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Cranial Release Technique: It Really Is All In Your Head

Posted by PHS Chiropractic on Friday, November 06, 2015

That pain in your head? You really can do something about it.

Cranial release technique has come a long way to be accepted, but practitioners have found that the skull does indeed move and that CRT can help manage stress and stress-related conditions.

The technique works to "unlock" locked cranial bones to restore balance and reduce stress and pain on the body. Among other effects, CRT can help relax a stressed heart rate and increase Alpha/Theta waves in the brain (necessary for relaxation). CRT can also be very effectively combined with other types of bodywork.

Many patients, in fact, report an immediate sense of well-being and relaxation following CRT. However, it's important for practitioners to pre- and post-assess in order to calculate the actual change that is occurring. 

Cranial work has had a long road of opposition; it has been ridiculed and written off as impossible based solely on the misconception that the skull bones do not move. Despite this, many cranial practitioners around the world have experienced results nothing short of incredible. So how it is that cranial work can have such an impact on peoples’ health when the cranial bones don’t even move? The answer is simple; they do move. And NASA proved that in 2004 when they developed an ultrasound method to monitor intracranial pressure by measuring the subtle movements of the skull. Their findings concluded, ‘Most people think the skull is a rigid container that doesn’t change in size or volume. It’s been shown, however, that the skull moves…’.

Over the last 10 years healthcare providers have begun to embrace the innovation, simplicity and elegance of a groundbreaking method of cranial work, Cranial Release Technique (or CRT). As a result of the incredible results and ease of application, CRT has quickly solidified its position as one of the most exciting contributions to modern healthcare and is leading the movement toward proactive strategies to combat the negative impact of stress and stress related illnesses in massage therapy practices nationwide.

Birth of Cranial Release Technique

Cranial Release Technique was born out of the concepts that were put forth by William Sutherland while he was a student of osteopathy in the early 1900’s.

He raised questions that stumped some of the brightest minds of his time; he posed the question, ‘If the purpose of the skull is to protect the brain, why not make it one bone?’ He was consumed by this concept that the cranium played more of a role in health than anyone was recognizing.

While in practice he began palpating the skulls of patients that were not responding well to traditional osteopathic care and found that their cranium exhibited a subtle, infinitesimal movement that was uneven and that some of the sutures of the cranial bones seemed ‘locked’. As he began applying some attention and manipulation to these areas, his patients began responding positively, even those with some of the most complex organic conditions.

Sutherland’s exploration and deep understanding of the cranium and his teaching of the global impact the cranium lead Dr. William Doreste to develop The Cranial Release Technique, the most cutting-edge approach to cranial therapy.

Dr. Doreste’s focus shifted from a full spine approach to a cranial approach once he delved into the work that Sutherland completed throughout his career. Dr. Doreste found a key to unlocking the cranium, which could be accessed in less than two minutes, could bring about some of the most profound changes in his patients’ health. It was then that Cranial Release Technique was born.

The Stress Connection: Cranial Dural Stress Syndrome

The key differentiator for CRT is the impact this work has on Cranial Dural Stress Syndrome. Simply put, Cranial Dural Stress Syndrome is a resulting imbalance and stress on the entire body when the cranium is distorted.

When you observe a client who’s skull is blatantly distorted, there are certain assumptions you as a therapist can make. And while there are no hard and fast rules regarding skull distortion, you can assume that the skull bones, which are lined with the Dura Mater, the outermost coverings of the brain, are also distorted. This intimate connection has been demonstrated time and again by anatomists. In order to extract the dura mater from the cranial vault, it has to be chiseled out.

From the brain and cranial vault, the dura extends out and melds with the outermost covering of the spinal nerve, the epineurium. This epineurium courses throughout the entirety of your body and blends with the fascia and makes its way deep into the soft tissue.

The origination of tissue within the cranium and its presence all the way to the fingertips provides key insight into the mechanism of action as to how The Cranial Release Technique has show profound global effects on both the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system at the deepest physiological levels. Among them are:

Heart Rate Variability: Initial investigation utilizing Heart Rate Variability (a recognized indicator of stress) has shown that the Cranial Release Technique can have a profound effect on the autonomic nervous system. Measurements of HRV taken both before and after administration of the CRT procedure showed a marked shift from the ‘stressed’ state back to a more ‘balanced’ and relaxed state of function. This represents a movement into the state where true healing and well-being can occur.

Brain Wave Activity: Assessment of brain waves looks at the ability of the brain to be busy when necessary and to rest when necessary. Stress events like the math test , noises and breathing exercise require brain activity (increased Beta) and when relaxed, increased Alpha/Theta. At Life University’s clinic an initial investigation revealed a marked shift from Beta waves (which were elevated due to finals week) to a more Alpha/Theta response in less than two minutes. The students reported feeling more relaxed and focused with less anxiety. This was only an investigational and further studies need to be performed.

