What is CranioSacral Therapy?
Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a subtle hands-on non-invasive therapy, that has roots in both Osteopathy and Cranial Osteopathy but focuses more on the fascia lining the bones of the head and vertebral column, called the meninges but most specifically the outer layer known as the dura.
It is a safe, gentle and effective manual therapy that works by facilitating the body’s own natural healing powers to remove or lessen the negative effects of stress on the Central Nervous System (CNS). This is a powerful therapy that affects the Central Nervous System to assist in improving the function of the whole body.
It works by treating a physiological system known as the CranioSacral System, which houses and protects the CNS (the brain and spinal cord), as well as keeping it functioning smoothly.
The CranioSacral System is made of the protective membranes (especially the Dura Mater) and cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, and the bones and spinal cord, and the bones to which the membranes attach, all the way from the head to the tail (cranium to sacrum/coccyx).
Therefore, CST addresses restrictions to the physiological motion of the cranial vault, the cervical spine, the thoracolumbar spine, the sacropelvic region, the coccygeal region and all of its fascial connections, including the extremities.
During treatment, a therapist can work anywhere on the body although many areas affect and are affected by the fascia between the cranium and the sacrum.
How does it work?
The CNS is made up of the brain and spinal cord, which have an immense influence on the body’s ability to function correctly. No other system has as much of an impact on the CNS as the CranioSacral System (the membranes and fluid that surround, protect and nourish the brain and spinal cord).
As part of our everyday living your body experiences stresses and strains, and it works hard to compensate for them. As a result, the body tissues tighten and distort the CranioSacral System causing tension to develop around the brain and spinal cord. Consequently resulting in a barrier to the healthy functioning of the CNS, and potentially every other system it interacts with.
Restrictions such as these can easily be located and rectified by the simple methods of touch that are utilized in CST. This is about 5 grams of pressure — roughly the weight of a 20-pence piece. The CranioSacral Therapist using their hands evaluates the CranioSacral System by gently feeling various locations of the body to test for the ease of movement and rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid flowing around the brain and spinal cord. Subtle techniques are then used to aid the release of restrictions in any tissues influencing the CranioSacral System.
CST assists in restoring homeostasis of the CranioSacral System which increases the body’s ability to self-correct, it can assist in an assortment of dysfunctions, from chronic pain and sports injuries to stroke and neurological impairment.
How does it help?
Apart from being extremely relaxing and a generally pleasant experience, CST aids the body to self-heal. After trauma, stress, illness, surgery, postural changes due to daily activities and the birthing process can all lead to restrictions within the tissues. These restrictions can impact the membranes of the CranioSacral System and impede the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. With the flow of cerebrospinal fluid being encumbered, the amount of nutrients is decreased and the amount of waste products and toxins is increased in the circulating cerebrospinal fluid. A CranioSacral session corrects the restrictions within the tissues and the CranioSacral System. With these restrictions being alleviated, the cerebrospinal fluid is now free-flowing and unencumbered, resulting in an increase in the supply of nutrients and assisting in the removal of toxins and waste products. The outcome for the client is their general well-being improves.
What does a CST session involve?
You will be asked to lie on your back on the therapist’s treatment couch. You should wear lightweight comfortable clothing as there is no need to undress.
The therapist will use light contact with their hands to listen and tune in to what is happening and therefore treat according to their findings.
A treatment session can take an hour or more, during which you may experience pulsing, warmth or softening where the therapist is working.
A session can be extremely relaxing and a positively pleasurable experience whilst aiding recovery.
Contraindications to CST?
• Acute stroke
• Cerebral aneurysm
• Recent skull fractures
• Any condition in which an increase in intracranial pressure could be detrimental
• CST can be used alongside other Complementary and Traditional Therapies or as a treatment by itself.
• CST is not a cure or a replacement for General Medicine.