There are many somatic and therapeutic practices that have a history of helping people prevent or recover from an injury, as well as improve their movement capabilities and body awareness. A brief description of some of these practices is provided below. This list is not exhaustive and the descriptions contain the bare essentials of the practice. Someone with more knowledge on a specific practice will have much more to say about it.
Keep in mind that while all practitioners you encounter will be certified by their respective discipline and organization, each practitioner’s style will be different from the next. Be clear on the style and intensity of treatment you are looking for to get best results, and be sure to research all of your options, practices and practitioners fully before committing to one.
Massage is a technique that helps promote healing and relaxation in the body’s soft tissues like muscles, tendons and fascia. By increasing blood flow and circulation, massage helps forces waste product out of tight muscles and tendons in order to bring in fresh oxygen and nutrients. Massage also helps reduce muscle pain and tension and helps increase mobility and flexibility.
There are many different types of massage and every massage therapist will approach massage differently depending on their own experiences and schooling. If you want to see a massage therapist you should find a few local clinics or independent therapists, tell them your situation, and be specific about what you are looking for in a massage. They can help set you up with a massage therapist who will meet your needs. Be clear with what you are looking for in your massage for the best results.
Deep tissue, trigger point, sports, reflexology and Swedish are all different types of massage.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger Point Therapy is a specific type of massage, generally more aggressive, that targets trigger points (knots or tight spots) on muscles. Everyone has trigger points, but they become especially painful and tender when muscles are injured, either from physical injury, stress, or a combination of both. A therapist doing trigger point therapy will seek out knots in the neck, shoulders, back, chest and arms, and press firmly on the knot for a few seconds. Pressing forces waste product out of the muscle and relaxes it, allowing blood circulation to return to the injured muscles and fascia to begin healing.
Rolfing is a technique that focuses on manipulating and reorganizing the body’s fascia. Fascia is a connective tissue that encases all the body’s tissues and stretches from head to toe. Fascia that has been shortened and damaged causes pain and injury in and around the muscles it encases. Rolfing seeks to release and lengthen the body’s fascia to restore efficiency and ease to your body’s motions. Through hands on massage-like sessions and movement lessons, Rolfing helps patients recover from injury and pain and teaches a greater awareness of the body.
More information can be found at http://www.rolf.org.
Myofacial Release is a technique that involves gentle stretching and holding to release tight and damaged fascia, muscles and other soft tissues. Myofacial Release is a practice that is often used in conjunction with other practices such as physical therapy, Rolfing, Trigger point, and other types of massages.
The Alexander Technique aims to teach its students how to change habits in order to move in freer and more efficient ways in all aspects of life. The Alexander Technique targets habits that are at odds with the way our body is naturally designed to move and which create unnecessary tension in our body.
In an individual or group lesson, Alexander teachers will verbally and manually guide students through a series of basic movements to help them become aware of habitual movement patterns as well as new movement possibilities. These lessons aim to give students a better awareness of how they move and use their body and hopes to free them from inefficient and tension-producing habitual patterns of movement.
More information about the Alexander Technique can be found at:
To find a local Alexander practitioner: http://www.amsatonline.org/teachers.
A Body Map is a person’s internal understanding of their body and how parts interact with the whole to create movement. Often, a person may have an inaccurate or misleading Body Map, causing them to move in inefficient and unhealthy ways. Body Mapping is a practice, informed by some principles from the Alexander Technique, which aims to improve a student’s understanding of their body and how it functions.
Body Mapping instructors use visual cues, verbal instruction and physical demonstration to help students correct false beliefs about their body and improve overall function. Body Mapping is usually taught in conjunction with another lesson, such as music or acting lessons, rather than as a class by itself.
For more information on Body Mapping, please see http://bodymap.org/main/.
Feldenkrais is a method that aims to reconnect students with their natural ability to move, think and feel. It is a method that teaches students to learn how to learn, how to change habits, and how to improve overall wellbeing.
Through individual lessons, called Functional Integration lessons, and group lessons, called Awareness Through Movement, a Feldenkrais practitioner uses touch and guided movement to help students learn how to move and imagine their bodies differently so they can function in more healthy and efficient ways – both physically and mentally.
More information about Feldenkrais can be found at:
You can learn more about Awareness Through Movement classes and to watch recorded lessons at http://openatm.org.
To find a local Feldenkrais practitioner: http://www.feldenkrais.com/practitioners/find/.
Body-Mind Centering is a study of movement that aims to create a greater sense of ease, coordination and balance in the body and mind through increased awareness. According to Body-Mind Centering, inefficiency in movement leads to a host of problems including injury, stress and decreased creativity. Practitioners use techniques such as touch, imagery, exercise balls and music to help expand a person’s movement repertoire. By learning how to move more efficiently, Body-Mind Centering helps people learn to eliminate problems that constrain the actions and freeness of the mind and body.
Yoga is a practice that originated in ancient India that sought physical, mental and spiritual peace through contemplation and poses. Today, yoga is often used as an exercise of physical and mental health. Through mindful contemplation and poses, yoga can help reduce stress, loosen muscles, increase flexibility, strengthen the body and reduce pain.
The St. Olaf Wellness Center sometimes hosts yoga classes and there are many opportunities to get involved with yoga in Northfield. Keep an eye peeled for flyers around St. Olaf or do some of your own research if you wan to try yoga.
“About the Method.” The Fledenkrais Method of Somatic Education. Web. Dec. 7. 2015. < http://www.feldenkrais.com/about>.
“FAQs.” Andover Educators: Teaching the Art of Movement in Music. Web. Jan. 30. 2014. <http://bodymap.org/main/?p=409>.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” American Society For The Alexander Technique. Web. Jan. 30. 2014. <http://www.amsatonline.org/faq>.
Groundworks: Narratives of Embodiment. Ed. Dan Hanlon Johnson: North atlantic books, 1997. Print.
Horvath, Janet. Playing (Less) Hurt. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2010. Print.
Knaster, Mirka. Discovering the Body’s Wisdom. New york: Bantam books, 1996. Print.
“What is the Alexander Technique? What are the Benefits of Lessons or Classes?” The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique. Web. Jan. 30. 2014. <http://www.alexandertechnique.com/at.htm>.