What is CranioSacral Therapy(CST)?
I used to try to answer this question by referring to a wall chart in my treatment room, pointing out the anatomy of the Craniosacral system, and talking about how cerebrospinal fluid affects the fascia, membranes and systems of the entire body, and in particular, the brain and spinal cord. ‘
Although fascinating and relatively scientific, I found over the years that this approach does little in the way of helping someone understand what CranioSacral Therapy actually is, or how it might benefit a client. Rather, the best and fastest way to understand CST is to experience it firsthand. Since most people are more familiar with massage therapy than CST, It could be said that CST will produce the same or similar benefits as a massage but may have a deeper, longer lasting effect. Instead of friction or pressure that convinces your muscles to relax, CST is more of a suggestion in the form of light pressure that helps your nervous system relax and in turn, muscles and other bodily systems are transformed.
Another great way to understand CST is to read what other clients have said about their sessions. There are many wonderful testimonials on this page.
Recently I was gifted with a lovely and detailed account of one client’s experience during her treatment. She chose to include it in her blog, which begins:
The founder of osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still, called cerebral spinal fluid “the river of life” and insisted that “the Soul of man lives in the waters of the fascia.” How did he come to these conclusions? Can the concepts behind craniosacral therapy lend insight into how the physical body is linked to the soul?The River of Life, from Cool, Funny, Smart
A weblog about science and spirituality by Aubrey Coon.
On the more physical level, CranioSacral Therapy is described as a very gentle form of bodywork known for it’s deeply relaxing effects. It is said to calm the nervous system, decrease inflammation, and is used to treat many physical, emotional, mental and spiritual conditions. CranioSacral Therapy influences the rhythm of the cerebrospinal that surrounds your brain and spinal cord, helping to restore a natural rhythm of ease and flow.
For an incredible MRI of the cerebrospinal fluid and it’s movement, visit this page.
For even more in depth reading for the very curious, dive into this study about cerebrospinal fluid
This paper may help you answer the question of why you would want to increase or normalize the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in your body and includes the following text:
“Early investigators ascribed powerful vitalistic properties to the cerebrospinal fluid. Sutherland referred to the CSF as “the breath of life”, and “liquid light” and Randolph Stone, the founder of Polarity Therapy, called CSF “the liquid medium for the Breath of Life”. In yoga and meditation practice, the experience of awakening the dormant power potential of the Kundalini has been described as a powerful flow of energy from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. On a subtle energetic level, Kundalini energy is said to flow up the spinal pathway (in Sanskrit the shushumna nadi or central pathway) in a manner similar to some aspects of the physiologic movement of CSF. This and other peak experiences often associated with yoga, meditation, breathwork and various structural and energetic therapies may result from enhanced CSF flow.”
Cerebrospinal Fluid Stasis and its Clinical Significance: by James Wheadon, DC and Donald Glassey, MSW, DC, LMT, published by Altern Ther Health Med. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 March 19.
I’ve seen personally seen CST help clients with autism, insomnia, neuropathy, anxiety, depression, pregnancy, unexplained or chronic muscle and joint pain, fibromyalgia, Lymes disease, autoimmune disease, surgery preparation and surgery recovery, PTSD, migraines and muscle tension headaches.
CST was pioneered and developed by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger following extensive scientific studies from 1975 to 1983 at Michigan State University, where he served as a clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics.
The Upledger Institute summarizes CST as follows:
CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system – comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.
Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system.
By complementing the body’s natural healing processes, CST 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
- Central Nervous System Disorders
- Orthopedic Problems
- Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
- 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
CranioSacral Therapy, much like therapeutic massage, can help with pain relief, muscle relaxation and decreased stress hormones. It can be a gentle and non intrusive way to help the body release trauma and recover from illnesses and injuries. Most people experience a sense of deep relaxation and peace during a session and many fall asleep.
You will find our healing space in downtown Auburn California a safe and peaceful place to receive CranioSacral Therapy. During the treatment you will remain fully clothed and be prepared for a deeply restorative and even joyful experience. It is best if you schedule some extra time for yourself after the session to integrate the experience.