By Matt Blackburn.
Osteopathy is a system of healing that was developed around the turn of the 20th century by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still an American physician. It was later further developed and interpreted in the U.K by Dr. J.M Littlejohn.
It’s guiding principles have a basis in the healing power of nature believing that:
“The body is not a machine but a vital living organism with a normal tendency towards self-healing, elimination and health” and that: “Health is not merely an absence of disease but a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing.” (1)
In contrary to conventional medicine’s use of pharmaceuticals to treat pathogens osteopaths believed that disease developed due to certain factors lowering the vital force of a person affecting their capacity to heal.
Some of the ways that the early osteopaths and currently Classical School osteopaths aim to encourage the vital processes is through:
- Releasing contracted muscles and other tissues,
- Helping underactive tissues to contract
- Adjusting and balancing joints, bones, ligaments and tendons to each other and to the rest of the body.
- Release of peripheral nerves and nerve centres to relax tight tissues and improve flow to tissues lacking sensation and strength.
Another important principle of osteopathy stems from their belief that it is impossible to treat a painful or injured area in isolation and that it is necessary to address the problem as part of the whole body. The body adapts to a painful knee for example; however, this affects other parts causing pain and loss of rhythm and coordination in walking and other movements.
The aim of treatment is to assist in restoring rhythm and coordination as well as achieving a stable, unified structure for long term recovery.
(1) What is classical osteopathy?