What is the difference between "massage" & "bodywork"?

Bodywork” indicates any form of hands-on manual therapy to benefit the body. Styles include (but are not limited to!): acupressure, applied kinesiology, ashiatsu, cranial sacral therapy, manual lymph drainage therapy, massage therapy, Maya Abdominal Therapy, myofascial release technique, polarity therapy, Raindrop Technique, reflexology, reiki, and zone therapy.

Massage” is a more specific form of bodywork, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Swedish massage is the most common method of massage therapy; it is a hands-on treatment where the therapist typically uses an oil or lotion to massage and manipulate the skin and underlying muscles and tissues. The basic massage strokes include effleurage (gliding), petrissage (kneading), friction, tapotement (tapping), vibration, and compression.

  1. Effleurage is applied with the onsists of long, gliding, sweeping strokes administered with hands (both open palm and fists) and forearms. These strokes are smoothing strokes used for spreading lotion or oil on the body and to help the therapist evaluate muscle tension. As the pressure of the strokes increase, they provide a stretch to the muscles, thus allowing the client to relax.
  2. Petrissage is typified by kneading, rolling, wringing and lifting strokes, which help free up knotted and bound muscles and soft tissue, stimulate nerve endings, and aid in increasing circulation, that in turn promotes cell repair and regeneration.
  3. Friction is a warming stroke designed to both quickly generate heat, in preparation for deeper work, and as a way to effectively drive the therapeutic, healing properties of plant-based essential oils into the body. This stroke can be done by rubbing back and forth along the length of the muscle or across it by either using wringing motion or small circular movements.
  4. Tapotement is characterized as a percussion stroke in which the hand action rhythmically stimulates nerves, muscles, and circulation. The hand position can be cupped or with palms flat, or it can be with fingers interlocked in either a palms together position or in soft fists. Used in chair massage and Shiatsu as well as Swedish massage, Tapotement strokes often signal the end of the previous stroke sequence and prepare the client to change from being positioned face down on the massage table to being face up.
  5. Vibration refers to rocking, shaking and trembling movements applied to one limb or to the entire body. These movements, which can be done slowly or rapidly, are designed to reverberate through the surrounding tissues in order to break postural holding patterns and to facilitate a momentary release of tension in the muscle being worked on.
  6. Compression consists of a pressure without slip applied to soft tissues to increase circulation and to warm the tissues. Compression is often applied to trigger points to help them unwind and relax the chronic tension held in the muscle fibers deep within the muscle.

What are some common benefits of massage therapy?

Massage & bodywork therapies have been used for thousands of years in China and India, with prescriptions using massage and bodywork therapies, essential oils, and herbs found in the Yellow Emperor’s Treatise of Internal Medicine and ancient Sanskrit texts. Bodywork therapies have been increasingly studied in recent decades and have been shown to provide a plethora of benefits, such as:

  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved cognitive performance, including improved accuracy and efficiency
  • Improved growth and weight gain in premature infants
  • Improved athletic performance and improve recovery time after events/practices
  • Reduced pain (including chronic pain)
  • Reduced scar tissue
  • Reduced depressive symptoms
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced swelling/edema in the body

You may find out more about these benefits and many more from massage therapy research studies conducted at the Touch Research Institute. of Miami, Florida

Who can benefit from massage & bodywork?

Just about everyone can benefit from massage and bodywork therapies! You may need to find an appropriate therapy for your condition but there are many options out there! So many people can benefit, including:

Women, men, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, teachers, politicians, doctors, lawyers, landscapers, construction workers, blood & plasma donors, farmers, migrant workers, quilters, pastors, youth leaders, social workers, IT workers, furniture builders, veterinarians, horse racers, athletes of all levels – from weekend warrior to professional/elites, students, musicians, etc..

Massage & bodywork therapies provide benefit for people with a variety of conditions/illnesses, including, but not limited to: cancer, pneumonia, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis (all kinds),  TMJ syndrome, depression, burns, broken bones or other injuries, anxiety/panic attacks, addictions, and so much more!

