Unlike Massage and Myofascia Release, Craniosacral causes a more subtle "unwinding" effect on Fascia and in that provides muscles more room to move. The movements are light, almost unnoticeable. The effects are amazing.
The first time Craniosacral Therapy crossed my path I was a busy single parent of a 10 year old. While he was really bright and could articulate all kinds of information that he took in, dissect and discuss it, my son always had trouble with writing it down. Any kind of paragraphs, essays, stories...were a struggle. Over a coffee discussion with a therapist who specialized in Craniosacral Therapy for children, my son ended up with an appointment. He felt comfortable right away and fell soundly asleep on her table. She asked me at the end of his session if he had ever hit is forehead and she pointed to the centre.
At 18 months old in his attempt to climb a big rock, my son had fallen and smacked the centre of his forehead quite hard, just beneath his forehead curl. He had a bruise and lump about the size of a walnut come up almost right away. But like most busy toddlers he cried a little and then carried on to again try to climb the rock. I never really thought about it again until the therapist mentioned it.
She said he may notice some changes in the following weeks.
Three or four weeks later was when I was stopped to really think about the impact of this therapy. His grade 6 teacher asked me what Jeff was doing at home that was different. I said nothing I could think of. Apparently he had begun writing essays, really good essays, nothing the teacher had seen from him before. That's when it dawned on me that perhaps the Craniosacral therapy had shifted something. It was the only different activity he had experienced.
Two years later...
The month my second year in Massage Therapy training was to begin I was rear ended in a car accident. I was stopped and the driver behind was traveling at 50+. I remember my head swinging forwards and backwards a couple of times and that I felt quite dizzy and spaced out. Massage Therapy, Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and being used as the model in school for how to treat whiplash, my neck and shoulders received a lot of therapy.
Part of the curriculum in our training was to complete our first level of Craniosacral Therapy. I was excited about it after the impact it had for my son. Part of training is students practicing on each other under instructor supervision. When the person practicing on me started to work around my shoulders and neck, I noticed a lot of emotion coming up and had the physical sensation of my head moving forwards and back with force. It felt real, as though it was happening, but in actual fact my head wasn't moving at all. My fascia though was busily unwinding from the final effects of whiplash and that allowed the fear and emotion from the car accident to surface as well.
Over the next few weeks the headaches I had been experiencing since the car accident stopped and the flashback sounds of metal crunching on metal eased. I had less neck pain and was sleeping better.
As a Craniosacral Therapist
I really enjoy sharing Craniosacral Therapy with clients. While I've grown accustomed to clients experiencing benefits I am always encouraged by the results they have and how it uniquely impacts them. I've pulled it out of the skill set at times when nothing else has been working and Craniosacral Therapy has usually triggered a change that other therapies I practice haven't been able to. I believe it's because of the subtle effect on the Fascia. As it loosens and gains flexibility it seems to begin a deep healing process that perhaps I didn't feel or the client wasn't aware of. Definitely one of those ongoing journeys in learning!
Gentle, slow unwinding of Fascia while also opening up any restrictions in the movement of cerebral spinal fluid, are the goals of a Craniosacral Therapy session. I often find that if a muscle is not letting go with traditional Massage Therapy, that a gentle Craniosacral hold to the area will do the trick. Sometimes muscles require a lighter touch to respond.
In our day to day physical activities our fascia can become tight and congested if we are not taking regular approaches to keeping it loose, hydrated and flexible. Emotional and mental stress play a part as well. Hunched shoulders, turtling, digestive issues... can all cause the fascia to wind tighter. When tight and congested the muscles and organs don't have as much room to move and flow normally.
Craniosacral Therapy is a beneficial and gentle approach to encouraging the Fascia to unwind subtly. When we open up the Fascia around our muscles and joints they move more freely. Fascia loosened and flexible around our rib cage makes that deep breath that stress often needs, increasingly possible. And some of the old trauma and stress that can keep mental and physical trauma in a holding pattern can begin to unwind as the Fascia does. Concussion symptoms are often relieved with Craniosacral Therapy.
