CranioSacral Therapy (or CST for short) is a very gentle osteopathic technique that releases restrictions of the central nervous system. These techniques are effective for a variety of disorders including:
Neck and back pain
Sinus and eye problems
Neuralgia (nerve pain)
Nervous system disorders
CST can also benefit conditions like stroke, MS, autism, brain and spinal trauma.
CranioSacral Therapy is based on myofascial release. The many layers of tissues in the body often become adhered to one another. These adhesions limit the independent motion of the various tissues which leads to pain, decreased circulation, and loss of function. CST helps restore the proper freedom of movement, improving blood flow and function.
If you are interested in learning more about it please refer to the following list of definitions and important anatomical information to gain a deeper understanding of how this therapy works and how it may benefit you.
Craniosacral refers to the cranium (the head) and the sacrum (the base of the spine). The word "osteopathy" means "bone disorder" or "osseous pathology". You can think of the cranium as the "north pole" and the sacrum as the "south pole" of the spine. They act like a see-saw; if one bone pulls or tilts, the other bone responds directly.
Myofascia: "Myo" means muscle and fascia is connective tissue. Connective tissues that you may be familiar with includes tendons, ligaments, and the skin. Other connective tissues include thin sheets of tissue that surround, protect and hold various organs. The meninges (encasing the brain and cord), the pleura (surrounding each lung), the peritoneum (enveloping the abdominal organs), the pericardium (around the heart), are examples of sheet-like envelopes of fascia. With Visceral Manipulation (VM) and CST, we assess these tissues manually and can release restrictions. These techniques are very specific and can allow for a deeper level of healing. Rather than covering up symptoms, we work to clear the restrictions responsible for chronic patterns.
Cranial bones: The main anatomy consists of the central nervous system's exoskeleton (skull bones, vertebra, and sacrum), the meninges (fascial envelope around the brain and cord), cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), and the brain and spinal cord.
Between the cranial bones there are sutures, which are like joints. There should be a little movement between these sutures and isn't good when the get compressed or shear against each other. In some ways, the tectonic plates of the earth are like the cranial bones and the sutures are between the plates. Some plates get compressed (which causes mountains to rise) and some shear (creating friction like the san andreas fault). When cranial sutures get restricted they disrupt the flow of CSF. This creates added pressure which can effect brain function and the spinal cord/nerves. It also tends to restrict the circulation of blood.
The main cranial bones include the occiput, the back of the skull just above the neck. This bone has a direct relationship with the sacrum, via the spine. There is a round hole in this bone that the spinal cord passes through. Two temporal bones form the lower sides of the skull with the ear roughly in the middle. Two parietal bones are above the temporals and these bones join along the top of the head forming the vertex. The frontal bone is the forehead. There are several other bones that comprise the cranial vault including the sphenoid, ethmoid, and vomer. The cheek bone is called the zygoma. The 2 maxilla hold the upper 16 teeth. The lower 16 teeth and held by the mandible, or jaw. We use light touch to asses restrictions throughout the system. With the understanding of how the ones are designed to interact, we utilize numerous techniques to restore proper movement.
Meninges: Three distinct connective tissue membranes called meninges (dura, arachnoid, and pia mater), enclose and protect the central nervous system.
The dura mater (latin for "tough mother") forms a tough and fibrous outer covering, enveloping the brain and cord. The segment of dura that encapsulates the spine is often called the dural tube. A spinal tap is when this layer is punctured and cerebral spinal fluid is removed.
Dural Reflections of the Cranium: In the cranium, there are three main dural reflections, which act like tendons. The falx runs along the midline and is like a spartan helmet inverted. This sickle-shaped falx separates the brain into the right and left hemispheres. There are also two tentoriums (or "tents"), right and left, which attach from behind the eye socket to the back of the skull. The right and left hemispheres of the brain sit on their tent. Anyone who has had a migraine, with horrible pain from one eye to the back of the head, knows what a tight tentorium can do. If you picture a bike wheel, there is the hub in the middle, the rim around the outside, and spokes that connect the hub to the rim. You might have seen a racing bike with three big jokes instead of a bunch of little metal ones. Now, instead of a disc -like wheel, imagine a three dimensional rim, like a ball. This "ball" is comprised of the cranial bones. The three big spokes are the midline falx and the 2 tents. If a spoke gets too tight it will pull on and eventually distort the rim. We can asses imbalances in these tissues and encourage them to release. This improves elasticity and flexibility, supporting blood flow and regulated function.