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How Craniosacral Therapy Alleviates Pain, Disability, and Dysfunction by Hemda Mizrahi

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How Craniosacral Therapy Alleviates Pain, Disability, and Dysfunction by Hemda Mizrahi

Tracy Lin

Physical Therapist and Craniosacral Therapy (CST) practitioner Tracy Lin joined me on “Turn the Page” to talk about how CST goes beyond treating the physical symptoms of pain, disability and dysfunction, to address causes that are rooted in the psyche and emotions. If you’re still exploring ways you can regain your health and mobility post-injuries, illness, surgeries, or other issues, CST might be one of your “missing links.”

Craniosacral Therapy complements most healthcare modalities, both mainstream and alternative, such as acupuncture, psychology, chiropractic care, and dentistry. It can be integrated as one of a host of other interventions used to address complex medical problems and needs.

After the show, Tracy shared the following three scenarios to further illustrate the benefits of CST. Perhaps you can find yourself, or someone you know in the presenting issues.

The patient slipped on the floor while her foot was caught in the ground. She experienced pain when getting in and out of a cab, and when she was on her feet for more than two to three hours or with quick changes in direction. She also had pain while lying on her back, when bringing her left knee toward the opposite shoulder (with her foot positioned outward, which is an internal rotation of the hip).

Tracy says, “In a typical PT session, I would have focused on strengthening and stretching both of her legs, emphasizing her left hip, along with some manual therapy. However, after guiding her through basic stretches and functional strengthening exercises that she could do at home, I primarily treated her with Craniosacral Therapy with intermittent therapeutic dialoguing. She opened up about a lot of stressful situations, both work-related and personal. Her left hip pain diminished over the course of weekly or bi-monthly sessions over a span of twelve to fourteen weeks. The pain subsided altogether when we discussed her relationship with her mother, which we discovered was a primary source of stress in her body. Although she was a stoic woman, she released some emotions (e.g. teary eyes) while speaking about her mother. Her craniosacral rhythm stopped during this outward expression of emotion, indicating that a source of health-related issues was surfacing from her unconscious to her conscious mind.

Although she was pain-free for the last few weeks I saw her, she requested to continue CST “just in case the pain was to came back.” Recently, I spoke with her and she stated that she has had only a “slight twinge,” but is pain-free as far as she’s concerned.”

“The patient did not tolerate stretching or soft tissue massage of her neck by another physical therapist using “conventional PT treatment,” since it was “too painful,” and caused her to be even more “tense.” Given that the patient was consistently teary-eyed and reported that stress was causing stiffness in her neck, she was referred to me by my colleague, who thought she required a “gentler and sensitive” approach.”

“The patient enjoyed a combination of light touch and therapeutic dialoguing. She felt more “relaxed,” with less pain after the sessions, and her range of motion, along with the soft tissue tightness in her neck, improved. I was consistently drawn to the tissues around her upper left thorax region, just below her collar bone. Over time she revealed that her husband was sick and now in a wheelchair. While her husband had a home health aide five days a week, for four to six hours, the patient was very attentive to his needs. Steering his wheel chair created a lot of strain on the weak muscles in her arms and neck. The patient talked about feeling insignificant in her marriage. Her husband frequently yelled at her and had numerous affairs early in their marriage. Given his lack of respect, she felt guilty and sad in anticipating the relief and freedom she might feel when he died. She realized that she had neglected herself, sacrificing her own needs to accommodate those of her children and husband. Ultimately, she failed to recognize her own self-worth.

In one session, she pictured her chest as a black, heavy object that was “pushing her down,” preventing her from moving. Through therapeutic dialoguing and imagery that elicited feelings of contentment, she felt lighter and freer in her chest, and began to feel the spark of a yearning to “live her life.” She envisioned attending church on a regular basis and joining the choir, which had not been possible given her care-giving responsibilities and guilt. As she spoke about her “happy place,” my hands were drawn to her heart, and the patient expressed that the “heaviness” was releasing. She eventually established a positive and confident view of herself, committing to doing something that made her happy at least once a day without guilt, while her husband was in the care of the home health aide. As her self-assurance strengthened, the patient’s neck muscles became softer, with less to no report of stiffness.”

