Dorn FAQ 

The Dorn Method - FAQs

A Yes to Self Responsibility and a No to Back Pain

A holistic, effective, safe and Non-manipulative approach to correct imbalance in the spine and joint-structrure and a True Self Help Method!

Note: Dorn Therapy is NOT the same as Dorn Method! » see DORN Method vs Therapy

A short summery of the DORN Method history:
  • Dieter Dorn from Lautrach in the south german region Allgäu developed his (self-help) method at the end of the 70's largely self-taught after he experienced relief with a few hand movements due to a lumbago from the lay healer (bonesetter) and  farmer Josef Müller in Lautrach.
  • As a medical layman, Dieter Dorn developed the method intuitively through self-experience and application to fellow human beings from his environment to help them and to show them how they can help themselves.
  • His experienced knowledge he shared freely and without financial interests with all who came to him.
  • Self-help exercises and suggestions for a healthy lifestyle were given by Dieter Dorn to everyone on their own responsibility.
  • The acquaintance with the orthopedist Dr. Thomas Hansen in the middle of the 80's led to the passing on of the method in experience seminars which were visited by laymen as well as by specialists with medical/therapeutic background.
  • At the end of the 80's the method received its name after suggestion by the alternative medical practitioner Helmuth Koch.
  • A further spreading took place fast by the DORN congress, publications in the media (among other things television with minister Jürgen Fliege), print media (numerous books) and the Internet.
  • Dissemination also internationally through Dieter Dorn's students and other trainers on all continents.
  • First international information platforms on the Internet from 2004 and further English publications (2005) among others by Thomas Zudrell (now DORN International group leader of the german DORN association: The DORN movement ( and worldwide dissemination through seminars in many different countries and founding of new associations. (» International DORN directory)

Frequently asked questions:

The main areas of application are: Muscular-Skeletal Disorders (incl. Back Pain, Sciatica, Scoliosis, Joint-Pain, Muscular Tensions, Migraines etc.)

Every disease, even up to the psychological domain may be positively influenced unless an illness had already led to irreversible damages at organs. » although this statement is an unproven claim read why this theory could be possible:

Why is that?: The brain connects to all other body areas via the nervous system thus controlling and regulating every single function. All muscular tensions caused or influenced by structural imbalances can excert pressure onto the nerves beyond individual limits and may therefore have a negative impact on all respective areas. This concerns the nerves (electrical impulses) from and too the brain and depending on the individual situation this can have already perceptible symptoms but may well be critical however still within tolerable limits and therefore not (yet) noticed or ingnored.

Although this is a known and increasingly accepted theory in the therapeutical community there a not enough studies done confirming it. The many positive experiences made with DORN hopefully will encourage more health professionals to apply DORN to find out themselves if it works or not and this may then lead to more independant studies that are definitely needed.

If valued based only on mainstream medical requirements and socalled evidence based studies it is NOT!

Nevertheless: DORN is a new form of manual approach and self help method which is basically unknown in conventional medicine until now, with mostly anecdotal and experienced based evidence. » This lack of socalled evidence based proof is the reason why mainstream medicine is often rejecting DORN without ever having studied the Method or experienced a practical manual session.

1. DORN concerns for example the re-balancing of a difference in the length of the legs as a consequence of a combination of an imbalance of the hip-joint and/or an imbalance of the joints of pelvis-sacrum (sacro-iliac joint) and possible knee and ankle joints. This leg lenght difference is believed to have a greater influence on the human structures than classical (mainstream) medicine considers.

2. The osteopathic knowledge that there is a connection of each vertebra and its appropriate spinal segment to certain inner organs.
That means that when there are damages at these structures, disturbances of organic functions are the consequence, which again are the base for the arising of diseases.

3. The knowledge of the Chinese medicine, especially of acupuncture and meridian science that the organic functions are stirred and leveled, also among each other, via the vegetative nervous system

4. The natural-scientific knowledge of anatomy, physiology, physics, chemistry and other domains.

Sitting with crossed legs with one side prefered, un-natural sitting positions and stretching exercises beyond individual personal limits may cause a (usually only temporary) imbalance of the hip joint and SIJ and an immediate unbalanced tensioning of the muscles around the hip that twist the hip blades, and contribute further to this sacrum imbalance. All this together can lead to a difference in leg length. (When checked basically everybody will have a certain leg lenght difference so it should be considered more)

The joints of the knee and ankle can also get imbalanced and can as well contribute to the leg length discrepancy.

When sitting and crossing legs the femural head (bone of the upper leg) is levered out of its natural position in the hip socket (acetabular) because in a sitting position the muscles around the hip joint are relaxed and do not stabilize the joint as they would while standing.

The same can happen when stretching the hip joint (pelvis area) beyond natural limits and because this is, most of the time, not painful these stretches are considered safe or even beneficial.

