Craniosacral Therapy – In Simple Terms
(Excerpted from CranioSacral Therapy; What it Is, How It Works by John E. Upledger, DO,OMM) For more information please visit www.upledger.com
Everyone has several kinds of rhythms in their body: cardiac rhythm beats 60-80 beats per minute, respiratory rhythm with inhalation/exhalation 15-20 times per minute, craniosacral rhythm 6-12 cycles per minute. The membranes that surround your head and spine act as a little hydraulic pump that draws this clear fluid out of your blood, bathes the brain and spinal cord, then returns it to the blood supply, In this way the cerebrospinal fluid is filtered and renewed. It is important fluid because it supplies nutrients, carries away waste products, and acts as a fluid protective covering for the brain and spinal cord.
The cardiac rhythm can be felt at the neck, wrist, and ankles. The rhythm of the lungs can be felt at the shoulders, neck, chest, and belly. Like these other rhythms, the craniosacral rhythm can be felt from all over the body – the legs, pelvis, sacrum, shoulders, and head.
If I were to hold your ribs and resist your lungs from expanding, you would move to allow your lungs freedom to continue their rhythm. In
CranioSacral Therapy, we very gently hold the rhythm and watch as the body gently moves to free itself. As it does this, releases occur and restrictions in the body change. Just as bruised ribs from a fall might keep you from breathing properly, a fall on your tailbone or a bump on the head may keep your craniosacral system from working properly.
So we gently hold and wait for releases. Releases occur in the form of heat, pulsing, muscle twitching. Sometimes the eyes may blink or gurgling sounds occur in the digestive system. You may feel part of your body soften, or gently shift and spread. Breathing patterns may change. Releases may be emotional, in the form of tears, laughter, and/or memories that can come to the patient’s awareness. A deep feeling of relaxation is a common reaction to treatment.
The other thing that can sometimes happen with this work is that your body may get very still during the release process. It’s a special point because it is a Significance Detector for your body. Sometimes as your body is resting here on the table, your body might move into the position it was in when you got hurt. This often happens with people having pain and dysfunction from slips, falls, motor vehicle accidents, and traumatic events. Your rhythm automatically stops, and releases begin to occur. You enter a point of stillness we call a Significance Detector because the position the body moves into, or what you are thinking, is often an important (significant) part of the healing and letting go process.
CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle method of listening to the body and encouraging change. The most important part about CST is that the body will lead the way and do what the patient needs, and what the therapist is able to help facilitate.
CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, hands-on method of whole-body evaluation and treatment that releases tensions held in the body, allowing the entire body to relax and self-correct.
The Craniosacral System consists of a compartment formed by dura mater membrane, cerebrospinal fluid, regulatory systems, bones that attach to the membranes, joints & sutures that interconnect these bones
What CST Does:
- normalizes the environment of the craniosacral system
- optimizes form and function of central nervous system
- enhances fluid motion, releases muscle tonus, desensitizes facilitated segments (excess nerve root stimulation)
- improves whole-body health & performance
- releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain & dysfunction
- Proven clinically effective in facilitating the body’s ability to self-heal
- CST works on resolving the underlying primary dysfunction in order to effect lasting relief from the presenting symptoms
- addresses psycho-emotional factors
- excellent preventive medicine modality due to its ability to mobilize natural defenses
How CST is applied:
- The craniosacral system is evaluated for ease of motion (amplitude, symmetry, quality, rate) by simple palpation methods, then specific techniques are used to release restrictions in sutures, fasciae, membranes, & other tissues
- skull bones are used as “handles” to access & affect the membrane system
- generally only 5 g of pressure (the weight of a nickel) are used to affect the tissues
The Theory Behind CST
- The craniosacral system is a semi-closed hydraulic system (pressurestat model) responding to nerve receptors in sutures and ventricles (location of choroid plexuses where cerebrospinal fluid is produced).
- Joints & sutures (in skull) don’t fully ossify but remain somewhat mobile
- As cerebrospinal fluid volume & pressure rise & fall, corresponding changes occur in the dura mater membrane tension causing movements in bones that attach to the dura mater.
- When the natural mobility of the dura mater (or attached bones) is impaired, the craniosacral system & central nervous system (CNS) may also be impaired.
- The craniosacral system’s function greatly impacts the central nervous system and the CNS has great influence over your overall health and well-being
- Each client’s body has the necessary information to uncover the underlying cause of any health problem. The therapist communicates with the client’s body to obtain this information & help facilitate their healing process.
- Peripheral body problems often refer to the spinal cord via their nerve root connections, which in turn effects the dura mater
The number of sessions required to achieve results depends on the complexity of the layers, the patient’s defense mechanisms, & other factors.
*Acute intracranial hemorrhage *Intracranial aneurism
*Recent skull fracture
*Herniation of the medulla oblongata
*Research was conducted at Michigan State University (1975-1983) when Dr. John Upledger was professor of Biomechanics College of Osteopathic Medicine. He led team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists, bioengineers to test & document the influence of the craniosacral system on the body. This research proved the existence of the craniosacral system & its effect on health.