Cranial osteopathy is a specialist technique used to manipulate the bones of the skull with a touch so light that many people can barely feel it. Advocates claim it is based on sound anatomical and physiological knowledge combined with palpatory skills that are finely tuned and extremely sensitive qualities of touch.
It was developed in the 1930s by American osteopath William Garner Sutherland, a disciple of Andrew Still. His osteopathic training taught him that the bones of the skull, which are separate at birth, grow together into a fixed structure and are immovable, but he noticed that these bones retained some potential for movement even in adulthood. If they could move, they could also be susceptible to dysfunction. With experimentation on himself and others, he discovered that compressing his skull could have severe mental and physical effects. He discovered that the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord fluid had rhythms, which he called “the breath of life,” because the rhythms appeared to be influenced by the rate and depth of breathing. By gently wanipulating the skull he found he could alter the rhythm of this fluid flow.
As the bones of the skull are moving normally, the cranial rhythm remains balanced, but any disturbance to the cranial bones can disturb the normal motion of the bones and the cranial rhythm, which, in turn, affects function in other areas of the body. An example of this is the birth process, when the bones of the skull can become disturbed, causing unresolved strain within the -cranium. And it is this dysfunction that causes disease and ill-health.
Elements of Therapy
Therapy comprises gentle manipulations using fine, sensitive touch applied directionally, mostly at the cranium and the sacrum, but also elsewhere. The idea is to resolve any compression or distortion of the cranial bones, especially if any part of the rest of the body is deemed to be affected by such compression or distortion.
Craniosacral Therapy (CST)
Craniosacral therapy is a recently established form of cranial osteopathy based on Dr. Sutherland’s work but developed and popularized by John E. Dpledger. Still evolving, this therapy retains several authoritative models as promulgated by a number of individual teachers. Dpledger himself has evolved a model intended to promote “somatoemotional release.” Others with backgrounds in chiropractic have evolved additional sacro-occipital techniques suggestive of a more mechanical approach.
Basically, the aim of the therapy is virtually the same as that of cranial osteopathy. The treatment comprises a sequence of movements that are not dictated by symptoms; it aims instead to improve the overall functioning of the cranial system and the membrane structures of the body. Practitioners are required to have some training, but they do not necessarily have to have medical qualifications.