How Osteopathy Can Help with Sport Injury & Optimization

The peak examples of human movement are witnessed by individuals in sport. If the structures within a body are not functioning at an optimal level, the movements will be uncoordinated and sub-par- regardless of the sport or the level at which it is being played. While all forms of holistic, non-invasive therapy contribute to the proper function and biomechanics of a body, osteopathy is generally overlooked by teams, primarily at a professional level, in comparison to professions such as chiropractors, RMTs, physiotherapists and fitness trainers. But why? One major reason is lack of public education about the profession of osteopathy. In this blog, I will aim to provide valuable information about Osteopathy and how it can benefit athletes of all sport and levels. 

How does Osteopathy work?

Osteopathy is governed by 6 guiding principles: 

  1. The body is a unit
  2. Structure and function are interrelated
  3. The body is self-regulating.
  4. The body is designed to defend and heal itself. The body follows a set path of stabilization, detoxification and fortification to bring itself back to optimal health.
  5. When a body’s ability to adapt is disrupted, the integrity of the internal environment is lost and self maintenance disintegrates.
  6. Rational treatment is based on these principles

Based on these principles, a manual osteopath approaches treatment not by looking for a way to “fix” a dysfunction, but to aid and give the body back the tools needed to repair the integrity of the internal environment. 

What will Osteopathy do for me?

Manual osteopathy, while by times the practitioner’s physical touch may not seem like much, the structural and functional effects sustained by the patient’s body can be all encompassing and powerful. Possible systemic effects include (but are not limited to): 

  • Increased range of motion in a joint
  • Reduced pain and stiffness in a joint (decreased joint stress)
  • Non-invasive relief of chronic pain
  • Reduction of tension in the body, including migraine and tension headaches
  • Treatment of trauma from sport injuries and accidents
  • Reduced blood pressure 
  • Increased hormone and blood flow regulation
  • Decreased inflammation by optimization of body fluid dynamics
  • Optimization of metabolic pathways
  • Reinforcing proper biomechanics of the body

Due to these changes that the body can experience, it is advisable that if an athlete comes seeking osteopathic care, to do so 2-3 days before a competition and to wait 2-3 days after a treatment to return to their sport in full. This is to give the body time to adapt to the changes experienced from the treatment. *Keep in mind however, just like in many other professions, a manual osteopath may specialize in an area where it is advised to return to activity right away. Please ask your practitioner after your appointment what their opinion is on this.*

How is this relevant to sports?

Now that we have discussed the basic principles of osteopathy and the effects that can be experienced by a body after treatment, what does any of this have to do with sport?

An athlete must be able to move without pain and get proper biochemicals to their tissues to counteract fatigue. An assessment and treatment with a manual osteopath can help keep both of these systems operating properly. Every individual will be slightly different in their needs but the basis of their treatment remains the same: optimal function through optimization of structures.

Knee pain on the medial side could be due to restrictions at the hip, core, shoulder and even as high up as the head and neck. Pain in the left hip could be due to overactivity of the tensor fascia latae (TFL) and underactivity of the psoas muscle of the same side. Due to the anatomical location of this psoas muscle, if left untreated, this underactivity could lead to low back pain as well. Long periods of anterior shoulder rotation can lead to diaphragm restrictions, causing the lungs to not be able to expand to their full capacity and lead to increased rate of tissue fatigue due to hypoxia. Unexplained scapular pain at the inferior angle on the right side can be due to dysfunction of the gallbladder and/or common bile duct. All of these issues, along with countless others, will lead to a decrease in athletic performance. Emotional and psychological traumas can be linked to restrictions in various areas of the viscera. For example, bouts of anger and aggression can be affiliated with visceral and myofascial restrictions connected to the liver. Upon mobilization of this organ and its supporting structures, an individual can feel an emotional release. 

“An osteopath is only a human engineer, who should understand all the laws governing his machine and thereby master disease.” Dr. A.T. Still, Founder of Osteopathy

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