What is CranioSacral Therapy?
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a form of bodywork that arose from Osteopathy. CST involves working directly with the craniosacral system and fascial system. CST treatment techniques are hands-on, gentle, non-forceful and non-invasive. CST applies only a very light touch or physical pressure and is done with patients fully clothed.
CranioSacral System (CSS)
The principal component of the craniosacral system (CSS) is a tough, waterproof, three-layer membrane called the meninges that is filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The term craniosacral derives from the fact that the dura mater, the outermost layer of the meninges, attaches to the skull in the cranium and extends to the sacrum and coccyx at the end of the spinal column. The dura mater forms a complete envelope or tube (sometimes called the dural tube) around the brain and spinal cord, the central nervous system of the body. The CSF supplies vital nutrients to the brain and spinal cord and circulates hormones, neurotransmitters, and immune cells.
The fascial system is a network of fascia or connective tissue that connects all parts of the body. A superficial or outer layer of fascia forms a huge body stocking under the skin that holds the body together. Fascial tissue surrounds the dura mater and all internal organs. Minor alterations in any portion of the fascial network affect the distribution of tension throughout. Fascial tissue also forms a sheath around each bone, ligament, tendon, and every muscles, every individual muscle fiber, and every nerve fiber—all the way down to the cellular level. The combined fascia of the body forms a single fascial system that physically interconnects all parts of the body – this is how the craniosacral rhythm can be felt at any part of the body and how CST can affect the entire body.
In an action similar to a hydraulic pump, the CSS produces, circulates and reabsorbs cerebrospinal fluid, creating a pulse or rhythm in the cerebrospinal fluid. This craniosacral rhythm is separate and distinct from the pulse rate (rhythm of blood circulation), breathing rate (rhythm of respiration), and other rhythms of body. The craniosacral rhythm is usually 6 to 12 cycles per minute. The craniosacral rhythm is carried to all parts of the body through the fascial system and can be monitored by light touch on almost any part of the body. The hydraulic pump for the CSS is the subtle rocking motion (flexion and extension) of the sphenoid bone (which holds the pituitary gland) on a clamshell-like hinge joint with the occiput.
In the fascial system, deep fascia can thicken and lose flexibility in response to chronic tension in muscles. Injuries, stresses, strains, sprains and other effects of working, playing and living can introduce structural misalignments or imbalances in the cranial bones, leading to disruptions in the flow of CSF, which causes many dysfunctions. Due to disruptions in the CSS or the fascial system, the body may not have the vital energy necessary to fully recover from certain injuries or dysfunctions on its own. The body is willing to accept help from another person in order to overcome these roadblocks or barriers to self-healing.
I hope this brief overview will help you understand the body’s craniosacral system (CSS) and fascial system and their role in health and wellness. Conditions that CST is particularly useful in treating include: headaches, sinus pressure/congestion, neck pain, back pain, jaw pain, TMJ dysfunction, insomnia, and anxiety. A typical CST session in my practice lasts 20-30 minutes.