When the weight of a nickel is worth a pound of cure.

What is CranioSacral Therapy?

You may have heard about this therapy and it can be hard to make sense of it!!!  And yet often clients find that they get relief from long standing issues!  Many have tried different modalities of healing work only to find that in one session, they experience some relief! They are also amazed because it seems like she’s not doing anything at all.

People Ask:

  • How can something so relaxing and painless be so effective?
  • Why does it feel so magical when receiving CranioSacral Therapy?
  • How can it work when nothing else has worked for such a wide variety of issues?
  • How can it possibly work on the deep structures of the body when the touch is so light?
  • Why is it so desirable and very safe to receive immediately after an accident?
  • How can an injury from my childhood get released?


CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the CranioSacral system – which is comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.  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.   Did you know your head expands and contracts 6-12 times a minute and you have your own rhythm that stays the same whether you are sleeping or working out?


CST is:

  • Non-invasive / effective for head injuries and new injuries
  • Gentle and subtle
  • Goes to the core
  • Evaluates & enhances the functioning of  the CranioSacral system  / central nervous system
  • Locates and releases long standing restrictions
  • Relieves pain and deep levels of tension
  • Improves Range of motion
  • Deeply relaxes
  • Stress Reduction at a core level


CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure and is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction, including:

  • Migraines
  • Chronic Neck & Back Pain
  • Recent injuries of any kind
  • Central Nervous system disorders
  • Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Temporomandibular jaw issues (TMJ)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Motor Coordination impairments
  • Face pain
  • Orthopedic issues
  • Neurovascular or immune disorders
  • Concussions
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Stress and Tension-Related Problems


During a CranioSacral Therapy Session:

You remain clothed so no oils, no rubbing.  Usually, you are lying on a massage table, comfortably supported if necessary.  No two sessions are alike.  There is no need to try to “relax”.  You will relax!  Some sessions may begin with the client sitting up as the issues presented often are helped while in an upright position.  For instance, if an accident happened while sitting up, in a car or the repetitive motion trauma of sitting at a desk 40 hours per week.


How does CST work?

Using a very light touch, about the weight of a nickel, the practitioner is continually evaluating/listening to your body. It is so light you will probably wonder what on earth could possibly help you here.  However, it is this very light touch that goes very deep.  Listening to your tissues is what guides the treatment.  You may or may not feel what is happening.  Yet there is deep change happening.  You may notice the changes right away or not for several days.

Whether you are coming to de-stress or recovery from traumas or a past or current accident, CST works its magic.

The dramatic shifts occur as areas in the body are released.  This then leads to other areas releasing that are creating distress.  If there has been a traumatic injury, physical or emotional, the delicacy of CST facilitates releases these as well in a gentle, non-invasive way.

The body may continue to shift and change for up to two weeks after a session.

Did You Know That:

» your head expands and contracts 6 – 12 times a minute?
» you have your own rhythm which remains the same whether you are sleeping or exercising intensely?
» the smooth, strong, free movement of those bones is vital to the health of your central nervous system (CNS) and therefore the whole body?
» the CranioSacral system is made up of of the brain, spinal cord, 3 layers of membranes and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that surrounds and protect the brain and spinal cord?
» the production of the cerebrospinal fluid fills the ventricles deep in the brain creating a bit of pressure on the brain tissues and therefore the cranial bones which moves the cranial bones out slightly, then as the fluid leaves, the bones contract?

So the subtle touch and support of your body during a CST session allows the healing to go deep and expands to the entire body facilitating deep relaxation with no effort on your part.


The Founder — Meet Dr. John Upledger:

CST was pioneered and developed by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger, D.O., O.M.M.  It is an exciting story.

Following extensive scientific studies from 1975-1983 at Michigan State University.  He served as clinical researched and professor Biomechanics.  He founded the Upledger Institute which provides training world-wide for therapists in CranioSacral therapy and other modalities.

You can read more by getting the book:  YOUR INNER PHYSICIAN AND YOU by Dr. Upledger.

Please see the Upledger Institute website: www.upledger.com.

Frequently-Asked Questions about CranioSacral Therapy

this section courtesy of the Upledger Foundation

How does CranioSacral Therapy work?

CranioSacral Therapy works by helping the body’s natural healing mechanisms dissipate the negative effects of stress on the central nervous system.

This is accomplished through utilizing a physiological body system called the CranioSacral system, which maintains the environment in which the central nervous system functions. It consists of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord, extending from the bones of the skull, face and mouth (which make up the cranium) down to the tailbone area (or sacrum). The role of this system in the development and performance of the brain and spinal cord is so vital that an imbalance or dysfunction in it can cause sensory, motor and/or neurological disabilities.

Like the pulse of the cardiovascular system, the CranioSacral system has a rhythm that can be felt throughout the body. Using a touch generally no heavier than the weight of a nickel, skilled practitioners can monitor this rhythm at key body points to pinpoint the source of an obstruction or stress. Once a source has been determined, they can assist the natural movement of the fluid and related soft tissue to help the body self-correct. This simple action is often all it takes to remove a restriction. Other times, CST may be combined with other complementary therapies to help restore the body to its optimum functioning level.

