Is Osteopathy Safe for Children and Babies?
Updated: Apr 11, 2022
The short answer is YES!
The most commonly performed type of osteopathy on babies and children is cranial osteopathy. Despite what the name might suggest it does not only involve the cranial bones. This treatment is, like osteopathy, a whole-body treatment. However, it is a much gentler form of osteopathy which makes it more suitable for babies and children and also pregnant women, the elderly or those with severe injuries although it can be used on people of any age.
Is Cranial Osteopathy Different to Osteopathy?
Cranial osteopaths are fully qualified osteopaths, having undertaken the minimum of a four year undergraduate degree in osteopathy. They have then undertaken further training in cranial or paediatric osteopathy, which can take up to a further two years. Generally, with cranial osteopathy, gentle techniques are used. A cranial, or paediatric, osteopath will gently touch and hold both on the head and over the rest of the body to assess and determine any tensions within ligaments and cranial bones, the spine, as well as other joints and bones in the body.
How Does Cranial Osteopathy Work?
The palpation and assessment process of cranial osteopathy detects trauma or stresses which can either be recent or they can be historical injuries or traumas which can be impacting either locally or further away from the site it is detected in.
Once detected there are three major ways that a cranial osteopath supports your body to begin to right these wrongs.
1. Ligament Support to Reset and Remove Tension.
Your ligaments hold your joints in place all the time without rest - this means that they don’t get the chance to reset themselves if something has pulled them away from where they are supposed to be. A cranial osteopath during palpation will feel where your ligaments are holding tension and by supporting the joint the ligaments get that opportunity to reset, to get themselves back in the right position so they can support the joint properly again. Your body does this by itself with no need for further or more extreme manipulation.
2. Parasympathetic Nervous System Support.
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our short term health - i.e. incident and accident management, dealing with immediate threats with no real concern for the long term, an example of this is our fight or flight responses. The other element is our parasympathetic nervous system. This is responsible for your long term health and wellbeing - including growth, repair, toxin management and fertility among other things. The main areas where these parasympathetic nerve bodies are is at either end of our spine; at the base of the cranium and at the sacrum (the base of the spine). By holding and supporting these two areas the nerve endings are stimulated and encouraged into normal function whilst at the same time calming the sympathetic nervous system.
3. Improving the Flow of Spinal Fluid.
Our spinal fluid carries nourishment to neural cells and tissue whilst at the same time removing toxins - similarly to the way our blood does. However, it does not function under anywhere near the same pressure as our blood pumps. This means that even very small restrictions caused by imbalances in the cranium and pelvis, in particular, can severely restrict the flow. Tiny adjustments with cranial osteopathy can increase this flow improving your overall health and wellbeing.