Benefits of bodywork - the healing power of touch
We offer a range of body-focused therapies including massage therapy, osteopathy and chiropractic, all of which use touch and manipulation to heal and restore the body. There is plenty of evidence for the healing power of touch. Touch causes the release of endorphins and oxytocin in the body, promoting feelings of relaxation and wellbeing, lowering blood pressure and bringing down levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Massage therapy, in which pressure is applied to the soft tissues of the body, can relieve stress and reduce muscle tension in key areas such as the lower back, neck and shoulders. Research also suggests that massage reduces inflammation, and can prevent muscle soreness and stiffness after exercise. Many people find that massage also promotes improved sleep and it can have a positive impact on low mood.
For more specific back pain, joint or muscle issues, it may be helpful to consult with an osteopath or chiropractor. Here we take a look at the two therapies and how they differ.
What are Osteopathy and Chiropractic?
Osteopathy is based on the principle that an individual’s overall wellbeing depends on the structure of the body, including bones, muscles and ligaments, functioning smoothly and harmoniously. Manipulation and stretching are used to enhance circulation to the muscles, improve joint mobility and relieve tension.
Chiropractic focuses primarily on the joints, and particularly the spine, adjusting and manipulating the alignment of the vertebrae using hands. Chiropractors claim that this relieves pain and tension around the body by restoring the normal function of the central nervous system.
The main difference is the focus on the alignment of the spine in chiropractic, in contrast to the emphasis on the interaction of the whole body in osteopathy. For this reason, osteopaths sometimes treat a broader range of complaints than chiropractors, such as circulatory issues and digestive problems.
Practically there is a great deal of overlap between these two therapies, with both using manipulation of the body to treat joint and muscle pain. Ultimately, it is most important to find a practitioner you are comfortable with and who you feel has a good understanding of your issue.
In the UK, both osteopaths and chiropractors must be registered with the relevant regulatory body; these are the General Osteopathic Council and the General Chiropractic Council.
Qigong covers movement and hands on bodywork - Tai Chi (sometimes described as moving meditation) is a branch of Qigong and Tui Na (therapeutic massage and bodywork) is often used in conjunction with Qigong. Qigong is a mind-body-spirit practice to improve mental and physical health by integrating posture, movement, breathing technique, self-massage, sound, and focused intent. Qigong can open the flow of energy in meridians used in acupuncture and Chinese medicine (reference: National Qi Gong Association).
Qigong - the term consists of two source words: Qi and Gong. The second one is synonymous with the Kung in the Chinese word Kung Fu (Gong Fu) and it refers to any skill that to master requires a great deal of effort over a long period of time. Hence Qigong means: “Any Qi training that requires a long time and a lot of effort.” But what is Qi? There are many different translations of Qi - internal energy, energy stream, energy flow, spirit, will, and also the sum of near-indefinite processes accompanying life (amassing to more than 20 meanings in English-Chinese dictionaries).
We’re delighted to welcome our new Practitioners - Ben Hayward who practices Osteopathy and Robert Peter who will be running Qigong classes and practicing Tui Na.
With Robert, we are also planning to launch a Master Massage Practitioner Course this autumn incorporating osteopathy, chiropractic, Tui Na and more - watch this space for more news!