (hydro) therapy to

sure, tapping,

sive

enhance the effectiveness of the treatment.
• Expect to pay $30 to $100 per hour for treatment.
Benefits

Massage is used to relieve a variety of complaints. These include
the pain and discomfort associated with chronic muscle tension, stiff

•

BODYWORK

20

some forms of paralysis, sciatica, fractures, sprains, and overworked muscles. Receivers of massage often report a sense of heightjoints,

ened well-being.
•

Dancers and athletes routinely use massage to enhance performance

and speed recovery of sore muscles.

Contraindications
•

Individuals suffering from any of the following conditions should

from any massage:

refrain

jaundice; cancer; bleeding;

fever, vomiting, nausea,

and acute

and diarrhea;

phlebitis, thrombosis, or vari-

cose veins.
•

Persons suffering from the following

tain

body

may

receive massage, but cer-

parts should be avoided during treatment: in the case of

high blood pressure or heart problems, no massage to the abdomen;
in the case of

chronic varicose veins, fractures, or bruises, no mas-

sage directly over the

site.

Skin disorders

may

represent a local con-

you should check with your physician first to make
sure the condition is not communicable and cannot be spread within
your own system.
traindication, but

•

Pregnant

women

should seek their doctors’ advice before receiving

treatment.

Background and Training of Practitioners
•

The

training of practitioners varies widely. Nineteen states cur-

rently have state boards that credential

massage therapists. Their
requirements range from three hundred to one thousand hours of formal training. In the remaining thirty-one states, massage is generally
regulated at the local (city or county) level.
•

It is

The

impossible to estimate precisely the

AMTA,

number of

practitioners.

the oldest association of massage professionals in the

more than twenty-two thousand members, who have
completed accredited programs with a minimum of five hundred
hours of formal training. ABMP claims a nearly equal number of
members, and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork has certified more than fifteen thousand practicountry, boasts

tioners.

CHAPTER

1

Swedish Massage and
Variations

The physician must be experienced
also in rubbing.

.

.

.

in

many

Its

things, but assuredly

For rubbing can bind a joint which

loose and loosen a joint that

is

too hard

is

too

1
.

— Hippocrates

What
It is

Is

Swedish Massage?

appropriate to begin our journey into the rich

with Swedish massage as

it

field

of

bodywork

serves as the foundation for traditional

Western approaches to massage and is arguably the most well-known
and commonly practiced form of bodywork today.
Swedish massage is a therapeutic approach to healing that
applies a scientific system of activity to the soft-tissue structure
of the

human body by means

of a variety of strokes, chief

which are effleurage, petrissage,
tion.

tapotement, and vibra-

Strokes are generally applied by hand with

lessen friction;

may

friction,

among

oil

used to

however, mechanical devices, such as vibrators,

also be used. In addition to stroking,

apply hot and cold packs, instruct

in

some

practitioners

remedial exercises, and incor-

Swedish massage can
help the body remove toxins, deliver nutrients to tissues and
cells more efficiently, and recover from strains and trauma more
porate hydrotherapy

quickly.

in

their treatments.

BODYWORK

22

The Origins of Swedish Massage
Swedish massage is called Swedish because the principles upon which
it is based were most clearly formulated and promoted by a Swede,
776-1 839), in the early 1 800s. Ling’s system repPer Heinrik Ling
resents an eclectic synthesis of various healing approaches. He drew
on knowledge gained from the emerging science of physiology and
circulation of the blood (demonstrated by Harvey). He complemented this with his experience of body manipulations drawn from
(

1

Eastern traditions and his

own

system of medical gymnastic rehabil-

itative exercises.

one with an almost New Age quality to it. Ahead of his time, Ling might feel at home today teaching at
the holistic explorational center Esalen or visiting an ashram in the
Ling’s

life

story

is

He was

a fascinating

and earned a degree
in divinity at the age of twenty-one. He then took off to see the
world. Like many great healers, Ling developed his method in
response to the challenge of an illness. He suffered from a debilitating
case of rheumatoid arthritis and traveled through France and GerBerkshires.

many

the son of a church minister

seeking a cure. Penniless but incorrigibly curious, according to

some accounts he went to China, where he studied Eastern principles
of manipulation and kung fu with Taoist priests.
Ling was able to cure his rheumatism through the system of massage that he perfected.

1813, when he founded

He

introduced this system to the public

in

The Royal Institute of Gymnastics, in Stockholm. The system he created came to be known as the
Ling treatment or the Swedish movement treatment.
Life was an uphill battle for Ling because at first the orthodox
his school,

medical establishment rejected the claims of his work. By the time of
his death,

however,

his

method was widely accepted.

introducing Swedish massage, he completed

all

In addition to

the requirements of

day for medical study and bequeathed an impressive corpus of
lyric poems, historical dramas, and national epics.
his

The Theory Underlying Swedish Massage
Swedish massage has many therapeutic benefits, including physical,
mental, and emotional ones. It encourages well-being and optimum
functioning by promoting relaxation, improved circulation, and
mobility of joints.

