Craniosacral Therapy and BBPT

By Riva Preil

The craniosacral (CS) system refers to the brain, spinal cord, and surrounding membrane (referred to as the Dura Mater).  The CS system also contains cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which is constantly being produced and reabsorbed.  It is a semi-closed hydraulic system that undergoes pressure changes continuously due to the fluid pressure changes with the cerebrospinal fluid.  The system was first explored by Dr. A.T. Still, an osteopath who studied the body as a unit, in the early 1900s.  His student, Dr. William Sutherland, continued his work in the 1920s.  Dr. Sutherland realized that the sutures of the brain, the joints where the cranial bones meet, are designed for movement and mobility.  (This opposed the previously held belief by most in the medical community that the sutures are fixed and immobile structures.)  He explained how impaired movement of these bones and joints can interfere with the craniosacral system and must be mobilized in order to restore full health and function.  He also described the primary respiratory mechanism, the phenomenon of constant rhythmic motions, especially the temporal bone, due to the cerebrospinal fluid pressure changes.

Dr. Sutherland opened the Cranial Academy in 1947, where his student, Dr. John Upledger, known in the field as the father of craniosacral therapy, furthered his studies.  He confirmed that the cranial bones are not fused, that the sutures are vascularized, innervated, and fibrous structures, and the presence of energetic fields.  He also put forth the Pressurestat Model, the concept of the craniosacral rhythm being palpable throughout the body (not just within the brain and spinal cord) due to the aforementioned fluid filled hydraulic system.  This model takes into account the effect of both the osseous (bone related) and membranous factors in contributing to the craniosacral system function.  He also worked with children who have autism and discovered that cranial work helped improve their learning abilities, concentration, and social skills.  Dr. Upledger created the Upledger Institute International which trains medical care providers in the practice of craniosacral therapy.

Several therapists at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy are trained in these techniques which help mobilize and restore function to the craniosacral system.  To experience the benefits of this subtle yet powerful method, please contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this powerful work.

Could a Massage a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

By Riva Preil

Who doesn’t loooooooove a good massage?  Not only does one feel more relaxed afterwards, but the release of “knots” and trigger points allow the muscles to achieve a better resting tone.  But could there be more involved in the process? Get excited, because…science may be on the cusp of discovering that massage actually creates a positive physiological response in our bodies!

Scientists have been studying the neuronal pathways associated with pain and pressure for many years.  Mechanoreceptors in our skin are primary neurons that respond to mechanical stimuli, and they send messages throughout our body by sending action potentials.  The four types of mechanoreceptors, Pacinian corpusclesMeissner’s corpusclesMerkel’s discs, and Ruffini endings respond to mechanical pressure and distortion.  Scientists have identified that C-fibers transmit the message of pain to the brain.  However, there has been limited research to date regarding how our nervous system responds to pleasant touch.  Dr. David J. Anderson at the California Institute of Technology has recently pioneered research in this direction.  He and his team have identified a unique type of sensory neuron in mice, MRGPRB4, which transmits messages to the brain in response to pleasurable stroking touch.  The receptors of these neurons are located in hairy skin, and they were activated by massage-like stroking as opposed to pinching.  What this means is that the mice physiologically respond well and feel good when stimulated in a positive, pleasant manner. Scientists have yet to perform research in this area with humans- do we also have MRGPRB4 neurons?  Do we too respond in a similar manner to pleasant touch?  Time will tell…