While clients often go with Massage Therapy or Myofascia Release, because they are more familiar to them, I do find that many clients have better results with the slower approach of Craniosacral Therapy. It does not have to hurt to work and Craniosacral Therapy demonstrates that. In the next blog I'm going to share a couple of personal stories where I have found this treatment beneficial to myself and my family.
Chronic pain (especially in the low back, shoulders and neck), limited range of movement and flexibility, pain from old injuries or surgical sites, anxiety from recent and/or long ago traumatic events... all of these point to an unfitness in your Fascia. Holistic therapies can help!
What is Fascia
Fascia is a spider web-like, loose connective tissue found throughout the body, that wraps around muscles, joints, organs and the body as a whole. Fascia also connects all parts of the body. It has varying consistency depending on where it is located. When your Fascia is open, hydrated and loose it facilitates movement, allows good muscle function and allows all cells to communicate and function at their best. Your Fascia fitness is optimal!
When Fascia becomes congested, dehydrated and tough it causes us to lose our flexibility, limits movement and often causes pain. Physical, psychological and environmental stressors can all cause Fascia to become "stuck". Physical stress can include poor posture, lack of exercise and movement, accident, surgery... Emotional stress, often associated with muscle tension, can cause Fascia to thicken and stick. It can build up over years, and Fascia can remain tight and hard even when muscle fibres have relaxed.
It always makes me smile a little when I'm a few movements into a Massage Therapy session and I hear "You can go deeper" from the client, face down on the table. Yes, I can go deeper, but are your muscles at a point where they are ready for that? Is your Fascia ready?
Movements are lighter at the beginning of a Massage Therapy session for a few reasons. Firstly, with my hands I'm feeling for temperature changes in the areas that I'm treating, usually checking for heated areas that may be signaling inflammation. If I start getting deep into the tissues right away, increasing circulation, I'm not going to be able to check for inflammation as easily.
Clients will find their Massage Therapy session more beneficial if muscles are "calm" and part of the slower, lighter movements is to encourage the nervous system to relax and the muscles to open, allowing my hands to move in more deeply. Muscles are more likely to be "on guard" if I am trying to dig deep right from the start, and that can cause them to spasm. If you are hurting and clenching because the Massage is too deep or feels uncomfortable I will cause more damage than good. Massage Therapy does not have to be deep or painful in order to be effective.
Nature spirals in and out through the seasons … so do we. Have you noticed the whorls and circles in the trunk of a cut tree, how a cat will curl up and around itself to sleep within a tucked up ball, the spirals of sea shells, plant leaves, wave patterns in the sand left by the ocean’s waves…
It may seem in Autumn and Winter that nature doesn't continue the spiraling process but it does. The leaves on a tree begin to dry and curl until a wind blows through the branches and the tree opens and releases the leaves to the ground. Snowflakes have circular patterns as they fall to the ground. Cats spend more time curled up to stay warm but they do get up to stretch luxuriously. Nature spirals in but also opens up and releases.
The human body spirals….our dna spirals within, we have linings (fascia) around our cells, muscles, our organs, even our skin acts as a lining that holds us together. Our mind spirals with emotions that wind us up or loosen and relax us. During the Fall and Winter months we are more likely to curve inwards to protect against the colder breezes, we're more likely to cocoon indoors and wrap ourselves up, curl our posture around that hot cup of cocoa.
After 25 years I've discovered there is an area of my practice where I haven't communicated with clients clearly enough and lately it has caused some confusion. The thing about being in practice for so long is I think I assume some things that I shouldn't and it takes a few miscommunications for me to realize...ahhh, it's really clear...but only in my head...lol
The Time You've Booked - what's included
With each session that you come for you'll notice from the start that I ask you questions about how you're doing that day, what's going on and how is it affecting you. I may test your muscle movements to help determine which muscles are affected, what causes you pain, or what isn't moving as well as it should.
