What bodywork can do for you – a summary of benefits of deep bodywork on body, soul and psyche

Bodywork and Burnout

Burnout is a classic mind-body condition. Usually the body has already given signals that you need

to slow down a bit. When you ignore those signals long enough, you will get sick. It really is just

your body trying to protect you. We say that first the body whispers. If you don’t listen, the at some

point the body will scream, meaning get sick. At that point you need to take care of the symptoms

and at the same time look at the attitudes and feelings that made you cross your own boundaries

again and again. Usually we find a big sense of responsibility and duty. People who burn out are

people who care a lot, but forget to take care of themselves

Bodywork and Tension

Many clients end up on the table of a bodyworker after having been to a number of therapists and

doctors practicing various techniques. “Having tried everything” from surgery, medication and

physical therapy to osteopathy and acupuncture, the pain still remains. Tests may show that

everything is in order.

There is no test for fascial tension and it does not show up on an MRI. A lot of stress ends up as

tension in the myofascia! Over time this tension pulls on bones, joints and organs, creating

imbalance, pain and dysfunction in the body. With chronic pain, the real cause of the problem could

even be coming from somewhere else than where you feel the pain!

For a lot of people, until chronic tension is released, the problem will persist. The goal of Myofascial

Energetic Release is to not only release chronic tension in the body but also to create awareness

around how the tension got stored there, enabling the natural self-healing ability of the human


Bodywork and Emotions

Emotions are felt in the body and a part of having emotional problems is being disconnected from

your own body. You try to live your life from your mind and end up in the same loop of thought as


By helping you connect with your body and everything which is going on there, bodywork can help

open up a whole new dimension in yourself. As babies we are all just feelings and the expression of

those feelings, but slowly, slowly we lose that and start thinking and rationalizing and mindfucking.

To survive growing up we hold unfelt feelings and suppressed energy in the form of myofascial

tension. Through loving touch, bodywork can help you feel again and give you access to the part of

yourself you put away.

Yes, bodywork can help you solve your problems and help to bring you more into the moment, by

connecting you with what is real. What is real is what you feel. Feelings are information. When you

are well informed you can make the right choices for yourself, choices that bring you closer to what

you want in life.

Bodywork and Quality of Life

The benefits of having less pain and tension in your body will impact how you move through life.

Being more relaxed will help you deal with other people in a more relaxed way. You will feel more

connected with yourself and therefore also be able to connect more with others.

Being able to breathe more fully and deeply will nourish your body and open up your autonomic

nervous system for social connection. The increased body-awareness will help you feel and know

what is good for you and where your limits are.After receiving a series of MER session, clients often report feeling more alive again and present in

the moment. But that is not the only reason why they keep coming back for more sessions, even

after the pain is gone. You see, good bodywork is pleasurable to receive. That is the bottom line.

Bodywork and Stress

Your fight-flight response (sympathetic nervous system response) is supposed to help you when

you are in danger or need to solve an urgent issue. The problem arises when fight-flight becomes

your constant state of being and your body remains on high alert for most of the time. This ongoing

stress-response causes your muscles and fascia to tense up, ready for action even when it’s not

needed. What can you do when your mind knows you are safe, but your body is ready to fight or


There is no drug that releases this kind of tension and scrolling on social media will only give you

temporary relief. Deep bodywork such as Myofascial Energetic Release is a proven way to release

the chronic tension keeping you in a trauma response. Being able to deeply relax and feel safe

again will help you letting go of control and hyper- alertness. You will be able to respond calmly and

appropriately to situations and to people, rather than shooting straight into emotional reaction.

By being more grounded in your body and your authentic self you feel more in charge of your life,

rather than a victim of a nervous system stuck in a loop.

Bodywork and Aging

The body of a newborn baby consists of roughly 80% water and when we die our bodies are about

50% water. More than anything else, becoming old can be described as a process of drying out.

As you get older your fascia starts to dry out and loses elasticity. We get stiffer, loose range of

movement and get pains. Drinking a lot of water will only send you to the bathroom a lot unless the

fluids can get to the tissues and hydrate them.

The good news is that it does not have to be like this. There are things you can do slow down and

even reverse this process of aging and drying out. Moving your body will get your metabolism going

and hydrate your myofascia. When getting bodywork done your practitioner will put pressure on

your myofascia and literally push liquids out. Afterwards the tissues will expand again, sucking up

fresh fluids like a sponge. In the process you flush out stagnant toxins and ensure delivery of

nourishment to the cells.

