bodywork terms

While I use ‘massage’ and ‘bodywork’ to describe what I do, the two terms are not necessarily interchangeable. Massage manipulates soft tissue (muscles, organs, connective tissue) and tends to imply relaxing, passive work for the client. Bodywork encompasses all tissue (nerve endings, bone, cartilage), and often includes active participation from the client, such as muscle pattern reeducation or exercises. My work tends to blend both, with the majority falling into the bodywork arena.

myofascial release

Myofascial Release refers to work directed primarily at the muscle (myo) and surrounding connective tissue (fascia) of the body. Think of when you cut into a chicken breast (sorry Vegans) - there’s the meat (muscle) and then the white, slick tissue that holds the breast together (fascia). This connective tissue runs throughout the body, wrapping muscles, bones, organs, nerves, joints, and everything inbetween. Restrictions in your fascia can have chain reactions all over your body, meaning your knee pain might lead back to an injury in your shoulder. There’s too much fun stuff to list about fascia here, so for our purposes just know that Myofascial Release work can range all over the body and connect in ways that are unexpected, strange, and even emotional.

This work tends to be very slow and deliberate. We’ll talk about “unwinding” your connective tissue restrictions, and pressure will range from very light to very deep - all depending on what your body needs that day.

Sclerotome release

(Strain counterstrain)

Strain Counterstrain was developed in the 50s by Dr. Lawrence Jones, an osteopathic doctor from Spokane, Washington. SCS is premised on the idea that stress, trauma, and restrictions in the musculoskeletal system manifest predictable, highly painful tender points all around the body, and by placing the affected area in the greatest position of ease we can release the site of pain. Sclerotome Release is a derivative of Dr. Jones’ work, specifically addressing the nervous system’s pain receptors and contacting points along the body’s skeletal system to release areas of restriction.

Both SCS and SR are, more generally, positional release therapies. I practice Sclerotome Release, most commonly for clients with injuries in the neck (whiplash and head trauma), ribs, and shoulders, though I’ve used it all over the body. It’s also my go-to for self-treatment.

This work is highly specific, and requires active participation and communication. It can feel intense, but is also incredibly easy on the body. Depending on your needs, we might do SR for a full session or only for the first half.

Muscle Energy Techniques & Isometric exercises

Both Muscle Energy Techniques and Isometric Exercises utilize your own muscle power to get specific results. If you want to get really geeky, METs manipulate the reflexes in golgi tendon organs and muscle spindles (receptors for monitoring change in tension and stretch within each of your muscles) in order to increase range of motion, lengthen muscles, and improve joint function. IEs utilize light contraction of specific, targeted muscles to gently (and almost magically) correct imbalances within your musculoskeletal system.

I use both frequently throughout my sessions, but especially in pelvic and gait rebalancing, and for athletes or those with physically demanding jobs.

Trigger/Tender Point Technique

Myofascial Trigger Points are small, hypersensitive spots within a tight band of muscle that, when pressed, also refer pain to another part of the body. Most often they’re described as “knots”, but actual TrPs are usually no larger than a pea, though you can have several close together. “Active” Myofascial Trigger Points cause pain regardless if they’re pressed. “Latent” TrPs just muck everything up around them silently, causing weakness or decreasing range of motion.

Tender Points are similar to Trigger Points in size, hypersensitivity, and ability to make your life miserable. However, they can be found not just within skeletal muscle, but also joints, bursa, periosteum, you name it. They also don’t cause pain to refer elsewhere, but tend to stay localized to a small patch of tissue.

We won’t do a full Trigger Point/Tender Point session, but we’ll resolve spots as we find them.


I could tell you all about effleurage, petrissage, and tapotement, but I think this guy explains it best.