Bodywork or Massage - What's the Difference?

The main difference comes down to assessment and approach.

Bodyworkers typically begin their careers as Massage Therapists, meaning they learn different techniques  to work with tissue, often directly on the skin with lotion or oil. They tend to formulate to a specific style “signtaure” and this is often what draws clients.. The presenting issue is addressed during the session.

Bodywork is the switch when the session is completely devised based on the client’s presenting concern. This does not mean the whole hour is focused on deactivating the aching shoulder or sore low back. A Bodyworker can see how the primary issue is a product of multiple factors happening simultaneously and designs the session to target the full pattern. The hurting shoulder for example, can be a combination of current jaw tension, a car accident from 20 years ago, neck tension from forward leaning activities, a stuck first rib and well as a slight torsion through the body leading into to opposite hip and down the leg into the foot.  Also, how much stress is this person under? Do they drive in traffic daily? Do they sleep well? Drink enough water? What’s their relationship with exercise?

A bodyworker is looking for a full evaluative picture in order to realign the body from the nervous system outwards to the muscle tissue, effecting a lasting shift.

In my practice, I create a care plan with clients, so they know what we are working on and how it connects to other aspects of movement. Having this map, we can then unwind residual issues and create a new baseline, ultimately providing a new, improved experience of how to be in a body. 


Randi Kofsky