Bodywork is a term used to describe alternative/complementary therapies involving touch, physical manipulation or energetic work. There are several types of bodywork that may be used to treat ME/CFS. Like any treatment for this illness, effectiveness varies with the individual. While some report great success with a particular method, others say that same method caused a severe relapse.
Before beginning any type of bodywork, make sure the practitioner is certified in his/her field and knowledgeable about ME/CFS. Talk with the practitioner prior to beginning treatment and ask questions so you know what to expect. Be sure to ask how many treatments it should take before you begin to have noticeable improvement.
A few of the most frequently used bodywork therapies include:
- Myofascial Release Therapy – Often considered a type of massage, myofascial release therapy consists of very gentle manipulation of the fascia (connective tissue located between the skin and underlying structure of muscle and bone). Fascia can become tight and restricted in response to injury, inflammation, stress or even poor posture. Over time, the tightness in one area can spread throughout the whole body, which can be quite painful. The goal of myofascial release is to release the restricted fascia, which in turn eases the pain, increases the patient’s range of motion, and brings the body into balance.
- Therapeutic Massage – Therapeutic massage involves the manual manipulation of the body’s soft tissue. There are as many as 80 different types of massage, each with its own purpose - including beneficial electro-stimulation with a consumer operated device like the Hi-Dow Massage Unit
. While the primary goal of some massage techniques is relaxation, the aim of therapeutic massage is to help the body function better. In addition to relaxation, it can help improve circulation, reduce stress, anxiety and depression, ease muscle aches and pains, and improve sleep problems and immune system function.
- Energy Medicine – There are numerous practices that claim to promote or maintain the balance of vital energy fields in the body. Some examples include: therapeutic touch, healing touch, Reiki, Johrei, vortex healing, and polarity therapy. All of these modalities involve movement of the practitioner's hands over the patient's body to become attuned to the condition of the patient and identify energy imbalances, with the idea that by so doing, the practitioner is able to use their own perceived healing energy to strengthen and reorient the patient's energies, thereby promoting health. Often these therapies report impressive anecdotal evidence, but little scientific research has been done to verify their effectiveness.