The gentle touch that treats the craniosacral system
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a hands-on therapy, where the touch is gentle, non-invasive and usually subtle. But do not be fooled! It is also a powerful treatment approach that affects the central nervous system to assist in improving function in the whole body.
We are aiming to treat the craniosacral system. This is the term Dr Upledger originally coined to describe the structures that produce and enable a rhythm he observed while assisting in a spinal surgery. (He was trying to hold a structure called the dural tube still while a colleague operated, but he couldn’t as it was moving all by itself! Find out more about that in History.)
He eventually called this rhythm the craniosacral rhythm and saw it as being created within the craniosacral system: structures that enable this are the meningeal membranes that surround and support the brain and spinal cord, the bones of the head to which they attach and the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds and protects the brain – beautifully illustrated in the image here.
Ideally, this fascia and structures are all well aligned, the fluid can flow round the brain and spinal cord easily and the rest of the body is not having any less-than-optimal impact on this system (the fascia and nerves affect this system as much as they influence the rest of the body) but, life happens, from in utero onwards, and this system may not be as well aligned and flowing as it could be.
What is different about the approach of practitioners in Upledger CST ?
Compared with other bodywork approaches, the main differences are that the touch / pressure used is much gentler and that we do not aim to diagnose or fix anything from what our ‘head’ thinks needs to happen – or even where our clients say their problem is! Rather, we simply (it is, in fact, far from simple!) do our very best to ‘listen with our hands’ to a person’s body tissues and invite them to show us what they need to do. Osteopathic traditions have always believed that the body has an inherent self-healing mechanism, and we do our best to honour and access this at all times.
In terms of other craniosacral approaches, some focus more exclusively on the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid (biodynamic), and some incorporate many similar techniques but have a different way of working with the emotional components of our experience that can be held in body tissues. Dr Upledger called his approach to this SER or SomatoEmotional Release.
You can find out all about it here: What is SER?