Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
Body-based practice, bodywork, core zero balancing, energy medicine, massage, manipulation, Rolfing®, zero balancing.
Zero balancing is a type of bodywork that originated in the 1970s by an osteopath, medical doctor, and acupuncturist named Frederick Fritz Smith. Zero balancing is different from other types of bodywork because it focuses on both body structure and energy flow at the same time.
Zero balancing incorporates both Eastern and Western approaches to integrate and balance "body energy" (also called life force) with the body's physical structure. A type of gentle touch is used during therapy. The practitioner holds the patient in certain positions to release energy currents and improve energy flow. There is a great deal of focus on the skeleton, which zero balancers believe contains the most energy.
It has been theorized that a balance of structure and energy may help create and maintain health and wellness.
Dr. Smith was also educated in Rolfing®, yoga, meditation, and other Eastern practices. He has been practicing and teaching zero balancing since the mid-1970s and is the author of Inner Bridges: A Guide to Energy Movement and Body Structure (Humanics Ltd Partners, 1986).
Zero balancing is intended to work in conjunction with primary healthcare performed by a wide range of practitioners, such as medical doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, massage therapists, and acupuncturists.
Zero balancing is primarily focused on wellness, not healing. In fact, practitioners believe this type of body work may help prevent illnesses by eliminating stress before it translates into physical problems. The goal of this practice is to relieve physical discomfort and mental stress and to promote a sense of well-being and integration. Candidates include those under stress, as well as those looking to boost their sense of wellness.
Zero Balancing is different from other types of bodywork because it focuses on both body structure and energy flow at the same time.
During zero balancing, the client fully dressed. With the client seated, the practitioner first evaluates the torso. Then the patient lies in a supine position on a padded table, similar to those used for massage and physical therapy. The touch used during zero balancing is called "interface," and has been described by clients as pleasing, gentle, and relaxing.
During a session, the practitioner works on finding places where energy fields may be obstructed or otherwise disrupted. Zero balancer practitioners pay particular attention to the skeleton, which they believe holds most of the body's energy. Their practice focuses much attention on the spine, shoulder blades, pelvis, hips, sacro-iliac joints, legs and feet, as they systematically travel up the body. After treating the upper body, the practitioner usually progresses again to the lower body for a final look.
Practitioners use a technique called fulcrum, which involves using the arms and hands in a specific geometry to help access energy fields and bring the skeleton and joints into balance. Clients generally feel the touch as lifting, bending, pushing, pulling, sliding, and rotating.
One session usually takes 30-40 minutes. Practitioners typically recommend at least three sessions, followed up with regular maintenance visits every 2-4 weeks. Zero balancing sessions range from $50 to $100 each.
Certification is available for healthcare professionals who complete a combination of education and practice with the Zero Balancing Health Association (ZBHA).
At the heart of zero balancing and other types of energy medicine is the theory that a field of energy surrounds and flows through the body. Zero balancing practitioners also claim that signs of imbalances or changes show up first in the body's energy fields and are then expressed in the physical body.
Zero balance practitioners look for a set of physical signs (called working signs) from clients as evidence of progress. These signs may include certain types of breath, swallowing, facial expressions, and involuntary movements.
There is little available research on the effectiveness of zero balancing.
A qualified healthcare provider should be consulted before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) notes that in general, various types of massage therapy are thought to have few negative effects. The NCCAM lists contraindications, including deep vein thrombosis, burns, skin infections, eczema, open wounds, bone fractures and advanced osteoporosis, for an umbrella of massage-style practices as
Pregnant women and anyone with chronic medical conditions should check with their health practitioners before starting zero balancing or any other new regimens.
Zero balancing has been in use for about three decades with strong anecdotal evidence of patient satisfaction, but very little research-based clinical evidence.
This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Geggus, P. Introduction to the concepts of Zero Balancing. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 2004 (8), 58-7.
Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com
Ralston AL. Zero balancing: information on a therapy. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 1998 Apr;4(2):47-9. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017