What conditions can CranioSacral Therapy help?

Because of its influence on the functioning of the central nervous system, CranioSacral Therapy can benefit the body in a number of ways — from bolstering overall health and resistance to disease to alleviating a wide range of specific medical conditions.

Among CST’s largest patient groups are those suffering chronic symptoms that haven’t been aided by other approaches. In particular, CST is beneficial to those with head, neck or back injuries resulting from an accident — be it from a car, sports or work mishap or from a fall. The extremely light touch involved in the application of CST makes it a safe approach as well for children, infants and newborns with early traumas, including birth trauma. They especially can benefit from the timely identification and release of restrictions in the CranioSacral system, thereby preventing future difficulties such as learning disabilities or hyperactivity.

Another area of principal effectiveness is with stress-related dysfunction’s. Insomnia, fatigue, headaches, poor digestion, anxiety and Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction are just a few examples. CranioSacral Therapy works to reverse the debilitating effects of stress by providing the conditions in which the nervous system can rest and rejuvenate. In fact, it’s this capacity to reduce stress that’s leading an increasing number of people to include CST as part of their wellness routines.

Other conditions for which CranioSacral Therapy has shown to be effective are various sensory disorders. Among these are eye-motor coordination problems, autism, dyslexia, loss of taste or smell, tinnitus, vertigo and neuralgias such as sciatica and tic douloureux.

Is there any condition for which CST shouldn’t be used?

There are certain situations where application of CST would not be recommended. These include conditions where a variation and/or slight increase in intracranial pressure would cause instability. Acute aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage or other preexisting severe bleeding disorders are examples of conditions that could be affected by small intracranial pressure changes.

How many CranioSacral Therapy sessions will I need?

Response to CST varies from individual to individual and condition to condition. Your response is uniquely your own and can’t be compared to anyone else’s — even those cases that may appear to be similar to your own. The number of sessions needed varies widely — from just one up to three or more a week over the course of several weeks.

When was CranioSacral Therapy developed?

It was in 1970, during a neck surgery in which he was assisting, that osteopathic physician John E. Upledger first observed the rhythmic movement of what would soon be identified as the CranioSacral system. None of his colleagues nor any of the medical texts at the time could explain this discovery, however.

His curiosity piqued, Dr. Upledger began searching for the answer. He started with the research of Dr. William Sutherland, the father of cranial osteopathy. For some 20 years beginning in the early 1900s, Sutherland had explored the concept that the bones of the skull were structured to allow for movement. For decades after, this theory remained at odds with the beliefs of the scientific and medical communities. Dr. Upledger believed, however, that if Sutherland’s theory of cranial movement was in fact true, this would help explain, and make feasible, the existence of the rhythm he had encountered in surgery.

It was at this point that Dr. Upledger set out to scientifically confirm the existence of cranial bone motion. From 1975 to 1983 he served as clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics at Michigan State University, where he supervised a team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists and bioengineers in research and testing. The results not only confirmed Sutherland’s theory, but led to clarification of the mechanisms behind this motion — the CranioSacral system. Dr. Upledger’s continued work in the field ultimately resulted in his development of CranioSacral Therapy.

What is The Upledger Institute?

The Upledger Institute is a health resource center located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, that’s recognized worldwide for its groundbreaking continuing-education programs, clinical research and therapeutic services.

The Institute was founded in 1985 by Dr. Upledger to educate the public and healthcare practitioners about the benefits of CranioSacral Therapy. It conducts hundreds of workshops throughout the world each year, educating healthcare practitioners of many diverse disciplines in CST. To date, more than 50,000 have been trained. Among them are osteopaths, medical doctors, doctors of chiropractic, doctors of Oriental medicine, naturopathic physicians, psychiatric specialists, psychologists, dentists, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists and other professional bodyworkers.

Also located in Palm Beach Gardens is The Upledger Institute, Inc., HealthPlex Clinical Services. This innovative clinic offers both private sessions and unique intensive-therapy programs that address such conditions as migraine headaches, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, chronic neck and back pain, emotional difficulties, motor-coordination impairments, stress and tension-related problems, central nervous system disorders, Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, orthopedic problems, chronic fatigue, scoliosis, neurovascular or immune disorders, infantile disorders, colic, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, disabilities, fibromyalgia and other connective-tissue disorders. In addition, UI HealthPlex provides infancy-to-preschool evaluations and helpful one-day ShareCare® seminars designed for the general public.

CranioSacral Articles

Nothing Is Impossible

by John Upledger, DO, OMM


Helping the Brain Drain: How CranioSacral Therapy Aids ADD/ADHD

By John Upledger, DO, OMM and Tad Wanveer, LMT, CST-D


CranioSacral Therapy Alters Brain Functioning:
A Clinical Overview

By John Upledger, DO, OMM


The Role of CranioSacral Therapy
in Addressing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By John Upledger, DO, OMM


The Expanding Role of Cerebrospinal Fluid in Health and Disease

by John Upledger, DO, OMM


The Magic of Intentioned Touch and Blending

by John Upledger, DO, OMM

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