Craniosacral vs Chiropractic, Massage and Reiki

After our recent show on Craniosacral Therapy we got the following question from Sheila via Twitter.

@WakeUpCallRadio How is craniosacral therapy different from chiropractic, massage, or an energy modality like reiki?


Great question Sheila, here is a brief answer. This is an, ‘in general’ answer so I apologize in advance to those who practice in a way that falls outside the ‘general’ approach I am going to refer to in my response.

Chiropractic in general involves the application of ‘gross’ (strong, physical) force to joints to ‘adjust’ them. And the chiropractor, has a predetermined idea of normal which they are attempting to create in the clients body. This can be helpful and at times is just the right thing.

In massage therapy the therapist is applying gross pressure to the muscle/fascial system to effect the body on primarily a gross physical level. Relax tight muscles, move blood and lymph manually, create pleasurable stimulation through touch, calm the nervous system. All high value therapeutic outcomes. But again the main point of distinction is the work is primarily on the gross physical level and so the results tend to be as well.

C/S on the other hand uses very gentle forces, about the weight of a nickel, to encourage movement if the clients system is willing to cooperate. And, the therapist does not have a predetermined idea of normal which they are trying to create in the clients body. Quite the opposite, the C/S practitioner is listening to the clients body for the bodies need in the moment, it is much more a dance with the clients body’s intelligence in the role of leader and the therapist as follower.

Reiki and other forms of energy work move us away from the gross physical and into the subtle (gentle, may even be beyond the perception of the 5 senses in their ordinary state) aspect of ‘touch’. Two differences here, one being, again, the practitioner with an idea of normal from which they decide what should be done to the client. Most forms of healing have this aspect of the therapist leads the clients system back to ‘balance’, or ‘normal’. This can be very helpful and wonderful results come from these approaches.

The second difference is that few forms of energy work have a deep and detailed appreciation of anatomy and physiology, they tend to leave the detail of the body behind. As they move into progressively more subtle dimensions of working with the client as a psycho-physical-energetic being the physical is given less attention. It is important to give these aspects of your nature their due attention, after all the physical gets most of our attention in our day-to-day life.

C/S therapy considers the entire spectrum of our Being, form cells all the way to the Life Principle its self. This is rare among the various forms of alternative medicine, C/S is by no means the only one to include the entire spectrum but it is one of the few that do.

If you have questions, comments, corrections please send them along I would love to hear from you.

Thank you
Guy Odishaw


Rob is a Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, certified by the ISSA and is currently pursing a nutritional sciences degree with plans on becoming a Registered Dietitian. He is also a member of the Obesity Action Coalition and a volunteer for the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America. As a personal nutritional coach with Positively Healthy, Rob helps his clients make small, realistic changes to their eating and exercise habits that add up to positively healthy results.

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1 Response

  1. Gizelle Erickson says:

    I LOVE this question! From the standpoint of the Reiki Practioner, I can offer this perspective. And, as Guy mentioned, my Reiki practice will differ from others in the feild in both application and perspective. I would welcome offerings from others as well, for a well rounded discussion!!

    I agree with Guy’s take on Reiki in some aspects: my goal in a session is to find imbalance and move the client to balance. In this sense balance to me means “freely flowing”. Here, there is not a preconceived idea of normal, as each persons energy flow is different. The therapist is also listening to what the body is saying and following the body’s needs as it calls for them. In these ways there is a similarity to CS Therapy.

    In Reiki, there is a “hands-on” approach, with the intention of connection only, no physical movement or adjustment. Reiki can be done with the hands slightly off the body as well.

    In some aspects, all of these therapies deal with the energy levels the body is putting forth. Bodyworkers understand that all disfunction occurs first on an energetic level, so we seek to explore that energy and find the “story” behind it. Just as anyone reading a good book, we will all create the pictures and the voices with different emphasis based on our training and the aspects, the facets of YOU we have been trained to look through. Some of us seek to explore the energy from the outside in (chiro, massage) and some from the inside out (CS/Reiki).



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