What is Craniosacral Therapy? Comprehensive therapy used for treatment of many conditions at all ages. Extremely gentle, non invasive, hands on technique. Particularly suitable for babies, children, pregnancy and acutely painful conditions. Therapist seeks out, identifies areas of compression, restriction or tension through the body which may be impeding proper function of the organs, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and body tissues in general. Restrictions result from: injury, infection, inflammation, emotional tension, underlying pathologies or compressive pressures of the birth process.
Based on findings by osteopaths in early 1900s about subtle physiology. Every cell in human body expressed a rhythmic movement which is fundamental to life- craniosacral motion. CSF at core of body, bathes and cushions brian and spinal cord, expressed motion in a tidelike ebb and flow. CSM radiates out to the fascia which lines all bones, tissues, organs etc which then follow their own pattern of movement. Since these discoveries there have been further developments forming branches of CST such as biodynamic and somatic CST. Somatic- more focussed on short tide and physical structures Biodynamic- expands out to mid and long tides that associated with energetic inflow and breath of life, energetic and spiritual anatomy.
How does it work? Each organ, muscle or tissue is linked to a precise area of the craniosacral system through its nerve pathways and fascial connections. The connections provide a pathway for a two way process of interaction through which dysfunction can be diagnosed and proper function restored. Disturbances in rhythm are reflected as abnormal pulls and tensions in the body tissues. These are identified, traced to their sources. By following the subtle internal pulls and twists, points of resistance are encountered and released and returns to proper functioning. The therapist seeks to restore balance to the CSS, enabling it to restore proper function to the affected part of the body and system as a whole.
In response to physical knocks or emotional stress, the bodies tissues and subtle energy fields contract. If shock is severe or within emotional situation, they remain contracted. Stored restrictions restrict the bodies functioning: Physical (back pain, migraine, digestive disorders) Emotional (anxiety, depression, behavioural disorders) Mental (stress) The resulting complex web of interwoven layers show up in the way CSM is expressed. Dysfunction
Client led therapy- Body sets pace and priority, may be different to what you expect. By holding a safe space for transformation reflect back to the body the pattern it is holding. The bodies has an opportunity to let go of its holding and return to an ease of functioning. All happens at a deep unconscious level, in the same way as we might make more conscious decisions (correct our posture when look in mirror). Frees up energy that the body was using to hold itself in contraction.
Physically: symptom relief and/or releasing restrictions causing the symptoms, ease, power of movement, relieve stiffness or weakness. Physiologically: Aiding the bodies systems toward optimal functioning. Making energy available to the system to achieve this. Emotionally-Mentally: Lessen emotional loading, releasing restricted thought patterns. Resourcing. Dont have to be ill- preventative and increased vitality and wellbeing. Where is it appropriate?
How is it relevant to Midwifery? CS distortions can happen from point of conception and forms the basis of foetal/childhood and adult disfunction. Structure/ function, all systems of body, hormones Fertility- emotional, detox, hormones. Pregnancy- emotions, development, pelvis shape, back pain. Birth- Contractions, emotions, turn baby. Post Partum- release cranium and pelvis, hormones mother and baby.
Treatment during pregnancy Labour can be profoundly transformed if treated during pregnancy. Best to start long before pregnancy first 3 months important to treat as embryo developing and likely time for miscarriage. In final stages can turn baby if overdue.
Treatment during Labour Though the physiology of baby and mother are designed for this process, labour is obviously a time where a great deal can go wrong. CST very valuable: working on different parts throughout process soothing tight muscles between and during contractions sacrum/abdominals/shoulders and back.
Birth Trauma Baby takes on shock of birth in solar plexus and all levels of physical,emotional, spiritual. Stay with them for life unless treated. Even where straightforward, restrictions and compressions may persist and inhibit full and proper growth and development. Results of distortions vary considerably and depend on individual circumstances. Typical distortions on SO, SP and stomach can be found found for even uncomplicated birth:
New born skull is soft, malleable, membranous structure with soft partly formed bony plates which are floating. Sutures not yet formed. Base of cranium is formed in cartilage Other cranial bones are formed from membranes. Easier passage through birth canal Greater potential for distortion. New born cranium
Areas of incomplete ossification are sites of potential distortion Cranial base, formed in cartilage, is liable to distortion and less able to self correct than membranous structures. Occipital region is not ossified until 6 years- susceptible to distortion up until then. (learning to walk, lots of falls)
Foramen Magnum and Jugular foramen particularly susceptible. All distortions solidified into the structure of the body during growth and ossification.
Cranial base is of specific importance because of proximity to so many other structures: Jugular foramen -vagus nerve passes through- major parasympathetic supply to digestive system. Compression can cause over stimulation and lead to persistent spasm of digestive organs and colic. Superior cervical sympathetic ganglion. Runs along side vertebral column providing sympathetic nerve supply to the viscera. Compression or pressure can produce sympathetic stimulation throughout the whole nervous system- hyperstimulation of viscera, generalised overstimulation, restlessness, tension, hyperactivity- effecting plexi (SP) and spasm in digestive system. Stimulation of both the above causes conflicting sympathetic (plexi, close down digestion) and parasympathetic (vagus, increase digestion) functions to clash- resulting in spasm. Increased SN stimulation increases stimulation of adrenal medulla, releasing adrenaline, causing generalised stimulation, tension, restlessness, hyperactivity and creating a vicious cycle of sympathetic adrenal over activity.
Solar Plexus area is of equal significance: Effected by compression of cranial base, also stimulated by shock, trauma or distress. Shock- caused by traumatic birth, arrival in the outside world, brightly lit, noisy, premature cutting o f umbilical cord, caesarian, tension picked up from mother or environment) Tension manifests in the resp diaphragm, causing restriction of structures (Oesophogus) and effecting function of pylorus through which food passes into the stomach. Leads to difficulty passing food or liquid or complete obstruction.
Effects of birth trauma can cause many childhood conditions, from minor ailments (eg glue ear) to more severe disabilities such as cerebral palsy. Long and traumatic birth imposes intense patterns of restriction and compression in the cranium and through whole system. Different presentations (posterior, face, breech)present different compressions and restrictions. Physical compressions will be more imprinted if: They are held in those positions for a long time. There is intense stress and trauma associated. New born physiology designed to be adaptable and pliable to allow passage and adapt to the rigorous pressures of the birth process. Even a straightforward birth can result in mild birth trauma due to distortions of cranium and pelvis not completely resolving.
Mild to Complicated birth Restrictions of cranium at birth effect us all to some degree. If severe:brain damage, cerebral palsy, autism, contribute towards SIDS. Less severe: dyslexia, learning difficulties, hyperactivity, epilepsy, obsessional behaviour, personality disorder, variety of developmental problems. Allergies, asthma and general wellbeing have been linked to distortions at birth.
Colic- CST very effective Colic- prolonged inconsolable screaming for several hours with no apparent cause, usually in early evening. Regurgitation of feeds, excessive wind, inability to bring up wind, projectile vomiting and obvious pain. Drugs rarely effective and have side effects and latent effect on immune system and underlying constitution. In severe cases- pyloric stenosis (food cannot pass into stomach). CST treatment focusses: cranial base and solar plexus region. Cranial base- occipital bone/atlas relationship. Important because of all associated structures such as nerve and vascular supply through foramina and sympathetic ganglion. Solar plexus, umbilicus, pylorus- stimulated by pressure on solar plexus and by shock, trauma or distress (babies more susceptible than adults resulting in digestive disturbances). Tension manifests in diaphragm and causes restriction in other associated structures including oesophagus as it passes through the diaphragm into the stomach. In babies passages are narrower, so constriction more easily cause pain and disfunction, even complete obstruction. May predispose to further disease later in life. such as hiatus hernia and duodenal ulcer.
Caesarian Shock of different nature- like diver with the benz. Dont have the twisting pattern found with natural birth but doesnt get the kick start, less dynamic, less stimulated, generalised contraction. Shock is held in solar plexus, incurred at the time of incision when fluid pressures within the womb change very suddenly. There is a sense of seizing up in the body, closing down and tightness in the head and tension in the solar plexus.
Post Partum Very important time to treat 1-2 days of life. Fully integrated treatment, especially fascia, physical level. Body brought back into shape, diaphragm, thoracic, pelvis, all transverse structures, kyphosis, lourdosis, abdominal viscera, sub- occiput.
Childhood disorders Ear infections, otitis media, glue ear are common in early childhood. Arise from accumulation and stagnation of fluids in the middle ear and can result in hearing loss. Distortion of eustation tube during birth process can be released by CST allowing free drainage of fluids. Treatment relieves immediate symptoms, restores proper hearing and therefore proper learning and speech and reduces risk of hearing loss. Reduced need for antibiotics or grommets and other ENT operations such as tonsillectomy.
Other childhood conditions wide variety of conditions related to cranial bone restrictions: mucous congestion, catarrh, ear, nose, throat problems, constipation, diarrhoea, obsessional behaviour, personality disorder, tantrums. Autism- reduced blood supply to the temporal and frontal lobes and restricted mobility of temporal and frntal bones, restricting blood flow to these areas. cerebral Palsy- considered to be due to brian damage- CST very effective by releasing constrictions of bones on the brain preventing proper growth and development. Torticollis, involving excessive muscle tone in the sterno mastoid muscle causing twisting of the neck is due to compression of the jugular foramen.
Other issues helped by CST Post natal depression- rebalance autonomic nervous system. Vaginal tearing/scarring Epilepsy, cerebral palsy in newborn. Vaccination reactions.
Case History- ZF aged 2 Presented with : food sensitivities, poor appetite, very fussy, doesnt enjoy food. Hyperactive and lack of focus. Pregnacy and labour: Long traumatic home birth 24hrs, posterior until the end, small baby (2.5kg), week overdue. Mother had right hip pain during pregnancy, emotionally stressed at 6 months. Had chiropractic every 2-3 weeks. Has scoliosis and back pain during labour. High top palate, not thriving, went to bottle at 3 months. Was sick on special formular, resumed normal mix.
Relevant History: Feeding was issue from the beginning due to high palate. Mother would have anxiety attacks whilst breast feeding, crying from the pain. Very scary experience for her. Initial Treatment: Tight palate and throat holding emotional trauma (fear) from breast feeding. Release thoracic spine and muscles T3,4. Stomach burning and ache released. Solar plexus and resp diaphragm. Birth trauma from Sub Occ and Diaphragm. Release vomer and cranial bones, especially left temporal distortion, rebalance cranial base. Changes from session: Very hyperactive for 3 hours, then prolonged sleep. Very happy, sleeping well, eating some different foods. Settles easier at night, wakes happier, more balanced. Carers noticed his changed disposition. Enjoys eating. Less hyperactive.
Summary CST is useful for all ages and all stages of the birth process and life: Birth is highly formative time, for all individuals. Ideally, every baby would be helped by CST at birth. It is highly relevant for those with severe birth trauma. Treatment should occur as soon as possible. Early treatment resolves quickly. As accumulative distortions develop, treatment becomes more complex and several treatments are required. Early treatment prevents dyfunction that could develop later.
References Articles by Thomas Attlee- Founder College of Craniosacral Therapy -London Articles by John Upledger, May 2003 Issue.