CranioSacral Therapy Complements Other Therapies

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, non-invasive osteopathically-derived therapy that is complementary to many other therapies. This blog touches on just a few of these therapies and how CST can contribute to their healing processes.

In physical therapy clinics CST is often the “go-to” treatment for patients who have incurred a physical trauma and are in too much pain to exercise or receive manual therapy. These traumas can include motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries or concussions. After a few to several CST sessions the patient’s body will have calmed and healed enough to be able to receive the deeper-tissue work and exercises implemented in physical therapy.

If one is receiving regular chiropractic treatments but has a persistent or stubborn area of the spine that does not hold chiropractic manipulations, a few sessions of CST can release the tension patterns in the body that are inhibiting the free movement of the dural tube. As you may have read in my previous blogs, the dural tube is the strong membrane that travels up the spinal canal and protects the spinal cord. A segment of that membrane could be holding a restriction that is not allowing full range of the motion in that section of the vertebral column. Gently releasing that segment with CST sessions can make the chiropractor’s adjustments more effective and long-lasting.

Mental health practitioners often refer their clients for CST if the client is experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, or are needing a safe place to achieve greater body awareness. CST practitioners are usually professionally licensed to touch, allowing for the gentle mind/body process developed by Dr. John Upledger to remind and re-train the body’s central nervous system to calm. Regularly achieving a calmer state in the physical, emotion, mental and spiritual realms allows one’s internal battery to recharge and provide more resilience in managing day-to-day stressors. This resilience additionally allows a therapy client to achieve their therapy goals with greater ease and grace.

Physicians are becoming more aware of CST and its efficacy in treating occipital neuralgia, chronic neck and back pain, migraines, concussion recovery and the effects of Bells’ Palsy to name just a few. If the physician’s patients are requesting a non-invasive, drug-free approach to treatment, or desire to reduce pain medication, a referral to a CranioSacral therapist is a good place to start.

Dentists also find that CST treatments support their goals of correcting their patients’ bites and TMJ issues. My next blog will more thoroughly address how CranioSacral Therapy can support and enhance dentistry and orthodontia.

Thanks for reading! See you next time!


CranioSacral Therapy Eases Headaches

Rare is the adult who has never had a headache. Did you know that 50% of adults worldwide have experienced a headache in the last year? And that among those 30% have experienced a migraine? According to a recent study by the World Health Organization headache disorders worldwide are the third highest cause of productivity lost due to disability.

Stress headaches felt at the base of the skull, through the head and down the neck respond extremely well to CranioSacral Therapy (CST) treatments. After assessing the body the CST practitioner applies a gentle touch (5 grams) to specific areas of tightness and restriction, encouraging the body to release its grip. The restriction in the body softens and relaxes, often setting off a ripple effect of tension-release throughout the entire system. By the end of a session the headache is usually greatly reduced if not gone, and the client feels as calm as if they had taken a deep nap.

An often over-looked source of headaches is a blow to the skeletal system, such as a fall on the tailbone or the back of the head. A fall that jams the sacrum at the bottom of the spine or the occiput at the base of the skull restricts the natural movement of the spine and puts stress and strain on its protective membrane system, the dura. CST treatments can help the spine regain its suppleness by gently encouraging the sacrum, all of the spinal segments and the cranial plates of the skull to unlock the tension stored in the dura.

While a simple tension headache can often be resolved in one or two treatments, complex headaches like migraines and cluster headaches usually require more care. In these more complex forms, the effectiveness of CST can typically be determined with five to ten treatments. In a migraine study done in the UK the participants found that over the course of six treatments in a 1-month period, their headache symptoms were reduced from “serious” to “considerable”. This reduction persisted for a month after treatments ceased.

If you or someone you know experiences headaches the gentle, non-invasive nature of CranioSacral Therapy sessions can’t hurt and more than likely can help.


