What exactly is cranial osteopathy?
Osteopathy operates under the premise that the structure of the body affects the way it works. Cranial osteopathy is a branch of that and aims to correct imbalances in the structure. It focuses predominantly on the head and affects the rest of the body. Sessions are usually around 45 minutes and we start by asking guests why they want the treatment so we can decide how best to tailor it – sometimes we will combine it with acupuncture for example. You can work through the clothes and there are no products involved, so hair doesn’t get messed up. It is supposed to feel like butterfly wings across the face, but I think it is a little heavier than that!
Where does it come from?
It was originally an American idea stemming from Osteopathy. Andrew Tailor Still and Dr Sutherland developed it around 100 years ago as a way of combating migraines. Medicine implied that a skull can’t move, that it’s solid, but they decided that because there are little joints in it there had to be a reason for them – nature doesn’t design things without a purpose. On studying the skull he found it is like a semi-closed hydraulic system – like a pump action – and from there he looked at how the spinal fluid moves through the ventricles in which it is made. If you are ill or suffering from something like chronic fatigue the fluid movement is disrupted and you can feel it. It is a theory that is being reviewed by osteopaths today, but for whatever reason, we know it works.
What is it supposed to do?
The treatment can address many conditions and is so gentle that it is used to treat new-born babies on the day that they are born. The treatment works by making gentle adjustments to structures in the body as needed. The result is often one of relief, especially where pain is involved. It is a comforting treatment, the therapists hands are placed gently upon the head or area of the body needing attention and the subtle adjustments are made. The nervous system responds immediately and muscles begin to relax, breathing changes and clients may experience sensations of warmth or tingling and even spontaneous movement of the tissues within the body. Frequently the digestive system will begin to gurgle as the liver is gently stimulated, the gallbladder empties and the digestive fluids begin to flow. The fact that the treatment addresses and affects so many systems makes it a good ‘all rounder’ which is great from a treatment which is so non-invasive. Its gentleness makes it perfect for those times when clients feel vulnerable and just need to be nurtured.
Why is it a particularly good treatment for someone on a Recovery Retreat?
Often people on a Recovery Retreat are in a depleted and fragile condition and the idea of some of the stronger popular treatments such as massage or lymphatic stimulation can be just too much. These people often need to increase their vital energy, sometimes deal with pain, assist lymphatic drainage and receive a gentle adjustment to certain structures in the body. Cranial osteopathy and cranio-sacral therapy (an almost identical treatment) is the perfect approach for this. Following a course of chemotherapy, or a viral infection the treatment assists the body to detoxify by assisting the lymphatics and also gently unwinding fascial strain patterns.
Is there anything you recommend clients to do pre or post-treatment to get the most out of it?
You don’t have to prepare for it at all, but afterwards guests tend to feel pretty wiped, so I wouldn’t go and do a session in the gym immediately – have a cup of tea and put your feet up for a while!
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