Craniosacral Therapy

What is CranioSacral Therapy

While the validity of the cardiovascular and respiratory rhythms is undisputed today, for eons the very existence of these systems sparked debates in medical communities around the globe. Now for nearly 30 years, osteopathic physician and researcher John E. Upledger, D.O., O.M.M., has been a proponent of using the rhythm of another body system—the craniosacral system—to enhance body functioning, and help alleviate pain and discomfort.

The craniosacral system consists of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. It extends from the bones of the skull, face and mouth, which make up the cranium, down to the sacrum, or tailbone area.

Since this vital system influences the development and performance of the brain and spinal cord, an imbalance or restriction in it could potentially cause any number of sensory, motor or neurological disabilities. These problems could include chronic pain, eye difficulties, scoliosis, motor-coordination impairments, learning disabilities and other health challenges.

CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle method of detection and correction that encourages your own natural healing mechanisms to dissipate these negative effects of stress on your central nervous system. You also benefit from better overall health and resistance to disease.

How Does CranioSacral Therapy Help You?

By complementing the body's natural healing processes, CranioSacral Therapy is increasingly 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
  • Chronic Neck and Back Pain
  • Motor-Coordination Impairments
  • Colic
  • Autism
  • Central Nervous System Disorders
  • Orthopedic Problems
  • Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Scoliosis
  • Infantile Disorders
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Emotional Difficulties
  • Stress and Tension-Related Problems
  • Fibromyalgia and other Connective-Tissue Disorders
  • Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
  • Neurovascular or Immune Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Post-Surgical Dysfunction

How is CranioSacral Therapy Performed?

CranioSacral Therapy is performed on a person fully clothed. Using a light touch—generally no more than the weight of a nickel—the practitioner monitors the rhythm of the craniosacral system to detect potential restrictions and imbalances. The therapist then uses delicate manual techniques to release those problem areas and relieve undue pressure on the brain and spinal cord.

A CranioSacral Therapy session can last from about 15 minutes to more than an hour, and it can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapeutic procedures. The result is a central nervous system free of restrictions and a body that's able to return to its peak levels of performance.

“To me, the practice of Craniosacral Therapy is a miracle. After my accident I felt ungrounded and off center for a very long time, both physically and in mental function, in spite of massage, physical therapy, chiropractic care and psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress. CranioSacral Therapy was the only treatment that got to the core of what was wrong. Until then, no one had acknowledged the physical cause of what I had been experiencing. So, again, thank you for being there.”

D.]., New York, NY

How Did CranioSacral Therapy Begin?

Craniosacral Therapy dates back to 1970 when osteopathic physician John E. Upledger first witnessed the rhythmic movement of the craniosacral system during a spinal surgery. Yet none of his colleagues or medical texts could explain the phenomenon.

Two years later, Dr. Upledger attended a short course on cranial osteopathy developed by Dr. William Sutherland. The course focused on the bones of the skull and the fact—surprising at the time—that they weren't fused as doctors had been taught in medical school. Instead, Sutherland's material demonstrated that skull bones continue to move throughout a person's life.

Putting this new information together with the odd pulsing rhythm he'd observed years before, Dr. Upledger theorized that a hydraulic system of sorts was functioning inside the craniosacral system. He then set out to confirm his theories.

In 1975 he joined the Osteopathic College at Michigan State University as a clinical researcher and professor of biomechanics. There he led a team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists and bioengineers to test and document the influence of therapy on the craniosacral system. For the first time they were able to explain the function of the craniosacral system, and demonstrate how light-touch therapy could be used to evaluate and treat malfunctions involving the brain and spinal cord.

In 1985, Dr. Upledger went on to establish The Upledger Institute to teach the public and healthcare practitioners about the benefits of CranioSacral Therapy. To date, The Upledger Institute has trained more than 65,000 healthcare practitioners worldwide in the use of CranioSacral Therapy.

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