Craniosacral Therapy Addresses Whole Body Health
Apr 01, 2015 12:00AM
● By Jonina Turzi
In the human body, cerebrospinal fluid surrounds the brain and spinal cord, protecting and nourishing them. The system performs in a way similar to that of the hydraulics of car brakes; fluid evenly distributes itself to help absorb shock and spreads mechanical pressure out to the wheels, improving function.
Throughout the body, thin layers of tissue, called dural fascia, encapsulate the fluid as continuous sheaths around nerves. Because the nervous system is so far-reaching, interacting with and affecting nearly every process of health, this craniosacral hydraulic system, with its slightly pulsing rhythm and functional flow, is critically important. One method of enhancing the circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid is craniosacral therapy.
Osteopathic physician John Upledger developed craniosacral therapy in the 1970s. He says, “Every day, your body endures stresses and strains that it must work to compensate for” When trauma causes restrictions in the craniosacral system, widespread problems can occur. Craniosacral therapy evolved to treat central adhesions so the body’s inherent fluidity may pulse and drive the system towards better health.
Craniosacral therapy is delivered through a light touch technique. Practitioners use specific points of contact and apply very mild pressure, usually no greater than five grams, or the weight of a nickel, to harness the hydraulic effect of the cerebrospinal fluid. Although the targeted tissue is deep at the level of nerves, the buildup of hydraulic pressure does the primary release work, and the therapist works with extremely gentle force in their fingertips.
Osteopathic physician William Sutherland, a predecessor to Upledger, studied the bones of the skull and discovered that they can move by way of the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. He realized that healthy skull bones shift slightly along joint lines called cranial sutures, and he practiced decompressing the skull and nervous system through cranial osteopathic manipulation.
Upledger built upon his work and extrapolated gentle cranial manipulation to the sacrum, or base of the spine, as well as throughout the entire body, because he believed that the dural tension of the nervous system is continuous in affecting health. Today, craniosacral therapy methods are practiced worldwide. Practitioners use it on infants, the elderly, Olympic-level athletes and anyone looking to reduce tension on their vital central nervous system. It’s used to address chronic pain, migraines, autism and immune disorders, as well as orthopedic problems such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) tension.
Craniosacral therapy is often deeply relaxing for recipients. The hands of a craniosacral therapist are trained to engage a barrier without barging past it and to shift slightly to absorb the speed of the body’s release. The work is to rebalance the cerebrospinal fluid rhythm, to allow the innately intelligent mechanism to halt tension, and to allow the body to heal itself from within.
Jonina Turzi holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Delaware. The owner of West End Yoga studio, located at 221 W. Walnut St., in Lancaster, Turzi is a certified hatha yoga instructor and a certified functional manual therapist who practices visceral and craniosacral therapy. Connect at JoninaTurzi.com.