Is your work out one sided?

skeleton and gym

Every week I see clients with one sided, tension related problems.  Sore right shoulders leading to sore right necks and poor range of motion.  Pain in the right sacroiliac joint, lumbar spine region leading to favoring movement to avoid discomfort, and sciatic nerve symptoms of pain down the leg or diffuse hip and buttock region pain.  These people are fit and active, some runners, cyclists, yoga aficionados.

I took an advanced training Feldenkrais workshop in Montreal a while back with my mentor and friend Feldenkrais trainer Yvan Joly.  We were studying the 4 pillars of laterality.  Hmmm that doesn’t even come up as a word…laterality what does it mean?

The term laterality refers to the preference most humans show for one side of their body over the other. Well, we all know about right handedness or left handedness and how our speech is a function of the left side of the brain if we are right handed and if we are a true lefty it is located in the right hemisphere of the brain.  But what about how we see (our visual field), how our head motion is influenced by our vision and  how we organize our pelvis on the right or left?  What can we do differently when our therapist says you are oriented more to one side than the other?  How can we reduce the effort we put on one side of the body and distribute that effort more evenly among all parts of the body?  That is truly where the Feldenkrais Method comes in.  Join me for my next workshop focusing on asymmetries and areas of lost or dysfunctional movement patterns in a part of the body that is often neglected in the big picture of aiding both the sacroiliac joints and the shoulders and neck.  Be the first to know when classes start up in the fall by emailing info@vivitherapy.com or give us a call on 250 886 2090

In the mean time while you are doing your regular exercise routines here are some words of wisdom written for Experience Life online magazine by Nicole Radiszewski called Taking Sides: The ONE SIDED STRENGTH WORKOUT  

Roxanne Derkson is a Registered Massage Therapist and a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner.  You can book with her online for private Feldenkrais sessions. Book in with Richard Cross Registered Kinesiologist and experience his functional assessment and guidance to a more strong and symmetrical body.

 

 

Reduce Shoulder Pain Easily & Improve Mobility

Do you experience shoulder pain, back pain or neck pain when reaching, lifting, turning, pulling or pushing?

Feldenkrais Class

I see many clients with shoulder problems and pain. Many times these symptoms can be reduced greatly by doing some simple “Awareness Through Movement” exercises that I call shoulder optimizing exercises.  These exercises are based on the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic (body centered) learning.  I am a Feldenkrais practitioner and have a Registered Massage Therapy practice where I offer my clients treatments that help inform them and lead them to better functioning bodies.

During my treatments I often include some customized  movement sequences that help regain and improve mobility of the shoulder girdle and relieve pain in the shoulder, neck and upper back.   I explain to my clients that paying attention to habitual movement patterns of their body during their work and recreational activities is something that will benefit them over their life time.  When executed regularly specific movement sequences done intentionally before and after exertion or postural demanding tasks help align the shoulder girdle connect it to other parts of the body and relieve tension that can lead to pain from joint compression and nerve impingement along with muscular fatigue and imbalance.

I am a therapist here at ViVi Therapy. My name is Roxanne Derkson and I graduated from the Feldenkrais Institute of Somatic Education in Montreal in 1996.  Myself or our Registered Kinesiologist Richard Cross can assess your functional movement and get you started on a path to stronger more functional living.  Post any questions or email info@vivitherapy.com. 

Is Massage Actually Good For You?

shoulder and back massage

Is Massage Actually Good for You?

New science sheds some light!

Article written by Katie Drummond for Prevention Magazine

We’re going to guess you don’t need an excuse to get a massage. But if you can’t afford a weekly spa trip (and frankly, who can?), you’re going to have to get really good at sweet-talking your husband into helping you out now and then. Not easy, we know. But we have some new ammo—and we have a new study from Emory University to back us up.

Over a period of five weeks, study participants received a Swedish massage—characterized by long, flowing strokes—once or twice a week. Compared to those who didn’t get the lucky task of getting massaged in the name of science, those who received massage therapy had lower levels of stress hormones, including cortisol. They also experienced big changes in immunity, including increased counts of white blood cells, which play a key role in fending off illness and infection.

And it gets better: The benefits of massage lasted for several days, and each subsequent massage offered a cumulative benefit. In other words, a routine massage ritual is superior to an occasional rub.

