Monday, October 30, 2017

A Closer Look At The CranioSacral Rhythm

It's one of the most critical parts of the body, but it is often completely overlooked by modern care providers.

The craniosacral system is comprised of the ventricles in the brain, the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that they produce, and the structures that house and protect the brain and spinal cord. As its name suggests, this system begins at the cranium and stretches down to the sacrum (the triangular bone at the end of the spine). Though it is only in this localized area, its function drastically impacts the body's vitality.

In this month's blog, we are taking a closer look at the craniosacral system and how we use it to conduct treatment sessions at our manual therapy office at the Lake of the Ozarks. First, however, we need to take a closer look at the central nervous system and the fluid that surrounds it.

The Central Nervous System

The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system. These structures are without a doubt the most crucial structures in the body. The brain controls everything that happens in the body - respiration, digestion, movement, senses, reproduction, thoughts, emotions, and all other bodily processes. The spinal cord is responsible for relaying messages from the brain to the different parts of the body so that the appropriate actions may be taken. 

As you are probably well aware, damage sustained by the brain and/or spinal cord can result in severe and far-reaching consequences. For this reason, the central nervous system is protected by the cranial bones, vertebral column, and various tissues and fluid to insulate, cushion, and guard against impact. However, what you may not realize is that even if the brain and spinal cord remain intact with no obvious signs of damage to their structure, their function can be impeded by various external factors. 

Cerebrospinal Fluid

Cerebrospinal fluid is one of the most important substances that helps protect the central nervous system. It flows around the brain and the spinal cord in a continuous loop, serving three primary functions:
  • Insulating against blows or impacts by serving as a shock absorber
  • Distributing nutrients to the brain and spinal cord
  • Removing waste products from the central nervous system

The amount of cerebrospinal fluid in the craniosacral system must remain fairly constant, with a volume of approximately 2/3 of a cup. In order to maintain this balance, the system is always oscillating between filling and emptying.

When the fluid is its filling phase, the craniosacral system is said to be "in flexion." When the system is emptying, it is said to be "in extension." The loop is continuous, and the flexion/extension rhythm, though subtle, can be palpated throughout the entire body. This is the rhythm our Lake of the Ozarks CranioSacral Therapist tunes into when determining the best course of treatment. 

Using The CranioSacral Rhythm For Treatment

In an ideal situation, the cerebrospinal fluid would be allowed to ebb and flow unimpeded. All structures of the body would have the mobility required to shift gently as the fluid travels its course, allowing each structure to gain the maximum benefit of a fully functioning craniosacral system.

Unfortunately, this ideal rarely - if ever - manifests in real life.

The craniosacral system is delicate. It can be easily impeded by countless different things, from distinct trauma (such as physical trauma or car accidents) to seemingly unimportant incidents (such as tripping over a step but catching yourself before you fall). It may also be impeded by emotional and/or psychological challenges, such as failing to speak your truth during an emotional conversation. 

By tuning into the craniosacral rhythm at various key locations throughout the body (called "listening stations"), we can identify where the flow is impeded or, in some cases, entirely obstructed. Generally, we begin our therapy sessions in the location where the rhythm appears to be the most restricted. 

Once this location has been identified, we meld with the tissue using a very gentle pressure (often only five grams or less) and allow it to lead us where it wants to go. By following its chosen path, we support the body on its journey toward improved function and help facilitate its natural progression towards health.

Contact Us To Learn More!

While some people may experience more profound results than others, practically everyone can benefit from CranioSacral Therapy in some way. The light touch used and the inherently non-invasive approach in CST make it a safe, effective option to add to your healthcare arsenal. 

If you would like to learn more about CranioSacral Therapy and how it may be able to help your specific situation, please call us directly at (573) 280-4470. We truly look forward to being a part of your journey to a healthier, more fully integrated you!

Hands That Listen

- Post by Bailey Puppel

Infinite Touch Integrative Therapies, LLC


(573) 280-4470 
(573) 480-7080


8:00 AM - 7:00 PM Monday-Friday
by appointment only


110 Crossings E Drive, Suite 5
Lake Ozark, MO 65049

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