Craniosacral Therapy, or CST as it is sometimes called, is a very gentle hands-on approach to releasing tensions from the soft tissue of the body, and restrictions to the cranial bones (head) and the sacrum (the big triangular bone at the base of the spine) and in between.
These bones are connected by the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, and with them form what is known as the craniosacral system, which encloses the central nervous system. All of the nerves of the central nervous system have to go through these membranes on their way to and from the brain. Therefore anything that affects this bone/membrane system adversely, could have far-reaching effects and is often at the root of such conditions as chronic pain, digestive and respiratory disorders, joint mobility, vertebral disc and jaw problems and much, much more.
Who benefits from CranioSacral Therapy
Everyone potentially can benefit, though, with some, the improvement may be more dramatic than with others. Because CST builds health in the brain and nervous system, it is effective in assisting the prevention of chronic conditions, including the problems of ageing, stiffness, dryness, memory loss, inflammation, immune imbalances. CST also addresses injuries, even those that occurred long ago and that we had no idea were still affecting us. Birth trauma commonly affects one throughout life unless addressed, for example.
Children respond well to CST because it is gentle, non-invasive, and effective in ways they can intuitively recognise. Much subtle work can be done by the practitioner during “playtime” in which the child is observed and assisted in completing unresolved challenges. Parents are often astounded at the way a crabby, hyperactive, or miserable child will fall into deep relaxation or sleep during treatment. The challenge, of course, is the busy toddler who won’t lie still. Here the parent can help out by holding the child as the practitioner makes even brief contacts on the spine, head, and sacrum. A little goes a long way with a child. Whatever can be resolved during infancy or childhood, often in only a few sessions, can potentially prevent decades of medical and psychological treatment later on.
Babies especially benefit from craniosacral therapy, especially those who have had a fast or slow birth, were in a non-optimum position during pregnancy, or who’s birth may have resulted in subtle and more evasive injury such as during a c-birth, or instrumental delivery. The precious cranial nerves are often subject to strong forces during birth and can manifest in digestive, sleeping, crying and ear, nose and throat problems to name a few.
What happens during a treatment?
The first treatment usually starts by your therapist taking a brief medical history to get a general picture of your health and to establish where any unresolved problems may have originated. You will then be asked to lie on a therapy table unless this proves difficult for you or your child, where you will be treated sitting in a chair or on the move. There is no need to undress, but it is advisable to wear light, loose-fitting clothing so that you are comfortable. You will probably be asked to remove your shoes, and a belt if you are wearing one.
Your therapist will probably start at your feet, and gradually work up your body with their hands gently monitoring your craniosacral motion to locate areas of tension, and check for freedom in the cranial bones. They will then proceed to work with whatever area of tension is most prevalent. Therapists vary, but most treatments will last forty-five to fifty minutes.
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 UpledgerJohn Upledger, an 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 its 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.
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