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History of CranioSacral Therapy
What Is
CranioSacral Therapy
Benefits of
CranioSacral Therapy
History of
CranioSacral Therapy
William Garner Sutherland

William Garner Sutherland, D.O. invented Cranial Osteopathy in 1939. W.G. Sutherland, D.O. (1873-1954) was an early student of Dr. A.T. Still, who was the founder of Osteopathy. While a student at the American School of Osteopathy in the late 1890s he observed a skull, which had been mounted with each bone slightly separated from its articulation. He had the thought that the flat part of the temporal bone (which relates to the ear) was designed for motion, “like the gills of fish”. This was an inspirational moment that lay the seed for expansion of Dr. Still’s concept of Osteopathic philosophy into the cranial field. At that time anatomical texts had very little to say regarding the cranial bones.

He thus began a decades long inquiry, studying the disarticulated bones and their articular (joint) surfaces, until he was convinced that they were designed for mobility. He then experimented on his own cranium, and over a period of time started applying these principles to his patients. He had remarkable results, relieving a variety of problems for which there were no other treatments.

After thirty years of developing his diagnostic and treatment approaches, he began sharing his concepts and techniques with other interested Osteopathic physicians. His teachings are still taught today to Osteopathic and Chiropractic Students.

William Garner Sutherland
John E. Upledger
John E. Upledger In 1970, during a neck surgery in which he was assisting, the osteopathic physician John E. Upledger first observed the rhythmic movement of what would soon be identified as the craniosacral system. None of his colleagues nor any of the medical texts at the time could explain this discovery, however.

His curiosity piqued, Dr. Upledger began searching for the answer. He started with the research of Dr. William Sutherland, the father of cranial osteopathy. For some 20 years beginning in the early 1900s, Sutherland had explored the concept that the bones of the skull were structured to allow for movement. For decades after, this theory remained at odds with the beliefs of the scientific and medical communities. Dr. Upledger believed, however, that if Sutherland’s theory of cranial movement was in fact true, this would help explain, and make feasible, the existence of the rhythm he had encountered in surgery.

It was at this point that Dr. Upledger set out to scientifically confirm the existence of cranial bone motion. From 1975 to 1983 he served as clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics at Michigan State University, where he supervised a team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists and bioengineers in research and testing. The results not only confirmed Sutherland’s theory, but led to clarification of the mechanisms behind this motion — the craniosacral system. Dr. Upledger’s continued work in the field ultimately resulted in his development of CranioSacral Therapy.
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