Osteopathy and Mental Health
You might be surprised to know that osteopathy can help with mental health, not just physical pain.
Through craniosacral, I work with the central nervous system which can be where emotions (e.g. anxiety/worry/depression/frustration) are stored and causing disfunction in the body.
Similarly, with visceral therapy, I’ve been seeing a lot of clients with digestive issues that are linked to the immense anxiety and stress that we’re all experiencing. Just like storing tension in your shoulders, you can store tension in your organs... especially when you’re under stress! This can lead to more than just a sore tummy, it can cause back pain, anxiety, or even fertility problems.
Through hands-on osteopathic therapy, I can unlock some of the tension stored in these areas and then your body does the rest of the work by releasing and unwinding. It's a subtle yet impactful method and it's interesting (and rewarding) to hear clients report the marked improvement in their overall state of wellbeing.
Taking care of your physical body is an essential part of maintaining mental health. The two are intertwined. This is why I’m glad therapists can stay open during this latest round of shut downs, and help ease this tremendous burden in any way we can.
The time has come for me to fully switch over to manual osteopathy. This means that going forward massage therapy will no longer be available for booking.
Though you may not be thrilled to hear this news, I am excited to make this shift. Over the past four years I've seen the real difference osteopathy makes when it comes to treating the root causes of pain. Even though this decision was a long time in the making, it wasn't easy and I will miss my massage practice!
Current massage bookings
If you're currently booked for a massage, your appointment will stay the same and I'll be seeing you very soon.
Recommended massage therapists
I firmly believe that massage therapy is a very important part of overall health and wellness. Finding a massage therapist you like can take time. If you're like me, you're very selective. The following three individuals are experienced therapists whom I've been treated by, and I highly recommend:
I sincerely thank you for your loyalty and referrals over the years. I wouldn't have made it this far without you. I look forward to continuing to serve you with manual osteopathy. As always, if you have any questions about how it can help, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Manual Osteopathy & covid closure
A few people have asked, so I thought I'd take a moment to explain why Manual Osteopathy was shut down while similar services such as physiotherapy and acupuncture were kept open in Alberta. To put it simply: it's all a matter of regulation (read: rep tape).
Unfortunately, when it comes to regulating health professions, Alberta lags behind other provinces. Massage therapy, Manual Osteopathy, and Athletic Therapy had to stay closed because their professional associations have not yet achieved regulated status, despite their tireless efforts to do so.
Achieving regulated status means being included in the Health Professionals Act. An association must jump through a lot of hoops before the government amends the Act. The majority of health professions in the Act are regulated by self-governing colleges (exactly like osteo and massage).
So what's different in how a massage therapist or manual osteopath treats a client than say a physiotherapist or an acupuncturist? Very little, in fact. When it comes to COVID-19, as professionals, we follow the exact same AHS safety & sanitation guidelines as other regulated health professionals.
During the most recent shut down, organizations like the Alberta Association of Osteopathic Manual Therapists (AAOMT) fought very hard on behalf of the profession to keep our doors open. They went to the media and lobbied the government to advocate for manual osteopaths.
It was also really nice to see other regulated professionals advocating for us too! I do believe it was this combined effort that eventually led to the government changing its mind and allowing us to operate again.
A huge "thank you!" is in order to all of those who stepped up and did their part for our service. Unity was shut for one third of 2020 - that is a total of 4 months. I do not take it for granted that my business is open. As much as I appreciate the COVID-19 restrictions, the sad truth is that many businesses are left in the dust.
It goes without saying it's been a wild ride. In these challenging times, one thing that remains is my admiration for the front line workers and my gratitude for being able to play a part in potentially lightening their load by helping clients with acute and chronic pain.
Covid19 clinic update
After a 3 month closure, we are thrilled to be back in business on June 12, 2020. You may be wondering what we're doing to help prevent the spread of covid. First of all, both my osteo and massage associations (the National Manual Osteopathic Society and the MTAA) have sent out detailed guidelines regarding:
Based on these guidelines, here is a more specific rundown of what we're doing at the clinic:
The Government of Alberta has the most up-to-date information on their webpage at: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx
You can also check out the City of Calgary covid19 information at:
By now I know everyone is fairly well versed on how to prevent the spread of covid, but if you have any specific questions or concerns about how we're handling the pandemic at the clinic, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manual Osteopath, RMT
Do you remember that catchy Staples commercial about September being the most wonderful time of the year for parents? In Calgary, September means a big dump of snow and this year is no exception… so for the skiers and snowboarders I guess it is a wonderful thing!
For us here at Unity, September usually means the start of our busy season. And indeed, September has been an ultra-productive month of teaching at MCG College and getting our new clinic space all set up.