CranioSacral Therapy and Stress

Stress. It is a physiological response from our brain when it perceives a threat by ramping up our central nervous system. It makes for fit-full sleep, indigestion, anxiety and inappropriate outbursts with co-workers and loved ones. It seems to be woven into the frenetic pace of our modern life. Kids mirror their stressed parents and soon everyone is on edge. We all know that we need to wind down but sometimes that seems physically impossible. Have you ever wondered why?

Under regular and sustained stress the brain begins to lose its ability to signal the “stand down” command to our central nervous system. Remember the old fitness term “use it or lose it?” The same concept applies to the branch of the central nervous system that allows us to wind down. Called the parasympathetic nervous system, it manages the “rest and digest” and “feed and breed” functions. If it is constantly overridden by the sympathetic nervous system, the branch that controls our “fight, flight or freeze” response, it will eventually lose its tone, like a muscle. Low tone means poor sleep, poor digestion, anxiety, moodiness… many of the symptoms of stress.

Our brains, hardwired to respond to perceived threats, do not discern between a true threat on our life or a daily stressor. Think of how often in one day you feel wound up: trying to get the family out the door in the morning, circling to find a parking spot downtown, meeting a work deadline, caring for an ailing parent… When you finally collapse into bed that night, you find yourself wide-awake with a bad stomach. Being too wound up to wind down is an indication that your central nervous system can’t do it on its own anymore.

A treatment of CranioSacral Therapy is a wonderful way to take that overworked central nervous system down a notch or two. Take if from my clients:

“I don’t think I’ve ever been that relaxed.”

“I feel as relaxed and unwound as if I just had a deep tissue massage, but your touch was so light!”

“I’ve never been able to meditate. In this session I experienced for the first time ever a quiet mind.”

A quiet mind can feel like a luxury but is actually an essential piece in achieving optimal health and productivity.

I invite you to follow the embedded links if you would like to explore this topic in more detail.

Please visit my web site if would like to try a session of CranioSacral Therapy. To find a practitioner in your area you can use this link.

Thanks for reading this blog!

Post-Concussion Recovery

Have you had a concussion? You may have and didn’t even realize it. The definition of being concussed has broadened in recent years as more studies have been done on athletes in contact sports and military personnel injured in battle. The Mayo Clinic’s definition adds that apart from a blow to the head, a concussion can occur when the upper body and head have been violently shaken. Because most concussions do not result in a loss of consciousness, many people are unaware or do not believe that they have been concussed. Whiplash, as occurs when one’s head, neck and back is whipped around in a motor vehicle accident, can cause a concussion even if the head never impacts anything solid.

The cumulative effects of physical trauma can also take their toll. Take whiplash, add a bad tumble down a ski hill, mix in a hard slam to the head on the corner of an open cabinet door and you have the perfect recipe for vertigo, headaches, memory loss, neck pain, irritability, and digestive problems, leaving a person wondering why they are falling apart.

A study done with collegiate football players shows that the effects of concussions can be cumulative and slow recovery. Another study shows that amateur athletes who had suffered multiple concussions were 7.7 times more likely to experience a major drop in memory function than athletes who had never been concussed. But why this cumulative effect?

Osteopathy, the foundation of CranioSacral Therapy, explains that the shock of a hard hit to the physical body is not localized to the point of impact. The force of the hit sends shock waves through the body where they bounce off of bones and dense internal organs, and are absorbed by fascia and soft tissue. This includes the dura, the membrane that supports our gelatinous brain in our skull and protects our spinal cord. Absorbed shock wave = restriction in the tissue = loss of mobility = pain. With every physical trauma these restrictions hook on to existing restrictions like Velcro and can remain until treated and released by gentle manual therapies.

The Upledger Institute has done groundbreaking work treating ex-NFL players with post-concussion syndrome. For one week multiple therapists trained in CranioSacral Therapy and Visceral and Neural Manipulation teamed up on daily treatment sessions with the ex-“footballers.” The results were profound, relieving many of these men of chronic pain with which they had suffered for years, sometimes decades.

Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and don’t let a concussion go untreated. Find a CranioSacral Therapist in your area using this search engine. If you are in Boise, ID please visit my web site to book a session or contact me at Thanks for reading!