Swedish massage promotes relaxation through the release of endor-

Swedish Massage and

Its

Variations

23

phins and enkephalins. These neurochemicals are dubbed “the body’s
natural opiates," or painkillers, due to their ability to induce relaxation and reduce pain. (Endorphins, like opiates, are habit forming,

you become pleasurably addicted to massage.)
Massage also promotes what Herbert Benson coined “the relaxation
so don't be surprised

if

2

The relaxation
response is an antidote to the fight-or-flight response, which is an
excited way in which many of us react to situations of stress. The
pressures of modern life are sending us increasingly into this mode.
Massage induces the relaxation response, enabling us to keep stress
response"

in his best-selling

book of the same

title.

within a manageable range. Experts underscore

how

crucial this

is

to

maintaining good health. Stress has been shown to impair the functioning of the
disease.

immune

system, which makes us

more

susceptible to

also inhibits the restorative process of healing

It

and recu-

many illnesses
that as much as 80

peration and accelerates the aging process. 3 In fact,

today are psychosomatic, and
percent of

caused by

all illness is

Massage

many

experts claim

stress.

and lymph circulation. They
the mechanical hand movements applied during

also improves both blood

are increased due to

massage. In addition to helping nutrients reach their target
the body, increased circulation helps the
efficiently.

from
cles.

a

cells in

body remove toxins more

For instance, after physical exercise, we frequently suffer

buildup of

lactic acid, or a lack of

This results in

all

oxygen,

too familiar soreness and

musMassage

in fatigued

stiffness.

helps to flush out lactic acid, which accounts for massage’s ability to

remove the achiness caused by overexertion. The lymph system is our
key defense in finding and fighting infection in the body. By promoting better circulation of lymph, massage also helps us to strengthen
our immune system and protect us from illness. Dr. Field’s studies on
HIV-infected men indicated that massage in addition to leading to

—

reduced

levels of stress

killer cells,

— tended to increase the number of natural

one of the body’s key weapons

life-challenging

AIDS

virus.

in the battle against the

4

Massage improves range of motion

in the joints as well as overall

mobility. Friction strokes are extremely effective in breaking

down

adhesions that form around joints, particularly following sprains,

where scar tissue forms. Massage can help
cut the healing time of minor sprains by as much as one half.
To accomplish its goals, Swedish massage draws on a repertoire of
fractures, or other injuries

five basic strokes.

Tike the techniques of

many

other great arts,

BODYWORK

24

including cooking, skiing, and horsemanship, these strokes have
French names. This fact reflects Ling’s indebtedness to the French,

who

first

translated an ancient Chinese text,

Tao-Tse which most
,

strokes

The Cong-Fou of the
system of

likely served as the basis for his

5
.

smooth, gliding stroke that generally initiates a Swedish massage treatment. It is often performed
with the broad palm surface of both hands, but can also use the
Effleurage (“touching lightly”)

thumbs,

fingers, or knuckles.

a

is

It is

used to relax soft tissue (muscles,

ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue) for deeper

work

as well as

being an exploratory stroke, which enables the massage therapist to

examine the texture and quality of the
work. Effleurage has the beneficial
of blood and

lymph

in the

tissues

on which she

will

effect of increasing the circulation

body. Effleurage,

ally applied in the direction of the heart in

like all strokes,

is

gener-

order to encourage the

return of blood from the veins.

and
kneading (like kneading bread dough) the muscles, using one or two
hands, the thumbs, or the fingers. Petrissage often follows effleurage.
It encourages circulation in the deeper veins and lymph vessels of the

Petrissage (“kneading”) consists of wringing, squeezing, rolling,

body. This increase
ents

and

— digested food
repair.

It

in circulation

has the benefit of bringing nutri-

—

and oxygen to cells to help them grow
also helps remove waste products that are released by
particles

the cells into the blood.

Friction (“rubbing”)

is

the deepest of

all

the strokes.

It

consists of

deep circular or transverse movements with the pads of the thumbs or
fingers to soft tissue so that the underlying layers of tissue actually

rub against one another. This stroke

down

adhesions that form

in the

is

a powerful tool in breaking

body from such processes

as forma-

tion of scar tissue. Additionally, friction causes an increase in blood

flow (local hyperemia) to the massaged area, which aids circulation
to provide increased nutrition.

A

therapist

must

first

warm up

a

body

part with effleurage and/or petrissage in order to perform the deeper
friction strokes.

Tapotement (“tapping”), sometimes also known as percussion or
pounding, is performed with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of

Swedish Massage and

the hand.

The massage

woman

Variations

25

is

the stroke the caricatured, powerful

pummel

uses to

Tapotement

a client’s back.)

also increases circulation to the area being treated.

When

for a short period of time (less than ten seconds),

it

circulation to an area of atrophy, for instance.

longer period of time (up to sixty seconds),

When

used beyond sixty seconds,

worked

body with

therapist rapidly strikes the client’s

short, alternating blows. (This

Scandinavian

Its

it

When
its

performed

helps stimulate

executed for a

effect

is

relaxing.

exhausts the body part being

on. This could be effective in providing relief from

com-

plaints such as muscle spasms.

performed by placing the hand or fingers on
the body and rapidly shaking them as the hand moves over an area.
Vibration (“shaking”)

This stroke

is

is

particularly effective in

tapotement, short-term work
tion

is

is

working on the nerves. As with

stimulating while longer-term vibra-

relaxing.

The Typical Format of a Swedish Massage Session
A typical Swedish massage lasts thirty minutes to an hour, with the
longer session allowing for more extensive treatment. (Sessions are generally shorter for children, the elderly, and the ill.) For treatment, the
client disrobes, either

a firm, flat,

completely or

padded massage

massage therapist places
esty.

