Craniosacral Therapy at Progression Physical Therapy

In this video Joanna Belsky, Physical Therapist at Progression Physical Therapy in Princeton New Jersey, describes and demonstrates Craniosacral Therapy.

There’s a manual therapy technique that is gaining more popularity, and it’s known as craniosacral therapy. Craniosacral therapy involves the skeletal system as well as the nervous system.

I learned about it about five years into practicing physical therapy. I was working with a physical therapist who seemed to be getting phenomenal results with patients who, in our world, were categorized as very difficult patients, patients with a lot of chronic pain that you figured, “Oh, this will clear up pretty well with traditional therapy techniques,” but it just wouldn’t, and they’d be struggling to get beyond that barrier. The younger therapists would refer the patient to this woman, and she would work with them, and they would somehow get past this barrier. I was like, “What are you doing in there that makes this happen? I want to know about it.” She said, “It’s craniosacral therapy.”

What it is, it’s a very gentle manual technique. It involves the closed hydraulic system of the nervous system. It stems from your skull to your sacrum, which is your tailbone, and it encompasses the dural system, which is your spinal cord, your brain, all the cerebral spinal fluid around it, all the nerves that come out of it. All that is encased in bone. Our skull is made up a lot of little bones that come together to create a very protective hard helmet, but in that, those little joints, they move ever so slightly, and they move in a rhythm that is determined by the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid. That fluid that’s in there is there to bathe our nervous system and keep it healthy.

As you know, stagnant water is gross and doesn’t function, so why would our cerebral spinal fluid that takes care of our nervous system be static? It’s not. It flows, and it flows from our head back down to our spine to our tailbone, and then it flows back up. Anything can disrupt that flow. It can be an injury. It can be a traumatic event. It can be a really bad virus. It can just be altered by inflammation, and it can be something that is so subtle we really don’t notice it happening, but then we just find our physical functioning declining. Then, if you have an injury, you just find it really difficult to come back from that injury.

By using this technique, it goes back and assesses the rhythm of that motion. What happens is is there’s listening points, so I will use my hands to listen, meaning feel what is happening with that system. They’re very specific points, and what I’m looking for is how that rhythm feels. Is the the rhythm there? How much volume is it? How big is the flow? What is the rate like? Is it barely moving? Is it moving way too much? I assess those systems and then I go and listen for where the dysfunction is, so where that rhythm has stopped or where the hiccup in the system is. Then it’s a matter of me balancing that.

Typically, it begins somewhere in the skull with the paired bones, so on each side … You have an arm on both sides. That’s what it’s like in your skull. You have two temporal bones, two parietal bones, then you have the unpaired ones, the front and the back. They all flex and extend rhythmically. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Sometimes, because there’s been an injury, they’re not, and just very gently with five grams of pressure, so that’s like the weight of a nickel, you apply a pressure to one or another to put those bones back in balance. As soon as you start getting the paired bones in balance, you can work throughout the body getting everything back in balance. Once that system is in balance, things begin to feel better.

It’s a very subtle technique. A lot of people don’t buy into this, but it is getting more and more traction. It’s like the added … just the added little plus to overcoming injury. ~ Joanna Belsky, Physical Therapist at Progression Physical Therapy in Princeton New Jersey