So How Did It Evolve…?

Dr John Upledger developed Upledger CranioSacral Therapy (CST), which has some distinct differences from other cranial approaches, in America. As a practising osteopathic physician he was intrigued by a ‘phenomenon’ he observed in the 1970’s whilst assisting in a surgical procedure on a patient’s neck. The membranes surrounding the spinal cord appeared to be moving of their own accord. His curiosity piqued he decided to investigate further and discovered the work of Osteopath, William Sutherland. Dr Sutherland had also been intrigued but by the design and shape of the various bones of the head. His curiosity and inquiring mind lead to the development of Cranial Osteopathy.
Upledger lead a team of scientists at Michigan State University in exploring his ‘phenomenon’. In so doing he discovered more about the mechanics of the “CranioSacral System” and its influences over the body as a whole and not just the head.

In 1985, so inspired by his findings, he set up the Upledger Institute in Florida. Upledger’s hand picked lecturers now teach this pioneering work all over the world.

The CranioSacral System is a core system in the human body. In my view it is the place where body, mind and spirit reside independently and communally at the same time….

It is quite fascinating to consider that all the very deep work is done within the confines of an anatomically defined physiological system. It suggests that the CranioSacral System and the techniques involved offer a bridge between objective science and spiritual healing.

CranioSacral Therapy accesses the total human being’s self-corrective and self-healing processes. Further, the therapeutic approach attempts to maximise patient/client responsibility for their overall well-being

John E Upledger (1995)

What is it? 

CranioSacral Therapy, or CST, is a gentle, empowering therapy used in the treatment of a number of different complaints. The craniosacral system is made up of: - cerebrospinal fluid – the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord - and the membranes containing that fluid, which travel from the head (cranium) to the base of the spine (sacrum). Dr Upledger hypothesised that the movement he felt in the membranes, was created by the movement of the cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord. He also found from using touch to investigate this that there is regularity to this movement and we call this the craniosacral rhythm.

The bones of the head act as ‘handles’, which we use when ‘listening to’ or palpating the membranes of the craniosacral system and the craniosacral rhythm. The rhythm can be felt by experienced practitioners anywhere on the body. Our bodies are largely made up of fluid (between 60 and 70%, and up to 75% in newborn babies) and I like to think this makes us great conductors! As with a pebble creating ripples across a pond, information from deep within the nervous system is transmitted via the fascial system throughout the body.

CST teaches practitioners to palpate the craniosacral rhythm from anywhere on the body and make adjustments necessary to improve the vitality and symmetry of that rhythm. We often find that the ‘listening’ is enough on it’s own. This is particularly true of babies – perhaps because they are more fluid than adults?


The body has an innate ability to heal itself, if we cut ourselves, the process begins immediately to repair the damage. However, if the body is weakened in any way by long-term illness, chronic conditions or impaired immunity, the body struggles to get back to its previous state of wellness. CST can often facilitate this healing process by improving vitality within the body’s major systems.

© 2019 Carolyn O'Neill

Mob: 07717 400152