The Osteopathic Lineage of Healing | General Wellness | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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The Osteopathic Lineage of Healing 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:34 pm

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Exactly what does the process entail? Patients lay calmly on their backs, while the practitioner prepares as well. “To approach the body at a tempo of health,” says Tieri, “you need to come to the patient by sitting back, being in a receptive mode, and sensing the patient as a whole.” When it comes to hands-on contact, different practitioners use different techniques and pressure. “But it’s a very different process than just technique,” Tieri adds. “It’s a perceptual skill. It’s more about tempo.”

Most of us are in a revved-up, fight-or-flight tempo much of the time: the result of sympathetic nervous system overdrive—that part of our innate workings that carries us through physical and mental stressors. Without balance from relaxation (the purview of the parasympathetic system; the yin to the sympathetic’s yang), that speedy tempo can entrap us in a muscle-knotted, immune-impaired, disease-vulnerable state. “That’s where the disease process lives,” Tieri says. “It’s like having a 100-watt bulb screwed into a 60-watt lamp—that’s why people are depressed, stressed, exhausted.

It can take 15 to 20 minutes just to get a patient to a neutral state, where they are ready to begin the healing process—though that relaxation alone can be helpful. Then, Rosen explains, “We treat patients directly to balance the nervous system. If someone comes in with, for instance, a trauma to their neck, or a headache, they are very focused on that, and their bodies are guarding [that place]. We help them relax into normal function, instead of getting caught up in the strain or injury. Once they get into the treatment, they will feel more relaxation and energy in that region. They often also find an overall sense of well-being, even euphoria—and then a whole host of other issues can be addressed.”

Rosen and Tieri point out that these techniques are very effective and safe for children, even infants. “Their bodies are more malleable, and more fluid,” says Rosen. “Problems such as trauma during birth can usually be addressed more easily and quickly than in adults. We have both treated many children within hours and days of birth.”

Craniosacral therapy
Craniosacral therapy (CST) shares an ancestry and several principles with cranial osteopathy, though it is a distinct discipline. A variety of healthcare workers may become certified in CST through workshops or classes (a medical background is not required). There are different forms of CST, most notably that taught by the Upledger Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, which was founded by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger in the 1970s. The institute’s high profile (it offers hundreds of weekend workshops and short-term trainings around the world each year) can lead to the misinterpretation that Upledger invented all of craniosacral therapy. He has indeed contributed much to CST through his research, clinical experience, and specific techniques, but it is the osteopathic foundation set forth by Still and Sutherland that underlies all CST approaches.

Margery Chessare is a craniosacral therapist and CST instructor at the Center for Natural Wellness School of Massage Therapy in Albany, and she teaches advanced CST classes in Saratoga Springs. She says that in 1996, nobody in the area had heard of CST, but its presence has grown substantially. “Now everybody who goes through our massage school learns about it in class,” she explains. “And regardless of whether you ever do this work [as a practitioner], learning CST increases your ability to communicate with clients. Students learn new palpation skills, and to listen to another human being with their hands—and also with their hearts and their whole body, not just through the skin of their fingers. They’re learning to use all their different senses.”

Chessare describes the cranial wave, or CRI (cranial rhythmic impulse)—a key concept shared by CST and cranial osteopathy: “It is a constant expansion and contraction going on in the cranium, eight to twelve times a minute. The pulse is conducted from the cranium, through the spine, to the sacrum. Once you learn how to palpate that, you can feel it anywhere in the body.” To detect that rhythm, a practitioner must soften his or her touch to perceive what a client’s body is presenting.

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