“The act of massage itself has amazing biological effects,” says lead study author Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. “Of course, a single session will do great things for the body, but regular sessions seem to be even more profound.”

Anyone who enjoys massage should consider indulging regularly, says Dr. Rapaport, who adds that self-massage (for those of you with a reticent beau) has the potential to be a beneficial—and cost-effective—option.

If self-massage is something that appeals to you and your budget, check out these tips from Maureen Moon, a massage therapist and former president of the American Massage Therapy Association:

Focus on your face. Relieve tension and muscle strain caused by stress, fatigue, or staring at a computer screen by working on your face, says Moon. Firmly run your fingers up and down your forehead and then along each eyebrow before applying gentle pressure to eyelids and around the temples.

Oil your feet. Using peppermint or eucalyptus oils, briskly rub the tops of your bare feet several times. From there, rub and rotate each toe and use fingers to firmly draw diagonal lines along the soles of each foot.

Give yourself a hand. Aside from being easy to do on-the-go, a hand massage also relieves tension throughout the body. Tug and rotate each finger, says Moon, and then use fingers or knuckles to draw circles on the inside of your hand.

 

 

An Acupuncturist View on Cold & Flu Prevention

The Ultimate Guide to Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for Colds and Flu’s

Tips for Cold and Flu Prevention

As the season has been shifting and the cold season starts, it’s important to keep our health in check to cope with the cold and flu season. Prevention is key.  Here are some tips to consider:

–  Have layered clothing and a scarf handy to protect your neck when that west coast wind and cold approaches unexpectedly.  The neck area is vulnerable to getting cold and wind attack, thus best to protect it.

– Taking time to rest and breathe.  As we shift from ‘yang’ active summer with many activities, we are now entering ‘yin’. The days are shorter, calling for a time to settle in for more rest and sleep to be in tune with the season.  Deep breathes, walks, gentle yoga or Feldenkrais movement can all help to increase vitality

– Add in some bone broths or vegetables broths as part of your everyday.  Simple but, important remedy, bone broths are a Chinese Medicine staple and in many cultures worldwide. Not only can it help prevent or ease colds and flus, but it is a nutritious broth with minerals, collagen and amino acids that can strengthen whole body system.  A traditional recipe adds in ginger, garlic, white part of green onion in the broth.

– Acupuncture has been shown in studies to prevent and relieve colds and flu.   Acupuncture treatments help boost the immune system by balancing, or unblocking stuck Qi, thereby enhancing immune hormones. Acupuncture can prevent cold and flu, or reduce symptoms such as chills, fever, sore throat, congestion if you already have it.

– May we embrace the autumn breeze while staying healthy. Now is the best time take care of yourself for the season ahead.  

Bone broth is highly nutritious, rich in nutrients, helps fight osteoarthritis, reduce’s inflammation and heals the gut naturally! 

Ela’s Bone Broth Recipe

INGREDIENTS IN HOMEMADE BONE BROTH

2 lbs bones from a healthy source

1 gal of water

2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

1 onion

2 carrots

2 stalks of celery

1 bunch of parsley (optional)

1 TBSP salt (optional)

1 tsp peppercorns (optional)

Herbs and spices to taste (optional)

2 cloves of garlic (optional)

 

Book with Ela Today and recieve 20$ off your first appointment! 

Winter Colds Got You Blues? Acupuncture can Help!

A big thank you to exceptional Acupuncturist Jane Hsu for this insight into how colds and flu season can be rescued by skillful Acupuncture treatments, common sense and good advice. 

Are you currently suffering from a cold or winter blues?

The human body changes just as the seasons change but if your immune system is compromised or you are under unusual amounts of stress the transition can be less than smooth. Meaning we need to to be prepared with more than just our mitts, hats, scarves and woollies!

Traditional Chinese Medicine is was based on observing the natural earthly elements and how human life responds to the seasons. It is believed that all beings as with plants grow in the Spring, thrive in the Summer, harvest in the Fall and gather in the Winter. From the health perspective, the harvest and collection in Fall and Winter is an important concept for your internal Yang Qi. The lack of Yang Qi on your body surface renders you defenseless from the cold and humidity, resulting in frequent bouts of cold and flu. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture help increase your Wei Qi and Yang Qi for cold prevention. If you have already contracted a cold this season or anticipate one or more, Acupuncture can help boost your immune system function and hasten your recovery. The human body’s constitution tends to lean towards the colder spectrum in our modern society, attracting cold and resulting in energy flow blockages in the body. This may lead to muscle soreness, joint pain, frequent bouts of cold, painful menstruation, diarrhea, malaise, depression and anxiety. Traditional Chinese Medicine helps to alter your body constitution, boost your immune system function, improving your nervous system and endocrine system function. – Jane Hsu

Your Registered Acupuncturist can also recommend foods and daily habits that will help you combat the symptoms that come on during this season.  Winter weather is challenging enough so get the help now so you can enjoy this season as much as the rest!

Book a session now.

Can Massage Help My Mother with Alzheimer’s

Recently a potential client of ViVi Therapy requested via email if her mother would benefit from massage therapy.  Here is how I answered:

Alzheimer’s is a neurological condition that would need exploring with each individual as to how they would respond to massage therapy.

There is no question that Massage Therapy and Acupuncture would have a positive effect on neurological receptors in both the central and autonomic  nervous system leading to  relaxation, reduction in anxious behavior and myofascial release.  The improvement of areas of  poor circulation can also be of benefit for a multitude of auxiliary conditions of aged care.  Craniosacral Therapy offered by our in house Physiotherapist would also be highly recommended for neurological calming and to encourage the bodies own innate harmonizing ability. The effect on the autonomic nervous system alone would enhance her well being and curtail the onset of anxiety that is often experienced with the confusion of memory loss.  

The issue lies in how your mother would accept someone touching and handling her.  I would be curious about her own past experiences with both bodywork and touch of any kind and whether she has had a positive response to touch in general over her life time.  Past traumas can factor in to the overall response someone has to particular styles of touch.  A skilled practitioner would know how to safely interact with your mother.

We often experience family members desperate to help their aging parents in any possible way and frustrated with lack of resources seeking massage therapy and other natural modalities we offer. She would be helped by regular massage and or acupuncture for maintenance of circulation to the brain in your case and other muscular skeletal conditions.  In theory this is a great idea. 

In my professional opinion as a long standing Registered Massage Therapist I feel it really depends on if during her lifetime she has cultivated a knowledge of the benefits of massage and some level of muscle memory that was pleasant while having massage or comforting touch in the past.  It boils down to her having had a positive therapeutic experience from human contact that you could remind them of.  Another factor is the environment and timing of the therapy being the least disruptive to their daily routine as possible.

I sincerely hope you find my answer helpful.  I know we can provide a great service and have no doubt of its overall efficacy. It is really just how it is received and being able to facilitate visits on a regular basis. 

Again in my professional opinion a course of a 3 or 4 weekly visits would be in order to give it a chance to observe results based on the other factors mentioned above.

Workout your hamstrings and gluteal muscles at home.

Workout your hamstrings and gluteal muscles at home.  This video workout routine is ViVi’s choice to exercise at home when going to the gym is inconvenient.  This is a great workout and I like it because most women need more strengthening in their workouts. I also like the warm up as a nice movement sequence for the legs and core.  I am modifying this workout for you with suggestions of how you can do this in your home using weights and props from around the house.  Don’t worry about the intensity if you are not very strong and agile.  Use less weight to start and do less if you need to.  Take care of yourself as you develop and increase the challenge to yourself once you feel confident with the routine and your beginning weight.

2016 is here now and fitting in the workouts we need to make the changes we want is going to be challenging at times.  I suggest you keep the free weights and kettle bell (if you have one) in the part of the house that you frequent the most.  Doing some weighted lunges up and down the hallway, or through the kitchen is a good start to a stronger gait.  In all of the exercises your focus is on executing the movements with symmetry, good alignment and keeping your pelvis level on both sides.

Don’t be deterred by this young and beautiful trainer. She is strong, confident and gives very good instruction.  I suggest you watch the video once, get inspired and get to it.   

To workout your hamstrings and gluteal (buttocks) muscles at home as directed in the video you will need:

1) Clear a space about 8 x 10 feet on a carpet or floor that won’t be damaged by weights.  Put a wide seated chair and a lower solid stool nearby.  The weight you use to start will be something you can safely lift above your head.  As you develop your strength, stamina and control you can increase the weight accordingly.  Be sure not to skip the warm up it is very important and use a rubber exercise band tied in a knot to do the side step warm up part.

