How can craniosacral therapy nourish your soul?
Craniosacral therapy is non-invasive manual treatment based on the premise of improving the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal column through very gentle touch. Consisting of the skull, spinal column, sacrum, and associated tissues, the craniosacral system protects the brain and spinal cord and is closely related to osteopathy.
Stresses on the body, caused by injury, illness, or simply normal activities of daily life, are believed to cause tension and imbalance in the craniosacral system. By using very gentle touch, equivalent to just five grams of pressure, a practitioner aims to relieve these restrictions and support the body's natural abilities for self-healing.
Sometimes also referred to as ‘cranial sacral therapy’, this modality was developed by John E Upledger, an osteopathic physician, on the basis of research completed between 1975 and 1983. Craniosacral therapy is closely related to osteopathy, and often performed as part of an osteopathic treatment program alongside other techniques such as myofascial release, stretching and massage.
Benefits of craniosacral therapy
Although there is debate about the mechanism by which craniosacral massage is believed to work, the therapy has been consistently reported to result in positive health outcomes. It continues to be a widely practised and respected modality, represented by industry associations in Australia and worldwide.
Research suggests craniosacral therapy may offer effective medium-term pain relief, as well as possibly reducing anxiety levels, improving healthy sleep and quality of life, for people with fibromyalgia. There is evidence to suggest craniosacral therapy may alleviate problems of the urinary tract and improve quality of life in people suffering from multiple sclerosis. The results of a randomised controlled trial suggest craniosacral therapy may significantly reduce chronic neck pain and associated disability.
It has also been reported that craniosacral therapy may be an effective way to relieve migraine, although further research is recommended. Craniosacral therapy has also been studied as one of three modalities comprising a treatment program that may be effective in reducing the symptoms of post-concussive syndrome.
Craniosacral therapy may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Acquired brain injury (ABI)
- Back pain
- Balance, stability and coordination
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME)
- Concussion and whiplash
- Digestive and gastrointestinal issues
- Energy and vitality
- Headaches and migraines
- Hormonal issues
- Immunity issues
- Insomnia and sleep disorders
- Learning difficulties
- Mobility and movement
- Mood imbalances
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Neck pain
- Nervous system and neurological conditions
- Pain relief
- PTSD and trauma
- Sinusitis and sinus issues
- Spinal cord injuries
- Stress and tension
- Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
- UTI and urinary conditions
- Vertigo and dizziness
What to expect from a craniosacral therapy session
Check that the craniosacral therapy practitioner you wish to work with is registered with the Craniosacral Therapy Association of Australia. Members of this not-for-profit organisation are bound by a code of ethics ensuring the highest professional standards and suitable qualifications for practitioners.
To begin, your craniosacral therapy practitioner will ask you about the health concern you are seeking treatment for, and might ask for an overview of your medical history. For the treatment, you will be invited to lie on your back on a massage table, and you will not need to remove any clothes.
If you are pregnant, or if you have any health condition that makes lying on your back less comfortable, you can lie on your side or receive the therapy in a seated position. Your practitioner will lightly place their hands on or under your head, hips, back, and other parts of your body to tune into your cerebrospinal pulse.
During the treatment, which usually lasts about 40 to 60 minutes, your practitioner will give you a cranial massage and gently manipulate different areas around your neck, back and hips. This manipulation is intended to release tension or misalignment that might be impeding the natural flow of cerebrospinal fluid, as well as support the fluid’s circulation. In some cases, for example, if you’ve suffered a concussion, your practitioner might put on a glove and massage inside your mouth. Craniosacral therapy is a very soothing, relaxing treatment, and you might fall asleep while your practitioner is working.
Craniosacral therapy is intended to complement, not replace, conventional medical treatment, especially for serious conditions. As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing craniosacral therapy. If you have an injury or other health issue, or any concerns at all, also speak to your craniosacral therapy practitioner, who will be happy to address these and personalise the session to your individual requirements.