The Osteopathic Approach

Osteopathic manual therapy, or osteopathic bodywork, has so much to offer to our own health and wellness, and as a society we are just starting to appreciate its potential.  We have done a good job of focusing on the benefits of diet and exercise to our health.  We continue to make strides in the field of cellular biochemistry.  And we are appreciating the importance of our mental health more now than ever before.

osteopathic manual therapy

Craniosacral Therapy, Visceral Manipulation, and Muscle Energy are methods of manual therapy that come out of the osteopathic tradition

But often omitted in wellness is the mechanical piece.  We take our digestive tracts for granted, and assume that they will forever continue to physically churn and propel our food along.  But we don’t think about how they must be in physical balance to do these physical jobs.  We forget all the falls, collisions, and traumas we’ve been through when it comes to our organs– to say nothing the effects of carrying children, any surgeries that we may have had, or what nutrition we ask them to process.  Or, when it comes to migraines, mental health, or nerve pain, we tend to think of our nervous system as something abstract, and theoretical.  We don’t think of our brain and nerves as physical parts of us that take up space, and are susceptible to tensions and pressures.  Even in our musculoskeletal system, we often don’t look far beyond the area that hurts or the movement that is obvious.

Osteopathic manual work fills this gap. It’s about appreciating that mechanically everything is connected and related to one another in the body, from head to toe.   For example: A tight psoas hip flexor muscle could really just be tight because it’s protecting a deeper problem somewhere else, like a movement restriction of the colon in our abdomen.  Or, that it could really be due to a restriction in the vertebrae in the spine- and once the spine is treated, the psoas muscle loosens on its own.  Sometimes even, the root cause of that psoas being tight is as high up as the head.

But even further, the osteopathic philosophy is about appreciating how different SYSTEMS work with one another.  There could be tensions in the low back and pelvis that once released, help with constipation.  Or, perhaps that mobilizing the liver not only helps our energy, but also might stimulate better digestion, loosen the diaphragm for a deeper breath, improve allergies, or soften our mood.  There are countless more examples.  Everything is connected, and everything is important.

Finally, it’s a gentle approach that honors the body.  It’s based on the practitioner following the tensions in the body to help it where it’s struggling the most.  The body has so much more wisdom than the practitioner ever will– It knows best all the strains, stresses, injuries, surgeries and traumas that have been absorbed along the way- and how they’re all connected.  By following the tensions and blockages in the tissues, the osteopathic practitioner can help to release where our bodies are holding on.  This restores movement to our parts, and more movement means more vitality and better function.  In this way, we facilitate the body’s great power to heal from within and live the fullest life.

osteopathic manual therapy

A Visceral Manipulation Technique for the Intestines