November 17, 2017

Osteopathic Manual Practice

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Osteopathy, founded by Andrew Taylor Still during 1874, is derived from two Greek words; osteon meaning bone and pathos meaning suffering. Most often, individuals have the thought that osteopathy deals with the treatment of bone disease, however, this is not the case. Manual osteopaths, those who practice osteopathy, treat the body as a whole through a series of hands-on technique applications.  It is a holistic way of treating one’s body as the techniques are non- invasive and use the maximum of grade 4 mobilization. Before moving on to the different types of techniques used- it is important to mention the four principles of Osteopathy:

  • The body is a dynamic unit of function

  • Structure governs function

  • The body possesses self-regulatory and self-healing mechanisms

  • Treatment is based on the above three principles

Moreover, manual osteopaths work with the muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, organs, and joints (made up two bones) to better improve the quality of life which results in the human body learning to heal itself and not rely solely on external sources, such as medications, for pain relief.  This also prevents any dysfunctions in the future.  Furthermore, in the mobilization and muscle energy techniques, there are therapeutic holds which release the hormone oxytocin causing an increase of positive feelings which better aids in the treatment process as it causes relaxation.  As mentioned above, there are a series of different techniques and they are as follows:

  • Osteopathic manipulative techniques, also known as OMTs, are a passive or active range motion with a low amplitude force whose purpose is to glide or traction at the joint passively.  Its main purpose is to restore its natural range of motion at the joint where it has been injured. However, it also further increases the range of motion, therefore, preventing future injuries and decreases pain at the joint.

  • Muscle energy techniques, also known as MET, was created by Dr. Fred Mitchell in 1948. It is an active technique which has the patient’s muscle contracting in a specific, set direction against a counterforce applied by the manual osteopath. This causes a direct inhibition for the agonist’s muscles and a reflexive reciprocal inhibition (or stretch reflex) for the antagonistic muscles. As the patient relaxes, the joint moves into the restricted range of motion due to the inhibition of the agonist and antagonist muscles during the contraction phase. These techniques can be applied to each body part to greatly improve the quality of life.

  • Muscle Energy Techniques help by:

    • Decrease muscular pain by relaxing the muscle and reducing spasms and hypertonicity

    • Reduces localized edema

    • Stretches and strengthens the muscle which aid in injury prevention

    • Improves the muscles function, range of motion and flexibility


  • Soft tissue techniques work with the superficial and deep layers of muscle and fascia by lateral and linear stretching, deep pressure and traction.

    • Soft Tissue Techniques helps by:

      • Enhancing body function

      • Recovery and healing processes

      • Reduce muscle reflex activity

      • Discourage motor neuron excitability

      • Promotes relaxation


  • Visceral Manipulation created by Jean- Pierre Barral, works with organs, otherwise known as the viscera.  It restores physiological function to the body by reestablishing the viscera’s natural mobility and motility through a series of manipulations. Therefore, this eliminates the visceral restriction, which could be any of the four different types: adhesion, fixation, ptosis or viscerospasm. It can also directly help the function of the organ to work more efficiently.

  • Cranio Sacral Osteopathy, created by William Garner Sutherland, works with the primary respiratory mechanism, known as PRM, and balanced membranous tension to restore function and balance to the body by realigning the physiology.


The above techniques are all very different but aim at one goal, and that is to ultimately heal the body. These techniques help a variety of dysfunctions, such as musculoskeletal, visceral and psychological.