On 16/6/2017 I took part in the morning panel of the International Stress Management Association’s (ISMA) annual conference. The question Jeremy Nicholas, the MC for the day, asked me was: As an osteopath, can you give us the benefit of body-treatment in stress management? My succinct answer (or at least trying to) was…
It was at first my patients who pointed this out to me.
Patients mainly go to an osteopath for neck, shoulder or back pain and that wasn’t any different for me 10 years ago when I started my practice.
However, the feedback I received on a second visit weeks or sometimes months later astounded me. Not only did they experience the expected pain relief but also reported to be able to concentrate better, saw things clearer when decision had to be made, some said that they had the same amount of stress but that they were able to handle it much better, like stress didn’t bother them anymore. Some even reported to have more time.
When more and more patients started to report behavioural and mental benefits after a single treatment I started to be intrigued and went searching for an explanation.
We all know that from a biological perspective the stress-response is regulated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis.
A gentle touch like in certain massages is proven to increase vagal tone and thus can influence indirectly adrenaline, noradrenalin levels and decrease heart rate, blood pressure and muscular tension.
Certain forms of osteopathy that include craniosacral therapy and fascia therapy have proven to improve ANS balance greatly and influence HPA-axis.
I eventually created the Reaset Approach a novel body-mind and educational stress-management approach and did some research where I used Heart Rate variability measurements, State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) on top of a pain questionnaire I was able to prove that it has an significant influence on all of these.
Question is still, how? As I said before touch plays an important role but also specific body centres like the occiput, frontal bone, and neck are structurally related to the ANS and the temples with the amygdala and pituitary gland.
In stress management and psychotherapy I think osteopathy that includes ANS balancing can make a real sustaining difference.
Patient feedback after a single Osteopathy with Reaset Approach consultation:
Where to begin… First of all I’m feeling much better today than some months ago. I experienced a very difficult period after a death of a loved one. I completely isolated myself from the outside world (family, friends & colleagues…). I went through constant cerebration, throat tightness, anxiety, depressed, black thoughts and loneliness. Those feelings didn’t go away even while close people tried to help me much as they could.
A friend of me advised me to follow a session at an osteopath and got me an appointment.
The first intake was very stressful for me as I didn’t knew what to expect. Tom asked me some questions about my complaints (physically & mental). When Tom started the session I didn’t feel physically & mentally relaxed but when it was finished I really felt a BIG difference. I felt physically relaxed and free in my mind (constant cerebration stopped) and this was the first time I got this feeling after months
Tom is very a GOOD Osteopath, friendly and knows what he is doing and takes the time for it. I’m definitely going back
Once again Tom a BIG THANK YOU for the help during this difficult process I went through, which got my life be back on track
For more info visit my website www.tommeyers.be