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definitions of massage

Definitions of Massage

Massage Types

Therapy Types

Techniques

Craniosacral

What is CranioSacral Therapy?

CranioSacral therapy is one of many terms used to describe a various methods based on:

  • The human brain makes rhythmic movements at a rate of 10 to 14 cycles per minute, a periodicity unrelated to breathing or heart rate.
  • Small cranial pulsations can be felt with the fingertips.
  • Restrictions of movement of the cranial sutures (where the skull bones meet) interfere with the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) and cause disease.
  • Pain (especially of the jaw joint) and many other ailments can be remedied by pressing on the skull bones.
  • Most practitioners are osteopaths, massage therapists, chiropractors, dentists, or physical therapists.

History and Technique

CranioSacral therapy was originated by osteopath William G. Sutherland, who published his first article on this subject in the early 1930s. Today's leading proponent is John Upledger, DO, who operates the Upledger Institute of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, noninvasive manipulative technique. Seldom does the therapist apply pressure that exceeds five grams or the equivalent weight of a nickel. Examination is done by testing for movement in various parts of the system. Often, when movement testing is completed, the restriction has been removed and the system is able to self-correct.

The rhythm of the CranioSacral system can be detected in much the same way as the rhythms of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. But unlike those body systems, both evaluation and correction of the CranioSacral system can be accomplished through palpation. CranioSacral Therapy is used for a myriad of health problems, including headaches, neck and back pain, TMJ dysfunction, chronic fatigue, motor-coordination difficulties, eye problems, endogenous depression, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, central nervous system disorders, and many other conditions.

Practitioners today rely on CranioSacral Therapy to improve the functioning of the central nervous system, eliminate the negative effects of stress, strengthen resistance to disease, and enhance overall health.

Using a soft touch, generally no greater than 5 grams or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the CranioSacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system. By complementing the body's natural healing processes, CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction, including: migraine headaches; chronic neck and back pain; motor-coordination impairments; colic; autism; central nervous system disorders; orthopedic problems; traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries; scoliosis; infantile disorders; learning disabilities; chronic fatigue; emotional difficulties; stress and tension-related problems; fibromyalgia and other connective-tissue disorders; temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ); neurovascular or immune disorders; post-traumatic stress disorder; post-surgical dysfunction.

Compensation Patterning

During the course of our lives our bodies become patterned, shaped and conditioned according to how we're able to deal with any stresses or traumas. If stresses or traumas are overwhelming, they become locked in the body, forcing compensation until such a time as we are able to access resources that allow them to be processed and released. These compensations often become painful and effect the natural movement of the body's energy and so hinder the ability of our essential blueprint for health to manifest at a cellular level.

Common causes are physical injuries, emotional and psychological stresses, birth trauma and toxicity. Due to an accumulation of these stresses, tissues can become imprinted with the memory of unresolved experiences and so act like video tape which may keep replaying whenever stimulated.

A Gentle Facilitation

The emphasis in CranioSacral Therapy is to help ease restrictions in the membranes of the CranioSacral system. This involves the practitioner "listening through the hands" to the rhythm and with subtle palpation skills the practitioner can identify areas where restrictions are held and then treat with the intention that treatment is to facilitate the body's own self-healing and self-regulating capabilities. This is done in a non-invasive way while fully clothed.

CranioSacral Treatment

A typical CranioSacral therapy session is performed with the client fully-clothed, in a supine position (face-up), and usually lasts about one hour. In the Upledger method of CranioSacral therapy, a ten-step protocol serves as a general guideline, which includes (1) analyzing the base (existing) cranial rhythm, (2) creating a still point in that rhythm at the base of the skull, (3) rocking the sacrum, (4) lengthening the spine in the lumbar-sacral region, (5) addressing the pelvic, respiratory and thoracic diaphragms, (6) releasing the hyoid bone in the throat, and (7-10) addressing each one of the cranial bones. The practitioner may use discretion in using which steps are suitable for each client, and may or may not follow them in sequential order, with time restraints and the extent of trauma being factors.

The therapist places their hands lightly on the patient's body, tuning in to the patient by ‘listening’ with their hands or, in Sutherland's words, "with thinking fingers". Therapeutic contact between the patient and therapist may involve entrainment between patient and practitioner. Clients often experience a sense of deep relaxation during and after the treatment session, and may feel light-headed. This is popularly associated with increases in endorphins, but research shows the effects may actually be brought about by the endocannabinoid system. (Outside the brain, the endocannabinoid