The beautiful thing about massage & bodywork therapies is that they can be modified and adjusted to accommodate just about everyone. There are so many different techniques and methods that are good for various peoples. Some therapies are not appropriate for the very young, very old, or very weak/medically compromised, however, there are other manual therapies that are appropriate for these folks. It is best to find a therapist who is knowledgeable and who can speak with you about the cautions and contraindications of the therapies they provide. They should be able to tell you if their work is appropriate for you and your condition or if you should seek another provider or style of therapy.  Some therapies that are better for frail or medically compromised people include modified Swedish massage, Lymph Drainage Therapy, aura-massage, reflexology, reiki, and Maya Abdominal Therapy.

How often should I get a massage?

How often to get a massage really depends on several factors and can be different for many people. Some factors to consider include: what your goals are for your massage or bodywork treatments, your activity levels, your stress levels (physical or emotional stress), and your budget. It is important to note that massage  has significant health benefits that are best experienced when you get regular treatments.

Depending on your condition, you may need more frequent sessions in the beginning to help your body improve most efficiently. Once your body begins to improve, the sessions can be spaced further out as necessary.

People who are looking for regular whole body massage sessions are recommended to get a treatment once every 4-6 weeks for optimal benefit. Massages spaced further apart allows too much time for the body and muscles to revert back to their old holding patterns; once this happens, treatments often need to be applied more frequently again to get the body back into balance. People who do much more consistent self-care may do better with treatments spaced further apart. Listen to your body, but don’t wait too long and inadvertently allow you body to regress.

Remember, these are only guidelines; it is best to discuss your goals with your therapist to determine the specific bodywork and schedule that is best for you.

What can I expect at my first appointment?

Upon arriving to the office you will be greeted and asked to fill out the intake paperwork. This is to help me be able to help you better by learning about your medical history and different health factors involved in your condition. Getting this information is a crucial part of the appointment as there are often cautions or contraindications to the therapy. After reviewing your information and discussing your goals and treatment options with you, I will leave the room while you disrobe to your level of comfort (this varies depending on client & comfort level as well as type of bodywork you are getting). Get onto the table & under the blankets. Take a few slow deep breaths to help your body and mind relax. After a few moments I will knock on the door and enter when you are ready. By this time we will have discussed your treatment goals and any instruction regarding the techniques used will be communicated and the session will start. During the treatment, only the areas being worked on will be uncovered while the rest of your body is appropriately covered. Your modesty will be respected at all times. Please be aware that bodywork therapies are most efficient and beneficial when applied to bare skin.

Once you are settled and comfortable, the treatment will begin. Be aware that some massages and treatments allow you to drift off into heavenly bliss, while other treatments require you to listen to your body’s responses and communicate with the therapist during the treatment. At any point during the session, if you feel anything needs to be adjusted, please speak up! This includes changes to pressure (lighter or deeper pressure), temperature, or positioning. It is very important to be comfortable in speaking up to the therapist if something is not quite right. Often this issue surfaces in response to the therapists pressure: if you feel too much pain or discomfort, your mind and body will be guarding against the treatment and it will not be as pleasant or as effective as it could be. I encourage all my clients to please speak up regarding pressure as well as body temperature and comfort with positioning (extra pillows and bolstering available upon request).  When your body and mind feel safe and comfortable, you will be able to relax. It is during the relaxed, para-sympathetic state that healing happens within the body.

Usually the lighting will be low and soft music will be playing to help you relax. At Earth Hands Therapies I use only high quality, pure, chemical/pesticide free jojoba massage oil and hand-made natural massage and foot creams. If you are getting lymph drainage therapy or myofascial release technique, I may also use a liquid chalk product to improve gentle grip to the skin without slip.

During the treatment you are encouraged to breathe deeply and rhythmically, allowing built up stress and tension to release with each exhale. If you are getting relaxation massage or body balancing, you may close your eyes and drift off into a quiet meditative state; many people fall asleep during the session. Some people enjoy chatting or asking questions during the session. If you prefer quiet meditation or sleep, please mention this before the start of your session.

Once the session is finished, I will step out and give you time to get dressed. Then you may check out and schedule your next appointment if you haven’t done so already. Often people choose to take care of payments and scheduling before the session as they find it is easier to think clearly beforehand. You should also drink some water at this time. It is important to drink plenty of water before and after bodywork sessions to help facilitate healing as well as to reduce post-treatment soreness.

