Most people are familiar with massage as a safe way to relieve muscle tension, soreness, and pain in the body — but there’s another treatment option that offers many of the same benefits and is even less invasive. Summit Physiotherapy massage therapist, Brenda Lee Germain, has been practicing CST for nearly two years. She answers some of the questions clients have before receiving a treatment for the first time.
Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a relaxing, hands-on technique that focuses on your head (cranium), spine, and sacrum (a triangular bone at the base of the spine). A light touch is used by the therapist to facilitate connective tissue release and movement of craniosacral fluid, which flows between the cranium, spine, and sacrum. Unlike massage, CST is performed while the client is fully-clothed.
What kinds of people get CST?
Everybody, really. CST can treat a variety of ailments, making it valuable for many people. It’s also a great maintenance treatment. In my opinion, it’s often best to have a team of people to help you care for your body. It’s not likely that one type of treatment will meet all of your needs for your entire life. It’s more common to see clients utilizing multiple therapies such as massage, physiotherapy, and CST.
What conditions can CST treat?
Just like with massage therapy, it’s an all-around good treatment, but it can be especially effective for certain conditions.
Headaches are a big one. I see many clients that suffer from headaches or migraines. I’ve even had instances where CST was able to prevent an imminent migraine. CST can also help with muscle tension and joint restrictions, like sacroiliac (SI) joint problems causing sciatic pain down the legs. Often, this therapy is used to treat problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in the jaw and can also be helpful in the treatment of concussions.
Something special about CST is that it’s very respectful of the mind-body connection and how emotions affect the body. I’m sure you’ve heard people say things like, “I hold stress in my shoulders” — well, you can literally hold any emotion anywhere in the body. CST can help us deal with daily stress and in some instances can help unlock emotions in the body, helping people achieve better health in both mind and body.
What can a patient expect from their first treatment?
It’s very relaxing. While massage really focuses on muscle work, CST focuses on connective tissue, which ends up being a lighter pressure. Technically, it’s considered a hands-on treatment, but it’s a very non-invasive hands-on treatment. CST is gentle, making it a very appropriate treatment for anyone and is especially comfortable for children, seniors, and people who are very sensitive to touch.
How does it work?
What craniosacral therapy does is support your central nervous system. By relieving restrictions throughout your body — by focusing on your skull, spine, and sacrum — your craniosacral fluid can move more freely, feeding your nervous system.
How will I feel afterwards?
You’ll feel relaxed, as you would after a massage. But with massage therapy, people can walk away feeling worked on, and they might feel sore the next day. CST is less invasive, so it’s less likely to cause soreness afterwards. It’s a very easy treatment for the body to absorb.
How often can I receive CST?
While you can get a full-body massage every three or four days for the rest of your life, you’ll need much longer between CST sessions — a minimum of two to three weeks, so your body can process treatments.
Can you receive massage and CST at the same time?
Yes. I find that the combination of both the muscle work (massage) and connective tissue work (CST) is the perfect combination.