Osteopathy is a discipline focused on diagnosing and correcting impairments to optimal functioning of parts of our bodies including muscles, joints (such as knees, hips and shoulders), nerves (such as the sciatic nerve) and connective tissue such as ligaments.
Classical Osteopaths focus on the entire muscular skeletal system; Visceral Osteopaths focus on organs, including the skin; and Cranial Osteopaths focus on the cranium and, via cranial-sacral techniques on the rest of the body too.
Osteopaths treat a variety of common conditions including:
- Back pain, whether due to a sporting, domestic or work accident or caused by postural problems associated with working practices (such as hunching over a computer or carrying awkward loads) or driving
- Changes to posture during pregnancy
- Babies suffering from reflux, colic or having difficulty sleeping
- Sports injuries of all kinds
The techniques Osteopaths use depend on the individual patient and their condition.
Cranial Osteopaths view the body as a unique, interconnected, self-healing system. They believe that the structure and the function of the body are closely related, and a disturbance in the body’s framework can interrupt the natural function of multiple systems, causing a wide range of symptoms. Cranial osteopathy is a specific type of extremely gentle osteopathic treatment, which focuses on relieving stress and tension throughout the body. Because it’s such a gentle form of therapy, it can be practised on people with a wide range of conditions, and is suitable for all ages, from newborns to the elderly.
Cranial osteopaths are trained to feel and interpret a very delicate, rhythmic shape change that exists in all body tissues. This motion, called ‘Involuntary Motion’ or ‘Cranial Rhythm,’ comes about due to the particular movement of cerebrospinal fluid bathing the spinal cord and the pull of the soft tissue connexions to the cranial bones. This involves a rhythmical elongation and narrowing, followed by a shortening and widening. This cycle repeats approximately every 10 seconds, and is separate to the rhythm generated through breathing.
Tensions and stresses throughout the body are expressed as a disruption of the body’s natural cranial rhythm. As with traditional osteopathy, cranial osteopaths will perform a thorough case history and examination of their patients, however, treatment will consist of observing and treating disruptions in the cranial rhythm, whether they are due to recent events or as retained tensions due to past incidents including emotional events.
Cranial osteopathy is simply another ‘tool’ in the osteopathic tool box and is taught to a greater or lesser degree in all osteopathic schools; however, practitioners may choose to further their knowledge and experience of cranial therapy by doing a post-graduate course and some practitioners choose to treat solely with cranial techniques.