Speaking of… there are a few things we want you to know about our upcoming move in October:
Mandi is a phenomenal therapist, her long list of designations include: RMT, Ayurvedic Marma-Therapist trained in Tongue and Pulse diagnosis, Traditional Thai Therapist including Cupping and Scraping, Pregnancy massage, Plant Spirit Medicine, Yoga Instructor, and Yoga Therapist, Sports Massage, Lymphatic Drainage, and Quantum Touch.
We really hope you’ll like the new space as much as we do! As with most big renovation projects, it never truly feels “finished” so we will be in a bit of a transition phase while we work out minor details and the finishing touches. As always, we welcome your feedback as we settle in.
Big thanks to everyone who provided us feedback through our survey in the summer. We heard you want a central space close to our existing location, and that free parking and a cozy atmosphere are the most important. We’re happy to say we’ve ticked all these boxes!
Here are the official results:
Until next time,
Manual Osteopath, RMT
OsteoPathy, Massage & Circulation
Calgarians are no strangers to winter but this polar vortex is testing us. It’s hard to believe the first day of spring is 35 days away—not that I’m counting...
It’s very easy during these cold winter days to fall off the self-care wagon. No one wants to go to the gym, let alone go outside for a run or a walk. Couple that with regular Netflix binges, and we get prone to our regular aches and pains, and for some that means fingers and toes that never warm up no matter how many socks you pile on.
But you don’t have to wait until you’re in pain to put your body back in balance.
Whether it’s osteopathy or massage, your bones, joints, and circulatory system welcome some extra TLC during these extreme bouts of cold weather. Why?
Because the manual techniques of osteopathy and massage release tension in the fascia, which allows blood to move through the tissue and flush out congested areas. Flushing the tissue also circulates lymphatic fluid which brings nutrients into our tissue and takes waste out.
Overall this has a very positive effect on the body; it lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, warms our extremities, and brings you that overall feeling of lightness and relief.
Every moment our bodies are in a constant battle trying to keep hundreds if not thousands of things in balance. Sometimes we need a little bit of extra help to achieve that balance.
Take a moment and check in with your body... do you have any nagging soreness? Are your extremities always cold even though you're wearing three layers? Catching these minor discomforts early makes all the difference.
If there’s anything I can help with, I’m a click or a phone call away. In the meantime, keep moving to help keep those hands and feet warm… and remember, 35 days!
Manual Osteopath, Registered Massage Therapist
Q & A with Zarko the Osteo
In a nutshell, what is osteopathy?
To be very brief, osteopathy is a holistic form of healing which means an osteopath considers the WHOLE body when treating a client – this includes the bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles, nerves and more. Hands on techniques are used to align the body’s tissue and bring it back to its natural state.
Why is osteopathy not very well known in Calgary?
Until fairly recently, Alberta hasn’t had any form of education specifically for manual osteopaths. If someone wanted to study osteopathy, they would have had to travel to Toronto or Vancouver. In 2013, the National Manual Osteopathic College opened its doors to serve as Alberta’s only school offering a certified curriculum where graduates are fully insured to practice manual osteopathy across Canada.
How is manual osteopathy different from other common medical services like massage, physio or chiro?
I’ll start with how it’s similar: all paramedical treatments aim to heal pain and disfunction in the body. Each modality has its specific focus and can be extremely effective in restoring the body’s function. Manual osteopathy, as I mentioned above, looks at the body as a whole unit. In this sense, that’s how it’s different. For example, one session may treat the bones, muscles, and nervous system, meaning no two treatments are the same. A manual osteopath takes the time to assess and figure out the cause of the dysfunction, whether it be a joint that’s out of place, soft tissue that needs release, even and organ that’s stuck or twisted.
What could I expect during a manual osteopathy treatment?
It starts with a conversation about your overall health and the specific issues you’re facing. Then I do the full body assessment, which varies depending on what the issues are. Then the treatment begins which is gentle and could mean you laying on your back, sitting upright, or standing, again depending on the issue. All of techniques are hands on which means I am gently shifting the client’s body, and the client is asked to turn or twist as necessary.
The importance of fascia
I've been getting a lot of questions about fascia lately, about what it is, and how treating it is different than getting a massage. So I'd like to shed some light on some of the newest discoveries about fascia—which I believe to be the body's most exciting tissue.
Fascia has been in our bodies for millions of years, but our understanding of it (and its importance) is very new and the body of research is growing as we speak…
Fascia is connective tissue that holds us together and keeps our form. It communicates throughout the body, helps vasculature and circulation, proprioception, and so much more. Fascia makes up a huge portion of our bodies: from the tissue holding our organs in place, to our very bones.
Until fairly recently, in the medical world fascia was considered just 'tape' that held us together and it was tossed away or disregarded in surgeries and dissections. It wasn't until recently that we discovered fascia has about 10 times the innervation as its surrounding tissue, like muscles.
