what is craniosacral therapy used for

We’ve all heard of massage therapy and facials and the many benefits that they reap. But if you have an interest in energy healing, chakras, reiki or a combination of these with massage, you may be interested in booking a craniosacral therapy appointment with Vicki at Balance Spa. This service sits on the border of massage and energy healing, in that in a sense, it utilizes both ideologies.

I, personally, have never really been exposed to energy healing in the past, so I was excited to sit down with Vicki to learn more about what is craniosacral therapy used for, how exactly it works, and when someone should book craniosacral therapy as opposed to standard massage or potentially other energy healing practices.

Here is my Q&A session with Vicki:

Q: What exactly is craniosacral therapy and how does it work?

A: I love it, it’s really powerful … The reason I started getting into craniosacral therapy is because I wanted to understand the patterns of what was causing people to have chronic pain and suffering. Massage is great for addressing some of the symptoms but I feel like craniosacral therapy gets more to the core of underlying patterns. So what is craniosacral therapy? It works with the idea that we have connective tissue called “fascia,” that [is] wrapped [around] all of our muscles and it [is] also wrapped [around] all of our organs. Our brain is an organ, it’s the most important one. That’s our central nervous system and [it] runs and manages the health of everything in our body and maintains a functional equilibrium. Over time, we have different stressors that the body deals with. They can be illness, they can be an injury like a break or a car accident, surgeries or traumas to the body as well, or there can even be emotional stressors, and all of those stresses to the body … over time they can build up. Craniosacral is the act of helping the body release those layers so that it can function more effectively and closer to its core initial equilibrium … We have our skull and our spine, it actually works down to the sacrum (the low back), and then up into the head, and then it works with the fascia connective tissue that wraps the spinal cord and the brain. And that can get restrictions in it just like when we have a muscle knot. And there’s tension there … Kinda if you think about like pantyhose on a woman and if you get a snag in it or if it gets twisted, that’s going to affect the alignment and flow of how it looks, but in the body it actually will affect the flow of circulation and fluid that supports, nourishes, and removes waste from the nervous system, which is important for optimal health. The craniosacral therapy works with releasing restrictions to the flow within the craniosacral system.

Q: Who does craniosacral therapy benefit?

A: It actually is beneficial for everybody because our nervous system manages the foundation of our entire body. But I have found working that the personality types that are going to feel the most value or benefit from it, are people who manage or are dealing with stress or they have pain and injury. Personality types that are more extreme sensation types that like a super deep sports massage will feel like it’s relaxing but they’re probably only going to try it once … because they’re not going to necessarily feel the changes in their body and that’s okay. The areas that I’ve worked with people that I’ve seen a lot of benefit and success from and people get relief from … is stress. When we’re stressed, it feels maybe emotional but there’s a lot of tension in the body, and our body kind of forgets what it feels like to be really super relaxed. The craniosacral therapy is really deeply relaxing and allows the body to remember, one, [how it feels] to be relaxed, and it also allows the brain and the nervous system to be reset, kind of like a computer … Physically, a lot of people … get headaches. A lot of people work on the computer. The face and the neck gets jammed and people get headaches and they think that they’re carrying their stress right there when it’s actually a physical alignment issue that craniosacral can help relieve. People who get TMJ or have had dental work get a lot of pain in the jaw and in the head. Craniosacral’s really great for that. Anyone who’s been in a car accident, even if it was 20 years ago, the connective tissue inside the spine can still be restricted. It’s kind of like thinking about your car gets a dent, and the dent is fixed, but maybe the car never drives right because the alignment is off and that’s something that can be very helpful for even an old injury. Anyone that’s … (speaking of injuries) broken any part of the body, it affects how we walk and it affects the alignment of the body and it can set up inside the spinal cord. Another thing it’s really, really helpful for is chronic fatigue syndrome and a lot of endocrine imbalance disorders … because those are very closely tied to the nervous system and how the nervous system functions. That can definitely help with improving functionality with some of those chronic conditions. The other thing too is kind of stress-related conditions like IBS, it can be really helpful for. And another thing is women who have had difficult child births or even miscarriages, there can be connective tissue restrictions in the pelvis, any kind of pelvis or low back pain also really benefits. Those are just some of the main things that I’ve had really good response with … If you’ve been in a lot of pain, it’s definitely worth it to see if you can get some kind of relief.

Q: What do you think is a benefit someone can get from craniosacral therapy that they may not get from regular massage?

A: The thing that I love about craniosacral therapy, is that it has a much longer lasting benefit. Massages are wonderful, we all love to get massages, but sometimes if we’re not addressing the core of our imbalance, then we’re just gonna continue to create that, “You know in a couple weeks, oh we’re gonna be in pain again.” Craniosacral really works on a deeper core level to unwind and release the restriction that is creating the misalignment that’s creating the pain, it really has a much longer … healing benefit.

Q: What are some of the most noticeable benefits of craniosacral therapy?

A: Most people feel a lot of relief, a lot of people will feel lighter, feel unburdened, and then as far as physically, they’ll feel very deeply relaxed, which sounds basic but it’s a very deeply restorative therapy. Most people are really surprised like, “Oh I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time.” And then a lot of people actually find that they have more energy or they’ll feel more balanced. Some of the benefits can seem subtle to talk about, but they make a big difference in your daily life, both in how you feel in your body, and then how you interact with your world.

Q: Why may someone do craniosacral therapy vs. reiki vs chakra balancing? What are the differences between the three?

