ZERO BALANCING: It's something I do now!

Some of you know I've been continuing my education as a massage therapist by learning to do Zero Balancing, a style of bodywork that uses a routine series of fulcrums and traction applied to bones and joints to create openness, stability, balance and movement, as well as a deep sense of peace. I've been interested in this work for roughly a decade now, and I'm very excited to share it with you! I've completed my core training, and I am now able to provide full, not-just-for-practice Zero Balancing appointments. Because Zero Balancing is hard to explain but easy to experience, I'm offering your first treatment for only $20 (down from $50, which is what they'll cost while I work through my multi-year certification process for now). I want to make it easy to try it out and see what you make of it. I'm not offering these appointments through the online calendar yet, so call 617-797-6995 or email me at to book.

Zero Balancing falls broadly into a massage-like category, but is very different from Massage Therapy. There's no oil, and there's no undressing. The actual work of Zero Balancing is a routine, a series of tractions and fulcrums to joints and bones with the intention of creating openness and freedom. This isn't traction in the chiropractic sense, using force to open joints, but a more quiet waiting traction that provides space for something to move and open in a new way, but will also allow anything that needs to stay stuck (if it is protecting an injury, for example) to do so. Instead of focussing on the muscles and tendons (which is what I've been doing for the past 14 years of my life), ZB looks at stuckness in the joints and bones, which we explore from a place of groundedness and ease, respect and trust. A lot of ideas from Zero Balancing about treating people this way, and little details of what treatment look like in this model have been part of my massage for years. The way I let there be pauses and space, the way I sometimes just sit with a still hold, the way I sometimes ask clients, with a few minutes left, if there's anything else that needs to be included in our work today, these are all things I learned from receiving Zero Balancing work years ago and immediately took back to my office. Some people who do Zero Balancing do it in a way that feels a lot like energy work, very light, but I learned from someone who did pottery for years, and, in the words of one of my Zero Balancing classmates, "Abi knows where she's going and just sort of takes you there." So this isn't light-nothing-feeling work.

Some advantages of Zero Balancing over Massage Therapy:


  • The client remains fully clothed and face-up through the appointment. There is a drifty relaxation possible, but if you are someone who easily dissociates or is uncomfortable with standard massage undress and draping, ZB can feel very different, and can be easier.
  • Can sometimes help with stuckness that massage can't. Massage can also do things that Zero Balancing can't do, but if you've gotten a lot of massage that hasn't quite entirely helped as much as you wanted it to, ZB might be a good thing to try.



I first experienced ZB in 2003, when Eliza, a woman I sometimes hesitate to call a colleague (she's been practicing massage longer than I've been alive), needed some people to practice on, and I raised my hand and waved it in her face like a maniac, because anything she was offering I was signing up for. We did a number of sessions, about 10 weeks in a row. Zero Balancing is notoriously hard to explain (check out THEIR WEBSITE if you don't believe me), so I'll describe my experience of it instead. When I got there, we talked for a few minutes, to establish a frame for the session. A frame can be any intention or hope you have for something to shift or change or move during the session. It can be something like "less stiffness in my feet" or it can be something like "I'd like to feel more energy in my heart chakra" or it can be "I'd like to deal with my grief". You set the frame, and then you don't worry about it after that, whatever might come up in relation to it will just do so on its own.

Next, there's a brief seated assessment. I sat on the table while she felt along my upper back, moved my arms around and then felt movement at my low back while I bent from one side to the other like an old-school metronome.

After the seated assessment comes the hands-on work, tractions and fulcrums and holds, which starts at the feet and moves through the hips, low back, legs, feet, head, upper back, shoulders and arms. The fulcrums and tractions feel gentle but powerful, like deep restful stretches that at their best echo through the body like the little concentric waves from a very purposeful pebble tossed into a pond. To me they feel more like an opportunity or a question than an idea of their own. Receiving Zero Balancing feels super-gentle but powerful, not light or boring. The English language isn't really good at this sort of thing. There's a sequence that we usually use in Zero Balancing to work through the whole body, it has a very complete feeling to it, and the sequence means that after your first appointment, you have a good idea what comes next.

Zero Balancing is different from massage from a client's perspective mostly because you are always totally dressed when you are getting Zero Balanced. Also, you are always face-up, and these two things can make Zero Balancing feel more safe, and can help us communicate better during your treatment.

The path to certification will take me a few more years to complete; I still have a bunch of training and independent study to go, but I am already amazed at what is possible with the core training, the amount of depth and breadth and individualization that the standard routine can contain, the changes that I've seen clients experience in the treatments I've done so far. I hope you make it in for a sample treatment sometime!