In the early 1900′s, the osteopath Dr. William Garner Sutherland discovered that the bones of the skull continue to move until we die. He also noticed by experimenting on his own head with an adjustable leather helmet that pressures on the head in various places would elicit symptoms such as headaches, blurry vision, mental fogginess, nausea, balance issues, and mood changes. Dr. Sutherland thus made the connection between head or face trauma and pain, as well as many symptoms that seemed to be unrelated to the head trauma.
With further investigation he discovered that the brain and spinal cord were contained as one unit within a 3-layered membranous sac, closely adhering like a body stocking. This membranous sac was attached to the inside of the skull, the first two neck vertebrae, and the sacrum at the bottom of your back. Therefore, any trauma to the head or the spine might jar this sac and adversely affect the sensitive nerves of the spinal cord or the brain within it.
Within this membranous stocking, called the meninges, the brain and spinal cord are immersed in cerebrospinal fluid, which is pumped in and out of the brain at a regular rhythm, at a rate somewhere between the breathing rate and the heart rate. One can detect this rate by gently touching the head bones and observing their movements. Dr. Sutherland called this rhythm the Primary Respiratory Rhythm. Craniosacral Rhythm is another common term for it.
Dr. Sutherland noticed that the Primary Respiratory Rhythm changed with injuries, illness, postural disturbances, and so forth,. It might slow down, or speed up. Moreover, the rhythm itself became irregular. He also noticed that when gently resting his hands on the head bones or other areas of the body, the rhythm would eventually rebalance itself, and the symptoms would resolve.
It is still a mystery of how exactly the therapist’s gentle touch can have such a profound effect on the rebalancing of the primary respiratory rhythm. We do know that this amazing therapy helps the body to resolve numerous symptoms such as generalized body pain, headaches, sinus pain, joint and muscle pain, and improve moods, mental clarity and focus, as well as promote relaxation and sleep.