What is Bodywork Massage Therapy?

Massage therapist providing bodywork massage therapy to a client

Bodywork massage is a unique field that allows you to improve the health and wellbeing of others through the use of massage techniques. These massage techniques are designed to address a variety of physical and mental health conditions to supplement pharmacological intervention. Bodywork massage is holistic in nature and is a wonderful alternative for clients who are looking for minimally invasive solutions to their health concerns.

What is Bodywork Massage Therapy?

Bodywork massage therapy is a type of therapeutic technique that focuses on relaxing a person’s body, mind, and spirit. When a person is stressed and anxious for an extended period of time, those feelings often translate into physical manifestations. Muscle tension, aches along the spine and shoulders, as well as headaches are common physical manifestations of such emotional states. Bodywork massage therapy is beneficial for clients who are looking for a way to enhance their emotional well-being, and it is part of a larger holistic philosophy.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is often a critical component of bodywork and works by releasing negative energy and tension deep within the fascia, tissue, and tendons. Clients receive many benefits when they choose a bodywork session. Bodywork has proven to be helpful in alleviating high blood pressure, providing whole body relaxation, reducing eye strain, decreasing tension headaches, and lowering anxiety levels. Because bodywork massage therapy focuses on areas of a client’s body that are deep beneath the surface, this is a perfect technique to use on clients who are dealing with muscle tension and stiffness.

Sports Massage

Bodywork can also improve athletic performance and flexibility. This is particularly useful for those who are professional athletes. Because total relaxation is the goal of bodywork massage therapy, deeper breathing and enhanced lung capacity are experienced by clients who request this therapeutic technique. Because bodywork therapy can enhance the efficiency of blood flow throughout the body, this is beneficial for those who are recovering from injury, and even decrease the amount of time it takes to heal. This enhanced blood flow can also have a positive impact on the appearance of the skin. The immune system receives a positive boost, decreasing a client’s likelihood of catching a cold. This is especially helpful during colder fall and winter months, as well as during the height of flu season.

Mind Body Connection

One of the most important benefits of bodywork, is that it enhances a client’s knowledge about how the mind body connection works. The mind body connection is the philosophy that a person’s mental health and well-being are directly linked. This can be beneficial, especially if a client has sound mental health. However, a client who is experiencing prolonged periods of stress and mental health crises will notice a direct negative impact on their physical health as well. This is true for clients who may suffer from high blood pressure and anxiety. Their heightened state of anxiety and arousal will cause cortisol to release at higher levels than normal.

This cortisol has a direct impact on a person’s blood pressure. If their blood pressure remains abnormally high for an extended period of time, it will then have a direct impact on their cardiovascular health, leading to secondary issues and serious health concerns. By engaging in bodywork massage therapy, a client will deepen their understanding about this connection, which may prompt them to make further positive changes in their lives by incorporating other stress relieving activities into their lifestyle, such as yoga, meditation, and homeopathic strategies.

What are Some Other Holistic Treatments?

There are several holistic treatments that can supplement bodywork. Here, we will look at a few of them and discuss how they work in conjunction with bodywork massage to benefit the overall health and well-being of the client.


The goal of acupuncture is to stimulate the central nervous system by placing tiny needles into strategic areas on the client’s body. This releases negative energy and realigns positive energy, relieving the client from negative symptoms they may be experiencing due to blocked energy flow. Acupuncture can relieve migraines, ease stress and tension headaches, and treat insomnia. When these needles are placed into the body, endorphins are released from the client’s brain, which enhances their overall sense of well-being. Some clients who suffer from nausea may notice relief within the first hour of an acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture treatments can also be used for those who suffer from chronic pain conditions and fibromyalgia.


One of the oldest known therapeutic treatments is aromatherapy. Certain smells can have a positive effect on a person’s mood. Lavender can have a similar effect as a mild sedative. Orange and citrus are energizing scents that can give a boost of energy. Peppermint and spearmint are uplifting scents that can cause feelings of elation and happiness. Many clients may choose to incorporate aromatherapy into their bodywork sessions. This can be done using diffusers, massage oils, and lotions that feature their scent of choice. Aromatherapy is an effective way to boost a client’s bodywork massage session and enhance their overall experience.