The

sheet

is

table,

down
which

to his underwear.
is

He

lies

on

covered with a sheet. The

a towel over the client’s waist to ensure

mod-

then draped over the client’s body to provide addi-

warmth. The massage therapist uncovers only
the particular body part she is working on at any given time.
tional privacy as well as

The massage therapist applies oil to the client’s skin. Oil is used to
make the massage strokes more smooth and flowing. Because oils are
sometimes scented, you should

let

the therapist

know

if

you are

aller-

any aromas. The practitioner should be able to work with
unscented oils, lotion, talc, or no lubricant if you prefer.
During a Swedish massage, the therapist weaves the five strokes of
Swedish massage into a finely orchestrated treatment, like a choreographer constructing a ballet. Her treatment plan is designed to pro-

gic to

vide the greatest therapeutic benefit.
incorporate active and passive exercises,

The practitioner may
some with resistance, to

strengthen and tone muscles and increase range of motion

Some

also
help

in joints.

practitioners use heat, cold, or hydro (water) therapy in their

treatments.

BODYWORK

26

Most Swedish massage

therapist massages the entire body.

more

I

on particular problem

Get Rubbed the Right

I

where the

sessions,

possible, however, to arrange

It is

specialized sessions focusing

The Experience:

body

sessions are full

areas.

Way

arrive at the office of Bruria Ginton, a licensed

massage therapist

and founder and manager of Associated Massage Therapists,
erative association of licensed professionals. She

of the

New

York

come

Association. I’ve

who

Bruria,

State chapter of

has been

on the advice of
Bruria’s office

is

a past president

is

The American Massage Therapy

to receive a session of Swedish

part of

who recommended

massage with

more than

in private practice for

a friend

coop-

a

fifteen years,

Bruria’s nurturing touch.

QWL Services, which

is

composed of

a vari-

ety of health care professionals (a psychotherapist, a chiropractor,

other bodyworkers, and an acupuncturist)
offices

As

I

on Manhattan’s Upper West
enter, Bruria

warmly

greets

who

share a suite of

Side.

me

at the reception area,

which

resembles that of a doctor’s or any other professional’s office. The
spacious collection of offices and treatment rooms

it

smells like a

painted clean

aroma
combination of fragrant oils and

white and decorated with plants and prints.
lingers in the air;

A

is

subtle, pleasing

freshly laundered linen.

Bruria

is

a short, fair-skinned

her smiling face.

Her eyes shine

space and hands

me

woman;

as she

her long dark hair frames

welcomes me

into her healing

a brief questionnaire to complete. In addition to

requesting basic information such as name, address, and phone
ber,

it

has some questions regarding

my

num-

medical history, including

conditions such as infections, fever, surgery, heart problems, medica-

and any skin conditions, as well as
regarding exercise and diet.

tions,

Once

the questionnaire

is

a

few

lifestyle

complete, Bruria shows

me

questions

to the treat-

ment area, a small studio room. The golden light of a late-October
morning streams through the window. A padded massage table is
positioned in the center of the room; a white sheet covers it. There is
a desk with a stool in front of it and opposite that is a straight-backed
chair. Bruria asks

me

to be seated in the chair while she sits at the

stool at her desk.
“I’ll just

know one another,”
asking me about any

to get to

After

take a few minutes to discuss the

work

we’ll be

doing and

she explains.

medical conditions

I

might have about

Swedish Massage and

Its

Variations

which she should know, Bruria describes her

my

cent of

clients

come

to

me

27

practice. “Seventy per-

for sports-related treatments.

Many

of

marathon and triathlon activities; some in
world-class competition,” she explains. (Somewhat modestly, think
later, when I notice photographs of Grete Waitz and Allison Roe,
world-famous marathoners, as well as testimonials from other
these clients are active in

1

celebrities she

counts

among

her clients, including figure skater Judy

Blumberg and Olympic runner Matt Centrowitz, all of whom consider massage an important component in their training programs.)
“The rest of my clients are stressed-out people, often executives, who
want to improve their performance, too.
“I try to approach each client as an individual and design a treatment geared for his or her particular needs. I consider myself clientcentered, not technique-oriented.
believe it’s important to learn
proper technique; however, every practitioner is different, so that no
two people even do the same technique the same way.
“Of course, Swedish massage forms the basis of my treatments.
Swedish is terribly important, because it improves the circulation, and
I

that

is

the basis of

life.

The

circulatory system

and sewer system of the body.

immune system by improving
where they’re needed

via the

It

is

both the hospital

fosters the functioning of the

the flow of lymph;

it

takes nutrients to

blood system, and then helps to remove

toxic buildups through the circulatory system as well. Effleurage, the

basic stroke of Swedish massage,

because

it is

“It’s also

too.

I

a

tremendous aid to

is

most important stroke

the

circulation.

important to recognize the role of the mind

have a degree

in

in healing,

organizational psychology as well as sports

psychology. Both disciplines have a

common — they’re

lot in

both

about maximizing performance. Sports psychology uses a lot of visualizations and guided imagery to achieve this. I think that can be
helpful in

massage

incorporate

it

in

also. I’ve studied

my work

with the mind, too.

if it’s

You have

percent partner with the body

hypnotherapy and sometimes

appropriate
to

in

—

remember

it’s

I’ll

important to work

that the

mind

is

a fifty

the healing process.

