Manual Osteopathy: Towards a Model of Holism

“The job of the physician is to find health and give it motion, anyone can find disease.”

– Andrew Taylor Still

My journey to studying and practicing manual osteopathy was not a straight and direct path. I became very interested in rehabilitation and corrective movement at the age of 17 when I had to rehabilitate myself from a disc pathology suffered while lifting weights (some of the ridiculous things that happen in a high school weight room caught up with me). I already had a keen interest in how the body works from my Advanced Placement Biology class during my junior year of high school. I was particularly interested in Endocrinology (as I am still). Immediately out of high school I landed a job with a prominent local Personal Training company. Inside of a year, I was a finalist in the 2000 Met-Rx World’s Best Personal Trainer Contest (16 finalists out of close to 20,000 entries if I remember correctly).

At that point, I was exposed to the work of Paul Chek, HHP, Founder of the C.H.E.K Institute in Vista, California. As far as I could tell, Paul had the most comprehensive program on the planet for nutrition and lifestyle coaching as well as corrective exercise and high-performance conditioning. I dove head first into the material and immediately began seeing tons of clients suffering from a myriad of spinal pathologies. About a year later, in 2001, I flew to Rhode Island to meet with a group for a possibility of joining their team of rehabilitation professionals in a new clinic in East Greenwich. At that point, every single time I was in an airplane I would quite literally go completely deaf in my right ear upon landing. It would happen without fail every time I flew, which at that point was only a half dozen times or so, but it was still an annoyance. I would not be able to hear out of that ear for at least 2-3 days and it was super unsettling. Upon landing and being picked up by my soon to be colleague, I explained the symptoms of this hearing loss in detail during the drive to the clinic. Once there, one of their therapists, and now dear friend and colleague, Jennifer Beauregard, asked me to hop on the treatment table. She put me through a general and specific cranial treatment and my ear opened up on the spot. At the time, I had no idea how that was possible and was super impressed (not an easy thing to do). Jennifer explained things to me and mentioned that what was done was based on osteopathic principles within the cranial field. I was intrigued and began my readings in the area, which started with the work of Dr. John Upledger, D.O. and his contributions to CranioSacral Therapy.

Over the next couple of years, I read everything I could get my hands on related to the cranium, the PRM (Primary Respiratory Mechanism), and eventually came to the work of the founder of Osteopathy, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. I read his book Osteopathy: Research and Practice for the first time in 2004. I found myself drawn to Osteopathy and its philosophy of the body and its ability to heal itself when given the opportunity to do so. The philosophy of true Manual Osteopathy; Osteopathy the way it is meant to be practiced is based on four basic principles:

1    Each structure in the body supports the body’s functions. Structure and function are reciprocally related.
2    The natural flow of the body’s fluids – lymphatic, vascular and neurological – must be preserved and maintained.
3    The human body is the sum of its parts. Its physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and cognitive systems do not work independently -they work in harmony. The body is a system of systems.
4    When the body has no restrictions, it has the inherent ability to heal itself.

Osteopathic Manual Practitioners recognize a patient as an integrated whole. When all of the body’s components are in balance, a person is complete and in total health. Osteopathic Manual Practitioners work to maintain, improve and restore the normal physiological function of interrelated body structures and systems, enhancing the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

Using various manual assessment and treatment techniques and modalities, Osteopathic Manual Practitioners work to identify and ease restrictions, constrictions and pain; reduce swelling; improve tissue mobility; and promote proper function and healing in people of all ages.
Also, during that time (2002-2004) I took courses on Cranial-Cervical-Mandibular Disorders, some in person seminars and some via home study courses. I was not terribly confident implementing the complex “stuff” I was learning with regards to the cranium, TMJ, and cervical spine, but I began studying Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) after stumbling on Dr. Leon Chaitow, D.O., N.D.’s work on the subject. The results I was able to achieve with clients who had already seem their limits with conventional treatment for lumbar spine pathology spoke for themselves. I was led to the founder (depending on who you read of course) of MET’s work, Dr. Fred L. Mitchell, Sr. I read his work, and the work of others on MET for low back, hip, knee, and ankle issues. All the while I was continuing to work my way through Paul’s C.H.E.K Practitioner program. In 2005 when I completed my Level 3 training in that system, everything changed for me. At that time, I came to realize that a lot of what I considered to be the “cool stuff” in the CHEK Program is actually based in osteopathy (Paul himself started his career as a trainer on the U.S. Army boxing team and learned to care for athletic injuries from an Osteopathic Physician). From that point, I saw Manual Osteopathy as possibly the most comprehensive philosophy for care of the human framework that was ever devised. Over the next decade, from 2005 to 2015 I worked with what I would estimate to be between 1,200 and 1,700 clients dealing with acute and chronic pain syndromes of various types with the majority of my clinical work addressing neck pain, back pain, and headaches. Using a combination of all of the things that I had been taught throughout the years – CHEK, NMT, Trigenics, MET, CST, etc., I began to create my own style of assessing and correcting chronic pain syndromes in my clients. In 2015, I decided to take over a decade of self-study and officially complete my studies of Manual Osteopathy with the National University of Medical Sciences (Spain) / National Academy of Osteopathy (Canada). The journey will not end there (quite the opposite actually). Once I complete this D.O. program, I plan to continue my studies of osteopathy, particularly Cranial Osteopathy with the Sutherland Cranial College of Osteopathy in addition to continuing my studies and courses based on the work of world-renowned French Osteopath Guy VOYER.

For me, the philosophy of true Manual Osteopathy resonates very highly. Everything that is alive on our wonderful planet has an innate intelligence contained within it. The seed of a redwood tree has intelligence, a dog or cat has intelligence, and so to does the human body possess an intelligence that conventional medicine largely ignores.  Manual Osteopathy honors the Intelligent Designer and provides a means to allowing that innate intelligence to flow and foster health and well-being. Giving the body what it needs with regards to air, water, food, movement, thought, and rest unlocks its greatest potential. For me, nothing is more enjoyable to study, practice, and witness in my daily Life.