Gentle Support Throughout Childhood: Physiotherapy with CranioSacral and Fascial Counterstrain Therapies

From the delicate newborn stage to the energetic years of middle childhood, a child’s body undergoes remarkable growth and development. Physiotherapy can play a valuable role in supporting this journey, and techniques like CranioSacral Therapy (CST) and Fascial Counterstrain Therapy (FCT) offer gentle, hands-on approaches suitable for children of all ages.

Understanding a Growing Body:

  • Newborns: A newborn’s skull is specially designed to allow for a smooth birth passage and rapid brain growth. The skull consists of separate bony plates that are connected by flexible sutures and protected by soft spots (fontanelles) at the top (anterior) and back (posterior) of the head. These fontanelles are openings where the bones haven’t fully closed. They allow the baby’s skull to deform slightly during birth, easing passage through the birth canal.
  • Infants: As infants gain head control, roll over, and begin to sit, their bodies require increasing coordination and flexibility.
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers: Toddlers and preschoolers become more active, exploring their surroundings and refining their motor skills. This period can also see the emergence of postural habits.
  • Middle Childhood (Ages 6-12): During middle childhood, physical growth continues at a steady pace, and children become more involved in organized sports and activities.

The Importance of Fontanelles:

A newborn’s skull is not a single, solid bone but rather separate bony plates connected by flexible sutures. These sutures allow for the skull to compress slightly during birth, accommodating the narrow birth canal. Additionally, the skull is protected by soft spots called fontanelles, located at the top (anterior) and back (posterior) of the head. These fontanelles are openings where the bones haven’t fully closed. They play a crucial role in a baby’s development by allowing for rapid brain growth while remaining flexible during childbirth. Over time, the fontanelles gradually close as the bony plates fuse together, ultimately providing a strong protective shell for the maturing brain.

The Role of Physiotherapy:

Physiotherapists like Nad Perera use a variety of techniques to assess and address potential restrictions within a child’s musculoskeletal and nervous systems. These restrictions can sometimes arise from birth, injuries, or other factors and may subtly impact a child’s comfort, movement, and development.

How CST and FCT Can Help:

  • CranioSacral Therapy (CST): Developed by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger and further researched at the Upledger Institute (https://www.upledger.com/), CST focuses on the craniosacral system, which includes the membranes and fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord. By applying light pressure, a therapist can evaluate for restrictions and imbalances within this system, potentially promoting optimal brain function, nervous system development, and overall well-being.
  • Fascial Counterstrain Therapy (FCT): This technique focuses on identifying and releasing tension within the fascia, the body’s connective tissue network. A therapist uses gentle, sustained pressure on specific points to address fascial restrictions that might be affecting a child’s movement, posture, or comfort. You can learn more about Fascial Counterstrain Therapy at https://www.jicounterstrain.com/ and https://counterstrain.com/ also from my blog.

Benefits Throughout Childhood:

  • Improved Comfort: By addressing potential restrictions, these therapies may help ease discomfort in children of all ages, promoting better sleep, reduced pain, and improved overall well-being.
  • Supporting Development: Gentle manipulation may support optimal cranial and fascial mobility, potentially contributing to healthy motor skill development, coordination, and posture.
  • Enhanced Performance: For children involved in sports or activities, improved movement and flexibility can enhance their performance.
  • A Natural Approach: Both CST and FCT are gentle and non-invasive, making them suitable for children of all ages, from newborns to active youngsters.

Early Intervention and Ongoing Support:

While these therapies can be beneficial at any stage, early intervention can be particularly helpful. Addressing potential restrictions early on may contribute to a more comfortable foundation for a child’s development. Physiotherapy can also provide ongoing support as children grow and encounter new physical challenges.

Working with Your Pediatrician:

When discussing your child’s health with your pediatrician, you may wish to inquire about their experience with CST and FCT as treatment options. These techniques are becoming increasingly recognized for their potential benefits, and some pediatricians may be able to provide referrals to qualified practitioners. Alternatively, you can research and identify physiotherapists in your area with expertise in CST and FCT.

Remember: This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your pediatrician regarding any concerns you may have about your child’s health.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Linkdin