What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a highly effective form of manual therapy. As a healing art, it aims to optimise general health by treating structural and mechanical dysfunctions. In osteopathy we believe the body works as a whole, interrelated structure, which is constantly working towards self-regulation and self-healing.
Osteopathy can be helpful to assist in the treatment of many conditions related to the spine, joints, ligaments, connective tissue and the internal organs. The treatment can be applied safely in all ages from babies, pregnancy and the elderly.
Osteopaths have an extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology and during training develop a strong sense of touch that assists in diagnosis and treatment of dysfunction. They use many different manual techniques like soft and deep tissue massage, joint articulation and mobilisation, stretching and exercise, manipulation, visceral and cranial work.
Cranial Osteopathy is an osteopathic technique that uses subtle and refined manipulative movement to treat the whole body. Because of its gentleness, cranial osteopathy is suitable for babies, pregnancy and the elderly.
Ana Mattos practices Cranial Osteopathy and has undergone post-graduate specialisation in this area and in the treatment of newborn babies and children.
Osteopathy for Babies and Children
A baby can suffer from the natural moulding process that occurs at birth. Depending on the birth, a baby may be squashed, twisted or pulled during the birth process and this can contribute to unsettledness after birth. An Osteopathic check up is recommended.
As the child grows and develops, some aches and pains from minor falls can arise and lead to an imbalance in the musculoskeletal structure of the child’s body. Growing pains can be exacerbated by structural changes and compensations.
Sports injuries are just as common in childhood as they are for adults and should be treated with as much if not more importance, as they will have a greater influence on the growing body.
A growing teenager with hormonal changes and the added stresses of education may suffer aches and pains that if not resolved, can influence posture and general body alignment during adulthood.
Osteopathy and Pregnancy
It is common to suffer from physical discomfort during pregnancy; postural and hormonal changes create weakness and imbalances in the body. These changes are necessary to accommodate the growing uterus, but the laxity created by the hormonal changes can place extra forces into ligaments and lead to possible injuries.
Osteopathy can be a useful tool to assist with the aches and pains related to pregnancy. The modern lifestyle does not provide us with a wide range of movement and constant use of the body and most of us will spend a great part of our day sitting in front of a desk, which has an influence on our strength and flexibility. Good alignment and movement of the body structure in general is important during labour and delivery. Osteopathy can help to ease the process of the arrival of the newborn baby.
Osteopathy is helpful for the mother’s recovery after giving birth. It also assists with maintaining mother’s alignment and decreasing the possibility of aches and pains arising from the breastfeeding posture, carrying and lifting a child.
Osteopathy employs very gentle techniques to treat the pregnant woman, being safe and effective for all stages of pregnancy.
As we get older the body loses its elasticity and flexibility resulting in a longer recovery time from trauma.
Postural changes are common with a rounding of the spine and shoulders and forward jutting of the neck. The effects of this can cause muscle and joint pain anywhere in the body, most commonly in the spine, hips, shoulders and ribs. Changes in posture and the spine can also restrict internal organs via the changing shape, for example; spine and rib changes can cause local restrictions, making it more difficult to breathe fully.
Pain and restriction may interfere with every day activities and cause a subsequent decrease in exercise. This can then lead to reduced muscle tone and a lack of postural support with further stress and potential for injury to the back.
Old age, previous trauma and injury to joints can increase the likelihood of developing arthritis, most commonly seen in the back, knees and hips. With an arthritic knee for example, the hips and lower back have to compensate with the change in load distribution force and this may result in pain in many areas.
Osteopathic treatment in the elderly aims to maintain mobility in stiff joints, ease aches and pains and release the residual stresses, strains and fatigue which left unchecked, can aggravate existing health problems and predispose to other illnesses. Furthermore by improving joint mobility, there is a secondary enhancement in the circulation around the body, leading to an overall improvement in health.
For many people of all ages, sport is a way of life, from children competing at school and adults keeping fit to professional athletes. As a result, sports injuries are very common and those who are fit and healthy to begin with, recover faster and easier.
Many sports injuries are due to either playing too frequently without adequate rest in between, from playing too vigorously or from not warming up or warming down sufficiently. Poorly fitting footwear and incorrect use of sports equipment can also contribute to injury.
The most common symptom of sporting injuries is muscle pain and tension, which can happen through over-exertion. The muscles become stiff and painful when they are trying to protect or support an area or from being simply overused.
Treatment to the muscle through ice packs and massage can offer short term relief however the underlying cause needs to be addressed otherwise muscle pain can reoccur.
Osteopathy aims at identifying and treating the underlying cause of muscle tension and pain to reduce the likelihood of it recurring.
Osteopathic treatment also helps to reduce adhesions and restrictions, improve joint mobility, improve muscle tone and structural balance, which in turn allows an ease of movement enhancing performance and reducing the likelihood of injury.