A: Chakra balancing we did as a 15 minute add-on so people who have never had any kind of energy healing work before could get introduced to it, and then it’s also a nice addition. The chakra balancing is actually a guided verbal meditation. We’re using stones that go on the chakras (chakras are energy centers in the body). We have an energy body that underlays our physical body, and the two are connected and support each other, and the chakras have different functions and different colors. Basically it’s a guided visualization/meditation to help you learn how to ground your body and then just to associate the colors with the chakras, allow them to sort of — it’s sort of like giving a little booster refresher to each of the chakras and allowing any release to happen. That’s sort of an introduction. The reiki session actually encompasses more than just reiki, most people are most familiar with reiki through reiki circles. Reiki is one form of energy healing that has an attunement associated with it and has certain hand placements associated with it. I additionally do other energy healing both working with the meridian system … as well as the chakra system. And I do a lot of intuitive healing work. If you’re feeling more like yes, you have physical aches, but you’re having more emotional stresses or you had maybe chronic injuries that don’t go away or … I’ve had people who have broken their arms several times over the years, or they’ve been in car accidents where their neck repeatedly gets injured. To me, that’s a signal that there could be a past life injury, or past life block that needs to be released. And if you’re not comfortable with past lives, that’s ok, but even just in this lifetime, there’s trauma, there’s always trauma associated with injury and that resides in the body as energy which sounds kind of froofy, but if you actually work with the area, and work with the breath, you can release the trauma, [and] that gives you relief. That’s one example of maybe why you would book a reiki session over a craniosacral therapy session. When I work I tend to use a little bit of both, and I listen to the body and the person, and the body guides me in what the person needs that day, and I usually use both the craniosacral approach as well as some energy healing depending on what comes up. I could be working with the sacrum, and then some trauma might come up and we’ll release that, and then continue on with the craniosacral therapy. You know, if you are more comfortable with the explanation of how the craniosacral system works and that it’s tangible in the physical body, then you might be more comfortable with booking the craniosacral therapy over reiki, but honestly if you book either one, when you come in and tell me what’s going on, I’ll tell you what I recommend for what we’ll do in that session, and you can always call if you have any questions about which one.

Q: How frequently would you recommend craniosacral therapy?

A: As far as how frequent to do it, it really depends what you have going on, if you have something that’s like an injury or a lot of pain, especially if you’ve been having it for a long time, one session is probably not enough to do the full release that the body needs. Usually it will be on a case basis, but I’ve had people come if they’ve been in a lot of pain, like once a week for a few weeks, and then we’ll switch it to like once a month and then taper it off. If it’s something where you’re just like really under a lot of stress and you just need to like have some self care and like a reset, a one time thing is fine. For regular maintenance, sometimes I tell people like once a month or once every quarter, once every season, but usually I’ll tell you what I find and whether I feel like your body needs more release, and then I would recommend another time.

Q: What should someone expect when they come in for a craniosacral therapy session?

A: You can wear comfortable clothes. Just like when you get a massage, we have a sheet and blanket that you’ll be under the whole time and a heated table. If you want to wear comfortable yoga clothes, or if you want to just go down to your underwear so you’re comfortable. Ladies, I don’t like sitting in my bra, so take that off and you’ll be covered the whole time. It’s done face up the whole time and I work with the sacrum, diaphragm, chest, a little bit very gentle in the throat, and the head. And for the torso area, I actually work through the sheets and I always tell people — so most people kind of fall into like a sleep state or like a trance state; some people might see images or colors, and then sometimes your arms and legs will twitch and people are like “What’s going on? I’m twitching.” But that’s actually a really great sign; it means your nervous system is unwinding and reorganizing itself, and sometimes you’ll kind of wanna take a big deep breath, and again that’s the parasympathetic part of the nervous system that is activating so you can relax and restore. Those are the typical things I usually tell people to expect, and otherwise just come to be ready to really relax and unwind.

My Experience

After speaking with Vicki and getting to know what is craniosacral therapy used for and what the experience would be like, of course I went in for my own session to gain a better understanding. I’ll be honest – at first I was a bit skeptical. Before speaking with Vicki, from a scientific perspective, I just couldn’t place how exactly it works. With massage, it’s clear that you’re working out certain kinks and why that would leave you relaxed, but I didn’t quite understand how something so gentle could be so beneficial.

But, boy was I wrong. This experience truly was transformative. I’m not sure if it was the craniosacral therapy treatment itself that left me in such a state of bliss, or just Vicki’s incredible intuition, attention to detail and care.

Throughout my session, Vicki sensed areas where I was potentially holding back or restricting myself. This showed not necessarily through tension and kinks as you would find in massage, but instead in the way I was storing stress and energy in the way that I breathed and in the way that I was able to relax. And then Vicki tailored her practice to me, to help me release that stress in a way that would last long after my appointment. This is because by sensing which areas I was holding back and storing energy, she was able to give me useful tips for me to practice in my day-to-day life, as well as simply helping me recognize the fact that I was even storing that stress to begin with and where I was storing it.

As Vicki had mentioned as a common occurrence with craniosacral therapy, I fell asleep on the table and left feeling incredibly relaxed and ready to take a nap. This was interesting because Vicki told me sometimes people will leave feeling energized and it’s all about specifically what it is that your body needs. That night, I admittedly fell asleep on the couch twice! But the next day I had a sense of energy that implied a good rest.

I enjoyed the craniosacral therapy at Balance Spa for these three reasons:

  • Vicki is intuitive and gave me perspectives and knowledge that I can carry with me even outside of my session.
  • It gave me a chance to just breathe and relax, being very meditative.
  • I am very sensitive and massage can sometimes be too rough for me, so I liked that the focus was more on internal healing and less on working out kinks.

To book your own restorative, intuitive and deeply relaxing craniosacral therapy session* with Vicki, book your appointment online or contact Balance Spa at 561-208-8111.

* While there are very little contraindications to craniosacral therapy, please refer to this article to make sure craniosacral therapy is safe for you.