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Cranio-Sacral Santa Cruz

Cranio-sacral therapy was discovered and developed about 100 years ago in the field of osteopathy. William Sutherland, a mechanical engineer, had enrolled in osteopathic college for a change of career. He eventually brought forth a whole new understanding called “craniopathy”–what we know of today as “cranio-sacral therapy.”

Cranio-sacral therapists are trained to be able to perceive the subtle rolling twelve second pulse of the body. The therapist assesses what is moving correctly, and on the other hand what is tight or restricted. Imagine that you ARE the surface of the ocean, with an ocean swell rolling slowly through your body every twelve seconds. You would expect each part of your body to rise and fall with the fluid rhythm. But if your arm had a rope on it, tethered to a seaweed tower, it would move differently than expected…differently than the rest of the body does in the swell. Using the motion pattern assessment, the cranio-sacral therapist is able to track the aberrant motion to the exact site or sites of restriction. Then she gently eases the tissues from their constraints.

Now imagine that you ARE a jellyfish. Your head expands gently for 6 seconds, and then contracts for 6 seconds. This is the breath cycle of the cranio-sacral rhythm in the human. The jellyfish legs represent your neck, torso, arms and legs, and they “wag” in a sine-wave shape at the response of the head breathing. The cranio-sacral therapist can take a contact on the body anywhere (head, back, legs) and like a puppeteer, can feel the strands of muscles and fascia, can feel how they move, and can work them loose from near or afar.

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There are various cranio-sacral release techniques which are all very gentle to experience. In fact some patients might confuse cranio-sacral therapy with “energy work” initially, because the therapist’s hands can be quite still. But the proof is in the pudding: people come back because of the pain relief which is often greatest on the following afternoon.

The therapist might use an “unwinding” technique, allowing the tissues to guide the release. This lets the tissues walk themselves out of a twist or a contracture with the therapist’s help. Or the therapist might “mold” the tight joint or muscle into release with a more direct technique which is sort of like pushing a ship; To push tight tissues with cranio-sacral therapy, the therapist must move with the tissues at the speed that the tissues “go.” The angles of release must be accurate and precise to guide the proper alignment of tissues and bone.

As subtle as the techniques feel to receive, the after-effect is more important. With improved muscle and joint alignment, the nervous system calms down, too. The stagnation turns into openness so that inflammation can be swept away. Joints are opened, and pain conditions are frequently markedly improved.

For more on the history of the cranio-sacral therapy, read on…

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