2)If you don’t have a barbell, use hand weights or dumb bells  like in the latter part of the routine.  Hold the weights bilaterally and lift like the barbell. You can lift from the front or the side.  Note the stance that is important when lifting weights. Follow the instructions for reps and sets but do less if you are new to this.

3) Use the chair as the support to do the squats and touch the seat with your buttock as you squat down.  If you do not have the barbell and you can do this without strain and awkwardness try to hold the weights on your shoulders as you do the squats. Other wise use the weights holding them by your sides and squat down to the chair (preferably with no arms on it).

4) The step ups are done on a low stool or solid box type structure. 

5) After the last set return and do a few of the inch worm warm ups and feel how much freer your motion and more full bodied your power is. Do you find it easier to do the push ups?

6) I recommend you go for a run after this if you have time.  Try what ever distance you are used to or walk if you are not running yet.  Feel what the workout has done to the ease of your walk/run.  For example more lift, spring in your walk.  Enjoy your new sensation of the self.

NOTE DISCLAIMER:  This is not intended as physical therapy or medical advice and if you are experiencing any pain before or after this workout please consult your physician.  If you have any questions about this post please contact  Roxanne Derkson, a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and Registered Massage Therapist who also likes to modify this work out for at home:)

Understanding Your Shoulder & Neck Pain

Four Muscles You Should Be Stretching To Avoid Neck Pain

The most common area that I treat has to be the neck. Why does this happen so often? I believe that there are several reasons as to why, including poor posture, bad bio-mechanics and inactivity.

Many of us now work in offices with nine-to-five jobs. A lot of these offices have people working at desks, with their computers in front of them, with improperly placed screens, keyboards, mice, and chairs that are not suited for the task of sitting all day long, do not give proper support or are improperly adjusted. The head falls forward quite often due to the fact that the centre of gravity for the head and neck is just above the ear, and very slightly towards the face. Many people also sit with a rounded-over shoulders posture due to fatigue and their own postural ignorance.

image002

neck pain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the things that I most often prescribe for homecare is a series of self stretches to the sternocleideomastoid (SCM), to the scalenes, to the levator scapulae, and to the upper trapezius.

neck pain

1.I’d like to first talk about the SCM. The SCM starts from just in below your ear, off your jaw line, and reaches down to both your clavicle or collarbone, and your sternum or your breastbone. You can feel this muscle if you put your hand on the side of your neck, and look over your opposite shoulder. You can stretch this muscle from a seated position by tilting your head back gently, and reaching over with your opposite hand and putting it on top of your head. Gently pull your head and hold it for about 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch from your ear down into just above your chest. Make sure to stretch both sides, and that there is no bounce. If there is pain or discomfort, back off. If you wanted to increase the stretch, try sitting on your hand.

Another thing that you can do to help yourself with this muscle is to self massage it. Make sure that you have your head turned to the same side to slacken off the tissue. Take your thumb and first two fingers, and start massaging the muscle up by the ear. Use a little bit of pressure, but not too much. Make sure it’s tolerable. It may be a bit uncomfortable, but this is normal. If you feel like you’re starting to get a headache from any sort of massage to this area, this is normal as well, especially if you feel any sort of patterns like this:

neck pain

The X’s on the diagrams represent common areas of where the muscle may be feeling tight or sore. The red areas show where you may or may not have pain referring. It may not even be the part of the pattern shown here, but this is where the average person may or may not be feeling any sort of sensation or referral.

2. Next are the scalenes. They come off all but the first cervical vertebrae and either attach into the clavicle or into the first rib. They can cause a number of problems when they’re overused or over-tight, including impinging upon the brachial plexus. This means that if people could potentially have numbness, tingling, or achy feelings going all the way down the arm and into the hand, with nothing actually wrong with the hand or arm itself. Of course, because nothing is ever simple, you can have anatomic variations from person to person, as seen in the picture immediately below. This means one person can have a nerve impinged upon, but have slightly different patterns of numbness or tingling down the arm than another.

neck pain

neck pain

You can find the three major scalene muscles and the smaller scalenus minimus just to the outside of the SCM. Please, go easy in this area as it’s right below the carotid artery, and has the brachial plexus running right through the middle of the muscle belly. To find these muscles turn your head to the opposite side to get the SCM out of the way. Put your fingers just above your clavicle, and just outside of the SCM (the side closest to your shoulder). Breathe in. You’re now on anterior scalene. If you wanted to find the middle scalene, it’s just a bit further out towards the shoulder (laterally).

