The Upper Street Practice

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A summary of cranial osteopathic and specialist osteopathic treatments for adults, babies and older children.   


Cranial Osteopaths, Children’s  Osteopathic Treatment.

How Do Cranial Osteopaths Work?

Cranial osteopaths practice a  Highly Specialised form of osteopath. Practitioners use a subtle ‘hands on’ approach to gently encourage the release of stresses, strains and tensions throughout the body. 
Cranial osteopathic techniques are suitable for children at all stages of development. The Philosophy OF Osteopathy (be it a cranial or structural approach) is to treat the person as a whole, rather than just the symptoms. They do so by working with the body’s self-healing potential.

Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial osteopathy is a highly specialised technique used as a discipline all on its own or in tandem with structural osteopathic techniques. Cranial osteopaths offer a Gentle yet effective approach where practitioners palpate various areas of the body, including the spine, tailbone and head to assess the condition and relationship between the functioning parts. Treatment consists of applying gentle pressure to encourage the release of stress and strain whilst adhering to its core osteopathic principles. Although the approach appears to differ significantly from the more well known structural osteopathic approach, the aims and principles of treatment remain the same.

Practitioners are trained to feel subtle changes in the body’s ‘Cranial Rhythm’ and ‘Involuntary Mechanism’, caused by disturbances to the body’s natural balance. This Highly Developed Sense Of Touch enables the cranial pracitioner to pick up areas of tension and imbalance within the muscular-skeletal framework.

It’s a gentle yet extremely effective approach that may be used in a wide range of conditions for people of all ages, from birth to old age. The ‘Lightness Of Touch’ used is a factor which sets this treatment technique apart from a more traditional (or structural) osteopathic approach that is typically much physically dynamic in its method. 

Due to its gentle application, Cranial Osteopathy has become popularised (and heavily associated) with the Treatment of Babies, Infants and Young Children. However, its use is equally effective in the treatment of older children, adults and the elderly.

Some Osteopaths prefer to work using predominantly Cranial Osteopathic Techniques. They may also choose to focus their practice in one or more specialised areas such as; sports injuries, visceral complaints (internal organs), paediatrics or treatment of the elderly.  Some practitioners choose to combine the Cranial Approach with Structural Techniques while others may choose not to incorporate the technique into their practice at all.

The Primary Respiratory Mechanism

The primary respiratory mechanism describes the Involuntary Mechanism of movement carried through the organs, tissues and Membranous System of the entire body. This membranous (or connective) tissue forms a thin yet strong interconnected covering over the body’s organs, muscles, tendons, bones and joints. The membranous system synchronises all of the body’s respective parts through its extensive linking and reciprocal flow of motion. Physical stresses, strain and tension can interfere with the fluidity and ease of this movement expression, most of which can be palpated or felt by the osteopath.

Cranial osteopaths will observe, palpate and treat a wide range of complaints (using a highly specialised touch), releasing areas of restriction, block, tension, congestion and strain, to reinstate optimum conditions for health and wellbeing. They are able to pick up on subtle changes in shape, tension, stress and strain reflected through this subtle involuntary expression anywhere on the body. The typical cranial and sacral (top and tail) contact points are often the preferred start point. Their centralised location, relationship to the 26 cranial bones, spinal column and direct connection to a large amount of the body’s soft tissues are a major vantage point.

Paediatric Cranial Osteopaths

All osteopaths are qualified to treat young babies, older children and teens. Many osteopaths have however become Specialist through post-graduate qualifications in Paediatric Osteopathy. Some practitioners then choose to specialise their practice primarily towards the treatment of Newborn Babies, Toddlers and Older Children.

Babies can benefit from osteopathic treatment for a variety of reasons. Mechanical problems can occur as a result of unresolved trauma or accumulating tension. If left untreated, the negative impacts can build over time, causing the body struggle in its attempt to cope.

Cranial osteopathy is a Safe, Gentle and Effective Approach to treating babies and older children for a wide range of complaints. Babies are frequently brought in for a mechanical check following a traumatic delivery. They can be treated for symptoms of irritability, feeding difficulties, disturbed sleep and resolving the stressful effects of a difficult birth. In older children, the cranial approach is often used to treat a variety of symptoms including Stress, malaise, fatigue, head and face pain and general ill health. They osteopath may choose to combine cranial osteopathic techniques with traditional structural mobilising and stretching techniques.

The osteopath will begin by taking a detailed Case History from a parent or guardian, followed by the Examination and  Treatment of your child. Children often appear Relaxed or even Sleepy during their treatment.

How Does It Feel?

Experiences vary from person to person and can depend on the level of sensitivity.

Typically, patients may drift in and out of sleep, while others describe a range of sensations, these may include:

  • Changes felt in and around the symptomatic areas
  • Emotional Release or ease
  • Physical relaxation or lightness
  • Greater sense of awareness 
  • Various sensations (as the body makes adjustments)
  • Increased feelings of Groundedness
  • A strong desire to rest, sleep or slow their pace following the treatment
Receiving Cranial Osteopathy is generally reported to be a soothing and restorative experience.

Kelly McKay is a Paediatric Cranial Specialist who regularily uses a cranial osteopathic approach for adults and children. She is Highly Experienced in this field (with nearly 20 years of Paediatric and Cranial Osteopathic experience).


Cranial osteopath serving the central London area:
Upper Street Islington ▪️ Highbury ▪️ Holloway ▪️ Angel ▪️Clerkenwell ▪️Highgate ▪️Hackney ▪️Haringey ▪️Camden 

Kelly Mckay

Kelly Mckay

Registered Osteopath & Integrative Life Coach