S.O.S. Therapy evolved from a system of spinal
manipulation known as naprapathy, which was developed in 1906 by a chiropractic pioneer named Oakley Smith. Back in the very early 1900's, Dr. Smith set out to prove the existing theory of chiropractic
subluxation. This theory held that the healthy functioning of the body was dependent upon the unobstructed flow of vital nerve force from the brain and spinal cord. This flow, however, could be
compromised by slight misalignments of the vertebrae impinging the spinal nerves as they exited the vertebral foramen. Dr. Smith decided to locate this subluxation entity in the spines of cadavers to prove to
the world that it existed. He even patented devices which he used in this research. But after carefully dissecting many spines, he came to a painful conclusion: that he could find no such
direct impingement phenomenon. He then began to look more carefully at the ligaments and connective tissue surrounding the vertebral foramen and the spinal nerve and made an interesting discovery. When
he looked at this tissue microscopically, he found that the actual underlying cause of spinal nerve compromise was periarticular connective tissue inflammation and subsequent micro-scarring during its repair.
He believed that the constrictive nature of the resultant scar tissue fibers could interfere with the function of the adjacent nerves. He the designed a complete system of identifying and charting these
connective tissue constrictions along the spine and devised specific techniques to correct them. He called his system naprapathy, which means "to correct suffering". Much of the core work of S.O.S. Therapy comes from Dr. Smith's original system, for which he is given full credit and a debt of gratitude.
Oakley Smith rejected the notion that vertebrae needed to be "put back into place," which is why his
teaching techniques emphasized specific stretching or mobilization, not adjusting with high velocity. While S.O.S. Therapy
and chiropractic are both applied primarily to the spine, S.O.S. Therapy
techniques do not utilize high velocity, do not extend the joint past the elastic barrier into the paraphysiologic joint space and hence do not cavitate the joint producing the characteristic articular "cracking" sound.
The goal of S.O.S. Therapy
is not to align the spine, but rather to stretch the soft tissues surrounding the spine. We use the vertebrae as levers to access the soft tissue elements, not to alter their position. In fact, S.O.S. Therapy is so dissimilar to chiropractic that D.D. Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, stated unequivocally the Dr. Smith's system was definitely NOT chiropractic by virtue of its philosophy and application.
Some of the benefits of this work are very obvious, such as marked improvement in joint mobility, along with
reduction or elimination of pain. But there are other benefits which are not so obvious. One such benefit is the stimulation of mechano-receptors in the vertebral joint capsules. Current
neuro-physiologic research is beginning to unravel the complex interaction of these receptors with the central and autonomous nervous systems.
It has also been suggested that spinal restrictions reduce the flow of electromagnetic energy through the
body thus negatively impacting the overall health of the individual. There is one basic premise shared by all systems of manual therapy that seems to hold true: "Structure governs function." S.O.S. Therapists seek to normalize connective tissue pliability so that the body is free to express its own structural equilibrium.
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