What is osteopathy?

by Jean-Félix Perreault | July 12, 2020

Description of osteopathy

Osteopathy is a manual therapy, just like physiotherapy or chiropractic for example. However, it differs from it by being a medicine in its own right, that is to say that its application aims to cure any type of functional disorder of the human body. It is therefore through touch that an osteopath chooses to help the body regain health.

Osteopathy was founded in the 19th century by an American surgeon, Andrew Taylor Still. After being disappointed with his results in traditional medicine at the time, he decided to explore the anatomy in search of answers to the problems of his patients. He discovered that by unblocking body structures by manual techniques, health returned without invasive intervention. A philosophy setting up the bases of this practice then appeared in this context: the body has all the «pharmacy» necessary to heal itself.

It is therefore with a faith in life in the human body that several generations of osteopaths have sought to explore this rich discovery that was osteopathy.

One of the main goals of the osteopath is to find the causes of the problems specific to each individual. These causes are often restrictions of mobility in the patient's body. Once the investigative work has been completed, these restrictions should be relaxed. To do this, several approaches are available depending on the specific need of a situation or according to the therapist's strengths and beliefs. Some have a color that is called more biomechanical and others are more of the biodynamic type. The former is more likely to impose their own force on the patient's body tissue (move a lot), while the latter uses the body's internal force (move less).

However, regardless of the approach taken, tissue dialogue is always an integral part of the osteopath's intervention. It is by establishing a "communication" between his hands and the patient's tissues that the osteopath finds the cause of a dysfunction in the body, proposes a correction and does not exceed the limits of these same tissues. This is why osteopathy treatment is rarely painful.

Yes, but more concretely?

Suppose an osteopath finds a problem in the scapula of a patient. It is not free to move normally in all directions. The osteopath will go to the mobilizer to find the directional parameters are `` blocked '' (up / down, left / right, front / back). When the restricted parameters are detected, it can either put in tension the tissues which maintain in this position, or bring the scapula in the direction of the tensions (as if one over-approached the two ends of a stretched elastic so that it is released ). While being receptive to what is happening under his hands during the technique, the osteopath will only have to wait for the tensions to release themselves.

These two examples are just part of the ways to deal with tension. What you have to understand is that when the osteopath manipulates a structure of your body, there is often a proposition made to the tissues of the patient's body, and that these react by relaxing, or not (in which case the osteopath will have to choose another way of treating tensions, or look elsewhere for a priority element).

by Jean-Félix Perreault

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