History of Finnish Bonesetting
Finnish bonesetting has been around for over a thousand years and it has been one of the commonly used tools in Finnish folk medicine practitioners along with herbal treatments, sauna and cupping therapy.
Finnish folk healers gained reputation throughout Europe for their knowledge of the human body and their capabilities in restoring health where other healers failed.
Traditional bonesetting includes two different set of methods in treatments. Manipulation is uses slight force to manipulate a joint into a better position. Mobilization on the other hand doesn't use force, but instead relies on using the patients movement in gently "persuading" the tissue to relax and let the body balance itself.
Traditional Finnish Mobilization Therapy i.e. "Kalevalainen jäsenkorjaus"
Finnish bonesetters were trained keeping the information in family, but Olavi Mäkelä made an exception after seeing how many people could be helped with bonesetting. Olavi Mäkelä along with Pentti Penttilä started teaching other people as well. This happened in 1986. At first the training included both manipulation and mobilization, but Olavi soon realized the long-term benefits were better in using mobilization techniques so he focused the teaching in mobilization techniques.
Kalevalainen jäsenkorjaus came to life as a name officially in 1998. Before that it was referred to as Traditional bonesetting or Traditional Finnish bonesetting. Kansanlääkintäseura is the organisation overseeing the usage, development and training of Kalevala bonesetting.
Kalevala bonesetting is based on the mobilization style of Finnish bonesetting, meaning Kalevala bonesetting doesn't use manipulation techniques or "cracking". Mobilization techniques make Kalevala bonesetting an extremely gentle form of treatment that's suitable for all ages. Even small babies can be treated.
The goal of Kalevala bonesetting is to find the source of the problems and balancing that part of the body helps the body to balance the rest. We never know if there are multiple sources of problems so the whole body is treated every time, from the feet up to the head.
Although the basis of Kalevala bonesetting lies in Finnish folk medicine dating back over a thousand years, one of the modernizations Kalevala bonesetting has done is participating in scientific research. Kalevala bonesetting has been studied in five Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) so far. One of these studied was included in a meta-analysis by the University of Amsterdam in 2021.
The studies showed that Kalevala bonesetting was at least on the same level of effectiveness as traditional physiotherapy and in some studies even more effective in the long term.
Here are the links to the studies:
Moderators of the Effect of Spinal Manipulative Therapy on Pain Relief and Function in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: An Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis
Effectiveness of Traditional Bone Setting in Treating Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomised Pilot Trial
Effectiveness of Traditional Bone Setting in Chronic Neck Pain: Randomized Clinical Trial
Bone setting for prolonged neck pain: a randomized clinical trial
Indigenous Healers’ Explanations of Low Back Pain and Its Relief
Quality of life and cost of care of back pain patients in Finnish general practice
Kansanlääkintäseura is the only organiser of Kalevala bonesetting training. Training to be a certified Kalevala bonesetter takes roughly three years. There are 13 study weekends filled with hands-on training, theory and different kinds of assignments and tests. However, the majority of the learning is done between the study weekends as a student must have at least 300 approved practise treatments done before they can attend the final exam treatment where a master-level bonesetter is evaluating the performance on a patient.
The training path follows a tried and true "trainee - apprentice - bonesetter" after which you are entitled to call yourself a Kalevala bonesetter. This title is not permanent as Kalevala bonesetters are required to be a member of Kansanlääkintäseura and attend further training once at least every two years as well as behave according to the ethical code of Kalevala bonesetting.
Kalevala bonesetting today
treatments every year
training sessions every year
There's a lot going on with Kalevala bonesetting nowadays. More people are starting studies and more and more people treat themselves with Kalevala bonesetting.
There is also a lot of interest in getting Kalevala bonesetting integrated into the Finnish health care system. That would make it possible for a doctor to include a Kalevala bonesetter in the treatment cycle of many patients suffering from problems in and originating from their musculoskeletal system.