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Structural Bodywork for Pain Management and Relief

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Structural Bodywork is a Brilliant Massage Modality 

It is no secret that the human body in its endless complexity bears the ability to navigate the constant stream of trials and obstacles throughout the journey of life. Like all other structures in the physical world, we are works in progress; in flux and always attempting to maintain a balance between the ability to be stable in our environment while also remaining mobile.  But, what happens when the environment we live in poses so many obstacles that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a certain level of equilibrium and balance? Could turning to Structural Bodywork, an advanced massage modality geared towards chronic pain, injury, and impact be advantageous for pain management and relief?

At blue marigold, we certainly seem to think so.

The outcome of our choices, practices and patterns, the environment we are subject to, certain conditions we inherit, and all of the bumps and bruises, strains and pains that we encounter along the way play an enormous role in the physical state of our bodies and the tissues and structures that comprise them. Indeed, the bodily tissues can offer an array of clues and insights into how it processes the impact from daily activities, postural habits, trauma and injury, and conditions more readily recognizable such as in illness or infection.  

From a Structural Bodywork perspective, there are several steps and phases in uncovering the root causes of musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, which is why a postural and verbal assessment is required during the initial session, as well as succeeding treatments.

The Clues and When Structural Bodywork is a Good Fit

Some indications of musculoskeletal dysfunction are direct and linear in nature; in other cases the journey can be filled with complexity and multidimensionality, depending on timelines and additional factors that come into play. Consider the following hypothetical scenario:

A graphic designer’s daily routine includes being seated at a desktop computer for six to seven hours. She develops an increasingly nagging pain throughout the rear neck and down the back. This begins as a minor annoyance. Hot showers, ice packs and ibuprofen tempered the symptoms for a time, but after several years she sometimes notices a tingling sensation in her right arm and fingers and has an increased frequency of migraines. The neck and shoulder pain has worsened and spread into the hips and gluteal region which she now realizes regularly disrupts sleep, work and ultimately daily quality of life.  

Sound familiar?

If you’re wondering if Structural Bodywork is a good fit for you, see if you can relate to any of the questions noted below.  If you can answer Yes to one or several of them, then Structural Bodywork may be worth considering when you book your next session at blue marigold.

Do you feel uneven pressure when you walk?  

Do you suffer from chronic headaches and migraines?

Do you experience restricted range of motion (i.e., extending your arms fully towards the sky) in one or multiple areas of your body?

Do you feel a strange tugging sensation in or around your rib cage?

Do you feel chronic  pain in the low back, gluteal region, or around the pelvis?

Are you starting to feel tingling sensations down your leg or arm?

Are you having problems moving your neck from side to side?

Are you having trouble sleeping due to aggravating back or pelvic pain?

Some manifestations of dysfunction are downright nebulous and can be difficult to identify. But the questions above when answered (and elaborated upon), can help a Structural Bodyworker get closer to the root of the issue.  In other words, the more you share the better we do!

Pain or sensations that are felt in a different part of the body than what is causing it are called referral sensations from trigger points.  At blue marigold, we also integrate Myofascial Release and Trigger Point Therapy on an as-needed basis during a Structural Bodywork session.

What to Expect From a Structural Bodywork Session

Walking into a Structural Bodywork session looks very much like other types of bodywork sessions. A massage table is often utilized, but some work can be done on a mat if required. There are differences that distinguish this type of work from many other forms. The client remains minimally clothed, in a way that allows the therapist as much access to the areas being treated and is as unrestrictive of bodily movement as possible. This enables the client to easily change position while on the table and to be able to stand up during the session if necessary. Traditional draping can prove to be problematic for this sometimes rapid process. This is also another important distinction from an average relaxation-type massage: one which provides opportunity for reevaluation during the treatment in order for the therapist to make note of changes, successes, and additional observations that include what may not have been so effective. A thorough written intake with a series of verbal follow-up questions before, during and after the session are not uncommon.

Structural Bodywork Portland OR

Meet Aaron O’Brien-Eichman, our Structural Bodywork Therapist

During the bodywork portion of the treatment, the therapist may begin at the feet even if the client’s symptoms are emerging elsewhere in the body, even in structures that seem relatively distant such as the shoulders and neck. As relaxation massage often makes splendid use of lotions and oils for the purpose of sliding over the skin, certain techniques common to Structural Bodywork take a different approach. Because one of the many goals of this type of therapy is to engage the tissues directly with techniques such as in myofascial release, little or no lotion, oil or other lubricants are used. This can be less comfortable than relaxation massage, but the therapeutic intent is positively affecting and “freeing” the tissues and underlying structures, reducing pain and discomfort, improving ROM, and taking the most successful, client-centered approach toward overall bodily balance.

After any follow up questions and observations are noted, discussion of progress and options for extending the benefits of the therapy through stretches, exercises or other movements may come into play.

If you’re interested in booking a Structural Bodywork session, click on the Book Now button to your right and choose this modality along with your preferred session duration (60 or 90 minutes).

2019-03-19T03:42:49+00:00

About the Author:

Aaron J. O’Brien-Eichman is a Licensed Massage Therapist specializing in Myofascial Release, Structural Bodywork, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, Muscle Energy Techniques, Trigger Point Therapy, Deep Tissue Therapy, Postural Analysis and Balancing, Rehabilitative Therapies, and cross-modality integrative bodywork. Aaron completed an 800-hour curriculum at East West College of The Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon with a focus and Structural Bodywork, Craniosacral Therapy, and Swedish Massage. He is committed to exploring the vast universe of Manual Therapy, Healing Arts and the Continual Process of Self-Development. Aaron’s professional background is rooted heavily in Fine Arts and Music. He received a BFA from Bowling Green State University in 2001 with focus in Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Arts, and Mixed Media, and it was here where he developed a deep appreciation of the endless complexity of human anatomy.