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We Got the Low Down on All Things Osteopathy

Tapping into the brains trust for this month, we spoke with Dr. David Sokoloff from Melbourne Osteopathy Centre to learn more about the field of Osteopathy.

What is the main difference between an Osteopath and a Physio or Chiro?
Most people tend to think of the difference of the modalities by the treatment methods used. For example, Chiros tend to use more manipulation, Physios tend to do more exercise rehab, and Osteos tend to do a combination of soft tissue, manipulation and mobilisation. This is a bit of generalisation however, as you’ll find there is a lot of cross-over these days (some Physios do manipulation, some Osteos specialise in rehab etc.).

In reality, the difference is the principles driving each modality. Osteopathy focuses on treating the body as a mechanical and functional unit. We search for the root cause of the problem, rather than committing all of our efforts to the location of the symptoms. Physiotherapy deals much more with the local area in question and attempting to focus on the area where the symptoms are. The Chiro model holds that the nervous system is the driver of dysfunction in the body, and uses lots of spinal manipulation to achieve this.

When should someone see an Osteopath?
Osteopaths are taught to deal with all areas of the body, from the jaw all the way down to the toes. So basically, if you’ve got aches and pains anywhere in your body, a good Osteo should be able to help you. That being said, we see a lot of neck and back pain.

Is osteopathic treatment covered by private health insurance or Medicare?
Private health care yes, Medicare no. Almost all Private Health funds will cover Osteo in the same bracket that it covers Physio and Chiro, although it will depend on your policy as to how generous your provider is willing to be.

What type of training does an Osteopath need to complete?
We do 5 years of study in total. There is a heavy focus on Anatomy, Biomechanics and Pathology (systemic disease). We also do 2 years of hands-on treatment in a student clinic before you’re allowed to treat in a private clinic, so you do leave feeling really confident in dealing with all areas of the body.

What is the difference between a structural and cranial treatment?
Good question! There is a really big difference between a structural and cranial Osteopath, so it’s important to know which you’re going to be dealing with if you book in a session. Structural Osteos focus much more on soft tissue and manipulation techniques to make biomechanical changes in the body. They are much more focused on the mechanical picture and alleviating pressure from different areas using direct techniques. Cranial Osteopathy is a branch of Osteopathy which emphasises a much gentler approach to feeling and treating areas of dysfunction. It focuses on the subtle rhythms of the whole body, and attempts to restore these rhythms using very small amplitude motions.

Personally, I focus on a combination of structural and movement/rehab strategies, so I don’t necessarily fit strictly into either category.

Nothing better than having an expert on hand to help with the tricky questions – thanks again for your help Dave!

All this talk of Osteopaths this week had us thinking about the challenge we can do after the Plank activities last month. Exercise challenges such as this amazing 28-day fitness program are great, but why not push yourself in other ways as well? These 30-day challenges are a great way to broaden your horizons and change your life for the better. My personal favourite is number 7 – gratitude not only makes the day of the person you are complimenting or helping, it also boosts your own happiness. Turns out altruistic tasks aren’t completely selfless, but maybe that’s a good thing. Donating blood and picking up rubbish are two simple and effective ways to boost your happiness and your immunity – who knew?!

Although we have to revert to the American calendar, Tuesday was Pi Day so we took some inspiration for these delicious apple pie energy balls to get us through the day to celebrate the occasion. Hopefully you don’t think we were acting too irrationally?

As always, please let me know if there are any particular topics you would love us to look into, or if you have any queries or concerns.

You can call me on 03 9963 4832 or email me directly.

-Chelsea King



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