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Try CranioSacral Therapy to Relieve Pain

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Thailand Sculpture from Grand Palace

How my foot and knee pain made me feel.

Who has heard of CranioSacral Therapy? Anyone tried it? When my foot and knee issues recently got extreme I gave CranioSacral Therapy (CST) a skeptical whirl. (A local, qualified CST offered a Groupon special at just the right moment to touch my thrifty heart). After three sessions, the pain in my boomeritis knee and foot are barely noticeable for the first time in years. I even lost 4 of the many stress pounds I had put on despite great exercise and eating habits.

Chronic Pain and Exercise

As you age, do you also have aches and pains that come and don’t go? Did you know that a huge percentage of fitness professionals and active people suffer from chronic pain? This pain epidemic seems to be a silent one in the workout world. Are you someone whose ongoing pains affect your ability to exercise, be comfortable in your body, or enjoy once-beloved activities? I know I’m in that category. If so, then consider whether CranioSacral Therapy (CST) might work for you.

What is CranioSacral Therapy

Craniosacral Therapy, or cranial-sacral therapy, is a form of bodywork that focuses on regulating the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and acknowledging that we are mostly made up of water. Using a light and precise touch, the CST practitioner finds and corrects imbalances in the cerebrospinal fluid and structures surrounding and protecting the brain and spinal cord. This in turn relieves tension and releases restrictions throughout the body. The concept is rooted in the belief that your body ultimately knows how to heal itself. Or in layKymberly terms: you lie still on a massage table, let your mind wander, maybe take a nap during the session, as the CST bodyworker holds your feet or head or sacrum, for example. It looks, feels, and seems as though not much is going on aside from loud stomach rumbling. More like gurgling, in my case.

What CranioSacral Therapy Is Not

No, it’s not a massage nor acupressure. No, chanting is not involved. Yes, a good CST practitioner is sensing and tracking your cerebrospinal flow. Yes, it’s sounds very oooweee woooeee, especially for a cognitive sort like myself. But I was willing to keep an open mind, plus I was desperately in pain and other solutions had not yet gotten me back on my (wanna be comfy) feet.

Rancho la Puerta pool in my California Footwear Del Mar sandals

Even the pool at Rancho la Puerta could not put out the painful fire in my right foot.

Teaching my step classes and powerwalking got to the point that every step was agony. The pad of my right foot felt like it was on permafire; my perpetually puffy left knee would keep me awake after a day of any cardio exercise. Sitting too long also made my knee throb. No way did I want to quit working out; in fact, I ached (pun intended snarfle snarfle) to exercise even more intensely, especially as menopause took its weight gain toll. My podiatrist suggested surgery; I went alternative medicine rogue.

Other Options to Exercise Through or With Chronic Pain

Keep in mind I had already seen Alexandra go through a similar foot surgery, with all its challenges. Ditch that route! Read about my prior attempts to seek pain free movement. I tried different shoes (helped quite a bit for walking, not for step and cardio classes though); orthotics (also helped with the foot pain but started causing other imbalances and compensations); foam rolling (also helped, but only temporarily); supplements (also made me feel better, but only when I remembered to take them daily and forever). All the options I tried were temporary, but nothing was solving the underlying problem — my movement patterns were somehow off kilter.

Kymberly mountain walking in Ahnu shoes with sore foot in Santa Barbara

That’s the foot that is the culprit! The Ahnu shoes helped. CST helped more.

And I am not alone. Chances are good (bad, really) that you and many women you know — especially baby boomers — suffer from joint and muscle chronic pain. If you are like me, you are not wanting to slow down or do less. If anything, you want to do more. I do, anyway. I have big travel plans and the new house we are building has a set of entry stairs I plan to climb into my dotage. I wouldn’t mind competing in some sport again either. Such as Dancing With the Stars, for example!!!!! Or running and playing soccer. A Boom Chicka Boomer can dream. Especially in the middle of a CST session.

Lots of options exist to manage pain. Alternative medicine and non-mainstream therapies are coming into their own for good reasons. The method that seems to be working for me is CST. (Another method I just discovered and am excited about is called MELT, but that’s another story. And radio episode and blog post. Stick with us at Fun and Fit if you are looking for more discoveries about aging with less pain.)

Do a search on CranioSacral Therapy. Check the qualifications of any CST practitioners you are considering. Be willing not to fully understand the process and to listen to what your body signals when lying still. Bottom line – are you in less pain after a few sessions? Finally I can say that I see light and sweetness at the end of my long pain tunnel. Yes, I already booked my next CranioSacral Therapy session. Let me know what you use for your “Get Out of Pain” card. Aces — not braces nor ace bandages — for us all!

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