Chronic headaches affect millions of people each year, and are one of the most common complaints expressed by our patients. An individual can experience headache for any number of reasons, including stress, stationary positioning in front of a computer, and muscle tightness causing decreased range of motion in the neck and head. Other contributing factors could include improper alignment of the jaw, hormonal factors, a car accident, a change in vision, or some other disease process.
Craniosacral therapy is a very effective, light-touch therapy that supports the body’s own healing resources. The craniosacral system, which extends from the cranium to the sacrum and coccyx, houses the central nervous system (CNS). Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is formed in the brain and flows within the dural membrane (one of the 3 protective layers of the CNS), covering our bones, joints, and the sutures that interconnect those bones, in a rhythmic rise-and-fall of fluid volume and pressure. Acting as a “shock absorber,” the CSF delivers nutrients and washes away waste products from the metabolic processes.
Our bodies have many different rhythms and are constantly in motion. In the same way that we refer to a “resting heart rate” or our “resting respiratory rate,” our cranial rhythmic impluse (flow of the cerebrospinal fluid) usually manifests between 6-12 cycles per minute. Through gentle palpation, a trained craniosacral therapist can use this rhythm as both an evaluative and therapeutic tool.
Tension in the membranes can disrupt the cranial rhythm. Therapists are trained to feel and monitor changes in the body by placing their hands in the areas that are the source of dysfunction, and following the body’s cues as it works to release the tensions that are causing pain. Nerve endings in our skin send messages to the brain that stimulate a response either to pain or pleasure. A therapist’s gentle, non-invasive touch in a painful area allows the body to respond and relax, whereas firm touch activates neuromuscular tension and stress patterns, preventing the ability to effect this very deep core system. Using the gentle method, therapists are therefore able to feel changes in different anatomical structures in the body, bones, soft tissue, membranes, and fluids.