Section i :: Introduction and Theory Scroll Down >>>
What is Hellerwork
Hellerwork is a series of one-hour sessions of deep tissue bodywork and movement education designed to realign the body and release chronic tension and stress. Verbal dialogue is used to assist the client in becoming aware of emotional stress that may be related to physical tension.
The number of sessions can vary from person to person due to the varying needs of individuals. The plan of the series is organized along the eleven sections described on the "Sections pages" and each section can take one or more sessions to accomplish the desired result.
Hellerwork is an integrated system designed to recondition the whole body. It is not a remedy for illness; rather, it is a process in which people are moved from their current "average" state to an optimal state of health and well being. This optimal state of health is the body's "normal" and natural condition.
What Are Connective Tissue And Fascia?
Any tissue in the body that has a connecting function is considered to be connective tissue. Tendons, ligaments, and even blood are connective tissue. The form of connective tissue that Hellerwork primarily affects is called fascia. Fascia is a plastic-like tissue that wraps all of the muscles, and all of the individual fibers and bundles of individual fibers that become muscle. Fascia comes together at the end of the muscle and becomes the tendon, which attaches the muscle to the bone.
The fascial system of our body can be seen as a multi-layer body stocking, with fascial sheaths wrapping the muscles and weaving in layers throughout the body. Because of this, stress in any area of the body has an effect on every other part of the body. For instance, tension in the connective tissue of the leg pulls the tissue throughout the torso.
In its optimal condition, fascia is a loose, moist tissue. When there is continual loose movement and balance in the body, the fascial body stocking stays loose and mobile, facilitating the movement between different parts of the body. However, under continual stress and lack of movement, fascia becomes rigid and loses its fluidity. Layers of fascia begin to glue to one another, causing the '"knots" you may have experienced in your back or neck. The sheaths of fascia stick in a systematic way, based on our habitual patterns of movement, or more correctly, lack of movement. Although people most often associate tension and stiffness with their muscles, it is actually the connective tissue that accumulates much of this stress.
What Do Gravity And Alignment Have to Do With Hellerwork?
Gravity is the force that pulls any two masses together, notably the earth and our human bodies. We learn about this force early in life, but then get used to it, although it continually pulls on us. Alignment simply means that things are in a straight line. If items are in a zig-zag pattern, we would say that they are out of alignment. In Hellerwork, the main direction of alignment that we consider is vertical alignment - are the body's segments stacked in a straight line from the ground up, or are they at a tilt, or perhaps a zig-zag.
If a body or structure of any kind is vertically aligned, gravity is a benign and positive force - it keeps us on the planet! It also supports us in being balanced. An imbalanced body, however, feels gravity as a stress. Consider the two buildings pictured in the next column.
The balanced and erect building has no problem with gravity. Gravity is the force that makes the earth a foundation for the building in the first place. The leaning tower of Pisa, however, is stressed by gravity. Since it is already imbalanced, gravity works to pull it down.
It is the same with our bodies - if they are aligned, gravity is supportive. If they are out of alignment, gravity becomes a primary force that is felt by our bodies as a demand to tense up and hold on!