Massage and bodywork are terms that are often used interchangeably; however there are differences. Massage work addresses the muscle and soft tissues directly, whereas bodywork has a more specific focus on the joints. Bodywork does address muscles and soft tissues with body mobilization techniques (BMT), as practiced by Shiatsu and Thai bodyworkers.

Asian bodywork is comprised of passive stretching, which is highly effective when assessing range of motion (ROM). Once ROM is determined, massage techniques like cross-fiber friction, stripping, rolling and kneading, and sustained compression are all excellent tools for breaking up adhesions that may be restricting the ROM of an individual. Techniques such as sustained compressions and kneading increase circulation and distribute white blood cells from the muscle tissue and into the interstitial fluid so they may repair damaged tissues — which is why increased immunity has come to be associated as one of the many benefits of massage therapy. While there are obviously many uses for this benefit, most importantly, this can lend itself to greater recovery time, such as with a post-event massage session.

ROM techniques can be useful for post-event massage, as mentioned above, and can also be helpful for pre-event work as well. The application of passive stretching, increasing ROM, as well as warming all the soft-tissues in the joints is beneficial for optimal performance.

Jessica Heffernan, LMT, CP-AOBTA is a massage therapist at FFC Park Ridge. Have additional questions about Asian bodywork or want to set up a consultation with Jessica? Email her at!