MINDBODY TOOLKIT

Osteopathy: A Mindbody Approach


This is not a specific qualification in osteopathy but what it describes is our combined approach at Osteopathy For All.

Textbooks and learning historically separated the mind and the body. Without getting deeply into 17th century philosophy this dualism approach was formulated by Rene Descartes and has been evident in medicine until more recently. The latest neuroscience now backs up the fact that the mind and body are interdependent and interrelated in relation to physical symptoms. You cannot separate them and so we don’t when we treat with gentle hands-on osteopathy. We consider the effects of stress and emotions, as well as physical events, have had on your body. Our osteopaths all have extra training in pain neuroscience, stress illness and mindbody medicine. This means that when you choose Osteopathy For All, you will receive an all-round, individually tailored approach to your care.

Where do your memories reside? If you have emotional pain where do you feel it?

Here is an example. Imagine you have just had a shock.

What happened to your body in that moment?

At the very least you probably took a deep breath in and held it for a moment. If you had, had a real shock, upset or trauma you could still be holding your body under tension days, weeks, months or even years later.

Our osteopaths may find this tension in your diaphragm (the muscle we use to breathe) where it attaches around your lower ribs (almost as if you have a tight wrap around your upper waist). Due to the anatomical connections of the diaphragm, this tightness might spread via the crura (ligaments on the back of the diaphragm) to your low back. This could mean that, from a single moment of shock, for example hearing some shocking news, you can end up with tension around the upper lumbar spine. This will often lead to pain due to the fact that muscles do not like being in persistent contraction.

Have you ever felt like you are wearing your shoulders as earrings?

Not literally of course, but that sense, when we are stressed, that our shoulders rise and then we become aware that they feel tense, sore and ‘full of knots’. Then someone kindly massages or releases them and not only do you feel more comfortable, but for many people the world seems like a more settled place.

Why does it feel like our heart is physically broken when we lose someone close? Because stress and emotions are physical feelings and happen within us – not just in our brain.

Pippa’s Personal Perspective:

Early on in practice I had a patient who came in with right leg pain. All tissue injury and pathological causes had been ruled out and the lady responded well to treatment but it wouldn’t last and the pain would come back. Eventually we realised that the pain was related to the recent loss of her husband. They had been together for 60 years and the grief was so significant emotionally, that her body responded with the physical feeling of strong pain. This often happens because pain is easier to deal with than the emotion. Once we spoke about her grief in relation to the generalised tension in her leg, she never required any further treatment as the pain went away. There are many examples similar to this one that so clearly indicate that a specific event or series of events has resulted in changes in tissue tension and neural pathway adaption.

We treat people, not conditions. So, as well as treating acute sprained ankles and strained muscles, when we are dealing with a more complex, stress related or long-term condition we will assess for and treat (if appropriate) by gently releasing the tension these events have caused as well as providing you with self care as required.

Break the Cycle with Osteopathy


Other Techniques Toolkits

You may be interested in our other ‘Other Techniques’ chapters within the Mindbody Toolkit: