Health & Wellness

How Craniosacral Therapy Relieves Migraines, and Chronic Neck Pain  

March 17, 2023

Serenity Here
I devour health and wellness information, and love to share everything that works in my life, so you can use the same self care and lessons in yours!
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This gentle therapy has been around for awhile, but how much do you know about it?

When I was going to school to become a massage therapist, I realized how important it was going to be to move through my own – stuff. You know, the things put off to the side, that we say we’ll deal with, some other day. 

It’s easy to move away from significant events in our lives, and never fully process through them. I mean, it’s hard work. And honestly, a lot of my stuff I simply didn’t even know where to start. But I knew I needed to start somewhere. 

I think we’re all responsible for the energy we bring to the room, but for me I feel honored to be able to bring people into a state of tranquility and bliss. If I don’t have my own $h!t figured out, then I bring an energy that’s less than what people deserve. 

As I started to dig everything out, I started to look a lot into trauma. Physical, emotional, and mental trauma. That led me to the vagus nerve and ultimately to Craniosacral Therapy. 

Craniosacral Therapy has a direct impact on the vagus nerve, which is the longest cranial nerve in our body, affecting both motor and sensory functions. 

Improving the function of our vagus nerve, which is often affected by trauma and chronic stress, allows us to re-balance our body. Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a bridge between balance, and the offset of the vagus nerve. 

It allows us to retrain our nervous system, from a chronic state of fight or flight, or what I like to refer to as sympathetic nervous system dominance, into a state of rest and digest – accessing our parasympathetic nervous system.  

CST also gives the body light, gentle touch that is non-invasive, and touch lowers heart rate, and blood pressure. It also has a positive effect on anxiety and depression, along with boosting the immune system, and relieving pain. An overall boost for mental and physical well being. 

So what is Craniosacral Therapy, exactly?

CST has been around for decades, and was developed in the osteopath field, and first practiced by osteopathic physicians. Extensive studies were conducted on this therapy for about a decade, and still to this day. 

It’s a gentle, hands-on touch method that evaluates, and then enhances the function of the craniosacral body system, which affects the central nervous system. This specific system is made up of membranes, and cerebrospinal fluid that protects the brain and our spinal cord. 

With gentle, light touch restrictions in the system can be released, and this has been shown to improve the function of the central nervous system, along with digestion, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and circulatory systems. It can also have a profound effect on anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress. 

It’s used as a preventative health measure that allows the body to use its natural and intuitive healing ability to resist disease. And although we will cover just a few of the many things this therapy can help in this article, here is a list that it’s been shown to help with:

Here’s what you can expect from a session. 

Typically a session won’t last more than an hour, and it depends on what’s being addressed. The therapist will evaluate your system, and then usually target areas that both you notice are imbalanced in your body, and also what they may find. 

The entire session you’ll be on your back, and fully clothed. However, I like to add in craniosacral therapy to my massage sessions, so this can vary depending on if it’s integrated into something else, or you’re just having craniosacral therapy performed. 

Evaluation may occur below the hips, but the actual hands on therapy takes place between the head and your sacrum, with the majority of the work happening around your head – hence the cranio in craniosacral. 

The sessions are generally very relaxing, and the movement is extremely slow, gentle and guided. The therapist is listening to your system through their hands, and then releasing or guiding structures back to balance. 

If you are familiar with Manual Lymphatic Drainage, you can compare CST to the same type of light, gentle movement. The pressure is soft, and not comparative to massage therapy, where we are sinking in and manipulating muscles, and soft tissue. 

What’s the evidence? 

There’s nothing hokey pokey about this therapy, as it’s been extensively studied. It helps too that it’s been around for quite some time, which means that there has been plenty of time for research and science to get involved. 

In fact, in a study on patients with chronic pain, CST was shown to significantly reduce pain for up to 6 months following the treatment. And, specific to neck pain, another study showed the same reduction in pain lasting up to 3 months, following treatment. 

There’s plenty more studies to take a look at if interested. Those are just a couple to highlight. 

How does CST help with migraine’s, and chronic neck pain?

Craniosacral therapy is a ten step process. And each step is going to target different areas for different effects. If you’re going for a whole body reset or wanting to experience a full session, you would take part in all steps. 

However, it’s not typically how a session will move along, based on your symptoms, and what the therapist finds. Therefore, you may experience just a portion of what the therapy offers in order to focus on migraine and chronic neck pain relief. 

I love using CST for these two areas of pain because so much of what CST has to offer affects these areas. I have a Migraine Melting Massage that I incorporate this into so that it targets migraine on multiple different areas – one of which is CST. 

Since so much of this therapy is done around the head area, both migraines, and chronic neck pain can easily be addressed by using multiple approaches of Craniosacral Therapy. 

Well, what do you think? Have you heard of this therapy previously? Any interest in checking it out? Let me know in the comments below!
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