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Valentina Carlile Osteopata
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  • Writer's pictureValentina Carlile DO

On the Principles of Osteopathy

On the Principles of Osteopathy

When I first approached the world of the Principles of Osteopathy (PO), I didn't think they contained much depth. Philosophically there is nothing special about the OPs. Currently there are many people who, not being Osteopaths, share the meaning of OPs. What separates an Osteopath from other figures who also share OPs is the application of these principles. In exactly the same way that it is important for a runner to understand the principles of running correctly. Philosophical understanding does not help if the principles are not used correctly. Those who do not apply these principles are like runners who understand the rules of running but do not run and do not apply these rules while running.

Osteopathic First Principle: correlation between structure and function. The concept is simple, the structures of the body are designed to perform a specific function. An Osteopath studies human anatomy down to the smallest detail in order to better understand what happens under his hands. This is research that continues throughout the osteopath's career. The application of anatomy begins with understanding the basic structures and boundaries of a living, dynamic body.

One of the most important steps in learning Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment is learning to understand the difference between the sensation of what is normal and what is abnormal. In this case, I am referring to what vitality does a healthy facility with no dysfunction have under its hands compared to a facility that is performing below its potential? What does a healthy muscle feel like? What does a healthy fascia or joint look like? On the other hand, it is also necessary to understand how a tissue that is not in normal conditions is perceived.

Once sufficient progress has been made in the sensation that healthy tissue gives compared to one with an anomaly, then it is possible to proceed and start using the hands in a therapeutic way. You can then begin to influence specific tissues and structures using a variety of techniques to restore normality. This in turn will improve your health. The further an Osteopath goes with his experience, the more comfortable he is in understanding the concept that every tissue and every structure can go into dysfunction. The Osteopath's job is to creatively visualize how to influence structures. This is why knowledge of anatomy is so important and why an Osteopath would find himself limited if his anatomical knowledge was limited.

Over time, you begin to observe the interrelationships of how a body works in a way that is not commonplace. As a result, the Osteopath uses his best anatomical knowledge to formulate theories that can explain the observations. For example, he might begin to think about why releasing jaw tension can simultaneously release the upper back or why releasing an abdominal organ can release the ribs at the upper back. This is where the application of this principle starts and from here we go directly into the second osteopathic principle: the body as a healthy unity of mind, body and spirit.

This principle is not as simple to understand as it is described. Each Osteopath, at different levels of his career, encounters this principle in a different way. Even a very experienced Osteopath constantly continues to learn the difference between normal and abnormal and how these situations are perceived differently over time, using a type of tissue approach that perhaps he didn't even think of at the beginning of his career. This process of anatomical and physiological application continues throughout your career if you want to progress professionally. Our understanding of structure and function has progressed since the principles were first described more than a hundred years ago, while the body continues to work in the same way. This allows each generation of Osteopaths to progress by constantly adding material to the work of their predecessors.

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