To find the posterior scalene, you have to find middle scalene and the levator scapulae (which I will describe shortly). Gently put your finger pads in between these two muscles. Take a deep breath to further expose the muscle belly. You can tell the difference between the levator scapulae and the posterior scalene by doing tiny little up-and-down shoulder shrugs. The one that doesn’t move around is the posterior scalene.

neck pain

I wouldn’t recommend doing any sort of self massage to the scalene group because they are so close to the brachial plexus; it could make your problem a lot worse.   Self-stretching is an excellent idea instead because your fingers are not poking anything that could cause any problems. As with SCM stretching, stay seated. You can bring your neck away from the side you’re trying to stretch, but just keep your head and neck moving in such a way that you’re trying to bring your ear into the top of your shoulder. No rotation is needed. You can bring your hand across your head as a way to increase your stretch.

3.I’d now like to talk about the levator scapulae. It comes off the outside, or lateral parts of the first four cervical vertebrae, and down to the inside, or medial corner of the shoulder blade, or scapula. The muscle is used to elevate the shoulder, especially if reaching overhead or if you are shrugging your shoulders.

neck pain

When people assume the typical working position at a desk, their shoulders are hunched and rounded over. What this does is shorten up the muscle, making it tight, and causing tension and pain.   Self stretching can help this by lengthening the muscle back out. While neck painyou’re seated, try bringing your chin to your chest, and then by bringing your ear into your shoulder, then looking down at your armpit. You should look like you’re trying to smell your armpit. You can use your arm to pull your head across if you like, and if you want to stretch further, you can bring your arm up almost like you’re stretching your triceps, but I prefer to just sit on my hand. It makes it easier to remember. I’m going to recommend that you not massage the levator scapulae because of the fact that it is so close to the brachial plexus and because there are so many vulnerable structures in your neck.

  1. Now we need to talk about the upper trapezius. It comes off right from the base of the skull, off of the inion, and the nuchal line. We can feel these as the rather large bump at the back of the skull, and the ridge just below that respectively. The muscle then comes down and out across the shoulder to the lateral third of the clavicle, to the top of the shoulder to just before it meets the humerus, and into the ridge that you can feel on your shoulder blade, called the scapular spine. This is the primary muscle that gets cranky when dealing with the rounded over shoulders posture that was discussed earlier. You can stretch this out by tilting your head forward gently, then by tilting your head to the side. It’s almost as if you’re trying to touch your ear to the front of your shoulder. You can increase the stretch by putting your hand on your head again, and gently pulling.

neck painYou can use something like a TheraCane (which, we coincidentally have in store!) or two tennis balls stuffed in a sock to do some self massage on the upper trapezius if you like.

neck pain

neck painneck pain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we can see from the black, red, and white picture above, if pressure is put on the approximate area of the X, you may get referral patterns in a sort of question mark pattern, with the terminus around the outside corner of the eye. Referral can also be felt at the angle of the jaw.

I myself love using deep moist heat on these muscles because it helps improve blood flow, which improves tissue extensibility as well as bringing nutrients to the area. It doesn’t feel too bad either!

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I’d love to hear feedback on what you think about these, or if you have any ideas for future topics!

I can be reached at 250-298-4484, or at info@vivitherapy.com. I’m currently available for clients on Saturdays from 9:30 to 6, or for later appointments upon request. Roxanne is also available for appointments throughout the week. Appointments can be booked easily and conveniently online here.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Until Next Time,

Kirsten

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional advice or therapy. Please check with your physician or health care provider before trying this out to confirm it is appropriate for your condition. Always stay within your comfort zone and if something does not feel right, refrain from doing the activity.

 

 

 

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The Iliotibial Band, Running, And Taking Care Of Yourself On The Road Or Trail

One of the great things about Victoria is that there are many excellent places to go running. There are good places to buy your shoes, a number of resources on how to get started and how to maintain your running style and many races to run throughout the year. Healthy and fun!

