So, what is Craniosacral Therapy? (also sometimes referred to as cranio sacral therapy, cranio sacral therapy or craniosacral massage therapy) is a relatively new therapy - but follows a lineage going back decades.
Before I go on - you may wish to quickly jump to:
These will give you a quick insight into what my own clients have particularly appreciated when we applied CST to their own conditions. Otherwise, please do read on!
When I first started to study and practice Complementary Therapies in the mid-1990s, I briefly came across CranioSacral Osteopathy. It had been developed by Dr. John Upledger to complement his Osteopathy practice. I noted it's existence, but moved swiftly on to study Anatomy and Physiology and associated healing modalities.
About seven years ago, I became aware of this therapy as a friend used it to treat one of his children who had an extreme muscular disorder. What struck me about the therapy was that as well as attending a CranioSacral Therapist who specialised in this type of disorder,the parent also learned the therapy so that he could use it himself with his child, so complementing the work of the Therapist as well as his doctors.
I started my own formal training in CranioSacral Therapy - learning the techniques as well as finding out more of the theory involved. The following is a summary of what I have discovered - both from courses, books and in my own practice - over the past number of years.
In the 1930s, an osteopath by the name of William Sutherland (1873-1954) founded the field of cranial osteopathy. He noticed the importance of cranial (the head) bone mobility as well as the effects that restrictions in this area had through the whole body. By the 1940s, Sutherland had established specialised training in this area at The American School of Osteopathy.
John Upledger, a osteopathic physician, was a researcher at Michigan State University in the 1970s. He was involved in a number of scientific studies into the area of Cranio Osteopathy. He became convinced of it's effectiveness in a wide range of conditions. As a result of his research and practice, he established the field of CranioSacral Therapy.
The idea of this was two-fold: Firstly, he extended Sutherlands ideas to include a view of the mechanics behind Sutherlands discovery. He called this the "craniosacral system". Secondly, he wanted to develop a way of extending the study of this system outside of the Ostheopathic community.
As a result he developed training in CranioSacral Therapy for osteopaths, medical doctors, doctors of chiropractic, doctors of Oriental medicine, naturopathic physicians, psychiatric specialists, psychologists, dentists, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists and other professional bodyworkers.
This is the term used by Dr. Upledger to describe the physiological body system which consists of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord, extending from the bones of the skull(which make up the cranium) down to the tailbone area (or sacrum).
He considered the role of this system in the development and performance of the brain and spinal cord as so vital that an imbalance or dysfunction in it can cause sensory, motor and/or neurological disabilities.
Like the pulse of the cardiovascular system, the craniosacral system has a rhythm that can be felt throughout the body. Using a touch generally no heavier than the weight of a five cent coin, skilled practitioners can monitor this rhythm at key body points to pinpoint the source of an obstruction or stress. Once a source has been determined, they can assist the natural movement of the fluid and related soft tissue to help the body self-correct.
This simple action is often all it takes to remove a restriction. Other times, CranioSacral Therapy may be combined with other complementary therapies to help restore the body to its optimum functioning level.