Osteopathic Mechanics – A Text Book by Edythe Florence Ashmore

A volume made especially for students, featuring photographs and drawings to illustrate the osteopathic lesions and the most simple techniques to correct them. In 1914, Dr Ashmore was a lecturer at the American School of Osteopathy (ASO) of Kirksville.

Publisher: Journal Printing Co., Kirksville, Missouri (USA)

Year of publication: 1915

Number of pages: 237






The book is intended as a practical and clear tool, destined to the students of osteopathy. The volume presents 82 illustrations, 3 color tables and an analytical index. It is divided into 11 chapters:

  1. The lesion
  2. The normal movement of the spine
  3. Lateral curvature of the spine
  4. Flexion and extension lesions
  5. Rotations and sidebending lesions 
  6. Cervical lesions
  7. Sacro-iliac lesions
  8. Rib lesions
  9. Occipito-atlantal lesions
  10. Clavicular and other lesions 
  11. Soft tissue technique

The first chapter contains the definition of lesion and of subluxation, a brief description of the vertebral articulation and an explanation of what osteopathic diagnosis and technique are. In the second chapter the normal movements of the spine are described.

The following chapters focus on specific lesions: the description of each lesion followed by a paragraph on the methods of palpation and another paragraph on the movements used to correct lesions, often accompanied by illustrative figures and photographs, and a comment on the “post-treatment”. 

In the “general rules”, reported at pag. 72, the author describes the two main methods employed by osteopaths: the oldest one is the method of traction while the most recent one is the direct method, or thrust. Dr Ashmore affirms that the method of traction is the most difficult to teach, therefore her preference goes to the thrust technique, which she finds useful to describe as “direct method” instead of using the actual term “thrust” for the aggressive connotation assumed by this word because of the imitators of osteopathy.

The seven pages of the last chapter deal with the treatment of soft tissues, emphasizing that this type of osteopathic treatment is very different from the massage techniques. The author states that, although it cannot replace the osteopathic “tuning” based on the normalization of the musculoskeletal system, soft tissue techniques can be useful and require specific training. By way of example, some maneuvers for the liver, eyes and intestines are described.

Strengths: the book, of considerable historical interest, is very clear and well-structured, every lesion is clearly described. The author declares in the preface to have always selected the most simple corrective movements, which could clearly illustrate the fundamental principles of the osteopathic treatment.

Weaknesses: as declared by the author of the preface, the book suffers from some terminological inhomogeneities.

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