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.