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March 23, 2009 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Float-tastic! An intro to CST

My back pain is really off the charts lately (again) so I am pretty much desperate for relief.  The back pain leads to stress, the stress leads to insomnia, and the insomnia leads to me writing posts at midnight.  Either way, I had to tell you about one of the recent things I have tried.  It’s called Cranio Sacral Therapy (CST) and if you Google it, you will immediately see that it’s ranked up there with things like biofeedback, acupuncture, and other new-agey types of medicine.  Recently I was referred to a really whiz-bang chiropractor, and I decided I would go in order to get my elbow adjusted. 

Going to the chiropractor is a lot like taking your car to the shop.  You hear this squeaking sound in the brakes area, so you call the shop and they tell you to take it in.  You get there, and they look under the hood, kick the tires, and half an hour later you are signed up to replace all the filters, switch out belts, drain the decombobulator and tune up the glove compartment.

I left the chiro appointment with a series of more appointments, a tub o’ vitamins for my adrenal health, a 300-line questionnaire about my symptoms (#167:  Painful eyebrows? – Never/Moderate/Severe).  But all is not lost!  First of all, before anyone goes chiro-bashing, DON’T.  I fully enjoy the chiro.  I acknowledge that it’s like Chinese food…you go to the chiropractor and a few days later your back is hungry for another adjustment.  It’s all good, really.

The COOLEST part of the appointment is that there was a lady in the office giving free sessions of CST.  She has a really earthy, crystalline sounding name, a perpetually peaceful look on her face, and the most soothing voice I have ever heard.  I laid down on the table, unsure of what to expect.  CST is prescribed for all kinds of maladies…trauma purging, ear infections, hearing loss, behavioral problems, stress…the list goes on and on.  I won’t say why it was suggested for me.  I didn’t go into the CST office a total skeptic.  I tend to give things a shot and have an open mind.  That said, I was a little weirded out when she grabbed my feet and asked me in that soothing, hypnotic voice, “So what is it?  Is it the voice?  Is it the race?”

“Well,” I said, trying to push the smartypants answers that pop into my head, “it’s um, a lot of things, I guess.”  Luckily there was new-agey music playing in the background, so I had that to listen to, too.  “Nice music.”

She then moved upward, placing her hands very lightly here and there.  The thing about CST is the pressure applied by the practioner is never more than the weight of a nickel.  I had just come out of a chiro adjustment where there were pops and cracks, and a moment where I thought my neck was surely about to be snapped off my body entirely…so my body was going crazy trying to analyze just what the heck I was doing to it.  Then she came up to my head area and held my head for a bit.  Very, very slowly, her hands moved around my jaw and neck and cheeks and scalp…so slowly, that it was very hard to detect there was any movement at all.  This went on for a while, and this is where it gets wacky.

Did you see that episode of the Simpsons (Make Room For Lisa) where Homer and Lisa get placed into sensory deprivation tanks?  It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I believe that Homer gets into the tank and immediately whisks away into the body of Lisa and starts to see the world through her eyes.  Or something weird like that.  But there is a scene where he is rushing down a tunnel. 

I started to feel light and weightless.  In fact, there was a moment when I tried to feel the table underneath me to make sure it was still there, but I couldn’t.  Then it felt like I was sliding down a waterslide.  I could feel the wind on my face.  The fact that there was no water and no slide made it feel a lot like I was being transported through a wormhole in outer space.  I am not kidding.  I am also not the type that would have expected that as a result. 

All of this came crashing down when I heard the very Minnesota voice of my boss (who apparently goes to the same chiropractor) walk in to the office.  She was just outside the door.  I have a great boss, but it was totally unexpected to hear your boss’s voice as you are whizzing through the galaxy with a harpist in the background.  My short, but impactful journey through space and time was over. 

I am signing up for another session soon.  It was awesome.  I cannot tell you exactly what it did, but it definitely did something.  It was a little mental vitamin boost.

When I sat down in my car to drive away, I had to adjust the mirror.  I was suddenly three inches taller.


Leave a Comment
  1. Paloma Pentarian / Mar 30 2009 2:56 am

    There are books that show the back exercises, and your chairopractor can also show them to you.

    Don’t be fooled by thinking they are so easy to be useless (I’m thinking of your military background here)–they seem low-key, but really do work at preventing pain.


  2. Paloma Pentarian / Mar 30 2009 2:55 am


    I’m so sorry to hear about your back pain. Take if from me, as someone who has suffered from severe back pain in the past, now that you’ve had it, you need to take care of your back for the rest of your life. If you do that, you can avoid severe problems.

    1) Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to go to the chairopractor. A good one is great.

    2) Once you are better, you need to do one of two things to stay out of trouble:

    Option 1: Daily back exercises for 15 minutes daily (yes, they really do work; I know they are boring; try to watch TV or something like that while doing them).

    Option 2: Go for a daily 30-minute walk. Yes it really does work. I know it’s boring. Can you take a dog for a walk? That helps.

    3) There is something else you can do that a chairopractor showed me. Take a standard bath towel, fold it in half the long way, then fold it in half the short way, then roll it up. Place it under your back on a diagonal under approximately the middle of your back, and lie on the floor on your back, with this underneath for ten minutes a day. It helps a lot. But ask the chairopractor to show you where first, obviously. This gives you mini-adjustments at home, between chairopractor visits.

    4) Lie on your stomach (when you are well enough to do so, of course) with a pillow under your arms and chest for 15-30 minutes a day (you could read something) either in bed, or on the floor. The idea behind this is that we are normally bent forward too much which causes discs to come out of place, and by spending some time putting back the natural curvature of the back, it helps. It does seem to help, but of course check with your chairopractor.

    5) When you are in pain, alternate (moist) hot and cold treatments on the painful areas. Moist heat (hot water bottle on moist towel) is important, NOT dry heat!

    Good luck.

  3. teeni / Mar 28 2009 11:50 pm

    Heehee – now I know what I need to do since I’m only five feet tall. I need to find a chiropractor! 😉

  4. david / Mar 26 2009 7:59 am

    Holy cow — I generally dismiss most of this stuff as quasi-medicine, but your experience has given me pause.

    I like to give things a shot, even though I am full of skepticism. And since it was free, there was nothing to lose! I tell you, it really shocked me at its awesomeness!

  5. smalltownsmalltimes / Mar 25 2009 7:47 am

    oooohhhh cool. I’m up for anything these days. I have just hooked up with a chiropractor myself and she is great…but expensive..and possibly better than chinese food.

    Maybe once I scrape together more $$$ I will try this next (after I google the heck out of it).

    Well now remember, when you google it you will see a LOT of naysayers. You might also notice that none of them have tried it. But if you have the means to at least give it a shot, it can’t hurt! Get a recommendation from someone though, because I have a feeling that it’s something that not just anyone can do…

  6. crisitunity / Mar 24 2009 7:52 am

    That sounds really, really awesome. I’m glad you had such a floaty good existential experience.

    thanks! I can’t wait for my next transmogrification…

  7. morethananelectrician / Mar 24 2009 7:50 am

    I have been fighting whether or not to see a chiropractor for years and just haven’t done it. My theory now is that if I wont go to a doctor when I actually break something, then this wouldn’t qualify either.

    You are swinging me in the other direction.

    I would recommend giving it a try. It’s more toward the category of maintenance than fixing…so think if it as a massage more than an exam. It’s not really like the doctor at all. For a lot of people, chiropractor appointments are a magical part of life 🙂

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