Have you ever felt rejuvenated after a bodywork session? Sure, and that is because rejuvenation is

what is actually happening on a physical level. And, that is next to the fact that deep bodywork also

feels good – a win-win!

Bodywork and Fatigue

Have you ever felt like you are just dragging yourself around, feeling run down and empty for days,

perhaps even weeks, on end? Exhaustion and chronic fatigue is endemic in our performance driven

culture. Go to your house doctor and he will sympathize with you, give you a pain killer for your

muscle and joint pain and perhaps give you a label like, Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Goodbye and good luck. Next patient please!

Years of stress, poor nutrition and lack of rest are factors that contribute to this state, but often

better food and more rest will not be enough to get you back in your energy. A release of deep

chronic tension in the myofascia is needed. Dried out, hardened and toxified connective tissue will

affect pretty much every organ and every function in your body. By helping it back to life you will

literally regain the springiness and resilience needed to roll with the ups and downs of life.

It may take a while and also involve the willingness to feel and express some held-back emotions,

but it is the way to go from survival to healing. In the process you will also gain the awareness

needed to be able to feel your limits and respect them, rather than putting everyone and everything

else first. You will learn to recognize the signals from your body in time and take steps to prevent

another burnout.

Bodywork and Breathing

There is nothing more essential to our health and wellbeing than breathing! You take air in and you

let it out, about 25 000 times a day. Yet, many of us have lost the ability to breathe properly, with

consequences for our physical and emotional health.

Stress and anxiety are known culprits of shallow breathing or hyperventilation. One of the easiest

ways to tell if you are too stressed is if your breathing has become shallow or constricted. When you

are breathing in this way, entering into a relaxed state is almost unattainable. Usually, the muscles

surrounding your ribs and stomach are all tightened up, causing air flow to be cut off.

Learning to breathe is the key to learning to be relaxed. A lot of the muscles located in either the

front or back of your upper body are accessory respiratory muscles. If any of these areas becomes

tightened or short, normal breathing patterns will be disrupted. Deep bodywork can help release

restrictions of the rib cage, abdomen, back and pelvis so that you’re able to fully breathe again. The

breath becomes a natural de-stressor, releasing tension with each exhale.

Deep bodywork promotes relaxation by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which in

turn triggers a relaxation response. This relaxation response can normalize breathing patterns,

encouraging slower, deeper, and more regular breaths.

MER deep bodywork will also improve your posture. By standing more straight and aligned with

gravity your chest area will open, giving your rib cage the expansion needed for optimal lung


Research has shown time and time again that deep bodywork has a positive effect on your body’s

respiratory system. An additional bonus to breathing better, feeling better and improving your health

is that with a better posture you will also look better.

Bodywork and Pleasure

Next to the numerous physical and emotional benefits of bodywork highlighted in this series of

posts, perhaps the most underrated is the good feeling you get when you receive deep, sensitive

strokes to your myofascia. At the end of a long stroke you naturally have a long out-breath. It is a

sigh of relief and is sometimes also accompanied by a sound of pleasure coming from deep down in

your belly. The practitioner takes a step back, you breathe in and unwind gently to explore the new

spaces that just openend in your body. The feeling that follows is “Wow…!”

And what is the explanation for this WOW feeling? According to science it is connected with an

increased production of the hormone oxytocin. Its importance in human relating has earned it the

nickname “the love hormone” and it is one the main ingredients necessary for bonding between

mother and child after birth. A proven reduction in the stress hormone cortisol is an added bonus.

Next to that your serotonine levels go up. Serotonin is a hormone that helps to stabilize moods,

regulate feelings of well-being and happiness, regulate anxiety, and control sleep.

Contributing to your good feeling are neurotransmitters such as endorphins and dopamine.They are

both pain-relievers and anxiety-reducers and are released during hands-on bodywork. These

hormones are also produces by the body during running and cause the famous ’runners high” – a

deeply relaxing state of joy or delight following intense exercise.

I hereby introduce a “clients high” – a feeling of deep relaxation and delight induced by loving deep

touch by a trained professional in a modality such as Myofascial Energetic Release. Not a bad

bonus added to our list of benefits from bodywork 😉.

Bodywork and Sports

Movement and sports is becoming more and more important in our culture. We love our digital

gadgets (like the on you’re looking at right now 😄 ), but the down side to looking at screens and

sitting too much is that your body was not made to sit for long periods of time. Our bodies thrive onmovement and here the old adage “If you don’t use it you lose it” applies; if you don’t use your body

for what it’s worth, it will decline.

