The Wonder of CranioSacral Therapy

You may be wondering about CranioSacral Therapy. Having worked with this fantastic modality for many years now, I have seen some tremendous results. Like many other bodywork modalities, research is finally catching up with us!

Below is a link to a clinical overview on brain functioning and the observed affect of CranioSacral Therapy.

An excerpt from the above posting:

“Slow wave (i.e., theta) deficiency in the occipital region is associated with poor stress tolerance, sleep disturbance, racing thoughts, generalized anxiety, and vulnerability to substance addiction,” said Dr. Swingle. “Neurotherapy that focuses on restoring this deficit is strongly enhanced with still-point induction.” Currently, Dr. Swingle treats children with involuntary movement disorders and seizure disorders. A major component of his protocol is to “increase the sensory motor rhythm over the sensory motor cortex [roughly across the top of the head from the tips of the ears]. The sensory motor rhythm is represented by brainwave activity between 13 and 15 cycles per second. When made stronger with brainwave biofeedback, it results in increased seizure threshold and reduced involuntary body movements,” he notes. The increased brainwave amplitude Dr. Swingle has witnessed with CST is associated with “calm and passive attentiveness.”

Of course, there is much more in the article, and perhaps this will encourage you to try a CranioSacral session. I do my work here at Lotus Alternative Pain Center in Muncie, however you may also contact the Upledger Institute to find a practitioner if you wish.

This is a gentle yet powerful modality. It is used for headaches, TMJ dysfunction, whiplash injuries, a large spectrum of disabilities, PTSD, pain management, trauma, special needs patients and many other disorders.

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Needles, Cupping and Me- or why I am loving acupuncture.

Some of you may have had acupuncture before, and some of you may be curious but fearing the experience! So, I thought I would share my recent session at Lotus Alternative Pain Center with you.

I have received acupuncture before, but admit it has been awhile. A recent illness found me back on Yoshiko Motoyamas’ table. She did a physical examination and oral interview prior to getting to work. As my illness involves an unhappy bladder and colon, I was not surprised to find that she focused on my Kidney meridian. This was confirmed by palpation on various points, checking my breath pattern, and feeling my pulse. She then got to work.

I am amazed at how quickly and painlessly those hair thin needles go in. It did get my attention a few times- occasionally a spot may be a bit zippy when the needle hits the right place. It sort of feels electrical. And she does press around the insertion site to make certain that it is the right point before placing a needle. If it is the spot (and it is very precise) you both know it. Some points which needed warming may have a bit of moxa (made from the herb mugwort) burnt on the end. Non traditional acupuncture practitioners may do this using electricity. Yoshiko is classically trained however, and with over 16 years of experience, she is well versed in various application techniques.

My acupuncture session also included some cupping (glass bulbs that are attached to your body ) and the vacuum effect really helps increase circulation and loosen the tissue. This may be done on meridian points as well. It was not long into the session when my bladder spasms subsided, and my lower back was feeling relief. My strange headache was also subsiding. A miracle! Yoshiko gently reminded me that my body would greatly benefit from a regular appointment scheduled four times a year at the change of seasons.

I left with a few small bandaids on various points to continue stimulating the meridian points. These had a small raised bump on the exterior. Previously I had left with a bandage that my contain a small needle point or magnet. My acupuncture session changed the status of my illness. I continued to feel improvement over the next several days, and my body has continued to settle down. I am feeling more relaxed and centered. Chronic pain really effects your daily outlook!

Two days after my session I had an appointment with my Urologist. After discussing possible medications, diet changes, etc., I asked him what he thought of acupuncture for Interstitial Cystitis. I was expecting a muttered response, or a patronizing answer such as “if it makes you feel better, do it”. (which I always take as meaning that they don’t know anything about it, or that I am crazy and they are happy as long as the crazy lady is happy) Instead I got an interesting response. “As no one really knows the cause of IC, it makes sense that acupuncture may be very helpful. It is thousands of years old. My parents are Korean, and acupuncture is the main treatment they use for everything. And my mother is a nurse!”

So, there you have it.

Acupuncture is medicine. Think about it. And, be well!

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Body/Mind Connection and Wellness

Dealing with a chronic illness or pain syndrome is exhausting, distressing and sometimes depressing. If we are not having this experience ourselves, we likely know or love someone who is. Managing the details of our lives may be overwhelming if we are well, and definitely if we are not.

Besides pharmaceuticals, surgery or diet changes, we may have been told to reduce stress. This may be easy to say, yet hard to do! Bodywork, such as Reiki, massage therapy, craniosacral therapy and acupuncture may be suggested. So may yoga, pilates or other movement therapies. It may difficult, when caught in flareup or dealing with a chronic situation, to get yourself to start these or anything else. We may feel caught up in an endless cycle while we search to stop the madness and get some relief. One more thing to do? Oh, no!

Well, a small change in your self care routine may make a huge difference.

I have been reading an interesting book “The Spontaneous Healing of Belief” by Gregg Braden. He writes of the bridges between science and spirituality. What does any of this have to do with pain, illness and bodywork? A quote from the book, “Our beliefs have the power to change the flow of the universe- literally to interrupt and redirect time, matter, and space, and the events that occur within them.” In short, our thoughts, when directed at an object, have been shown to affect the molecular structure of the object. This reflects itself as well in the body/mind connection.