“The emotional aspect of healing is also important. In our society,
we don’t have enough touch. Massage fulfills an important need. All
of these elements are important, not one more than the other.”
Bruria views massage therapy as being therapeutic and educational.
It is

orthodox health care; both complement
pleased that massage has gained this status,

a valuable adjunct to

one another

nicely.

She

is

BODYWORK

28

although she has been practicing long enough to have experienced
firsthand

growing pains.

remember when

“1

Our

its

in college years ago.

professor once said, ‘You should be especially nice to Bruria. She

you know,’ punctuating

gives massages,

was

was studying psychology

I

frustrating to see a well-educated

Fortunately, the profession has

come

remarks with a wink. It
equate massage with sex.

his

man

way.”

a long

Having shared her philosophy and outlook, Bruria explains that
she’ll leave the

room

so that

privacy. After undressing,

I

should

I

down

can disrobe,

on

lie flat

to

my

my

underwear,

in

back on the table

and cover myself with the long cotton towel that she points out to
me. My face will be pointing toward the ceiling. She suggests that I
may want to center myself in quiet meditation for a few minutes in
preparation for the massage.
Before she leaves the room, Bruria asks

wonder how she knew
pianist.)

her

tell

I

I

if

once dreamed of

music.

(I

a career as a concert

me

Beethoven violin sinfonietta begin to relax

like classical

Soon the

love classical music.

I

I

as

I

strains of a

prepare for a ses-

sion with her.

I’m

me

if

Bruria returns to the treatment room. She asks

there are any particular areas

which

I

would

my

tension in

under

and

when

settled

all

my

where

I

tend to carry tension or to

like to direct her attention.

I

tell

her

I

carry chronic

back. She begins her treatment by sliding her fingers

shoulder blades, feeling for pockets of tension

tissue there, then feels

“Not too bad,” she

along the side of

my

in the

muscle

spine.

says. “There’s a little tension, but not too

bad.”

She then moves on to

my

“Ouch! Are those

masquerading as flesh?” I wonacross the tough muscles that run down my

tight cable wires

der, as her fingers slide

neck from

my

shoulders and neck.

jaw to

my

shoulders. I’m not in pain. Bruria’s touch

and deep, not invasive. The sensation is more of tenderness, of an area that is tense and wants to be touched so it can
feels firm

release.

“You’re a
I

sure

little

am and

more

didn’t even realize

Bruria encourages
across

my

tense here,” she reports in her understated way.

me

it.

to relax as she continues to glide her fingers

neck muscles. “T his time

your busy day and

in

for you, to take time out of

Her hypnotic voice is inducing the
my mind as her hands are doing to my

just relax.”

same powerful relaxation

is

Swedish Massage and

neck. She rolls

my

neck as she does

head from side to
this

Bruria prepares

oil,

Variations

29

side, stretching

and releasing

preliminary relaxing

me

work performed with-

for the rest of the treatment. She posi-

tions a soft cylindrical roll, a pillow that feels as

my

with form-fitting sand, beneath the hollow of

though it’s filled
neck, which feels

firmly and comfortably supported. She has heated the neck roll

so that

it

my

so.

Having begun with
out

Its

first,

radiates a delightfully soothing heat that further relaxes

my
my

round bolster under
knees. This allows my low back to sink into the massage table and I
feel even more at ease. She wraps a light blanket around my entire
body; I feel safe and toasty warm.
“Please let me know if anything is uncomfortable to you as we
work,” Bruria encourages me. “If my pressure is too deep or too
light, please let me know. Also let me know if you feel too hot or too
cold or are uncomfortable in any way. I assure you I won’t take it
personally. I know that no one is perfect and
have a lot to learn.”
She is a master at making me feel at ease about expressing my perrecently released muscles. She places a large

I

sonal preferences.

my right arm. She strokes my fingers,
kneads my upper arm and its biceps and tri-

Bruria begins by working on

and forearm. She
ceps as though it was unbaked baguette dough. At times, she applies
pressure from her thumb in a deeper friction stroke directly into the
tissue. She briskly taps and hacks her fingers along the large surfaces
of my arm. She repeats the sequence on my left arm. As she massages,
I am aware by the presence of her touch of areas of tenderness I hadn’t noticed before. I feel them there, in my forearms, and especially in
my triceps, the large muscle at the back of the upper arm. This tenderness signifies places where I’m holding tension.
wrist,

“Your
shares.

triceps are very tight, especially the right one,” Bruria

“Do you work

out a lot?” Yes,

with

my

may

be working out too much.

dedication to building

off the flow of circulation.

your muscles.

It’s

my

I

do, and

I

realize that

muscles and keeping

in

along

shape,

I

“When muscles get tight, they block
When you work out, you’re contracting

important to stretch before and after working out

normal resting position,” Bruria
reminds me. “Also, you can do a little self-massage before and after
working out and before you go to bed.” As she demonstrates some
basic kneading and friction strokes can do on myself, she adds: “I
to help the muscles return to their

I

think

it’s

important for people to learn what they can do to take care

BODYWORK

30

of themselves.

see part of

I

my

job as educating clients to better main-

tain their health.”

moves on

Bruria

to

massage

my abdomen.

She lowers the blanket

moving it to the bottom of my belly, then
applies a light coating of oil. The palms of her hands move in a circle
around my stomach, first lightly, then more deeply. Gradually she

my

that had covered

chest,

increases the pressure so that her palms are compressing in a clock-

my

wise direction around

solar plexus. She asks

me

breath as she compresses further. The pressure
painful.

