Cranial osteopaths treat at a multitude of levels, but the three easiest levels to explain are listed below:
Balancing tension in the ligaments
Your skeleton’s joints are held firmly in place with strong ligaments that form a tight, protective structure, like a corset, to keep them in the right place when the muscles that move the joints or stabilise them are inactive.
Gravity and other forces are constantly pulling against your ligaments making it difficult for them to reset themselves, and ultimately the joint underneath, when things go wrong.
When your osteopath lightly supports your joints, whether that be the joints of your head (cranium), back, hip, knee, neck etc., we’re offering the supporting ligaments a rest from those gravitational forces, creating some slack in the tissues and thereby allowing them to reset themselves to their original state, as designed by your own
body – the lighter the touch, the better the outcome.
You may feel slight movement when your osteopath is working. This is your joints resetting themselves (it’s you that’s moving you, not your osteopath). Osteopaths’ palpation skills are highly developed, so they can feel tensions in your body’s ligaments and their inherent resetting activity, whilst giving the appropriate level of support for these corrections to happen – no trauma required!
Fight or flight
Your sympathetic nervous system has a primary concern with your short term survival, your fight or flight mechanism, fuelled by adrenaline. Whilst your body is
in fight or flight mode, your long term health and wellbeing are of no importance. What good is it healing your neck pain, if you’ve just been eaten by a lion as you weren’t concentrating on running away?
The nerve bodies of the parasympathetic nervous system are responsible for your long term health, including healing, repair, growth, digestion, fertility, toxin removal etc. These are found under the skin at the base of your head, where it joins your neck, and also at the sacrum at the very bottom of your spine.
Your osteopath will gently hold at these places, which stimulates these nerve endings, encouraging your parasympathetic nervous system, whilst dampening down your fight or flight mechanisms – it’s for this reason that you may feel a little tired after a treatment and rest is encouraged, so that you can start to heal yourself.
Nourishment of the central and peripheral nervous system
The cerebrospinal fluid circulates throughout your spinal cord and brain, removing toxins and delivering vital nutrients to the neural tissues, similar to the way the blood does for the body’s cells.
However, your blood system operates under high pressure, whereas the cerebrospinal fluid is operating at about 10% of your blood pressure. This means that only tiny restrictions/dysfunctions in your skull, pelvis and spine are needed to affect this fluid’s vital flow. Physics states that if you half the diameter of a fluid vessel, you reduce the flow through it, not by half, but by a staggering 16 times. This poor/reduced flow means your precious nervous tissues are malnourished and less effective than they are designed to be.
Consequently, tiny restrictions in your bony cranium, skull and pelvis, can cause large negative effects throughout your body. If your treatment doesn’t use tiny, subtle, skilled adjustments to correct these tiny restrictions, there is the risk of causing damage in other areas. Sledgehammer not required!
I hope the above is of interest and may help to clarify some of your questions about cranial osteopathy. It’s a huge subject to get to grips with and ongoing research is discovering more every day. Empirical evidence shows clearly that cranial osteopathy is highly effective in the treatment of a massive range of health issues, in their acute and chronic states, as well as helping to maintain your health through regular keeping well sessions.