Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2022

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32 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j a n u a r y/ fe b r u a r y 2 0 2 2 The Parietal Technique The parietal bones (colored). The parietal eminence is visible as a curved ridge just above the bone's inferior margin. Image courtesy of anatomy.app. 1 TECHNIQUE By Til Luchau THE SOMATIC EDGE KEY POINTS • The Parietal Technique deeply quiets and calms the autonomic nervous system, and so is indicated for agitation, headaches, or neck pain. • To perform the technique, use your fingertips to gently lift the parietal bones, then wait quietly for an autonomic shift or a softening sensation. Sometimes, simpler is better. Although it's great to have an in-depth understanding of the body's anatomical details or be able to feel the most subtle bodily movements and shifts, there are times when a simple, clear, hands-on technique is enough to get very satisfying results. The Parietal Technique is an example—when these dish- shaped bones are gently lifted, and this lift is sustained in a patient, benevolent way, it simply feels wonderful. A more nuanced version of this technique is commonly known in the osteopathic cranial tradition as a parietal lift. Interestingly, several researchers have measured a small (approximately 1 millimeter) elongation of the falx cerebri (the connective tissue partition inside the skull) from the gentle application of this and similar cranial techniques. 1 Cranial therapy ascribes a long list of possible symptomatic benefits to the parietal lift, and many clients with head, neck, or jaw symptoms will appreciate this technique, even if systematic reviews of the few outcome studies that exist on cranial osteopathy itself have shown "a lack of valid evidence," or at best, moderate quality evidence, of measurable benefits. 2 But apart from whatever physiological or functional benefits it may or may not have, the Parietal Technique's ability to produce a delightful feeling is a good thing, in and of itself. Whether we're suffering from a tension headache, eye strain, disquiet, a migraine, or just a long day, simply having something feel good can be a true blessing. A few moments of comfort can provide a break in our suffering, a hiatus that perhaps has the capacity to change the trajectory of our distress from a downward spiral to the beginnings of improvement. But mostly, a technique like this is just a sweet thing all by itself. To perform the Parietal Technique, feel through the soft tissues, all the way to the shapes of the bones themselves, to find the place where the side of the head begins to become the top of the head. Right here, well above the ears (and far from the pressure- adverse temples, where the wings of the delicate sphenoid bone reach the surface of the skull), the thick parietal bones have a nearly ridge-like angle called the parietal eminence or tubercle (Image 1). We can use the purchase this slight ridge gives our fingertips to gently lift the two parietal bones together, not in a vice-like grip like a forceps delivery, but instead with a firm but listening touch that coaxes the bones in a cephalad or cranial (upward) direction (Images 2 and 3). If your thumbs touch the top of the head at all, they should apply absolutely no pressure in order to keep the client's somatic attention on the upward directional intent of the technique. Your stillness and patience are your main tools at this point. Take some time with this gentle traction, and without moving, wait for an autonomic shift like

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