However, one of the downsides of the busy lifestyle here is that many people neglect to take care of themselves. Knee pain, especially along the outside of the knees, is common among runners, and can be prevented. Most often, I find that the reason that this pain presents is due to an overly tight iliotibial band, or ITB.

“What the heck is that?”

itb band

The ITB is a fibrous band that runs down the outside of the thigh, starting from your hip, and running just past your knee. You can most often find it by straightening your leg and running your hand down the outside of your thigh. It can be quite prominent just above the knee, where it dips in and almost forms a divot.

“Will finding this help my pain?”

Well, not exactly. Most people run in their spare time, and a great many of us have desk jobs these days. This means that our muscles, which were purposely developed for use as hunter-gatherers, are not being used in an effective manner; in most of us they are underutilized and weak, especially in the inner thigh. This creates quite the imbalance. In order to compensate, the outer thigh has to take up the slack, especially when doing something as active as running. Because of its attachment into the knee, the ITB now pulls hard on the knee as a counterbalance. This is the source of most complaints in regards to running.

I can help with this by working into the fibrous tissue of the ITB by using several different methods. I generally prefer to use range of motion while working into the fibrous tissue so there is not only an increased range of motion after your treatment, but also slackening of the tissue. This helps relax the tissue, and stops the ITB from pulling so hard on your knee. Heat is a good thing for pre-treatment, as it helps with tissue extensibility and allows for more blood flow into the area. I love my Thermophore for this purpose; it provides deep moist heat to the area and clients are able to better relax on the table.

legs elastic

Homecare is another important piece of treatment that I like to focus on, because the inner thigh needs strengthening too. Typically I like to have my clients use a piece of elastic tubing or other exercise elastic, and tie it to either a table leg or something that isn’t going to move very easily. Make sure you’re well supported and feel comfortable with the movement, remain either seated or standing. Maintain the elastic at the same height as your ankle so that you and your ankle are going to be able to handle the extra strain. Now, bring your straight leg across your body. Go slowly, and repeat for three sets of five.  

After a run or if you feel like your ITB is really bothering you, you can also ice your thigh. I do have to ask a few things of you, however. Please, make sure that if you use an ice pack it does not touch your bare skin. Wrap it or make sure you’ve got on a pair of shorts or pants that go past the knee. You can use ice itself on your bare skin, but make sure you keep it moving, you keep the ice wrapped or in a container (except for the part touching your skin of course), and make sure it’s something you can handle. Don’t use ice or ice over any open wounds or sores. These points are imperative, especially if you’re adverse to cold or if you have any conditions that would slow healing. Of course, it’s necessary to do this within your own comfort zone. If you don’t like it or you’re not into it, please don’t do it.

man chair crossed legsYou can also stretch out the ITB by bringing your leg across your body so that you’re standing in a cross-legged stance, with the foot of the side that you’re stretching in behind. Make sure the outsides of your feet are touching each other. Try and throw the hip of the side you’re stretching out to the side as much as you can, while still staying comfortable.   Now, making sure that you’re not going to fall over, lean over, and bring your arm over your head if you like, moving slowly. Hold for 30 seconds if possible, and don’t bounce. If it feels uncomfortable or painful, come out of it, slowly if you can.

This may sound confusing. And it can be, but it can be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself, and for your health and joy out on the road or the trail. Thankfully, I’m only a phone call or an email away.

I can be reached at 250-298-4484, or at info@vivitherapy.com. I’m currently available for clients on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9:30 to 6. You can book appointments easily and conveniently online by following this link.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Until Next Time,

Kirsten

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional advice or therapy. Please check with your physician or health care provider before trying this out to confirm it is appropriate for your condition. Always stay within your comfort zone and if something does not feel right, refrain from doing the activity.

Craniosacral Therapy and your Brain

craniosacral therapyAt this very moment your head is subtly changing shape in rhythm with your sacrum. 

The Craniosacral system extends from the bones of the skull, face and mouth, which make up the cranium, down to the sacrum which is the flat fused set of bones that makes up part of your pelvis at the base of your spine.  The source of this shape changing motion is the interaction between the membranes and cerebral spinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. This fluid fills and empties the cranial vault creating a widening and narrowing cycle of motion that can be detected, assessed for vitality and symmetry among other things by a skilled manual therapist. 

