A New Approach to Handling Pressure, Tension... And that Aching Back

You may think that you've become adept at juggling the pressures of daily life in the demanding world of government. From your professional point of view, that's probably true. But if you are neglecting your body at the expense of your schedule and duties, you are probably feeling the pressure elsewhere. Like that nagging pain in the small of your back…that kink in your neck that just doesn't want to go away… or that tightness across your shoulders that makes putting on a shirt or a dress an painful experience.

Don't worry. You're not alone. Anyone - no matter how powerful - who works in the world of government eventually succumbs to the pressure and gets those pains that just don't want to leave. But the smart ones make sure they take corrective measures, which should include both exercise and a course of bodywork or therapeutic massage. The right combination can work wonders.

As a body worker with 22 years of experience, I've seen my share of remarkable results. Of course, as the ubiquitous caveat goes, “Your results may vary.” But if you've never undertaken a course of deep-tissue bodywork with a skilled practitioner, you might want to reconsider.


In many ways, your body is like a car. You take great pains to maintain your car with regular oil changes, tune-ups and the like. And every 30,000 miles you take it in for a major tune-up. For many of those reading this, you are overdue - way overdue - for a major tune-up.

My specialty is known as "Hellerwork", named after Joseph Heller, who developed this particular system of deep-tissue bodywork and movement education. Of course, I know firsthand that this technique is by no means the only one, but it does produce significant results in a relatively short amount of time.

In eleven weekly sessions that last about one-and-a-half hours, the Hellerwork practitioner, through artful manipulation, remolds and rejuvenates the connective tissue (fascia) that surrounds the muscles. Through these manipulations, the fascia's natural plasticity is restored, and - freed of the armor of tension - the muscles are released. Once liberated in this way, the muscles are free to allow the skeleton to realign itself in a more natural way - not according to the demands of the job but according to the demands of your body and gravity. Once liberated in this way, the muscles (all of which are attached to bones) free up the skeleton to realign itself in a more natural way - according to the natural demands of your body in relation to the imperative of gravity instead of the demands of chronically shortened fascia.

If you want to see how this works, watch babies or young children as they move, sit and play; toddlers have an easy posture, and almost never suffer from tight shoulders and a bad back. In a sense, Hellerwork brings a certain sort of 'innocence' to the muscles of your body. The approach is tailored to each individual. The client's daily movement patterns are addressed; the practitioner also makes suggestions and prescribes exercises designed to enhance the client's daily movement activities and even athletic pursuits. Consideration is given to the care and well being of the whole person-body, mind, and spirit. Each session is designed to address a different network of muscles so that the muscular releases from one week to the next are coordinated and build on one another.

The benefits of Hellerwork are manifold. They include:

  1. Lasting release from habitual patterns of tension and stress accumulated during the course of modern life.
  2. Reduction and lasting relief of pain stemming from injuries, chronic tension and the resulting restricted movement.
  3. Restoration of one's natural flexibility, a feeling of being 'at ease in your body.'
  4. Improved posture – the shrinking and sagging owing to the years of losing the battle with gravity are overcome. "Teenage height' is restored.
  5. Increased energy, vitality, and well-being; a sustained sense of relaxation and harmony ensues.
  6. Improved ability to concentrate. (Yes, your ability to function better at work will improve!)

A series of Hellerwork sessions is the generally recommended major tune-up and overhaul you may be looking for. It is designed to propel you towards vital good health and optimal functioning. But you don't need to do an entire series to receive the benefits; individual sessions of varying duration are also available. Some practitioners even travel to corporate or governmental offices and offer shortened 5-15 minute sessions of neck and shoulder releases. Health insurance will often cover individuals who have an allotment of either physical therapy or chiropractic included in their policy.

I suggest a single session to determine if Hellerwork is indeed the right choice for you. It is an investment that, I feel, will pay off. You can always replace a car when it wears out, but your body doesn't offer that option. Preventive maintenance on your body today will pay off handsomely.

Roy Strassman has been practicing Hellerwork since 1980. He practices in Sacramento at the offices of Drs. Jeffrey and Lee Kauffman, and in the Bay Area privately in Point Richmond. He is available to visit government and corporate offices for the purpose of providing mini-sessions at the workplace.

Mr. Strassman can be reached at: tel: (510) 232-5700 and email: chekere1@aol.com.

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