What is the CranioSacral Rhythm?

Our body has many rhythms, many of which are subtle and not easily palpable. Each of our biological rhythms has its own rate, variability, function, and nuances that directly affect our health. A few familiar ones are the heart rate, breathing (inhalation/exhalation), circadian (sleep cycles), and hormonal cycles. Another rhythm not as well known, subtle yet palpable throughout the body, is the CranioSacral Rhythm, or CSR.  This gentle rhythm can be felt, palpated, and assessed but only after extensive training in CranioSacral Therapy.  

The CSR is generated by the production and movement of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord, also known as the Central Nervous System. If you place your hand on the back of your skull or cranium and also on the back of your spine or sacrum above the tailbone, you can feel the bony protections of your central nervous system.  Located just underneath these is fluid known as cerebrospinal fluid or CSF, produced daily by special cells in the brain. The CSF provides a mechanical cushion or buffer to our brain and nervous system, and also provides immune protection, detoxification, and nutrition to our brain.  In addition, it regulates the blood flow of the Central Nervous System.

CSF flows gently and rhythmically around the brain inside the cranium, down the spinal cord towards the sacrum.  From the sacrum, CSF returns to the cranium and is released back into the bloodstream. This process creates a regular cyclic rhythm experienced as a subtle widening and narrowing, akin to an ‘inhalation and exhalation’ of fluid throughout the body.  This cyclic, flowing, rhythmic movement of CSF is the CranioSacral Rhythm.  

CranioSacral Therapists are trained to evaluate, feel and assess the symmetry, quality, amplitude, and rate of the CSR, known as the CranioSacral pulse.  A slow, gentle, and cyclic pulse is commonly present in a healthy and unstressed body (different from all other rhythms mentioned earlier). While the CSR is generated in the cranium, it can be felt in our tissues and fascia from head to toe. The rhythm itself can provide valuable information about trauma, stress, and injuries that can affect its flow, and also impact the health of tissues and fascia when its flow is restricted. Surgeries are perceived as trauma by the body, which can also impact the flow of the CSR.  A CSR that is not flowing smoothly at the beginning of a session can be guided to flow more smoothly by the end of one, thereby improving the previously compromised health of tissues and fascia.

What happens when CSF flow is not optimal or is impeded?

Not surprisingly, the most common symptom of slowed CSF flow is brain fog or a feeling like one’s thinking process has been dulled or slowed.  If not corrected, this can amplify over time, contributing to a wide variety of additional symptoms including headaches, dizziness, and/or sinus pressure. This can even affect one’s balance and gait, and also result in back pain.   A history of mild or severe injury as well as the restriction of the cranial bones by muscle tension from acute or chronic stress can also contribute to a slowing down of the flow of CSF and the CSR. 

Craniosacral therapists are trained to gently mobilize bones of the cranium to release the connective tissue restrictions, enhancing the flow of CSF and reversing all the symptoms previously mentioned.  This release feels like a gentle relaxation of the skull and cranial muscles. The results are fairly remarkable after even one session. 

If you have a history of a mild to severe injury, a history of surgeries, chronic headaches, mental fog, sinus pressure, or back pain, you owe it to yourself to try a CranioSacral session.  It can truly improve your state of well-being as proven by decades of evidence.  CST is a powerful addition to the potpourri of stress reduction modalities and can make a significant contribution to the restoration of health. 

©April 2021, Emily Klik, LMT, CST is a CranioSacral Therapist at Ommani.  She sees clients who are free of symptoms on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment. 

Releasing Soft-tissue Restrictions to Support Emotional Well-being

Since attending my first CranioSacral class nearly two decades ago, I have had the honor of facilitating countless client sessions and discovering a multitude of ways that emotions are expressed in our physical soft tissue: from deep in our body to our skin.  This can greatly influence our sense health and well-being. On the other hand,  I also witness how physical injuries, pain and restrictions can influence mental and emotional states.  

CranioSacral wisdom does not view this as cause and effect, because we are also equipped with ways to compensate for emotional and physical pain and injury.  These compensations are essential for our survival.  I have observed, however, that over time some patterns of restriction generate consistent emotional states.  A pattern that is found with increasing prevalence is referred to as The Compression Triad, which refers to compression or tightness affecting three separate and specific joints.  Let me explain.  

Two of them directly involve the spine, and the third is an articulation or connection between two plates deep in the skull. 

The lowest joint in the back is the lumbosacral joint.  It is the connection between the lowest lumbar vertebrate and the sacrum.  Compression here usually shows up as pain or aching in the middle of the lower back, and is common in those who sit a lot.  At the top of the spine is the second joint, called the atlanto-occipital joint.  This is the topmost connection between the spine and the skull.  Compression or tightness here can show up as pain, aching, or tension in the place where the back of your head meets your neck.  The third joint is a connection deep in the skull between two plates of the skull called the sphenoid and occiput, or spheno-basilar joint.  To locate the position of this joint in your head, place your fingertips gently on your cheekbones, trace the bone of your cheekbones back toward your ears.  Just before you reach the outside of your ear, pause, and imagine if you could bring your fingertips straight inward, to touch in the very center of your head.  This central point is the approximate location of your sphenobasilar joint.  Compression at this joint can feel like a constant sense of tension or restriction in the middle of your head. 

