CranioSacral Therapy: A Touch Modality

Often I am asked the question, “What is CranioSacral Therapy?” Cranio refers to the bones of the head. Sacral refers to the tailbone. A craniosacral therapist uses the bones of the head and sacrum to release the central nervous system (CNS) creating relaxation in the body from the inside out. As the CNS relaxes, signals being sent from the brain and spinal cord can be sent more clearly and in a more relaxed way, creating relaxation throughout the entire physical body.

How does this work? Imagine for a moment a model of a skull. The lines between skull bones are zigzagged. The bones of the skull move along these lines with minimal pressure, 5 grams or less. Gentle pressure on the bones of the cranium moves the cerebrospinal fluid gently releasing restrictions. Try placing your hands above your ears, move the fingertips upward toward the sky along the

Body Talk: I’m talking to YOU!

Has your body  been “speaking”  to you lately about the stress in your life? When you stop to rest is there an ache in your shoulder or neck? Is bending over to pick up your child or pet sending pain through your spine? Are you or a loved one having difficulty finding a comfortable way to sleep at night? If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, you may be a candidate for the pain relief and stress reduction of massage therapy with Sarah-Elizabeth, MA, LMT.

The message of pain is your body saying: “stop and listen to me!” When the pain is overwhelming, you have a choice to listen and respond or to  live with the pain. Massage and CranioSacral Therapy with Sarah-Elizabeth, MA, LMT is an opportunity to find relief from the everyday stress of living in a body. Massage reduces pain, decreases stress and allows the body to gain range of motion.

People who have come to my massage chair or table have said, “My headache is gone!” or “I can walk without the pain of my bursitis holding me back.”

Give the gift of massage to your self, your friend or your family member who is in need of relief. Give the gift of relaxation and pain reduction with a gift certificate for a one hour session with Sarah-Elizabeth, MA, LMT.

Call today 603 365-0852 to make arrangements to give or receive a most wondrous gift!

In Peace,

Sarah-Elizabeth

Body Talk: Three Part Breath

Breath is the most important pulse in our body. Without breath, they say, there would be no life. A wide variety of meditation techniques use breath control as the way into quiet. The teacher reminds the class, “Return to the breath, when your mind wanders. Bring yourself back to the present moment.” When you watch your breath, what do you notice? Are you breathing deep or shallow? Which part of your body expands and contracts?  How well do you notice the feelings and sensations of breathing?

As you pause for a moment to notice your breath, right now, I invite you to notice the body welcoming and releasing breath. Begin to notice there is a flow into the belly, the ribs and the shoulders. For some, there will be only shoulder movement, others the ribs will expand and release. Still others a flow of breath into the belly, up through the shoulders and then release from the top down will be experienced. No way is “wrong,” we are noticing breath sensations.

As you watch the breath for a few more cycles, begin to notice it is possible to deepen each breath. First the belly begins to fill with each breath. The belly organs feel pressed on with this breath. Then notice the ribs expanding as the lungs fill a bit more. As the ribs fill with breath, you  then notice the shoulders filling up near the clavicle or collar bones. Hold and retain the breath for a few moments, noticing the expanded feeling in the body. Then slowly release the breath from the top down – move the collar bones in and down, expressing air from the top of the lungs. Then the ribs move inwards pushing even more breath out. Finally the breath is expelled from the belly, the largest opening in the lungs, as you life up on the diaphragm muscle beneath the ribcage.

This is process of breathing in this specific way is often referred to as “Three Part Breath.” 1) The belly takes in breath. 2) The rib cage takes in breath. 3) The clavicle area takes in breath.  Pausing throughout the day to take a series of three to eleven breaths in this way deepens our experience of being alive, connected with other beings and cultivates presence of mind.

During sessions on my massage table, I will often invite attention to the breath. One technique I use with every client brings in more oxygen to assist with release of muscles, joints and tendons.

In Peace,

Sarah-Elizabeth, MA, LMT

603 365-0852 to schedule an appointment this week!