As a massage and craniosacral therapist, I can tell you that sometimes our belief systems are key to if we may get well, or how well we may be. I have seen this in action, so it is interesting to read of the physics and molecular science behind it. We live in our bodies, and our minds- the emotional and spiritual health of them- certainly has an effect on wellness.

There have been many studies showing the positive biochemical and tissue changes which occur with massage and other bodywork modalities. Emotionally they do enhance body awareness and help create a sense of well being. Combined it is great medicine. So, today, I hope you do something positive for yourself. Treat yourself kindly. Send loving thoughts to that body part that is giving your trouble. Breathe deeply. And perhaps consider adding bodywork and movement to your treatment plan for whole body wellness.

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Osteoarthritis Knee Pain and Massage

Here at Lotus Alternative Pain Center in Muncie, IN, our practitioners do see many clients who have knee issues. A common question is “Can massage therapy help with osteoarthritis of the knee?” There are many reasons for knee pain, but one of the most common (we are all aging!) is caused by osteoarthritis. It has been our experience that massage therapy, acupuncture and craniosacral therapy does help with pain, inflammation and range of motion in many cases.

The information below is excerpted from the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine site.

“A recent study found that a 60-minute “dose” of Swedish massage therapy delivered once a week for pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee was both optimal and practical, establishing a standard for use in future research. This trial, funded by NCCAM and published in the journal PLoS One, builds on an earlier pilot study of massage for knee osteoarthritis pain, which had promising results but provided no data to determine whether the dose was optimal. (The researchers defined an optimal, practical dose as producing the greatest ratio of desired effect compared to costs in time, labor, and convenience.) Osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease of the joints, is the most common type of arthritis, affecting approximately 27 million Americans. At 8 weeks, participants in the 60-minute massage groups (i.e., both once- and twice-per-week) had significant improvements in pain, function, and global response compared with participants in the usual care group. Pain intensity had the greatest reduction in the 60-minute, once-per-week group and was significantly reduced compared to both the usual care and 30-minute groups. There was no significant difference in outcomes between the 60-minute groups, which led to the conclusion that the optimal dose of massage was, on average, 60-minutes once per week. Compared to usual care, all the massage groups had similar reductions in stiffness, though range-of-motion was not significantly affected by usual care or massage. At 24 weeks, the clinical benefits had reduced for all groups (i.e., usual care and massage groups) and were not significantly different between the groups, though they were still improved compared to the start of the study. The researchers noted that there is promising potential for the use of massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee and that future, larger trials should use this dose as a standard.”

Of course, we do treat every person as an individual, and are aware that the above timeline may not work for you or your body. Among the benefits of regular massage therapy is that it does promote increased body awareness, and it gives you another option for treatment of chronic pain issues. We are soft tissue specialist. If you have not yet tried massage therapy, craniosacral therapy or acupuncture for your osteoarthritis pain, please consider giving us a try.

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What is fascia and why is it important?

No, we are not talking about the stuff that works with the soffit on your house!

Fascia is a connective tissue within our body. It begins formation as we are embryos and it is affected by our growth in the womb and patterns may even be set in the birth process. It is a vast web- an organ made primarily of water which contains proteins and other biomolecules. It is electrically conductive. It is under our skin, around organs, wraps muscle bundles and muscles, and makes up tendons and ligaments. In the healing process, it may form scar tissue.

When any part of the body moves, the whole body responds- such is the pull and motion of fascia. In bodywork, we work with fascia constantly! It is a new idea that connective tissue is supporting the body. Most of us were taught that this is the function of the skeleton. However, bones actually serve more as spacers. They are held together, and in place by connective tissue. Muscles hold bones in place and execute movement. Fascia wraps the muscle. The spinal column lengthens with inhalation and curves decrease in angle.As we exhale the body settles into its normal curves. Connective tissue, such as muscle and fascia is resilient and made to move.

When an abnormal pattern develops such as a trauma or repetitive motion issue, the underlying muscle tension (holding pattern) cuts off capillary function in the area. As this occurs, the fascia changes consistency and becomes more glue-like. This traps the fascia into a non-moving mass and the fascia fibers will increase. This may result in entrapment in additional tissues, such as nerves. What does this mean? The tissue does not move with ease in a normal pattern, and you are in pain!

This dysfunction may be addressed by manipulative techniques and movement. Among the manipulative techniques that are effective are myofascial release and deep tissue massage. Craniosacral Therapy addresses the fascial via the Central Nervous System, enabling the tension to release and self correct. CranioSacral Therapy effects the fascial as a whole organ. It is like receiving a massage from the inside out!

Fascial tension is sensitive enough to be affected by an acupuncture needle. Movement therapy such as yoga move this tissue and aids in stretching, strengthening and increasing range of motion. If you prefer a bit more activity, Pilates and Belly Dance also are beneficial. So, if you have an injury that is still bothering you, or have restricted movement, let us address the fascia. It may need some deep tissue massage therapy or craniosacral therapy!