All of this ensures that I provide you with a treatment that addresses what is going on for you, whether it's Reiki, Massage Therapy, Reflexology or Craniosacral Therapy... Thorough assessment ensures that each session is dedicated to your specific health and wellness goals.
During a session, if needed, I will ask you about your comfort level with pressure, if something I'm doing is worsening symptoms or if your positioning is comfortable for you. I really want to ensure that you get the most from your session.
At the end of the session, based on the work we've done together I will likely suggest after treatment self-care, stretches or movements to continue at home to increase your well-being. I may re-test your muscle and joint movements to ensure that the treatment has done the work that is needed.
There is also time for any questions that may come up for you before, during and after your session. Whenever you feel the need to ask.
Why Assessment, Testing and Home Self-care?
There is a good reason for all of the pre-treatment questions, assessment, muscle testing and discussion. While I may see 5 people in the same day that are dealing with neck and back pain, you are an individual and it is affecting you in a unique way. I'm not going to treat you like the other people I've seen, but instead I will address your specific treatment needs. That's what makes Holistic Health amazing! Holistic Health recognizes that each individual is affected by and deals with mind, body and spirit issues in their own way and treatments must address that.
Read, Review and Ask
Before you come in for your session I have taken time to review notes from your previous session or have read the intake forms that you've completed online. By taking the time to read and review I'm ready with any questions I may have to fill in gaps or to ask about any changes since your last session.
As you can imagine, when seeing 5 or 6 people each day, symptoms and injuries could be mixed up and that is why I want to ensure that I have a clear picture about you and what we're working on together.
Why Isn't Your 60 Minute Session a Full 60 minutes of treatment?
Well, because of all of the above. Your treatment time begins the moment you arrive in my treatment room and part of your treatment is the assessment and home self-care.
From the moment you enter my treatment room I am laser focused on meeting your treatment needs and I can't do that effectively without including assessment and self-care. I guess that I could, but I won't. For 25 years I have focused on providing the best of myself for your sessions, that isn't going to change.
It has been mentioned that I don't offer "cookie cutter" treatments, but instead meet the individualized needs of each client. I'm pretty fussy about that.
Why Are You Charged if You Don't Show For Your Appointment, or Cancel Without 24 Hours Notice?
I value your time, I also value my time. Even if you don't show up for your appointment, I have prepared for you. The room has been set up, I've reviewed your file and I've set the time aside for you. By providing less than 24 hours notice or not showing up for your session I don't have the time to fill that space that has been set aside just for you.
Time in between each appointment is allocated to changing linens, having some water, writing or reviewing treatment notes and ensuring everything is set up for the next appointment. Your appointment begins at the time that it was booked for and ends at the allocated time, even if you're late. If you're a few minutes early it ensures that you receive the full allocated time that has been booked for assessment, treatment and re-assessment.
There are never too many and there are none that are dumb or stupid. I hope that you feel you can ask whatever questions you have. Our clear communication is really important to me.
The "sigh" is something I wait for, and eventually, in every holistic session, it comes.
That is when I know that a client has given over to allowing the holistic session to work with them on all levels (mind, body and spirit)
The human sigh, while often a spontaneous occurrence, conveys a wide range of emotions and has an abundance of holistically healthy benefits. Our breathe impacts our emotional and physical state and the sigh can encourage a state of balance.
A sigh is the body's reset button. Whether we're releasing stress and tension, relaxing, or even in the midst of a panic attack, a sigh can trigger a spontaneous reset for mind, body and spirit. Sighing reminds us to breath more regularly, and often more deeply while at the same time encouraging us to come down a little from high anxiety.
Take a Moment:
How do you feel?
You'll probably notice that your shoulders have moved down from your ears, your mind feels a little less foggy and overall, you feel "lighter".
