A combination of deep tissue massage and 'movement reeducation', Hellerwork is advocated by its practitioners for a variety of problems related to muscle tension and stress.
It is said to relieve respiratory problems, sports injuries and pain in the back, neck and shoulders. Like most forms of bodywork, it has undergone little in the way of scientific testing; but many of those who have tries it say that it helps.
Procedure of Treatment
Hellerwork therapy consists of a series of eleven sessions aimed at helping you in touch with different parts of your body and the emotions that affect it. The first Hellerwork session, for instance, focuses on the chest, seeking to release unconscious tensions that interfere with easy, natural breathing. To accomplish this, the practitioner will engage you in a discussion designed to draw out any emotional attitudes that may be impending normal movement. Therapy then moves on to the feet and arms, followed by the 'core' muscles deep in the body. At each step, the practitioner uses physical manipulation of the tissues to help release built-up tensions. In the final session, the practitioner endeavours to pull all the work together, fashioning a better understanding of the relationship between mind and body.
Treatment Time: Each session lasts approximately 90 minutes.
Treatment Frequency: The interval between each of the eleven Hellerwork sessions can vary.
An off-shoot of the deep-tissue massage therapy known as Rolfing, Hellerwork was developed by Joseph Heller, a NASA aerospace engineer. Like Rolfing, Hellerwork holds that tense, stressed muscles eventually lose their flexibility, throwing the body out of vertical alignment. Once this abnormal tension is banished, the theory goes, the body can return to its proper alignment, producing a general improvement in well being. Hellerwork treatment begins with an exploration of the way the body works and how emotions can help or interfere. As you begin to comprehend these forces, treatment progresses to physical release of muscular tension and retraining in healthy movement and posture. Through practice in the proper ways of sitting, standing, walking, running and lifting, you learn how to use your body more efficiently while eliminating unnecessary stress. The practitioner may take 'before and after' videotapes to show you the specific aspects of your posture and movements that need to be changed and, then, to demonstrate how treatment is progressing. As your body becomes more flexible, you should begin to feel more limber and relaxed.
Who Should Avoid This Therapy?
The deep muscle massage encountered in Rolfing and Hellerwork is not advisable if you have cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, or any other inflammatory condition.
No side-effects have been reported. Remember, however, that no full-fledged studies have been done.