Craniosacral Therapy for Parasympathetic Nervous System Support

When most people think of chiropractic care, they think of spinal adjustments – the hands-on manipulation of spinal joints through calculated and precise force to move vertebrae back into alignment.

A properly aligned spine positively affects a patient’s overall health and quality of life by relieving pain, restoring movement and range of motion, and improving nervous system function.

But many aren’t aware of the more subtle adjustments chiropractors employ to achieve these same results. One of these is Craniosacral Therapy (CST,) a gentle massage therapy performed on the skull and sacrum. 

As you may know, the cranium (skull) is the structure surrounding and protecting the brain, and the sacrum is the triangular bone in the lower back located between the hip bones where the pelvis connects to the spine.

While at opposite ends of the spinal column, these two areas share the same fluids and membranes, and affect nervous system communication from one end to the other.  For optimum nervous system function, it’s important to keep the sympathetic nervous system (the body’s fight-or-flight response) in balance with the parasympathetic system (rest-and-repair,) which can only happen through the unimpeded transmission of signals.

It is believed that myofascial restrictions — tightness in the connective tissues surrounding one or both areas — cause abnormalities in the flow of fluids through the membranes that creates pressure on the nerves and interrupts communication.

Ultimately, this negatively impacts a person’s ability to regulate mood, tolerate pain, and relax and/or respond appropriately to stress.  After a prolonged impairment, stress-related illness, depression and anxiety can result, as can chronic pain in the neck, back and head in the form of jaw pain and frequent or lasting headaches.

The gentle techniques used in CST Therapy include soft tissue manipulation in specific areas of the head, neck, face and sacrum, with quiet intervals in between where the patient rests while undergoing deep breathing exercises. The combination of the targeted massage and deliberate breathing ensures a relaxing adjustment believed to assist in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and prevent buildup that causes pressure on the nerves.  Evidence shows that aside from being a soothing experience, the freeing up of fluid and tissue restriction encourages parasympathetic system responses, and can help with symptoms associated with depression and anxiety, as well the chronic pain of fibromyalgia, and head, neck and backaches.

CST Therapy is a great addition to your existing chiropractic wellness plan. If you’ve not yet tried chiropractic care, CST is a gentle way to introduce yourself to the benefits.