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May 2017
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A craniosacral massage is a holistic technique that is involves very gentle manipulations of the bones of the cranium and spinal cord, thus working on the system – the craniosacral system – that is connected to every part of the body.

Until the end of the 1800s, anatomists thought that the cranial structures were immobile, however this idea was proved incorrect by observations of heads of dead bodies. In 1912, Doctor Calvin Cottan took the first steps towards proving that there was movement in the cranium, however the discovery of the craniosacral system, and the relative movement within it, is down to the osteopath Doctor William Sutherland. Unfortunately, in the 1930s, he did not have the scientific means available that would have allowed him to prove his intuitions, however his studies were the basis of those of Doctor John Upledger who discovered that the bones in the cranium could move during an operation and who, together with a team of researchers from the University of Michigan, started a series of experiments on fresh craniums, that is, chemically preserved craniums, which are normally used in the field of scientific research. This is how the cranium was definitively defined as a semi-rigid structure capable of micro-movements that can even be measured.

The craniosacral system

In order to understand how micro-movements of the cranium can affect the physical and mental well-being of an individual, we need to understand the role carried out by some elements that cranium is made up of, starting from the dura mater. The dura mater is a thick, fibrous and non-elastic membrane that, together with the arachnoid mater and pia mater, covers the brain and nourishes the external part of it. It runs down the spinal cord until the pelvis and coccyx, that is, the last vertebrae in the spinal cord, surrounding bone marrow and nerve roots. Craniosacral movement and also ‘breathing’ is the basis of the circulatory mechanism of cerebrospinal fluid which runs down the spinal cord, that is, from the cranium to the sacrum, inside the pia mater. The craniosacral system is made up of the bone structure (cranium, spine and sacrum), meningeal membranes (those inside the cranium), cerebrospinal fluid and structures that regulate the production, reabsorption and containment of spinal fluid. This system is also connected to the nervous, circulatory, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, endocrine and respiratory systems by various structures. This said, it is clear to see that working on craniosacral movement, or rhythmic fluctuation of cerebrospinal fluid, means triggering a process that involves the entire body, promoting well-being.


A craniosacral massage is a holistic massage technique that involves the masseuse lightly touching the cranium bones and spinal cord so as to get in touch with the craniosacral rhythm that will be indulged and stimulated. Thanks to the various connections between the bodily systems that allow the body to work, the massage provides benefits on all levels, from simple anti-stress treatment to correcting posture, muscles, the gastrointestinal system and improving breathing. This massage is therefore ideal for sciatica, back pains, post-labour trauma, whiplash, migraines, scoliosis, dizziness and jaw joint problems.

From a practical point of view, the therapist will perform the massage for 40-60 minutes with gentle manipulations of the parts of the craniosacral system which are normally contracted when stressed, stimulating the circulation of craniosacral fluid. The pressure should not be any more than the weight of a 5g coin or the pressure exerted on the eye when touching it. Even though the touches are very light, the massage is able to act deeply on the nervous system, influencing both the hormonal and immune system, and thus encouraging harmony between psychological and emotional states, that is, creating a feeling of well-being that, according to the basis of holistic medicine for humans, encourages harmony between the body, mind and spirit and the healing of various problems and prevention of them. Since this massage is not invasive, a craniosacral massage can also be performed on new born children, elderly people and pregnant women.

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