Treatment Overview

Bodywork uses manipulation therapies. The therapies are used to relax you and relieve pain. The goal is to realign and reposition the body. This may allow the body to move in a natural, graceful way.

The idea behind bodywork is that people learn or, through injury or stress, are forced into unnatural ways of moving or holding their body. This can cause discomfort and may contribute to health problems. Bodywork, along with finding any causes of unnatural movement and posture, is thought to reduce stress and ease pain.

Types of bodywork

Some of the most common forms of bodywork are:

The Alexander technique.

This technique focuses on aligning the head, neck, and trunk. It stresses improving health by helping you become more aware of proper posture.

The Feldenkrais method.

This is a gentle form of bodywork that increases flexibility and coordination. Feldenkrais exercises are intended to help you become more aware of body movement and develop new patterns of movement.

The Trager approach.

The Trager approach is used to help relearn natural movements and exercises. This can help the body function better. You are taught gentle, rhythmic motions to improve flexibility and promote relaxation. You learn dance-like exercises to become more aware of how your body moves.

Deep tissue massage.

The goal of deep tissue massage is to treat long-term tension in deep muscles of the body. Deep tissue massage is thought to relieve pain and increase flexibility.


Rolfing is a form of deep tissue massage. It is used to realign the tissues that cover and connect all muscles and body organs. Bringing the body back into proper alignment is thought to reduce pain, improve flexibility and energy, and reduce muscle tension.

Dance/movement therapy.

This type of therapy is like many of the types of bodywork described here. But it adds elements of creative and expressive art.

Why It Is Used

People may use bodywork to help relax and to relieve stress. It may also be used to reduce pain from muscle and joint problems. These problems include arthritis and fibromyalgia. How effective bodywork is has not been proved.


Bodywork can be safe when your health professional is qualified and experienced. Many states license those who do bodywork. Your doctor or local hospital may be able to help you find a practitioner who is qualified.

Talk with your doctor before you start any bodywork. You can then choose the best form of bodywork for your health problem.

Always tell your doctor if you are:

  • Using an alternative therapy.
  • Thinking about using an alternative therapy along with your normal treatment.

It may not be safe to stop your normal treatment and use only an alternative therapy.


Current as of: March 17, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine

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