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Relieve Stress and Tension with Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral Therapy

Gina Johnson, RN, MBA, ND candidate 2018

Are you seeking more ease in your busy life? Many enjoy the benefits of Craniosacral Therapy (CST) for relief of stress and tension. This method of bodywork, available since the 1970's, was developed by Dr. John Upledger D.O. who was inspired by the early cranial osteopathy of Dr. William Sutherland in the 1930's. Today's craniosacral therapists have licenses which allow manual therapy such as nursing, medicine, massage and physical therapy plus advanced training in CST. Your therapist has a deep understanding of interactions between body structures and the nervous system. The goal is tension release and deep relaxation, a winning combo.

A 2016 pilot study suggests that Craniosacral Therapy, a form of Light Touch Manual Therapy (LTMT), appears to be a useful intervention for headache, anxiety, pain, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) [1]. CST involves only a few hundred grams or less of pressure. That's about the weight of a quarter. Yes, it seems that big benefits are derived from small change. That challenges the view that bodywork must be deep or painful to be effective.

What does a Craniosacral Therapy session look and feel like? Well, a big difference is that you get to keep your clothes on. Generally, you'll first answer a few questions about your health goals and concerns. The rest feels akin to a spa treatment. Rest on a massage table while your craniosacral therapist applys light touch to sense for restricted movement, allow stillness and support the body's natural subtle rhythms. Your mind and body drift towards a more parasympathetic, relaxed state. You may hear yourself sigh, feel gentle twitches as you unwind and hear an occasional stomach grumble. Blankets are available for warmth and some therapists encorporate aromatherapy to enhance the experience.

You are now in "rest and digest" mode, a place we should all spend more time visiting. Side effects may include falling asleep and waking with a deep sense of calm and vitality. Best of all, there's no extra charge for the well-deserved power nap.


[1] Davis, Lauren (2016). Pilot study of the effects of mixed light touch manual therapies on active duty soldiers with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and injury to the head. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies. Vol. 20 (1) 42-51. PMID: 26891636. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2015.03.006