Myofascial release and Craniosacral therapy are hands on treatment techniques that seek to engage and open the fascial system.
The human body consists of an expansive fascial web. Fascia is the connective tissue that forms ligaments, tendons, outer coverings of organs, body cavities, membranes and cell walls. In short, if everything was taken out of the human body except for the fascia, we would have the perfect outline of you!
Fascia has many roles. It has a structural role. It literally holds you together. It has a protective role. It is directly connected to your sympathetic nervous system – your fight or flight alarm. It’s fascia’s job to tighten any time you perceive a threat. And the threats can be mental, emotional or physical. They can be real or imagined. They can stem from inside our outside the body.
So exploring this concept a bit more, imagine that you have a stressful work environment. Maybe you work in the ER, the classroom, a busy restaurant. In these locations, stressful events are the norm. And your fascial web reacts to each and every one by tightening. In an 8 hour day, that’s a lot of tightening!
Perhaps work is your refuge; but you are caring for elderly parents at home. That’s a physical and emotional stress that keeps your fascia busy. Now imagine you have a block of time, a period of months or years when the stress is more constant. Can you envision what is happening to you from the inside out?
More and more young people are discovering the world of fascia because of chronic pain, anxiety or tension. That little ping we hear every time we get a cell phone notification is enough to tighten your web a smidge. Now imagine adding on the stresses of sports competition, school work, and the social stresses experienced as we are growing up. It’s a lot of tightening happening every single day.
Now here’s the good news. The body knows how to relax the fascial web. The secret to that is to enter into the second half of the nervous system. This half is called the parasympathetic. This is the half of our nervous system that allows us to daydream, sleep, digest, space out, meditate. It is here, that the fascial web opens a bit. Energy gets released. Information gets integrated. And the body creates some spaciousness.
So treating fascial problems should be simple, right? Just do more parasympathetic activities! Yes…….definitely. However, for many people, a journey into the parasympathetic is quite difficult. Years of strengthening the sympathetic nervous system and tightening the fascial web which in turns stimulates the sympathetic nervous system has created a constant feedback loop that is hard to break.
And that is where Myofascial Release and Craniosacral Therapy can help. With gentle, sustained pressure over the fascial tissue, a gentle relaxation and opening of these tissues can happen. And when fascia is no longer tight, the sympathetic nervous system is no longer stimulated. The body starts to find its way home to the parasympathetic space where it can reset itself.
The beauty of Myofascial Release and Craniosacral Therapy is that it treats the body and the mind simultaneously. The technique helps to facilitate a natural process that our busy culture tends to override…..the act of letting go and releasing. As the body experiences the corrective, restorative beauty of the parasympathetic, it strengthens its ability to pop into this half of the nervous system on its own. Just like it’s supposed to. And when we can flip into this half of the nervous system with greater ease, we are able to shake off the stresses and reset our fascial web before we become too entangled. In short, we come back into balance.
The fascial journey is one worth taking. The prize at the end may be less pain, improved mobility, better sleep or digestion. But the greatest prize is learning how to do this for yourself.