What Is Craniosacral Therapy?

Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle bodywork that helps relieve compression in the bones of the head, spinal column and sacrum, or the triangular bone located in the lower back, to stimulate and enhance the body's own natural healing processes. CST uses gentle pressure on the craniosacral system to relieve the pain and stress caused by compression. In addition, it can be used to help treat some conditions. CST was developed by osteopathic physician John Upledger in the 1970s as a form of cranial osteopathy.

What is Craniosacral Therapy?

How Does Craniosacral Therapy Work?

CST stimulates the cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the brain and the spinal cord and regulates the body's circadian rhythms to maintain good health and general wellbeing. The modality involves gentle palpation of the bones to eliminate blockages in the central nervous system that obstruct the normal flow of the spinal fluid and the body's natural ability to heal itself.

The Upledger Institute, a healthcare resource center, has listed various physical and psychological conditions that can be treated with CST:

  • Alzheimer's disease and dementia
  • Autism
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Colic
  • Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Fibromyalgia and other connective tissue disorders
  • Infantile disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Migraine and headaches
  • Motor coordination impairments
  • Neurovascular or immune disorders
  • Orthopedic problems
  • Post-surgical dysfunction
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Stress and tension-related problems
  • Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)

What Are the Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy?

The gentle techniques used in CST allows the body to correct what needs to be corrected in it to relieve pain and improve all of its functions. As this happens, the person will notice a massive improvement in their health. They are able to sleep better, move better, feel less stressed and enjoy an increased level of energy. Additionally, CST can be beneficial to people suffering from:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Dyslexia
  • Pain and stress associated with pregnancy
  • Digestive issues

What Can You Expect From Craniosacral Therapy?

CST is a noninvasive therapy that works with the entire structure, physiology, mind and spirit. During a CST session, the client usually lies on a massage table and the therapist will work through light clothing. CST is very gentle and profoundly relaxing and typically lasts between 40 to 60 minutes.

The practitioner uses five grams of pressure and will gently hold the client's feet, head, or sacrum to listen to their subtle rhythms. If they deem it necessary, the practitioner may gently press or reposition the client to normalize the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. 

During the treatment, the sensations felt by people receiving it are different. Some of these include:

  • Falling asleep
  • Sensing pulsations
  • Feeling deeply relaxed
  • Having a numbing "pins and needles" sensation
  • Having a hot or cold sensation

Is Craniosacral Therapy Safe?

CST is safe and beneficial to everybody, even babies, pregnant women and elderly people. It doesn't involve any force or pressure at all. The practitioner simply listens to what the body needs and allows it to make the necessary corrections by stimulating the cerebrospinal fluid.