Here are some frequently answered questions. Structural bodywork is different enough from the bodywork most people are familiar with that I find myself talking about these things to new and prospective clients, even if they don’t ask the questions themselves. Without further ado, here are the big items you should know about me and my work.
+ WHAT IS STRUCTURAL BODYWORK?
Strucrual bodywork is a manual therapy discipline that seeks to restore balance to the body, both in relation to itself, and in the way gravity acts on it. The body is viewed as a single unit, and it is understood that work may need to be done everywhere in order to ensure relief in one particular place.
+ HOW IS STRUCTURAL BODYWORK DIFFERENT FROM MASSAGE?
Not to put too fine a point on it, but structural bodywork is different because it lasts. Structural bodywork focuses on the use of manual and movement therapy techniques that take advantage of your physiology to release holding patterns in muscles, improve joint movement, and achieve balance within your body and gravity. By focusing on techniques that require response from the nervous and facial systems, we can make change that your body accepts and integrates into the way it holds and moves itself through the world, and more permanently alleviate the underlying sources of your pain.
+ DOES IT HURT?
In a word, no. Because I’m going to ask you to move your body while I’m working with you, work with you seated or standing, or get up and walk around the room to see how your body is moving and feeling after some work, you will not be able to zone out and feel as relaxed as you would after a good Swedish-style massage. We will also be breaking up adhesions and other restrictions, so there is a level of intensity to this work, but you are in charge of telling me when it’s too much, because I can’t know how it feels to you. I will go where I think we should go and do what I think we should do, but it’s your responsibility to tell me to work slower, shallower, or to just leave an area alone. If the work makes you feel like you need to go to your spirit cave and find your totem animal, it’s too intense and we need to back off a bit.
+ WHAT DOES A TYPICAL SESSION LOOK LIKE?
Virtually every client comes for 90 minutes. That time frame allows us to do a thorough job on the area of interest, and move slowly enough to be comfortable. We’ll do a thorough postural analysis, and often some movement screens. After that, we’ll get you on the table and do some work, then have you get up and move around a bit, to see how your movement and posture has changed, and repeat. Most of the work is done with you on the table either face up or on your side, though there will be some time on your tummy, in the face cradle. Virtually every session will include some work done seated on an adjustable bench. We’ll finish the session by revisiting your posture and movement to see how you’ve changed the course of the session, and make a plan for the next session.
+ WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
We will be doing direct tissue work on the rib age, lower abdomen, and the full length of the leg, including attachments at the pelvis, so please dress comfortably with a minimum of excess fabric. Suggested attire for men is briefs, boxer briefs, or above-the-knee running shorts. Suggested attire for women is comfortable underwear, 2-piece bathing suit, or halter top and shorts. Sports bras typically cover much of the back, and are to be avoided if possible. Capris are the sports bras of shorts. Structural bodywork involves full-body postural analysis off the table, frequent walking assessments during treatment, and lots of client movement and participation, so top sheets generally won’t be used, except for warmth.
+ HOW MANY SESSIONS IS THIS GOING TO TAKE? HOW OFTEN DO YOU WANT TO SEE ME?
Frequency is largely determined by how quickly your body responds to and integrates the change, as well as what is reasonably affordable for you. Can you feel the release and change taking place on the table, or immediately upon standing up? You can reasonably return as often as once a week. If you need to be up and moving around for 10-15 minutes before you notice any differences, your body probably needs more time to integrate the work and 2-4 weeks is a more appropriate time to reschedule.
The number of sessions varies greatly, though you should plan on a minimum of 3. That’s the shortest time in which we can reasonably address the whole body, and it often takes that long to reveal the core dilemma. Most people come for 5-7 sessions over a short period of time, and then go on about their business before following up in 4-6 weeks. This rhythm allows us to work through your whole body, and then go back to your normal life to integrate the change. Your body will likely continue to adapt and unwind during the break, and regularly scheduled maintenance care should only be necessary after that, baring a new injury.
+ MY (INSERT BODY PART) HURTS, WHY ARE YOU SPENDING SO MUCH TIME ON MY (OTHER, SEEMINGLY UNRELATED BODY PART)?
As one of my mentors says, it’s usually the victims who cry out for help, not the criminals. Stresses and strains are dispersed over the whole body, and the part that hurts is often simply where the system was weakest, rarely where the most attention is needed. Often, especially in the case of a stiff neck or cranky back, the side that has been over stretched locks down, or spasms, in order to protect itself, and the real culprit is the same muscle on the other side of your body. I’ll encourage the tissue that hurts to let go, but alleviating pain is often best accomplished by achieving balance.