CranioSacral Therapy (CST) was pioneered and developed by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger following extensive scientific studies from 1975 to 1983 at Michigan State University, where he served as a clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics.
CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system - comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.
Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system.
By complementing the body's natural healing processes, CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction, including:
- Migraine Headaches
- Chronic Neck and Back Pain
- Motor-Coordination Impairments
- Central Nervous System Disorders
- Orthopedic Problems
- Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Infantile Disorders
- Learning Disabilities
- Chronic Fatigue
- Emotional Difficulties
- Stress and Tension-Related Problems
- Fibromyalgia and other Connective-Tissue Disorders
- Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
- Neurovascular or Immune Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Post-Surgical Dysfunction
- Helps pregnancy and childbirth be a healthy experience for mother and child
How does CranioSacral Therapy Work?
Few structures have as much influence over the body's ability to function properly as the brain and spinal cord that make up the central nervous system. And, the central nervous system is heavily influenced by the craniosacral system the membranes and fluid that surround, protect and nourish the brain and spinal cord.
Every day your body endures stresses and strains that it must work to compensate for. Unfortunately, these changes often cause body tissues to tighten and distort the craniosacral system. These distortions can then cause tension to form around the brain and spinal cord resulting in restrictions. This can create a barrier to the healthy performance of the central nervous system, and potentially every other system it interacts with.
Fortunately, such restrictions can be detected and corrected using simple methods of touch. With a light touch, the CST practitioner uses his or her hands to evaluate the craniosacral system by gently feeling various locations of the body to test for the ease of motion and rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid pulsing around the brain and spinal cord. This clear fluid, that protects and nourishes the brain and spinal cord, flows with a particular rhythm that echoes via fascia throughout the body.
Soft-touch techniques are then used to release restrictions in any tissues influencing the craniosacral system.
By normalizing the environment around the brain and spinal cord and enhancing the body's ability to self-correct, CranioSacral Therapy is able to alleviate a wide variety of dysfunctions, from chronic pain and sports injuries to stroke and neurological impairment.
People with chronic conditions need to know that their nervous system has adapted to the challenge. I understand that the desire to heal fast is very strong but the motor and sensory systems have adjusted to their dysfunction to create stability and to minimize pain.
These adaptations are part of our evolutionary path. So keep that in mind and know that long term chronic illnesses may need regular sessions for a while to completely release these restrictions and adaptations. But - it will be worth it, because at the other end awaits much, much improved health.
CranioSacral Therapy can:
relieve tension in your body that may have come on slowly or due to traumatic events
help you let go of emotional memories in tissues and cells that are hindering you from complete healing if not addressed
help you connect your body, mind and heart so you can feel peaceful and calm
help you recover, refocus and succeed
Is there any condition for which CST shouldn't be used?
There are certain situations where application of CST would not be recommended. These include conditions where a variation and/or slight increase in intracranial pressure would cause instability. Acute aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage or other preexisting severe bleeding disorders are examples of conditions that could be affected by small intracranial pressure changes.
How many CranioSacral Therapy sessions will I need?
Response to CST varies from individual to individual and condition to condition. Your response is uniquely your own and can't be compared to anyone else's - even those cases that may appear to be similar to your own. The number of sessions needed varies widely - from just one up to three or more a week over the course of several weeks.
When was CranioSacral Therapy developed?
It was in 1970, during a neck surgery in which he was assisting, that osteopathic physician John E. Upledger first observed the rhythmic movement of what would soon be identified as the craniosacral system. None of his colleagues nor any of the medical texts at the time could explain this discovery, however.
His curiosity piqued, Dr. Upledger began searching for the answer. He started with the research of Dr. William Sutherland, the father of cranial osteopathy. For some 20 years beginning in the early 1900s, Sutherland had explored the concept that the bones of the skull were structured to allow for movement. For decades after, this theory remained at odds with the beliefs of the scientific and medical communities. Dr. Upledger believed, however, that if Sutherland's theory of cranial movement was in fact true, this would help explain, and make feasible, the existence of the rhythm he had encountered in surgery.
It was at this point that Dr. Upledger set out to scientifically confirm the existence of cranial bone motion. From 1975 to 1983 he served as clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics at Michigan State University, where he supervised a team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists and bioengineers in research and testing. The results not only confirmed Sutherland's theory, but led to clarification of the mechanisms behind this motion - the craniosacral system. Dr. Upledger's continued work in the field ultimately resulted in his development of CranioSacral Therapy.