An Advanced Exploration of Craniosacral Therapy and Chair Massage

I have been doing craniosacral therapy as part of my Corporate On-site chair massage practice –  for decades.

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Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a form of bodywork or alternative therapy using gentle touch to manipulate the synarthrodial joints of the cranium. A practitioner of cranial-sacral therapy may also apply light touches to a patient’s spine and pelvis. Practitioners believe that this manipulation regulates the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and aids in “primary respiration”. Craniosacral therapy was developed by John Upledger, D.O. in the 1970s, as an offshoot of osteopathy in the cranial field, or cranial osteopathy, which was developed in the 1930s by William Garner Sutherland.

Many massage therapists have studied these chair massage techniques but do not really understand the mechanisms involved. It is like a puzzle with many pieces.

Let’s begin with the fluctuation of the cerebrospinal fluid.

There is research which demonstrates examiners are unable to measure craniosacral motion reliably, as indicated by a lack of inter-rater agreement among examiners.The authors of this research conclude this “measurement error may be sufficiently large to render many clinical decisions potentially erroneous”. Alternative medicine practitioners have interpreted this result as a product of entrainment between patient and practitioner, a principle which lacks scientific support. Whether craniosacral motion can be reliably palpated remains a subject of debate with studies producing mixed results.


The Primary Respiratory Mechanism (PRM), the mechanism originally proposed by Sutherland, has been summarized in five ideas:

  1. Inherent motility of the central nervous system
  2. Fluctuation of the cerebrospinal fluid
  3. Mobility of the intracranial and intraspinal dural membranes
  4. Mobility of the cranial bones
  5. Involuntary motion of thesacrum between the ilia

Inherent motility of the central nervous system[edit]

The postulated intracranial fluid fluctuation is described by practitioners as an interaction between four main components: arterial bloodcapillary blood (brain volume), venous blood and cerebrospinal fluid(CSF).


Mobility of the cranial bones

The extent to which cranial bones are able to move is considered controversial and studies of the existence and degree of cranial motion have yielded mixed findings.[14] Cranial sutures are the areas in which the eight cranial bones are joined. During infancy, the cranial bones are not rigidly fused to each other,[22] but are instead bound together by a membrane known as a fontanelle where two sutures join. Between the first and second year of life, the cranial bones begin to move together and fuse as a normal part of development. Studies examining the age of the closure of the cranial sutures have reported mixed findings. Closure has been reported to occur during adolescence while other studies indicate greater individual variability in the timing of this closure with fusion of the lambdoid suturesagittal suture, and coronal sutures taking place in the fourth decade of life, but complete fusion of all sutures not occurring until advanced age (the eighth decade of life has been reported); some studies have found that the sutures never rigidly fuse.According to Gray’s Anatomy, “[w]hen such sutures are tied by sutural ligament and periosteum, almost complete immobility results”.


Mobility of the intracranial and intraspinal dural membranes

In 1970, Upledger observed during a surgical procedure on the neck what he described as a slow pulsating movement within the spinal meninges. He attempted to hold the membrane still and found that he could not due to the strength of the action behind the movement


The therapist lightly palpates the patient’s body, and focuses intently on the communicated movements. A practitioner’s feeling of being in tune with a patient is described as entrainment. Patients often report feelings of deep relaxation during and after the treatment session, and may feel light-headed. While sometimes thought to be caused by an increase in endorphins, research shows the effects may actually be brought about by the endocannabinoid system.

There are few reports of adverse events from CST treatment. In one study of craniosacral manipulation in patients with traumatic brain syndrome, the incidence of adverse effects from treatment was 5%.



  The #1 New York Chair Massage Company –   was the official Onsite Chair Massage Provider for the  Learning  Annex Real Estate Wealth Expos” between 2005 – 2009. At these events we gave chair massage sessions to  thousands of attendees in nine cities who came to hear Tony Robbins, George Foreman, Robert Kyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad), Barbara Corcoran (NBS’s “Shark Tank” and other speakers.”



What our clients say about us.

“They are amazing…. I recommend them to anyone who wants less stress and more energy.”

Jack Canfield Co-author, Chicken Soup for the Soul


If you enjoyed this blog I recommend this wonderful massage book and success card deck.

Order it by clicking below.


Lewis Harrison – RealUGuru, is a master lifehacker, writer, mentor, success and wealth coach, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.


Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST  at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in life coaching, stress management or corporate chair massage you need to read Lewis’ recently published business books.

You can find books on game theory and business success here:

This course and all the offerings on  focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. He is the creator of a free course on business success and human potential.

Here is a short interview with Lewis;


Today’s stress management blog is presented  by a grant from Events  Chair Massage – –  a company that offers Corporate Chair Massage and Stress Management Services to meeting planner, event planners, party planners and HR for Trade show booths throughout the United States.


Below is a chair massage demo that shows techniques our corporate chair massage therapists use to massage their clients’ upper back, shoulders, and neck — using elbows and forearms, with minimal use of the thumbs.


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