What is Looyen Work?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Looyen Work or LooyenWork is a massage technique which is designed to provide deep tissue penetration without pain. In addition to being used to gently address physical issues, Looyen Work is also designed to work with the client on an emotional level, by promoting the release and processing of intense emotions. Clients can opt for sessions in which the therapist uses this technique alone, or they may ask a massage therapist to integrate Looyen Work into a more generalized deep tissue massage.

Woman doing yoga
Woman doing yoga

This massage modality was developed by Ted Looyen in the 1980s, in response to physical therapy he received for an injury. Looyen was frustrated that much of the deep muscle work was very painful, and he felt that gentle massage should be used to help people recover from injuries so that the injuries did not recur. He also wanted to develop a style of massage which integrated psychotherapy, so that patients could enjoy emotional as well as physical benefits.

As in other types of deep tissue massage, the goal with Looyen Work is to get deep into the muscles to free tension, remove adhesions, and improve freedom of movement and comfort for the client. During the session, the massage therapist uses varying levels of pressure to release physical tension held in the muscles, and to repattern the muscles so that they do not accumulate tension in the future. Techniques such as Rolfing, postural integration, and Aston patterning are integrated into Looyen Work to improve the outcome of the session.

In addition to providing physical release of pain, tension, and soreness, Looyen Work can also be involved in emotional release. Many people experience intense emotions during massage sessions, especially when deep tissue work is involved, and in Looyen Work, the therapist works through these issues with the client to address them as they arise.

Every massage therapist has a slightly different approach to massage and various techniques. Clients who want to try Looyen Work may find that they need to try several massage therapists to find one who offers the type of work they want. When selecting a massage therapist, the client should seek out someone who is happy to provide information about training and qualifications, and someone who seems like a good fit. If a massage therapist makes a client feel uncomfortable or nervous while making an appointment, the client will probably have trouble relaxing during the session and getting the full benefits of the massage.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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