Beyond Massage: 4 Unique Therapies for Mind and Body Health

If you suffer from pain or stress, here are some interesting therapies that could help alleviate your symptoms—or just make you feel healthier and happier overall. These treatments are non-diagnostic, which means that while they can help with a specific condition, they support the whole body…and you don’t have to take your clothes off for any of them.

Zero Balancing (ZB)

Zero Balancing is a hands-on, mind-body therapy that focuses on the skeletal system and the energy that runs through the bones. In a Zero Balancing session, the client lays clothed on a table while the practitioner uses finger pressure and gentle manipulation to release areas of tension around the key joints of the skeleton. The process, which feels good, clears blockage in the body’s energy flow. Mary Murphy, who practices and teaches at the Zero Balancing Wellness Center in Wilmette, says that ZB helps the body, which can become restricted due to stress and life experiences, reestablish itself to feel better. The reported benefits of ZB are increased health and wellbeing, improved balance and less pain. People who leave a session report feeling “grounded, lighter and taller,” Murphy says. Learn more about this therapy here.

Push Therapy

Tight muscles caused by repetitive movements over time are a source of all kinds of chronic pain that you might not expect, such as headaches, sore joints and achy feet. According to Claudia Paluch of Push Therapy Chicago, Push relieves chronic passive tension by increasing the blood flow to sore, contracted muscles. Push therapy is a hands-on treatment, but it’s not a massage. The therapy is soft and gentle, and the techniques are geared to stimulate the muscle fibers to increase the blood flow and oxygen to tissue so muscles become soft and stretchy and regain their health. Paluch also works with clients to identify the repetitive movements that caused the problem over time.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

EFT or “tapping” is a technique you perform on yourself to ease pain, cravings or anxiety. Carol Moss, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who practices in Evanston and Wilmette, teaches the technique to clients and groups on the North Shore. EFT is based on the same principles as acupuncture, but without needles. You tap on points along the nine major meridians (energy channels) in the body: on the hand, head, face, collarbone and underarms. As you tap, you repeat positive affirmations, and after a few rounds, the process frees the blocked energy that is causing you pain. It’s easy to learn—either from a therapist or YouTube videos—and takes only a few minutes to perform. EFT can help a person fall asleep, calm down before a big speech or race, or even get over hurt feelings. “Try it on anything,” Moss says. “The belief is that if you have physical pain or emotional pain, it works.”


According to Reiki practitioner and teacher Laurie Goldstein of Wilmette’s Reiki Rising, a Reiki treatment is like a massage for inside your body. The client lies down on a table, but unlike massage, there’s no manipulation of tissue. Instead, the practitioner puts her hands in various positions on or above the client’s body allowing Reiki to flow. Reiki is a subtle vibration (some call it an energy) that will flow to the client’s body providing a healing boost that’s also immensely relaxing. Reiki can help with a wide variety of conditions from life’s typical stresses to back and joint pain, and even aid in alleviating some of the side effects of chemotherapy. Anyone experiencing any kind of physical or emotional pain or stress can benefit from this gentle though powerful healing modality.

What Works for You?

From reflexology to aromatherapy, there are many forms of complementary therapies available. Health professionals are becoming increasingly aware of the mind-body connection and the need to treat the whole person, not just specific conditions or symptoms. If you’ve had a positive experience with a non-traditional treatment or technique, we’d like to hear about it; please share in the comments section below.

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