Osteopathy History

“Find it, fix it and leave it alone.”

~ Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, Founder of Osteopathy

One of the fundamental principles of Osteopathy is that the body has self-regulating and self-healing abilities.…

The word Osteopathy coined by the founder of Osteopathy, Dr. Andrew Tayler Still, a Medical Doctor about 1889. Like the medical profession, Osteopathy has evolved considerably from what it was in the beginning. While early Osteopathy resembled Chiropractic in many respects, the scopes of practice for an Osteopath and a Medical Doctor are now about the same. By modern standards, early Osteopathy would probably have been classified as alternative medicine. Still sought to find a solution for handling health care problems that was different from the methods used by traditional medicine. Still became frustrated with what he saw as the ineffective nature of remedies at that time. He believed that the doctor’s role in fighting disease was to restore the body’ s proper musculoskeletal function. Still founded the American School of Osteopathy in Missouri in 1892. The school taught manual manipulation, nutrition, and lifestyle modifications rather than surgery and drug therapies.

What makes Osteopaths different from Medical Doctors even today is their expertise in the field of Soft-Tissue Therapy. Although they started out doing high-velocity spinal manipulations of the type practiced by most Chiropractors, during the early 1900s they started to develop Soft-Tissue Therapy techniques that later became known. By such names as Myofascial Release, Strain and Counterstrain, Positional Release, and Muscle Energy. Most Health Care Professionals that practice Soft-Tissue Therapy have adapted one or more of these techniques for the use in their own profession.

There are numerous correlations between Manual Osteopathic Practice and Bodywork Therapy. The Osteopathic Profession can and should be given credit for developing many of the basic principles that provide a foundation for Soft-Tissue Therapy. Many of the people who use these techniques do not even realize that those techniques were developed by Osteopaths. Interestingly, Dr. Still never wrote a book on manipulative technique. His writings were extensive, but they focused on the Philosophy, Principles, and Practice of Osteopathy. Therefore, “Why have Manual Therapists become possessive over something that is far from the original intent?”

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