Craniosacral FAQ’s

What is the craniosacral system?

The craniosacral system is a distinct system that includes the cranial bones and sacrum; plus the membranes that surround the brain, spinal cord, and that line the sacrum.  It also encompasses the cerebral spinal fluid. This cerebral spinal fluid has its own pulse and circulatory system. The rest of the body responds to this pulse through the networking of the connective tissue.  The body flexes and extends rhythmically corresponding to the craniosacral system.  As implied above, outermost parts of the body are used in this hands-on healing approach to access the whole system through levering and sensing within.  By palpating purely on or within the connective tissue that is part of the craniosacral system, it’s possible to touch the entire body from head to toe!

What is connective tissue?

Connective tissue is what provides structure and support for the entire body.  It surrounds every part of the body including the bones, organs, and even the blood and lymph vessels.  It has a tissue memory; so, it’s like your diary of your life.  Connective tissue has motor and sensory nerve supply. It also expresses itself through different kinds of tissue consistencies depending on the structure and function of the body part it serves.  Some connective tissue consistencies are fibrous in texture, and some softer and more elastic in quality. Thus, connective tissue, or fascia as it may be called, is a very important tissue component of the body!

What does craniosacral therapy address?

Craniosacral therapy works to tone the nervous and organ systems aiding in their function.  It also facilitates mobility in the muscular system.  This happens because craniosacral therapy helps to liberate or unlock constrictions held in the body through tissue release like “removing stones from the road,” as says Dr. John E. Upledger, the co-founder of craniosacral therapy, and former president of the Upledger Institute, a resource center for craniosacral studies in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Craniosacral therapy is best known for helping with headaches, whiplash, some learning disabilities, like dyslexia, and autism, sinus problems, allergies, high blood pressure, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, depression, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and more…

What is craniosacral tissue release?

Generally speaking, craniosacral tissue release is a perceptible softening or relaxation of the specific area being worked on, as the nervous system calms down.  It could also be indicated by a deep breath.  There may be many of these releases throughout the whole session.  When the tissue releases, the craniosacral session can move onto another area of tension. 

More specifically, there are other various kinds of tissue release that can be described like an increased passage of normal fluid flow, or an increased flow of energy can indicate tissue release.  Clients may also experience heat that radiates from the area being addressed.  Sometimes, once the area has been released, it may repel the practitioner’s hand as if to say, “I’m finished, or I am finished for now.” 

Releases commonly happen in sequences or layers.  We honor how far the body wants to go in any one session.  Another interesting phenomenon with tissue release is that sometimes a “therapeutic pulse” occurs, whereby the body part is asking us to stay there, as this is an indicator that something is in process of self-correction. Follow up sessions can continue to address chronic stress for specific areas that seem to need continual releasing. 

Are there any contraindications to having craniosacral therapy?

Yes, there are contraindications to having craniosacral therapy.  Here is a general list:

  • While having a stroke
  • Recent open cavity head wound
  • Aneurysm
  • Hemorrhage
  • Epidermal leaks
  • Brain stem herniation

Also, any condition in which a slight transient increase in intracranial pressure is present

Is the direction of energy that is used in craniosacral therapy ever contraindicated?

No, direction of energy is safe to use in most circumstances.

What is the direction of energy?

Simply, direction of energy is when the craniosacral therapist visualizes or intends healing energy to go to a certain place on the body of the client.  This can also be offered in a general way and not specific to any one part.  Further, it can be offered off or on the body, and by more than one person.  The energy is not the therapist’s own energy, but healing power energy that is always available to everyone that we can direct, pass, or organize for the purpose of coming into the body, or to the person, to assist in tissue release, or to revitalize tissue, or to help the person overall. 

Similar to Shiatsu or acupressure, practitioners can evaluate whether the tissue is depleted or over full.  Then treat the area accordingly.  Basically, and primarily, the client’s body or inner physician knows what to do with this energy.  All the practitioner does is offer it in, when a restriction or area where the craniosacral rhythm may well need to improve, or where flexibility in a joint is impeded.  Some frames of reference for this kind of healing energy work are similar to Krieger’s Therapeutic touch or Polarity Therapy. 

There are no rigid rules to sending healing energy. Therefore, there are no gimmicks.  It’s very straightforward.  You may hear the term V-spread as well, in the world of craniosacral therapy.  Some suggested reading to help understand this process are as follows:  The Body Electric, by Robert Becker, M.D; Blueprint for immortality, by Harold Saxton Burr; Joy’s way, by Dr. W. Brugh Joy; Your Inner Physician and You, and Cell Talk Transmitting Mind into DNA, both by John E. Upledger, D.O., O.M.M.