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Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle and highly effective manual therapy that provides an opportunity for greater health and healing by alleviating tensions in the body and mind that affect the membranes and fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system). CST respects and works with the inner intelligence of the body, intending to gently release the tensions that inhibit the natural self-healing and self-correcting abilities.
The craniosacral system includes membranes (meninges) that line the inside of the skull (the cranium), fold in to create divisions between the lobes of the brain, and then become a tube that extends down the inside of the spine (the vertebral column) to the tailbone (the sacrum). Cerebrospinal fluid circulates around the brain and spinal cord within this membrane system.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounds, bathes, nourishes and protects the brain and spinal cord. Healthy circulation of the CSF is important for optimal function of the cells of the central nervous system. There is a slow, subtle, rhythmic movement of this system as CSF is produced, circulated and reabsorbed. Therapists are trained to gently palpate this subtle movement in order to evaluate how tensions in the body and mind are affecting this core system.
Although our bodies are made of countless individual parts, all of these parts are interrelated and function together as an integrated whole. This requires effective communication and coordination of the cells and nervous system that rely on fluid circulation and the flow of nerve impulses.
Our bodies have homeostatic, self-correcting mechanisms - systems that are designed to constantly monitor, maintain and restore balance and function. In order for these mechanisms to work we again must have good circulation of fluids and effective central nervous system function.
Craniosacral therapy focuses on alleviating the tensions and restrictions in the body/mind that negatively affect mobility of tissue, fluids, and nerve impulses; thereby supporting communication and coordination so that the homeostatic mechanisms of the body can work, maintaining and restoring healthy function.
The quality of touch used is gentle and gradual, so that the subtle movements of this system can be palpated and the nervous system and tissues do not need to defend against the touch. A gentle touch allows the body to relax and rest in a parasympathetic state - the body's rest, digest and repair state of being. This helps us to manage the stresses of life and supports the self-healing, self-regulatiing activities of the body.
CST works well with other treatment modalities, often complementing or improving the effectiveness of other interventions. Clients who use CST as part of a team approach where they address lifestyle, exercise, functional activities, etc., will experience the most benefit from CST. Those who require surgical or medicinal intervention for injury or disease will also find that CST helps with the recovery process. There are very few situations in which CST is contraindicated. A therapist/health professional with CST training can answer any questions you may have about your specific situation.
Image source: The Web site of the National Cancer Institute (https://www.cancer.gov)
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