As I said, when I started out, my idea of osteopathy was pretty vague. I had heard it described as something that’s partway between massage therapy and chiropractic, which is actually a decent explanation. Now I’m about halfway through getting my diploma and I’ve learned so much more.
Like most other practices, osteopathy not only focuses on solving the problem, but preventing it’s recurrence. Initially, treatments are more frequent to address the source of the problem, and eventually taper off into maintenance. This includes postural re-education, strength and stability training, along with other kinds of home care (like stretches and hydrotherapy), and occasional treatments to keep everything on the right track.
There are different techniques and treatments within osteopathy, as well. Joint mobilizations involve applying stretch, torsion, and/or traction to different joints to increase mobility, stretch the structures around and in the joint, break up adhesions, and help re-align your skeletal system. Soft tissue techniques are basically massage techniques to address hypertonicity or hypotonicity, contraction restriction, and adhesions within your muscles and connective tissue. Muscle energy techniques are done with active cooperation from the patient, and use gentle contraction and relaxation to stretch and lengthen muscles and normalize joint movement, as well as increase proprioception (the sense of where your body parts are in relation to one another and the forces being applied to them). Visceral manipulations help stretch the soft tissue that surrounds your internal organs, and increase circulation to and productivity of specific organs. Finally, cranial treatments are very similar to craniosacral therapy, and serve to help realign the bones of the skull, spine, and pelvis.
For me, osteopathy offers a much more in-depth look at the mechanics of joints, a whole new set of moves, and a gentler way of treating so I can keep working as long as possible. All of the techniques are within the scope of massage therapy, so it’s kind of a ‘level up’. The course has been a great way to brush up on my anatomy and physiology. I have a whole new way to approach treatment, and I’m only halfway through!
Going to an osteopathic appointment is much the same as other hands-on modalities, like chiropractic and physiotherapy. You’ll be asked to fill out a health history, and the practitioner will talk things over with you, including past injuries and illnesses, and current complaints. There will be physical testing, including range of motion, strength, and reflex tests, as well as passive testing to help steer your practitioner toward the source of your pain.
As of right now, I can’t say I’m an osteopath. I haven’t completed the program, and I don’t have the credentials yet. But since it’s all within my scope, I can apply what I’ve learned in my treatments. This means when you book in with me you get a massage that includes some fancy moves, and I get as much experience as possible. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss treatment options, just give the clinic a call at 1-902-404-3668. I’m looking forward to learning more with you!
by Teresa Noye, RMT