CranioSacral Therapy


CranioSacral Therapy is a hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing a physiological system of the body that has only recently been researched and recognized. To better understand CranioSacral Therapy, let's first take a look at the basic terms. Cranio comes from Cranium, which is the "vault" that is made up of the bones in your head which protect your brain and the organs of sight, hearing and balance. Sacral comes from Sacrum. Your sacrum is a triangular-shaped bone which is at the base of your spine, just above the "tailbone", or coccyx. Your craniosacral system is made up of the area of your body from your cranium down to your sacrum-in other words, from the top of your head down to the end of your spine. Now let's take a look at how this system works.
As you began to develop as an embryo, your brain and spinal cord were the first to form. These vital organs are protected and nourished against chemical or physical injury by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which continuously circulates around the brain and spinal cord and through cavities within the brain, called ventricles. This fluid serves as a shock absorbing medium that protects the delicate tissue of the brain and spinal cord from jolts, which could otherwise crush them against the bones of the skull and the spine. CSF also provides an optimal chemical environment for electrical signals in your brain. Even slight changes in its composition can cause serious disruptions in brain function. Another important function of CSF is to provide a medium for exchange of nutrients and waste products between the blood and nervous tissue.
CSF is enclosed in a 3-layered membrane system, between the outside layer and the middle layer. The inside layer is the closest to your brain and spinal cord. This membrane system provides the boundary of the craniosacral system-a protective sack that fits closely around your brain and entire spinal cord, all the way down your back to your sacrum. It is filled with cerebrospinal fluid which protects and nourishes this delicate and vital part of you. It's actually very much like a hydraulic system. If pressure is applied to any part of this hydraulic system, the force that results is transmitted equally via the CSF throughout the system. Since this system influences the development and function of the brain and spinal cord, an imbalance or dysfunction in the craniosacral system could cause sensory, motor or neurological disabilities. These problems may include chronic pain, eye difficulties, scoliosis, motor-coordination impairments, learning disabilities, and other dysfunctions of the central nervous system.
As CSF is created and reabsorbed, its activity creates a distinct rhythm, at the rate of six to twelve cycles per minute. This craniosacral motion causes the whole body to move rhythmically in response to the craniosacral system's activity. It is involuntary and inherent in the individual's biological system, and necessary for the continuation of life. This movement can be observed and felt throughout the body by a trained CranioSacral Therapy practitioner. The craniosacral rhythm is separate from the cardiac or respiratory rhythms, but can be felt just as distinctly. Craniosacral motion can be evaluated in terms of amplitude, rate, symmetry and quality.
The positive effect of CranioSacral Therapy relies to a large extent upon the normal self-corrective physiological activities of the client's body. The hydraulic forces inherent within the system to contribute a great deal towards the corrective process. The CranioSacral Therapy practitioner more or less removes obstacles which the normal self-correcting physiological forces have been unable to overcome. A light touch assists the natural movement of the fluid within the craniosacral system. The therapist simply removes obstacles, activates and empowers. Seldom are pressures applied by the therapist which exceed 5 grams (roughly the weight of a nickel!)

Some of the beneficial results of CranioSacral Therapy may include the following:

  • Improved functioning of the autonomic nervous system, enabling the body to respond more effectively to stress and challenge.
  • Improved immune system function.
  • Release of tissue restrictions, facilitating mobility in the body.
  • Release of osseous (bone) restrictions.
Other conditions responding well to CranioSacral Therapy are autism, attention deficit disorder, and learning disabilities

The Foundation of CranioSacral Therapy

The origin of CranioSacral Therapy extends back to the early 1900s, when Dr. William Sutherland was struck by the unusual idea that the bones of the skull were structured to allow for movement. For more than 20 years he explored this concept, eventually developing a system of treatment known as Cranial Osteopathy.
In 1970, osteopathic physician John E. Upledger observed the rhythmic movement of the craniosacral system during surgery. None of his colleagues nor any of the medical texts could explain his discovery.
After studying the work of Dr. Sutherland, Dr. Upledger set out to scientifically confirm the existence of the craniosacral system. From 1975 to 1983, he served as clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics at Michigan State University. There he supervised a team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists and bioengineers to test and document the influence of therapy on the craniosacral system. His continued work in the field resulted in the development of CranioSacral Therapy.
Dr. Upledger founded
The Upledger Institute in 1985 to educate the public and healthcare practitioners about the benefits of CranioSacral Therapy. To date, this healthcare resource center and clinic based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, has trained more than 22,000 healthcare practitioners worldwide in the use of CranioSacral Therapy. Therapists include osteopaths, medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, dentists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, acupuncturists, doctors of chiropractic medicine, massage therapists and bodyworkers.The Institute also manages the HealthPlex Clinical Services, where doctors and therapists are devoted to healing through the use of gentle, non-invasive procedures.