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Anitra Brown

The Difference Between Massage and Bodywork, Part 2

By January 4, 2013

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I wrote a blog the other day about how I was starting my year off by getting both massage and Structural Integration. But I upset some massage therapists, who thought I was saying massage was only for relaxation, while Structural Integration treated pain.

My apologies! I have been getting massage and pursuing various forms of bodywork since I was 23. Together they have changed the way I move, the way my body feels, and the quality of my life. Without massage and bodywork, I would be suffering from chronic pain. I have experienced healing at the hands at many massage therapists and bodyworkers, and I'm grateful to them all.

What I was trying to say was that while my regular massage therapist does wonderful therapeutic work, it is always a relaxing experience for me. I did NOT mean to say I only go there to relax! I can do that with an episode of "The Colbert Report." I go to maintain a feeling of health and well-being.

I started Structural Integration because of chronic pain in my hip that many years of massage did not resolve. It is a completely different experience. It's more unpredictable. At moments the work can be very uncomfortable....or extremely relaxing. He specializes in treating chronic pain. I wouldn't go there if I wanted all the benefits of a regular massage, including relaxation. But he is the only person who was able to resolve that specific issue.

The point I was trying to make, is that, the modalities are different. And I use both.

What I find interesting is that the massage therapists were upset about not being considered "bodyworkers". When I first started getting massage, "bodyworker" was a red flag because it meant the person was not a licensed massage therapist. Maybe they had received years of training in a different modality, or maybe they were just working without a license.

Now bodywork seems to be the higher status term. The massage therapists who commented all consider massage to be a form of bodywork, and they're proud to be called bodyworkers. They all agreed that massage has therapeutic benefits far beyond relaxation. And they get no argument from me there.

Thanks to them all for their helpful comments.

January 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm
(1) czar says:

So, what’s the difference now? Because when you say bodyworkers are those that are not licensed practicing massage, you are saying that the old practitioners of this craft, before this crazy license was enforced, were all body workers. Are you saying that the word massage is a new term? It’s confusing. Or, maybe you’re trying to say that bodywork incorporates all kinds of therapy that involves working the physical, like physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, etc…

January 8, 2013 at 1:59 am
(2) Lorin Janae says:

Thanks for your articles. I don’t feel you need to apologize, though, but thank you. It seems to me the confusion is not whether your treatments have helped you or how many modalities there are but the title. It’s called “THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MASSAGE AND BODYWORK” not “The differrence between rolfing and massage” or “massage and relflexolgy”, or chiropractic and physical therapy” so we were all looking to read perhaps a clear description of what massage is and what bodywork is, and actually see and understand a true difference. The title caught my attention because of this. No matter how it may have been labeled in the past or is labeled now, I don’t consider myself to be one and not the other. Now a days, you really can’t practice much of any kind of hands on bodywork without being certified or licensed in most states. The truth is, you can be a certified Rolfer but not practice massage but be an LMT and considered a Bodyworker. Same with reflexology, and I’m sure other modalities. I practice Reflexology but I am not a reflexologist. I don’t know how it is all officially defined but It seems it is all bodywork.

January 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm
(3) bill says:

Please understand that massage therapy is first and formost a medical modality.
As far as aligning myself as a bodyworker. What can I say to that,except potato/pototto. There are over 150 or so bodywork modalities listed by the ABMP, covering everything from exercise/stretching to massage therapy using golf clubs. To be perfectly honest most of which are just money generators for the promotors who “discovered” they little gems of wisdom, which also by the way are suppose to be our bible for continuing education. Again not buying it.

January 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm
(4) Anitra Brown says:

This was basically an informal blog with a link to a longer article – http://spas.about.com/od/Bodywork/a/Bodywork.htm — that goes into more depth. I have a feeling some of the people who commented didn’t click through to that. Lorin, thank you for your interesting thoughts and kind tone. I think you’re all right that the title of the blog overpromised, and I’m going to incorporate some of the comments here into the longer article.

October 5, 2013 at 1:23 am
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