Hippocrates talked about the need for physicians to be experienced in “rubbing” as early as 400 BC. Massage was widely used in ancient cultures, too, from China and Japan to Egypt and the Arab world. But beyond traditional massage to relieve pain, heal sports injuries, and quell stress and depression, there are other touch treatments, like craniosacral therapy for musculoskeletal imbalances and Reiki, a light-touch energy healing for the body’s so-called biofield. 


Profiles in Treatment: Todd Jackson


Barely able to turn her head due to four bulging discs in her neck, Camille Scheewe Radich visited Todd Jackson, a cranial therapist who is also a yoga teacher and massage therapist. “I was in excruciating pain,” Radich recalls. Jackson slowly rotated her neck in a single, uninterrupted movement—for 30 minutes. 

“Each time he moved my neck a degree, he just held it there until it released,” Radich recalls. “It was like a layer of an onion, letting go.” By the end of the session, she said her pain level had dropped by 70 percent and she could move her neck again. “He puts his hands on your shoulders,” Radich says, “and connects with your energy.” 

The cranial system, Jackson explains, is just like your respiratory system and circulatory system: it has a certain rate and cycle. “All the fluids expand and contract according to this rhythm,” he says, referring to the fluid that surrounds, protects, and nourishes the brain and spinal cord. Jackson’s job is to find the disruptions in this rhythm—the places where disease and discomfort usually lie—and “palpate” them (i.e., examine them by pressing with the palms and the fingers).  

There are many schools of craniosacral therapy. Jackson, who founded the Portland-based Northwest Cranial Association (, also incorporates “biodynamic massage”—a type of massage that follows what he calls the “subtle undulatory patterns” in the cranial system—in his therapy. “Biodynamic massage is dramatically different than traditional massage,” he says. “It orients around what the intelligence in the client’s body requires to reach resolution.”