top of page
  • Writer's pictureLivewell MFR

What Is Manual Osteopathy?

Updated: Mar 30, 2019

Manual osteopathy is a system of health care that focuses on osteopathic diagnosis and treatment of the physical body’s structure in order to optimize physiological functioning. Manual palpation and Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy (OMT) are used in conjunction with biomechanical, orthopaedic and neurological clinical assessment. Osteopathy embraces the philosophy that the body has an innate, natural ability to self-regulate and to heal itself.

Osteopathy recognizes the relationship between structure and function. A simple analogy is the garden hose. If it is twisted (distorted structure) it can't function optimally. Similarly if our human structure is compromised due to posture, injury, traumatic or lifestyle patterns then our physiology is compromised. Circulation, nerve supply, hormone secretion etc are compromised. So when our body is "tuned well" it performs well.

An osteopath’s role lies in diagnosing and treating the factors that inhibit health thus restoring balance in the body through natural, non-invasive, hands-on techniques.


Osteopathy [os-tee-op-uh-thee], Noun.

A therapeutic system originally based upon the premise that manipulation of the muscles and bones to promote structural integrity could restore or preserve health: current osteopathic physicians use the

diagnostic and therapeutic techniques of conventional medicine as well as manipulative measures.


The quality of fluid movement within the body influences the ability of the body to self-regulate, and repair. These fluids include the blood, lymph, synovial fluid, digestive juices, cerebrospinal fluid, axoplasm, and all the other intracellular and extracellular fluids of the body.

These liquids carry many of the body's life-sustaining compounds, including hormones, enzymes and their secretions, immune and anti-inflammatory factors, neurotransmitter impulses, nutritional elements, and such dissolved gases as oxygen.

Any obstruction that impedes the circulation of fluids within the body is the focus of osteopathic assessment and treatment. These impediments may take the form of structural or non-structural blockages. Structural blockages include fascial adhesions that pull within the body, as well as specific misaligned bones/joints, organs, or tissues.

Non-structural impediments may include emotional patterns that are responsible for maintaining the body in certain defensive adaptations, such as a predisposition to holding the breath. These adaptations are often responses to stressful incidents of the past or present.

Over time, the body gradually loses its ability to efficiently self-regulate and self-heal. Some of this loss may be due to the aging process, trauma, accident, illness, surgical scarring, childbirth, repetitive activity, the prolonged influence of gravity on posture, or the cumulative effects of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual stresses.

Most people have experienced a combination of structural and non structural influences and for this reason, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner must assess the whole body. Although treatment may be directed toward several specific areas, the effect of that treatment is often felt throughout the body.

There are eight major principles of manual osteopathy that are practiced.

  1. The body is a unit

  2. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated

  3. The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms

  4. The body has the inherent capacity to defend and repair itself

  5. When the normal adaptability is disrupted, or when environmental changes overcome the body’s capacity for self maintenance, disease may ensue

  6. The movement of body fluids is essential to the maintenance of health

  7. The nerves play a crucial part in controlling the fluids of the body

  8. There are somatic components to disease that are not only manifestations of disease, but also are factors that contribute to maintenance of the disease state


I love that every day I get to work with amazing people that put real value and importance on their quality of life. I believe that so much of our happiness comes from taking the time to put care into ourselves first. I love doing my part by continually seeking out new knowledge, so that I may bring back exciting new ways of thinking, as we work together to problem solve. Each day brings me different challenges that I find myself in in a perpetual state of learning. I am energized by all the things I can learn about in this lifetime. I remain a humble student for life as I receive great joy when I get to make new connections or when sharing experiences with others that are just as excited as I am about how the body/mind/sense of self work. I bring this love of learning and importance of self home to my daughter and husband and our 2 cats. We practice our own self-care through the love of nature as we are camp, trek, kayak and x-country ski in all the beautiful vistas we are offered at our city’s wonderful back door.


Each person may come to see an Manual Osteopath at very different times of their lives for very different reasons. They all share the goal of restoring optimal movement within their bodies so that they can resume a quality of life that meets their personal needs.

Receiving treatment in the first few weeks to early months of life contributes to the development and growth from a strong structural foundations that will encourage infants to reach their full physical and neurological potential. The bumps and falls of being toddlers and young children often result in mis-alignments and imbalances that can be corrected so that children can reach developmental milestones without compensatory patterning that can show up later in life as problematic.

Treatment can continue or maybe it first begins with adolescence or adulthood to address the lifestyle habits that have people in static positions for long periods of time, along with increased mental stresses of everyday life. Think of school life and professional work environments, these can result in habitual postures that create restrictions in fluid movement, bone and joint misalignments, structural changes within the fascia and supportive tissues as well as neurological impacts from the altered structures . Much of this will often present as pain.

Manual Osteopathy is an important tool in our goal of keeping our bodies healthy, strong, fluid and feeling vital. Remember that the body have an inherent ability to heal itself, but sometimes they need a facilitator to remove the obstacles so that our bodies can do what they do best. Heal.


bottom of page