Light Touch Therapies: A Gateway to Deep HealingJan 31, 2013 03:36PM ● By Hilary Bilkis, MS, CST, LMT
Light touch therapies such as craniosacral therapy (CST) and visceral mobilization (VM) are subtle yet powerful modalities that heal on a deep level. CST rebalances the nervous system, VM techniques mobilize your organs and both techniques release restrictions in the connective tissue system. Imbalances in these three systems are often the cause of a person’s pain and dysfunction. Light touch therapies allow these affected systems to release and unwind their restrictions, leading to less pain, greater mobility and better function.
Impediments to Healthy Movement
You may be surprised to find out that right-side shoulder pain can be caused by an immobile liver; left-side shoulder pain by an immobile stomach; and knee and low back pain can have their source in the intestines. Few people also know that headaches, TMJ, neck pain, ADHD, poor motor coordination and other issues can stem from restrictions in the membranes and bones of the skull. How are such seemingly unconnected areas affected? Every body system is linked by fascia or connective tissue, which ideally functions as a seamless, flowing, gliding and adapting unit. To be healthy, all tissues, organs and even the bones of the skull need to move. A lack of movement inhibits proper organ, muscle and nervous system function, creating areas of compression, compensation and dysfunction.
The fluid-based connective tissue system is the most abundant substance in the body. Surrounding every bone, muscle, tendon, ligament, blood vessel, nerve and organ, it is the scaffolding that supports and gives shape to our bodies. Connective tissue is now known to be part of the sensory nervous system — meaning the entire body is serving as an antenna, picking up, filtering and making decisions on how to respond to both your internal and external environment. When your sensory nervous system is overwhelmed by stress, then aches, pain, discomfort and even illness can result.
Relieving Stuck Stress
Stress, injury, surgery and even negative emotions all can get stuck and then stored in the connective tissue, both physically and energetically. When things get stuck, the body compensates by walling off these areas of injury, whether physical or emotional, and working around them. This adaptive mechanism can affect tissues and organs in the areas that the body is “protecting.” When the body can no longer accommodate that protection surrounding the injury, pain and illness manifest themselves.
On a physical level, these areas of stuck stress are dehydrated and “sticky” compared to the areas around them. They do not slide and glide because the fluid that normally flows through the connective tissue will pass around the area, the way water flows around a stone in a river. Light touch therapy is an optimal way to help the body release these stuck areas because it allows the connective tissue to soften, release and absorb fluid back into the tissue. Light touch works with the body’s own self-healing and repair mechanisms, allowing natural balance to be restored
The Light Touch Therapy Experience
During a light touch therapy session, the client is fully clothed on a massage table. First, the therapist scans the body to find areas of restriction. Once those are identified, the therapist uses gentle pressure and specific techniques, while holding the “stuck area” between her hands, to soften the tissues. They adapt to safely release the stored injuries, emotions, restrictions and energy that may be causing pain.
What a person experiences during a session is highly individual. Some people say they feel deeply relaxed, while others describe feeling unwinding sensations as the body releases tension. You may even recall circumstances surrounding a past trauma or injury that caused your body stress. While it doesn’t occur in every session, this aspect of the process — called somato-emotional release — is perfectly normal: It helps the body reverse dysfunction and restore optimal levels of mobility. The body will safely release layers of injury and stress one at a time, so as not to overwhelm the system as a whole.
Since light touch therapies help the body resume its natural healing processes, improvements often continue weeks after a session. You may also experience a reorganization phase as your body releases previously held patterns and adapts to a new state of wellness. Body-centered therapy often helps people in their healing process and can even improve the outcome of talk- therapy sessions, as the “issues” are energetically and physically released — making light touch therapy a truly holistic way to revitalize your body and mind!
Hilary D. Bilkis, MS, LMT, CST is the owner of Awakening Wellness, LLC, a holistic, light touch bodywork practice in Morristown, NJ. She has been in private practice since 1997. Her bodywork training includes a variety of therapies including craniosacral therapy, visceral mobilization, somato-emotional release and energy healing. Ms. Bilkis is also a trained MELT Method instructor. Visit Awakening4Wellness.com to learn more.