Leigh recently completed a course using osteopathic and myofascial release techniques for the neck, shoulders and arms. The techniques taught followed basic osteopathic principles, including gentle cranial-sacral release to address restrictions of the bones, muscles, nerves, fascia and blood vessels.
Osteopathy: The Roots of Craniosacral Therapy
Osteopathy was founded in 1874 by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. He believed that the human body contains everything needed to maintain wellness and sought non-invasive treatments that enhance this natural healing ability. He also believed that body, mind, and spirit must all work together to maintain health.
Osteopathy works on the principle that the structure and function of your body are two sides of the same coin. In other words, if the structure of your musculoskeletal system is out of alignment, it will have an effect on the functioning of all other systems in your body. The goal of osteopathy is to help restore both musculoskeletal alignment and homeostasis in order to relieve pain, improve mobility and restore health and vitality.
Craniosacral therapy evolved from osteopathic medicine. In the early 1900s, osteopath William Sutherland came to the conclusion that skull bones are capable of shifting. With these observations, he developed a treatment called cranial osteopathy. In recent years, osteopathic physician Dr. John Upledger further developed Sutherland’s observations and incorporated them into a treatment now called Craniosacral Therapy.
What is the Craniosacral System?
Your craniosacral system consists of the membranes and the cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect your brain and spinal cord. This membrane extends from the bones of your skull, face, and mouth- which make up the cranium- down to your sacrum or tailbone.
Your cerebrospinal fluid has a number of important functions. It cushions the brain and spinal cord and protects them from damage. It regulates homeostasis in the brain, helping maintain the brain’s balance of chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters, and remove waste. Your cerebrospinal fluid also provides a lubricating function for the spine and membranes, allowing them to glide smoothly as your spine bends and twists. Your cerebrospinal fluid is closely connected with your lymphatic system and circulatory system, and even your inner ear fluid.
The mobility of your spine and the functioning of your nervous system both depend on the free flow and movement of the craniosacral membranes and the cerebrospinal fluid. Restricted flow or movement in the craniosacral system can have a negative impact on the functions of your brain and spinal cord and can reduce the brain’s blood flow, causing sensory, motor, or neurological problems.
Craniosacral therapy seeks to restore the natural position of the bones and free up restrictions in the movement of the cerebrospinal fluid and the craniosacral membranes. This in turn promotes normal functioning of the nervous system, as well as optimal flow of blood and lymph.
Craniosacral practitioners use very gentle pressure to test for restrictions in various parts of the craniosacral system and to promote the natural movement of fluid within the system. This gentle pressure is applied where the craniosacral membrane barrier attaches to bones such as the skull and tailbone. Treatment encourages the body’s natural healing mechanisms in order to improve the functioning of the central nervous system, dissipate the negative effects of stress, and enhance health and resistance to disease.
Who can benefit from Craniosacral Therapy?
Cransiosacral therapy can decrease stress from chronic injuries as well as relieve problems relating to the head, neck, and nervous system. Common symptoms that can benefit from craniosacral massage include migraine headaches, insomnia and sleeping problems, neck pain, sinus infections, TMJ syndrome, chronic pain, eye difficulties, scoliosis, motor-coordination impairments, learning disabilities, and other dysfunctions of the central nervous system. Meniere’s disease and balance problems may also benefit, because of the way that your cerebrospinal fluid circulates with the inner ear fluid.
Interested in Craniosacral Therapy?
Craniosacral therapy makes an excellent complement to other types of massage and offers a therapist more versatility and better treatment results. During your treatment, Leigh will assess your symptoms and may suggest craniosacral techniques for you when appropriate.
Please feel free to ask her about this fascinating healing therapy at your next appointment! Click here to learn more about Leigh, her office hours and rates.
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