Craniosacral therapy is a bodywork technique that addresses the craniosacral rhythm which is found in all animals. This rhythm is similar to the animal's heartbeat, but is a result of the pumping of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) rather than blood through the heart. The CSF nourishes the Central Nervous System (CNS) and changes in its flow can directly impact it. CSF flows from the skull of the animal (cranium), down the spinal cord to the sacrum (hence the name craniosacral). Craniosacral therapists can enhance and correct the flow of CSF through specific techniques and protocols.
Dr. William Sutherland, an osteopathic physician who was fascinated by the structure and function of the bones of skull, founded Cranial Osteopathy in the early 20th century. He initially experimented on himself and found that he could influence his cranial rhythm (as well as cause or relieve illness) by putting specific pressure on certain cranial bones. In the 1970's Dr. John Upledger, another osteopathic physician, expanded on Dr. Sutherland's work after he became interested in cranial rhythm when he saw it first hand while assisting in an operation and noticing rhythmic movement of the patient's spinal cord. Dr. Upledger was able to develop techniques to directly influence this rhythm and had the opportunity to research the craniosacral system while working at Michigan State University. He later created courses to teach others how to perform craniosacral technique and today the technique is practiced by thousands of practitioners all over the world.
Craniosacral Technique for Animals
Numerous practitioners, including myself, began to practice the craniosacral techniques on animals and quickly realized that they can benefit from it just as much as people can. Animals also have a craniosacral rhythm that can become altered due to injuries and stresses. Animals who receive regular bodywork (massage and chiropractic) and have pattern of re-occuring issues (won't hold an adjustment, end up tight in the same areas shortly following a massage) can benefit from a combination of craniosacral therapy and other forms of bodywork. The craniosacral therapy will allow the animal to "unwind" the kinks and twists in their fascia that is caused from repeated stresses allowing their bodies to stay in alignment following a chiropractic adjustment or allowing the muscles and other soft tissues to remain less restricted longer following a massage.
Cranial Bone Alignment
Similar to humans, animals have multiple bones that make up their skull. These bones are attached by sutures, which are a specialized joint that allow for very subtle movements so the bones can expand and contract with the CSF pumping. These bones can become jammed or misaligned. This can be a result of birthing (the animal's skull can become compressed in the birth canal) or it can be the result of injury. Cranial bone alignment techniques allow the practitioner to make subtle movements in these bones which allow them to move more freely. This can help with anything from headaches and lack of concentration to decreased proprioception and attitude problems.
Practitioners who would like to add craniosacral therapy to their animal bodywork practice are welcome to enroll in our online certification course. This course covers a 10 step CS protocol, advanced techniques, cranial bone alignments and an energy healing technique.
Dr. Angelique Barbara is the founder of Angel's Animals LLC, a company that has developed online animal bodywork courses for both owners and professionals. Dr. Barbara's unique teaching style along with the dynamic layout of the courses allows people of different educational backgrounds from all over the world to benefit from her knowledge.