What is Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage?

Biodynamic Craniosacral History

Biodynamic Craniosacral History

All living things express the wonder of life in motion.    All healthy living tissues gently "breathe" with the motion of life at the deepest level of cellular function.

The presence of subtle rhythms in the body was discovered and named by osteopathic physician Dr. William Sutherland (1873-1954).  Dr. Sutherland viewed the human body as living structure.  Dysfunction or impairment in one area would compromise the entire structure.  The central nervous system was in constant rhythmic motion with the fluctuation of cerebrospinal fluid.  This fluid is the main driving force and primary healing agency essential to human health.  The bones of the skull are designed for this breathing movement or primary respiration, the first "breathing" of the human body.  The structural integrity of the human body is important for the potency of this design.

Dr. John Erwin Upledger (1932-2012), an osteopathic physician, observed this rhythmic movement during a surgical procedure involving the meninges of the nervous system.  He served as clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics at Michigan State University from 1975-1983.  He scientifically validated the palpable motion of the fluctuation of cerebrospinal fluid production and reabsorption as a pressurestat model.

This six to eight second cycle rhythm is vitally important for nervous system function and healing and was named the craniosacral rhythm.  Craniosacral was named as a healing profession.

Craniosacral science and development continued with scientists,  doctors and teachers.  The craniosacral concept was further developed by Dr. Franklyn Sills into a Biodynamic model.  The motilities of life formation are an expression of a primary respiratory motion that is a critical factor in determining our state of health.  If the body is able to express the subtle rhythmic motion, our blueprint for health can manifest and wholeness and well-being follow.

Exceptional Craniosacral teaching teams now teach the science and art of Biodynamic Craniosacral throughout the world.


Craniosacral Terms

Craniosacral Terms

CRANIAL - of the cranium or the skull.  The cranium is compromised of 22 bones - 14 facial bones and 8 cranial bones forming the cranial vault which encloses and protects the brain.

SACRAL - of the sacrum or the base of the spine.  Sometimes nicknamed the "tail bone", it is composed of five naturally fused vertebra.

CRANIOSACRAL RHYTHM - CSR - the rhythmic pulsation of the cerebrospinal fluid in the brain and spinal cord.  An average CSR is 6-8 seconds; 8-10 per minute; 14, 400 times per day!

CEREBROSPINAL FLUID - transparent, clear, fluid produced in the ventricles of the brain.  It provides essential nourishment and mediates all critical function of the nervous system.  Dr. A. T. Still, the founder of osteopathy, named cerebrospinal (CSF) the highest known element in the human body.

FASCIAE - the human body's fully integrated supporting framework of connective tissue.  It is an organ of support that sheathes body structures.


Understanding Integrative Biodynamic CRaniosacral Massage - Newsletters

What is Craniosacral?



by Joanne M. Gallagher, RCST ®  

What is Cerebrospinal Fluid?



 by Joanne M. Gallagher, RCST ®  

What is Fascia?



 by Joanne M. Gallagher, RCST ®  

What is the Glymphatic System?



 by Joanne M. Gallagher, RCST ®  


Questions & Answers

Q & A Regarding Integrative Craniosacral Massage

What is Biodynamic Craniosacral?

The word biodynamic means life movement.  In the human body it refers to a natural order and rhythm in the tissues of the body.  Biodynamic Craniosacral is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the function of the fluctuations or motilities of the Craniosacral system.  This system is compromised of the skull, spine, sacrum, meninges, fasciae and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.  When these motilities are expressed in fullness and balance, the blueprint for health can manifest and a sense of wholeness and well-being automatically follow.  The Lifeshapes teaching team describes Biodynamic Craniosacral as a gentle, effective, long lasting and personally tailored method of healing that is generated by the natural organizing forces within the body.

What can one expect to feel during an Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage session?

An initial Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage session can last approximately thirty to sixty minutes, specific to each person.  A person rests, fully clothed, on a bodywork table.  Belt and shoes are removed for comfort.  The session begins with a calm orientation to the dynamics of function and being.  There is a "listening" with the hands of the Craniosacral Massage practitioner to the motilities of the craniosacral system of the person.  Gentle dimensional massage maneuvers are experienced at areas of the body where injuries have left restriction to the vital process of adaptation.  It is a progressive experience.  One may feel warmth, gentle shifting, relaxation or ease during the session.  some have described their experience as "calm, straight, centered, peaceful or just right."  It is wonderful to be in rhythm for the function of design.

How often should I schedule an Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage session?

This answer is specific to each person.  A new client experiences an average of five to seven biodynamic craniosacral sessions the first year and less each year according to the dynamics and progression of each session.  It is a specific experience for each person.  The wonder of an Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral session is that it is custom for for each person.  It invites one to a process throughout a lifetime.

What is the difference between Chiropractic adjustments and Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage sessions?

Chiropractic, Craniosacral and Massage are vitalistic and supportive healing arts.  The objective of chiropractic care is manual correction or adjustment of vertebral misalignments or subluxations of the spine causing interference to the nerve system.  The contact is the spine and pelvis.  The objective of Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage is to allow ease to the restrictions within the fasciae affecting Craniosacral motilities.  The contact is the dimensional connective tissue of the entire body.  It is a full body experience.  Both experiences have benefit.

Is Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage for Children?

The answer is yes!  Our mission and passion at Essence Vitality is that each child has the benefit of compliance to the craniosacral system pre-birth with mother's session, post natal and throughout their lifetime.  Balance to cerebrospinal fluid motilities of the nervous system is vitally important during growth and development.  The creative genius of healing is strong and vital within children.  Children recognize its benefit with excitement and respond well to the gentle and non-invasive experience.  Craniosacral compliance during the formative years will last throughout a lifetime.

Can Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral have benefit for those with health problems or special needs?

Yes!  Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage is for everyone who has a craniosacral system.  Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage sessions could have great value for those facing significant health challenges or children and adults with special needs.  Craniosacral/massage does not replace medical care nor treat pathology or disease states.  Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage sessions allow ease of restrictions to the fluid rhythms of the brain and spinal cord for optimal growth and function necessary for healing.  It is an excellent adjunct with other healthcare modalities or therapies for those with special needs.


Joanne M. Gallagher, RCST ® 



Foundations in Craniosacral Biodynamics, Vol. One, Franklyn Sills, 2011.

The Fasciae, Serge Paoletti, 2006.

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