How Does Advanced Structural Bodywork Compare To Other Styles of BodyWork?
Acupressure, Shiatsu, etc.
Although the Advanced Structural Bodywork release technique often feels similar to acupressure or Shiatsu at times, the focus is very different.
Meridian based therapists focus on a hypothesized Subtle Energy* (called Chi in China, Ki in Japan, Prana in India) at various points along what they call the Meridians of the human body. They attempt to increase or decrease the level of deficient or excess energy at those points by applying manual pressure, usually for a pre-specified amount of time.
These deficiencies or excesses of Chi are thought to be the cause of many of the illnesses that occur in the human body. Balancing these energies eases the symptoms and/or heals the underlying causes of illness and dysfunction.
(Acupressure and Shiatsu are less invasive forms of Acupuncture as practiced by practitioners of Chinese Medicine, who use many other modalities, such as herbology, exercise and meditation. It is my personal experience, and that of many that I trust, that Oriental Medicine can be very effective for many conditions. Like may other healing modalities, it often works, and sometimes does not.)
The Advanced Structural Bodywork Point-of-View
A Structural Bodywork Practitioner, on the other hand, will look for “stuck muscle fibers” and/or excess nerve activity, not stuck Chi. The locations we work on may or may not correspond to various meridian points. Edgework does not have a system of specific points to locate and work on, be they Chi Points or Trigger Points. We look throughout the whole length of a muscle to find the places that are the most tight or taut, tense or hardened. Once the most hardened spot is found, slow, steady pressure, well within the Clients tolerance levels (No Pain, MORE Gain!!!), is applied until the muscle softens, a sign that it has relaxed, or at lest begun to. This might take a few seconds, or many minutes. Then we move to the next hardest spot, and repeat the process until the muscle has relaxed and lengthened enough throughout its length to produce the desired result.
I will say this, though. “Energy,” what ever it really is, frees up dramatically when tension in muscles are released. As we learn in Chi Kung and Tai Chi, one can use muscle tension in order to “seal in” (contain) or “redirect” Chi, which can be distinctly felt, to different parts of the body.
So too, excess or deficient nerve and muscle tension can keep energy from flowing properly. Easing any chronic muscular tension through the PsychoMuscular Release technique will have a dramatic, positive effect on the Meridian or nerve energies, whichever they are; in some cases, more so than with Meridian therapy itself.
For this reason I think that, if you’re going to do Meridian-based work, if possible, integrating the two approaches is a very good and important idea.
* The Alleged Subtle Energies — Meridians are thought, in Oriental medicine, to be channels of a subtle energy field running up and down certain lines of the human body. Of course, this is a very controversial concept here in the West, which I will not get into here.
I am not sure what exactly this energy and corresponding feeling is; possibly the sensation of nerve energy flowing rather than some esoteric force. But who knows?
If one has a knowledge of meridians and acu-points, one may be able to integrate the two approaches nicely, as several of my students familiar with Chinese medicine have suggested.