Cupping is the act of using suction using rounded glass containers to encourage increased blood flow. These cups are either heated with a flame before placing them onto a client’s back, or a manual suctioning technique is used. These cups are slowly moved around in a massage-like manner. If a flame was used, the suction is created by a natural vacuum effect that is caused by the smoke. Cupping is an effective way to relieve chronic pain and digestive issues. It is also used for clients who are suffering from certain types of lung disease. Because cupping increases blood flow, it draws toxins to the surface as well, which can be beneficial for those healing from injury.

Chiropractic Techniques

Some clients combine bodywork sessions with visits to their chiropractor to address their medical issues. Chiropractors utilize a series of purposeful movements to adjust the spine and bring relief to the client. Chiropractors can help those recovering from car accidents, as well as those who are suffering from chronic neck and back pain. These adjustments usually involve the neck and spine. A professionally trained and licensed chiropractor performs chiropractic adjustments.


Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine that utilizes a variety of tinctures created to address a client’s ailments. There are two specific overarching themes in the field of homeopathy. The first one is that “like cures like.” This concept relies on the thought that a substance which causes an individual to become ill may be the same substance that holds the cure. The second principle is that smaller doses of a substance produces a more powerful medicinal effect in the client. Homeopathic treatments are personalized depending on the client’s concerns, and consist of lesser amounts of red onion, belladonna, bees, and minerals. Clients who are interested in homeopathic medicine often combine these treatments with bodywork massage to address chronic pain symptoms.

What Skills Does a Bodywork Massage Therapist Need to Succeed?

There are many skills that are helpful for bodywork massage therapists. From good communication skills to strong dexterity, and everything in between, building this set of skills will prepare you to succeed in bodywork massage.

Communication Skills

Massage therapists work closely with their clients to alleviate their physical pain, promote total body relaxation, and enhance their personal sense of well-being. Because of this, there are some skills that a bodywork massage therapist must develop to be effective in this field. They must have excellent communication skills. It is important to identify what areas are of most concern to clients to provide them with the best relief possible. Because bodywork massage involves physical manipulation of a client’s body, it is important to maintain communication throughout the session in case a movement becomes too uncomfortable or painful.

Empathy and Compassion

Bodywork massage therapists work with a variety of clients from different backgrounds and walks of life. They differ in age, health, ability, and condition. It is important to maintain compassion and empathy for every client and their personal situation. Some clients may present with symptoms they find particularly embarrassing or difficult to talk about. It’s important for massage therapists to understand that for some clients, addressing these problems and visiting a massage therapist took a great deal of emotional strength on their part. Other clients may be physically larger or have medical conditions that make them self-conscious about the way they look. Because bodywork massage therapy is such an intimate field to work in, it is imperative that massage therapists treat every single person with dignity and respect. Compassion is an integral part of any health-related industry, especially in massage therapy.

Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is also an important skill that massage therapists must develop during their training. The intricacies of bodywork massage technique rely upon specific types of manipulation along the client’s body, which means that the massage therapist must perform the bodywork technique as precisely as possible for the client to achieve maximum benefits.

Dexterity and Stamina

While it may not initially be apparent, massage therapists must acquire a high level of dexterity and stamina. Massage therapists work on their feet and use their upper body strength to perform a therapeutic bodywork technique. Massage therapy can be physically demanding, especially for newer massage therapists. However, experienced massage therapists will naturally see an increase in their level of stamina and will eventually be able to perform a full day’s work.

Final Thoughts

Bodywork massage therapy is a rewarding field that allows you to use your skills to improve the health and well-being of your clients. By pursuing a career in the field of massage therapy, you will enjoy job stability, flexible hours, and the ability to help others every single day. Take that first step towards the future and enroll in a massage therapy training program today.

Massage Therapy Program

If you are interested in the healing powers of massage, you can begin your career in massage therapy at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Our short-term massage therapy training program is designed to be completed in as little as 13 months. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their patients as well as develop positive habits for the therapist. Together, those two areas will provide a foundation that can lead to longevity in the career field.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist and starting a rewarding career in the massage industry.