What does an osteopath do?
Osteopathic techniques are chosen based on the individual patient and the symptoms they have reported.
These range from subtle techniques, suited to babies, those with medical conditions affecting the joints and older patients, to more vigorous techniques used in healthy adults:
- Soft tissue release techniques/massage – to relax tight muscles.
- Articulation/mobilisation – where your joints are passively moved through their natural range of motion.
- Manipulation/high-velocity thrusts – short, controlled movements to improve mobility in restricted joints of the body, especially in the spine.
These techniques aim to reduce pain, improve movement, and encourage blood flow. Osteopathy isn't painful, although it's not unusual to feel stiff in the first few days after treatment, particularly if you're having treatment for a painful or inflamed injury.
What do I need to do to become an osteopath?
To become a Registered Osteopath, you must have completed a course of training that is recognised by the General Osteopathic Council.
Training courses generally lead to a bachelor’s degree in osteopathy (a BSc Hons, BOst or BOstMed) or a master's degree (M.Ost). Courses usually consist of four years of full-time training, five years part-time, or a mixture of full or part-time. There are also courses with accelerated pathways for doctors and physiotherapists.
A degree course includes anatomy, physiology, neurology, pathology, pharmacology, nutrition, and biomechanics, plus at least 1,000 hours of clinical training.
You can work and study part-time for a degree to qualify as an osteopath. There may be some positions within the NHS.
- Entry requirements vary but typically you will need Level 3 or higher level qualifications in health or science subjects. Course provider websites will outline their current requirements.
Where could I be working?
You could work in a therapy clinic or set up your own practice.
With experience, you could set up your own practice or work within a multi-disciplinary clinic. You could also move into education or specialise in certain areas working with young patients, professional sports people or even animals. The average income for established osteopaths in the UK is £45,000, with 11% earning in excess of £100,000.
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