Bodywork and massage has always played an important part of the preparation and recovery of

high performing athletes. Even gladiators in ancient Rome were known to receive regular massages

and that was not just to pamper them but to make them fit to fight.

Based on observation and experience sports medicine has been able to establish the following

benefits from skillful bodywork: increased blood flow and faster recuperation, reduced muscle

tension, increased range of joint motion, decreased passive and active stiffness, better heart rate

variability, less muscle soreness and …(drumroll)….a reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood

state. The latter being an important factor for people under a lot of pressure to perform and I

surmise also appreciated by the families of these high-strung athletes.

But most of us are not top athletes and stay fit biking, swimming, doing yoga, playing tennis and

walking the dog. Will bodywork make that much of a difference? In addition to all the proven benefits

above, getting sessions will be a great addition to your favorite sport and help you stay younger, get

stronger and feel better. And for the couch potatoes among us, if sports is not your thing then

bodywork is probably the best alternative you can find to keeping your body in shape.

Bodywork, Alignment and Gravity

If you look at someone with a well aligned body from the side you will see his ear in a straight

vertical line with his shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. His movements will seem graceful and effortless

and you will most likely get a feeling coming from this person of strength, ease and self-

assuredness. The sense of grace and ease comes from working with gravity rather than fighting it;

by stacking all body parts one on top of the other they support one another and the effects of gravity

are minimized. All buildings are made like this, one brick exactly on top of another. The leaning

tower of Pisa is the anomaly and it is a question of time before the tower will fall.

Most of us are not well aligned and our muscles are working hard to keep us upright. A common

posture today is Head Forward Syndrome, aka “text neck”, where the head is kept forward of the

plumb line. As the head continues to fall forward, the effects of gravity increase. Neck pain and

tension is unavoidable and is frequently also a cause of headaches. Slowly your spine starts looking

like a C rather than an S and vertebraes will start wearing down. The chain reaction of dysfunction

continues to other parts of the body. Pain develops, joints start creaking and …

Hey, wait Ketu! Stop with this doomsday scenario! You make it sound like gravity is our enemy and

poor posture our destiny!

Ah, pardon me for indulging in only the negative effects of gravity… The good news is that when

given chance your body has an amazing ability to self-heal. Rather than the confusion that sets in

when your body stops to function as a unit, you can re-educate the body and bring it back to

function according to it’s blueprint; that every muscle is doing it’s job – not more and not less- and

that the right muscles know how to find each other for the right movements. When that happens you

will feel it and it will be the sensation of “Yes, this is how I am supposed to feel”.

With a more aligned body, gravity will be a force that supports you rather than wears you down.

Since gravity is omni-present you might was well make it your friend rather than your enemy;)

Bodywork and the Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a vital role in controlling various body functions. It’s

divided into two key parts: the sympathetic nervous system, which stimulates the body’s fight-or-

flight response, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes the body’s rest-and-

digest responses. The balance between the two is crucial for optimal health and well-being.

Bodywork has a significant influence on the ANS, particularly in enhancing the activity of the rest-

digest mode and reducing the effects of the fight-flight. During a session the breathing of the clientbecomes longer and deeper, the skin tone changes and the belly starts rumbling – all indications of

changes on the nervous system level.

Science has now established that there is a direct connection between fascia and the ANS. By

working on the fascia the right way you stimulate Ruffini nerve endings, leading to a short activation

of sympathetic activity, followed by a long lasting vagal activation. In plain English this means

bodywork helps you relax and opens you for social connection.

According to researcher and rolfer Robert Schleip this explains the melting quality bodyworkers feel

under their hands when they work. He estimates that an adult’s fascia contains approximately 250

million nerve endings, which is more than the retina of the eye and even more than the skin. “It is

beyond any doubt our richest sensory organ”, he says, “If you work with fascia, you work with the

autonomic nervous system.”

Most people will agree that stress can cause back pain (Yours truly is one of them;). There is a

reason why stress settles in the back and the neck. The back of the head, the neck and the whole

back down to the tailbone is highly innervated by a branch of the dorsal vagus. That explains why

the hairs on your neck and back will stand up when you are faced with danger or feel afraid and not

somewhere else on your body . Chronic stress will go into these myofascial tissues more than

anywhere else, simply because that is how your body is wired.

I often start or finish a session with work on the neck because I always found that it unwinds the

whole body-mind of the client. Another great way to finish a session is doing strokes down the back

when the client is in a seated position. These interventions and techniques have long been part of

the Myofascial Energetic Release (MER) modules because we know it works. When finding

explanations for what we are doing in current scientific research it makes me smile 😊.