When consistent or chronic compression is found in all three of these areas over time, depression can result which is not responsive to antidepressants (not to be confused with major clinical depression from other causes). Additional symptoms can include fatigue, loss of resilience in emotional regulation, feeling emotionally burdened or heavy”.  This is problematic because few if any practitioners or patients wouldn’t think to associate emotional symptoms like this with soft-tissue compression. 

Why does the Triad influence our emotional state and a lack of resilience?

Here are a few theories and possible explanations: 

  1. Physical discomfort.  Soft-tissue compression is painful.  Chronic pain can be exhausting to physical, mental, and emotional resources and also creates inflammation that can alter emotional and mental well-being.  
  2. Compression of these three joints reduces spinal mobility and adds tension to the connective tissue (meninges) inside the skull.  This can affect pituitary function which regulates the endocrine system including stress hormones.  This has an effect on emotional resilience. 
  3. Compression in any one of those joints impedes cerebrospinal fluid flow around the brain and spinal cord. Ideally, CSF should flow unrestricted around and through the brain. When CSF is not able to flow effectively, this slows the brains ability to cleanse itself adding stress to the nervous system.

Cranial therapists are trained in techniques to specifically decompress all three of these joints.  In my practice, I evaluate patients for the compression patterns in every session and release the compression whenever I find it. The results are miraculous.  

If you suffer from low energy, fatigue, mild depression, or anxiety, you may want to see me or any well-trained and experienced cranial therapist for decompression.  I can assure you that you will feel released, balanced, and supported with a reduction in your symptoms and a restoration of your well-being. 

 

March 2021, Emily Klik, LMT, CST is a CranioSacral Therapist at Ommani.  She sees clients who are free of symptoms on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

Boosting Your Resilience

Lets talk about resilience for a minute, and why its a great idea to boost yours.  I want to offer you a few tips on how to do this.  Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover from difficulties in life. In health, resilience refers to your ability to fully heal from injury or illness in a normal time period, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  If you were to catch a cold, would you bounce back in days, or would it hang on in your sinuses for weeks?  If you sustained an injury, would your healing process proceed at a normal pace to completion, or does your immune system get stuck in a state of partial healing and chronic inflammation?  If you were confronted by an anxiety-inducing stressor, are you able to calm your thoughts and mitigate the effects on your adrenals, or would the emotional fallout throw you out of balance for multiple days and likely sleep-interrupted nights?  I think youre getting the idea now. 

Resilience is a way to describe ones overall state of health, and how effectively your organ systems can recover from a challenge to your health. Some people are blessed to have strong constitutions, balanced immune resistance, good digestion, good sleep patterns. For the rest of us, however, resilience can be a daily intention to work toward and support, and you can start in small ways. 

One effective way to support your resilience is to receive regular bodywork.  Most people take their car in for regular oil changes and maintenance, yet do not consider their own body worthy of regular upkeep. Receiving positive intentional touch through bodywork is imperative for effective mental and physical function.  Craniosacral therapy fits this bill perfectly. Craniosacral therapy is a bodywork modality that employs gentle techniques designed to reduce the effects of stress, allow muscle/soft tissue to be more pliable and flexible, reduce pain, boost nerve function, and promote internal integration.  Patients who receive craniosacral therapy weekly, monthly, or seasonally tend to have higher resilience and faster recovery from injury and illness. A comment I hear frequently from regular patients is that they start feeling better in unexpected ways.  For example, a patient who sees me for migraines may find improvement in sleep patterns, sense function, mental clarity, emotional balance.  Similar levels of resilience can also occur with acupuncture, massage, and even physical therapy?  You might be surprised how good you can feel by receiving regular bodywork. 

Another way to support your health and resilience is to drink more water, every day. Drinking beverages with caffeine or high amounts of sugar can contribute to dehydration and inflammation.  Dehydration is a significant contributing factor to headaches and feeling sluggish. Try adding a few glasses of water daily or substitute a couple of your usual sugary drinks with plain filtered water.  You might be surprised how energizing it can be to drink a full glass of water. 

Lastly, your mental and emotional health can be adversely affected by watching too much television, indulging in social media or the news. Limiting your screen time can have a profound effect on your mental and physical health.  

May 2021 be your year for improving your resilience and restoring your health. Personally, I hope to have a hand (small pun intended) in helping you realize that possibility with craniosacral therapy. 

At The Ommani Center, we are dedicated to helping you achieve optimal health and wellness.  We would love to assist you in reclaiming your health this year.

January 2021, Emily Klik, LMT, CST is a CranioSacral Therapist at Ommani.  She sees clients who are free of symptoms on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment. 

Tis‘ the season for … Sinus Congestion!

