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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 brain’s 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.