Energy medicine has been used effortlessly by a variety of healers in various forms to improve health for centuries.

Many manual therapy providers think of energy work as advanced practice outside the realm of traditional bodywork or as pseudo-science not supported by systematic evidence. Many others see energy work through the lens of traditional acupuncture, qi gong, chakra healing, Reiki or Touch for Health.

Additionally, evidence suggests that undefined subtle forces can be directed to others to produce measurable biological effects, and to date, there is statistically significant evidence that energy medicine may be helpful for reducing low-grade pain intensity and improving quality of life in pain populations.

Furthermore, energy therapies have no known reported risks, indicating they are a safe and viable option for primary or adjunct treatment.

Still, without established clinical guidelines, the challenge remains on how to incorporate energy work into a busy clinical bodywork practice.

Energy Dynamics

Energetic Balancing Total Body (EBTB), a technique I developed and teach, bridges the gap between traditional bodywork and energy medicine. The manual techniques used in EBTB work with the energy dynamics of the anatomy and physiology of the body to release both acute and long-standing chronic patterns to reduce pain and improve functional outcomes.

To understand how, we need to review both energy science and quantum physics.

Energy is defined as the capacity to perform work. According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, the total amount of energy in the universe is constant — incapable of being created or destroyed — and can only change from one form to another.

Common forms of energy include solid mass or as non-solid matter, such as heat, light, electrical, sound, gravitational, potential (stored energy) and kinetic (energy of motion). Quantum physics states that mass and energy are interchangeable, and consequently that mass is merely a manifestation of energy. This means that everything, including humans, is simply energy stored in mass particle form.

According to the theories associated with the universal energy field. all matter and psychological processes — thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and attitudes — are composed of energy. When applied to the human body, every atom, molecule, cell, tissue, and body system is composed of energy that when superimposed on each other create what is known as the human energy field.

The Human Energy Field

In particle form, the solid mass of the human body is composed of four types of tissues: epithelial, connective, muscle, and nerve tissue. A closer examination of the epithelial tissue (skin), however, shows how the tissue is actually created by these superimposed energy fields.

First, observe the skin. Note the wrinkles, the fine hairs, and the nail beds. Tap the table. Hear the sound and feel how solid it appears to be. Now, magnify the skin under a microscope. Magnified times 20,000, the solid mass of skin turns into a field of swarming cells. Greater magnification reveals the organelles within the cell. Continue to magnify to see that those organelles are composed of molecules.

Molecules are created when two or more atoms form chemical bonds with each other. Atoms are the basic building blocks of all matter. There are 90 naturally occurring atoms in the periodic table that combine to make everyday objects, such as a desk, the air, and even the human body.

Now, magnify the atoms and observe the sub-atomic energy clouds that make up those atoms. These energy clouds are composed of a nucleus with a positively charged proton and neutrally charged neutron. Circling the nucleus are negatively charged electrons. Further magnification reveals other sub-atomic particles, such as quarks and gluons. Yet, these subatomic particles are not really particles but are instead units of energy with vast distances between each spinning electron making atoms 99.999999999% empty space.

Therefore, a closer examination of the epithelial tissue or skin, which appears very solid and in particle form, reveals it is 99.999999999% empty space. In actuality, the hand is made up of superimposed dynamic energy in constant vibration and of consciousness.

This is what makes energy work possible.

Vital Life Force

From an energy medicine perspective, energy refers to subtle, imperceptible forces frequently described as a vital force or life force that flows through the body. Since all matter and psychological processes — thought, beliefs, emotions, and consciousness — are composed of energy, the physical body is, therefore, the manifestation or representation of an energy field made of superimposed dynamic segments of vibration.

Nothing rests. Everything vibrates. Everything, in some subtle way, moves.

Every living thing pulses with the flow of life force that pervades the universe. Life is movement. When this movement is disturbed, there is a disease. An excessive, deficient, or obstructed energy flow creates illness or abnormal function. In turn, a balanced energy flow promotes health.

As previously mentioned, (EBTB) bridges the gap between traditional bodywork and energy medicine. Over time, I believe, based on my own experience and anecdotal evidence, the body stores patterns of physical tension, stress and trauma. Additionally, the tissues store unresolved emotions, thoughts, beliefs, consciousness, fears, and phobias. Together, these create long-standing stress patterns throughout the body that do not respond to traditional bodywork.

Used as a free-standing treatment or in conjunction with other manual therapies, EBTB works with the energy dynamics of anatomy and physiology to create shifts in the body.

Energy can appear in both wave and particle form. The waveform represents potential, whereas the particle is the manifested form of one of those potentials. The observation that collapses that potential into physical form comes from our experiences, conditioning, expectations, thoughts, and beliefs.

The physical body is, therefore, a manifested form of potential in particle form.

Once observation causes a wave to take particle form, the other possibilities or probabilities cease to exist. The role of an energy worker is to observe alternate potentials that may be available to the client. The observation of an alternate potential provides the opportunity for attention and energy to shift from a fixed particle form back to a wave of possibility, and this is where change can occur.

The aim is to balance this excess, deficient, or stagnant subtle energy fields to improve energy flow and promote health.

What is Energetic Balancing Total Body?

EBTBis a supportive treatment approach that addresses the body as a total unit while supporting the innate ability of the body to heal. This concept of holism refers to the physical representation of the sum of the structural, physiological, energetic, mental, emotional, behavioral, spiritual, consciousness, and environmental influences.

This is also known as the total body lesion. As the body accumulates acute and chronic stress patterns, tension from unresolved mental, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual/consciousness issues can lead to pain, poor posture, restricted range of motion, and altered function.

This technique includes an evaluation, principle-based treatment, and re-evaluation. Evaluation and re-evaluation are used to not only identify the total body energetic lesion but to also measure the effectiveness of the energetic balancing treatment. Doing this builds both confidence and credibility as a practitioner.

Principle-based treatment use techniques that treat the physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, spiritual/consciousness factors, and environmental influences on the patient.

Along with many other effective types of energy work being researched, explored and implemented into bodywork practices today, EBTB is a technique and process that could benefit clients while expanding the professional repertoire of the massage therapist.

Kerry D’Ambrogio, DOM, AP, PT, DO-MTP, is a physical therapist, osteopath, board-certified acupuncture physician, and the author of Positional Release Therapy (Mosby). Information on his manual therapy treatment approaches and continuing education courses available on his website. He wrote this article on behalf of the International Alliance of Healthcare Educators, of which his business is a member.