What is Holistic Physical Therapy?

Wondering if holistic physical therapy is right for you? You might be surprised at just how effective it is!

Taking a holistic approach to physical therapy is not a new concept, but it is rarely seen in practice. What commonly happens in modern medicine is that we try to manage symptoms instead of treating the underlying problem. This approach can still support healing, and if nothing else it provides temporary relief. But the symptoms often return when treatment stops - making it an unsustainable choice.

On the other hand, a holistic approach seeks to identify the root cause of the problem, correct the issue, and support the body in healing itself.


Holistic physical therapy works with the different systems of the
body to bring a naturally balanced state that is conducive to overall health.


Because holistic physical therapy identifies the root issue and takes whole-body health into account, it is much more effective than traditional physical therapy! 

The Whole-Body Approach to Health

All the systems of the body affect each other.

For example, the movement of the diaphragm when you breathe helps draw air into the lungs, an important function of the respiratory system. The respiratory system supports the cardiovascular system by providing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the blood.

Yet the movement of the diaphragm also helps pump lymph through your body. This helps the immune system to function. So the respiratory system affects the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system

If the diaphragm muscle is tight, it doesn't just affect the respiratory system. It also affects the immune and cardiovascular systems, which in turn affect other body systems.

By releasing the diaphragm through manual therapy, and strenthening it with breathing exercises, the health of many systems of the body can be improved.

A holistic approach to physical therapy takes all of these connections into account. That's because, in order to have whole-body health, each body system has to be healthy and performing well.

Additionally, your physical health is deeply connected with mental and spiritual health. So a holistic approach to therapy may include meditative techniques and mindfulness to help you heal in your mind and spirit as well.

Holistic Physical Therapy vs. Traditional Physical Therapy

Holistic physical therapy incorporates many of the same techniques as traditional therapy. The main difference lies in the approach. 

Holistic PT

  • Addresses the root cause of your issue

  • Works with the foundations of health

  • Increases energy and vitality

  • Helps the body heal itself

Traditional PT

  • Focuses on treating the symptom

  • Treats the parts of the body in isolation

  • Has a limited scope

  • Focuses on specific functional goals

Holistic physical therapy also includes more manual, hands-on techniques than traditional physical therapy. With a holistic approach to whole-body health, we often use hands-on release techniques to increase circulation, increase joint mobilization, and reduce tension. 

Sometimes holistic physical therapists integrate alternative medicine into their treatments. For example, at Finn Physical Therapy, I combine osteopathic techniques with traditional techniques for more effective healing.

If you would like to learn more about my journey as a holistic physical therapist, click here to read my story.

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