Cranial Sacral Massage Therapy is also called as Cranio-Sacral Therapy or CST. It involves gentle massage of cranio-sacral system of the body which is comprised of different types of tissues, cranial bones, pelvis and spine.
Cranial bone is a term used for bones located in the head. In cranial sacral massage therapy, cerebrospinal fluids and membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord are targeted. These fluids and membranes provide necessary protection to the brain against different kinds of injuries.
This therapy is mostly done by professionals. For example, chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists are the professionals that offer cranial sacral massage therapy. This is a very gentle and tender technique and even many people fall asleep while getting this type of therapy.
Cranial sacral massage therapy is done in a private and quiet setting. The person undergoing this therapy remains clothed all the time during the session. It is generally recommended that for getting best benefits, comfortable clothing should be worn. Shoes are generally removed during the session and this massage therapy is generally provided on a treatment table or recline. The professional doing this therapy moves around the head, feet and torso of client.
For facilitating better massage, light organic oil may also be used by the therapist. Client lies on the massage table with his/her face upwards. Various types of body parts that are manipulated by the therapist during the session are pelvis, skull, spine, and soft tissues. As a result of massage, cerebrospinal fluid flows more smoothly. Session may last up to one hour, depending upon the condition. For example, session for improving the immunity of body may be bit longer than session for migraine headache.
Cranial sacral massage therapy is based on cranial osteopathy. This therapy tries to restore the natural movements of skull bones and improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Many therapists believe that movements of skull bones are dependent on the membranes lining the nervous system organs and structures. These basically include spinal cord and brain. This is the reason why the focus of therapists is always on these membranes rather than bones and sutures.
Since soft tissues and central nervous system are involved in this therapy, services of an experienced and trained therapist should be sought. Now a days, health clubs, salons and spas are also offering this therapy to their clients.
Numbers of sessions required for improvement or treatment depends upon the seriousness of condition. For example, few sessions of this therapy are required for treating chronic headaches while for treating severe and chronic pains, many sessions are required.
General guidelines for this therapy consist of a 10 step protocol, which is generally followed by all the therapists. First of all, therapist must analyze the existing cranial rhythm and then, he/she should decide about the therapy. Therapist must create a still point at the base of skull on basis of this rhythm. Afterwards, sacrum should be rocked gently.
This is followed by lengthening of spine in lumbar-sacral area. The therapist must address the respiratory, pelvic and thoracic diaphragms. Each of the cranial bones must be addressed after release of hyoid bone located in the throat. On the basis of condition of client, therapist may follow any sequence and even some of the steps may be omitted.
Therapists usually place their hands gently on the body of patient. Some people also call these as ‘thinking fingers’. The finger movement of therapist must be tuned with the cranial rhythm of patient. This is also called as entrainment. Most of patients experience deep relaxation during the session of cranial sacral message therapy.
Cranial sacral massage therapy is considered as safe, as it is done gently and for improving the condition of patient. However, there are certain conditions in which this therapy is not recommended. For example, it is not advised in certain medical conditions where it can cause instability due to increase in intracranial pressure.
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Some of these medical conditions include cerebral hemorrhage, acute aneurysm and bleeding disorders. Before consulting a massage therapist, health care provider must be contacted so as to ensure than no complication would occur due to therapy.
Benefits of Cranial Sacral Massage Therapy
There are many types of benefits obtained from above therapy. This therapy influences functioning of CNS or Central Nervous System and thus, is able to deal with different types of disorders associated with CNS. For example, many types of pains like chronic back pain and neck pain are successfully treated with this therapy.
This therapy is also used as a preventive measure, apart from treatment of pains, for preventing pains occurring in the body. Regular massage increases resistance to different types of diseases. There are some other medical conditions also in which this therapy proves very useful. For example, headache, tension, migraine, autism, chronic fatigue, post traumatic stress and emotional difficulties are some of the conditions that can be treated with cranial sacral massage therapy. In present lifestyle, stress cannot be avoided.
Stress leads to many types of dysfunctions, which can be easily treated with above therapy. The theory behind this therapy is that emotional disturbances and improper operations of body organs and CNS occur in the body due to blockages of spinal fluid and if this fluid is allowed to flow naturally, all these disorders can be rectified.
Joint and muscle strains also occur due to blockage of spinal fluid, which causes a lot of discomfort. Risk of injury and sickness prevails in the body until flow of spinal fluid becomes normal. Cranial sacral massage therapy is one of the best ways of ensuring normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid.
This therapy is always done with a holistic approach. Inter connections among the mind, body and spirit are very essential for this therapy. Apart from treating different types of disorders mentioned above, this therapy also promotes a sense of well being. People of all ages can use their therapy for encouraging vitality.
Like other treatments, cranial sacral massage therapy has also been criticized by some people. In some cases of traumatic brain syndrome, adverse effects of this therapy have been reported. Many scientists do not admit that this therapy leads to cranial bone movements, as partial fusion between the cranial bones occur at some point of time during growth.