To touch and be touched is one of the most healing therapies in the world, as those who are in any kind of relationship know. It is with touch that we communicate love, security and desire, but without touch, we would wither and emotionally die. The art of massage has evolved out of our most distinctive desire, to be touched.
Evidence has been gathered over the course of many years which prove the necessity of touch and of therapeutic massage. The University of Miami has conducted extensive research on this topic, and have documented since the early 1900’s the therapeutic value of touch. It was shown, without question that institutionalized orphans with marasmus (a fatal wasting away disease) did not die when they were regularly touched.
Cranial osteopathy is a technique that is used to lightly manipulate the bones of the skull with a touch so light that many people have claimed they can barely feel it. Developed in the 1950’s by the American osteopath William Garner Sutherland; he taught his students that the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord) was “the highest known element in the human body.”
Dr. Sutherland called the rhythms of the fluid “the breath of life,” as the fluid appeared to be influenced by the rate and depth of breathing. By gently stimulating the skull he found he could alter the rhythm of the fluids flow, thus stimulating the body’s self healing mechanisms and cure conditions unrelated to the cranium.
Massage therapy is one of the oldest therapies in the world, predating acupuncture. This therapy was popular with the Romans and the Greeks, and played a vital role in healthcare up until the middle ages. Religion consigned this therapy to the realm of the sinful, giving it a negative connotation of a “massage parlor.” Modern massage therapists have had to educate the public about the true nature of healing touch, and the negative images have mostly been replaced with the positive.
The skeptics of cranial osteopathy have doubts that a touch so light could have any beneficial affects, and claim that the obvious, sometimes amazing benefits have its roots in the placebo affect or perhaps some kind of spiritual healing.
Massage is particularly good for stress-related conditions, depression, circulation problems and insomnia. It is also beneficial for osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, strained muscles and scatica, as well as those who are suffering from digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. Massage has a proven safety record, which anyone can benefit from. Even the weak and terminally ill can benefit from massage if given by a qualified therapist.
Osteopathy an help joint and muscular pain, neck problems, sciatica, backache, migraines and dizziness. It has also been known to help arthritis, respiratory conditions, abdominal pain and issues with rheumatism. The treatment has proven to be safe if you visit a qualified practitioner. People with very week or fragile bones cannot be treated, nor can those suffering with active inflammation during an attack of Rheumatoid arthritis.
In 1992 a hospital study, carried out on 52 children and teenagers who were suffering from depression or adjustment disorders showed that a daily back massage for five days made the children less depressed and anxious than the ones who just watched relaxing videos. It was also found that all of the children who received the massage slept better.
Also in clinical studies, those with menstral cramping and low back pain when given treatments of osteopathyshowed that the group who received the therapy showed greater relief sooner than those who took placebos.
In massage there are four stages of healing :
The symptoms are eased so that the patient feels better
Working on the underlying cause of a problem such as decongesting a sluggish lymph system, or retuning muscles in a way which will prevent the problem from returning.
Massage strengthens the surrounding tissues enabling to provide better support after an injury is healed.
Occasional massage treatments which keep the problems from reoccurring, and to prevent any future health problems from becoming major health issues
Cranial techniques are helpful for nervous adults as well as beneficial for babies, easing the effects of a traumatic delivery. It also helps to relieve the discomfort of colic-like conditions such as constant crying and feeding problems.
Children can also be helped with breathing problems, learning disabilities and hyperactivity.
The basic massage techniques are:
Effleurer means to stroke or touch lightly, which eases tense muscles, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and can help relax the patient.
*Petrissage: This is a kneading and wringing technique which the affects of deeper massage after your muscles have been warmed up with effleurage. This releases tension from stiff muscles, improves circulation and helps eliminate metabolic wastes.
This technique applies a firm penetrating amount of pressure to specific areas such as when attempting to loosen a knot.
This is a pounding stroke, used to stimulate muscular areas. This technique is used at the end of a massage after the muscles have been warmed up and loosened by the other forms of massage.
A trained osteopath can feel the rhythm of the crainial pulse anywhere in the body, but it is the skull where it is best felt. A healthy adult’s cranial pulse is supposed to beat at 6 to 12 beats a minute, which is altered in a state of ill health. By holding and exerting very gentle pressure on the skull the practitioner can feel the rhythm of the cranial pulse and detect irregularities. Then with a very delicate touch, he can manipulate the bones of the skull to restore balance.
Both massage and cranial osteopathy are about touch, and we know that touch in itself has healing qualities for reasons that are still beyond our complete comprehension. Both massage and cranial osteopathy help to prevent and heal similar ailments, and have both been proven useful as alternative forms of healthcare.
Massage and cranial osteopathyhave helped those recovering from heart attacks, heart surgery, in stress relief and to benefit the mentally ill. As well, healthy relationships that by nature use touch, are similar to the healing therapies mentioned above. We need to touch each other more often, and be gentle in our relationships with each other, because in the end this is what could make the difference in the length and quality of the lives of those whom we love.