Steph talks us through it all …
What is it about the magical modality of craniosacral therapy and why is this not-so-hyped practice worth a try…
Craniosacral therapy is an ancient modality that supports the body’s innate ability to heal itself. It’s power is in its gentleness and ability to elevate our overall well-being, which makes it an incredible resource for sustainable, mind-body balance.
I incorporate craniosacral therapy into my bodywork practice to help remove physical and emotional blocks. It’s profoundly light yet grounded, a gentle, hands-on technique that enhances the body’s self healing abilities - and completely pain-free.
Operating as its own physiological system, the craniosacral system is essentially the ebb and flow of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord as it’s producted and reabsorbed in a semi-closed hydraulic system. This creates a subtle rhythmic expansion and contraction of the body as it pulses, called craniosacral motion.
As we go through life, beginning with birth, our bodies store “traumas” as restricions in the fascia, dural membranes and other tissues. This limits its movement and therefore restricts skeletal movement in response to the flow. These stored traumas can be the result of repetitive use, emotional experiences, injury or even normal daily stressors of life. Craniosacral therapy facilitates the letting go of these held traumas in order to restore normal rhythm.
Where did the practice originate from?
Dr John Upledger first discovered the CranioSacral pulse in 1971 while assisting a neurosurgeon in a spinal surgery on a dural membrane. It was moving rhythmically, making it difficult to perform the procedure. In his research Upledger noted that the skull was not fused together as previously thought, but instead in constant subtle motion at the sutures where the bones of the skull meet. He developed the techniques to remove the tissue restrictions that serve as blocks to optimal craniosacral motion and system function. My training was at the Upledger Institute. You can read more about craniosacral therapy here.
How does craniosacral therapy work?
A typical treatment begins with my client lying down. First I feel the rhythm at various points in the body to assess the rate, amplitude, symmetry and quality of the pulse for any abnormalities. This will direct me to where in the body tension is being held. I then work with the body to facilitate the letting go of layers of physical or emotional restrictions in the fascia and other tissues. The held trauma begins to release from the tissues through my specific hand placement, intention and direction of energy. Once the block of tension is removed, it allows the affected structures to slowly start to move into more optimal alignment. It’s always the body letting go, and I follow as it softly unwinds. Because the fascia is one continuous piece of connective tissue from head to toe, addressing limitations in one area can free up movement in another.
What does craniosacral therapy feel like?
Often there’s heat or vibration as the tissues release and unwind. Clients are often amazed that its their own body creating the heat or movement - not my (magical) hands. You may experience sensation or a release in a different areas of the body that is being directly treated. Its a very relaxing treatment which resets your nervous system and will continue to process over the course of a few days, allowing the body to self-correct. I always recommend an increase in water intake, rest and emotional release techniques to help in processing and healing.
What conditions does craniosacral therapy address?
It is especially beneficial in treating headaches, musculoskeletal injury, neck/back/pelvic pain, joint inflammation and lack of range of motion. I truly believe anyone can benefit because we all use our bodies daily, we all have built up emotional tension. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t have imbalances or restrictions. Often there isn’t an awareness of symptoms until it appears as physical discomfort or disease.
How do you use craniosacral therapy in your particular physical therapy?
The techniques I use all tap into the central nervous system to allow the body to let go of any restrictions it’s holding onto, instead of aggressively forcing movement or manipulation. I provide supportive scents, sounds, emotional release techniques and chakra balancing to further support healing.
What are the emotional or energetic benefits?
Look, we all hold emotions in our tissues and craniosacral therapy provides a physical release of those emotions. I think also that mood can improve because of the decrease in stress and improved brain function. Imagine if your spine or pelvis is unaligned there would be a kink in the flow, so once alignment happens there definitely is more energy and flow.