This information on this page is my view about what osteopathy is and how it works, based on my osteopathic training and practice as well as my personal background and understanding. For a more general idea about osteopathy please follow the link bellow.
To my understanding, osteopathey is an alternative healthcare system that aims to restore and enhance health by encouraging freedom and fluidity of the various parts and systems of the body, including muscles, joints, blood and lymphatic flow and the interconnected structures that link these aspects of the body together. Osteopathy is personal by its nature and has hugely varied applications. Although there are many key concepts of theory and practice that all osteopaths need to understand and adhere to, it is likely that each individual osteopath will have their own style of treatment and their own understanding of how and why osteopathic treatment works, and often align it to other treatment modalities and philosophical values that fit into their background and understanding.
In my experience, the key concept to understand about health is stress. Stress affects the mental, emotional and physical systems of the body and each system is highly dependent and linked to the other. For example a poor diet places increased stress on the digestive system and the digestive system is linked to the other systems of the body which combined contribute to overall health and well being.
Poor posture and environment such as desks and chairs, or sports and hobbies, may place increased stress on the muscles, ligaments and joints of the spine and extremities, and this increased stress over time can cause complex changes to the workings of the musculoskelital system, often leading to muscle and joint pain and dysfunction.
The musculoskelital system is linked to the other systems of the body including the digestive and circulatory system, and these in tern and linked to the mental and emotional states of being.
My view of stress from a broad standpoint is that of contraction and tension. To much contraction or tension of particular muscles for example, may pull joints and ligaments in an unbalanced way. It may also lead to or be related to contraction and tension of blood and lymphatic vessels and potentially to the digestive tract if muscles and connective tissues of the abdomen are involved.
It is possible also to think of the mind as a type of muscle that can become small, contractile and tight, as is often felt at times of mental or emotional turbulence, and often this is reflected in tightness of the muscles of the head and neck.
Stress can arise for many reasons. It may be because sitting to much at work or in the car places tension on the joints of the lower back and to contraction of abdominal and thigh muscles pulling the body from its natural state and form which in turn may lead to further stress on other parts or the whole body.
The other side to stress is relaxation, which from an alternative health perspective and from a philosophical perspective is a very complex phenomenon. As an osteopath and as a practitioner of ki - gong and meditation my whole approach to treatment is to induce a state of relaxation to a particular area of the body which may be in a state of stress and pain, and to the body as a whole to encourage a wide spread state of rejuvenation and healing.
Inducing a state of relaxation is complex and is not only about massage. Many techniques can be used depending on the situation of the patient.
If, for example, the joints, muscles and ligaments of the spine are stiff and tight, there is more chance of pain and irritation to the area due to lack of blood flow to these tissues.
The most effective method to correct this state of tension may be with a somewhat more assertive technique in the initial stages of treatment to encourage a change to the area where normal function and tone can return.
However the patient always decides there own preferred methods and this will be discussed at the consultation or treatment.