Craniosacral osteopathy

Craniosacral osteopathy By Torsten Liem


History of Craniosacral osteopathy

Osteopathy, developed at the end of the last century by A.T. Still. With its claim to being a holistically oriented healing system, is classified by the use of hands to heal diseases.

All principles of osteopathy are based on the unity of the organism, its self-regulatory and healing forces, the reciprocal influence of the body structure, or tissue, and their function, or physiology, the importance of circulation, as well as putting these insights into practice.

The concept of craniosacral osteopathy was developed at the beginning of the 1930s by William Garner Sutherland. It consists of the application of osteopathic principles on the skull. In addition to the heart rate and the respiratory rhythm, craniosacral osteopathy integrates another rhythmic phenomenon with homeostatic effects called the Primary Respiratory Mechanism. It also refined the skills to release tight body structures with very fine impulses.


Osteopathy does not primarily deal with special techniques. That is why the founder, A.T. Still, has rarely described any techniques in his various publications. Each osteopath will have the capability of developing his own techniques in his practice, which adapt to the individual needs of the patient.

Osteopathy is a specific view point, which enables certain therapeutic procedures to release restricted motion, to enable unrestricted circulation, nerve and energy supply and to release resources which allow healing in the best possible way. Therefore, the art of practicing Osteopathy, which means the consciously done palpation, is based on a philosophic and scientific foundation.

Palpatory perception

Through palpatory perception of normality or of homeostatic forces, the Craniosacral osteopathy tries to get close to the wholeness of the patient. Above all, the first and most important foundation for the osteopath is the sensory experience of normality, meaning the health in the tissue. That is not a mechanical or technocratical palpation, but a deep, subjective experience, which, according to Sutherland can be experienced most clearly in a state of stillness.

I especially want to recommend the following publications:

Contributions of Thought by W.G. Sutherland, die first edition of Osteopathy in the Cranial Field by H.I.Magoun, aswell as the books by Rollin Becker.

The following part shows the bones of the skull and important anatomical structures.


Anatomic Structures Skull

Capital bone:

Lower part of the occipital bone including the supra-occiput develoaps from cartilaginous tissue.
The inter-parietal occiput develops from membranous tissue.

Temporal bone:

Petrous portion is the evolution from cartilage.
The squamous portion and the tympanic portion develop from membran.
The petrous portion is the part of the skull which ossifies first. In the 22nd foetal week the ossification of the auditory system is already completed. At birth the squamous portion and the tympanic portion are already partly connected, forming the tympano-squamous fissure, which can be a possible location for intraosseous dysfunctions.
The squamous portion, the petrous portion and the styloid process melt together during the first year.
The mastoid process doesn’t develop until after the second year and can not be palpated on a newborn.

Ethmoid bone:

The ethmoid bone and the vomer develop from cartilage.

Sphenoid bone:

The body, the lesser wings and the lower part of the greater wings develop from cartilage:
Both pterygoid processes and the upper part of the greater wings develop from membranous tissue.

Frontal bone:

The frontal bone develops from membranous tissue. Only the nasal spine develops from cartilaginous tissue.

In 85 to 90% of the cases, the metopic suture ossifies by the 7th year.

Parietal bone:

The parietal bone ossifies from membrane. There is one ossification centre located in each parietal eminence.

Maxilla and pre-maxilla are formed from membrane between the 7th and 8th foetal week.

The other bones also develop from membranous tissue.

Points of Orientation on the skull

Orientation Skull

1. Gnathion is a median point on the tip of the chin of the lower jaw

2. Nasion is a median point on the fronto-nasal suture
3. Glabella is a flat field between the eyebrows, on the lower part of the metopic suture
4. Ophryon is located over Glabella
5. Pterion is the joining point of the frontal bone, the sphenoid bone, the temporal bone and the parietal bone
6. Asterion is the joining point of the occipital bone, the parietal bone and the temporal bone
7. Bregma is the meeting point of the sagital suture and the coronal suture
8. Lambda is the meeting point of the sagital suture and the lambdoid suture
9. Inion is at the external occipital protuberance and is a more or less obvious bulge at the back of the skull
10. Opisthion is a median point at the posterior rim of the foramen magnum

11. Basion is a median point at the anterior rim of the foramen magnum


4.1.1 and 4.1.2 The structure of a suture will be discussed and different kinds of sutures will be demonstrated.
4.2. The sutures of the skull will be portrayed in an overview.
4.3. In the following, the overlapping of the sutures is shown. Knowledge of these biomechanic relationships is important for the release of sutural restrictions.

Coronal & Spheno Suture

The changing point of the overlapping is called spheno-squamous pivot point.

Spheno & Parieto Suture

Sutures 1

Palpation of the sutures

Palpation of Sutures
Do not use your fingertips for palpation, but the front part of the finger that is placed on the tissue, giving you a greater area of perception. The sutures can be perceived as a fine furrow (groove), or sometimes (less often) as a protrusion. Some sutures are covered by soft tissue and can therefore hardly be felt.


Liem DVDs

5 videos to download or DVD’s or streaming with integrated menu control
total 323min

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

Video 4:

Video 5: