Osteopathic Principles: Part Two – Our healing mechanisms

“The body possesses self regulatory mechanisms, having the inherent capacity to defend, repair, and remodel itself”

The human body is a wonderful machine capable of performing basic through to extremely complex tasks. The processes we are looking at today are the homeostatic mechanisms within the body. These are the functions that keep us alive and help to return the body to its optimal functioning level.

Spotswood | Newport | Williamstown | Yarraville | Footscray | Kingsville | South Kingsville | North Williamstown | Altona North | Altona | Altona Meadows | Port Melbourne |North Melbourne | South Melbourne | Docklands | West Melbourne | Kensington | Brooklyn | Maidstone

Asclepius : God of medicine in ancient Greek religion

Because our body constantly attempts to maintain basic functions that are integral for our survival it often will compromise and compensate for lower priority changes that occur. A good example of this is when a postural weakness turns into a painful event. Over a long period of time the body will be constantly adapting to a poor posture until at some point it becomes unsustainable and the body reacts with acute painful symptoms. This is often after a long period of low level symptoms that act as precursors to the bigger injury.

The beauty of how our body functions is that these processes are largely reversible and retrainable. The body is constantly trying to do its best to avoid and limit injury from occurring, and will repair itself to the best of its ability. Our job as Osteopaths are to help remove and eradicate barriers that are preventing the body from undergoing its normal defence and repair, and helping to ensure that any remodelling that occurs is done in a way that is going to be strong and relevant to the individual in the long term.

There are obviously disease processes (Eg. Cancers, Infections) that lay outside of our professional capabilities and are not within our scope of practice, and it is important that we refer patients onwards to more appropriate care for these conditions, however when looking at the biomechanics and function of the musculo-skeletal system there are often links that are affecting individuals comfort levels that we can address.

As for more direct treatment for injuries, when you have injured yourself the body goes into an inflammatory reaction. The main goal here is to limit the amount of damage and to strengthen the area to prevent further damage. The body will often tense local muscles to avoid extra physical trauma and start laying down scar tissue. Our practice is to look at the local injury and help the body repair it as efficiently and as strongly as possible. Helping the body stress the area in its natural stress patterns is quite useful in allowing the scar tissue to align in areas of demand so that when healed there is minimal weakness. The local muscle guarding can often cause non-injured muscles to become fatigued and require some assistance themselves.

Once the body is on its way to recovery a large component of how we work at Taylored Osteopathy is to delve into the processes that allowed the injury to occur in the first place. We look to identify and diagnose factors that have lead to the injury occurring. There may be a single traumatic incident, such as direct trauma. There may be multiple small events that lead up to a major event, this could be a flaw in a running technique that causes extra load on a ligament, or a muscular imbalance that causes too  much load on a weaker, less developed muscle. Or there may be a multitude of factors at play.

Regardless, we feel it is important to deal with the presenting complaint at your consultations as well as the links in the chain that have lead to the injury occurring so that we can address those and provide preventative steps that may reduce the return of the injury, leading to a better, healthier and fitter you.

NEXT WEEK – We will be delving into the relationship between structure and function of the body.

If you missed Part One: Click Below

Osteopathic Principles: A Four Part Series

Osteopathic Principles: A Four Part Series

Often we are asked what advantages and aspects of Osteopathy excite and drive our practice. Living in a world and healthcare structure of our modern times leads to large amounts of overlap between professions, especially the allied health sector with modalities such as Osteopathy, Physiotherapy and Chiropractic. Due to our interconnected world the tools that we use to influence our patients are quite often very similar and there is much inter professional learning that takes place. I personally think that this has an overall net positive effects towards the public as it means that there are more avenues to improved recovery from injury and greater opportunities to improve the way in which your body works.

So what is it that helps to differentiate Osteopathy from the other allied health providers?

Osteopathic thought revolves around the belief and importance of harmony between the human bodies Structure (Anatomy) and Function (Physiology).

There are four underlying principles of Osteopathy that as practitioners we use as a compass to drive our thought towards treatment for an individual. These are not binding aspects of what we do, however they help steer us in the right direction.

  1. The body is a functional unit. An integrated unit of mind, body, and spirit.
  2. The body possesses self regulatory mechanisms, having the inherent capacity to defend, repair, and remodel itself
  3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated
  4. Rational therapy is based on consideration of the first three principles

Over the next four weeks we will delve into each of the basic principles.

THE BODY IS A FUNCTIONAL UNIT: An integrated unit of mind, body and spirit.

Osteopath Spotswood |Osteopath Newport | Osteopath Williamstown | Osteopath Altona | Osteopath Altona North | Osteopath Yarraville | Osteopath Seddon | Osteopath Kingsville | Osteoapath Brooklyn | Osteopath Williamstown North | Osteopath Footscray | Osteopath South Kingsville

Sometimes we need to put all the pieces together to get the best results.

The first principle serves to address the overarching approach to treating an individual. It is folly to address an individuals complaint without looking to work with all aspects that may influence the ability of an individual to improve and recover from an injury process.

If we look at low back pain as an injury, there are factors that influence the ability for return to pre-injury state that sit outside of the resolution of mechanical injury. Back pain of at least moderate intensity occurs to between 10%-15% of adult individuals every year. 90% of those cases are fully resolved within 3 months. That leaves us with 10% who for one reason or another do not heal within a timeframe that would normally be associated with the healing times of those tissues. In some individuals there are underlying aspects that limit recovery that are not specifically tied to the anatomy, and hence we must look to influence the mind to drive healing as well (Andersson, 1999).

There can be a multitude of barriers to recovery and as Osteopaths we look to address those barriers to foster a holistic healing environment that works on the anatomy and address issues that may be interfering or limiting recovery. Often there is fear that the injury will reoccur and so by learning to move through a range that was recently painful can be difficult as the brain has memory of the pain that it experienced and often will try to guard the area with muscles. By overcoming these hurdles we can then move forward with restrengthening and retraining aiming to return you to a state that is stronger, healthier and easier than prior to the injury occurring.

Our treatment goals involve your input and contribution to the wellbeing process, which may include exercises or improvements to some of your regular activities, all with the goal of making you move better and resulting in being less prone to injury.


  • G.B.J. Andersson ‘Epidemiological features of chronic low-back pain’, Lancet, 354 (1999), pp. 581–585