Nitric oxide: A study was published in 2010 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutic (an article that I contributed an abstract and commentary for to Natural Medicine Journal), which outlined the effect this form of cranial therapy has on nitric oxide levels and the resulting effect felt subjectively by patients. Nitric oxide (NO*) is an effective chain-breaking antioxidant in free radical-mediated lipid oxidation (LPO), key for preventing excessive oxidant damage from free radicals and promoting healthy cardiovascular health.

The Simple and Elegant Approach

The simplicity of the Cranial Release Technique is one of the work’s defining characteristics; felt both by the client and the therapist.

Client: While everyone responds uniquely to bodywork, many people report an immediate overall sense of well-being and a profound state of relaxation. In addition it’s vital for clients to see and feel the difference that has been made. Before each CRT treatment there are a series of pre-assessment tests that are performed in order to bring an awareness to the cranial distortion and the consequential structural imbalance that is present. Upon finishing the treatment, those pre-assessment tests are re-administered and client sees first hand the dramatic change that occurs in their strength, balance and release of tension throughout their body.

Rae Duval is someone who has long suffered from debilitating neck issues and crippling facial pain. Upon receiving her first Cranial Release treatment, her facial pain went away and she regained strength in her neck and upper body allowing her to jumpstart her life again. “Cranial Release allowed me to regain the life I had, before suffering day in and day out with pain that just would not quit. That type of pain overwhelms your life and takes you away from everything you love most. CRT helped me get back to the person I was.”

Therapist: The body mechanics associated with this work make the application seamless and have resulted in probably on of the most elegant methods of bodywork. Providing a client with Cranial Release, when done properly, is comfortable, easy on the body and allows for the ability to be able to take care of many more clients in a shorter period of time. Furthermore, you need nothing more than your hands. It is ideal to do this work on a massage table; the training ensures that you can perform this work on a client in a chair or even for someone in a hospital bed. This accessibility opens up the possibly of providing CRT to a virtually any demographic.

Jane Jones AP, LMT recognizes how versatile CRT is and how it applies to the broadest range of clients. Jones says, ‘I’ve been a body worker for 30 years and an acupuncturist for about 15. I’ve studied lots of different modalities because I’ve never been quite sure whether one technique is going to work for one person and whether its going to work for another. For that reason I’m so happy with the Cranial Release Technique because I finally know I have a technique that will help anybody I come across.’

The Synergy of CRT

One of the most common situations I’ve found therapists putting themselves into is whether they should consider doing CRT or another form of cranial work. The beauty of CRT is its ability to work synergistically with any other form of bodywork, including other cranial work. One key attribute to CRT is its uncanny ability to soften and relax the fascia and soft tissue tension to such a degree that it compliments the deeper neuromuscular work making the therapist’s job that much easier. And considering the relatively short time it takes for LMT’s to burn out, bringing an ease to practice is an incredible benefit.

Mastering The Work

A technique that is as simple and elegant as Cranial Release does require training in order to reach Mastery Level. Every step of the CRT work is highly specific and necessitates proper instruction so as not to deliver an ineffective treatment but even more important, to prevent any potential injury to the client.

The coursework to learn Cranial Release is unique in that it is set up as a one time, four day Mastery Course. This immersion-type course allows therapists to master the work, and reach the level to where they are comfortable introducing CRT to their clients on Monday morning. The goal is for the therapist to return to the office on Monday morning and be able to perform all of the functional testing, deliver their best CRT and achieve incredible results. Special attention is also paid to the ability of communicating exactly how CRT works. Conveying what you do, especially when it is so innovative is key to successfully integrating into a practice or starting a practice from scratch.

Could This Be The Answer To Stress?

We are all well aware of the rampant nature of stress and stress related illness in our society. Cranial Release is on the forefront of a major shift in healthcare toward a proactive approach toward reducing stress and improving lives. The need for stress reduction is everywhere but the techniques that have been documented to have an impact on the stress response are not. Cranial Release delivers key support in the area of stress reduction and provides massage therapists a simple, elegant method of helping clients achieve phenomenal health at the deepest physiologic levels of the nervous system.


This article, by Invigo, originally appeared here and is reprinted with permission: http://www.theultimatewellnesspractice.com/global-impact-cranial-release-technique/

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PHS Chiropractic

In the chiropractic field, flexibility is the name of the game. It’s our mantra too. Since we launched in 2005, PHS Chiropractic has become a leader in beautifully designed, customizable chiropractic tables and accessories. We design our base tables to be feature-rich, meeting the needs of the student or new practitioner. Yet as you grow your practice, our tables grow with you: We’ve dreamed up every possible feature, from drops to elevating heights to adjustable head pieces—all easily added to your existing table to broaden your options. It’s all part of the thought and care that we put into each and every PHS Chiropractic product. Made right here in the Midwest at our plant in Watertown, South Dakota, our products reflect our strong values: high quality, integrity, creativity and innovation. The result is a rich line of chiropractic tables and accessories—from our groundbreaking Tradeflex series to our patented ErgoStyle drops—all offering a high level of design expertise, patented features and great value that give you the tools you need to build a successful practice.