At the beginning of a Reiki or Craniosacral Therapy session I encourage clients to take 2 to 3 deep, slow breaths as it begins to encourage relaxation. However, I know they are in a deeper state of allowing stress and tension to release, when they sigh...and they always do.
So let your body sigh...it's Good For You
I created a Gift Guide for suggestions of what can go with one of our Healthy Session Gift Certificates. You can put a Massage Therapy Gift Certificate in a basket of Bathsalts and Chocolate, wrap a Reiki Gift Certificate around a candle, hide a Reflexology Gift Certificate inside a pair of socks... lots of ideas
There is a reason to include each and every one of these, mostly it's to prolong the effects of the session that you gave a Gift Certificate for. Kind of like the Massage lasting after they've gone home!
The signage has gone up in the window and the space is all set up for you!
Clients are really enjoying this comfortable and welcoming space. Come by and see us!
The Neck. Neck pain is one of the most common Massage Therapy complaints that clients come in to see me for. It's such an amazing, flexible part of the body but when it hurts...OUCH!
Tight neck muscles can lead to pain, tension, headaches, jaw pain, pain in the shoulders, upper back and even the upper chest. There are 26 muscles in the neck that help to stabilize the upper body, allow us to look up and down and from side to side, let us bend our ear towards our shoulder, allow us to swallow and talk, and help to elevate our rib cage when we breathe.
It's important to keep these muscles flexible so you can enjoy their full function and mobility!
Technology and Neck Pain
While the technology we have is amazing, it is probably the worst culprit and what brings Massage Therapy clients in to see me the most.
Straining or holding our neck muscles as we look at computer screens for work throughout the day, or tilting the head down to look at phones and other devices, puts undue stress on our neck muscles unless we take time to care for them. If you're regularly taking breaks from computer screens and your devices throughout your day as well as taking time to counter stretch the neck muscles, you may not be having issues. Unfortunately we can get drawn into the job or the conversation and forget to take those breaks.
This Neck Pain, I Just Woke Up With It
No reason that you can think of as a cause, but when you woke up this morning you experienced severe neck pain. It hurts to move it, it hurts to not move it, your head feels too heavy to hold up... Has this happened to you?
Another reason I see clients for a Neck Massage is because of Torticollis (or Wry Neck), a spasm in the neck muscle. It's likely that your neck has been tense and strained for some time but you may not have been paying attention. While you were sleeping you unknowingly moved into a position where the strain became an intense muscle spasm and because the muscle was already strained and fatigued, it's now yelling at you. Torticollis can be very painful.
How Can I Help Your Neck Pain?
Massage Therapy can help to loosen all of the muscles of the neck, shoulders, upper back and upper chest. Clients often feel some immediate pain relief and notice increased flexibility and mobility.
A form of Massage Therapy, Myofascial Release focuses on encouraging the fascia around the muscles to loosen and release. Through rolling the muscles with the fingers, and gradually massaging in more deeply. The tightness begins to let go. Not usually recommended when the muscle spasm is acute, as it often feels too aggressive and painful.
Gentler than Massage, Craniosacral Therapy will encourage the fascia that surrounds the muscles, ligaments and joints to gradually begin unwinding. As the fascia loosens the muscles have more room to move.
Through specific techniques Spinal Touch encourages good posture throughout the entire body to promote good spinal alignment. (read more about Spinal Touch here)
Hot Moist Heat
Muscles just love hot moist heat. It brings circulation to the area and can often encourage the muscles to relax. Getting into a hot bath to soak your neck and back muscles is the best way to apply this form of therapy. You can also place a damp hand towel in the microwave to heat up and place on the affected areas.
It's important to remember that your neck muscles have probably been under strain for a period of time and they are unlikely to completely loosen with just one treatment.
Let's work together to get them loose through regular therapy, some home self-care and stretches. Once loose we can create a plan to keep them that way!