Tools of the Trade: Introduction

November 11, 2010

Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing the various tools or techniques that Osteopaths and Craniosacral Therapists use in their treatments.  One of the advantages we have over other therapeutic disciplines is the number of treatment techniques we use.  The following list of hands on therapeutic acts is what we use every day.

1)      Muscle Energy Techniques

2)      Pumping, GOT, and Oscillatory Techniques

3)      Myofascial Release

4)      Indirect/Functional Release

5)      Osteoarticular Adjustment

6)      Visceral Techniques

7)      Craniosacral Techniques

Many of the other therapeutic disciplines use 2 or 3 of these techniques in their treatment protocols, but only we have the whole tool box.  We use a specific methodology to know what technique is to be used, and understand the deepest physiological implications of each technique, right down to the cellular level.  If you follow my blog over the next few weeks, I will introduce each technique with a full description of indications and when I would use it.  At the end of it all, you will have a much better understanding of what I do, how I see the body as a whole, as a functional unit, and what to expect when you see me for treatment.

Jason Brandow, BSc TR, CST

Osteopathy Current Study & Thesis Writer

For more information contact Ultimate Sports Therapy at info@ultimatesportstherapy.com or visit us at http://www.ultimatesportstherapy.com/osteopathy.html


Craniosacral Therapy – The Fifth Phase of the Primary Respiratory Mechanism (PRM)

October 7, 2010

Phase 5 – Mobility of the sacrum between the ilia.

The last phase of the Primary Respiratory Mechanism is the mobility of the sacrum between the ilia.  Like the cranial bones, the bones of the pelvis were once thought to have fused to form one bony structure.  All the new science shows that there is significant palpable movement between the sacrum and the pelvis.  This is called the Sacro-iliac joint, or SI joint.

Since the dura is attached to the base of the skull and the sacrum as previously mentioned, the motion of the cranial mechanism is transmitted to the sacrum. The cranium and the sacrum work together as a unit. As the cranium goes into flexion, the sacrum is drawn forward and slightly upward…remember, there is no stretch in the dura, so as the cranium moves, so does the sacrum.

The primary respiratory mechanism is in constant, rhythmic, cyclical motion. The movement of the brain and spinal cord, CSF, meninges, and bones are all synchronous with each other forming one large integrated unit of function.  There is little palpable difference in the timing of each of these phases, as it all happens at once…it is one mechanism, one body, one life.

The discovery of the PRM is one of the most profound discoveries in human anatomy and physiology.  It shows how the shape and movement of structures governs the functions that they have.  I hope you have enjoyed learning about the Primary Respiratory Mechanism as much as I did when I was learning about it 6 years ago.

For more information contact Ultimate Sports Therapy at info@ultimatesportstherapy.com or visit us at http://www.ultimatesportstherapy.com/osteopathy.html

Jason Brandow,
Craniosacral Therapist, Osteopathy Student.



Craniosacral Therapy – The Fourth Phase of the Primary Respiratory Mechanism (PRM)

September 23, 2010

Phase 4 – Mobility of the cranial bone.


“The bones of the skull are moving?”  YES!  There are 26 bones in the head and they are all in slight rhythmic motion along with the CNS, CSF, membranes, and sacrum. These bones all fit together like the gears of a watch and influence each other.  There is” palpable” motion at each cranial suture…meaning that the motion can be detected with your hands.  Like the fingers of a baseball glove, the bones are held together with stitch like fibers.  That’s why they call them sutures!

So why do these bones eventually form sutures rather than fuse into one large, continuous structure? It is due to the fact that the sutures are formed to accommodate motion that is already present due to the motion of the CNS and dura.

To fit this all together so far, as the brain and spinal cord/CNS fluctuates, this causes movement of the cerebrospinal fluid, which puts pressure on the dura, which therefore moves the cranial bones in a rhythmic pattern palpable by the hands.

Here is a great animated video demonstrating the attachments of the dura (falx and tentorium sections) to the cranial bones, and how they move during PRM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2oVjn2ALLE
One last phase to go

For more information contact Ultimate Sports Therapy at info@ultimatesportstherapy.com or visit us at www.ultimatesportstherapy.com

Jason Brandow,
Craniosacral Therapist, Osteopathy Student.


Craniosacral Therapy – The Third Phase of the Primary Respiratory Mechanism (PRM)

September 16, 2010

Phase 3 – The motion of the dural membranes.

As discussed in the previous paper, the dura is a cartilaginous tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, like a sheath.  The dura has a few characteristics that make it much different than other tissues of the body, the most significant is its low content of elastin fibers.  Because there is very little elastin fibers, the dura does not stretch much, in fact it has almost no stretch at all.   This means that if you were to pull on one end of the dura, the other end would move about the same distance…picture pulling on a garden hose…no stretch.

The dura also has very significant attachments sites to the body.  The most significant for this paper is its attachment to the bottom of the Occiput bone of the skull, C1 and C2 vertebrae, and then no other attachment down the spine until it attaches at the front side of the S2 level of the sacrum.

Why is this significant?  This is what is known as the “Core Link” in osteopathy.  The dura connects the inherent motility of the CNS with the motion of the dural membranes.
“But If the dura is attached to the Occiput bone , how can it move” you are asking yourself.  Well, that is explained in the next chapter…next week

For more information contact Ultimate Sports Therapy at info@ultimatesporttherapy.com or visit us at www.ultimatesportstherapy.com

Jason Brandow,
Craniosacral Therapist, Osteopathy Student.


Craniosacral Therapy – The Second Phase of the Primary Respiratory Mechanism (PRM)

September 7, 2010

Phase 2 – The rhythmic fluctuation of the cerebrospinal fluid

As discussed in the previous submission, The Brain and Spinal Cord or CNS, expand and contract at a rate of 8-12 cycles per minute.  This expansion and retraction is one of the causes of Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) fluctuation.
As the brain and spinal cord change shape and go through their cycle of inhalation and exhalation, the CSF fluctuates back and forth in the spaces in the brain and spinal cord.  Because of a large membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord called the Dura, The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fluctuates, or moves back and forth in a relatively closed container.

Since the Dural membrane follows the nerves out of the spine, the small excess travels out along the channels around these nerves during primary respiration.

The CSF has important functions in circulation and nourishment of body tissues.

Fluid Exchange is vital to normal physiology. All the processes of life occur because fluids flow: Through channels, across membranes, and within open spaces. Should the flow of fluids stagnate, all of life becomes diminished… and health is compromised.
Cerebro-Spinal Fluid (CSF) surrounds our brain and spinal cord. A mere 140 ml of fluid bathes the brain and fills the ventricles (internal cavities of the brain).

This Cerebro-Spinal Fluid replenishes itself 3-4 times each day. Once thought only to provide buoyancy, CSF has now been discovered to provide important nutrient functions. Not only are essential substances made available, but harmful substances are cleared away. CSF establishes a stable and specialized fluid environment for nerve cells.

There are no lymphatic vessels within the Central Nervous System. The brain and spinal cord are instead cleaned by the rapid creation and absorption of the Cerebro-Spinal Fluid. This circulation of CSF was once thought be a “closed” system. To speak of movement of CSF outside of the brain into the “periphery” was considered heresy. Recent studies, however, now reveal that CSF is in direct communication with the lymphatic system of the rest of the body.

One of Dr. Sutherland’s main contributions was the discovery of the fluctuant nature of Cerebro-Spinal Fluid. The CSF is not simply circulating. The CSF fluctuates. Fluctuation is defined in Websters dictionary as: “The motion of a Fluid contained within a natural or artificial cavity, observed by palpation or percussion.”

For more information contact Ultimate Sports Therapy at info@ultimatesporttherapy.com or visit us at www.ultimatesportstherapy.com

Jason Brandow,
Craniosacral Therapist, Osteopathy Student.


Craniosacral Therapy – The First Phase in the Primary Respiratory Mechanism (PRM)

August 27, 2010

Phase 1 – The Inherent motility of the brain and spinal cord (CNS).

The central nervous system (CNS) of every living organism, meaning the cells of the brain and spinal cord, exhibits a phenomenon called “Inherent Motility”  This means that the cells that make up the CNS are constantly fluctuating, or expanding and retracting at a rhythm of their own accord.  As mentioned in the last paper, the human CNS cells fluctuate at a rate of 8-12 cycles per minute, or about every 6 seconds.

Another way to describe this is by picturing a jelly fish.  The brain and spinal cord rhythmically coil and uncoil like a swimming jelly fish. As the brain coils and uncoils, the cavities within the brain (ventricles) and around the brain (cisterns) change shape, and therefore the volume of these spaces and hence the amount of fluid that they hold will change as well.  During the inhalation phase (flexion) the brain gets shorter and wider. During the exhalation phase (extension) the brain gets taller and narrower.

This is the first phase of what is commonly referred to as the Primary Respiratory Mechanism (PRM) or Cranial Rhythmic Impulse (CRI) in Craniosacral Therapy and Osteopathy.  This pulsating rhythm can easily be felt by the trained hands of the Osteopath (D.O.(M.P) or Craniosacral Therapist (CST).  By placing our hands on the head, spine, and sacrum of the patient, we can feel the pulsation of the CNS and the increase and decrease of fluidic pressure that it creates.  This increase and decrease in fluidic pressure is commonly referred to as “the tide” since that is exactly what it feels like.  Each rhythm of the CNS creates a wave that travels through the spine like a wave from head to tailbone.

Assessing the Inherent motility of the brain and spinal cord (CNS)

Osteopaths and CSTs use this rhythm to find areas on the head and spine that are not moving well, or have limited range of motion.  Each fluid wave produced by the fluctuating motility of the CNS adds increase pressure to the cranial bones (more on this in future submissions) and the vertebrae.  When a bone or vertebrae is found not moving along with the wave, that means it is restricted by either a muscle, a  ligament, or another bone.  There will be increased fluidic pressure in this area resulting in swelling, as well as pain.  By correcting the vertebrae in dysfunction and improving its natural range of motion, the swelling and pain subside, and the wave produced by the inherent motility of the CNS can now easily pass down the entire spinal canal again.  Health is now restored.

For more information contact Ultimate Sports Therapy at info@ultimatesporttherapy.com or visit us at www.ultimatesportstherapy.com

Jason Brandow,
Craniosacral Therapist, Osteopathy Student.


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