Complementary Modalities

Understanding Complementary Bodywork Techniques and Therapies

Woman lying down getting physical therapy massage treatment from physio therapist, hands working on her elbow area

You may have heard of alternative therapies, such as trigger point therapy and Reiki, but aren’t sure what they are. Both practices are types of bodywork therapies and are considered a holistic approach to improving health.

Bodywork therapies are used to treat various conditions and promote overall wellbeing. There are several forms of bodywork that can help everything from poor posture to stress to anxiety. But how do you know what is right for you?  The technique that may work best depends on what symptoms you’re having. Consider a few of the following therapies:

The Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique involves education on proper movement to decrease tension in the body. Everyone develops bad habits when sitting, standing, walking and moving in general. Bad movement, which may be unconscious, can cause tension to accumulate and lead to problems, such as chronic pain. But bad movement patterns can also be unlearned.

Alexander Technique practitioners teach you how to move mindfully through verbal cues and manual guidance. The goal is to teach students how to improve movement patterns in ways that decrease physical stress on the body. Learning new movement patterns helps you improve balance, coordination and move with ease without stressing the body.

People with muscle tension, stiff and sore muscles and back and neck pain may benefit from the Alexander Technique. It may also help people with stress and anxiety related conditions since it promotes physical relaxation. The Alexander Technique may be beneficial to help someone develop ease in movement, which may improve performance in sports, dance and drama.


Reiki is a bit different than other forms of bodywork. It involves transferring energy to heal certain conditions, such as pain. Reiki is based on the idea that a person’s health and wellbeing is affected by their energy chi. When the flow of chi is blocked or disrupted, it results in decreased health.

If you undergo a Reiki therapy session, the practitioner will place their hands on or above your body to transfer energy and heal certain conditions. It promotes balance of the mind, body and spirit. Studies on the effectiveness of Reiki are limited. But some people use Reiki to treat conditions, such as chronic pain, depression and anxiety.

Because the touch involved in Reiki is light, it may be an option for people who cannot tolerate other forms of bodywork that involve greater pressure. There are also no side effects from a Reiki therapy session. So even if it does not help, it won’t hurt.

Whichever form of bodywork you choose to have, it’s helpful to keep a couple of things in mind. Always seek treatment from an experienced practitioner who is well versed in the particular type of bodywork you are interested in having.

Although most forms of bodywork have virtually no side effects, the therapy is likely to be more effective if done correctly by a qualified practitioner. Also, be sure to clearly communicate the problems you’re seeking therapy for and goals for treatment.

The Following Therapeutic Techniques may be used by Some Licensed Massage Therapists as Complementary Modalities


Alexander Technique


Cupping Treatment


Guided Imagery

Interferential Current Therapy (IFC)


Low Intensity Laser Therapy




Therapeutic Touch

Therapeutic Ultrasound


Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)