What is Craniosacral Therapy?
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) was developed by the osteopathic physician Dr. John Upledger, who first observed the craniosacral rhythm while assisting in a spinal surgery. CST is a “gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system”. The craniosacral system refers to the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord that extend from the cranium (cranio) to the sacrum (sacral). The movement of CSF through the brain and spinal cord creates a kind of rhythm. This rhythm, called the craniosacral rhythm, can be felt throughout the body. A practitioner can use this rhythm to identify restrictions or dysfunctions throughout the body.
What to expect
Generally, the practitioner will use a very light touch to help release restrictions in the craniosacral system and improve the functioning of the nervous system. The approach that the CST practitioner takes is that of a facilitator, allowing the body to correct itself rather than forcing it. This approach works with the body’s natural healing processes by using the body’s desire to move most freely. Our organs, tissues, and bones need to be able to move freely in order to function optimally. With a trauma or injury, adhesions or deformities can occur in the affected tissues, leading to restrictions of that tissue’s movement. Over time, these restrictions can put stress on surrounding structures, and ultimately the body as a whole.
Because CST works with the brain and spinal cord, it taps into a part of your nervous system which may leave you feeling a deep sense of calm, during or after the treatment. Different types of releases may be felt and may vary between individuals. The body may take several days after the treatment to incorporate the changes that occurred during the craniosacral treatment. CST may be used as a great complementary treatment to massage therapy or can be received solely as a CST treatment for full therapeutic benefit. In the latter case, individuals will remain fully clothed on the table to receive CST since the craniosacral rhythm can be effectively assessed and treated over clothing.
CST is used as a preventive health measure to aid in a range of problems associated with pain or dysfunction and can even help support immune function. Some conditions it may help with include, but are not limited to:
- Migraines, headaches
- Chronic neck and back pain
- Temporomandibular Joint (jaw) Dysfunctions
- Spinal cord injuries
- Emotional, stress, and tension-related problems
- Post surgical dysfunction
Written by Thalia Shulist, registered massage therapist
In March 2017, Thalia completed her CST1 certification through the Upledger Institute and is excited to incorporate CST into her massage practice. Feel free to ask her any questions you may have surrounding CranioSacral Therapy.