Craniosacral Therapy, Stress, and the Nervous System

Do you have an injury that is taking an unusually long time to heal? Or maybe you are pushing through headaches, belly aches, hormonal issues, or muscle pain on a daily basis?

In our modern and busy lives, many of us are operating on overdrive. Multitasking, overstimulation from technology, and constant everyday stress leaves us “on” at all times. It is now widely recognized that this imbalance can lead to low energy and chronic health issues. The American Medical Association stated in 2016 that: “It has been verified through scientific exploration that more than 80 percent of all diseases are due to stress and strain that originate in the mind and reflect on the body.”

Our bodies are wise and have the dynamic ability to adapt and help us navigate life’s challenges. Governed by the central nervous system, this internal regulation allows us to switch between high energy functions and rest. It is a highly sophisticated system that can turn “on” and “off” depending on the need. This function is intended for true “emergency” situations, and if triggered too often, can cause a variety of ailments.

Are you in Fight or Flight?

You may have already heard of the Fight or Flight response – a trigger that is set off in the body to bring you into a heightened state of alertness. Think of Fight or Flight as the siren that goes off in a firehouse – very urgent and loud. The heartbeat quickens, moving blood away from non-essential organs and into the muscular system for combat or escape. Cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones release into the bloodstream to temporarily suppress appetite and immunity. This served our ancestors who were frequently threatened by natural predators. And this powerful physiological response helped us survive as a species for a long time, effectively able to fight or flee from physical dangers.

In modern society we don’t often face physical threats but instead are subjected to complex and psychological stressors, and much more frequently than our forebears. We now live in the Information Age, with instant access to many beliefs and messages. Popular outlets suggest there are dangers everywhere – think of upcoming storms, political news, and advertisements that convince us our lives are lacking without this product or that service. These psychological stressors trigger the very same alarm system that was once so helpful to our ancestors, but far too often.

So while you try to cope with these stressors, you may be experiencing symptoms of nervous system fatigue such as disrupted sleep, digestive upset, and painful inflammation. In a culture that values success and productivity before health and wellness, we often ignore or suppress these signs. The body speaks to us, but the mind is busy getting things done, and we lose an essential mind-body connection necessary for health and wellbeing.

The Remedy: Rest and Digest

Have you ever noticed your cat or dog sleep heavily after a long and stressful day? Humans are mammals too, we have very similar needs. Our bodies have built-in regulators that crave balance. During Rest and Digest, your blood pressure naturally decreases, your breath deepens, and the digestive system goes to work helping to release waste and refuel. Rest and Digest also allows your body to repair cellular damage and increase immunity.

You may have experienced the Rest and Digest sensation during a yoga class or on a particularly relaxing vacation in nature. This is the same response that occurs during deep sleep, meditation, and prayer. Entering this state is a practice, and over time becomes both easier and more restorative.

How Can Craniosacral Therapy Help?

In addition to the basic wellness recommendations (sleep, hydration, healthy diet), there are therapeutic experiences that can help bring about Rest and Digest and speed up the healing process on a holistic level. Craniosacral Therapy works directly with the nervous system and provides a much-needed reset, known as a “Still Point.”

In a Craniosacral Therapy session, the practitioner uses very light placement of the hands along the spine, head, legs, and abdomen. Your therapist will use a variety of techniques to balance the cerebrospinal fluid within the spinal column. This fluid has a measurable rhythm, similar to your breathing and heartbeat. The health of your brain and spinal cord have significant impact on the whole body as they  constantly communicate with every organ, nerve, muscle, and joint. By bringing this vital system into balance and releasing old blockages, profound effects can be felt throughout the entire body.

The overall feeling of a Craniosacral session is very calming. Through achieving a series of Still Points you will enter into deeper and deeper states of relaxation. Many people report feeling more connected and restored after their session, the effects lasting days to weeks. Because Craniosacral Therapy allows you to live in Rest or Digest for an extended length of time, you will begin to experience benefits throughout various parts of your life including your energy levels, mood, freedom of movement, and overall wellbeing.

While Craniosacral can be helpful for anyone and everyone, it can also be used to treat particular conditions including autoimmune disease, orthopedic injuries, headaches, car accidents, tinnitus, TMJ, concussions, and many forms of trauma.

At Arogya, we offer Craniosacral Therapy as a full session as well as integrated into Massage Therapy and Reiki. Craniosacral is also a great complement to receive before acupuncture.

To learn more about all of our therapeutic offerings, visit our services page or call us at (203) 226-2682.

By Alyssa Crouse, LMT