History of CranioSacral Therapy (Cranial Osteopathy)
Craniosacral Therapy also known as Cranial Osteopathy is becoming a treatment of choice in areas of pain, rehabilitation from injury and neurology. CST theory and practice is based on understanding the continuous subtle movements of the cranial bones, this motion can affect the whole both. During Craniosacral Therapy the body is supported to access its own innate healing ability to rebalance and restore – from the inside out.
Cranial osteopathy, it is a gentle, non-invasive, hands-on technique, developed by an American osteopathic physician over one hundred years ago. Osteopathy was founded by Dr Andrew Taylor Still in 1874. In 1892 Dr Still held his first class at his American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri. Around 1899, further concepts of cranial osteopathy originated from one of Dr Stills student, Dr William Sutherland. For the rest of his life, Dr Sutherland researched the concept that cranial bone allow for slight movement within the skull facilitating the continual circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid within the brain and spinal cord (termed the craniosacral rhythm or primary respiratory mechanism). For many years this novel concept challenged the beliefs of the scientific communities of that time. It was not until the late 1970’s that this concept was confirmed by rigorous scientific research. A visionary and pioneer, Sutherland developed a treatment method making him the grandfather of cranial osteopathy.
The cranial sacral rhythm is a fluid pulse (also called primary respiratory mechanism) which propagates the cerebrospinal fluid circulation around the central nervous system (brain and spinal), facilitating essential cellular respiration/ exchange of nutrients in tissues.
American Osteopath, Dr John E. Upledger, first observed the rhythmic pulsations of the craniosacral system when observing the dura membranes during a surgical procedure. With limited information available in current science, he set out to further understand and then scientifically confirm what Sutherland had proposed for previous decades. Upledger and a research team at the University of Michigan scientifically verified and documented the cranial respiratory motion. The results not only confirmed Sutherland’s theory, but led to further clarification of the mechanisms behind this motion – the craniosacral system. Upledger later established the Upledger Institute, which trains craniosacral therapy students all over the world
Benefits of Craniosacral therapy (CST)
Optimal function of the entire body is dependent on the health of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). The central nervous system is influenced by craniosacral system and fluctuation of cerebral spinal fluid which nourish the tissues. Injury or ill health can change the flow of CSF. Daily stresses, injury and strain can lead to tightening and compensations in body tissues; over time these distortions can lead to restrictions which interfere with the performance of the central nervous system, affecting all other organ systems in the body.
By normalizing the environment around the brain and spinal cord craniosacral techniques enhance the body’s ability to self-correct. To effectively reduce pain, improve mobility and speed up recovery, a practitioner works with the interrelationships between the CNS and layers of the human body including the circulatory, viscera, muscular, fascial and nervous systems.
A treatment assists the body in the following ways:
- Helps restore normal cranial mobility and motility
- Assists the release of abnormal myofascial restrictions and tensions in fascia and connective tissue
- Eases restrictions of nerves
- Reconfiguration of adaptive stress patterns, chronic holding patterns and fixations
- Optimizes the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord)
- Assists in restoring misaligned bones to their proper positions (assisting issues related to the head, back, neck, hips, shoulders, arms, hands, knees and feet).
What to except in a CranioSacral therapy?
For the hands-on work to be most effective, you should wear loose clothing. This way, the practitioner can best sense what’s going on in your body. During the initial consultation, a comprehensive case history is taken including birth details, lifestyle and medical history. The session is conducted with the client relaxing on a massage table either supine or side lying. The client remains fully clothed during a treatment and treatments are generally one hour long.
In the words of the late Andrew Taylor Still “the body is self creative, self developing, self sustaining, self repairing, self recuperating, self propelling, and self adjusting and does all these things on its own power”; the practitioner merely gently facilitates the bodies innate intelligence and self regulating process.
The practitioner accesses restrictions and provides opportunity for the innate wisdom of the body to guide the session. Through a gentle unwinding processes, the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid can be enhanced, restrictions can be unwound and trauma held within the soft tissues around the spine and cranium can be released. Sessions are relaxing and can facilitate a sense of peace and wellbeing for the client.
Craniosacral therapy is appropriate for people of all ages, including teenagers, adults, infants, young children and the elderly. Cranial osteopathy can be used concurrently with other manual or medical treatments and are often a treatment of choice for those who are fragile, in pain or individuals who are acutely sensitive and unable to tolerate other hands on techniques.
Many individuals return to craniosacral sessions for stress management or a periodic tune up; other clients commit to a number of consecutive sessions to address trauma experienced through physical or emotional injury, acute health issues or concussion. Return visits can occur weekly, a couple of times per week for several weeks for acute complaints or semi annually.