Manual Osteopathy: Health Care for the Whole Body


The study of alignment, form and function, Manual Osteopathy is an advanced form of manual therapy using a range of techniques, such as joint mobilization, myofascial release, and soft tissue manipulation, to unwind the body and reset the nervous system.

The therapist assesses areas with postural problems, pain symptoms, compounded tension, weakness, and adhesions to address a variety of issues like joint and muscle pain, neural and organ dysfunction, limited range of motion, poor circulation, misalignment, and digestive issues.

This gentle therapy was developed to treat the body as a whole, because the body works and moves as a unit! Underlying issues are addressed to treat any compensation patterns that may be contributing to a chief complaint.


In practice, a Manual Osteopath assesses the whole body, not limiting the examination and treatment to just the chief complaint. A Manual Osteopath takes in to account any reported symptoms of pain, discomfort or imbalance. For example, if a client is complaining of knee pain, the Manual Osteopath will assess the form and function of the knee, but will also look for any contributing factors within the body that may be a result or cause of dysfunction in the knee.
Once the Manual Osteopath has assessed the whole body they will use a combination of techniques, such as joint articulation, myofascial release, visceral manipulation, and cranial sacral techniques, as needed for each client. The treatment is clothed and the techniques can be administered with the client seated, standing or in a laying position, depending on the goal and treatment plan. The result is improving the overall functional biomechanics throughout the body which addresses a chief complaint, like knee pain, but also aims to improve other symptoms that seem unrelated, like poor digestion or headaches! Clients come out of their treatment plans with a better understanding of their body, it's posture and how to maintain good health beyond the treatment room!


Check with your provider to see if your plan covers Manual Osteopathy. Insurance companies aren't offering direct billing at this time, but send in a request to your provider, and help us make that change!

Manual Osteopathy is covered by most insurance companies.

  • Alberta Bluecross

  • Benecaid

  • Benefit Trust

  • Claimsecure

  • Chambers of Commerce

  • Claimsecure

  • Dejardins Financial Security

  • Empire Life

  • Imperial Life

  • Johnson Inc.

  • Johnson Group

  • Manion Wilkins

  • Maximum Benefit

  • Medavie Bluecross

  • National Life

  • Nexgen

  • Wawanesa

For information about which modalities we do have DIRECT BILLING with, visit this page.

More About Manual Osteopaths

"Manual Osteopaths focus on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as a holistic unit." Each client, condition and injury is unique so a Manual Osteopath will vary their treatments from person to person, making the experience completely tailored and progressive, addressing the needs of the client at the time.

Manual Osteopaths will ask a client about their current problem and symptoms. Questions related to their health history, past symptoms, any medications, as well as any factors that may appear to have no direct correlation to the problem. Thorough examinations are conducted, like orthopaedic or neurological tests, postural assessments and activities or exercises, that will determine how best to manage a condition.

Manual Osteopaths may also provide education and recommendations to help a client manage their condition between appointments. Most Manual Osteopathic treatments are gentle and should not cause undue discomfort. If a client's injuries do require hands-on treatment of painful and tender areas, their Manual Osteopath will exercise care to make the client as comfortable as possible.

Muscle Tightness: Do you have stiff muscles?

Do your muscles feel tight? Do you have stiffness in your body?  You're not alone, muscular stiffness and tightness is one of the most common problems we encounter..  Osteopaths unlike any other manual therapy have a very unique method in assisting your tightness. It’s called Counterstrain or Positional Release. 

"The MET method works due to the natural neurological impulse to relax the opposing  muscle  when one  muscle  contracts. Used correctly,  Muscle Energy Technique  can  help  patients to: Realign  muscle  groups. Re-educate  muscles  to restore a full range of motion." -OVCMT

"The MET method works due to the natural neurological impulse to relax the opposing muscle when one muscle contracts. Used correctly, Muscle Energy Technique can help patients to: Realign muscle groups. Re-educate muscles to restore a full range of motion." -OVCMT

When there is a strain, or tension in your muscles this sensation is transmitted to your brain as a message. Your brain will then respond to this message by adding further muscle tightness to the problem area or surrounding areas as a means of protection.  This response is not always helpful to your health.

One of the great things about Osteopaths is we have many ways of addressing muscle tightness. Techniques like Massage, or joint or muscular stretching (MET), postural correction can potentially assist you with muscle tightness but all these create a therapeutic pain to release the tension. There is however, several ways to skin a cat as they say and Counter-strain offers a very effective pain free alternative to this problem.

An Osteopath using Counter-strain will find the tight area in a region and then positions the body to take all the tension out of these tissues. This results in your nervous system feeding this change back to the brain. It will often take up to one minute for your brain to register that the area isn’t in trouble any more, and that it doesn’t need protecting.

What is the science behind how this works?

There are several nerve endings in your muscles and joints called Golgi Tendon Organs that feedback tension to your brain.  When this same area is placed in a relaxed position the Golgi Tendon Organs also feedbacks this change to the brain.  The brain then responds with feedback of its own, which will result in resetting of the muscular length and a much more relaxed muscle. The beauty of counter strain is that it is, pain free, stress free and it affect the central nervous system which results in a much more permanent and lasting change in the muscle tightness. This can potentially help you feel looser and less tense.