I

though

feel as

all

my

vital

to take a deep

firm, but not

is

organs are being massaged. She

further massages the area as she passes her hands back
criss-crossing

motion across

and forth

in a

my abdomen.

“I think of the solar plexus as the center of

ment,” she explains. “Not only does

it

our internal environ-

contain the digestive tract, but

which detoxifies the body; the adrenals and
kidneys are behind it; and the stomach is located there, too. This
gives a good massage to stimulate the whole internal environment.”
Bruria draws the blanket back up over my chest and arms and
exposes my right leg. Her hands glide gently up my leg as she applies
it

also houses the liver,

toes

my

long, flowing effleurage stroke that begins at the tip of

oil in a

and progresses to the top of

my

thigh. She gradually increases

moves from my lower leg to my
deep pressure strokes with her thumb running up

the pressure of the strokes as she
thigh. She applies

my thigh. It feels sensitive, borderline
pain. On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s an 8.

through the midline of
but a good kind of

“Does

this feel

tender?” Bruria asks. “It seems a

Are there no secrets

I

little

painful,

tight.”

can keep from her?

As she continues her muscle-stripping friction strokes, continue
to feel a combination of pain and release. Ah, yes, it hurts so good!
I

Bruria finishes with

sequence on

my

my

right leg, drapes

it

again, then repeats the

left leg.

She then removes the blanket and, while holding the edge of the
towel that covers me, asks me to turn over, so that I’m lying on my
stomach.

I

roll

over while maintaining

my

sense of privacy,

shielded by the towel. After again covering

me

with the blanket, she

attaches a padded face cradle to the end of the table.
into

it.

my body

I

relax

my

face

She places a high stool under the face cradle to support

arms, encouraging

me

to rest

them on

it

to

my

make myself more com-

fortable.

Bruria

moves

to the foot of the table

and places

a bolster

under

my

Swedish Massage and

Its

Variations

31

which relaxes and stretches the muscles of my legs. With this
positioning, she can work more deeply in the muscles of my legs
because they are not contracted. She begins by applying oil in an
effleurage stroke to my right leg. The back of my thigh is particularly
sensitive, and she observes, “Your hamstrings are very tight.” She
applies some deep gliding and friction strokes to this set of muscles,
from their insertions below the knee up through their muscle bellies
to their origins at what is known colloquially as the “sit” bone. Once
again, the strokes are slightly painful but releasing. She finishes working on my leg by pressing her thumb into the belly of my calf muscle,
then compressing her knuckles into the soles of my foot. She repeats
the same treatment to my left leg, redraping each leg as she finishes
ankles,

with

it.

my back. She removes
the blanket but is solicitous to know if am still warm enough or if
would like additional covers. “I often find my body cools down as
Bruria concludes the session by massaging

I

I

I

little

cooler to

My

body temperature does
me, but I’m comfortable the way am.

receive a massage,” she explains.

Bruria applies

I

oil

to

my

back with long effleurage strokes. She pal-

pates the tone and texture of the tissue along
I

feel

my

tender

feel a

in the

area of

my

my

midback, which

is

spine and asks

where

I

me

if

tend to hold

some friction strokes there to release adhesions,
then begins to knead my upper back. That area is indeed tender,
much more so than had realized. “The upper trapezius muscles,
which cover the upper back and shoulder area, are tight in nearly
tension. She does

I

everyone,” she says.

I

suppose she’s trying to make

me

feel better,

aware of the tension. Her strokes do begin, gradually, to
assuage the pain. She moves on to my neck, kneading the deep bands
but I’m

still

of tissue with firm pressure. She performs

motions with her two hands

all

along

my

some

large criss-crossing

back; briskly taps the whole

my

back with the outside edge of her hands
(which feels invigorating and stimulating); then completes treatment
of my back with a few gentle nerve strokes, where she lightly strokes
large surface area of

my back. feel both relaxed and energized.
Bruria covers my back with the blanket and slowly rubs the blanket and towel underneath it to remove any excess oil from my body.
am floating on a sea of peaceful bliss.
her fingers along

I

I

Bruria announces that the session has nearly

me to remain restfully
moment to meditate; with my

asks

in the

come

to an end. She

position I’m in and to take a

eyes closed to slowly scan

my

body; to

BODYWORK

32

do so how much more relaxed I feel than when I entered
her office; and to take that feeling with me, let it carry forward with
me into the rest of my week. “When you feel tense and stressed out,
take a deep breath and remember this feeling of peace.”
She explains that she’ll be leaving the room. Once she’s gone, I
should rest; then when I’m ready, get up from the table, dress, and
realize as

meet her

I

at the reception desk.

tremendous relaxation. My
muscles feel as though they’ve undergone a meltdown, like pieces of
earthenware going in reverse from baked clay to pliant potter’s mud.
The small pockets in my body where I still feel a little tension are a
kind of barometer to me of how relaxed the rest of my body feels,
I

slowly take stock of

and even of how much

how

felt

I

My

my

body.

I

feel

better those areas of

my body

feel relative to

only a short hour ago.

body has melded with the

table.

