What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a form of manual medicine which recognises the important link between the structure of the body and the way it functions both internally and externally.

In many people’s minds, osteopathy is equated mainly with the treatment of spinal and other joint pains and problems. The osteopathic profession sees itself as being relevant to a wide range of health problems, and not simply limited to the treatment of musculoskeletal symptoms. Osteopaths focus on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as a holistic unit.

I practice the teachings of renowned Dutch Osteopath Frank De Bakker in my practice,

The Active Body Clinic. De Bakker’s teachings are based on the idea that the internal organs hang off the skeleton and tightness or restriction within the tissues of the organs cause strain on the skeletal system and ultimately dysfunction. His system allows for assessment of not only the musculoskeletal system but also of all the organs and the tensions within them. I use specific gentle techniques to release these inner tensions to take the load off the muscles and bones. This allows both the organs and the joints to begin to return to a normal functioning state.

The What & The Why

I assess a patient’s complaint in two different categories. Firstly the What, the issue the patient has presented with, such as back pain or irritable bowel for example. Then the Why is taken into account, which will be the reason, or reasons, conditions in the body lead to the symptoms occurring in the first place.

All of this is done through a detailed case history and a thorough physical assessment of the body involving gently movement of not just the ‘sore bit’ but all of the body to find the cause of the discomfort.

The Cause of the Problem

Unfortunately that bad word ‘Stress’ is what causes dysfunction within our bodies, but stress comes in many different forms and an overload of any particular one, or combination of ones, will lead to dysfunction within our bodies.

Types of Stress & Strain

· Physical Stress: Fall, bang, thump, car crash, over-training.

· Mental Stress: Worry regarding work or finances etc.

· Emotional: Worry regarding relationships, family, bereavements etc.

· Physiological: Digestive issues or toxins within the body.

Our body reacts in a defensive and protective way whenever we come under one of these stresses or strains, and tries to maintain maximum healthy performance of all our functions whether it is for example digestion or basic walking. It is similar to how the hedgehog reacts when he feels endangered.

Think how you react when you get a fright, you tighten up inside and bring the hands and arms around the abdominal area. You react the same way when in a bumper car and are expecting a hit. However, when the stress or strain is too much on the body it can find it hard to shake it off, and it tries to adapt to the new tension on the system to go forward as best it can. This is known as compensation and it can be seen in people who seem to have poor posture.

Commonly, people with poor posture are perceived to have poor postural habits and as children we are/were chastised for not sitting up straight and told to ‘stop slouching’. However, it is quite likely that the tension in reaction to stress and strain in the system is dragging the skeleton into a slouch like posture. Releasing the tension inside the body allows the skeleton return to a more neutral posture and a lot of physical symptoms such as pain or stiffness begin to ease.

In my work with numerous athletes and teams, I’ve found that removing these internal tensions allows for a greater rehabilitation of the musculoskeletal system and a more robust performance.

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