What is Craniosacral Therapy?

craniosacral massageThe first time I heard of craniosacral therapy, I was working at a local gym. One of my co-workers had an adopted son who had been a shaken baby. This caused him to be blind and autistic, among other things.

Because of his conditions, he was always moving and shaking. As an observer, I felt exhausted just from watching him! His body was never still. He was never at rest!

One day, one of the gym members stopped to talk to my co-worker. The member was a massage therapist who practiced craniosacral massage. She talked to my co-worker about it, and they decided to meet up to see if my co-worker’s son would respond to the therapy.

After only a session or two, my co-worker noticed that her son had more stillness and calmness. The craniosacral massage offered a way to relax and restore his central nervous system, even if just for a short time.

Since this initial experience, I have read of other parents who have successfully used craniosacral therapy to help their autistic children. That being said, it does not work for everyone.

It is important to note that many alleged benefits of craniosacral therapy have not been scientifically verified. Please consult your doctor before beginning any new health program or starting new treatments.

What is craniosacral therapy?

In the 1930s, Dr. William Garner Sutherland, D.O. created cranial osteopathy. He discovered that the small bones that make up the skull have a slight amount of movement at the joint. This discovery inspired Dr. John Upledger, D.O. to create craniosacral therapy (CST) in the 1970s.

Craniosacral therapy is a type of bodywork where gentle pressure is applied to the skull, spine, and sacrum (tailbone) to generate small adjustments.

Livestrong.com says:

“Craniosacral therapy is intended to increase and normalize the flow of cerebrospinal fluid through the bones of the head, the spine and the pelvis, thereby restoring health to sufferers of a range of health conditions. Like traditional Chinese medicine, the healing method aims to remove blockages in healthy flow, which result in the manifestation of disease. However, instead of working energetically, craniosacral therapy works with the tissues and fluids surrounding the central nervous system.”

Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy can:

  • alleviate stress and pain in the head, spine, and sacrum.
  • decrease stress from chronic injuries.
  • help relieve migraines.
  • improve TMJ pain.
  • reduce neck and back pain.
  • help improve sleep.
  • reduce depression.
  • improve chronic fatigue.

While many of these benefits don’t have scientific backing, some do. In a 2009 study of individuals with fibromyalgia, participants noticed a significant improvement in pain, quality of life, sleep quality and anxiety after 25 weeks of craniosacral therapy. Another study of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) found that regular craniosacral therapy relieved the lower urinary tract symptoms and improved the patients’ quality of life considerably.

Craniosacral Therapy Video

Here is a video explaining and demonstrating craniosacral therapy.

Have you ever had craniosacral therapy done? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

2 comments

  1. I’ve done this and I love it! It’s much less invasive then traditional massage. I was fully clothed and the pressure is so light it’s easy to think that nothing is going on. But then you feel it and it is intense. I had severe muscular guarding throughout my back and my hips were way out of alignment from carrying my baby on one side all the time. I went because it hurt to turn my head to look to the left. Instead of starting at my neck she spent the whole time stretching my legs and releasing tension at my sacrum. I felt two inches taller when I left. I think it also helped my post partum mood. I had six sessions in total. If she hadn’t moved I would still go see her. This was the best treatment I’ve ever received.

    1. That sounds amazing! Does your former therapist have a website? I’d be happy to spread the word about your good experience!

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