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About Hellerwork

Kelli Reilly, LMP, CHP
Certified Hellerwork Practitioner

Beyond Massage...
Health Through Hellerwork
Structural Integration

HELLERWORK differs from traditional massage in that the patient is a more active participant in the treatment. The patient is observed and assessed walking, standing, sitting and doing the movements that cause pain or have contributed to the initial injury or condition.

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.

Although Hellerwork may be effective for temporary pain or tension relief, we recognize that pain and tension are usually the result of an overall pattern of imbalance occurring in the body. Rather than treating the pain or tension “symptom” of this imbalance, Hellerwork focuses on rebalancing the entire body, returning it to a more aligned, relaxed and youthful state.

To fully understand how Hellerwork works, you must learn about connective tissue, and how the force of gravity impacts the connective tissue system of the body in such a way that it moves from a “normal” into an “average” condition.

Hellerwork, Joseph Heller

“The body stores the trauma of our lives in muscular rigidity, thereby keeping us stuck in the past. When we release the tension in the body and align ourselves with gravity, we take a new stand in life. This allows us to be at ease with ourselves and in harmony in our relationship to others and to our planet.” ... Joseph Heller, Founder

How Did My Body Get This Way?

If you have lived even an hour, your body has experienced the aging process. Most of us have experienced years and years of this process. There is nothing inherently wrong with the progression of years — many things actually ripen with age. But what is it that causes people to physically shorten over time, that makes people get twisted and compressed into postures that cannot change by themselves, and that makes people move more and more slowly and with less and less comfort as they age?

Connective tissue — specifically fascia — holds our bodies in their contracted form, and movement patterns determine the particular form in which they get stuck.

There are three main factors that cause our movement patterns to become unbalanced. They are:

  1. ongoing physical stresses,
  2. ongoing attitudes and emotions
  3. incidents of physical trauma

Continually carrying a briefcase on one side of the body is an example of on-going physical stress. Gravity pulls the briefcase down, and the shoulder with it. With repetition, the connective tissue layers begin to get stiff and to stick to one another, like ironing two thin sheets of plastic together.

As a result, the body becomes stuck in that position and, even when the briefcase is not being carried, the shoulder still remains lower. The whole body will adjust to this imbalance, and soon the impact of the briefcase will be reflected throughout the entire body.

An example of one’s emotional attitude causing imbalance in the body can be seen when we are depressed, which is often characterized by a sunken chest. If this feeling and the bodily substance become a continual pattern, the body becomes glued in this posture.

Imbalance is also caused through physical trauma. For example, if you were to injure your leg, you would be likely to walk in an imbalanced and even awkward way to protect the injury. After a time, that movement pattern might become a part of your body’s way of moving, even though the injury had been healed long ago. An injury also directly traumatizes the connective tissue at the site of the injury; scarring and inflexibility may result from this. As described in the discussion of connective tissue, this tension is then reflected through the body and further influences our movement patterns.

As life goes on and aging continues, more and more of these patterns become embedded in our connective tissue simply because we don’t move freely. In our misalignment, gravity becomes the enemy, compounding and magnifying any stress that is there. As the body accumulates these patterns, it begins to shorten and shrink. People get shorter and stiffer. This is what people identify as aging. This is what makes the body “average” but not normal.


The Foundational Principles of Hellerwork

  • We recognize the existence of a greater field in which we live, interact and express.
  • Our purpose is to enhance the individual’s awareness of and relationship to that field.
  • Within the context of a healing relationship, we work with structure, psyche, and movement to improve function and well-being.
  • Our process follows an ordered sequence organizing the body along the line of gravity, through guided touch and education, introducing change towards a more functional pattern.

The Three Main Components of Hellerwork

Reconditioning the body after it has gone through this process of aging requires not only releasing the rigidity from the connective tissue, but also bringing awareness to and changing the patterns that caused the tissue to rigidify in the first place. The three components of Hellerwork — deep connective tissue bodywork, movement education, and verbal dialogue — aim to do just that.

Deep Connective Tissue Bodywork

Deep connective tissue body work is designed to release the tension that currently exists in the connective tissue, and to return the body systematically to an aligned position. This aspect of Hellerwork is a “hands on” process, in which the Practitioner works with his or her hands to release tension in the fascia and to stretch it back into its normal position. Bodywork accounts for about 60 minutes of the session period. To the client, this is felt as a great release of tension throughout the body. Releasing chronic tension allows the body to feel free and rested, producing what might be an uncommon (but truly normal) state of well being.

Movement Education

If the bodywork aspect of Hellerwork is like taking the dents out of a car’s bumper after the car has run into a tree, then movement education can be likened to reeducating the driver so that he won’t continue to destroy his vehicle. No amount of removing dents will keep a car beautiful if the driver is continually hitting trees! Through the Hellerwork movement education program, you become profoundly aware of your body and your movement patterns, and as a result discover easier, fuller ways of moving. Simple and easy to remember suggestions and visualizations are used to rebalance your movement for optimal alignment and fluidity. In movement education, we focus on the use of your body in daily activities. With all clients we work with sitting, standing, walking, and movement patterns that are common to everyone. Additionally, your particular movement interests, like your favorite sports, or your job activity, will become the focus of some movement lessons. Video feedback is often used to assist the movement education process, and to allow you to get a picture of how your body is moving from the outside.

Verbal Dialogue

The verbal dialogue component of Hellerwork focuses on allowing you to become aware of the relationship between your emotions and attitudes and your body. As you become aware of these relationships, you are able to become responsible for your attitudes so that they are less likely to limit your body and your self expression. The focus of the dialogue begins - with but is not limited to - the theme of each section. The theme highlights the more common attitudes and emotions that are associated with the area of the body that is worked on in each session.

In Section 1, where we work on the chest, the theme is “Inspiration.” Your Practitioner will inquire into your experience of inspiration: Do you feel inspired? What inspires you? What affects your ability to feel inspired? Through this process you can begin to understand some of the attitudinal and emotional forces that impact your body. Simply becoming aware of them begins the process of change. As the tension that is associated with these emotional patterns is released, some of the pattern itself may be released. Your awareness facilitates the process of change in your body and mind.

For more specifics, go to http://www.hellerwork.com

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