CST FAQ

Do you equate stress with cranial compression?
How can one quantify the results of cranial sacral therapy or recognize signs that it would serve a child?

These are big questions, which I could easily do an 8 hour presentation on. The short answer is Yes, cranial joint function is linked to stress responses. There have been innumerable studies where data on autonomic function, usually Heart Rate Variability (HVR) or Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) correlates Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) dominance with improvements in cranial bone function. Using standard biofeedback equipment I have informally verified that Cranial Therapy does in fact enhance PNS dominance. However, this is quite apparent just from changes in skin tone, or the qualities of the eyes.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand why this relationship exists is to examine what a stress response is. Our bodies move from a resting state into a protective response in reaction to perceived threat. This protective response comprises a contraction or freezing of the core and inhibition of PNS function. In well integrated mammals, this contraction usually lasts less than a second, and is then inhibited to enable initiation of our fight / flight response. However, trauma or chronic threat can leave the core somewhat contracted on a permanent basis, with compromised PNS function, a tight core, and reduced access to fight / flight functions. This state in itself is experienced as threatening, as we have lost access to some our capacity to protect ourselves, feeding back into the stress response.

It can be very challenging for an individual to re-balance this protective response on their own, once it has reached the point of a chronic stress response. Cranial Therapy is one effective means of guiding the reflexive cognition in the body back into homeostasis. How the therapist knows they are offering guidance on the pathway to balanced function, is that the cranial bones will start to move in a more harmonious rhythm. This rhythm is encouraged, providing the body the feedback needed to make its way to the light at the end of the tunnel. As this rhythm can be felt anywhere in the body, and even the etheric field, the therapist does not have to work directly with the cranium, and can connect anywhere on the body, or even just be present in the field, as in the work of the cranial osteopath Dr. J. Jealous.

However, from a Manual Therapy perspective, if the cranial bones are jammed, this lesion can initiate a stress response as it is experienced as threatening (it reduces our capacity to respond to threat). Manipulating the lesion so as to enhance joint function will be experienced as an improvement in the capacity of the persons resting state, and thereby reduce their overall level of stress. As a therapist I am always paying attention to both of these possibilities, which can be thought of as functional and structural lesions. I usually find that a lesion has both structural and functional qualities, and expresses on different energetic levels in different ways. Therefore I consider the skillset of a Manual Therapist to encompass tools ranging from dialog, functional (reflex integration), structural to energy balancing. Every session I do can be viewed from the perspective of the goal of enhancing homeostatic self regulation, and improved access to protective responses.

The easiest way to decide whether an individual would benefit from work is if you observe them struggling with self regulation. Not everyone is an excellent candidate for cranial therapy, as it is sometimes the case that the heightened protective response pushes back against subtle core rebalancing. Fortunately, there are other tools available, and depending on body morphology, timing, raport and other factors, there is usually some tool to bring to bear that will move them in the right direction. If you are interested in learning cranial therapy diagnostics, I can show you enough in 15 minutes, for you to have the tools needed for a recommendation.

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