What is craniosacral therapy?

What is craniosacral therapy?

As a physiotherapist who uses craniosacral therapy (CST) techniques in my day-day practice I get asked this question a lot!

In a nutshell these techniques generally use light touch in order to release tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance.

Here is some information about the techniques I have trained in which is via the Upledger Institute.

CST assists in the flow of the fluid in which the brain and spinal cord sit (cerebrospinal fluid). It is this cerebrospinal fluid that helps nourish the central nervous system and removes its waste products: in doing so this optimizes nervous function.

What conditions does CST address?

CST can assist with a wide variety of conditions due to its holistic approach of optimizing the body’s function. Some common ones are:

What conditions does CST address?

CST can assist with a wide variety of conditions due to its holistic approach of optimizing the body’s function. Some common ones are:

  • Migraines and headaches
  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Stress and tension related disorders
  • Motor-co-ordination impairments
  • Infant and childhood disorders (eg colic, poor suck reflex)
  • Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • TMJ syndrome
  • Scoliosis
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Autism
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Orthopedic problems
  • And many other conditions….

Who can benefit from CST?

As it is so gentle and uses the tissues as the main guide to the treatment, CST can be effective for people of all ages – from brand new born babies in the first hours of birth, to the elderly and anyone in between. It is particularly useful for people who tend to have adverse reactions to firmer methods of treatments.

What can I expect from a CST session?

Sessions generally start with a quick whole body “scan” to identify areas of restrictions.

Although gentle, the techniques may evoke pain or other uncomfortable feelings. This is all part of the tissue release process but should never feel “wrong” at the time. If so, you should inform the practitioner. The therapist may ask questions and begin to dialogue if the tissues require extra assistance to obtain a release. This is what we call somato-emotional release. Some techniques involve mouthwork, where the therapist puts on a glove and treats the cranial bones via the roof of the mouth.

Ideally a CST session would last 1 hour, however half hour follow up appointments are available – you may just need an extra session or two if you opt for the shorter appointment times.

CST sessions usually require some time in between sessions to allow the body to integrate the changes, generally 1-2 weeks. The number of sessions needed vary greatly but improvements can usually be seen after the first session already. Sometimes after treatments you can feel a bit light-headed, and generally a bit “wobbly”. If you are at all concerned please contact the clinic for advice.

In order to make more enquiries or to book an appointment with myself for CST please contact us at Willunga Physiotherapy, stating you are interested in craniosacral therapy.

Written by Miriam Bourne  Physiotherapist.

Winter Sports – Prevent the ‘ouch’!!

Winter Sports – Prevent the ‘ouch’!!

As the weather cools, the football, netball and hockey seasons are hotting up.

This often means people are running more than in the off season (when we’re holidaying at the beach, eating Xmas pudding etc).

And it also often means people are running faster than usual, cutting, weaving, running backwards the works!

To best prepare yourself (and/ or your children) there are some simple rules to follow.

1. Warm into it.

Ensure that your chosen sport isn’t a major shock to the system by, training slowly at first and allowing recovery days. Ie don’t expect to start off where you finished last year.

2. Get your Footwear right.

Training in sand shoes rather than boots while the grounds are still firm and there’s lots of running makes sense.

Make sure your shoes fit well and support you properly.

If your ankles pronate a lot (ie you have flat feet, with small or no arch) it is worth giving your footwear the “twist test”.

A supportive shoe (e.g.Asics, New Balance) will not twist much, thereby preventing excessive pronation of the ankle and reducing stress on your ankles, knees and hips.

Older sand shoes and different brands like Nike and Adidas will often twist more (offering less support).


Note: a twistier shoe is not an issue if you have good arches/ hind foot control.

For more information ask your Physio or Podiatrist which is the right footwear for you.

3. Warm Up

In the old days warming up for sport meant a slow lap of the oval followed by some static stretches sitting on the ground, whilst yawning and complaining about stuff. But that was then. Now we understand warming up is as much about waking up as getting warm.

That means we need to prepare our brains and our bodies for the movements to come.

Getting the heart rate up by running a lap is still a good start, but then we need to slowly start practicing the tasks we want to perform.

e.g. handballing, lifting knees up, jumping, hopping, pivoting, paddling balls along the ground, kicking, running faster, running backwards etc—you know the movements you will need for sport.

We start this DYNAMIC warm up slowly and then gradually build the speed.

By the end of the warm up you should have a light sweat going and be puffing slightly.

Good to go!

4. What about stretching???

Dynamic/ Ballistic stretching still has its place in the warm up regime, but static stretching for flexibility is best done after sport.

Research in the early 2000’s showed that static stretching before sport didn’t actually reduce injuries and if anything had the opposite effect!!

However, we still need good flexibility, so static stretching is best done after your training/ game as you cool down, or even at home after a hot shower.

What are the best stretches?

For running sports (especially for children growing quickly) it is most important to stretch the Calves, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors and Quadriceps muscles.

How to look after injuries…

How to look after injuries…

Acute injuries can be very painful (like twisting an ankle going down the stairs, or pulling a muscle lifting something heavy).
Doing the right things in the early stages and avoiding some common no-no’s can really help.
If you have hurt yourself, the best advice is to follow the following guidelines.

In the first 48-72 hours after injury Do use R.I.C.E.R (not steamed rice…)

RICER borderedRest: This means resting the injured area, stopping running, avoids the activities that hurt it.  Using Crutches is often helpful if weight bearing is painful.

Ice: Using icepacks can dramatically reduce inflammation (painful, swelling and pressure) after injury. A pack of frozen peas wrapped in a damp cloth…so it feels coooooold 20 mins on, then 20 mins off, every hour. The cold also often works as a good pain reliever in an acute injury.

Compression: Prevent an injury from swelling by wrapping it in a compression bandage. Leave the bandage on removing only to ice it, so yep even wear it in bed. *Ensure that it is firm but not cutting off circulation—blue toes/fingers means it’s too tight.

Elevation: Elevate the injured body part, to avoid gravity’s effects i.e. keep an injured ankle up on a pillow above the height of your knee.

Referral: So you have done all the right things but it is still not right?  Time to refer it to a physio.

The R.I.C.E.R regime also applies to a back or neck strain (when you’ve done something to cause strain).
Avoiding the following No-No’s also makes a big difference to healing time in the first 48-72 hours

Heat – Using heat packs, hot baths etc. may Increase blood flow, inflammation and bruising
Alcohol– Even a few beers, can increase the degree of swelling and inflammation
Running – This relates to any vigorous exercise that may increase the stress on the tissues and compromise the early phase of tissue healing
Massage– Is best to avoid in the initial stages of injury, as it encourages blood flow which can increase inflammation.

What about Physio??

Physiotherapists are experts in assessing Musculoskeletal injuries (it’s what we do all day, every day). Your Physio will assess an injury and help you protect it to encourage optimal healing. There may be exercises and / or positions of comfort that are helpful and your Physio will guide you in these. They will also show you what not to do….NB often stretching an injured area slows down the healing in the early stages.
Your Physio can also help decide whether an injury needs specialist input, x-rays /scans etc.