Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Craniosacral Therapy Awareness Week: What is CST and How Can it Help You?

October 15th 2018 marks the beginning of Craniosacral Therapy Awareness Week. I was fortunate enough to be invited along to Torus Wellbeing Clinic in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire to find out more about this complementary therapy, and to experience a Craniosacral Therapy (CST) taster session for myself.



What is Craniosacral Therapy?


The Craniosacral Therapy Association (CSTA) describes Craniosacral Therapy as "a gentle way of working with the body using light touch." It often focuses on the head and spine, however CST aims to work with the whole person in body, mind and spirit. 


In the 1900s, it was found that the fluid that surrounds our brain and central nervous system was essential for our health and full body functioning. Research showed that the cranial bones (in the head) and the sacrum (a big triangular bone in the base of the spine) were linked, and the ebb and flow of this fluid could be encouraged by slight movements of the cranium. 


The Craniosacral Therapist is trained to use their hands to "listen" to your body, and may use gentle adjustments to help to harmonise its natural body rhythms, encouraging the body to self-correct and heal itself. 


As CST is a non-invasive, gentle treatment, it is suitable for babies, children and adults. It can be used as a complementary therapy alongside traditional medicines or as a stand-alone alternative therapy. 




My Visit to Torus Wellbeing Clinic


After researching Craniosacral Therapy myself, I was looking forward to visiting Torus Wellbeing Clinic in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent. The clinic was easy to find and had onsite parking. Upon arrival, I was greeted by friendly staff who instantly put me at ease. I met clinic director Dr Nicola Brough (PhD), a qualified CST practitioner since 2006, who gave me a guided tour of her clinic and facilities. 

Torus Wellbeing Clinic from outside.
The clinic has an "indoor footwear only" policy, so I chose a comfy, sparkly pair of slippers from a huge selection to wear for my visit! Nicola explained that the main reason is for visitors to "feel grounded," removing your shoes allows you to become more aware of your feet touching the floor. CST is all about connecting your body to your mind, so this seemed to be a fitting way to start a visit! I was kindly offered a hot drink before being shown around too!

The Torus Wellbeing Clinic had a calm, welcoming feel throughout. Each therapist's room had a "homely" feel to it, with sofas, armchairs or beanbags as well as functional therapist's table. This would certainly help to relax anyone who was feeling a bit nervous about having a session.

The clinic waiting room.
As we walked around, Nicola explained that the Wellbeing Clinic offers many services, including psychotheraputic and bodywork services, and services specialising in fertility, pregnancy and woman's health. The clinic also has rooms to hire, whether you're a health professional looking to join the team or a group who needs a training or workshop space. Some of the classes that already take place here are Hypnobirthing, Yoga (including post-natal Yoga), Health Qi Gong and Bump into Fitness (for pregnancy and beyond). 

After the tour, we headed upstairs to Nicola's treatment room to begin my taster session.



Before the Treatment


As this was my first session, I was asked for a brief medical history and what my expectations were for this CST treatment. I explained that I would like to gain a sense of balance and calm because combining life as a mother of two (5 and 2), and a job as a primary school teacher can get quite stressful and manic at times! I also explained my struggle with cystic acne and mentioned that my posture suffers terribly with my job too. 

I was really looking forward to some time to myself, to focus on me. As most parents know all too well, these moments are often few and far between! I approached the session with an open mind. Although Nicola told me most of her clients have a few sessions to really benefit from the treatment, I hoped that maybe I really would notice a difference in my mind, body or spirit after just one session! 



During the Treatment


The room was comfortable and relaxing. The blinds remained open and there was no background music - a totally different feel to what you might expect from a massage at a spa, as some people imagine. 

CST is carried out whilst you are fully clothed, either lying down or sitting up comfortably. Some treatment with children may take place on the floor with blankets and beanbags. I lay down on the bed, where a pillow was put under my knees and a blanket was offered.


All treatments are tailored to the individual. My treatment started with a little meditation; simple breathing exercises and vocal instructions to bring me to an awareness of how my body felt and how it was positioned upon the bed. This really helped to relax my body and mind, and stopped my mind from wandering.

The therapist then started to tune in at my ankles, and used a light touch and gentle pressure to bring my body into balance. I was aware of how her fingers felt on my ankles and calves, and felt my body completely relax into her hands. 

Treatment room.
Nicola then moved up to my head, using various holds, gentle movements and pressure to come into relationship with the bones in my cranium. I can honestly tell you, that I felt my body give itself over to the therapy. I felt so calm and relaxed that my head felt heavy, like it was sinking slowly into quicksand! 

