Massage therapy is one of the strongest antidotes to my stress and anxiety levels. Once or twice a month, I try and fit in a session. Last month I experimented with lymphatic drainage massage, a technique with an unfortunate name, but numerous benefits. This month I tried cranial sacral therapy, another light touch massage with unexpected benefits.
What is Cranial Sacral Therapy?
Cranial sacral therapy is a light touch massage that restores the natural positioning of the bones so that the cerebral fluid can flow without hindrance throughout the body. It can be done as part of a massage session or as its own session. It’s based on the belief that the body knows how to heal itself when given the opportunity.
Using the rhythm of the cerebral spinal fluid encased in the spine, licensed cranial sacral therapists are able to pinpoint restrictions that could be causing physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms. It’s similar to acupuncture in that it’s meant to unlock blockages in the body. However, unlike acupuncture, no needles are used.
What are the Benefits of Cranial Sacral Therapy?
Cranial sacral therapy can work on any number of conditions. The most common reasons why people seek the therapy are headache, neurological disorders, neck and back pain, and other chronic pain. The therapy may help you release tension so chronic that you don’t even notice it until it’s gone. For example, my shoulders and jaw become so tight when I’m on deadline that I don’t even notice. But after I left the session it was as if a weight had been lifted.
Also, you might not realize that you have muscles on the scalp that are responsible for your facial expressions. Massaging the head, which is often an important aspect of cranial sacral therapy, can be tremendously relaxing to those muscles.
Is it Safe for Children and Pregnant Women?
Yes, it’s completely safe if you see a licensed practitioner. Again, cranial sacral therapy is a light touch massage, and like acupuncture and reiki, is very intuitive. Getting cranial sacral therapy while you’re pregnant can bring relief for moms-to-be that suffer from lower back pain, sciatica, or even morning sickness. If your baby in positioned in the womb such that he’s stepping on a nerve, the therapy can help reduce any resulting discomfort.
Cranial sacral therapy is also safe for children. The therapy may be effective for digestive issues, constipation, or even some neurological issues. But you should talk to your doctor beforehand.
What Goes Into a Cranial Sacral Session?
My cranial sacral session was part of a larger massage but it can also be a stand alone treatment. Your therapist may start at the head (or sometimes the feet) looking for imbalances in your body’s cerebral fluid.
Just like in acupuncture, a pain in the knee may be the result of an imbalance in some other part of the body. When the body releases blockages it can manifest in a number of ways. For example, there could heat, or you may feel tingling, a slight vibration, or a feeling of letting go. A memory may pop into your mind or even a sensation that you’re not quite sure how to describe. Your therapist may ask you to describe your experiences in real time.
Why My Cranial Sacral Therapy Session Surprised Me
My session was different than I expected because it was so light, yet I did feel a significant release of tension. I expect only deep tissue massage to accomplish this. My therapist started at my neck checking its alignment and looking for places of tension. She then went to my feet and moved my legs back and forth looking at my range of motion. At one point, my therapist made adjustments to my neck without even putting on any pressure. It was surprisingly effective. In my case, the session was mostly deeply relaxing and highly enjoyable. I’m hooked and can’t wait to try it again.
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