Originating in the 19th century in the USA, osteopathy is a natural therapy in which a practitioner manipulates the musculo-skeletal system in order to treat imbalance in the body and disease.

A common misconception about osteopathy is that it treats diseases that are bone-relegated. Despite its name (osteo meaning “bones”), osteopathy is a system of whole-person well-being.

According to the principles of osteopathy, any misalignment of your spine and skeleton can impair the circulation of blood and lymph around your body and cause your organs to function less efficiently. If a practitioner can correct these misalignments, blood can flow smoothly to your organs, your nervous system can send messages effectively, your lymphatic system can keep your immune system functioning properly (allowing toxins to be eliminated safely and efficiently), digestion and respiration can improve, pain and discomfort can abate, and a state of balance (homeostasis) can return throughout your entire body. Tense muscles are thought to be particularly damaging to the health of your body because when muscles contract they impede the flow of blood and lymph.

Visiting an osteopath

When you visit an osteopath, he or she will be trained to “feel” problems or disruptions in your muscles, bones, and ligaments. As with many other natural therapies, you’ll be asked for your medical history and will need to talk about your lifestyle habits. This is so the osteopath can gain a full sense of your well-being. He or she may ask you to move in certain ways in order to gain a sense of where problems in your musculo-skeletal system might lie. The osteopath then uses a range of techniques, including manipulation, massage, and stretching, to improve the flexibility and range of movement in your joints. He or she will apply greater pressure to joints that are misaligned. This will set blood and lymph flowing freely, and so restore harmony throughout your nervous and musculo-skeletal systems, as well as through all your body’s organs.

As well as stress-related disorders, asthma, ear infections, and swelling, pain and inflammation in the joints, osteopaths successfully treat “female” conditions, such as hormonal imbalances, period pain, menstrual irregularities, some types of infertility, and a number of pregnancy and birth-related health conditions. Osteopathy is suitable for all ages and stages of life, and it’s not usually necessary to consult your doctor before embarking on a course of osteopathic treatment.

There’s also a subtle form of osteopathic treatment called cranial osteopathy. This is suitable for all ages but has been found to be particularly helpful for babies, children, and pregnant women. Cranial osteopathy aims to release tensions and stresses in the body by picking up very slight muscular disruptions and movement s- these are known as the Cranial Rhythm. By using gentle techniques to restore the normal Cranial Rhythm, the practitioner can help your body get back into balance and good health.

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