Less known in the range of manual holistic techniques, orthotherapy relieves muscle and joint pain from falls, accidents, improper posture, or physical inactivity. More and more people use it to relieve their painful muscle problems, but also to treat their migraines or tension headaches.

It was in the 70s that orthotherapy made its arrival, a few years after being drafted by an American orthopedist, Dr. Michael Arthur. I was conceived as a preventive method designed to correct the posture of patients, and to address musculoskeletal imbalances.

Over the years, orthotherapy has been enriched through many practitioners, and more particularly by therapists who integrate some techniques from Europe. For ten years it has been gaining popularity, which explains the increasing number of therapists.

The Pursuit of Well-Being with Orthotherapy

Orthotherapy is a science that combines massage therapy and physical therapy (movement therapy). The aim is to relieve muscle and joint pain that can explain or produce headaches or backaches, stiffness, tendinitis and some neuralgia.

Problems frequently result from bad falls, an accident, a sudden movement or just a blatant lack of exercise. Contrary to the chiropractor or osteopath, the orthotherapist makes no manipulation of the spine or organs. It works directly on the muscular and skeletal systems by combining the techniques of massage, mobilization and preventative exercise.

“This had a dramatic effect on my body and my health, I still cannot believe it,” recalls one patient, who finally consulted an orthotherapist after having tried everything to relieve her severe back pain, resulting from a severe fall while doing ballet after ten years. “Orthotherapy permits me first to find a good posture, which has greatly reduced my muscle tension. Then, with massage and some preventive exercises, my body has become more and more relaxed. Great wealth is suddenly back. In a few sessions, my condition has improved significantly. Now, I exercise to prevent home from the indications that my therapist gave me,” she says.

Through its approach, orthotherapy can also have a positive impact on respiration and blood circulation, helping eliminate toxins and oxygenating the body’s cells. Not surprising that all athletes receive the services of orthotherapists, something that sedentary people need, too, to improve their fitness.

The Orthotherapist’s Approach

At the first meeting, which usually lasts an hour, the orthotherapist asks a series of questions to the person who has come for the consultation, to establish a more accurate picture as possible of the problems and difficulties he encounters. Once the background is established, the meeting begins with a Swedish energy massage called an intramuscular massage.

The goal is to relax the muscles, give them flexibility, and activate blood circulation. Secondly, the therapist conducts physical mobilization by setting in motion various body parts that seem related to the problem of the patient. The person can perform the movement himself or the orthotherapist manipulates body parts that are resistant to patient motion.

The operation is always done gently, in awe of the normal deployment of the joints. This is also what often surprises people who come to orthotherapists first. When it comes to thinking of working on muscular and skeletal correction, patients expect cracking or even pain. They quickly realize that this is far from the case.

To complete treatment, orthotherapist will provide advice on diet and hygiene of the patient’s life, in connection with his problems. He may also propose the use of some natural products and to change certain habits that the person has developed over the years, sometimes without even realizing it.

Interestingly, orthotherapy rarely requires a high number of treatments. Five to ten meetings with the therapist will often suffice, and the patient will experience a rapid improvement. The therapist will also advise the person on a number of physical exercises to do at home to promote independence; exercises that are preventive or corrective, and that complement and provide continuity of treatment options on a number of weeks.

Recognition of the Profession

Orthotherapy as a profession, unlike massage therapy, is not regulated. It is therefore important for the public to ensure that they are doing business with a competent person. It is therefore advisable to check into the background of the therapist with whom one is about to begin a process. Ensure that he or she is part of a recognized association, with a certificate of competence, enquire since when he or she has been in practice, and even request references.

We must keep in mind that orthotherapy is first and foremost by the appropriation of the techniques of massage therapy and physiotherapy. The therapist who appears before you should be very well-trained and equipped.

It must be said that most schools that offer orthotherapy training are initially massage therapy schools. To obtain an official certificate or claim to have training in good and due form, a person must have completed training, massage therapy, physiotherapy and orthotherapy for at least 1200 hours.

Depending on the insurance company you have, the orthotherapy approach may be recognized as being among professional care. The patient can then claim a receipt from his therapist and receive a refund of the insurance company.

The Approach of Orthotherapy is…

  • A first step involves a Swedish massage.
  • A series of mobilizations, where the therapist works specifically on the movement of limbs and joints.
  • A combination of physical exercises to do at home to correct or prevent problems.
  • Advice on healthy lifestyles to promote well-being musculoskeletal.

Learn More…

A book by the creator of the orthotherapy: Michele Arthur, MD, You Do not Have to Ache: Orthotherapy, M. Evans and Co., 1983.