Craniosacral Massage

What Is Craniosacral Massage?

What Is Craniosacral Massage

Craniosacral massage is a type of massage that focuses on the bones and tissues of the central nervous system, including the skull, spine, and pelvis.

Known more commonly as cranial sacral massage, this is one of the most controversial types of massage currently on the market. In it’s most simple form, it is meant to allow “self-healing,” in that it taps into the body’s natural rhythms to promote healing from within.

Although it is not a typical part of Eastern or Chinese healing, cranial sacral massage is closely aligned with some of the beliefs associated with alternative medicine.

That’s because although cranial sacral massage doesn’t use any of the traditional ideas of qi or acupuncture points, but it is meant to restore a body’s balance and uses the power of a body’s natural energy in maximizing overall wellness.

How Cranial Sacral Massage Works

Cranial sacral massage uses light, gentle pressure on the head, neck, spine, and sacrum (or tailbone). Through soft movements, obstructions and compressions in the areas where the brain and spinal cord function are released, which is meant to allow the body to perform at a more optimal level.

Most of the time, the pressures are lighter than that of a nickel running up and down the body, and it’s not uncommon for clients to fall asleep during the procedures.

It is believed by proponents that cranial sacral massage allows blockages in the spinal fluid to move more freely through the body, improving balance and circulation, and reducing chronic pain. In some cases, regular sessions for chronic pain may be recommended, as it can return with later “blockages” in the spinal fluid.

Cranial sacral massage sessions are fairly similar to standard massage sessions. It usually occurs in a quiet, private setting on a massage table or chair. Many massage therapists use oils or creams to facilitate their movements, and offer it in conjunction with other forms of massage for a complete well body package.

Benefits of Cranial Sacral Massage

For the most part, cranial sacral massage is best used as a preventative treatment or in conjunction with standard medical care. Because it is such a gentle treatment, it can be used on most adults and children without harmful side effects, and may even contribute to feelings of well-being when other pain relief or mood alleviating treatments have failed.

Proponents of cranial sacral massage also believe that it can help with a number of behavioral and physical ailments, particularly those that related to the brain or spine. Although it is not recommended for serious disorders, it has been used to treat:

Sleeping difficulties


Digestive problems

Sinus disorders

TMJ dysfunction

Lowered immune systems

Ear infections

Back and neck pain


Tension-related ailments




Depression/Mood disorders

Because the central nervous system is such an integral part of all the body’s systems, cranial sacral massage is also considered by many to be beneficial to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, as well. Some individuals also consider it a vital part of restoring the body’s “energies,” particularly for preventative health reasons.

Cranial Sacral Massage Controversies

Of all the sub-specialties in massage therapy, cranial sacral massage is one of the most disputed. It is considered a type of holistic healing in that it allows the body to heal naturally and without drug intervention.

While this makes it ideal for conditions that may not be alleviated by traditional avenues (such as tension or back pain), it can become dangerous for conditions like ear infections or behavioral problems, especially if it is sought as the only source of treatment.

For example, in recent years, a few parents have been criticized for relying on cranial sacral massage for the treatment of ear infections in their children. Because a bacterial infection so close to the brain can cause lasting damage, it may be dangerous to seek cranial sacral massage treatment to the exclusion of anything else.

This is true for almost all the conditions typically treated by cranial sacral massage, and critics denounce cranial sacral massage professionals for pushing a type of healing that may contribute to later health problems.

Cranial sacral massage can also be harmful for individuals with certain conditions, including those with a history of aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage, cerebral palsy, or bleeding disorders. Before any individual takes on this form of healing, it is important to seek the advice of a medical professional, to rule out the possibility of additional harm.