What to Expect with Craniosacral Therapy

Based in osteopathy, Craniosacral Therapy (aka CST) was originally developed by physician John E. Upledger at Michigan State University after an 8-year study as a professor of biomechanics. Dr. William Sutherland had already pioneered the idea through his work in cranial osteopathy.

Dr. Upledger was assisting with a neck surgery when he noticed rhythmic movement of a system later to become known as the craiosacral system. CST evaluates and helps the functioning of the craniosacral system-the membranes and fluid-that surround the spinal cord and brain.

What is Craniosacral Therapy and How Does it Work?

Using extremely light pressure on the head, restrictions are released in order to improve the central nervous system flow and function by feeling the rhythm of the cranioscaral system. This method is used as a holistic and preventative approach to healing and preventing central nervous system problems and is particularly helpful ion alleviating the pain and even the cause of migraines, chronic neck and back pain, and motor coordination problems. This theory and resulting techniques have also been reported as having a positive effect on relieving colic in infants and chronic fatigue.

Practitioners of craniosacral therapy claim to be able to locate and release what are referred to as energy cysts, where energy has built up and then become blocked, as in neck pain from holding ones neck at a particular angle all day at work.

This has proven to be an extremely effective and powerful technique, and can cause the recipient to relive all sorts of past injuries, emotional as well as physical. Suppressed emotions inhibit structural releases, so uncontrollable emotional outbursts-such as crying- are common during therapy.

An experienced and reputable carniosacral therapist will have the skills to help you move through these memories and sensations and out the other side of them. He/she will be able to listen attentively and remind you that whatever caused the pain in the past is no longer present in the future. Once everything is unblocked and realigned, the patient may exhibit better listening and memory, comprehension skills.

What to Expect During CST

You will lie on a massage table and the lights will be dimmed. The therapist will typically sit at your head first, and place their finger lightly on either side of your temples. It is quiet and you must lie still, they are listening. They will pick up the tension in your temples or a clenched jaw line. They will then move down to your torso and work their way to your feet. What sensations you may experience during the session will be unique to each individual, but typically you will relax to the point of falling asleep. You may even begin to recall hidden memories and express emotion, as previously described.

If you elect to see a CST provider, your number of sessions will vary with the severity of your disorder, usually 2-3 treatments a week for several weeks is the average length of therapy.

Combining CST with Other Therapies

Many Craniosacral Therapy sessions also use other types of therapy to help strengthen the system. Chiropractic is often used to realign the spine, relieving pressure all the way to the clenched jaw, or acupressure or acupuncture is used to help increase the chi flow.

This entirely holistic approach to cure and prevention of the body’s ailments is fast becoming an increasingly popular alternative to conventional methods of physical care wherein only pain pills are prescribed or invasive surgery with long convalescent post op care is required.

Unfortunately, most medical coverage, although beginning to change its opinion of alternative medicine, still does not cover most holistic care therapies. Acupuncture, massage and chiropractic were the leading therapies to be covered by health insurance.

When to Avoid Craniosacral Therapy

There are certain conditions where the therapies of CST are not especially helpful. These include conditions where varietal increases in brain pressure would not enable the ailment to dissipate. Acute aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage or severe bleeding disorders can be worsened through CST therapy and should be referred out to another practitioner.

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