Structural work is typically intense and transformative. I see many clients who have had Swedish massage before (even "deep tissue) and are looking for something more that they can't quite describe. I also get recommended by other massage therapists who know how complementary this work is with other modalities. Clients are often amazed at how different the body feels after a session: the hips feel more in balance, the shoulders are opened in such a way that the arms feel like they are simple hanging off the body, etc. One of the hidden benefits of structural work is the awareness that follows. It is much easier maintain openness and notice when the body is falling out of alignment once the body is reminded of how it should be standing.
This modality is particularly helpful for dancers, yogis, and people leading an active lifestyle (including marathon trainers), anyone with a chronic postural condition, rehabilitative work after an injury, and really anyone looking for something 'more' than the typical massage session.
Because receivers will be standing and being stretched on the table (including sidelying work), they should dress in a 'fascia' outfit: men should wear briefs or running shorts, and women should add a sports bra or tank top.
how it feels:
Structural Bodywork, or Myofascial Therapy (distinctly different than John Barnes' Myofascial Release) is often described as intense sculpting. These sessions focus primarily on the fascia or connective tissue, a thin, strong web that provides the body with a structural framework - essentially, how the body holds itself. Using slow, friction passes, the body is literally molded in order to bring about an improved state of balance and alignment. Compared to Swedish-based tablework, these sessions tend to be longer, more intense, body specific, and incredibly opening. A session might consist of general passes along the whole body or it might be entirely spent doing detailed work around the shoulder girdle.
Sessions often start with body reading. This gives the practitioner a chance to see how the body stands, how the left side compares to the right, and where the body's fascia seems to be stuck or where it is being pulled. In addition, this gives the receiver a chance to notice the body and then compare how it feels to stand at the end of the session. The most common feedback fits the ultimate goal of structural work: to have the body stand as effortlessly as possible. From the outside perspective, this means that the body is learning how to 'stack' itself more correctly: ears aligned with the shoulders aligned with the hips aligned with the knees, etc...
what it looks like: