Sacral release : the most powerful of all spinning babies techniques?

This week I attended the advanced spinning babies workshop with Gail Tully and Debra Mc Laughlin.

I already knew many of the techniques, having learnt them with other birthworkers, and having refined them by attending the first spinning babies workshop in 2016.

Spinning babies, the brain child of American midwife Gail Tully, is a set of techniques designed to

” optimize the physical relationship between the bodies of the mother and baby for the easing of childbirth. Spinning Babies is a new paradigm that takes clues from baby’s position and station for natural, physiological solutions. “

It has achieved mythical status amongst birth workers worldwide and for good reasons.

Spinning babies has 4 core techniques, called the fantastic four.

I was already fairly skilled in the first 3 techniques (Rebozo sifting, forward leaning inversion, and side lying release), having used them with my clients for a few years.

But the 4th technique, known as the standing sacral release, was new to me.

I had heard of it but I didn’t know how to do it.

I suspected it required a degree of touch and skill I simply didn’t have.

I also kind of expected a static technique.

I was wrong.

The technique is both more subtle and more simple than I expected.

It was also more powerful.

It was developed by Dr Carol Philips,  a cranio-sacral and fascia therapist, as an alternative to abdominal fascia release, because she found that the lying down position it required wasn’t comfortable for pregnant women.

First Debra had us realising the extend of our proprioception by laying a long cloth on a massage table and had us taking turns holding one end of the cloth between our fingers with our eyes closed, and gently pulling on it, whilst someone else put their finger somewhere on the cloth. We had to guess where the person had put their finger on the cloth, and much to everybody’s amazement, we all could determine easily where the person’s finger was located on the fabric.

Next she had us holding inflated balloons so we could practise how gentle the touch needed to be for fascia release to avoid blocking the fascia. We had to hold the balloon gently enough to stop it from falling down, but without deforming it.

Then Debra demonstrated the instinctive and involutary movements that came when she held and gently pressed the balloon whilst someone else held it. The woman holding the balloon proceeded to do some kind of gentle spontaneous dance, which was both beautiful and unexpected.

We all had a go at the balloon dance, and it was fascinating, because we didn’t quite believed that it would work but it did-and the sensations and movements it produced where completely intuitive and unpredictable, as well as different for everyone.

Finally Debra showed us how to place our hand on the pubic bone and the sacrum, to encourage the same spontaneous dance, known as fascia unwinding.

It was a fascinating experience, both receiving and giving it, as each of us started doing these amazing  involuntary unwinding movements. It was a slightly surreal and also a very lulling and soothing experience.

My mind was blown away and I couldn’t quite believe the process, yet I experienced how powerful it was.

I found the idea of this technique incredibly empowering.

Usually manual therapy involves someone actively doing something to your body, which somewhat implies that you cannot do it yourself.

With the standing sacral release, the receiver is doing their own fascia release, rather than it being done by the giver. The giver just acts as a trigger for the process.

Debra talked about the hands of the giver producing an electric circuit which allowed the process to happen.

Some of it really felt like energy work to me.

If you want to see what it looks like, this is the closest I have found online, though it isn’t quite the technique we did, which was done standing up, but you’ll get the idea

Being my usual curious self, as soon as I got home I hit google and found this article on the topic

The theory behind the technique is that

“The therapist working on a client will introduce touch or stretching onto the tissue. Touch stimulates the fascia’s mechanoreceptors and, in turn, arouses a parasympathetic nervous system response. As a result, the client is in a state of deep relaxation and calm.  In this state, the conscious mind is relaxed and off guard. The central nervous system responds to this proprioceptive input by allowing the muscles to perform actions that decrease tone or that create movement in a joint or limb, making it move into an area of ease.”

The next day I got to try it whilst combining it with a closing the bones massage session, and the two techniques complimented each other beautifully.

The day after that I did it on a doula friend, and she loved it

Today I tried it on my kids-they moved less than adults and finished it a lot faster-kids have a faster moving energy.

I cannot wait to try on pregnant women and during births in particular.

And I am also much looking forward to showing it to birth partners.

From what I can tell, it might be both the most gentle yet most effective of the 4 main spinning babies techniques.

1 Comment

  1. Annie on April 1, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    I did the standing sacral release with a client and combined it with a guided relaxation facilitating a trusting compassionate space which I thought also worked really well to unlock the conscious brain and tune deeper into the instinctive response.

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