Craniosacral therapy acknowledges the whole body through the path of cerebrospinal fluid from the ventricles in the brain that effuses to every cell. This fluid moves through the spinal column nourishing, protecting and supporting the central nervous system and is considered a life enhancing substance much like oxygen in the blood.
The system by which the cerebrospinal fluid is conveyed called the craniosacral system encompasses the brain, spinal cord, membranes and bones of the cranium and vertebral column up to the coccyx or tailbone, spinal nerves and their connective tissue (fascial) interactions which involve the whole body.
The inherent motion of cerebrospinal fluid is conveyed and reflected via all these structures and via the body wide connectivity of fascia. Where this motion is restricted this corresponds to a disordered part of the body that through light craniosacral touch can be released much like unlatching a gate (rather than forcing it open that may occur with conventional manipulations) by going into the direction of the restriction to help unlatch it. The tide like pulsating motion of cerebrospinal fluid is distinct from the breath or cardiovascular pulse and can be felt and enhanced by an experienced and sensitive practitioner.
History of Craniosacral Therapy
Craniosacral therapy has its origins in osteopathy.
William Garner Sutherland, a young osteopathic student at the turn of the 20th century, discovered a set of disarticulated cranial bones and contrary to his training that had taught him they cannot move at all, discovered that they were “bevelled like the gills of fish as if designed to move subtly for some kind of respiratory motion.
He decided to test his hypothesis by fashioning a helmet of linen and leather tightened in lots of different directions via leather straps to prevent cranial movement at different angles. He experimented with tightening in different directions and catalogued the symptoms produced. These ranged from nausea to headaches to digestive problems and disorientation.Some positions relieved symptoms and others aggravated them. As a result he surmised that movements in the cranium correspond to physiological functions and therefore are necessary to sustain the bodys life processes.
He continued to research these movements and developed craniosacral therapy as a result teaching the osteopathic students around him until the profession grew to be an established therapy in its own right.
Another notable figure in the craniosacral field is Dr Upledger who is widely known for his ground breaking research at Michigan State University. He was on the first exponents of craniosacral therapy that taught the work to non osteopaths therefore helping this therapy to exist in its own right (not just in the osteopathic field).