As she worked, finally moving to my shoulders, I felt all the tension I was holding in my body release and my whole body felt warm and tingly! A bit like that delicious sensation you get when you slide into a highly-anticipated warm bubble bath surrounded by low lighting and candles! No, really... I mean it! 


As I lay there for the final moments of my taster treatment (approximately 20 minutes hands-on time), I felt an overall sense of calm and peacefulness. It's hard to describe it, but imagine pebbles being rolled around in the waves, tumbling gently, being taken with the motion of the water? THAT is how I felt! I didn't want to move! It's during this relaxed state that the body listens to itself and begins to make the necessary changes it needs to achieve balance and to help restore its potential for good health. 



After the Treatment


After the treatment, Nicola advised me to take my time to get up slowly. She asked how I felt and checked that I didn't feel dizzy. Because the treatment focuses on the fluids in your central nervous system, sometimes you can feel light-headed, unsteady or feel "liquid" type sensations, as your body seeks to realign itself. I also noticed that the headache that had been brewing all morning had disappeared! I was advised to drink plenty of water, and try to be "aware" of my body and how it felt throughout the remainder of the day. I was also told to call if I developed a persistent headache or anything unusual. 
Treatment room.
That night, I felt quite tired so had an early night. As I lay in my bed, I tried to use the techniques Nicola had talked me through to feel calm and peaceful, and bring that awareness of my own body to myself. I was really relaxed and ended up sleeping really well! 

CST at Torus Wellbeing Clinic


I talked to Nicola about the work she does, and how it can help her clients. She briefly explained how her CST therapy services might help adults with mental health related issues, stress or chronic pain for example, and explained how just being overwhelmed with a busy life could lead to us "living inside our head," not giving full attention to our body as a whole. Her therapy would help the client reconnect their body with their mind, by gently tuning in to the flow of fluid from the nervous system, which facilitates neurological functions and encourage the body to self-repair.

Nicola also provides CST for whole families, mothers, babies, and children of all ages. The clinic offers expectant mothers CST to relax and rejuvenate and help to stay calm during the birth. The therapy is extended to post-birth to help recuperation and exhaustion. If you and your baby have suffered a traumatic birth, Nicola offers therapy to help realign and reconnect with yourselves, so you can build a closer bond with your baby. CST can also help babies who are restless and irritable, those with feeding or digestive disorders, and physical issues such as asymmetry of the head and torticolis. These may be as a result of craniosacral imbalances caused during the birth process, which Nicola seeks to correct by working manually with the body's natural healing mechanisms.
Torus Wellbeing Clinic provides CST to babies and children.
Nicola told me about her work with children with ASD (Autistic Spectum Disorders) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Children with these conditions can benefit greatly from CST; they may find that they have greater levels of tolerance and understanding within themselves, and decrease in the tension and chaos they experience, allowing them to find balance in the world around them.

Nicola was awarded a PhD from Warwick Medical School, Division of Health Sciences for her research into Craniosacral Therapy outcomes in 2017. She was also awarded a Masters in Philosophy for her outstanding work on her Masters by ResearchI could have listened to Nicola all day! Craniosacral Therapy really is fascinating - it's no wonder she wants more people to know about all the benefits it can provide!


If you'd like anymore information on how Tourus Wellbeing Clinic may be able to help you, contact them via their website, Facebook page or via phone/email. You'll find all the contact details on the website.



How Can CST Help You?


CST can be used to treat a variety of different conditions such as migraines, chronic neck and back pain, stress and tension, problems with motor-control and coordination, a range of infant and childhood disorders, brain and spinal chord injuries, PTSD, orthopaedic issues, chronic fatigue, mental health related issues and much more!


Whether you suffer from the daily stresses of a busy life, or you have an acute or chronic physical or mental health issue, Craniosacral Therapy could help you. Our emotional and physical wellbeing can become compromised in so many ways. As The Craniosacral Therapy Association (CSTA) explains,

"We may be triggered into a fight or flight stress response more often than we think. Parts of our bodies contract as we adopt defensive postures, our breathing gets quicker, and our digestive systems shut down. Our immune systems also become compromised and we struggle to think clearly when in 'survival mode'. CST can help us shift into a more relaxed state of being where we can start to function more optimally on every level."

Real - Life Experiences


I wanted to find out a bit more about how CST had helped others, so I asked the blogging community about their positive experiences.

