Chronic pain? Stress? Headaches? Craniosacral Therapy May Help!

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If you’re still in pain, and have tried all of the traditional approaches, maybe it’s time to try something different!

Juliette Woodruff

Over the years I have been interested in the practice of craniosacral therapy but what prompted me to fully commit to bring this technique into my practice was my own experience with injury and recovery.  Up until recently I have been fortunate, despite a physical profession and competing in sports, most of my injuries did not last.  Having surgery and a car accident changed all of that.  It left me with pain that wouldn’t go away.  Traditional treatment helped, but like many of my clients I found that what I wanted was the quickest relief from pain and to return to a normal life.

The rehab process is a journey and sometimes a long one. I knew I was improving but the chronic discomfort was wearing me down.  I knew I needed to add something to the excellent care I had received by physiotherapist and chiropractor.  As I reflected on what I could do, I remembered a treatment that I had for a problem with my right hip a few years ago. It was unlike any therapy I had experienced, and the feeling of weightlessness was amazing especially since it felt like the therapist was doing nothing at the time. There was no massage, no stretching just this amazing sense of lightness and heat coming from the still hands of my therapist.

I decided to contact an experienced craniosacral therapist and book in.  Within a few treatments that nagging, unrelenting discomfort began to abate. I was hooked and began to explore it further to incorporate into treatments to enhance therapy results. I have been taking courses over the last couple of months with the Canadian guru of craniosacral therapy, Robert Harris, receiving a certificate in advanced craniosacral.  I am excited to have this technique to offer my clients and to further pursue knowledge in this area.

Craniosacral therapy and Echolocation

Craniosacral techniques are based on following the body’s signals as it tries to self-correct.  Using this approach, even hidden problems become accessible when you know how to follow the cues and let them show you where to work. In CST, the practitioner aligns themselves with the body’s attempt to heal itself naturally.

I have had many clients ask me how craniosacral treatment works and what I feel in the treatment. I have to say it’s an unusual feeling and it’s difficult to explain, however the closest I can come is to compare it to the sensitivity of BATS!

Bats have this amazing ability to navigate in the dark.  They use tiny vibrations (echolocation) to feel the world around them and to navigate through it.  They emit sounds at a specific frequency, amplitude, and intensity, which creates an echo allowing them to “see” the objects around them.

As a practitioner, I use the craniosacral rhythm as my own form of echolocation. My hands sense the craniosacral rhythm of your body, allowing me to feel changes in subtle, fine movements, letting me locate the restrictions.

Who Benefits from Craniosacral therapy?

Craniosacral therapy can be used for a variety of conditions to alleviate pain and discomfort and has a beneficial calming effect on the body. It is used to help change core patterns contributing to pain. CST can aid in relieving pain by calming the nervous system, restoring the body’s alignment and aiding in muscle function.

CST can provide relief for:

  • TMJ/tinnitus/vertigo
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Concussions/post-concussion
  • stress/anxiety
  • muscle and joint pain

What to Expect at a Craniosacral treatment

This therapy has very light and gentle touch that can be done through your clothing, and provides a calming effect on the nervous system inducing deep relaxation. Treatment sessions are one hour in length. The pressure used is about the weight of a nickel. For those of you who like the feeling that manual therapy provides this may not be your thing. This treatment is great for re-aligning, reducing stress, and offering pain relief.

The Theory of Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy or CST as it is often called, is a gentle non-invasive alternative therapy. This form of treatment has evolved from the father of craniosacral therapy, John E Upledger. It is aimed at restoring your body’s mobility by utilizing subtle, small movements that occurs in all of us that we are not aware of. These movements are the result of the filling and emptying of the cerebrospinal fluid that baths your brain and spinal cord creating the craniosacral rhythm.

Craniosacral theory and practice is based on the understanding that there are continuous subtle movements of the cranial bones, which result in a rhythm of approximately six to twelve cycles per minute. This rhythm is understood as a response to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fluctuations within the spinal cord and brain environment. The increase or filling of fluid causes expansion and pushes the covering around your brain away from the brain, providing relief from pressure. When you breathe in, the fluid rises creating a physical movement of the expansion of the bones of the head and the rest of the body because of the pressure on the nervous system, and opposite for exhalation where the fluid decreases. As a practitioner I feel these changes with my hands, tracking the movement as it fills and the body turns out and then turns back in when the pressure drops. This filling and emptying phase of the cerebrospinal fluid crates a rhythm in your body.

How Many Sessions Do I Need?

I am often asked “how many sessions will it take before I am pain free?” To be physically healthy and pain free is a complex interaction.  Our body has many interconnections with a vast anatomical landscape of muscle, nerve, bone, lymphatics, and much more.

Everyone’s body is individual however I once read an article from another therapist describing the process of treatment as tuning a guitar. It’s impossible to tune a guitar perfectly the first time around. Instead you re-tune it until you achieve your perfectly tuned instrument. It’s a process of making minute changes until you reach your desired solution.

I thought that was a great way to describe it. How long it will take, depends on how out of tune you are.  Let’s say you come in with pain on the left side of your neck, I would not know whether the neck pain is a result of one, two restrictions or several years of accumulated tensions. As a therapist, I follow the tissue into the restriction and help it to release. For every release in the tissue, the whole body slightly adjust. With each change getting closer to a pain free neck until we reach the primary anchor- as the other therapist would say, “just like tuning a guitar”.

Contact me

For more information on craniosacral therapy or if you are interested in trying a different approach or know of anyone you think might benefit, please contact Juliette Woodruff at or 416-925-4687.

This service pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about therapy, health and related sub­jects. It is not meant to replace advice and/or treatment from your health care professional.