After your session (and perhaps for a day or two later) you may feel sore or tired or a bit “run-down.”  These body responses are perfectly normal and typically pass within a day or two (if they are experienced at all). Bodywork can stimulate so many healing changes within the body that if often makes us tired. It is important to support these healing processes with adequate rest, water, and nutrition. You may speed your recovery by drinking plenty of water (Dr. Batmanghelidj recommends 2-3 quarts of water each day as a general rule) and by increasing your consumption of bone-building and body-repairing nutrients such as are found in dark leafy greens and fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.

How long should I make my appointment?

At Earth Hands Therapies I recommend your first appointment be at least one hour in length. That time allows for adequate interview, observation and palpation to assess the condition of your body’s tissues and the problems we are facing to get you back on track to feeling great. After the first appointment, we may find it necessary or acceptable to reduce or extend the length of appointment based on your goals, needs, and preferences.

Some people, due to some medical conditions, are not able to handle laying on the massage table for very long. In this case we will adjust the time as is comfortable for you.


What should I wear to my appointment?

You may wish to wear something comfortable to allow your body to relax fully before and after the session. Many massage techniques are applied with an oil or lotion to bare skin. In this case, it doesn’t really matter what you wear as long as you are comfortable.

If you are getting a sports oriented bodywork treatment or work done on a specific location only (i.e. knee/leg, or head/neck work), then you may wear warm-weather athletic gear such as loose shorts and tank top or sports bra. We will discuss your goals for treatment during the first session and the methods to achieve those goals. What to wear for future appointments will be discussed as well, if applicable.

Please avoid wearing perfumes, colognes, or anything scented. I and some of my clients are allergic or highly sensitive to many of the synthetic chemicals used in fragrance blends, often resulting in debilitating migraines or physical sickness. We appreciate you respecting this and waiting until after you leave to apply your scents. Please also avoid wearing lotions or any other skin rubs on face, body, or feet as this can interfere with the quality of your treatment. Aromatherapy with therapeutic grade essential oils is available upon request (best to discuss this when making the appointment, rather than at the appointment, as most of my essential oils are not kept onsite).

Please remove all jewelry before the session, including earrings, necklaces, rings, watches, bracelets, and anklets to allow freedom of movement during the session.

Do I have to get fully undressed for a massage treatment?

How much you disrobe really depends on your comfort level. If you are not comfortable, you will not be able to fully relax and the treatment will not be as effective as it could be.

Clients getting an oiled massage are encouraged to remove all clothing for the areas being worked. This includes removing the brassiere for women getting upper body work done, and to remove underwear if you would like your gluteal muscles (buttocks) massaged. The breasts and/or genitals should not be uncovered or worked on unless in the case of medically necessary lymphoedema therapy by a certified lymphoedema therapist (I am not one yet).

Only the areas of your body being worked on will be uncovered and you will be appropriately and comfortably draped at all times. Please discuss your preferences with the therapist before the session. A good therapist will respect your decisions and be able to modify the bodywork treatment to accommodate your choices for comfort. However, please keep in mind that massaging through the clothing does affect the quality and efficacy of the treatment.

What should I do to prepare for my bodywork session?

The best thing you can do to prepare for your bodywork session is to get into the habit of DAILY drinking 2-3 quarts of plain water. Adequate hydration is so vitally important to all of our body processes. Per Dr. Batmanghelidj, water is not just the transport system for vital nutrients in the body, it is the catalyst that is needed for the proteins, enzymes, hormones, nutrients to work in the way they were designed to.


Why do I feel sore and/or tired after my treatment?

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How much water should I drink?

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Is it ok to talk during my session?

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What if I’m ticklish?

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What if I get an erection during the massage?

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Do you offer sensual / sexual massage?

Absolutely not. That goes against my moral code of conduct and also is not professional nor is it legal. I am a state-licensed massage therapist offering therapeutic bodywork in a mutually respectful environment. Please refrain from making any sexually suggestive comments or actions during your treatment. Doing so will result in immediate termination of your bodywork session and possible legal action. If your session is terminated due to inappropriate comments or actions, you will be responsible for the full price of the session. Thank you for being appropriate and respectful.

Am I supposed to tip the massage therapist?

Tipping is a matter of personal discretion. Some clients do tip, some do not. You will get the same level of excellent service whether you tip or not. Tips are never required, but always appreciated. An excellent “tip” is your referral of friends and family to Earth Hands Therapies for massage or bodywork!

Are there cancellation fees?

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