The Sacred Sacrum, Part 1

Honoring Its Holistic Significance

By Cindy Williams
[Classroom to Client]

The anatomical term sacrum, introduced in the mid-18th century and shortened from the Latin term os sacrum, literally means “sacred bone.” Given the energetic qualities of its location in the body, as well as its structural role (which we will consider in greater detail below), it makes sense that the sacrum is seen as sacred. Randolph Stone, DO, founder of polarity therapy, called it the “mysterious sacrum” because of the complexity of structural variations and energetic patterns found in and around it.

Understanding the complexities of the sacrum will allow the manual therapist to address the dysfunctions that arise from it and support the health of clients who present with sacrum-related physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual imbalances.

The Big Picture

In the study of polarity therapy, a combination of exercise, diet, bodywork, and self-awareness unite to support freely flowing energy within and around the body. Our life force energy (also known as chi, qi, and prana) must move in cycles through positively, neutrally, and negatively charged energetic regions in the spine and extremities in order to create a balanced, joyful, and healthful individual on all levels of body, mind, and spirit.

In Franklyn Sills’s book The Polarity Process: Energy as a Healing Art, the sacrum is described as “. . . the negative pole of the subtle energy system. The Water and Earth chakras [first and second chakras] are located above and below it and the sushumna [central energy channel of one’s life force] has its end point in it. It is also the negative pole of the nervous system and the structural system of the spine. It thus becomes a critical focus for all three energy layers . . . subtle energy patterns, nervous system patterns, and physical structure.”1

Energetic Significance

Most of the sacrum sits in the energetic center of the second chakra. From this center, life is given through our organs of reproduction. What is more sacred than life itself?

The second chakra, also commonly called the sacral chakra, embodies the experiences of pleasure, sexuality, creativity, and emotional expression. It is associated with the element of water. When a person is feeling nurtured or offering nurturing, the second chakra is in play. This is the home of the mother’s womb, a child’s first experience of being nurtured. Self-care and self-love, also forms of nurturing, are expressed through this energy center.

Conversely, when there is insufficient giving or receiving of pleasure, sexuality, creativity, emotional expression, and nurturing, the second chakra can become depleted and stagnant. A density is experienced, and the impact can be far-reaching. Energy, which is caught in this negative pole of the subtle energy system, is hindered from making its return to the positive pole. It’s like trying to start your car with a dead battery.

Structural Significance

Structurally, the sacrum sits in the core of the body at its center of gravity—the point from which the weight of the body moves. Physical weight from above must balance on the top of the sacrum while gravitational forces pull down from below as we attempt to be upright beings. For this reason, compression can easily occur here, causing back pain, sacroiliac imbalance, and disk problems. Since we move from this center, these manifestations can cause feelings of sluggishness and even immobility in our clients.

What makes the situation even more complex is that the sacroiliac joints (the articulations between the sacrum and ilium of the pelvis) are fundamental to load transfer between the pelvis and spine. And there are literally two sides to the story. This load transfer happens from both left and right sides of the body.

Depending on how we sit, stand, walk, and perform other functions of living life as an upright human being, surfaces at the sacroiliac joints have to be stabilized by a vast amount of dense, multidirectional ligaments in order to bear the load and transfer the weight of the torso without becoming misaligned. Layer muscle tissue and fascia along with joint misalignment, and things can get rather tricky. Misalignment creates a domino effect up the spine, into the head and neck, and outward to the upper limbs. It can also cause nerve compression to the nerve roots that exit the spine, especially at the lumbar and sacral levels, causing pain and dysfunction down the lower extremities in addition to dysfunction of the reproductive organs, bladder, and bowels.

We see once again the far-reaching impact of this sacral center. In order to fully thrive in our sacred lives, movement within and around these structures needs to be restored.

Nervous System Significance

The nervous system responds to all of this input. It responds to current experiences and memories of the past that incite emotion, desire to be nurtured, to express oneself creatively, and to feel pleasure. The nervous system responds to current physical conditions and compensation patterns that have arisen from past conditions the body has adapted to. It responds to us manual therapists as we manipulate the energy field and tissues on and around the sacrum.

There is nothing that goes unnoticed by the nervous system, whether we are fully aware of its response or not. It is our responsibility and honor to work the sacral region with great reverence.

Honoring the Sacred Sacrum

When we touch or hold the sacrum, we hold a powerful place of life energy in our hands. A consequence to this knowledge could be intimidation, especially for a new therapist. However, an inspiration from this knowledge could be our capacity to encourage movement of deeply held stagnation that results in freedom for our clients. It is a gift to be of service in this way. All that is truly required of us is to incorporate sacrum work into our sessions, educate clients on its significance, and be present to hearing its needs through our hands and hearts.

In the next column, part two of “The Sacred Sacrum,” we will take the awareness presented here to the massage table. We will explore how to apply effective techniques, incorporate client self-care exercises, and create safety for our clients through skillful communication and draping.


1. Franklyn Sills, The Polarity Process: Energy as a Healing Art (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2002).

Since 2000, Cindy Williams, LMT, has been actively involved in the massage profession as a practitioner, school administrator, instructor, curriculum developer, and mentor. She maintains a private practice as a massage and yoga instructor. Contact her at