CranioSacral Therapy and the Unquiet Mind

In last weeks’ episode of “Let’s Fix My Hip” I tried CranioSacral Therapy for the very first time. What is CranioSacral Therapy, you may wonder as I did too before I went in for my session? Google taught me that “CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system – comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system.”

A couple of my friends had suggested that I try CranioSacral Therapy (or CST) to see if it might help my hip pain. As a traditional consumer sports type massages, I was pretty unsure of this whole thing. Soft touch no greater than 5 grams? No thanks, I like it hard and deep. (WAIT, WHAT?!) Massage, deep tissue massage. So I wondered what 5 grams of pressure could possibly do for my chronic hip pain. A quick Google search will result in claims that CranioSacral Therapy can help with things like migraines, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and orthopedic issues. There are also reports that it is a total scam. Although skeptical myself, I was willing to give it a try.

My therapist was very friendly and the session started off similar to a regular massage, except that I remained fully clothed. I found myself trying to relax in order to fully reap the benefits of the session, but instead of having thoughts float by me like wispy clouds over a summer meadow, they came hurling at me full force like a freight train.

Should I be feeling anything? My nose itches. I hope I don’t sneeze. I hope my stomach doesn’t start growling. Maybe I should have had more breakfast. Will it be time for lunch when I’m done? Why am I always thinking about food? Maybe I should have had less coffee. I should go get more coffee after this. I’ll relax more if I go to my happy place. (Envisions self on beach in Kauai listening to ocean waves and breathing fresh salty air but uh-oh, here comes the freight train again.) Has it been an hour yet? How does light pressure around my chin affect my hip? Are Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner getting a divorce? It’s really hard for me to quiet my mind. I wonder if this is why I’m not better at yoga. I should meditate more.

I think you get my point. After an hour I felt relaxed, but I am not sure my hip felt any different. When I stood up off the table it felt pretty good so that’s positive. Soon after leaving, however, the regular soreness returned. And I found myself wishing that perhaps I had spent my time and money on a deep tissue massage instead. Three days later I saw my regular massage therapist for some deep tissue work, and although she called her deep tissue massage that she had just given me “mean”, I felt so relaxed during it that I almost fell asleep. In other words, no freight trains. Maybe I need some discomfort during my massage to keep me focused on my breathing, or maybe I should give CST a try again. Maybe I need to do more yoga and meditation to quiet my mind. Regardless, I am pretty sure my racing mind is not going anywhere anytime soon.

If My Life Were A Bike Ride

This past weekend my husband and I went on a 40 mile mountain bike ride to celebrate his 40th birthday. Somewhere along the way we realized that the ride was a metaphor for our lives so far. The first few miles were a breeze, in fact I can barely remember them. I was full of energy, although a bit wobbly on my bike. Everything was fresh and brand new. I spent a lot of time enjoying the view and some time getting off of my bike to walk the more treacherous parts of the trail. (See Uncoordinated Runner Attempts Mountain Biking.) In fact, in an attempt to increase my bonding with my mountain bike and decrease my fear and anxiety associated with mountain biking, at some point in the first ten miles or so, I bestowed a name upon my lovely mountain bike. Her name is Rita. I am not sure why, it just came to me. She seems feminine and lovely and she is also white and green like the colors of salt and lime that that go with a margaRITA, so maybe that’s why. I don’t know. What I DO know, however, is that Rita is timid on single track trails and steep downhills. She’s a bit claustrophobic, risk averse, and has a fear of heights. But we are getting along well so far.

Crossing Trestles Like a Champ

Rita, Crossing Trestles Like a Champ

Miles 10 through 20 were also a breeze. Downhill through the mountains following the river with a beautiful view. Much like in my own teens, I did not realize how good I had it! At mile 20, we stopped to turn around. And that’s where the real fun began. The trail we were on had been downhill to our turnaround point, but the downhill was gentle and the trail was loose gravel so we were still having to pedal to go downhill and did not realize how much we had been going downhill. Oops!

When we turned around at mile 20, we quickly realized that we were going to have our work cut out for us. Much like a college graduate at age 22, we realized around mile 22 that we were going to ration out our water (much like budgeting money), and work smartly and efficiently to ensure that we would meet our goal. The 20s were hard but we still had energy to plow through them.

Trucking along!

Trucking along!

The 30s is when the real fun began! And in our real lives, our 30s is when we had our 3 children. So fittingly, miles 30-40 were grueling and exhausting. We took several breaks to laugh at ourselves (Whose idea what this?!) and encourage each other. We knew we would reach our goal, but knew it would take work. And much like parenting, we did it together and with a sense of humor (well, mostly). When we got back to the car (kind of like when we get to the couch after a day of parenting) we were exhausted, but felt accomplished. And very thirsty for beer. We also realized that this is just the beginning of the journey and look forward to seeing what the next 40 years (or miles!) will bring!

On Grandma, the Marathon, and Grandma’s Marathon

My friend Gretchen is running Grandma’s Marathon this weekend (Run GG Run!) and my other friend Emily thought of the fantastic idea for several of us to put together the best advice that Grandma ever gave us to give to Gretchen in a send off package. This got me thinking about my Grandma Vivian (who I called “Nanny”) and the advice that she gave me throughout her life. Interestingly enough, the very last time I saw her was in the fall of 2006 during the weekend of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., which also happens to be the last marathon I completed.

I have a box full of letters from Nanny and went searching through them for bits and pieces of advice from her for one that stood out as both meaningful and applicable to running as well as life in general.


There are years worth of cards, letters, newspaper clippings and memories in the box. I had not read these letters in years and it was a joy to read through them today (Thank you, Emily!). In many ways, I felt like I was receiving these letters from my grandmother all over again. The one piece of advice that stood out to me repeatedly as I sorted through the stuff was this: Life is so much easier if you have a sense of humor. She had sent me an Ann Landers advice column with that advice (as well as many other jokes and reminders to have fun), and I remember her smiling, laughing and joking constantly. Here is the full text of the Ann Landers clipping that my grandmother had sent me many years ago:

Dear Ann Landers:

When I read the letter from “St. Pete” about the man who dressed up as Batman and ended up hitting his head on the ceiling fan, it reminded me of an embarrassing incident that happened years ago.

My husband and I were newlyweds, getting ready to attend a Halloween party given by friends. I came home from work and asked my hubby to answer the door for the trick-or-treaters while I took a bath. As I was running the water, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to play a trick on him?” So I put on my flapper raccoon coat and a mask, and without a stitch on under the coat, I sneaked around the house and rang the doorbell. When my husband answered, I threw open my coat and shouted, “Trick or treat!” He was so stunned that he backed up, fell down the steps of the sunken living room, hit his head and knocked himself unconscious. I phoned for an ambulance and had to explain to the authorities what happened. My husband was taken to the hospital, where they said he had suffered a concussion. We never made it to the Halloween party, and, of course, I had to tell my friends why. They thought it was hilarious. My husband and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary soon. I still love Halloween but have refrained from pulling any more startling surprises. Life is so much easier if you have a sense of humor. –Toni in Long Island, N.Y.

Dear Toni: What a story! Laughter is indeed the elixir of life, and it can be a great protector. There are times when, if we couldn’t laugh, we’d cry.

If my grandmother were here today, and if she knew Gretchen, I think she would say “Don’t forget to laugh this weekend!” Indeed, laughter is great medicine. My grandmother laughed a lot, and she lived a long, happy life. She and my grandfather were married for over 60 years. Below is a photo of them celebrating their first anniversary on the beach, and celebrating again many years later (after 50+ years of marriage) at my cousin’s wedding:


So cheers to laughter, to grandmas, to marathons, to Grandma’s Marathon, and last but not least, to Gretchen. May you run fast, run strong, laugh often, and have a big awesome celebration at the end! xoxo

Trying Differently

I have beat myself up trying to figure out what is wrong with my hip, why it hurts when it does and what I might have done to cause the most current flare up. Maybe I should have taken more rest days after Robie? Maybe I did too many runs on hard surfaces? Maybe I should have done a better job listening too my body on that long run when my hip was hurting? As my counseling professor would say, I am “shoulding all over myself.”  And that is not a good thing.

Last week someone suggested to me that my body is telling me that it is time to hang up my running shoes and find another sport or fitness activity.  My immediate reaction was to become angry and dismissive of the comment, but deep down inside I started to wonder if maybe she was right. What if I am getting too old to run? What if my body can no longer handle the miles I attempt to log every week? My heart ached as I began to imagine a life without my running goals and dreams, a life without my running friends, a life without running. A life without running is totally unacceptable to me.

I am a runner. For the longest time I had difficulty owning that statement.  “I run sometimes,” I would say.  I thought I had to be a certain kind of runner to actually be able to call myself a runner.  Like one who ran track in high school, one who consistently runs races or one who runs at a certain pace.  But now I will call myself a runner instead of just saying “I run”, and this is how running enriches my life: Running brings calm and sanity to my otherwise chaotic mind and life in a way that no other sport or physical activity ever has. Yes, it can be hard, painful and brutal, but as with life, that is also part of its beauty. Running is both my time to be social and my time to be with my own thoughts. I have met some of my closest friends through running. I have seen the beauty of nature and the beauty of humanity through running. And I intend to run for as long as I possibly can.


I have struggled with several bouts of depression in my life.  When I have been in the depths of depression trying with all of my might to climb out I have sometimes felt that perhaps I was not trying hard enough.  That maybe if I worked just a little bit harder I could beat depression. But that was not always the case. I did not always need to try harder. Sometimes I just needed to try differently. A different approach, a different medication, a different therapist, an alternative type of treatment.

So I am applying this approach to my hip ailment. Try differently. It is easy for me to feel frustrated that I am injured in spite of the fact that I do an inordinate amount of hip strengthening exercises, core exercises, cross training, and increase my mileage slowly. However, the negative energy and negative thoughts do no good. I am here now searching for answers and trying the next thing. And keep trying I will until I find some answers and find something that works. Because giving up is just not an option.