Massage Hands
part of the
We Envision Wholeleness
line decor
  Massage Therapy Home  ::  
line decor
Cranio Sacral Therapy

What is Cranio-Sacral Therapy?
Cranio-Sacral Therapy is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of the the Cranio-Sacral system. The Cranio-Sacral system is comprised of the membranes and cerebro-spinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord, extending from the bones of the skull, face and mouth (which make up the cranium) down to the tailbone area (or sacrum).

Like the pulse of the cardiovascular system, the Cranio-Sacral system has a rhythm that can be felt throughout the body. The rhythm can indicate the source of an obstruction or stress. Some of the most common areas of obstruction and stress are in the cranial bones. The bones which make up the scull are "free-floating" and not one solid bone. These bones can become "locked" and the restricted movement can cause pain and decreased mobility in all areas of the body.

Once an obstruction or source of stress has been determined, the therapist can assist the natural movement of the fluid, using a soft touch - generally no greater than the weight of a nickel, to help the body self-correct. By complementing the body's natural healing processes, Cranio-Sacral Therapy can be 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
  • Colic
  • Autism
  • Scoliosis
  • Infantile Disorders
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Emotional Difficulties
  • Orthopedic Problems
  • Chronic Neck and Back Pain
  • Stress and Tension-Related Problems
  • Fibromyalgia and other Connective-Tissue Disorders
  • Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJD)
  • Neurovascular or Immune Disorders
  • Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Central Nervous System Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Post-Surgical Dysfunction
  • Motor-Coordination Impairments

How Cranio-Sacral Therapy Began
In 1970, during a neck surgery in which he was assisting, osteopathic physician John E. Upledger first observed the rhythmic movement of what would soon be identified as the Cranio-Sacral system. Dr. Upledger could not find any information on this rhythm and began his search for answers with the research of Dr. William Sutherland, the father of cranial osteopathy. In the early 1900s, Dr. Sutherland had explored the concept that the bones of the skull were structured to allow for movement. His theory was not accepted in the medical community for decades. 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 Cranio-Sacral system. Dr. Upledger’s continued work in the field ultimately resulted in his development of Cranio-Sacral Therapy.

Dr. Upledger teaches that there is an “Inner Physician” within each of us that is wiser than our conscious mind and knows what our body needs for healing. Cranio-Sacral Therapy allows the therapist to “listen” to the Inner Physician and assist in the healing process.

The many successes Dr. Upledger experienced and a more detailed story of the discovery of the rhythm and it's effects on the body can be found in his book "The Inner Physician and You". This is a fascinating book and written for the non-medical readers. Copies of "The Inner Physician and You" are available for loan in my office or may be purchased at most online retail bookstores.

What to Expect in a Treatment
Cranio-Sacral Therapy is performed with the client fully clothed. No oils or lotions are used. The session time is generally one hour but may run slightly longer as needed.

The treatment consists of "listening" where the therapist will assess the rhythm of the cerebral-spinal fluid by lightly placing their hands on specific "listening stations" (feet, knees, hips, lower ribs, shoulders, and head). After the rhythm has been evaluated, specific points are addressed to regulate the rhythm. This is done with very light pressure, generally no more than the weight of a nickel. The therapist may hold the position for a few seconds or several minutes. The response of the body tissue will indicate when the area is cleared.

Some clients may feel the rhythm and releases within their body. Those who may not feel the subtle changes will generally experience a state of deep relaxation.

Frequently-Asked Questions about Cranio-Sacral Therapy
Q. How many Cranio-Sacral Therapy sessions will I need?
A. Response to Cranio-Sacral Therapy 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 session to three or more a week over the course of several weeks.

Q. How does Cranio-Sacral Therapy work?
A. Cranio-Sacral Therapy works by helping the body's natural healing mechanisms dissipate the negative effects of stress on the central nervous system. Like the pulse of the cardiovascular system, the Cranio-Sacral system has a rhythm that can be felt throughout the body. Using a touch generally no heavier than the weight of a nickel, therapists can monitor this rhythm at key body points to pinpoint the source of an obstruction or stress. Once a source has been determined, they can assist the natural movement of the fluid and related soft tissue to help the body self-correct. This simple action is often all it takes to remove a restriction. Other times, Cranio-Sacral Therapy may be combined with other complementary therapies to help restore the body to its optimum functioning level.

Q. What conditions can Cranio-Sacral Therapy help?
A. Because of its influence on the functioning of the central nervous system, Cranio-Sacral Therapy can benefit the body in a number of ways — from bolstering overall health and resistance to disease to alleviating a wide range of specific medical conditions.

Among Cranio-Sacral Therapy's largest patient groups are those suffering chronic symptoms that haven't been aided by other approaches. In particular, Cranio-Sacral Therapy is beneficial to those with head, neck or back injuries resulting from an accident — be it from a car, sports or work mishap or from a fall. The extremely light touch involved in the application of Cranio-Sacral Therapy makes it a safe approach as well for children, infants and newborns with early traumas, including birth trauma. They especially can benefit from the timely identification and release of restrictions in the Cranio-Sacral system, thereby preventing future difficulties such as learning disabilities or hyperactivity.

Another area of principal effectiveness is with stress-related dysfunction's. Insomnia, fatigue, headaches, poor digestion, anxiety and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction are just a few examples. Cranio-Sacral Therapy works to reverse the debilitating effects of stress by providing the conditions in which the nervous system can rest and rejuvenate. In fact, it's this capacity to reduce stress that's leading an increasing number of people to include Cranio-Sacral Therapy as part of their wellness routines.

Other conditions for which Cranio-Sacral Therapy has shown to be effective are various sensory disorders. Among these are eye-motor coordination problems, autism, dyslexia, loss of taste or smell, tinnitus, vertigo and neuralgias such as sciatica and tic douloureux.

Q. Is there any condition for which Cranio-Sacral Therapy shouldn't be used?
A. There are certain situations where application of Cranio-Sacral Therapy 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.