In my post on Defining Integrative Techniques, I explored the idea that there are problems in the body that perpetuate other problems. As bodyworkers, we want to give these problems more interesting names like postural distortions, myofascial restrictions, trigger points and displaced joints. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just call them problems. Let’s call these problems that perpetuate other problems governors. These governors instigate and perpetuate greater patterns of pain and distortion.
In that same post, I discuss a pattern that presents as pain and instability in the lateral ankle, it extends up the leg, through the hip, across the torso and into the cranium. Specifically, I allude to the idea that you can change the problematic pattern in the ankle by addressing the problem in the hip or the problem in the cranium. This ankle problem is fairly common, especially on the left, and I am able to consistently stabilize the ankle and offer lasting relief by releasing cranial restrictions. This takes us beyond cranial work or craniosacral work or body (somatic) work. We begin to see a craniosomatic patterns.
There are a lot of these craniosomatic patterns. Here’s an old video from YouTube where I release the trigger point in the adductor of the thigh by releasing a sutural restriction in the cranium.
I was able to do this demonstration, without preparation, because I understand craniosomatic relationships. I understand that there are governors in the craniosacral system that change patterns throughout the body. I knew that the problem in the adductor was predicated on, and perpetuated by, the problem in the craniosacral system. I knew that I could release the cranial suture and it would release the trigger point in the leg.
In my daily therapy sessions, I have a common ritual. I often have the person do something that recreates their pattern of pain. Then, I work on the cranial problem. After that, I have them do that thing again to make sure that the pain and/or restriction has been released. Sometimes, I need to do other “somatic” work in the pelvis or some joint or section of muscle to help the cranial release translate into the body. The lasting relief usually comes from working on the cranium, although sometimes, something has become “stuck” in the body and somatic work is needed for immediate symptomatic relief.
The idea is to treat the governing problem so that the pattern changes and the body becomes self-correcting. I would only address the symptomatic problem if it did not automatically resolve when the governor was treated. An understanding of craniosomatic patterns allows the therapist to treat pain and restrictions in the body more quickly with longer lasting results.
Tony Preston has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s. He has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients.