What is craniosacral therapy? How does it work? Can it benefit X, Y, Z condition? I get a lot of enquiries about CST and have collated some of the most commonly asked questions into this post to give you a better understanding of this gentle, yet incredibly effective modality.
The body is a symphony is motion. On every level, our greatest promise for health is achieved when our body parts, from cellular to gross, are free to move in harmony with one another.
(Dr John Upledger, founder of craniosacral therapy)
So… what is craniosacral therapy? How does it work?
I often describe CST session as a full body meditation! It comprises of slow, gentle holding techniques that put our nervous system into a meditative rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) mode, as opposed to the flight-or-flight (sympathetic) mode that we mainly operate on. During this relaxed and receptive state our body’s own healing mechanisms are able to kick in. This allows our internal, cellular repair work to take place, which helps move us closer to our natural state of health.
The aim of CST is to balance our nervous system and release restrictions in our soft tissues, mainly in the fascia. Fascia is like a three-dimensional webbing, “a body suit”, that holds our us together, connecting each part, each fibre, to the next.
Injuries, illnesses, physical and emotional trauma (which we all inevitably encounter) can affect the tension throughout our body, and sometimes affect a completely different area to the original injury site. An image that helped me visualise the formation of fascial tension patterns was cleverly demonstrated by one one my teachers. She hung up a sheet, as a metaphor for fascia, over a white board. She then attached attached a peg (restriction, injury) in the middle of it. You could now see how the fibres were pulling towards the peg. Couple more pegs were added, and more interconnected lines and wrinkles were formed, all that were “talking to” each other.
CST is not only used for releasing physical ‘knots’ and restrictions, but to address those emotional wounds as well. We now know that trauma is stored in the cellular memory. Gently and safely addressing physical restrictions can also help us unwind emotionally, and increase ease and sense of wellness in all areas of life.
Who is it for?
When I am asked who can benefit from CST treatment, I can’t think of many who wouldn’t! It suits all ages and genders, even animals are known to have respond extremely well to craniosacral therapy! However, as I am not specialised in paediatrics, I don’t treat babies or children under 10yrs old.
Ongoing pain, tension, imbalances in any of the body systems are definitely indications that our nervous system and fascia are in need of re-balancing. Headaches, migraines, back and hip pain are issues commonly seen at my clinic, as well as sinus, jaw and ear aches… Sleep problems, stress, anxiety, low immune function and general feeling of being out of sorts are also commonly treated with CST.
Even if you haven’t got a specific issue and are feeling fine, CST can be the most enjoyable hour of relaxation, rest and rejuvenation that will keep you feeling well and balanced.
How does craniosacral therapy differ from remedial massage?
CST is a light touch modality, meaning that the pressure during the treatment is much less than during a massage. Contrary to the myth “no pain no gain”, light pressure does not mean it is ineffective or superficial. When the body doesn’t have to guard itself against pain, it can fully relax, lengthen and let go of tension on a deeper level.
During a massage we feel for tension or triggerpoints in the muscular system, whereas CST focuses on assessing the craniosacral rhythm, the fluid flow through the tissues. Sluggish or stagnant flow often indicate restrictions in the fascia and helps detect the root causes of a health problem.
CST treatment is often performed through clothing whilst the client is resting on their back, as opposed to massage on skin.
However, craniosacral therapy combines very well with massage and I often utilise techniques from both modalities in one session.
Is it similar to reiki?
I am not an expert in reiki so this is a little hard to answer, but this question comes up a lot so I will try. During CST treatment the practitioner’s hands are gently but firmly in contact with the client’s body as we “listen” to the tissues. As far as I understand, reiki is an energy technique where physical touch is not necessarily present (I am sorry if I get this wrong). However, during any treatment we are dealing with energy, consciously or unconsciously, as this is what all life is made of, as quantum physics has confirmed. People who are sensitive to subtle energies can often feel energetic shifts as well as physical unwinding during CST.
What to expect from the treatment?
Expect to be comfy, supported, safe and very relaxed.
Most of the treatment happens around the head (cranium), the tail bone (sacrum) and the spine that connects the two. Often warmth, tingling, twitching, or slight movement under the skin can be felt as the tissues release. Stomach gurgles are very common, completely normal and in fact a great sign that your body is in a deep state of rest. No need to feel self-conscious!
Tissue releases can sometimes bring up images, memories or emotions. Verbalising them is fine, but it is equally fine to process them in silence. Whatever feels right to you. Afterwards most people report feeling lighter, calmer, “more like themselves”. Often you will feel as I’ve you’ve been in a deep meditative state for an hour, which you have been.
How did you know where my pain was?
This one has come up a lot lately. Clients have found it surprising that during CST they have become aware of pain or tension in a certain area, and then a moment later I have placed my hands on the same area, without any verbal communication between us.
There is incredible intelligence in the human body. The inner wisdom of your body of knows what you need in each moment, and it gives subtle signals to my hands, so they know where to go. It is as if, at times, your body speaks directly to my hands, bypassing my thinking mind! Other times my body mirrors your sensations and guides me to the right area.
There is so much we don’t know about the human body, and even though the science is catching up, there is still a whole lot of wonder and mystery surrounding the human body. I am becoming more comfortable saying I don’t always know why things happen the way they do. We are a miracle in motion, and to stay open and humble to the mystery, is part of the game.
Is it ok to talk during the treatment?
There is no right or wrong way. Some people find sharing their story, feelings, sensations and discoveries helpful, some prefer to process things internally. Some dose off as soon as the treatment starts, knowing that their body will make the most of the treatment, whether they are conscious of it or not! However, constant chatting throughout the session can distract us from the sensations and awareness of our body, so some silence is often beneficial for the best outcome.
What should I do after the treatment?
I highly recommend taking the rest of the day off if possible and staying well hydrated and grounded. Be kind to yourself. Have some fresh air, have a nap, a cry, a laugh… Whatever you need. Even though you’ve relaxed for an hour, your cells have been busy repairing and realigning, and they will continue to do so for the next 24-48 hours. Similar sensations, as felt during treatment, may also continue.
How often should I come back?
You know yourself the best. Do what feels right to you. However, no treatment, CST or other, is an instant and permanent fix. Generally, if you’ve had an issue for a long time, it is realistic to expect several sessions in close proximity in order to see lasting results. Having said that, often just one treatment will improve the symptoms and a positive change is often noted.
When can I book in??
You can easily book online here or if you’d like to discuss your particular case before booking in, you can give me a call 0452265966. I would love to help you.
If you put your hands on people to help them feel better, love has to go with those hands. That’s how you facilitate transformation.
(Dr John Upledger)