Body Talk: CranioSacral Therapy – Stillness

Years ago as a new massage therapist, I found pressing on an aching body created more discomfort, rather than less. A day or two would pass for my clients to begin feeling better following a session in my office. Over time I began to look for a modality which created less pain, deeper release and allowed my clients to let go of restrictions in order to become pain free and mobile again. Craniosacral Therapy practice came into my awareness and I began to take classes through the Upledger Institute, mentioned in this article about Craniosacral Therapy (CST):

The Mindset for Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral Therapy is practiced with a light pressure to the physical restrictions of the body felt by the hands to the tissues and inviting release. There is a sense of invitation that my hands feel, when a joint, muscle or tendon is ready to release. A quiet, stillness settles into the body as this invitation to let go spreads through the surrounding tissue. The nervous system calms down, the mind settles into stillness and the body drops into deep relaxation. For some people, there is little sensation of this release, yet on rising from the table, they are aware of how much more relaxed and pain free they feel after a CST session. For others, there is a moment by moment realization of the subtle letting go that unfolds during a Craniosacral Therapy session.

The stillness achieved by both the practitioner and the client during a CST session is deep, quiet and healing. Sometimes the hands will rest on a client for 3-5 minutes as the body deepens into relaxation and healing. Time stands still for those moments as the body finds it’s way into balance and quiet presence. The tissues of the body become fluid, under my hands, gently flowing into alignment. Relaxation deepens with each softening of the joint, muscle,  and tendon. Distant points in the body release as well. For example, the neck may release as the ankle is treated. Though I can tell you of my experience as a practitioner, your presences on the massage chair or table will offer you a first hand experience and benefit of CranioSacral Therapy.

Please call to schedule a CST session: 365-0852 cell

In Peace,

Sarah-Elizabeth, MA, LMT

 

Body Talk: Personal Space

When you consider receiving a massage for the first time, what goes through your mind? Will I have to undress? Will it hurt? Can I trust someone to touch me?

Massage therapists are trained to honor your personal space during a session. The massage license requires us to appropriately draped your body during a massage session. On my massage table a sheet and a blanket are provided for warmth and privacy.

The massage therapist touches your skin and muscles for therapeutic purposes only. Muscles respond to this touch by relaxing, joints soften, and breath quiets and deepens. Sometimes there is slight pain in a trigger point, joint, tendon or muscle. These tight or tender places are released in gentle ways with a combination of vibration, pressure to the constricted area, and gentle stretching of muscles and joints. If  pain arises there is always another way to treat the area with minimal discomfort. Let your massage therapist know you are experiencing discomfort and s/he will back off and try another technique.

When someone comes to my table, I let them know to leave their underwear on, bra off for women. It is fine to have underwear off, if you are comfortable with this. During the massage session the part of the body being worked on will be exposed, while the sheet is tucked under and around the body for warmth and protection.  Massage oil or lotion will be rubbed on the exposed leg, arm, shoulder, feet hands or back. Sheets are useful to keep these oils and lotion off the table and blanket.

If at any time you are uncomfortable with what is happening during your massage session, please let your massage therapist know right away.  This goes for either physical pain or an uncomfortable level of exposed skin. Occasionally a client has asked for only a towel drape over the body. I will explain that it is my practice to cover the body with a sheet as I work, exposing only the part of the body which needs the attention of massage hands. If a client acts inappropriately during a session, the massage therapist may choose to leave the room indicating the session is over. The expectation is for payment for a full session.

The role of the massage therapist is to act with integrity as they apply hands on techniques to your body. Your personal space, that is the The space created between massage therapist and client is one of trust and comfort. Feel free to ask questions of your massage therapist about what they are doing, what they are doing to assist your body in it’s healing process. When you are comfortable and aware of what is unfolding, your body will be more able to relax deeply into the moment.