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The Dance of Life

We live in a world that is so body and age conscious. The years and our bodies are sometimes our enemies. I do not know how many times I have heard “I would like to get a massage, but would like to lose some weight first” or “don’t work on my tummy- it’s too fat” or similar remarks regarding stretch marks, cellulite, moles or scars.

Self improvement is great! It is what most of us strive for. We live in these bodies and need to take care of them. But, let’s be honest and kind in our evaluations. Our cells age. Collagen does not keep up over the years. We are stressed. We are busy. For some, hair coloring becomes a must. Our smiles and frowns eventually produce lines that tell a story. Those arms which have held lovers, comforted a child, managed a great serve or slaved away at a computer desk may be showing a little extra jiggle. Catching a rear view in the bedroom mirror may have you taking an alarmed second glance (No, that can’t be my butt! Who else is in here?)- however, hopefully those gluteal muscles and thighs have served you well! I have seen very thin women with cellulite and full sized women strut their stuff with a confidence and grace I admire. And, it is not just women who suffer aging. Men, do you have low testosterone? Body changes? No more six pack abs? Oh no! You too are alive and facing changes.

So, what is a person to do? Let’s have some fun. Get creative. Laugh. De-stress. Enjoy what you’ve got and leap at opportunities to engage your body in a positive, learning atmosphere.

Let’s Belly Dance!

Yes, Lotus Alternative Pain Center is offering Belly Dance. Massage, Acupuncture, Reiki, Craniosacral therapy and yoga all have wellness in common.

But Belly Dance?


Well, Belly Dance is:

Building and stretching muscles- use that torso, shoulders, move and raise those arms, evenly build back muscles, promote good posture while enhancing strength. Legs can get a work out as well. And a proper shimmy has many possibilities!

Enhancing digestion- those stretches and undulations (you know you can do it- or find it again if you’ve lost it!) helps food move along the digestive tract and aids abdominal muscle toning.

Strengthens pelvic muscles and utilizes the core body muscles while improving hip flexibility.

Great stress reliever! Anyone can do it. Any age, size or skill level is relished and accepted. Get over that initial inhibition. Movement, music, fun companionship and tinkling scarfs- all while learning an ancient art form.

Enhances body image and self esteem while burning over 300 calories an hour! Belly Dance is a powerful celebration of self.

As with any exercise program, if you have any medical problems or are pregnant, you should consult your doctor before attempting to belly-dance. Classes will be held Monday evenings beginning June 4th at Lotus Yoga Center, 814 W. White River Blvd, Muncie, IN, 47303. Contact or call 765 287-0822 for questions.

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What a Pain in the Rear! Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica

Well, all my crazed outdoors activities this Spring have resulted in a reoccurring issue for me. A real pain in the rear- an unhappy piriformis!

Weeding, planting, scooting pots, cleaning outside furniture, lifting and bending and not taking time to stretch has me making an appointment with my massage therapist. Yes, I too am occasionally guilty of poor biomechanics and overdoing it!

What is the piriformis? How does it relate to the sciatic nerve?

The piriformis is a flat muscle, pyramidal in shape, deep under the glutes. It is partially within the pelvis and partly at the back of the hip joint. It arises from the front of the sacrum (the large flat bone at the bottom of your vertibrae- tailbone region) and a portion of it is attached to the anterior sacral foramina and greater sciatic foramen. It has tendons which share attachments with many other muscles which form our hip. We have two of them- one on each side of the sacrum. It is a lateral rotator. If you bring one leg up and cross it over the other one at the knee, you are using it.

The sciatic nerve passes under the piriformis (it is a big nerve- about the size in diameter of your thumb) and a tightened, shortened piriformis may irritate the sciatic nerve. This may cause pain and other sensations down the leg. The piriformis does not work alone. An appointment with your massage therapist may result in them working the attachments and muscles of your back, your gluteal muscles, hamstrings and illiopsoas in the abdomen. Other muscle groups may be included as well.

Common factors contributing the piriformis issues may be an anatomical difference in leg length, the sciatic nerve actually passing through the piriformis instead of under it (in about 17% of people), back injuries, lumbar vertibrae issues, gait (they way you walk), pregnancy and overuse.

Guys- have you heard that it is not good to sit on your wallet? This may cause an imbalance in your pelvis and may contribute to this problem. If you stand with your weight more on one leg than the other (carrying babies, waiting in line) that is not good either. How about crossing your legs? Ouch! 

If you are concerned about the cause, and/or in terrible pain, it is always wise to see a physician regarding a diagnosis. Osteopaths, sports medicine physicians and chiropractors are especially familiar with this issue.

Deep tissue massage therapy may help alleviate symptoms, as may proper strengthening and stretching. Craniosacral therapy may aid in releasing the sacrum and fascial tissue. Acupuncture is also used in this sort of malady, and of course yoga has many helpful poses which address these muscle groups. Give us a call if you decide to try one of these therapies.

Have a wonderful pain free summer!

Lotus Alternative Pain Center- 765 287-0822, 804 W. White River Blvd., Muncie, IN 47303

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