Integrative Bodywork

What is an integrative bodywork session like?

Integrative bodywork is similar to physical therapy, chiropractic care, osteopathic treatment, and massage in one key philosophical principle: the integrity of the spine plays a major role in good health. This is also true of various movement styles (e.g., yoga) and other bodywork therapies (e.g., Rolfing). The difference between these modalities arise in their application.

Suppose you have developed a shoulder injury from swimming or (for real!) gardening. Tennis, golf, and washing walls could also lead to a shoulder injury.

Suppose you seek out physical therapy (but first, you go to your medical doctor for a referral):

  • Your treatment session will vary from 15 to 30 minutes.
  • The therapist will assess your shoulder using standard orthopedic tests and will usually reach the conclusion that there is some impingement of one of the rotator cuff muscles (a very common shoulder injury).
  • The therapist may then choose to use some ultrasound on your shoulder.
  • You will usually receive special exercises to increase strength to any weakened muscles of your shoulder.
  • Your treatment may or may not include hands-on work; if it does, it will likely be limited to your shoulder and upper ribs.
  • You may be asked to come back twice a week for about eight treatments.
  • Suppose you seek out chiropractic care:

  • Your treatment will vary from 5 to 30 minutes for your first appointment and will last for about 5 minutes in subsequent appointments.
  • The chiropractor might assess your shoulder using some standard orthopedic tests; s/he might also include assessment of your spine, often using x-rays.
  • The chiropractor will be looking at the parts of your spine where nerves to the shoulder come out, checking for what s/he calls a subluxation; from a chiropractic point of view, the spine can become minutely out of alignment and the resulting subluxations inhibit nerve flow, which can cause some joints to be injured.
  • Your treatment will probably involve manipulating your spine to free up the nerves so they can control your shoulder better.
  • You will probably be asked to come back 2-3 times a week for 3-4 weeks; then you will slowly decrease the frequency of treatment until you are on a monthly maintenance program to check for general subluxations.
  • Suppose you decide to try my integrative bodywork:

  • A treatment lasts 30-60 minutes.
  • I assess your shoulder to find out which areas are damaged.
  • I assess your spine to see if nerves to the shoulder are compromised.
  • I assess the quality of movement around internal organs relevant to your shoulder (restriction in the normal floating movement of the liver and gall bladder can cause shoulder pain via a miscommunication in the spine where there is overlap in nerve feedback from both the shoulder and these organs).
  • I assess other joints that work in conjunction with your shoulder, especially the wrist, elbow, neck, and hips.
  • I examine your posture and other movement patterns (e.g., walking, your golf swing, your gardening stance) to see if restrictions in your hips or neck are placing too much work on your shoulder.
  • My technique is strictly hands-on. I don’t use any machines or gadgets, and I rely on the sensitivity of my hands to determine “normal” from “not normal.” I use my hands in a very subtle way to gently free restrictions around organs and other deep body structures to restore health to your whole body.
  • I do my assessment and treatment simultaneously while you are lying, fully clothed, on my exam table. To an onlooker, it may resemble assisted yoga on a table.
  • I might ask you to come back in 1 to 2 weeks for a follow-up session. Depending on the severity of the problem, I might have you see me up to 2-4 more times in a 2-3 month period to make sure your problem goes away. These follow-ups also allow me to address other problems in movement or posture that might cause trouble in the future.