Cranial techniques

Overview of SBS Patterns

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Here, you will find basic information about the patterns of the Sphenobasilar Mechanism (SBM) as it moves around its axes of movement. You should be familiar with the information in this post about the SBS, Axes, and Quadrants. The Spheobasilar Synchondrosis (SBS) is the center of craniosacral motility in the biomechanical model. Accordingly, these are called SBS patterns.

This post discusses the motions of the

Naming Conventions

As discussed in this post about craniosacral motility, the craniosacral system ebbs and flows through flexion and extension. So, flexion and extension are opposing patterns. Patterns are named for what is the opposite of the restriction. Accordingly, when the system is restricted as it flexes, we say that it has an extension pattern – even if it doesn’t extend well. Yeah, it seems odd, but it is true. When the sphenobasilar is restricted into left torsion, we say that we have a right torsion pattern. You’ll get used to it. Maybe. As for now, this is the convention and how we’ll talk about the SBS patterns.

There is another point. The pattern is also named after the movement of the inferior aspect of the sphenoid base near the SBS. During flexion, at that point, the joint is easily seen as flexing. In other words, that side of the SBM is decreasing in its angle. In Left Torsion, that aspect turns to the left. In Inferior Vertical Strain, that aspect moves inferiorly. This will make more sense as you learn about those patterns.

About the Illustrations

You might want to have this post on axes and quadrants open in another window.

You may find it easier to understand all the patterns if you open this post while reviewing flexion.

Naming Conventions

Keep in mind that the patterns are named for what happens at the anterior basilar portion of the sphenoid. For example:

  • “Flexion” is when the joint, at this point, decreases.
  • “Superior Vertical Strain” is when this point moves superiorly while the adjoining point of the occiput moves inferiorly. Thus, the joint is strained superiorly.

Initiating a Pattern

The descriptions below show and describe how to initiate the pattern with a fronto-occipital hold.

Transverse Axes

Flexion

In this pattern:

  • the sphenoid flexes
  • the occiput flexes
  • the SBS rises superiorly
  • all quadrants externally rotate

Extension

In this pattern:

  • the spenoid extends
  • the occiput extends
  • the SBS drops inferiorly
  • all quadrants internally rotate

Superior Vertical Strain

In this pattern:

  • the spenoid flexes
  • the occiput extends
  • the SBS is strained vertically
  • anterior quadrants externally rotate
  • posterior quadrants internally rotate

Inferior Vertical Strain

In this pattern:

  • the sphenoid extends
  • the occiput flexes
  • the sbs is strained vertically
  • anterior quadrants internally rotate
  • posterior quadrants externally rotate

Anterior to Posterior (A to P) Axis

Left Torsion Strain

In this pattern

  • the spenoid rotates to the left on the A to P axis
  • the occiput rotates to the right on the A to P axis
  • the SBS is strained through torsion
  • the left quadrants externally rotate
  • the right quadrants internally rotate

Right Torsion Strain

In this pattern:

  • the sphenoid rotates to the right on the A to P axis
  • the occiput rotates to the left on the A to P axis
  • the SBS is strained through torsion
  • the left quadrants internally rotate
  • the right quarants internally rotate

Rotation, which occurs on the A to P axis, typically happens at the far end of side-bending. So, it is explained with side-bending under the motions of the vertical axes.

Vertical Axes

Left Lateral Strain

In this pattern:

  • the spenoid rotates to the left on the vertical axis
  • the occiput rotates to the right on the vertical axis
  • the SBS is strained laterally
  • quadrants are not rotated internally or externally

Right Lateral Strain

In this pattern:

  • the spenoid rotates to the right on the vertical axis
  • the occiput rotates to the left on the vertical axis
  • the SBS is strained laterally
  • quadrants are not rotated internally or externally

Vertical Axes with Anterior to Posterior Axis

Side-bending – Left

  • the sphenoid rotates to the left on the vertical axis
  • the occiput rotates to the left on the vertical axis
  • the SBS is bends to the left
  • quadrants are not rotated internally or externally

With Rotation – Right

At a point during side-bending, the SBS mechanism will rotate back to the right.

  • the sphenoid rotates to the right on the A-to-P Axis
  • the occiput rotates to the right on the A-to-P axis
  • the SBS rotates to the right
  • the anterior left quadrant internally rotates
  • the anterior right quadrant externally rotates
  • the posterior left quadrant externally rotates
  • the posterior right quadrant internally rotates

Side-bending – Right

  • the sphenoid rotates to the righton the vertical axis
  • the occiput rotates to the right on the vertical axis
  • the SBS is bends to the right
  • quadrants are not rotated internally or externally

With Rotation – Right

At a point during side-bending, the SBS mechanism will rotate back to the left.

  • the sphenoid rotates to the left on the A-to-P Axis
  • the occiput rotates to the left on the A-to-P axis
  • the SBS rotates to the left
  • the anterior left quadrant externally rotates
  • the anterior right quadrant internally rotates
  • the posterior left quadrant internally rotates
  • the posterior right quadrant externally rotates

Non Axial SBS Techniques

Shearing – Left

  • the sphenoid move directly to the left
  • the occiput move sdirectly to the right
  • quadrants are not rotated internally or externally

Shearing – Right

  • the sphenoid move directly to the right
  • the occiput move sdirectly to the left
  • quadrants are not rotated internally or externally

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Tony Preston

Tony Preston, LMT has been treating adults and children since the early 90s. He has authored a number of texts on neuromuscular and craniosacral techniques. He has taught Neuromuscular Therapy for ASHA School of Massage and craniosacral the National Institute of Craniosacral Studies. He currently teaches seminars in Integrative Craniosacral techniques at The Body Guild.

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