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Craniosacral Therapy: What is it?

Craniosacral Therapy_ What is it_

BY DR. RAVINDER GILL, N.D.

Craniosacral therapy is an offshoot of osteopathy or cranial osteopathy, developed by Dr. John Upledger – an osteopathic physician.  It works with the articulations in the cranial bones, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around your brain and down your spine, and your fascia.  Fascia acts like a layer of saran wrap around each muscle and organ and holds them together, allowing the movement of the muscles without creating friction with other tissues.  The fascia can get twisted at times. This causes constriction of blood flow and removal of waste material in that area which slows down any repair or healing process. Fascial tightness in one area can cause pain or stiffness in a muscle in a totally different area. 

The process is a very gentle, hands on treatment.  The patient lays on a massage table fully dressed and the movements of the practitioners hands to unwind the fascia are very small.  Every once in a while there may be a jolt in the muscle as the fascia unwinds enough for the muscle to spring back into proper position, but usually the muscle release happens in smaller twitches. 

 

Who can it help?

Craniosacral therapy is very helpful for anyone experiencing stress, anxiety or ADD/ADHD behaviour as it releases the tension in our cranium and allows for the nervous system to get out of fight or flight and into a relaxed mode.  The articulations of your skull do have tiny amounts of movement and can get jammed up, creating pressure in that area. The rest of the body starts to develop stiffness and tension in the muscles going into the neck, shoulders, down the back and so on.  This can also can affect the vagus nerve, which is a major player in keeping us calm via regulating our breathing and heart rate.  Craniosacral therapy benefits include: 

• Traumatic brain injuries
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Migraines and headaches
• TMJ
• Chronic fatigue 

Infants also benefit greatly from craniosacral therapy as their skulls are softer. The birthing process, whether it be natural or caesarean, will leave the skull asymmetrical creating compression in some areas.  This can affect mood, latching reflex for breastfeeding and colicky behaviour.  Craniosacral therapy for infants is always recommended to make sure the cranial bones are in the proper position to prevent or reduce any of these issues.  An adult with an asymmetrical face where one nostril or side of the face is higher than the other is a perfect example of someone whose cranial bones were in need of gentle therapy as an infant.

 

How do you feel after a treatment? 

This is one of the most relaxing treatment modalities out there.  As the nervous system relaxes and the craniosacral rhythm is slowed down, the body goes into a healing mode that is somewhere in between deep relaxation and sleep.  Feeling peaceful and relaxed at the end of a treatment is very common.  At times the body will make you fall asleep so that deeper fascial work can be performed without the brain telling the muscles to tense up.  

 

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