Cranial Osteopathy to Re-balance

By Celine Gallet

Cranial osteopaths spend four, and  up to seven years learning their profession. At  one level the osteopathy benefits can help improve posture and energy  flow throughout the body. This energy flow can be developed further as  cranial osteopaths are also trained to move energy, rebalance it and  deliver it to where it is needed. It´s a small step from Cranial  Osteopathy to Hands on Healing.

Alternative therapies sometimes seem mysterious and even slightly  alarming and cranial treatment is no exception. “Something slightly  bone-crunching, since it´s practised by specialist osteopaths” you might hazard.
On the contrary, cranial treatment is a gentle, hands-on technique  designed to re-balance the stressed body and encourage its innate powers of healing. Cranial osteopaths believe that the flow of spinal fluid in and around the nervous system creates its own body rhythm, distinct  from, but no less vital to, health than your heartbeat or breath.
Cranial osteopathy can restore wellbeing and assist natural healing.
Through their hands, cranial osteopaths can feel this rhythm and its  subtle changes beneath the bones and membranes of the human body.They  don´t use their hands to manipulate; they palpate the head and body so  lightly that even restless babies benefit and often begin to sleep  sweetly after treatment.
Cranial osteopathy allows the body to make changes to improve its  mechanical function and make it operate more effectively.

Principles Of The Founding Fathers

Modern cranial osteopathy developed from the work of pioneer  osteopath Dr Andrew Still, an American civil war veteran who lost three  children to meningitis and one to pneumonia.
Seeking kinder medical methods than bleeding, blistering and purging, Still drew on alternative practises of the day such as bone setting,  hydropathy and homeopathy to research a new way of healing –  manipulation to improve circulation and correct altered mechanics.
Soon 400 people a day were travelling the Wabash railroad for  treatment at his first School of Osteopathy at Kirksville, Missouri.
Still´s philosophy of medicine focused on the unity of all body  parts, on exercise and good diet, a belief that the musculoskeletal  system is a key element of health, and that the body is naturally  self-healing.
Still died aged 89 in 1917. His student William Garner Sutherland  developed the idea that the skull was not a rigid bony structure, but  composed of parts that move and shift (a little like the earth´s  tectonic plates) to allow the rhythmic fluctuation of fluid beneath.

This Business Of Balance

Cranial osteopaths talk about a state “good physiology” when the  whole body is in balance left and right, top and bottom, front and back, inside and out. “This balanced situation helps the immune system, helps the tensions around the central nervous system, In other words it´s like a car going down the road not having to  travel with the handbrake on. If that handbrake is on, then a cranial  osteopath will “hear” it through his hands.
By gently putting your hand on the surface of the body, and more or  often than not this includes the surface of the skull, it is possible to feel a gentle, rhythmical fluid movement. This is thought to arise from the movement of cerebro-spinal fluid around the nervous  system. It´s a unique pulsation that carries its own feelings and is  affected if a blockage arises. The cranial osteopath can make an  assessment of the patient´s vitality and wellbeing and of stresses in  the system by feeling this pulse. For the practitioner it´s a  very passive process: we listen with our hands and through them we are  accepting all sorts of information.
The body itself will direct the treatment, guiding you to areas that need the work.

Seeing Through The Hands

How does a cranial osteopath recognise the body´s trouble spots?  “Your hands are the tools that give you a picture of what is going on  underneath them. To return to the motoring metaphor, it´s rather like a  car mechanic listening to an engine. We can hear whether it´s the engine that doesn´t sound right or whether it´s the tappets, the exhaust or  the fan belt – we focuse in on the noise that doesn´t sound normal.  When holding somebody´s head there is a feeling of normality – or not –  and if the answer´s not, then we are asking why not?” After treatment the  tuned body operates more efficiently like a tuned motorcar going more  “sparkily” and using less fuel.
The beauty of cranial osteopathy is that it makes  patient treatment possible at many levels. There´s the osseous or bony  level, the membranous level and the fluid level.