Craniosacral therapy was first developed in the 1930s by an American osteopath, Dr William Sutherland. Sutherland's concept that the bones of the skull are structured to allow movement was dismissed for years by the medical and scientific community. However in the 1970s an osteopathic physician called John Upledger led a team of scientists who demonstrated the existence of cranial bone motion, and his work helped to inspire a new generation of practitioners.
The craniosacral system consists of the bones of the cranium (head) and sacrum (the tail end of the spine), together with the cerebrospinal fluid, the membranes which surround the brain and spinal cord, and the fascia which radiates out from these membranes to every organ, muscle, nerve and blodd vessel throughout the body. All of these structures pulsate in a symmetrical, balanced and rhythmic motion, known as the craniosacral rhythm. Craniosacral therapists develop the sensitivity to tune into these subtle rhythms as they reflect out through the fascia to all parts of the body. Restrictions, blockages or dysfunctions of any kind show up as disturbances to the balance and symmetry of the craniosacral rhythm.
Treatment involves placing the hands very gently on the body, and identifying areas of restriction or tension. The subtle pulls and twists are then followed until points of resistance are encountered. Craniosacral therapy does not impose on the body, but by following the restrictions in the tissues it allows them to release. It aims to enhance the functioning of the part of the body being treated, relieve tension and promote general wellbeing.