What follows is my osteopathic manifesto, which guides how I carry out my osteopathic practice. When you read it, bear in mind that I am mostly involved in treating more chronic conditions.
I believe in:
- Trusting your body’s intelligence. Your body is much more intelligent than my conscious mind. Your body arranges its internal economy to best accommodate a lifetime’s accumulation of trauma and stresses. I cannot tell it how to do that, in what time frame or in what order. I can only help to remove the strain and ensure that your body’s basic needs are met. This is sufficient and complete treatment. The body’s resources are then freed to heal rather than diverted to fight the strain.
- Slow, gentle treatment. The body, even under optimal conditions, responds in its own time. You cannot with impunity bend the laws governing biological processes. The best, longest lasting changes are the ones which happen so naturally they are often largely unconscious. They do not take place immediately, but in the days or weeks after treatment.
- Supporting the body’s efforts to heal. Stiffness, pain and inflammation are some of the body’s healing responses. Only medicine gone mad would want to smother them completely. A rational system of medicine, on the other hand, works to make them unnecessary by modifying the conditions in which they have developed.
- The unity of the organism. A headache isn’t only a head problem, a painful hip isn’t a only hip problem, a gastric ulcer isn’t only a stomach problem. The head, the hip, the stomach are not floating in space divorced from all else. Everything is a global problem.
- The only antidote to health problems is health. Also known as vitality. A vital organism responds quickly and efficiently to its health problems. If you have a lingering elbow pain, it is not (usually) just because something is “wrong” with your elbow. Either you are working it too hard for your body reasonably to endure, or your body is insufficiently vital to respond to the injury. The answer is not to treat the elbow, (then the knee, then the shoulder, etc.) but to rest the injured part and work to improve the body’s vital responses.
I do not believe in:
- Symptomatic treatment. Symptoms arise in areas of greatest strain. Strain accumulates in these areas because of distortions throughout the body. Treating only the symptomatic area may make it feel better temporarily, but only temporarily. And the overall strain will soon manifest elsewhere, too. So it is better not to treat the bits, but the whole.
- Heroic treatment. Things should not be forced with heavy clicks and crunches. A stiff area might be stiff for a good reason (see “Trusting the body’s intelligence” above). In any case, if something needs forcing, it is not ready for release. If and when it becomes ready, based on the body’s own priorities and time-scale, it will not need forcing.
- Single treatment cures. See “Slow, gentle treatment» above.
- Compartmentalisation and micromanagement. As I have mentioned, your body is intelligent (see “Trusting the body’s intelligence” above). To attempt to manage its every part and function would be presumptuous and ineffectual. It is far preferable to give general treatments rather than treating the minutiae of each painful part.
In conclusion, for those seeking a quick fix in one or two sessions, my place is the wrong place to come. The approach I propose may take longer than you might have envisaged. On the other hand it will be low risk, and it will produce deeper, longer-lasting results to your whole health.
Copyright © Robert Hale 2022. Image: Photo by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier via Flickr.com of the Self-Repair Manifesto from Ifixit.com. Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 licence. Robert Hale practises osteopathy in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza.