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What Is Craniosacral Therapy?

You might be unfamiliar with the term and treatment method of craniosacral therapy, but it has deep roots. Craniosacral therapy is a type of alternative treatment you can usually get from healing professionals like chiropractors, massage therapists and osteopaths.

During craniosacral therapy, or CST, a practitioner will manipulate the joints in your skull, cranium and spine to treat illnesses using a gentle touch. CST is one of the treatment methods you can get at 7 Summit Pathways, and it can be a highly effective complementary therapy when dealing with various conditions and symptoms, such as addiction.

The Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy

CST is an alternative therapy or form of bodywork that uses a gentle touch to palpate the cranium’s synarthrodial joints. At 7 Summit Pathways, a craniosacral therapy practitioner might also apply light touches to your pelvic bones and spine. Therapists believe this palpation regulates cerebrospinal fluid flow and helps with a process called primary respiration.

Advocates of craniosacral therapy say it’s eased a variety of symptoms, such as:

  • Ear infections
  • Chronic pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Migraines
  • Jaw pain
  • Pregnancy problems

It has even helped with conditions like autism and depression.

You may think of craniosacral therapy as a gentle massage method or a cross between osteopathic or chiropractic maneuvers and hands-on healing. It can be relaxing and quiet and induce restful sleep.

Craniosacral therapy, in reality, addresses a rhythmic system at your physiological core, which is the energy pulse flowing between your pelvic area and head. It’s as measurable, essential and tangible as your heart rate and breath.

The craniosacral system follows a specific rhythm, and the bones in your skull accommodate its pulse. Just as cardiologists look to enhance the cardiovascular system, craniosacral practitioners evaluate and optimize the craniosacral rhythm pulse. This technique is often deeply intuitive and gentle. It’s a type of bodywork that consists of exceedingly hand and light finger pressure on your sacrum and cranial bones and upon your involuntary motions of these bones.

Understanding Your Craniosacral System

To understand more about the benefits of craniosacral therapy, it’s helpful to learn more about the craniosacral system. The nerves attached to your spinal cord have a far more regular arrangement than those of your cranial nerves, which are connected to your brain and are mainly responsible for the motor and sensory functions of your neck and head.

Your craniosacral system consists of fluid and membranes surrounding and protecting your spinal cord and brain, as well as the bones attached. These membranes extend from your face, skull and mouth bones that make up your cranium and down your spine to your tailbone area, or sacrum. The craniosacral system plays a vital role in regulating the environment where your central nervous system functions.

Your central nervous system monitors and responds to all that’s occurring in your body. Since the spinal cord and brain reside within the craniosacral system, it should be easy for you to see how it has a strong influence over a large variety of body functions.

History of Craniosacral Therapy

All methods of craniosacral therapy owe their origin to osteopath William Sutherland. Though everything he had learned indicated the cranial bones fuse in adults, he realized their structure suggested the ability to move while he was observing a disarticulated skull in the early 1900s.

John Upledger, D.O., coined the term “craniosacral therapy” in the 1970s. While he was assisting with a neck surgery, he observed the rhythmic movement of the craniosacral system, which he went on to confirm scientifically. When he compared it to osteopathy, he wrote that the discovery Sutherland made regarding skull sutures’ flexibility led to early craniosacral therapy research. Both methods affect the sacrum, cranium and coccyx. Today’s cranial osteopaths significantly consider both methods to be the same.

Practitioners of both craniosacral therapy and osteopathy assert the cranial bones have small rhythmic motions attributed to arterial pressure and cerebrospinal fluid pressure. Practitioners may use cranium palpation for detecting these bones’ rhythmic movement and selective pressures for manipulating the cranial bones with the goal of achieving a therapeutic result. Though the degree of compliance and mobility of the cranial bones remains controversial, it is a crucial concept in CST.

How Does Craniosacral Therapy Work?

CST uses a slight touch of under five grams — the approximate weight of a nickel — for releasing restrictions in the craniosacral system and improving the function of your central nervous system. This light touch can affect the circulation and pressure of the fluid around your spinal cord and brain, thus relieving dysfunction and pain.

Practitioners may use CST as a stand-alone treatment, or combine it with other medical or alternative therapies.

Not many structures influence your body’s ability to properly function as much as your spinal cord and brain, which make up your central nervous system. And, the craniosacral system strongly influences the central nervous system, and the surrounding fluid and membranes, protecting and nourishing your spinal cord and brain.

Each day, your body endures strains and stresses it needs to work to compensate for. But, changes like these often cause a tightening of body tissues, distorting the craniosacral system. The distortions may then lead to tension forming around your spinal cord and brain, leading to restrictions. These may hinder the healthy performance of your central nervous system, as well as possibly all the systems it interacts with.

Luckily, the simple techniques of CST can identify and fix these restrictions. The CST practitioner performs a light touch using their hands to assess the craniosacral system as they gently feel different areas of your body, testing for the ease of rhythm and motion of cerebrospinal fluid pulsing around your spinal cord and brain. Practitioners use methods of soft touch for releasing tissue restrictions that influence the craniosacral system.

Craniosacral therapy normalizes the environment around your spinal cord and brain and enhances your body’s ability to correct itself, alleviating certain dysfunctions such as:

  • Sports injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Addiction
  • Neurological impairment
  • Stroke

While receiving the treatment, you may experience various sensations such as:

  • Falling asleep and seeing colors or recalling memories later
  • Feeling deep relaxation
  • Having a pins-and-needles sensation
  • Sensing pulsations
  • Having a cold or hot sensation

What Is Craniosacral Therapy Used For?