This means fascia communicates throughout the body faster than nerve cells, as it relies on mechanical energy transfer, rather than a chemical reaction, to send and receive signals.
Your fascia can tell your brain what’s going on faster than your nerves can. That pretty fascianating! (I'm sorry, I had to).
Fascia also helps absorb and transfer the majority of force whenever we are doing work (something we believed our muscles did until recently).
What is interesting to a manual osteopath is that fascia plays a major role in so many chronic conditions that people suffer with daily.
From back pain, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, repetitive strain, postural pain, shin splints, the list goes on. So if you aren't treating the fascia, you aren't treating a major component of the problem.
Why not just go for a massage? Doesn't that treat the fascia?
Yes and no. A massage will treat a portion of the fascia, specifically the myofascia (the fascia surrounding muscles) but it won't treat the fascia as a whole. Think of the fascia in your body as a 3D web. When this web weakens in a certain area, the rest of the web has to compensate by changing your posture. A lot of pain people live with is due to these changes.
This is why when you go for a massage due to neck and shoulder pain (too much time in the office chair) it feels great, but after about a week, the pain is back. That is because the web as a whole was not treated, and the compensation that the web is doing hasn't been rectified. Your problem will come back, because only the symptom was treated.
Osteopathy and fascia
A complete fascial treatment addresses the problem, as well as the compensatory changes that your fascial system has made, in order to help fix the cause of the issue. Manual Osteopathy addresses the fascial system as a whole, from your bone and joint alignment, muscle adhesions, visceral (re: organs) adhesions and so on, to help re-balance the body as a unit, as one whole, rather than focusing on separate systems throughout the body.
If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you, simply drop me a line at: email@example.com
Manual Osteopath, RMT
what is Craniosacral therapy?
You may have heard about "cranio-sacral" or have even received a treatment in the past, but you may still be wondering what craniosacral is. I've heard many different opinions on it, from it being witchcraft and voodoo that cures all ailments, to "they did nothing at all, just held my head for an hour!" So what exactly is craniosacral?
Well, without getting too far into the esoteric claims that some craniosacral therapists swear by, I'm going to try and explain it all science-like.
Craniosacral deals with the cranium (your noggin), the sacrum (lowest flat part of your back) and the spinal column in between. Our brains our housed within a dural tube, witch encloses and protects our brain and spinal cord, which stretches from our head down to just above our tailbone. Like all tissue in the body, it is designed to move, and like all tissues in the body, it is subject to stresses and tension which inhibit said movement. The basics of craniosacral therapy is to free up anything that is restricting the dural tube, our brains and our spinal cord, as well as the nerves (which exit the spine).
Restrictions can happen anywhere throughout the spine, sacrum, neck, and even your cranial bones. An osteopath or a cransiosacral therapist can very gently mobilize your cranial bones, sacrum, and spinal column, to ease off any restrictions, and allow proper movement to recur.
The techniques an osteopath uses are very gentle because the body is extremely good at protecting itself from outside forces. As you may guess, the body is extra protective of its own brain and spinal cord, so any outside force is automatically resisted. That's why we use such a gentle touch in order to manipulate the cranial bones and dural tube, as anything more intense will be resisted by the body. So the osteopath must first listen to the body's natural movement (feeling the rhythm with their hands), and then gently guide the spinal cord back to it's center, so it may be balanced.
Why should you care if your craniosacral rhythm is out of balance?
I'm glad you asked! Your brain and spinal cord control every process of our bodies, so any imbalance, even a very minor one, can lead to all sorts of problems. From insomnia, headaches, digestive issues, nausea and dizziness, back pain, the list goes on. So as manual osteopathic therapists, we aim to restore balance in the body, so that it may right/heal itself!
Many clients report a sense of lightness and ease after a craniosacral treatment.
I hope this has shed some light on what craniosacral is and what it does, but if you have more questions I would love to hear from you. Just drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours & Health and Wellness,
Manual Osteopath, RMT
visceral manual osteopathy
What is visceral?
A visceral manual osteopathic treatment focuses on all your organs, from the liver and stomach, to the intestines and bladder. Our bodies endure constant stresses throughout the day which can have an adverse effect on our organs, leading to indigestion, cramping, incontinence, fertility issues, and all sorts of other problems and discomforts.
What to expect
With the use of very gentle hands-on techniques, I help mobilize the organs and any soft tissue that may be restricting them, allowing the organ to function properly and with greater ease. Not only can this help with any abdominal pains and discomforts, but also low back pain, mood swings, anxiety, depression, anger, insomnia, and many other symptoms.
Visceral treatments—and all other manual osteopathic treatments—are free until August 1, 2018. I offer two options for free manual osteopathy:
Both types of appointments can booked on Jane App. Feel free to contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions—we would love to hear from you!
Zarko is a Calgary-based Manual Osteopath