Does your horse, dog or cat have back pain? Stiffness in the neck or jaw? Arthritis?
CranioSacral Therapy affects the layer of connective tissue under the skin, known as the fascia (pronounced “fasha”). Think of a body stocking under the skin that stretches from the head to the tail. Fascia also surrounds every muscle, bone, organ, nerve and blood vessel. It protects the entire body and moves nutrients into the cells and carries toxins away.
An injury, stress or even exercise can cause a restriction in the fascia, resulting in waves of additional dysfunction in the surrounding fascia. A therapist gently manipulates this tissue, releasing the restriction and relieving the pain or stiffness. Myofascial Release (MFR) is often used with CranioSacral Therapy. MFR is gentle stretching of the tissue to release tension and allow better movement of the “body stocking.”
FURTHER READING The CranioSacral system extends from the occiput (back of head/poll), down the spine to the coccyx (tailbone) and is comprised of three layers of membranes. The outermost layer is the dura mater which is a tough membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The next layer is the arachnoid mater, and the inner layer is the pia mater which adheres snugly to the inside of the spinal cord. These membranes are constantly bathed in fluid. This fluid is known as the cerebrospinal fluid. It pulsates throughout the life of the animal and influences the movement of the skull bones and the connective tissue (fascia).
Fascia is the layer of connective tissue directly under the skin. When you cut into a chicken, you encounter this stretchy, translucent layer. It is similar to a body-stocking, and like a net it is intricately interwoven. Fascia extends from the brain to the toes/hooves and everywhere in between. It contributes to the health of an animal by increasing transport between the cells, moving nutrients into the cell and toxins out.
In addition to its location just under the skin, the fascia extends 3-dimensionally throughout the body, encompassing muscles, organs, bones. When a trauma occurs in one area of the fascia it will be felt in other parts of the body. This is because of the web-like nature of the fascial net. It is impossible to influence one area without also influencing others.
In 1920 Emmanuel Swedenborg, an Italian anatomist, discovered that skull bones are continually moving due to the rhythmic pulsations of the cerebrospinal fluid. Over the years many other researchers contributed to the development of this area.
In 1970, Dr. John Upledger, an Osteopathic physician and surgeon was assisting in a surgical procedure when he was privileged to witness the movement of one of the membranes inside the spinal cord. He used this information to develop the field of CranioSacral Therapy. An injury, the traumas of daily life, exercise and more can all result in simple restrictions of the fascia. Left untreated, these restrictions build up and result in ill-health.