Hollie from Clover and Tonic describes how CST helped with breastfeeding her newborn:

"Before having my youngest I won in a raffle a private session with a breastfeeding and craniosacral therapist. When Ted arrived I was in agony trying to get him to feed and he just kept unlatching. I contacted the therapist and she came straight round (it was 10pm on a Friday night!). She took one look at him and asked if his shoulder had got a bit stuck during birth - it had! She held him and twisted his head to a side and suddenly his neck was much looser and he finally latched and stayed on! She was a life saver that night as I was past it with pain and exhaustion. It wasn’t a therapy I was aware of before winning the prize in a raffle but I’d highly recommend it."

Jenni from The Bear and The Fox explains how CST helped her tense baby begin to relax:

"My eldest son was a really tense baby, who suffered from colic, slept little, and was always clenching his little fists. Eventually, on recommendation from my midwife, who thought it may be related to the stress that had been put on his head and neck during the birth (his head had gotten stuck and they had to do an episiotomy to get him out), I took him to see a craniosacral therapist when he was a couple months old. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first, but at that point I was willing to try anything. The difference after a few sessions was amazing! I wouldn't say he was like a completely different baby - he's almost 8 now and still a terrible sleeper - but he was definitely a lot more relaxed and stopped tensing up and clenching his fists all the time. I only wished I had taken him sooner."

Emma from The Money Whisperer

"My eldest had torticolis as a baby - she held herself a bit like a banana. CST was brilliant for straightening her out and she would sleep for hours afterwards. When she would have a growth spurt for the next 5 years, I would notice her head tilting again - nerves don’t grow as quick as the rest of the body. I would take her to the CST with every growth spurt and she helped hugely."
"My daughter had had her neck extended and I ended up with an emergency C section after failed Ventouse. I would totally recommend anyone who didn’t have a straightforward birth to visit a CST with their baby. It’s so gentle it’s almost like they aren’t doing anything, but it can make a huge difference to the development of a baby who has experienced a traumatic delivery."

Have you ever had CST? Why did you have it and what were the benefits? I'd love to know! Why not leave me a comment below and help to spread the word about how Craniosacral Therapy can help others.



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Finding joy in the little things: I like to end all my posts with a bit of consideration to the little things in life that bring me joy. This one is easy! Quite simply, I got to spend some quality time to myself...on my own...focused on me! How often does this happen as a mum of two? Well, not very often to be honest! Visiting the clinic today really brought home to me just how important self-care is to our overall health and wellbeing. Make sure you spend a little time on yourself, as often as you can. Your body (and family) will thank you for it!


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***I was offered a guided tour and a complimentary taster treatment courtesy of Torus Wellbeing Clinic, in exchange for a post to help promote Craniosacral Therapy Awareness Week and the work undertaken at the clinic. All opinions are my own, unless otherwise stated.***


I'm linking up this post with these fabulous blogs:

Confessions of a New Mummy    JakiJellz    Cuddle Fairy   Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
I’m also taking part in the Mummy Monday linky with Becca from Becca Blogs It Out

9 comments:

  1. We took the twins for a few sessions of CST when they were babies. It didn't make much difference to their colic, but they certainly seemed relaxed during the sessions! #MummyMonday

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  2. I felt relaxed just reading this. I'm just outside of Stoke-on-Trent and will definitely check CST at the Torus Wellbeing Centre out.

    #MummyMonday

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  3. It sounds like bliss, I have been having awful back pain for over six months now and have been going to an osteopath for treatment. I have never heard of it before so I'm glad I've read your post as I'm a big believer in self-care - when I can find the time of course! Thanks for the read #itsok

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  4. I’ve been meaning to attend a session like this for a long time. As a migraine and vertigo sufferer amongst other things. I really think it’s worth a shot. Thanks for this review. It’s really informative.

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  5. This sounds like exactly what I need in my life! I have terrible back ache as a result of a weak core from 4 pregnancies and three c-sections in 5 years, and my posture is rubbish as a result. i think this could be just the thing to help straighten me out!Thanks for linking up to #ItsOK xx

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  6. This is a really useful post, thanks for sharing with the #itsok linky.

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  7. I have never heard of this before. A really informative post. Thanks for joining in with #TriumphantTales.

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  8. I have never heard of this. It made me feel relaxed just reading about it. #KCACOLS

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  9. I think I need to try this, it sounds amazing! I've had complementary therapies before and have found them helpful. Thanks for linking up #twinklytuesday

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