Craniosacral: what it is and what it is used for

Craniosacral: what it is and what it is used for

The Cranio-Sacral Treatment can be applied to cure a series of ailments by eliminating the causes, but it can also be a preventive tool, to maintain the condition of well-being.

Cranio sacral technique

Cranio-sacral treatment consists of a series of light manipulations on the cranial bones and spinal column to establish contact with the cranio-sacral rhythm , to stimulate and support it. Let’s find out better.


  • What is craniosacral massage
  • The principles of the craniosacral
  • Benefits and contraindications of craniosacral massage
  • For whom the craniosacral massage is meant
  • Craniosacral technique courses
  • Curiosities about craniosacral massage


What is craniosacral massage

Craniosacral treatment is a holistic osteopathic technique , also called etiopathic discipline , that is focused on the search for the causes triggering the manifested disorders.


The operator implements a series of inputs through a light touch on the cranial bones and on the vertebral column of a subject, in order to establish contact with the person’s cranio-sacral rhythm, to stimulate and support it. 


At the beginning of the twentieth century, Dr. Calvin Cottan hypothesized that there was movement within the skull . The discovery of the cranio-sacral system, and the theorization of the movement that distinguishes it, is to be attributed to the osteopath William Sutherland .


Practical experimentation was possible later, in 1975, when Dr. John Upledger, empirically clarified the semi-rigid nature of the skull , capable of measurable micro-movements and traced the indications for implementing the cranio-sacral therapy and the method that took his name, Upledger.


The principles of the Cranio-Sacral

On the basis of Sutherland’s theories and of the therapy developed by Upledger, there is a breathing mechanism of the cranial bones, the “Primary Respiratory Mechanism” (MRP) which indicates a harmonic rhythm between phases of expansion and contraction, generated by the fluctuation of the cerebrospinal fluid , from the movement of the brain and spinal cord. These processes are facilitated by sutures, which make the cranial system a dynamic system.


By means of light manipulations, almost imperceptible to the patient, the treatment is able to intervene on the whole organism through the connections with the craniosacral system.


The operator interacts with the cranial rhythmic impulse , a physiological component which, thanks to the cerebrospinal fluid, communicates with the central nervous system. To focus in a specific way on any anomalies is the biomechanical approach , unlike the biodynamic one aimed at stimulating the strength of health and vitality.


Through his studies, Upledger has given birth to a new branch of cranial osteopathy , cranial -sacral therapy , starting from Sutherland’s model and evolving in research. One of the various innovative aspects identified by Upledger is that of emotionality and its influence on the physical body. 


With him we start talking about ” somato-emotional release ” (SER). It is a process that identifies and helps to release the emotional component related to physical trauma, which involves the non-invasive but direct palpation of the cranio-sacral rhythm and fascial movement, where therapist and patient interact without intermediaries, even of a verbal nature. A great attention and sensitivity on the part of the operator is essential , and can also treat pediatric subjects.


The SER starts from McLean’s triadic brain theory, which indicates the different components such as the neural frame, the reptilian brain, the limbic system , to which it adds the temporomandibular joint, the functions of the trigeminal nerve . It is a method that is enriched with ever more precise analyzes, to flush out the so-called ” energy cysts ” linked to physical and emotional trauma. 


Benefits and contraindications of  craniosacral massage

By intervening on the functionality of the entire organism, the cranio-sacral massage guarantees benefits at all levels : from a simple anti-stress intervention to a potential posture rebalancer, this technique is useful because it disinfects the muscles, improves the physiology of the gastrointestinal system and breathing. .
Craniosacral therapy is indicated in the treatment of back pain , sciatica , birth trauma , whiplash, migraines, scoliosis, dizziness and temporomandibular joint problems .
The treatment acts deeply on the nervous system , influences the hormonal and immune systems, promotes the harmonization of psychological and emotional states, stimulating a state of well-being.


Craniosacral therapy is gentle and safe. For this reason, it is often recommended in circumstances considered risky, such as pregnancy, after an operation or accidents.


For whom the craniosacral massage is meant

Regarding the non-invasive nature of the technique, the cranio-sacral massage can be practiced on newborns , elderly people and pregnant women . This treatment can be approached for different disorders or pathologies, of physical or psychological origin.


People with autism, stress , depression , dyslexia, learning difficulties, nervous disorders, hyperactivity, insomnia and various traumas find benefit in the treatment. 

Through cranio-sacral therapy it is possible to influence the hormonal system , and also treat:

  • functional gynecological disorders, such as dysmenorrhea
  • functional disorders of the nervous system, which cause headaches , neuralgia, sleep disturbances and visual disturbances 
  • functional disorders of occlusion or chewing such as bruxism  or crossbite, sinusitis , some functional scoliosis with cranial origin
  • functional disorders of the child due to birth trauma, changes in the shape of the skull, gas colic.


Even if you do not suffer from any of the aforementioned ailments, you can contact an operator to do a real reorganization of the body and mind, to recover energy and regain vitality to start the week again. 


Craniosacral osteopathy against headaches and sinusitis


Cranio Sacral technique courses

The Cranio-Sacral Academy Upledger Italia ETS reports the following definition:
“ The Cranio-Sacral Technique, CranioSacral Therapy (CST), having as its objective well-being, is not a health profession and does not carry out activities reserved exclusively for health professions. In this sense, the term ” therapy – therapy” is not intended in a strictly health sense, but in reference to the extensive notion of “health” (and therefore inevitably also of “therapy”) as formulated by the WHO: “state of complete physical, emotional, mental and social well-being and not simply the absence of disease “ . 


If health is defined in this way it is inevitable that its achievement or restoration cannot pass exclusively through the function of the health professions. The CST is therefore also used in the health sector as a complementary and additional resource , always and in any case on the indication and under the responsibility of health personnel, in line with its history and tradition and always with regard to the specific skills, knowledge and skills of each profession (health or non-ordinistica). 


The subject learned during the courses is to be considered a cultural or professional training experience. Its application is allowed to health professionals and the application by non-ordinistic professionals is subordinated and regulated by the national law 4/2013 .  The learning of the cranio-sacral technique is therefore open to everyone, both health professionals and wellness operators. 


While being part of osteopathic techniques (and to become an osteopath you need a training course that in Italy is not continuous and is not of a university nature, but private), there are various training centers including the Cranio-Sacral Upledger academy that offer preparatory courses and advanced courses, some with CME awards .


Curiosities about Cranio Sacral massage

Until the end of the 19th century, anatomists believed the cranial structures to be immobile . This conviction arose from the observation of the skulls of corpses, that is, subjects without life. The theories that followed one another over time could not find empirical counter-proofs for a long time. The scope of the sacral skull therefore remained theoretical until 1975.

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