I

take a few minutes to savor

and wholeness I feel, as though
resting in an oasis, and slowly rise, dress, and bid farewell to Bruria.
As walk outside, I ask myself: Is the air really cleaner? My body
lighter? My mind clearer? Or do I only feel that way? No matter the
answer, I have Bruria, and the restorative strokes of her Swedish massage, to thank for allowing me to feel the questions in the first place.
the sweet sense of relaxation, peace,

I

The Benefits of Swedish Massage
Anyone who has had a Swedish massage knows that it feels good.
Aside from being pleasurable, however, it has many added benefits.
Individuals have used massage to obtain relief for a host of complaints, including the discomfort and pain associated with chronic
muscle tension, stiff joints, some forms of paralysis, sciatica, fractures, sprains, and overworked muscles.
Dancers, athletes, and performing artists routinely use massage to
enhance performance and speed recovery of sore muscles. Dance
superstar Rudolf Nureyev regularly received massage; Cloris Leachman has been reported to get massaged before her performances and
Luciano Pavarotti to take a massage therapist with him wherever he
goes 6 World-class athletes such as Mary Decker Slaney, Judy Blumberg, Michael Seibert, and the New York Giants football team have
all benefited from massage. Seven-time New York Marathon champ
Grete Waitz says: “I believe everyone who runs should be massaged.
.

In fact,

everyone

Massage can

who

lives

should be massaged .”

7

actually help reduce pain. Studies at the University of

Swedish Massage and

showed

California at Irvine

Its

Variations

33

that patients given a combination of

Swedish massage and acupressure before receiving chemotherapy
experienced less pain and nausea during and after treatment. Additionally, surgery patients who were given massage before their operations required less premedication than those

who

did not. 8

Contrary to what some people think (or hope), massage
dissolve fat or increase muscle mass.

However, by improving

not

will

circula-

massage will help bring the nutrients that are needed for muscle
development to where they’re needed and will help the body’s metabolism function more efficiently. Massage can help prevent or reduce
muscle atrophy in people who are forced to be inactive due to injury,

tion,

illness,

or age.

In addition to

physiological effects, massage has the benefit of

its

inducing a relaxed state of alertness, resulting in a calmer mind and

many

clearer thinking. In fact,
effects to meditation.

the

Touch Research

who

It is

who

people

receive

massage liken

its

no wonder that recent research studies

Institute

have shown that medical school

at

staff

got a fifteen-minute massage after lunch twice a week were able

to solve

those

complex math problems more quickly and accurately than

who

didn’t.

9

Often

receiving a massage.

And

clients report feeling taller or lighter after

their friends, noticing

about them, may ask: “Have you

lost

something different

weight?”

Sometimes you may not be aware of any dramatic change. One
client once told me after a massage, “You know, I didn’t feel anything in particular after the session, but then realized I had an expeI

rience of deep well-being that lasted several days.

could attribute
I

it

to

was

The only thing

the massage.”

often feel energized for several days after a massage.

higher in aerobics class, press

more

freely

flowing.

more weight

and creatively when

clients are artists

You may

who

I

I

sit

at the

down

I

can jump

gym, and ideas flow

to write.

Many

of

my

massage gets their creative juices
your dreams taking on a new dimension

find that

also find

You may remember them more
or they may contain insight into var-

following a massage treatment:
clearly, they

may

be more vivid,

ious problems with which you’ve been grappling.

Massage also has the emotional benefits of satisfying the need for
caring and nurturing, reducing anxiety, and imparting a general sense
of well-being and harmony. Recent research studies have shown that
depressed and anxious children and adolescents who received massage showed reduced levels of anxiety, were more cooperative, and

BODYWORK

34
slept better

than a control group

received no massage

10
.

who watched

Massage was

also effectively used to reduce

posttraumatic stress experienced by children
ricane

Andrew." Not

surged

in the

surprisingly,

relaxing videos but

aftermath of Hur-

in the

demand

for

massage therapy

aftermath of the Los Angeles earthquakes.

another TRI study, elderly subjects who themselves received
massage and also gave massage to infants reported fewer medical
complaints, less anxiety and stress, and fewer trips to the doctor than
In

those

who

did not

12
.

ment when giving

Significantly, they

showed

the greatest improve-

As a massage therapist, I can totally
understand this. often feel more centered and calmer after I’ve given
a massage. (In fact, this is one of a massage therapist’s best-keep
a massage.

I

secrets.)

Contraindications to Swedish Massage

Massage

is

appropriate to use

in nearly

any situation. However,

like

any therapy, there are certain situations that indicate massage should
not be given, or its use should be modified because it could prove
harmful. Generally speaking, a full-body contraindication (meaning

no massage

at all)

lowing conditions:

unknown

advised for anyone suffering from any of the fol-

is

fever; vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea; pain

cause; arthritis in one joint; or jaundice (in

ceding cases, the possibility of infection

is

present,

all

due to

of the pre-

and massage could

spread the infection); cancer; bleeding; some skin disorders; acute
phlebitis, thrombosis, or varicose veins (the last three conditions

result in

blood clotting, and massage can transport the blood

can

clot,

risking stroke or heart failure).

Local contraindications (meaning massage

may

be given, but cer-

tain areas should be avoided) include the following:

should be given to the

abdomen

in cases

No

massage

of high blood pressure or

heart problems; in the case of chronic varicose veins, no massage

should be given over the

site,

improve circulation, which

but massage above the

will help the varicosities;

should be given directly over the
scars.

