Modern therapy-based structural bodywork is an effective alternative to mainstream body pain treatment, with roots planted firmly in a rich history.

Many therapists that work with the human body to facilitate healing and help it regain full, pain-free, optimal function began that journey by needing help with their own physical problems. Many times, after having benefited from the hands of a skilled practitioner who brought about miraculous changes in their condition, it prompted that therapist to seek out and master the skills (modalities) to serve others. But where do these skills come from?

Manual therapy is a general category that includes many of these modalities, dating back to the beginning of human history—with records records of hands-on healing therapies going back to ancient Egypt. The Mongols, at the pinnacle of their successful campaign to conquer the known world, had “bonesetters” that attended to the warriors who themselves had joint or skeletal injuries—with some of their techniques resembling modern chiropractic methods.

By the 1400s, bonesetting had become popular in England, and in the late 1800s, an English bonesetter taught A.T. Still, a Civil War field surgeon, some of these skills.

Still, who’d grown disenchanted with allopathic medicine (mainstream) after losing most of his family to meningitis, went on to become the father of osteopathic manual medicine. D.D. Palmer, credited with developing chiropractic, studied with Still before starting his variation of these hands-on techniques. Around the same time, Pehr Henrik Ling founded the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics in 1813—for manipulation and exercise. The Swedish word for physical therapist is sjukgymnast, meaning someone involved in gymnastics for those who are ill. In 1887, physical therapists were given official registration by Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare. Other countries soon followed.

The fields of osteopathy, physical therapy, and chiropractic continued to evolve through the 20th century, offering variations of hands-on corrective techniques as opposed to the pharmaceutical and surgical solutions offered by allopathic medicine. The allopathic establishment tried to discredit osteopathic and chiropractic practitioners throughout the 1900s. In 1969, osteopathic practitioners decided to forgo their manual therapy tradition, and began training in the allopathic medical model, while the chiropractors rejected this offer.

Today, many of the methods created by American osteopaths, such as Myofascial release, cranial work, visceral manipulation, etc., have been adopted by Rolfers (those trained through the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration), physical therapists, therapeutic body workers, athletic trainers, acupuncturists, and chiropractors. Thanks to the Internet, this once-segmented knowledge has evolved and gained popularity as an adjunct to allopathic medicine.

If your body is in pain, and you’re ready to address a new method of resolving that pain, give us a call. We’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years. We’ve helped a lot of people get back to the pain-free life they want to live.


— Chris Crawford LMT, CMT (540.270.7601), and Lori Robertson LMT, CMT (540.336.4737), operate Downstream to Wellness (Capstone Method)—with offices in Winchester (VA) and Shepherdstown (WV). They’re modern-day bonesetters specializing in manual therapy-based structural bodywork. Find out more on their site, as well as Facebook.

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