Advocates of CST believe it relieves compression in your neck, head and back, helping release both physical and emotional tension and stress and soothe pain. It can also alleviate and release restrictions of your neck, nerves and head and restore cranial mobility.

All individuals of any age can benefit from craniosacral therapy. Some uses include:

1. Migraines

Some studies show craniosacral therapy could be a beneficial migraine treatment. One specific study showed reduced self-reported symptoms of migraines after four weeks of CST treatment.

However, this study lacked a control group. In other words, all study participants received craniosacral therapy, which means it’s not certain if the effects were solely due to the therapy, or if other variables played a role. Another study showed CST causes participants to experience a 70 percent reduction in the need for pain medicine. The participants received treatment at various locations, by 10 different independent practitioners and for varying durations.

Another method of addressing head pain is through scalp massage, which can be deeply relaxing. You might not realize you have muscles on your scalp, and you’re likely not aware of the tension they hold. These muscles help you make facial expressions, and you could be carrying a great deal of strain there, mainly when you’re staring at a computer all day or if you’re under a great deal of stress. When you have your head massaged, your tension should start melting away.

2. Back Pain

There’s some evidence CST could decrease back pain based on a research study’s results that showed the CST response to be better than a classic massage response.

3. Post-Concussive Syndrome

CST therapy is a potential option for pain management and sleeping issues post-concussive syndrome causes.

4. Autism

A study showed improved emotional stability, mood and communication following a CST treatment in kids with autism. Therapist and parent reports provided the results.

5. Addiction

When you’re trying to change your habits and life dramatically, it will likely make you experience fatigue, stress and lower energy, and these are situations where bodywork methods can help. People who feel depressed about their addiction may experience a boost in their mood following a session.

6. Anxiety

Another study focusing on CST and fibromyalgia shows therapy could decrease anxiety, improving quality of life if you’re experiencing stress. After a craniosacral therapy session, you may feel calm or grounded.

7. Asthma

A study on CST and acupuncture’s impact on adults who have asthma showed both of these therapies had possible benefits when used along with standard asthma treatment.

8. Multiple Sclerosis

CST might improve both your quality of life and your ability to empty your bladder if you have multiple sclerosis with lower urinary tract symptoms, according to a 2009 study.

How Some People Can Find Craniosacral Therapy Beneficial

Experts state 75 to 90 percent of all doctor’s office visits are because of stress-related conditions and ailments. Nothing ages you faster than stress, both internally and externally. Craniosacral therapy can be an effective tool for managing stress, translating into:

  • Enhanced sleep quality
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Improved mood
  • Increased circulation
  • Improved memory and concentration
  • Greater energy

You may also experience the following benefits of craniosacral therapy:

  • Improve range of motion and alleviate lower back pain
  • Enhance immunity through by stimulating lymph flow, the natural defense system of your body
  • Reduce cramping and spasms
  • Promote tissue regeneration, decreasing stretch marks and scar tissue
  • Stretch and exercise tight, weak or atrophied muscles
  • Release endorphins, amino acids that act as a natural painkiller in the body
  • Relax and soften overused, injured and tired muscles
  • Reduce postsurgery swelling and adhesions

There are other benefits of craniosacral therapy, but these are some of the most common.

Although various conventional doctors and some alternative practitioners are skeptical of CST, there is evidence it does indeed work, and that only a few sessions provide amazing results.

Still, you should realize, craniosacral therapy is better at being a preventive for serious illnesses than a cure. It usually complements other types of treatment, rather than being an alternative. How effective it is will depend on what’s causing your complaint, such as if you have an issue that deals directly with your nervous system. It also deals with the underlying cause of your complaint, as well as what related contributing factors exist. It helps to have a receptive and open attitude. If you don’t have a connection with your practitioner, it could lead to ineffective treatment.

Keep in mind, an excellent craniosacral practitioner won’t force anything. They’ll work closely with you. If you aren’t experiencing an improvement in your symptoms, they should refer you to a different specialist.

So, if you’re contemplating whether you should give craniosacral therapy a go, think of it this way — you’ll receive a healing technique that connects your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.

How to Find a Craniosacral Therapist

A lot of healers are now adding craniosacral therapy to their treatment options. They have various backgrounds that range from osteopathy and dentistry to acupuncture, shiatsu and massage. Massage therapists, in particular, are now offering craniosacral therapy in their practice.

Healers receive certification after attending an accredited school. Since there are a handful of various certification levels, you should research their specialty and background. When considering a practitioner, learn about what they’ve studied and their level of certification.

Why Choose 7 Summit Pathways for Craniosacral Therapy?

7 Summit Pathways is an intimate, private treatment center that offers craniosacral therapy in Tampa. We provide personalized, comprehensive methods of treatment that sets us apart from other treatment centers in Florida.

We’ve received accreditation from the Joint Commission, and are a Professional Resource Network-approved provider. We tailor our treatment programs specifically to your needs.

As our name suggests, we focus on seven dimensions of wellness in our programs. They include:

  1. Emotional wellness
  2. Environmental wellness
  3. Intellectual wellness
  4. Occupational wellness
  5. Physical wellness
  6. Social wellness
  7. Spiritual wellness

These are the foundations of all programs 7 Summit Pathways offers. We are a holistic treatment center, and treat the mind, body and spirit. We offer well-rounded, evidence-based treatment in a caring, nurturing environment.

Where Is Craniosacral Therapy Near Me?

If you live in the Tampa area, contact 7 Summit Pathways to learn more about how we can help you experience the true value in this type of therapy.

We provide caring, experienced therapists, doctors, case managers and counselors who work as a team to come up with a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs.