Berrywork is a method of physical therapy. It is a combination of corrective stretches and massage techniques involving the cartilage and tissue just below the skin, called fascia. Berrywork, popularly known as the Berry Method, focuses on the tissue that surrounds the muscles, joints, nerves, and blood vessels, and stimulates the body toward self-correction and balance.
Berrywork does not involve simply the rubbing and massaging of the skin, but the gentle and subtle shifting of the tissue around the organs and muscles back into place. This shifting and stretching slowly forces the body back into its natural state, and is supposed to restore proper balance. Berrywork has been known to heal ailments as far ranging as sinus problems, weak bladders, frozen shoulders, and hernias.
Berrywork heals the body through soft tissue manipulation. These techniques, popular in Sweden for centuries, consist of gentle massages. These massages work to relieve spasms, correct distortions, and heal skeletal muscles and organs. Berrywork often applies a mechanical understanding of the body, and a precise working of joints and muscles back into place through easy massage and slow, strong movements.
This working is known as muscle and organ positioning, and showed the mechanical side of Berry’s method. Berry believed that the body had a memory, and that it tried to bring itself back to a normal, healthy state, and so would allow the re-positioning of muscles and organs into place through massaging. Berry believed that the distortion of the inner components of the body, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, led to the major mechanical problems of the rest of the body, most importantly the spine.
Berrywork was developed by Lauren Berry, Sr., a registered physical therapist who often thought of himself as a body “mechanic.” Berry looked at the body as an engineering project with a structural problem that had to be fixed. He first learned from a neighboring doctor as a child, and soon began treating family and friends with his massage methods. After studying anatomy, physiology, autopsy rooms, and cadavers, Berry soon developed his method into an organized practice.
The Berrywork method evolved after Berry’s death in 1983 with the Institute of Integral Health, Inc. The institute was originally begun by seven of Berry’s advanced students who learned from and worked with the founder before his death. Berrywork is primarily taught at the University of Berkeley and is only certified through a five-year program. There are, however, many workshops throughout the world that teach the main tenets of the Berry Method. These provide individual training on specific, common injury sites throughout the body, such as the knee and ankle, two of the joints most famously corrected through Berrywork.