Peace,

Sarah-Elizabeth, MA, LMT

Call for an appointment today: 603 365-0852

 

Body Talk: Epsom Salts Bath

When a client calls in pain and my schedule is booked, I often recommend a hot bath with Epsom salt. As we begin to get out of the house in spring to rake, weed, plant and sow seed, our bodies become achy with the new ways of moving. Taking time to rest and relax at the end of the day, allows the body time to recover. Soaking in a hot Epsom Salt bath can help relieve acute pain.

The benefits of a hot Epsom Salt bath include increased relaxation, relief from pain and cramps in muscles, inflammation reduction, and joint pain reduction. Epsom Salt, also called Magnesium Sulfate, has been used for generations as a home remedy. As an over the counter medication you can find Magnesium in antacids and laxatives. Soaking a splinter in Epsom salt bath reduces inflammation and allows the splinter to be removed more easily. In recent times doctors have used Magnesium Sulfate in IV drip to stop contractions during preterm labor, to treat heart disease and some neurological conditions. Taking in too much magnesium internally is not recommended, yet a good soak wil help the body, mind and soul.

A muscle is a muscle. Soaking the body in magnesium sulfate will release the skeletal muscles and reduce inflammation throughout the joints, reducing pain and improving range of motion in the body. When chronic pain plagues your joints and muscles, give an Epsom Salt bath a try. And before your next massage, try to set aside time for a hot bath with Epsom Salts. Even 15 minutes in the bath can work wonders towards relaxing the body/mind/spirit.

Many Blessings!

Sarah-Elizabeth

Body Talk: Three Part Breath

When you lay down on the massage table, your body will likely begin to relax into the table. As you continue to lay flat, the breathe may come into your awareness. The inhalation and exhalation of the breath may become the only sensations you feel as your body gives way to gravity. This is a perfect moment to invite your awareness to your breath, and in particular the rhythm of the breath. The breath brings in oxygen which then circulates through the body along with nutrients for every cell. Attention to breath connects the body and mind, creating inner calm and inner oasis.

Breath is the key to our living. When our body breaths well, we are healthy. For thousands of years the yogis have practiced pranayama, or breath control. Prana means breath, or life force; ayama means control. One of my favorite pranayamas is three part breath. This is a focus on breathing into first the belly, then the rib cage and then the tops of the shoulders. This takes some getting used to in part because we are often breathing shallowly into our chest.

Three part breath begins on an inhale into the belly and lower back. With the belly full, the ribcage will expand forwards and sideways. As the breath continues, the shoulders and clavicles will expand. The exhale begins at the top of the lungs, with the shoulders and clavicles emptying. The ribcage softens and collapses inward until you feel the belly emptying and the diaphragm muscle relaxes. Invite another breath into the belly, into the ribcage, up into the shoulders as you continue to read. Pause with this full breath for a moment before you release the shoulders, ribcage and belly.

Practicing three part breath calms the nervous system. Slowing the breath down, paying attention to the sensations of the breath moving in and out of the body connects the mind and body. Mindful attention to the breath gently engages both the nervous system and the circulatory system. As the nervous system calms down the breath deepens and circulation becomes more effective.  This article from Kripalu: https://kripalu.org/resources/breath-body-and-mind-physiology-pranayama describes more about the physiological changes that occur during pranayama practices, such as the three part breath.

Peace,

Sarah-Elizabeth

If you would like to be introduced to the three part breath integrated into a massage and craniosacral therapy session, please contact me: relax@sarah-elizabeth.org or 603 365-0852.
I look forward to meeting you.

Complementary Care: Massage Therapy and PT

Massage therapy is complementary care to your appointments with the physical therapist. Physical Therapists are trained to diagnose and prescribe movement therapies to address the injury as it is presented by the body. Massage Therapists are trained to relax the body, treating tightness in muscles, tendons, and joints. These approaches to the body complement one another. Movement begins the strengthening of injured muscles, while massage therapy unwinds the tightness associated with muscle guarding the injury site.

