What is the Sacro-Occipital Technique (SOT)?

The Sacro-Occipital Technique (also referred to as SOT) is a commonly used chiropractic technique developed by osteopath and chiropractor Major Bertrand DeJarnette. The name refers to the sacrum or “tail bone” (the last major bone of the spinal column) and the occiput or base of the skull. The technique is based on normalizing the relationship between these two ends of the spinal column. SOT is practiced by an estimated 49% of chiropractors.

The Sacro-Occipital Technique itself is performed by analyzing the condition of the patient’s spine in three positions – vertical, prone (lying face down), and supine (lying face up). The SOT practitioner then analyzes the nerve health and flow of cerebro-spinal fluid from the brain to the spine, and makes adjustments to improve this flow. During this process the practitioner may palpate the skull to make adjustments to the actual cranial bones, while simultaneously massaging or “pumping” various vertebrae to remove blockages that could interfere with cerebro-spinal fluid flow. The SOT practitioner often uses the weight of the patient’s own body to correct abnormalities in the body. For example, treatment may involve placing wedge-shaped foam cushions under certain parts of the body to realign the pelvis as the patient reclines on them.

Like other chiropractic techniques, SOT seeks to correct abnormalities in the spine that produce back, arm, and leg pain, headaches, and dizziness. Patients suffering from migraines, neck and shoulder pain, fatigue and nervous disorders can benefit immediately from Sacro-Occipital manipulation. However the main goal of a chiropractic SOT treatment is not to eliminate or reduce pain, it is to normalize the function of the brain and spinal cord, which constitute the central nervous system. The Sacro-Occipital Technique seeks to improve the overall transmission of nerve impulses from the brain down the spine and to other areas of the body.

Equal emphasis is placed in SOT treatment on the proper positioning of the pelvis. The spine and skull, shoulders and arms are supported above the pelvis, and the legs and feet are supported below. Thus an improperly aligned pelvis can cause postural irregularities, problems with normal functioning of the skull and jaw, and muscular dysfunction. As the name sacro-occipital implies, SOT treatment focuses on both ends of the spine, because they are so interrelated. By correcting imbalances both in the skull and in the pelvis, communication is improved along the entire spinal column.

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