The patient was referred to PT due to increasing leg spasms that disturbed her balance and gait. She had chronic, intermittent back pain, constant bilateral knee pain from arthritis, and headaches. She walked with a cane, with a slow gait and small uneven steps due to the pain in her knees, and expressed a strong fear of falling.

I initially treated her with “conventional” PT, focusing on balance and gait activities, gentle stretching of her legs, functional strengthening with energy conservation techniques, and instruction on home exercises. In one session, the patient shared that she didn’t do most of the home exercises so that she could conserve her energy for doctor’s appointments. She reported an increase in leg spasms that “threw her balance off” and an even greater fear of falling. As she described that her left leg, from her hip down to her knee, was in spasm, I noticed that she was walking much more slowly and carefully than usual. Inviting her to lay down on the mat and relax, I tuned into her craniosacral rhythm, noticing that it was “sluggish,” especially on her left side, below her rib cage.

After performing gentle hands-on techniques at her left hip and thigh, pelvic region, the full length of her spine (the dura mater, which is the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord), her craniosacral rhythm improved in its rate and was more symmetrical with the left and right side. The patient noted that my hands felt very warm, and her tissues and some parts of her body were more “relaxed.” After the session, she stated that her left leg spasms had decreased considerably. When she stood up to walk, she reported being much “steadier.” As she departed, I observed that she was walking a little faster with more confidence, and a smile.

Depending on her fatigue level, the degree of pain in her knees, and left leg spasms, I continued to treat this patient with CST (versus conventional PT) for about 80% of our sessions for another seven to eight weeks, twice a week. After each CST session, the patient left with diminished pain and spasms, improved vitality in her craniosacral rhythm, and consequently, more energy. As a result of decreased pain and leg spasms, her balance and gait felt more “grounded.” During her last session she reported having “more good days than bad days” as a result of more developed mind/body awareness.”

Tracy shared that while patients with particularly complex health issues such as MS and chronic pain would benefit from further treatment, many are unable to continue their sessions for financial reasons. She notes however, that patients generally emerge from the course of treatment with tools and insights that result in much improved self-care.

Tracy suggests the Upledger Institute website (www.upledger.com) as a referral source for CST practitioners, in addition to “word-of-mouth” recommendations from trusted healthcare providers.

In assessing whether or not a particular Craniosacral Therapist is a good fit for you, she advises: “Find out if a practitioner is certified, or how many courses he/she has taken, in addition to the number of years the therapist has been in practice. Ask if the practitioner is comfortable with treating your condition, and if he/she has treated similar issues. Many highly skilled Craniosacral Therapists are not certified but have substantial experience and training in CST. Without seeking perfection, trust whether or not you feel comfortable with the CST practitioner during the initial visit or treatment. A good CST therapist will assess whether or not he/she is best suited to treat you and may refer you colleagues who might better assist you.”

Learn more about the benefits of CST by listening to my conversation with Tracy

Tracy invites you to contact her at www.iahp.com/Tracy-Lin to discuss your questions about CST, and explore your interest in experiencing this “light touch” therapeutic technique firsthand.

Looking at the Octahedron: Mental and Emotional, Physical and Spiritual BY WINSTON PRICE

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Looking at the Octahedron: Mental and Emotional, Physical and Spiritual BY WINSTON PRICE

#14 Fitness Post Pic

I hope you all did well in your geometry classes.  In past posts I alluded to a fitness square with the corners representing the Physical, the Spiritual, the Emotional and the Mental portions of one’s health.  Well here’s the thing.  The square is actually a Regular Octahedron.   Just in case you need a reminder, a regular octahedron is a Platonic solid composed of eight equilateral triangles, four of which meet at each vertex.  When looking at one’s fitness as an octahedron, one vertex represents physical health, the other vertex symbolizes one’s spiritual health and the square plane is where one’s mental and emotional health reside.   Marking the square ABCD (  ABCD); if point A denotes emotional health, then point C will equal mental health and the line segments joining angle BAD (∠BAD) and angle DCB (∠DCB) construct the connective measures of the angles directly connecting the mental and emotional states of one’s being at multiple points and allowing that there are four points that connect mental and emotional states to one’s physical self and four points that connect mental and emotional states to one’s spiritual self.  This structure allows for the notion that one’s mental and emotional health directly affect their physical and spiritual health; also it notes that one’s physical health and spiritual health directly connect to one’s emotional and mental health.  However, it does not allow that the spiritual and physical states are directly connected.  I contend that one’s physical and spiritual health factors are indirectly connected by the physical and spiritual states being equally connected to the mental and emotional states.  So allowing this to be true, one’s emotional and mental states are directly connected; one’s physical, emotional, and mental states are directly connected; and also, one’s spiritual, emotional, and mental states are directly connected.

I separate the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual states into two groups: Group 1 and Group 2; Group 1 consisting of the mental and emotional states of a being, and the physical and spiritual states representing Group 2.   When working on health and wellness, to make sure you are working most efficiently, work either group or both, not just one part of any group or one from each.  Also, make sure not to solely work on one group.  Make sure that both groups are worked on fittingly.  If one part or group is anemic, then the entire system and each part therein, will not be at their most efficient.  Don’t over focus on one part or group; this will cause a critical imbalance.  Over working a part or group within the system has a tendency to negatively affect that part or group and the other parts or group causing a myopic mindset and a negatively skewed viewpoint toward the other parts or group of which are not being properly attended.

I believe that a fully healthy person will have a positively balance octahedron with all points and connections equally interacting with one another.  Having a positively balanced octahedron is something I feel many people do not adequately work toward when focusing on being a healthy being.  I believe that most will only work on singular parts.  I also believe that the greatest problems people have are dealing with their mental and emotional states of health because it is far too complicated for people to have the acumen of understanding their intrapersonal natures, necessities and desires.  I believe that it is far easier for one to be able to handle their physical and spiritual health because they are quickly given feedback from their social environment to tell them what is right and what is not.  I believe we are educated socially on what is to be correct , and have quick and abundant social/civil grading on how they are by those we are a part.  It seems to me that cultures easily command to those of their populace what is physically and spiritually expectable; and have cultural rules and regulations in place to grade and critique.  However, there seems to me to be a more obscure sight on the mental and emotional grade of one’s self because they find that communicating on an intrapersonal level is far too difficult because whatever one feels and thinks may directly conflict with how one was socially educated.  Example, we are all told that we are to equally love one another no matter what, spiritual regulation by society; however, if you emotionally or mentally love someone the wrong way you are evil and improper.  We are given a proper measure of physical health, body fat percentage; however, if you believe differently and feel better as one’s self at being either over or under that measure you are demonized as an individual.  Also something that I believe puts a great strain on being mentally and emotionally healthy is that there is no rational measure.  It’s all conjecture.  We are told how to look and how to act toward others; however, we are told that if there is anything that makes us believe that what we are taught is not correct then whatever that is will be evil and wrong, and that has a tendency to our mental and emotional state, because as the octahedron dictates, our mental and emotional states of being are directly connected to our physical and spiritual realities.  It is difficult to be open and honest about one’s inner self when who we truly are, mentally and emotionally, might turn us into a demon in the eyes of our society.  It is easier to look the part and act the part.

So the point: before you enter, and/or continue, on your journey of being healthy, become an expert on your Self, your inner self.  Become comfortable with your Self and what you are mentally and emotionally willing to do and capable of doing to better understand who you are, what you want and what you are willing to do to get it.  Work from the inside to the outside.  Work on the outside to the inside. Work on directly affecting everything.


For more information Winston’s his martial arts academy please visit Internal Magnification.  

Winston Price, Executive Producer, has over a decade and a half of marketing, advertising and public relations experience. He began his business career in 1995 and is a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington. Winston also is a master martial artist and personal trainer with over 2 decades of knowledge and experience. Winston runs his own school, Internal Magnification Martial Arts, where he focuses on helping people reach their personal goals of health and fitness via At-Home personal training with martial foci of Taekwondo, Tai Chi Ch’uan, Hapkido and Ba Gua Zhang. As an executive producer for VoiceAmerica, Winston utilizes his skills in business and personal training to help new and existing hosts maximize their opportunity with the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network by supporting his hosts with the business and personal aspects of creating and developing their show. Winston believes that each host brings their own flavor to the Network. By properly coaching and motivating his hosts, they are able to produce THEIR show with THEIR style and THEIR passion being at the forefront of every broadcast.  


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