No massage therapist would ever encourage someone to “play through the pain.” No respected professional would allow someone who needed help to ignore it. But what if there’s a condition that we’ve been lead to believe can’t be treated in a physical manner? Most people, for example, wouldn’t think to go to a massage therapist for hand-eye coordination problems or dyslexia or even poor digestion.
Most would consider these problems for an occupational therapist, gastroenterologist or a health professional other than a massage therapist. However, some massage therapists and clients have reported results treating these and other conditions with CranioSacral therapy. CranioSacral therapy is a method of physical manipulation in which practitioners release restrictions in the soft tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord using a gentle, light (no more than 5 grams) touch.
According to the International Alliance of Healthcare Educators (IAHE), a coalition of health care instructors and curriculum developers, those seeking CranioSacral therapy (CST) tend to fall into one of three categories.
The largest group is people with a chronic condition who haven’t been helped by traditional methods. For instance, those who have experienced back or neck pain from a car accident or sports injury might find relief through the gentle manipulations of CST. Because of the delicacy used in this method, some even recommend it for children and infants who have experienced traumas. The IAHE and other institutions even claim that by releasing restrictions in the CranioSacral system at a young age, therapists might be able to help prevent learning disabilities and other problems in children as they age.
The second group of conditions that could benefit from CST is stress-related dysfunctions. These include the aforementioned poor digestion, as well as insomnia, fatigue, headaches, anxiety and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. CranioSacral therapy is known for being a calming procedure, which makes it ideal for soothing these sorts of conditions.
Lastly, and perhaps most surprisingly, CST has been reported to help those with certain sensory disorders. These range from hand-eye coordination to problems like loss of taste or smell, certain hearing problems, vertigo and even autism.
But like any almost any treatment, CST is not ideal for every condition. In fact, there are some cases where the therapy could possibly even be harmful. If a client has any condition that could be adversely affected by a shift in intercranial pressure, they should avoid CST. These include cerebral hemorrhage or acute aneurysm, as well as certain bleeding disorders.
Yet, in general, CranioSacral therapy is a good avenue for therapists and clients looking to address conditions for which traditional methods have been tried and been unsuccessful. It’s yet another tool massage therapists can add to their arsenal to keep clients healthy, happy and returning for more appointments.