To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “CranioSacral Therapy for Fibromyalgia,” by Carol McLellan, C.M.T., CST-D, in the February 2011 issue. Article summary: Using gentle touch and the craniosacral rhythm, the therapist trained in Craniosacral Therapy can help re-establish normal accommodation motion in all of the areas associated with the symptoms and possible causes of fibromyalgia.

by Flo Barber-Hancock, Ph.D., L.M.T.

A variety of cranial and craniosacral techniques are taught by many organizations and individual instructors, and the use of these therapies has become increasingly popular. Because many massage clients have heard or read something about cranial techniques, they are often receptive to experiencing this modality.

More importantly, cranial therapy can offer benefits above and beyond other massage techniques, enhance the effectiveness of other modalities and sometimes contribute to longer-lasting therapeutic outcomes. An added plus is performing this technique is less physically stressful for the therapist than many other hands-on techniques.

A benefit of all types of cranial therapy is the deeper relaxation that can occur when the craniosacral system is balanced. Whether a massage client is seeking primarily pain relief, improved muscle and joint function, or relaxation, enhancing systemic and muscular relaxation is always a plus.

There are more than 110 articulations among the cranial bones. The tension in the cranial sutures is influenced on the inside by the cranial dura mater, including the reciprocal tension membranes. On the outside, the sutures are affected by the broad, flattened tendon known as the galea aponeurotica, the deeply anchored temporalis muscles, the SCMs, some trapezius muscles and a number of other muscles of the head and neck.

Restrictions in the cranial components affect the fluid systems of the body, but sutural and myofascial restrictions in the cranium also directly affect specific musculoskeletal functions. For example, face cradles frequently create sutural restrictions in the face and affect body muscles. If sutural restrictions are not addressed using some form of cranial therapy, then some muscle functions may be compromised, and some of the benefits of other massage techniques will be reduced when the client becomes weight-bearing and righting mechanisms again become active.

Most people find gentle touch on the head pleasant and calming. An easy way to introduce any cranial technique is simply as an extension of working on their shoulders or neck to provide further relaxation of the muscles and fascia that attach to the head. One can also introduce it more directly as a unique modality that offers specific benefits, which will enhance the benefits of other techniques.

Craniosacral therapy has benefits described in terms of energy and fluid dynamics; your explanation will depend on your client and the cranial skills you use. Your confidence in the technique is always the strongest selling point.

By promoting the benefits of craniosacral therapy in all of your marketing, you can create a niche market. Particularly when the outcomes can be evaluated and the benefits are clear and lasting, clients are eager to tell others. Referrals from satisfied clients always help build your reputation as an effective therapist and develop a stronger practice. Regardless of the approach you choose, cranial techniques can be a positive addition to your therapeutic toolbox– satisfying clients and building your practice.

Florence ‘Flo’ Barber-Hancock specializes in pain relief, joint mobilization and pediatric problems, using Hancock CranioSomatics®.