As we ebb toward winter, autumn is usually hallmarked by the changes in foliage, falling temperatures, family gatherings, and also an increase in symptoms.  Sinus congestion has become a norm now, with many people experiencing facial restriction and discomfort that comes with both acute and chronic sinus congestion.  Many of my clients present with these all too common symptoms of tightness in their facial bones.  

My theory for facial symptoms is that in addition to symptoms of congestion that manifest physically, life itself can also feel increasingly tight and stressful.  Our outer experiences contribute to where in our bodies our relationship to stress manifests.  Mobile and unrestricted facial bones can signify a more flexible approach to life, while tightness and restriction can signify rigidity in our relationship to life.  This could be because our face is the part of our body that ‘faces’ life, a symbolic aspect of our face. Consider how it might feel to have a softer, less congested face.  I have seen patients reduce or even eliminate sinus congestion after just a few sessions of Craniosacral therapy, with improvement in brain fog in addition to head and neck tension.

Sinus congestion or compression can also decrease in your ability to inhale through one or both nostrils, which can even switch sides.  This can cause pain in the area beneath, behind, inside, and above your eyes, an uncomfortable fullness in one or both ears, and even a partial decrease in your sense of taste and smell.  

  For those of you who struggle with chronic sinus congestion, this can include a decrease in your ability to breathe effectively through your nose coupled with tension throughout your face, including around the eyes and in the cheekbones.  Usually, this kind of congestion doesn’t respond to sinus or allergy medication and can occur year-round.  

Many physical ailments, such as migraines and TMJ issues, are typically the result of many contributing factors and sinus congestion is no exception.  Potential environmental causes for sinus congestion include dust and other allergens that are rendered airborne through the activation of heating systems, coupled with closed windows to keep the heat inside.  Another source of sinus congestion includes inflammatory foods that are abundant during the holidays, which also cause changes in the bowel flora. This can cause a reactive immune response on its own, and an exaggerated one when exposed to bacteria and viruses.  This can lead to increased production of mucus along with the inflammation of the sinus passages.  Additionally, experiencing ‘stuck sinuses’ following a dental visit is not uncommon, especially if your jaw was held open for an extended period of time during a dental procedure.  Lastly, TMJ clenching and grinding, typically paired with high degree of stress can exacerbate the severity of facial congestion, and may even lead to tension in the orbits of your eyes. 

Often, the obstruction created by the above-listed causes can be tolerable.  If not relieved, this can create a ‘stickiness’ of the bones of the face.  Like any other joint in your body, the bones in your face and head can be also compressed or restricted. Like the other joints, the restriction can result in a decrease in Range of Motion (ROM), and an increase in pain, dysfunction, congestion, and discomfort.  

As a Certified Craniosacral therapist, I use gentle techniques and adjustments to assess and mobilize each of the facial bones, a process that most clients find enjoyable and relaxing.  In most cases, clients experience shifts and improvements in facial tension with each subsequent session. They can tell if these techniques will work for them by the end of the first session. Along with their face feeling softer and more open, a decrease in head and neck tension is a welcome accompaniment. 

I typically suggest a short series of 3-5 weekly sessions, then biweekly for a month or so, then decreasing the frequency of sessions to once per 4-12 weeks for regular maintenance, depending on how your connective tissue accepts the adjustments. Longer periods of chronic sinus congestion or compression may require a bit more intervention to override any established tissue memory. 

Some suggestions for decreasing the influence of contributing factors to sinus congestion:

Get regular bodywork.  Craniosacral therapy directly mobilizes the bones of the face.  Other modalities that are helpful for supporting circulation and health include massage, acupuncture, lymph drainage, visceral manipulation, homeopathy.  For many, bodywork is a form of physical medicine, and may be an effective and relaxing alternative to medication that carries unwanted side effects. 

  Contact your primary care physician if you’re unsure about whether your sinus symptoms are due to allergies or if you have a sinus infection or suspected COVID infection.  A total loss of smell and/or taste can be a symptom of COVID, although chronic sinusitis can also cause this.  You may need an antibiotic if your sinus infection is bacterial.  

Invest in an air purifier with a HEPA filter for your home to lessen or diminish the influence of dust and allergens, especially in rooms where you spend significant periods of time.  Change filters regularly. 

  Make sure you change your furnace filter in the Fall and more frequently if needed.

Drink plenty of water.  6 to 8 twelve oz. glasses are recommended daily.  Avoid intake of beverages that are caffeinated, laced with preservatives, food colorings or contain added sugar or aspartame.  

Get moving. A great way to ease congestion and get your fluids flowing can be through daily exercise. Even walking can make your body fluids flow more freely.   

Avoid inflammatory foods. Their impact can last for weeks after consumption. Make healthy, organic food choices.   

  Be proactive about managing stress.  Access the practitioners at The Ommani Center if you need support and guidance while under stress.  

To you and your family, I wish you all continued health and effective facial breathing throughout this holiday season.

 

December 2020, Emily Klik, LMT, CST is a CranioSacral Therapist at Ommani.  She sees clients who are free of symptoms on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.