You may never have heard of this type of therapy so why not give [Osteopathy] a go and see if counter-strain can help you!

This article originally appeared on and was written by Katie Nancarrow.

What To Expect from an Osteopathic Treatment

If you are a new patient:

After taking an extensive case history, we do an initial structural assessment and perform motion tests and any necessary neurological and orthopedic tests. We may request other investigations if necessary for diagnosis.

We assess the range and quality of motion in joints and soft tissues and look at your general structural/ postural pattern.

The reason for taking a comprehensive case history and performing an initial assessment is to judge whether it is safe for us to use particular osteopathic techniques with you, and whether osteopathic treatment is appropriate.

We are interested in what has worked for you previously, and whether you have treatment preferences.

We can explain the treatment plan, and gain your consent before treatment. You should let us know immediately, even during the treatment, if you would like to change or stop and discuss the treatment we are giving you.

Your Osteopath will then explain to you what they have found and how they would like to approach the treatment, as well as explain what you may expect, any risks involved, and gain your consent for treatment .

The Osteopathic Treatment:

The treatment itself can vary practitioner to practitioner, but all will involve a hands-on approach.  Osteopaths have a wide variety of manual techniques they use to treat various complaints. They include:

  • Massage (soft-tissue releases)
  • Stretching
  • Articulation (joints are passively taken through their range of motion by the osteopath)
  • Muscle Energy Techniques (used to lengthen tight, contracted muscles)
  • Counterstrain (releases tight muscles by positioning the affected muscle in a shortened position to stretch the opposing muscles)
  • Manipulations (short, quick, precise low-amplitude movements used to improve range of motion at the joint)
  • Functional Techniques (gentle mobilisation of joints)
  • Visceral Techniques 
  • Osteopathy in the Cranial Field

At the end of the treatment, your Osteopath will reassess the initial movements that you performed so that we can see how effective the treatment has been. Your Osteopath may organise a return consultation and may give you some stretches and exercises to do at home to help speed up your recovery or improve your body's function. We may be able to give you advice about suitable physical activity during this recovery period.

We have special pillows so that our pregnant patients can lie comfortably.

For your Osteopathic Consultation:


  •  X-rays, scans and results of investigations
  • Private Health Insurance card /Workcover/Motor Vehicle claim numbers/ EPC form/ DVA referral form and card


  • Comfortable clothes. Depending on the Osteopathic Practitioner and the area of concern, some disrobing may be required, but at all times you will be draped with towels and/or provided with a gown to ensure you feel comfortable during the treatment. 


  • Allow 5-10 minutes extra for your initial consultation to fill in your information sheet.
  • Initial consults last 45-60 minutes
  • Followup treatments run for 30-45 minutes

How many Treatments Will I Need?

The number of treatments needed depends on how long you have had the problem, how severe it is, and how your body responds to treatment. 

Like any other form of therapy/treatment, occasional unwanted reactions may occur.  These usually don't last long, but if you would like your osteopath to talk to you about what is happening, please ring us. 

On average, people have between 3 to 6 Osteopathic treatments for good results. However, you may only need 1 or 2 visits.

This article originally appeared on

How Osteopathic Manual Therapy Relieves Arthritic Pain

As Osteopaths we spend a vast amount of time dealing with pain and suffering caused by arthritis. Many people mistakenly assume that they must learn to live with their symptoms. In many cases,  Osteopaths are able to help considerably. Pain relief and lifestyle management improve the quality of life for arthritis sufferers.  With Arthritis Awareness Week 17 – 23 March, we look at how Osteopathy can help Arthritis.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis can been divided into two types – degenerative and inflammatory. Degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis, is very common and is often referred to as general ‘wear and tear’. It is usually experienced in the neck, low back, fingers, hips and knees. Typical symptoms include joint swelling, pain and stiffness.

Inflammatory arthritis, such as Rheumatoid arthritis, is far less common but can affect people at a younger age and the symptoms are usually more severe. These types are more systemic and affect the whole body.

Osteoarthritis is a very mis-understood condition. Many people believe that it cannot affect you until you are much older. The truth is that ‘wear and tear’ can affect your joints as early as your late 20s. Factors such as a poor posture, bad lifting technique, lack of exercise and an accumulation of old injuries can predispose to early osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Arthritis may be hereditary but is generally caused by poor posture, heavy manual work and previous injury. Osteopathy is an effective way to manage arthritis and the associated symptoms:

  • Neck Pain
  • Low back pain
  • Hip/Knee Pain
  • Early morning stiffness
  • Joint Pain
  • Swelling and Inflamation
  • Referred muscle pain
  • Lack of mobility

How can Osteopathy help?

There is no cure for arthritis however osteopathic treatment can do a great deal to reduce pain, ease swelling and improve mobility and range of joint movement. Management focuses on eliminating symptoms through early diagnosis and improving lifestyle to prevent further degeneration.

Osteopathic treatment involves gentle manual osteopathic techniques on joints, muscles and ligaments. This may involve gentle stretching, mobility, and traction techniques. Exercises to do at home may also be prescribed to improve joint function and to reduce muscle spasm. Exercise in warm water or salt baths may also be recommended.

This article originally appeared on and was written by Dr. Boris Lukin