Living in the Body

Robyn Scherr : CranioSacral Therapy

CranioSacral therapy is educated, precise, nonintrusive touch that supports your body's innate ability to heal.

CST restores balance in the core of the body, your central nervous system. When the nervous system has more balance and ease, your body can devote more of its resources to healing and tissue repair.

Developed by
Dr. John Upledger, and with roots in many healing lineages, CST is unlike any other body therapy. In CST, we don't look for what's wrong with you and devise a plan to fix it. We don't overpower your body. Rather, we use our well-trained hands to discern what's happening in your tissues, seek to understand how and why your body behaves as it does, and aim to support the healthy impulses already at work. We recognize that with adequate resources and support, your body will move toward greater health in a way that's customized to your unique circumstances—a way that's more complete and profound than any treatment plan a therapist could craft.

CST is named for the craniosacral system, the membranes and fluid that protect, cleanse, and nourish your central nervous system.

This body system is named for the bony landmarks that form its outer boundary: the skull (cranium) and tailbone (sacrum). These bones are some of the "handles" we use to access this core part of your body. By releasing restrictions in the membranes and connective tissue, we encourage better fluid flow. Better fluid flow improves nutrition and waste removal, which leads to improved function.

Like other body systems, such as your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, the craniosacral system has a motion all its own: the craniosacral rhythm.

In engineering terms, the craniosacral system is a "semi-closed hydraulic system." Fluid drains from around your brain and spinal cord at a relatively stable rate, and fluid is produced within the system at regular intervals. Fluid production slightly increases pressure in the system. This ebb and flow of pressure is the craniosacral rhythm, and it's what we assess and monitor in CST.

Everything in your body responds to the craniosacral rhythm, so this rhythm can be felt anywhere on your body.

As Tim Hutton, a longtime Upledger Institute instructor, says: "every part of the body, and every part of every part, should move well in response to the craniosacral rhythm." A well-trained practitioner can palpate quite precisely, "listening" with their hands to pinpoint areas and specific tissues that don't respond well to this global motion. This is one reason why a craniosacral assessment can be so accurate in locating the source of a problem, and help map the route toward resolution.

The tissues of your craniosacral system are connected to all of your body's tissues; CST treats your whole body.

Because your craniosacral system is deeply connected to all your fascia (the continuous, web-like stocking of connective tissue that surrounds and supports all your muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and organs), CST provides you with a whole-body treatment, addressing every system and allowing your entire body to unwind and release.

Your body is comprised of varying densities of tissue, fluid, and energy. CST works with them all.

Is this body work or energy work? The simple answer is: yes. CST practitioners work with our hands on the tissues of the body, using gentle pressure to match the tension held there, recognizing that the human energy field permeates the tissue. We address restrictions wherever they present.

Life experiences are processed through your body; when overwhelming, they are held there.

We have a remarkable ability to store what we can't deal with in the moment, and then to work around what we've stored. Compensation is a useful and effective strategy, as long we have the resources to manage it.

Our bodies work around these held experiences until the load becomes too great; that's when we develop symptoms.

Have you ever had a physical injury that seemed to plague you long after the site had healed? That’s not as unusual as you might think. Symptoms develop when our bodies are no longer able or willing to maintain our compensations. That's why pain today may stem from an injury years ago.

To put it plainly, sometimes parts of us get stuck in time. While we feel we’ve moved on from an accident or other challenging event, some of our tissues may have held on to the injury, pain, and emotion. Perhaps it was too much for the body to process then; perhaps there’s another reason. Regardless, what happens is our body takes that unprocessed experience, that shock to the system, and walls it off. The body then compensates and adapts, like water moving around a boulder in a creek. Over time this gets tiring, taxing your system. Symptoms (pain, stiffness, lack of motion) become more difficult to suppress and ignore.

CranioSacral therapy helps your body release the effects of held life experiences.

CranioSacral therapy allows you to bring your whole self into the present moment. During a CST session, your body may choose to release an old holding pattern. It’s your practitioner's job to recognize that moment, and gently work with your body and mind to release that pattern. Experienced CST practitioners may encourage you to look into your body with your mind’s eye while engaging with specific tissue; you may work with your imagination. It’s not necessary to relive or analyze an experience to release emotion or trauma, and your body always leads the way.