Zero Balancing (ZB) is a manual therapy technique that has been used by acupuncturists, chiropractors, nurses, massage therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and holistic practitioners since the 1970s. ZB can enhance a client’s functional performance through the release of stress-held tension at the bone level. The technique uses safe, skilled touch with clear, respectful boundaries at all times.
Zero Balancing is a powerful mind-body modality that helps the client feel good on multiple levels. It is based on a wellness model, to improve overall well-being and allow the body’s innate wisdom to move towards greater health. The name Zero Balancing evolved when a client declared they felt “zero balanced,” back to the center on a balance scale, following a ZB session.
Zero Balancing bridges the gap between Western and Eastern medicine models. Dr. Fritz Smith, originator of ZB, learned to engage energy and body structure simultaneously with fulcrums along the spine and joints. The gentle curved finger pressure of the practitioner provides a still point (fulcrum) for the body to balance around. This touch releases the tension along the spine and allows the body to relax, become balanced and move with ease.
A typical Zero Balancing session is performed lying fully clothed on a massage table. The protocol can be modified for a seated session, if needed. The entire body is addressed, with special attention to the foundational and semi-foundational joints in the body. These joints, such as the spine or carpal bones at the wrist, move as a unit instead of performing isolated motion between each joint. Stress, injury or trauma can impact the movement patterns in an attempt to protect the area, which eventually can result in a pain response. When the tension around these joints are released, the body moves with less effort and greater ease. The client feels good and re-engages with purposeful activities they once avoided.
Ongoing ZB research projects during the past few years have been documenting the ability of the ZB practitioner to match the client’s state of relaxation as the session progresses. The client, as well as the practitioner, move from a state of held stress or sympathetic nervous system response of fight/flight into a parasympathetic nervous system response of rest/digest. When the practitioner is relaxed, at ease and mindful, the client has the opportunity to match the practitioner’s balanced state. This is evidenced by working signs of stomach gurgles, relaxed breathing patterns with an occasional deep breath, rapid eye movement or other various signs of relaxation in the client, which the practitioner learns to observe and follow. Practitioners, as well their clients, feel centered and grounded following sessions.
A typical session lasts 30-45 minutes, but modifications to the protocol are made based on the client’s endurance and symptoms, especially in a hospital setting. It is easy to incorporate the basic principles and ZB techniques into current treatments, for those practitioners who prefer not to use ZB as a stand-alone treatment. Once a client experiences a ZB session, they often ask for it again since they feel more balanced. It is common for clients to feel this effect for up to 24 to 48 hours following a session as their body continues to integrate the session. Therapists who use ZB in a treatment session find improved compliance, willingness to participate in functional activities and enhanced movement following a session.
Zero Balancing can be used with any age group. ZB is a safe system of bodywork, but there are some conditions to avoid or use caution, including those with fragile health, acute illness, joint replacements and recent fractures. Only certified practitioners may treat clients with cancer and pregnancy in the last two trimesters. Children and infants typically receive a shorter session as their bodies have fewer layers of held stress and tension compared to an adult. Parents often notice the ZB sessions are calming, while school-aged children seem to perform better in school when incorporating ZB as part of the typical treatment sessions. Children also benefit from the advanced ZB techniques, including work with the skull, mouth and visceral organs, especially newborns who have birth trauma or latching difficulties when nursing.
There are several levels of Zero Balancing training. A student of ZB learns the basic protocol with 25-50 hours minimum (ZB I & II classes) and can begin using the techniques within the guidelines of their training. Practitioners often choose to complete ZB certification once they see the benefits of using this technique in their practice. ZB certification requires 100 hours of core classes, an exam and a faculty checkout session. Advanced practitioners often complete a variety of advanced level classes, retake core classes to refine their skills, become a ZB mentor to beginning students or participate in regional study groups.
Zero Balancing is an effective treatment tool for practitioners to help remove restrictions and restore balance to a client’s flow of life. ZB feels good, enhances other treatments and promotes well-being. Get back to your center and live life in balance with Zero Balancing.