According to the Upledger Institute’s website, Craniosacral therapy is a therapy used by many for relief from Migraines and headaches, jaw pain, back pain, fatigue, memory problems, thought processing, back pain, chronic fatigue, colic, concussions, fibromyalgia, immune disorders, learning disabilities, focus and/or attention problems, Chronic Fatigues, ADD/ ADHD Autism, migraine headaches, jaw pain (TMJ), motor coordination, neck pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, scoliosis, spinal cord injuries, and/or stress but what is it?
What is Craniosacral Therapy?
Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle non-invasive treatment that has been around for over 80 years. The treatment uses under 5 grams of pressure, less than the weight of a nickel, to manipulate and release restrictions in your craniosacral system. The skull and pelvis!
The History of Craniosacral Therapy
The History of Craniosacral Therapy started at the beginning of the 1900s. Dr. William Sutherland was an Osteopath who came up with the theory that the cranial bones, the bones that make up your skull, could move. Previous to this, the theory was that the bones fuse together and are not allowed to move once you are an adult. Dr. Sutherland built upon his findings and started Cranial Osteopathy.
Fast forward a few years to the 1907s, Dr. John Upledger, an Osteopathic doctor and surgeon, who was assisting with a spinal surgery when he observed part of the covering of the brain and spinal cord was pulsating and moving. He had not learned about this previously in school or by any of his fellow doctors. As he tried to research to explain this phenonium, he came across the work of Dr. Sutherland. He then took his observations and Dr. Sutherland’s work and combined them to start conducting his own clinical research. Dr. Upledger was also a clinical researcher and a professor of biomechanics at Michigan State University from 1975-1983.
In 1985, Dr. Upledger created The Upledger Institute to train and educate healthcare practitioners to perform and treat people using craniosacral therapy. To date, he has trained over 40,000 healthcare practitioners all around the world. Now thousands of people are able to benefit.
What is the Craniosacral System?
The structures that make up the Craniosacral system are:
- The bones in your head
- The bones in your neck and back
- The muscles in your neck and back
- The tendons and ligaments in your neck and back
- The meningeal membranes (sacks that surround and protect your brain and spinal cord)
- The cerebral spinal fluid (fluid that nourishes and surrounds your brain and spinal cord)
- Fascia (connective tissue that surrounds other structures in your body)
These structures are connected to various other structures and systems in your body mainly your nerves, muscles, joints, bones, arteries, veins, lymphatic systems, hormones, and lungs. With the craniosacral system having an effect on all of these things, you can see how important it can be. You can also see its lack of proper function can lead to so many health problems.
The craniosacral system has a natural and unique craniosacral rhythm where it helps circulate the cerebral spinal fluid. This rhythm is between six to twelve cycles per minute and is created by movement of the foundational structures listed.
What Can Craniosacral Therapy Help With?
Craniosacral Therapy has been known to help with Alzheimer’s disease, autism, back pain, brain injuries, disorders with the central nervous system, chronic fatigue, colic, concussions, dementia, fibromyalgia, different immune disorders, learning disabilities, autism, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, migraine headaches, jaw pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ), neck pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, scoliosis, spinal cord injuries, and stress.
What will I experience during a Craniosacral Treatment?
During a Craniosacral therapy treatment, you will lie on your back fully clothed. Mostly, people experience a deep relaxation while undergoing a Craniosacral treatment. Often times, we will store certain memories or emotions in the tissues of our body. These memories or emotions are often negative emotions that can translate to and cause physical problems in your body. During a craniosacral therapy secession, it can be normal to experience an emotional release as these areas of our body are being healed. These releases can be very therapeutic because the negative experiences or emotions that your body has been suppressing in the tissues can be the root cause of your pain and other problems.
The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system and are the most important structures that ensure that the body communicates and functions properly. When there is interference with the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid, then the central nervous system will not function properly. Your body encounters stress and pressures on a daily basis that it must continually work to offset and adjust. Sometimes, these stresses and pressures can cause various structures in the body to tighten up and impact the craniosacral system. This leads to increased tension around the spinal cord and brain resulting in restrictions. There will be a downward cascade of other problems in all components of the craniosacral system and all that it connects to and interacts with.
In my practice I use this treatment in those cases I find that will benefit from this modality. First thing is to observe the patient’s breathing pattern and to breath in sync with the patient’s breathing rhythm. I then use a light touch with my fingertips to examine the rhythm of the Cerebrospinal fluid by contacting the neck and the sacrum simultaneously. Next, I move to different locations on the body to see how easy the motion and rhythm of cerebral spinal fluid is moving around the spinal cord and the brain. I look for pulsations and subtle movement of the lower limbs for rhythm and synchronicity. Once I locate the restrictions, the restrictions are released by encouraging light motion in the direction of the restriction.
Craniosacral therapy helps the body to heal itself. It may take several treatments over a few weeks to help the body fully heal itself. Each treatment may last one to two hours.
Are There Any Patients Who Should Not Have Craniosacral Therapy?
Craniosacral Therapy is contraindicated and therefore not recommended in patients who have a condition that causes them to have increased intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull) or where their intracranial pressure would result in instability if altered. In addition, patients who have severe bleeding disorders, or problems with their blood vessels such as aneurysms, or bleeding in or around their brain should not undergo craniosacral therapy due to these conditions may become worse with subtle intercranial pressure changes.
However, craniosacral therapy is a gentle non-invasive treatment that has almost no negative side effects. Many people not only report relief from their pain or neurological problems, but report having more energy throughout the day, sleeping better at night, and also being sick less often.
Many people include craniosacral therapy as an important component in their wellness plans. I consider this modality as an over cleanse of the body and consider a quarterly session to be sufficient for maintenance basis.
To learn more about various other topics and treatments, check out the other blogs I have written and do know that you are the Designer and the Director of your own life, so design and direct it the way you wish to live it.