WHAT IS CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY?
Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a form of gentle hands-on therapy which pays particular attention to the dura mater, the membrane which surrounds the brain and spinal cord. A treatment may be focussed within the craniosacral system, which includes the cranium, the dural tube which holds the spinal cord and the sacrum, a palm-sized bone at the base of the spine, or it may expand to include distant areas of the body.
CST grew from Osteopathy which emphasizes the interrelationship between structure and function of the body and recognizes the body's ability to heal itself, working to facilitate that healing. To me a successful CST session is one where the self healing mechanism is given an assist or boost and then kicks in to do its own healing, the effects continuing long after the treatment is over.
A CST practitioner is often working with the connective tissue, or, fascia. Fascia is sometimes thought of as the web which holds the body together. It changes shape and consistency as it moves from one structure to another with no interruption. Because it is slickly lubricated it facilitates smooth, fluid movement within and between the muscles and other structures of the body. It is a continuous envelope which encases the muscle, separates the bundles of fascicles within the muscle and divides the muscle fibres within the fascicle. At the ends of the muscle these fine wisps of fascia come together and thicken to continue as tendon, attaching muscle to bone. The fascia then changes to become the periosteum - the outer lining of the bones, which morphs into the joint capsule…and on and on. Fascia forms tubes which contain blood vessels and nerves, it separates organs helping them slide and move against each other as the body moves and breathes. Because of the continuous nature of the fascia in the body, when one area is injured, any other part of the body may be affected. Dura mater, around the brain and spinal cord, is part of the fascial web and key to the functioning of the central nervous system. CST often starts by assessing fascial tensions within the craniosacral system and then follows that tension through that continuous web wherever it goes, which can be out to distant parts of the body. Treating these tensions within the fascial web, whether they originate in the craniosacral system or somewhere in the body, treats the whole body.
WHAT DOES CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY TREAT?
CST has been shown to be useful in treating a wide variety of conditions from chronic pain to autism to some forms of depression. Headaches, chronic neck pain and TMJ disorder are among the conditions that respond particularly well to CST. CST often produces profound effects on conditions which have been unresponsive to other forms of therapy.
A partial list of conditions treated with CST includes:
o Neck, shoulder and back pain and injury
o Nerve pain
o Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
o Stress and anxiety
o Multiple Sclerosis
o Parkinson's Disease
o Ear problems
o Visual disturbances
o TMJ Dysfunction
WHAT IS A CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY SESSION LIKE?
Loose comfortable clothing is recommended, the client generally lies comfortably on their back on a massage table. People with difficulty lying this position can be accommodated; treatments can even take place with the client seated in a chair.
The therapist will use a very light pressure to assess the patterns of tension, usually starting at the feet and working up. The therapist will move around the body according to where the tension leads them, which doesn't always coincide with where the pain is. Treatment is similar to the assessment; usually very light, sometimes briefly increasing pressure, sometimes working on the head or spine, sometimes the limbs or trunk. Limbs may be moved around, the position of the head and neck may change. The treatment is always very gentle and respectful.