Manual Therapy is a large word “umbrella” to describe the use of the hands to assist individuals with enhancing their mobility for health and wellness. The concepts that determine the modality, or technique(s), for treatment are based in correction and regulation. Corrective techniques are often based in specific anatomical tissues, or a structural orientation for health. Regulatory techniques focus on function, and how physiologically the body has adapted and responds for restoring health. In today’s Manual Therapy practices and schools of thought, the primary emphasis is placed on the structural issues specifically in the musculoskeletal system, and less on the capacity as a manual therapist to assist the body in balancing physiological function.
It is the physiology and the inter-related mobility and activities of all systems that determines and modulates physical movement and functional capacity, health and wellness. Often physiological patterns that restrict balanced bodily activities are not addressed with exercises; in fact exercises often facilitate further compensation patterns due to the body’s innate intelligence to protect vital structures from further stressors of tensions and pressures.
Physiological functions rules physical function.
At Moving Into Harmony, we recognize this and strive to provide the best practice services to facilitate whole body health. The ability to perceive and effectively address patterns of stress & strain, trauma, compensatory patterns, and healthy mobility can only be accomplished with:
- the sense of touch,
- attention to the optimal and appropriate engagement of assistance (no force) that contributes to the body’s balance and healing mechanisms and activities,
- the knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and fluid dynamics,
- the acknowledgement of an individual’s needs, and
- knowing who is doing the healing – you.
The style of Manual Therapy utilized at Moving Into Harmony is primarily derived from the initial discoveries and philosophy of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, and following the traditional Osteopathic approach through individuals that carried his original perspective on human potential, function, health and wellness.
Different fields in health care have slightly different perspectives:
- Within the physical therapy profession, Manual Therapy is defined as – a clinical approach with direct patient contact utilizing skilled, specific hands-on techniques, including but not limited to manipulation/mobilization. Used by the physical therapist to diagnose and treat soft tissues and joint structures for the purpose of modulating pain; increasing range of motion (ROM); reducing or eliminating soft tissue inflammation; inducing relaxation; improving contractile and non-contractile tissue repair, extensibility, and/or stability; facilitating movement; and improving function.
- The International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) defines manual therapy techniques as: “Skilled hand movements intended to produce any or all of the following effects: improve tissue extensibility; increase range of motion of the joint complex; mobilize or manipulate soft tissues and joints; induce relaxation; change muscle function; modulate pain; and reduce soft tissue swelling, inflammation or movement restriction.”
- Alternatively, Irwin Korr (1978) described manual therapy as the “Application of an accurately determined and specifically directed manual force to the body, in order to improve mobility in areas that are restricted; in joints, in connective tissues or in skeletal muscles.”
- The founder of Cranial Osteopathy stated “It is a science dealing with the natural forces of the body. We work as osteopaths with the traditional principle in mind that the tendency in the patient’s body is always toward the normal. There is much to discover in the science of osteopathy by working with the forces within that manifest the healing processes. These forces within the patient are greater than any blind force that can safely be brought to bear from without.” – William Garner Sutherland, D.O.
- “Osteopathy, I consider a sacred science. It is sacred because it is a healing power through all of nature.” – Dr. A.T. Still, D.O., the founder of Osteopathy.
The healing arts involve a complex range of skills cultivated over many years, implemented, tested, re-tested and drawn together in a unique way by the practitioner. The skills, experiences, understandings and perspectives complement a “scientific” foundation based in clinical outcomes, to create the wisdom and artistry of a therapeutic approach.
“In the Knowledge of the Art is the Science; in the Practice of the Science is the Art.”
– Frank Lowen, my Manual Therapy teacher