Skin disorders

should check

first

may

site

site

and no massage

of fractures, bruises, or keloid

represent a local contraindication, but you

with your physician to

make

sure the condition

not communicable and cannot be spread within your

Pregnant

women

can help to

own

is

system.

should check with their doctors before receiving

Some massage practitioners specialize in massaging pregnant women, using customized techniques in side-lying position.
massage.

Swedish Massage and

(Massage, by the way,
ery

rooms

is

now

Its

Variations

being provided

up the recovery period

to speed

in

35

some

for both

hospital deliv-

newborns and

mothers.)

Background and Training of Practitioners
The training of practitioners varies widely. Nineteen

states currently

have state credentialing requirements for massage therapists. Their
requirements range from 300 to 1000 hours of formal training. In
the remaining thirty-one states, massage
local (city or county) level.

sage

is

(A

list

is

generally regulated at the

of state boards administering mas-

presented in Appendix B at the end of this book.)

The American Massage Therapy Association requires that its members be graduates of one of approximately more than sixty schools
whose curriculum it has approved or pass a national equivalency cer-

exam given by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. AMTA schools must provide a
minimum 500-hour program, including courses in anatomy, physiol-

tification

ogy, pathology, and hands-on massage training, plus supplemental

courses such as

first aid,

CPR, and

membership

professional business practices.

Bodywork

Massage
Professionals (ABMP) requires a minimum of 100 hours of massage
and bodywork education and is only available in states which have
not set credentialing requirements. Professional level of membership
requires 500 hours of education or state massage licensure or certifiPractitioner level of

in

Associated

6c

cation.

no standardized regulation and no single national
association to which all professionals belong, it is difficult to estimate
precisely the number of practitioners. The AMTA boasts more than
twenty-two thousand members, an elevenfold increase over its 1983
membership. The ABMP claims a nearly equal number of members,
and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and
Because there

Bodywork

is

(see the last

chapter of this book, “Resources for Further

Exploration”) has certified more than fifteen thousand practitioners.

The

actual

number of

professionals most likely far exceeds the

com-

bined total of these numbers.

For Further Information
If

you’re interested

like to find the

two

name

in further

information on massage or would

of a practitioner near you, the following are the

largest professional organizations:

BODYWORK

36

The American Massage Therapy Association
820 Davis Street, Suite 100
Evanston, IL 60201-4444
Tel: (708) 864-0123
Fax: (708) 864-1178

Bodywork & Massage Professionals
28677 Buffalo Park Road
Evergreen, CO 80439
Tel: (800) 458-2267 or (303) 674-8478
Associated

Fax: (303) 674-0859

Suggested Further Reading
The following books
Frances

are written by

massage professionals:

M. Tappan, Healing Massage

Techniques: Healing Classic
,

Emerging Methods (Norwalk, CT: Appleton & Lange, 1988).
This book details the techniques of Swedish massage while presenting
brief descriptions of other emerging holistic bodywork techniques.
Elizabeth C. Wood, and Paul D. Becker, Beard's Massage
(Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders, 1981). This book provides a

arid

detailed history of Swedish

massage techniques, with black-and-white

photos of various strokes.

For Do-It-Yourselfers
Fiona Harrold, The Complete Body Massage:
ual

(New York:

Sterling Publishing

Company,

A Hands-On Man-

Inc.,

1992). This

is

a

handsomely photographed book by the director of the London College of Massage.
Clare Maxwell-Hudson, The Complete Book of Massage (New
York: Random House, 1988). A lavishly illustrated and well-written
step-by-step guide to giving a massage.

Videos

Massage for Health (Santa Monica, CA: Healing Arts
Video, 1988). This

is

Home

an excellent videotape that demonstrates

to perform a simple, pleasurable,

how

and therapeutic massage, featuring
Shari Belafonte-Harper; written and performed by Mirka Knaster
and James Heartland, two massage pros.
Massage Your Mate (New York: V.I.E.W. Video Inc., 1987). An

Swedish Massage and

Its

Variations

37

excellent videotape for the professional as well as layman, this fea-

New York

massage therapist Rebecca Klinger
demonstrating Swedish massage and acupressure.
tures

State-licensed

Variations on Swedish Massage

The techniques of Swedish massage form the foundation of many
contemporary Western-based bodywork practices. In addition to
using the strokes and principles of Swedish massage,
practices incorporate

many

of these

new information gained from advances

in sci-

ences like neurobiology and biomechanics. Generally, these practices
are

more

specialized than Swedish massage

and often involve

advanced techniques and training. Many share the common goals of
physical relaxation and rehabilitation. The benefits and contraindications of these approaches as well as the fees are also similar to
those of Swedish massage.
Medical Massage: Working from a Doctor’s Rx

Medical massage has developed specific techniques for treating
injuries and a wide variety of illnesses as well as aiding in physical
rehabilitation. Massage therapists who practice medical massage
work under a prescription provided by a physician or chiropractor
directing them in their course of treatment. Medical massage applies
the basic strokes of Swedish massage in specialized techniques that
are geared toward achieving precise physiological results. Because
therapists

work under

a doctor’s prescription,

your chances of having

massage treatment covered by an insurance plan are generally greater
with medical massage than with other types of massage.

Some massage

New

York

hands-on experience

treat-

schools, such as the Swedish Institute in

City, provide extensive training, including

ing a variety of medical problems in a supervised clinic, as part of

Other schools, such as the New Mexico Academy of Healing Arts in Santa Fe have offered medical massage both
as part of a core curriculum and as a part-time specialized course of
their core curriculum.

study for those with previous bodywork training or experience.

Massage

therapists trained in medical massage are prepared to

treat a variety of

common

are: spinal deformities,

pathological conditions. Chief

among

these

such as lordosis (an exaggerated anterior

tilt

to the lower portion of the spine, sometimes also called saddleback or

hollow back), kyphosis (hunchback), and
of the spine); brachial neuralgia

(a

scoliosis (lateral curvature

pinching of the nerves around the

BODYWORK

38

shoulder, causing pain, especially

upon

raising the arm); different

forms of tendinitis (such as tennis elbow); chondromalacia patellae
(wearing away or softening of the back surface of the kneecap, which
can lead to pain in the knee); bursitis (pain to joint areas caused by
pressure on the bursae, or padlike sacs, that surround them); sciatica

accompanying pinched disks
in the low back); repetitive stress disorders; fractured bones; and
sprained ankles. Medical massage can also be helpful for temporomanidubular joint (TMJ) syndrome, a dysfunction that often results
in chronic tension and pain in the jaw along with grinding of the
nearly fifty million
teeth. If this sounds familiar, it’s no wonder
Americans are estimated to suffer from TMJ disorder and many other
people experience related headaches and stress in the eyes, shoulders,
and back.
A medical massage treatment typically differs from a full-body
Swedish massage in length of treatment it's generally shorter and
focus. Medical massage concentrates on a particular medical condition, and while strokes are focused on the problem area, treatment
is often applied to adjoining areas to promote circulation to and from
the affected part. The corresponding body part on the other side of
the body is also often massaged because it may be compensating
for the weakness on the problem side. For instance, if a client
reported pain from tennis elbow in the right arm, the focus of a medical massage would be to the right arm and elbow in particular. The
adjoining areas of the wrist and shoulder would also be massaged.
The left arm would be treated, too, which would help the client feel
more balanced. In addition, the massage therapist might provide
some large, general strokes to the entire body to promote overall
(inflammation of the

sciatic nerve, often

—

—

—

relaxation.

Massage

who

must be particularly well informed about contraindications to massage as well as
about the course of disease processes. They must be familiar with any
therapists

practice medical massage

other medical treatments, including medications, a client

undergoing so as to be aware of possible side
sage therapists are trained to

work

in

may

be

Medical masconcert with an individual’s
effects.

primary health care practitioner to administer optimum treatment.
This

may

cific

areas of the body as well as suggesting physical exercises to ben-

efit a

also include the application of heat

and cold therapy

to spe-

given medical condition.

The Swedish

Institute

was

the

first

school of massage to operate a

Swedish Massage and

massage

full-time medical

must be referred

there

Its

clinic, the P.

Variations

39

H. Ling Clinic, and patients

Russ Beasley, an
complaints referred for

for treatment by a doctor.

administrator of the clinic, says

common

treatment include rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, multiple

low back pain, osteoporosis, psoriasis, myofascitis and
fibromyalgia (generalized muscle and soft tissue irritation and pain),
sclerosis,

sciatica,

whiplash, spinal deformities, brachial neuralgia, HIV-related

conditions, and soft tissue joint disorders.

of pathology at the Swedish Institute for

supervisor of
of massage:

its

Ling Clinic,

“Massage

is

Thompson, instructor
fifteen years and former

Jill

a firm believer in the medical value

really, really helps,”

she intones with a hint of

the fervor of an evangelical minister suffusing her voice. “In the case

of a minor sprain to the ankle, massage can help the ankle recover in

one third the normal time.

more

In

serious instances, like muscular

dystrophy and various forms of spastic and flaccid paralysis, massage

can improve circulation to the affected areas. In addition, the therapist

phy.

can direct exercise movements, thus helping retard muscle atro-

And even

‘cure,’ like

caring

in cases

AIDS,

human

it

where massage may not

offer a physiological

can provide the intangible but valuable benefits of

contact and support.”

Sports Massage: Maximizing Peak Performance

Sports massage

massage that assists
the body to achieve maximum physical results. Administered before
physical activity, it can help protect against pain and injuries while
boosting performance. Following physical exertion, it helps remove
is

a specialty area of traditional

and restore normal muscle tone and range of motion.
Sports massage is a powerful aid to anyone who wants to use his
body at maximum efficiency: not only professional but also weekend
athletes; dancers, actors, musicians, and other performing artists; as
lactic acid

well as people

whose occupations require physical exertion,

painters, construction workers,

and busy housewives.

like

In short, sports

massage can help nearly everyone.

Massage has

traditionally been used to relieve muscle pains fol-

lowing physical exertion. Ling’s original Swedish massage techniques

measure in the
nineteenth century. In recent times, the dancer Rudolf Nureyev relied
on massage to relieve the nearly constant pain he suffered from
were used by Swedish cavalry

officers as a restorative

chronically recurring dance injuries, pain so debilitating he had to

measure

his steps to the

bathroom

for fear of aggravating

1

it.

*

BODYWORK

40

Massage has been used

for

many

years in Europe, especially in the

former Eastern bloc countries, not only as a restorative but also as a
boost to athletic performance. Jack Meagher, the physical therapist
who is credited with introducing sports massage to this country,

became

interested in

France during World

perfor