The Cranial Vault

2 minutes + 4-minute video

The Cranial Vault is the container for our brains. The study of the vault can elucidate how it supports this role in an animal with a central spine, dealing with both strain and shock loads. Historically Anatomists have viewed the Cranium monolithically, as a single bone formed from eight bones that fuse quite early in our development. This perspective aligns with other ingrained ideas and models for understanding our origins and attributes that view us as intrinsically static and fixed as opposed to the models presented here which view us as dynamic and fluid.

For well over one hundred years Osteopaths have maintained that the bones of our craniums normally never fuse, except as a consequence of trauma or injury. The movement of the cranial bones is subtle, and in many people, it is quite restricted. However, with some practice and patience, quite dramatic improvements in movement between these bones are relatively easy to achieve using subtle manipulations. This therapeutic specialization is called Craniosacral Therapy. It should be noted that this notion that the Cranial Bones fuse is a peculiarly American idea. In European and Middle Eastern Anatomy texts, the cranial bone joint articulations are described as remaining fluid throughout one’s lifespan.

Examining the articulations between the cranial bones also provides evidence for their movement, what functional role that articular movement plays in our posture and gait and hints at the role of that movement in our Locomotive Core. Perhaps the best argument for flexibility in the cranium is that its job is to protect the brain. If the Cranium was monolithic it would not absorb shock loads which would then be transferred into the cranial cavity and experienced as head pain. Without some flexibility, the Cranium would be brittle (the discussion on Biotensegrity explores this in greater depth). Much of what we experience as migraines and tension headaches can be treated using Osteopathic manipulations, which release restrictions at the bone articulations and in the surrounding soft (Connective) tissue (A true migraine is much less common and is not influenced by these manipulations).

This short video explores some of the adaptive mechanisms inherent in the cranial bone articulations. The original purpose of this video was to refute some of the common anatomical assertions that the bones of the cranium are fused which would make them not malleable by Manual Therapy manipulations.


Overview of the Head and other discussions on it’s structural and functional attributes:

Overview of the Locomotive Core of our bodies:

Overview of the four distinct cores of our bodies:

Introduction to the models presented on this website, as well as the other tools presented here: