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More about CranioStructural Integration

Common, strongly dominant, patterns of compensatory posture and musculoskeletal function have been described by many authors. Zink and Lawson (1979) described the Common Compensatory Pattern (CCP) which they relate to fascial preferences. Beatty (1939), Trubenbach (1944) and Levine (1964) described a universal postural distortion pattern which Carver (1922) called the ‘Typical’. This pattern was attributed to a weight-bearing sacroiliac joint instability. Kendall, McCreary, and Provance (1993) described postural and musculoskeletal patterns which they attributed to right and left handedness.

Dr. Hancock has also observed commonly occurring postural and musculoskeletal patterns in a high percentage of his patients. The common musculoskeletal patterns described by Dr. Hancock appear to be compensatory patterns that are maintained by chronic cranial patterns, which he has named Primary Cranial Patterns. When the cranial patterns are resolved, the musculoskeletal patterns are also generally resolved.

Magoun was aware of the causative effect of cranial ‘lesion’ patterns on musculoskeletal function. In Osteopathy in the Cranial Field, he noted a relationship between spinal scoliosis and cranial scoliosis. He stated that the two are inseparable, and that “the cranial pattern precedes and dictates the spinal pattern in a good proportion of the cases, rather than the reverse (Magoun, 1976, p. 74).

How is CranioStructural Integration different?

CranioStructural Integration (CSI) differs from traditional osteopathic craniosacral techniques and other craniosacral therapies in several important ways.

First, the goal of CSI is the treatment of chronic compensatory postural and musculoskeletal patterns using cranial techniques. Dr. Hancock has either developed, or modified from other cranial sources, the CSI procedures used to treat Primary Cranial Patterns. Most of the CSI procedures used to ‘unlock’ restricted cranial motion are unique, and based on releasing soft tissue holding patterns and maximizing cranial motion rather than on traditional cranial concepts. Each of the identified Primary Cranial Patterns can be eliminated by a specific CSI cranial procedure, thereby releasing the related compensatory musculoskeletal patterns.

Second, the objective of CSI treatment is to eliminate the chronic compensatory musculoskeletal patterns by establishing a substantially increased, symmetrical range of motion of the osseous and soft tissue components of the cranial mechanism. Simply establishing motion – even balanced motion – of the sphenobasilar patterns using light force does not release the Primary Cranial Patterns. In fact, CSI treatment may begin where light-force cranial therapies leave off.

Third, the CSI treatment is a structural approach and emphasizes direct rather than indirect cranial techniques (i.e., corrective force is applied in the direction of the restricted movement rather than the direction of greater movement). However, sufficient force is also frequently applied in the direction of greater mobility to unlock sutural restrictions and lengthen soft tissue holding elements prior to applying force in the restricted direction. Treatment may require alternating between the directions of mobility and restriction until the desired degree of cranial movement has been achieved in both directions.

Fourth, the amount of force applied in CSI treatment is generally greater than the amount usually used in most craniosacral therapies or traditional osteopathic cranial techniques (i.e., CSI uses ounces and pounds rather than grams). The objective in CSI techniques is to create permanent changes to the cranial mechanism by lengthening the cranial soft tissue holding elements (e.g., fascia, muscles, sutural ligaments, reciprocal tension membranes, etc.). These changes are necessary for the release of Primary Cranial Patterns and the related compensatory musculoskeletal patterns.

Fifth, CSI is an outcome-oriented therapy. Evaluation techniques used in CSI include the usual palpation and visual evaluations. In addition, manual muscle testing and various reflex techniques from applied kinesiology are used extensively for both pretreatment evaluation and confirmation of treatment outcomes. Validation of predicted treatment objectives – by muscle tests and other measures – is expected.

Despite these differences, CSI shares many of the broad holistic treatment objectives of traditional osteopathic cranial and other craniosacral therapies. However, CSI also recognizes, and addresses in treatment, other relationships between components of the craniosacral mechanism and the compensatory musculoskeletal patterns occurring elsewhere in the body.