This vital system influences the development and performance of the brain and spinal cord, an imbalance or restriction in it could potentially cause any number of sensory (changed feeling in your body), motor (movement) or neurological disabilities.  These problems could include chronic pain, eye difficulties, motor-coordination impairments, learning difficulties, sinus problems, sleep disorders, including reduced ability coping with stress.

Craniosacral Therapy a gentle manual therapy skill can give you relief that regular massage, Rolfing and deep tissue bodywork cannot, accessing another part of your body, the central nervous system. While the validity of the cardiovascular and respiratory rhythms is undisputed today, for many decades the existence of those systems was a topic for hot debate among medical communities around the world.  Based on solid research Craniosacral Therapy has been around for more than 3 decades. For this reason the Craniosacral system (still under debate) and Craniosacral therapeutic benefits are not well known in the main stream medical community.

Over the years I have found many cases where the need for Craniosacral Therapy was indicated and the treatment proved successful. I especially have had success with improving focus and clarity of mind, migraine headaches, anxiety and stress reduction, sinus problems and sleeping disorders.  As well post traumatic stress injuries including brain trauma and spinal cord injuries respond well to it.  Concussions can present both a predictable and unique set of symptoms depending on the area of the brain involved.  Giving specific focus to manually releasing and balancing restrictions resulting from the trauma  is highly effective in treating symptoms.  Once pressure is regulated and motion between cranial bones normalized clients report an increased sense of relaxation, improved ability to cope with multiple tasks and daily activities as well as stress reduction and higher performance at work and play.  Temporomandibular (TMJ or jaw joint) pain is dramatically reduced by specific Craniosacral therapeutic techniques.

Besides balancing the bones of the skull, head and face, Craniosacral Therapy can increase an individuals vitality and improve their performance in wellness lifestyle activities like yoga and meditation.  Therapist induced still points illicit deeper breathing and relaxation which in turn brings the body back to balance and harmony including the balancing of hormones. The harmonization of the autonomic nervous system responsible for organ functions, digestion, vision, swallowing etc is enhanced by Craniosacral techniques and combined knowledge of anatomy, physiology, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Contraindications of Craniosacral Therapy and Still Point Induction: Stillpoint is contraindicated in acute stroke, cerebral aneurysm, or any condition in which changes in cranial fluid pressure would be detrimental. In cases of non-acute brain injury, tumor, or any uncertain condition a CranioSacral Therapist will exercise caution prior to treatment.  In the case of self induced still point induction the same caution must be adhered to and a Registered Therapist or physician consulted.

cranial base

Cranial Base Diagram

Some of the key techniques in Craniosacral Therapy include movements that expand and regulate the motion in what is called the cranial base.  This consists of the sphenoid and occipital bones of the skull.  The connection of these two bones in the center of the cranial vault is where the Pituitary Gland lives.

What does the Pituitary gland do? 

Pituitary Gland
The pituitary gland is a small endocrine system organ that controls a multitude of important functions in the body.  (Credit: SEER Training Modules / U. S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute)

 It is divided into an anterior lobe, intermediate lobe and posterior lobe, all of which are involved in hormone production. The pituitary gland is termed the “Master Gland” because it directs other organs and endocrine glands, such as the adrenal glands, to suppress or induce hormone production.

Function:

The pituitary gland is involved in several functions of the body including:

  • Growth Hormone Production
  • Production of Hormones That Act on Other Endocrine Glands
  • Production of Hormones That Act on the Muscles and the Kidneys
  • Endocrine Function Regulation
  • Storage of Hormones Produced by the Hypothalamus

These links to the parts of our body that control our most vital health functions such as, eating, breathing, circulation, lymphatic system (immunity), etc.

What does the Pineal Gland Do?

The pineal gland is situated deep within the brain, just below the back of the corpus callosum. The primary function is to secrete Melatonin the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep wake cycles.  This hormone on a larger scale also helps us adapt to seasonal changes.  Based on Pineal gland functions of regulating sleep and seasonal adaptations Craniosacral Therapy is often prescribed for sleep disorders and insomnia.  Try a still point inducer at bedtime. 

What is a still point?

For a good explanation of what a still point is check out this blog post “Stillpoint: A Gentle CranioSacral Intervention” by Kailas, LMT, NCTMB, CST, Cert. Ayu. CranioSacral Therapist and Certified Ayurvedic Clinical Consultant in Los Angeles