In the early 1900s William Garner Sutherland, a student of Dr Still, first described the idea that the bones of the skull were designed for a motion that implied a respiratory motion after looking at a mounted skull where the articulations of the bones were visible. This small amount of motion is expressed through the skull and membranes, fluids and brain. It can also be felt throughout the body similar to a refined form of breathing. The existence of the mechanism was confirmed by a series of laboratory tests in the 1960s and 70s.
Involuntary mechanism, cranial rhythm.
This rhythmical shape change felt throughout the body is known as the cranial rhythm and has come to be seen as the body’s response to the “breath of life”. It is very small in amplitude and requires a refined and subtle touch to encourage the release of stresses in the body. A fundamental principle of osteopathy is that the ‘body is a self-correcting, self-regulating and self-healing mechanism’ which works constantly to establish the optimum level of health. This is particularly used within cranial osteopathy where the practitioner aims to be as receptive as possible to the intelligence of the body in order to seek how it is aiming to rebalance itself.