The terms massage and bodywork are often used interchangeably. While bodywork includes all forms of massage techniques, it also includes many other types of therapies. Some these therapies are physical manipulation of the body, some are non-touch forms such as yoga and pranayama. We’ll consider the physical approaches here such as massage, foam rolling and fascial stretch therapy.

Devoting time to working on your physical body can provide a wide-range of benefits from reducing your chances of injury to enhancing performance outcomes.

Our tissues require attention to undo the rigors of daily life and of athletics and fitness. Most of us favor one side when sleeping. This can cause imbalanced tension throughout our entire body, which can often be felt as one tight hip or side of the neck. Sitting too long in class, at work, or in the car can also lead to biomechanical imbalances that require specific attention to remedy. These asymmetries can take a toll on our joints and tissues affecting our ability to function over time.

Effective body work increases circulation, reduces tissue tension, and allows us to enter the parasympathetic state which helps us recover, or “rest and digest”.

One often underrated reason to regular spend time working on the body is how it brings our attention inward. This helps us increase our self-awareness, while pulling us away from the often busy pace of life.

Try this simple awareness exercise during your next body work session. Notice where your thoughts go and if you have any changes in emotion. Take note what the emotion is and what body part or physical position you are currently working on and see if you are able to begin tracking progress with that area over time. Our ability to let go of physical tension can be greatly impacted by our willingness to realize and let go of something mentally or emotionally.

Watch for my next guest post in the coming weeks about all the different types of bodywork!