What is the CranioSacral Rhythm?

Our body has many rhythms, many of which are subtle and not easily palpable. Each of our biological rhythms has its own rate, variability, function, and nuances that directly affect our health. A few familiar ones are the heart rate, breathing (inhalation/exhalation), circadian (sleep cycles), and hormonal cycles. Another rhythm not as well known, subtle yet palpable throughout the body, is the CranioSacral Rhythm, or CSR.  This gentle rhythm can be felt, palpated, and assessed but only after extensive training in CranioSacral Therapy.  

The CSR is generated by the production and movement of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord, also known as the Central Nervous System. If you place your hand on the back of your skull or cranium and also on the back of your spine or sacrum above the tailbone, you can feel the bony protections of your central nervous system.  Located just underneath these is fluid known as cerebrospinal fluid or CSF, produced daily by special cells in the brain. The CSF provides a mechanical cushion or buffer to our brain and nervous system, and also provides immune protection, detoxification, and nutrition to our brain.  In addition, it regulates the blood flow of the Central Nervous System.

CSF flows gently and rhythmically around the brain inside the cranium, down the spinal cord towards the sacrum.  From the sacrum, CSF returns to the cranium and is released back into the bloodstream. This process creates a regular cyclic rhythm experienced as a subtle widening and narrowing, akin to an ‘inhalation and exhalation’ of fluid throughout the body.  This cyclic, flowing, rhythmic movement of CSF is the CranioSacral Rhythm.  

CranioSacral Therapists are trained to evaluate, feel and assess the symmetry, quality, amplitude, and rate of the CSR, known as the CranioSacral pulse.  A slow, gentle, and cyclic pulse is commonly present in a healthy and unstressed body (different from all other rhythms mentioned earlier). While the CSR is generated in the cranium, it can be felt in our tissues and fascia from head to toe. The rhythm itself can provide valuable information about trauma, stress, and injuries that can affect its flow, and also impact the health of tissues and fascia when its flow is restricted. Surgeries are perceived as trauma by the body, which can also impact the flow of the CSR.  A CSR that is not flowing smoothly at the beginning of a session can be guided to flow more smoothly by the end of one, thereby improving the previously compromised health of tissues and fascia.

What happens when CSF flow is not optimal or is impeded?

Not surprisingly, the most common symptom of slowed CSF flow is brain fog or a feeling like one’s thinking process has been dulled or slowed.  If not corrected, this can amplify over time, contributing to a wide variety of additional symptoms including headaches, dizziness, and/or sinus pressure. This can even affect one’s balance and gait, and also result in back pain.   A history of mild or severe injury as well as the restriction of the cranial bones by muscle tension from acute or chronic stress can also contribute to a slowing down of the flow of CSF and the CSR. 

Craniosacral therapists are trained to gently mobilize bones of the cranium to release the connective tissue restrictions, enhancing the flow of CSF and reversing all the symptoms previously mentioned.  This release feels like a gentle relaxation of the skull and cranial muscles. The results are fairly remarkable after even one session. 

If you have a history of a mild to severe injury, a history of surgeries, chronic headaches, mental fog, sinus pressure, or back pain, you owe it to yourself to try a CranioSacral session.  It can truly improve your state of well-being as proven by decades of evidence.  CST is a powerful addition to the potpourri of stress reduction modalities and can make a significant contribution to the restoration of health. 

©April 2021, Emily Klik, LMT, CST is a CranioSacral Therapist at Ommani.  She sees clients who are free of symptoms on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.