Pain, Emotional Stress and Trauma (PTSD)

“If you get into the body a little deeper than the very superficial symptomatic treatment, you will discover the mind.”    ~Dr John Upledger

Pain. It can be insidious, nagging or debilitating. Its persistence can put a strain on relationships, careers and mental well being. Pain is often hard to diagnose and often chased with medication. When all regular medical channels have been exhausted, physicians and physical therapists will sometimes refer their chronic pain patients to CranioSacral Therapists with the hope that this gentle treatment will help.

Dr. Upledger was one of the pioneers in recognizing that chronic pain was often emotionally-based. The connection between physical pain, emotional stress and trauma is gradually being accepted in the medical community. Physician Bessel Van der Kolk has written a wonderful book called “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma” that explores the medical research that discovered the interplay of brain, mind and body in the storing of trauma. Dr. Van der Kolk also offers an extensive explanation of how we store trauma and ways it can be released.

A recent article in Psychology Today explains why people who have experienced trauma are often at a higher risk to develop chronic pain. To quote the above article, “Often, physical pain functions to warn a person that there is still emotional work to be done, and it can also be a sign of unresolved trauma in the nervous system.” CranioSacral Therapists are trained to listen for and gently release tightly held memories of physical and/or emotional trauma. This article by Gloria Flores, HHP, CST-D explains how CranioSacral Therapy helps with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

My work as a CST practitioner has helped free clients from the grip of pain and trauma so they can live with more peace and ease. If you or someone you know is in pain, consider a series of sessions of CranioSacral Therapy. For more information please go to my web site :

CST for Neck Pain

Have you ever wished that your persistent neck pain would go away? A recent study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain states that participants treated with eight weekly CranioSacral Therapy (CST) treatments experienced a significant and long-lasting reduction in pain and discomfort. Whether the source of your neck pain is from too much time at a computer, a recent or distant accident or injury, or emotional stress, a series of gentle CST treatments has great potential to bring you relief.

CranioSacral Therapy originated in the Osteopathic profession and subscribes to the concept that everything in the human body is interconnected. A CST practitioner has a variety of ways to assess, find and release restrictions in the body that are contributing to your neck pain, even if they are linked to trauma-associated memories. Read this interview with Dr. John Upledger for his explanation of CranioSacral Therapy.

Here is one of my client’s stories:  “From previous sports accidents I have 5 compression fractures in various vertebrae in my spine, and displacement in my C2 cervical vertebrae. After experiencing Dominique’s CST session my neck didn’t hurt, my head pivoted with greater range of motion, my legs felt stronger and more vital, and overall I felt completely rejuvenated. During the subsequent 1600 mile multi-day bicycle ride I felt completely free of pain and had to make no compensations.”

Interested? Please contact me:

Introduction to this blog about CranioSacral Therapy


My name is Dominique Tardif and am publishing this blog to help you understand what CranioSacral Therapy is and how it can help you feel better in a number of ways. I am a licensed massage therapist in Boise, ID and have been studying with the Upledger Institute and practicing CranioSacral Therapy since 2008. After years of doing deep-tissue massage I now find that this light touch therapy can work more deeply, more profoundly and effect more lasting results than digging my elbow into someone’s musculature. Sound impossible? Subscribe to this blog, follow the links provided in each post and you will learn that it really is possible to heal from injury and trauma with gentle, non-invasive treatment.

What is CranioSacral Therapy? It is a profoundly relaxing and effective treatment that, working with your body’s own healing processes, relieves restrictions throughout the physical and emotional body that could be inhibiting you from the fullest and best expression of your life. For a quick overview please click on this link for the Upledger Institute’s explanation:

Over the next twelve months I will be posting monthly to explain how CranioSacral Therapy can help relieve neck pain, headaches, anxiety, back pain, recover from concussion, injury, surgery, physical and emotional trauma, and more. Links to research, articles, suggested reading and testimonials will be provided for you to explore further.

Come along and join in this exploration of CranioSacral Therapy!

Dominique Tardif, LMT