Necessity is the mother of invention. Long before Andrew Taylor Still went on to found osteopathy in 1892, he suffered severe headaches as a child. One day, during such a bout, the boy went to rest the back of his head on a swing his father had hung for him from a tree branch. He rested the back of his neck and head on the low-hanging swing and fell asleep. Upon waking his headache was gone, and he was armed with a therapeutic intervention, which he then used many times over. This home remedy of his eventually began much of his thinking toward developing the science of osteopathy. In his fortunate discovery of a headache treatment he had gotten a glimmer of what naturopaths now call physical medicine.
Chiropractors, traditional osteopaths and naturopaths are trained in techniques to help the body realize its full range of motion and function. But why do we even need such professional help for such basic bodily functions as mobility and strength? It is because in order to conform to our society's expectations, we really have to restrict quite severely our natural inclination to move and be active. We sit in our cars to commute to our jobs, at which many of us then sit at desks or benches the whole day. Then we go back to our cars, and in the evening we may sit reading or watching TV. And it's pretty much been this way since grade school. It's enough to make you think that the number one rule of the 20th and 21st centuries is to Sit Down and Shut Up. Bodies that were built by nature to move, to be agile and strong, spend most of the day sitting. No wonder we get back pains, shoulder pains, pins and needles in our legs, cold extremities, stiff neck or other problems.
In fact, those who practice physical medicine view disease as resulting from this deviation from natural activity and thus we suffer from impaired function and restricted range of motion. These practitioners then treat the mechanical dysfunction, whether a misaligned vertebrae, muscle m or other condition, in order to improve the malfunction and immobility in our bodies as a whole.
Hydrotherapy is one of the main forms of treatment that the earliest naturopaths used. While it has fallen out of use to a great extent, there is healing potential in simply knowing how to apply water to injuries, at what temperature, how to alternate temperature, for how long, with or without pressure, and temperature maintenance. Hydrotherapy has been around for as long as the animal kingdom. In the wild, animals have been observed to soak injured areas daily in local water sources until healed. At the beginning of the 20th century the most well known naturopaths, such as Benedict Lust and Henry Lindlahr, were using hydrotherapy extensively. The famous John Harvey Kellogg of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan was known for using a great variety of hydrotherapy treatments to cure presumably "incurable" diseases. Although naturopaths are trained in hydrotherapy, many do not now use it because it can be time-consuming to perform.