I recently discovered the wonder of myofascial release on my cranium, or my head, as it’s commonly known. Myofascial release is a very safe and effective hands-on treatment that involves applying gentle pressure to and around the soft tissues. I regularly have sports massage and know I carry a significant amount of tension in my jaw, neck and shoulders, so anything that could help ease the nagging aches and pains is always welcome. I had booked the appointment before Christmas, and coincidently, the right side of my neck had been particularly bad leading up to the day of the appointment. I suspected I was coming down with an ear / throat infection and while stretching has eased it off, the constant stiffness, headache and impact on my balance has proved distracting.
It’s an odd sensation when someone else has control of your head! Completely letting go is not an easy task, so while it is always useful to trust your therapist, in the case of soft tissue release of the cranium it is probably imperative! The process involved me laying down on my back, with the therapist holding my head, then very gently stretching, and moving it around. Once I’d relaxed into it – which involved me remembering to relax my face, shoulders and hands, I found it to be a comforting and pleasant experience. I came to notice that actually, my head really is quite heavy. It felt really good to have someone else stretching it into positions that it knows it should go into but due to gravity, stress or some other force, is often resistant to doing so.
I definitely dozed during the treatment. I love that fluffy place you go to during a treatment where everything feels light, safe, warm and tranquil. I believe it only happens when three things happen together: a good therapist, the client accepting the treatment, and a good client-therapist match, which is why you will always find such variation of opinion on therapists.
I learnt that my face is carrying tension too, particularly around my right cheek and eye. I’m going to research how to do facial massage on myself as I know my default facial expression is a slight frown. I was also informed today that frowning uses up a lot of energy, and quite frankly, I don’t have energy to waste.
After the treatment, my neck movement was freer than it has been in a long time. My headache had gone, I was fully relaxed and, I know this sounds strange, I felt taller. It was as if the vertebrae in my neck had been eased apart, no-longer cramped and fighting for space.
I maintained my fluffy head for a good couple of hours until it was time to return to reality, and the next morning I’m thrilled to say that I had a great night’s sleep, and I still felt the benefits a good few days later. The benefits probably wild have lasted longer had I remembered to stretch and exercise tum the tum…. Still, the headache has not returned, I have significantly better movement in my upper torso and neck, and as for the possible ear / throat infection, I think it’s safe to say it’s no more than a minor virus which was exasperated by muscle tension.
One of the huge benefits of this approach for the cranium is that is it completely non-invasive. You remain fully dressed and the therapist only touches your head, neck and shoulders. Like other therapies, there is a need for some ongoing self-care to get the best from the treatment, and I would expect to see an increased probability of long term improvement with further treatments at regular intervals. I will definitely book again.
I found myofascial release to be a truly relaxing and calming experience. It’s possible I was even wandering in fields with fairies while I dozed on the therapists table today, and that has never happened to me before!
Be sure to always check your therapist’s qualification and insurance. Be clear about what you would like and be aware that there can be significant differences in what often appear to be similar therapies (e.g. myofascial release / craniosacral therapy / cranial osteopathy / osteopathy). If you are at all uncomfortable with any aspect of your treatment please never hesitate to say so.
My therapist for this treatment was Sarah Vine: https://www.sarahvine.co.uk