An osteopath named Dr William Garner Sutherland made a discovery when he was a student that changed the way people were treated for their illnesses and injuries.
While looking at the display of a disarticulated skull at his osteopathic school in the early 1900's he noticed that the edges of the cranial bones were either bevelled "like the gills of a fish" or interdigitated. This meant that the bones are designed to move.
He set about researching this theory on his own skull and spent years tying a baseball glove to his head with tension in specific areas and noted what happened to him.
He found that different areas of his body became painful and he got very ill. He had headaches, and mood alterances. He might have a sore knee or kidney pain...there was a wide range of symptoms that became apparent when the cranial bones were not allowed to move.
He then practiced with his hands on people's heads and felt the movement that he knew must be there. He wrote down which way every cranial bone moved and how fast or slow they went and also the amplitude of this movement.
He understood that when the cranial bones were able to move to the full extent of their range of motion without restriction, then there was optimum health within the person.
He developed techniques to help release restricted motion of the skull and spent many years working on patients with amazing results.
Even babies with birth strains that altered their skull shape could be fixed. People could have a treatment for their conditon that was not only effective but very non-invasive, extemely gentle and enjoyable.
It became evident to Dr Sutherland that not only are the cranial bones released during treatment but also the cranial dura which is the membrane that holds the cranial bones together and surrounds the brain, and the brain itself along with all tissues and fluids in the cranium. Since the body is connected to the head the release went through the whole body.
He also realized that every part of the body also moves with the same motion as the cranium and so this type of therapy could be used anywhere on the body not just on the cranium. The whole person can be treated from head to toe with cranial osteopathy.
Many years later another osteopath named Dr John Upledger coined the term cranial sacral therapy for this type of work.
The sacral part means the sacrum which is the bone at the back of your pelvis at the lower end of the spine. It should move in sync with the cranium and is a direct link through the spinal dura to the skull, so is a very effective place to work from.
About Cranial Sacral Therapy
The larger bones of the cranium
posterior view of bones of the pelvis
The skill of the practitioner is in the sensitivity of their hands which is gained over time with practice, study, and training. Dr Sutherland called this
"Feeling, Thinking, Seeing, Knowing Fingers" .
William G Sutherland Do, The Cranial Bowl, The first book published in 1939 to aquaint the profession with the cranial concept.
Harold I Magoun DO, Osteopathy In The Cranial Field, classic textbook reference for cranial osteopathy
William G Sutherland DO, Contributions of Thought, available through Amazon books.