cranial sacral

All About Cranio-Sacral Therapy

It’s a treatment that can effect profound physical and emotional change. But so deceptively gentle are it’s methods, even the very old and the newly born can benefit.

If you’ve ever seen cranio sacral therapy being performed, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for spiritual healing. The therapist often appears to be in a trance like state, with eyes closed, hands resting on the patient, but little perceptible movement. In fact, in cranio scaral therapy a very deep physiological process is taking place, affecting the patient both physically and emotionally.

The therapy has it’s roots in osteopathy. In the early 1900’s an American cranial osteopath, called William Sutherland, found that he could influence the way he felt physically and emotionally by placing pressure on the bones and cerebrospinal fluid in the cranium, spine and sacrum. He also noticed an inherent rhythmic pulsation ebbing and flowing like a tide through the body, independently of the circulatory and respiratory systems.

He believed this was responsible for the movement of the bones, cerebrospinal fluid and the nervous system. He called this impulse the breath of life – a form of qi, the name for the vital life force which is also felt as an energy impulse in traditional Chinese medicine.

Maintenance and Self Healing

In essence, Sutherland maintained this motion is the mechanical manifestation of the body’s dynamic system of maintenance and self healing. The fluctuation brings nutrients, peptides, hormones and other essential substances to all the cells of the body and washes away the waste products. This fluctuation of fluid is associated with an electromagnetic energy which also cycles from positive to negative. It works within the extra-cellular fluid which contains the connective tissue, the final common area of all.

Fluids (blood, lymph, cerebrospinal and cellular)

Physiologically active substances (peptides, hormones, immune regulators and more)

Nerve endings, as they all influence the cells

The connective tissue touches every cell and sheets of it (Fascia) surround every organ muscle, nerve and vessel. These sheets conduct this fluctuation of fluid and energy.

Sutherland’s work was developed in the 1970’s by another American osteopath, John Upledger. He introduced the idea that the body’s connective tissue can hold memories of past traumas and that these need to be released to facilitate a total healing of mind and body.

Questions and Answers

What is Cranio Sacral Therapy?

A system which encourages the body to rebalance and heal itself, using palpitation coupled with a very subtle manipulative technique. Emphasis is placed on the body’s connective tissue and the cerebrospinal fluids rather than the physical manipulation of the musculo skeletal system.

How can a therapist tell if there is a problem?

Therapists are trained to feel, through their hands, the body’s intrinsic rhythm (the breath of life). Any fluctuation indicates tension, congestion or blockage somewhere in the system which is causing or may cause ill health.

This could be of a physical or emotional nature and may be a combination of the two. Very gently, the therapist encourages and facilitates the body’s own healing processes.

What are the benefits of cranial sacral therapy?

Besides relieving symptoms and bio mechanical imbalance and nerve dysfunction, such as pain, numbness, weakness and tingling, cranial sacral therapy is thought to reduce swelling, improve vision, sharpen cognition, improve functioning of organs, enhance breathing, increase energy levels, allow restful sleep and relaxation, and provide a sense of well being, confidence and self awareness. This treatment provides healing, as distinguished from the goal of conventional medicine to fight disease. Cranial sacral therapy stimulates the body’s own resources to generate it’s own healing.

Does it hurt?

The pressure that is exerted by the Therapist is very light and is therefore, unlikely to cause any pain. This makes it particularly suitable for treating babies, the elderly and for very painful or tender conditions.

What is it used for?

The functioning of the body’s organs, musculo-skeletal, nervous and immune systems can all be improved, as can most conditions of a physical, emotional or psychological nature. Some of the more common problems treated include arthritis, asthma, back pain and injuries, depression, digestive problems, premenstrual syndrome, sciatica, sports injuries and stress related illnesses.


What are the conditions it can be used to treat?

At any age, some causes of ringing and dizziness may respond well to craniosacral therapy. Colitis, urinary incontinence and painful menstrual period might be helped. It can be successful in relieving many painful conditions, including lower back pain, neck pain and even migraines. It helps in many cases of facial pain such as trigenminal neuralgia and temporamandibular joint dysfunction. It also helps to restore the facial weakness of Bells Palsy. Chest pain, abdominal pain and pelvis pain may respond very favorably, especially if there is some history of trauma to the spine, ribs pelvis or extremities. Difficulties with pain, tingling or weakness in the extremities may often be successfully treated, including such problems as carpal tunnel syndrome.

There are instances where cranio sacral therapy is successful in treating ruptured intervertebral discs and injuries resulting in fractures and sprains. Any time there is involvement of the soft tissues, cranio sacral therapy can be helpful, even when a fracture of a bone exists or even when surgery is necessary. It may be important to intergrate myo facial release therapy of a specific exercise program to optimize the healing process.

Can it be used to treat children?

The therapy is particularly recommended for babies and children with problems such as colic, feeding difficulties, spinal curvature, constant crying and behavioural problems. It can also do much to improve the quality of life of children with Down’s Sydrome, cerebral palsy and autism.

How old do babies have to be before they can be treated?

There is no minimum age. A newborn baby may benefit from a routine postnatal check as compressive forces during childbirth can cause imbalances in the cranio sacral system. This is particularly important if intervention techniques, such as forceps, have been used in labour, because these imbalances may lead to problems such as depression, migraine, sinusitis, spinal and pelvic pain later in life.

Is it really safe to use on babies?

Yes. Therapists don’t use any fortified manipulative techniques. They may place their hands anywhere on the baby’s body, including the skull, and most infants appear totally oblivious of the treatment. Mothers are encouraged to hold and perhaps feed their babies during treatment to create a relaxed, reassuring environment. It’s advisable to find a therapist who specializes, or is experienced in treating babies.

What happens on a first visit?

Much emphasis is placed on the initial visit, which may last up to an hour-and-a-half, as the empathy between practitioner and client is an integral part of the therapy. The therapist will take a full case history including medical, emotional and general health and lifestyle details. You will then have a treatment. Usually you’ll be lying down for this, although you may occasionally be asked to sit or stand to help release tension and resistance in particular joints and connective tissues. The therapist will usually work within the cranial and sacral areas, although the cranio sacral system can be accessed from other parts of the body. Subsequent treatments can last 30-60 minutes.

How will I feel during, and after treatment?

During treatment many people report a feeling of deep relaxation, perhaps accompanied by localized heat or tingling as the bones, joints and tissues release and fluid pressure alters. You may experience feelings of sadness, happiness, tiredness, aching or tenderness during or after treatment, and these are connected with the body’s physical and emotional release system. The body can also release memories and sensations related to past physical and emotional traumas. After treatment the body continues to go through a process of rebalancing, which may last for several days. Side effects are usually mild, however.

How many appointments will I need?

A recent, minor injury may be resolved in one session. Treatment usually needs at least a few sessions and may span several months, depending on the problem and the individual.

We warmly suggest that you come and try this recently-proven therapy, which has already brought relief to a large number of people for whom there previously seemed to be no suitable treatment.

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