How does one know if PT or massage therapy is the appropriate modality? Pain level is one indication. If pain level is consistently over 7 on a scale of 1 (little or no pain) to 10 (huge pain, I wish it would stop!) considering a diagnosis with a PT or MD is important. If range of motion in a joint is restricting your movement, for example you can’t exercise as you would like to, seeking out a PT is recommended by this massage therapist. If an injury has slightly restricted your range of motion or pain is slightly limiting your ability to move around in the world, a session with your massage therapist may be just what the body needs to assist in the healing taking place within.

Often I will say to my clients, “A strong muscle is a relaxed muscle.” When muscles are tight, holding an injury site to reduce pain, circulation is reduced through the area that needs to heal. Massage therapy, when applied gently with close attention to sensation and resistance in the body, can help relieve the tension on a joint or muscle improving both range of motion and circulation in the area being treated.

Some of my regular clients, will choose to come in for massage and craniosacral therapy when an injury occurs, trusting that my hands will help reduce their pain, improve their mobility and decrease healing time. While these are all possible outcomes of a session or series of sessions, massage therapists do not diagnosis the underlying injury. Through gentle palpation of muscle, tendon and bone, we can help you identify the exact location of pain, though it is beyond our scope of practice to offer any diagnosis of the underlying physical problem. This information about the location of your pain is helpful information to take to your PT or MD.

Physical Therapists are trained to identify and diagnose where in the body there is imbalance or injury causing your pain. Once the source of pain is identified, the physical therapist designs a program of movements to bring functionality back to the body. During the healing process, these movements may cause pain in the joints, emotional response to pain including depression and anxiety may develop if the healing does not unfold quickly. This is where one or two sessions of massage therapy can make the difference in healing. When you hit a plateau in the healing process, an experienced massage therapist can assist in releasing the tightness and guarding around the injury sight, allowing the body to relax and open to the next step in healing.

Next time you are working with a Physical Therapist, consider a massage therapy session to assist in the healing and recovery process your body is experiencing!

Gratitude to You for 2014

At this mid-autumn time, I am blessed by the warmth of community and the fire of commitment to serve you with my healing hands. This November marks the 16th year of having a practice of massage therapy and 10 years as a CranioSacral Therapy practitioner. I am grateful for all those clients who have taught me to listen with my hands to muscles, joints, and tendons exploring the edges of comfortable movement. Each client is an opportunity for me to deepen my understanding of how the body responds to gentle, healing touch.

To say, “Thank you” to current clients and clients I have yet to meet, I would like to offer gift certificates for the 2014 holiday season at 15% off, or an additional 15 minutes on the table,  your choice.

Purchase a 1-hour session for $100 and receive 15 minutes extra time on the table. That is 1.25 hours for the price of one hour.                           OR

Purchase a 1 hour session for $85. That is a savings of $15.

Purchase   a 1.5-hour session for $144 and receive an extra 15 minutes on the table. That is 1.75 hours for the price of 1.5 hours.                                  OR

Purchase a 1.5 hour session for $122. That is a savings of $22.

This offer expires at Midnight on Monday, December 15, 2014. Call or email today to take advantage of this offer. Paypal or personal checks are accepted.

Peace and Gratitude to all!

Sarah-Elizabeth, MA, LMT

603 365-0852 office

relax@sarah-elizabeth.org

 

Body Talk: CST and the Brain

CrainioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle hands on technique which releases restrictions around the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain and spinal chord, relaxing the body from the inside out. During a CST session, the client will become quiet from within, relaxing deeply into a restful state. As the CNS releases and relaxes, the softe tissue and body holding pattern soften.

Tad Wanaveer, CST-D writes about the “6 ways CST facilitates brain health” in this article: http://www.massagemag.com/6-ways-craniosacral-therapy-facilitates-brain-health-26528/

When restrictions in the connective tissue surrounding the brain and spinal chord are released, the body moves with more ease and confidence. As we continue to release holding patterns from the body, there is no longer a need to hold on. The body allows healing to begin, circulation improves and movement takes on a new level of ease.

Please call today to schedule a CST session: 603 365-0852 or email: relax@sarah-elizabeth.org

Many Blessings,

Sarah-Elizabeth Whitcomb