What Osteopaths do

Julia Osteopath treating man's backOsteopaths are trained to degree level for a minimum of 4 years. Their training is focused on the anatomy and physiology of the human body with particular emphasis on the complementary systems within the body– skeletal and muscular systems, nervous system, digestive system and circulatory systems.

The muscular skeletal system provides the structure for everything that goes on in our bodies. It gives us movement and function, provides support and protects our vital organs. Like any structure, stresses or strains in one part can transmit themselves to other parts and impair function. For example, discomfort in the lower back may frequently be caused by the body compensating for a rotated hip or a fallen arch in the foot.

We have been medically trained and so are able to take a full case history, carry out neurological tests and, importantly, know when it is necessary to refer you back to your GP or to send you for further tests.

Osteopaths are taught to use their hands and observation skills to assess where the functioning of the body is impaired, and then gently to correct it. We use a range of techniques:

  • Soft Tissue Techniques
  • Manipulation and Mobilisation
  • Functional Release
  • Cranial Work

Soft Tissue Techniques – May involve rhythmic stretching, deep pressure or traction. The purpose of these techniques is to relax muscles and promote blood supply to and drainage from an area.

Manipulation and Mobilisation – Are techniques to ensure that joints have full range of movement. “Clicking” and “Cracking” are typically what people envisage a treatment is all about, although in practice manipulation and mobilisation comprise only a small part of most treatments. Practitioners vary, but my preference is for only the gentlest use of these techniques.

Functional Release – Works with the release of lines of tension in the layers of muscle and fascia that envelop the body. Imagine you had buttoned your shirt up putting the wrong button in the wrong hole – the cloth would not hang properly and when you moved would feel uncomfortable. This is how the fascia in the body can get, thus setting up stresses and strains.

Cranial Work – Around the brain and spinal cord there is a fluid Cerebrospinal Fluid or CSF. This fluid moves with a pulse that can be felt deep in the body tissue. Cranial therapy uses very gentle touch by the therapist to detect the pattern of this pulse and encourage its flow and expression in all parts of the body.