Long sitting in a car also shows this result likely because the one-sided use of the legs when driving.

This mechanism happens to everybody, no matter of age, often already after one single wrong movement and can easy be demonstrated by the unique DORN leg lenght check.

When this condition is assessed in children or even babies one can find an imbalance in almost all of the babies/kids therefore some DORN practitioners think it is possible that this condition is a result of our birth where joints are stressed during delivery and not corrected immediately after therefore causing adjustment reactions leading to all these structural imbalances!

Later in life we then worsen the condition with our ‘un-natural’ movements and often unhealthy life-style.

This form of manual application can be considered very safe since the actions (= re-balancing procedures) are only done in cooperation with the Client/Patient during the movement (dynamic) of the joint-structure that is re-balanced, and the actual applied relative force is by far below, and only a fraction of, the naturally occurring forces during everyday movements.

The DORN procedures are never done beyond the personal pain limits of the Client/Patient so injury is basically not possible because the body is protecting itself during such actions with increasing muscular tensions when limits are reached and there are no reports of any problems in the 30 years history of the Dorn Method when applied correctly.

The socalled Do’s and Dont's of the DORN METHOD:

» Always consult a physician prior to apply the DORN METHOD with another persons. Always be careful and get permission from the person you are going to touch. Give sufficient information to the Client/Patient about the procedures and brief him/her on possible reactions that can be expected. Observe the highest ethical and moral standards and cleanliness.

Limits of DORN:

  • Individual tolerance limits of the Client/Patient and the practtiioner as well must never be exceeded.
  • The limits of DORN arise from the respective and different legal regulations and guidelines.
  • Limits of DORN arise from all health restrictions that require the clarification of a physician (conventional medical diagnosis)

More details:

Immobile patients: An important component of the DORN METHOD are the dynamic gentle swinging motions and other natural movements that accompany the actions, so if the Cleint/Patient cannot move or stand, the procedure is possible or help from other practitioners necessary.

» Clients/Patients that can no longer move by themself or are limited may still be treated by experienced and licensed therapists using the help of a third person. Necessary movements are then done actively (patient is passive) during careful applied pressure. More and more therapists worldwide are using the Dorn Method now successfully in Rehabilitation Medicine.

Accidents: After accidents or injury, you must not treat immediately, to avoid causing further damage, but six to eight weeks later, a treatment should be possible however if possible only after the respective treating physician is considering the situation safe.

Cancer: Patients diagnosed with cancer often feel better after a Dorn treatment, but the treatment must be done very gently and with written permission (and/or liability release) from the Client/Patient. The cancer itself cannot be cured by the DORN METHOD but some symptoms may get better and the Client/Patient overall condition is therefore improved.

Inflammations: Patient with acute inflammations or fever should only be treated after the symptoms have disappeared.

Lumbago and prolapsed disk: Patients with Lumbago (Sciatica) can be treated very gently as long as they are able to move comfortably. It might be advisable to give a careful massage (like Breuss massage) first to reduce the pain before applying the DORN METHOD.

A prolapsed disk must not be treated using the DORN METHOD, and the patient needs emergency/first aid care first because the condition is very sensitive and may, in some cases, even require surgery.

Acute migraine: Patients with migraine should only be treated after symptoms have disappeared.

Numbness or Paralyzed patients: Light symptoms can be treated carefully best after the treating physician is considering this safe, but if the condition is uncertain or getting worse, further medical assessments should first be made.

Medication: Patients under medication should be treated very carefully and gently because weak bones or bleeding tendency might be among the side effects of some medication and in any case the treating physician should consider the situation safe first.

Patients with the tendency to bleed easily must only be treated by very experienced therapists.

The same goes for patients with osteoporosis, however these patients also benefit from Dorn Therapy.

Pregnant women can be treated, but with written permission and best liability release since risks cannot be excluded in any manual therapy. Please note that a correction of the lumbar area after the seventh month might induce early labor, although there has been no such case in the known history of the DORN METHOD. Most pregnant woman would highly benefit from DORN when properly applied.

Children and Infants can be treated carefully and with the personal presence and permission of the parents.

» It is better to do a Dorn Treatment gently, conservatively and more frequently, rather than do it too forcefully and attempting to correct everything in just one or a few sessions.

Dieter Dorn the founder of this method developed it as a true self help method which is much more than a mere form of therapy.

When applying the Dorn Method the Client/Patient learns about the possible causes of problems, receives a gentle, safe and very effective manual treatment that should mainly serve as demonstration and learns then how to continue the procedures for lasting results by its own with simple self help exercises that require little time but a certain self-responsibility.

So in principle a Dorn Method practitioner is teaching someone how to apply the Dorn Method on themselves and therefore can be considered a Health-Coach rather than a Therapist.

Method (Ancient Greek: μέθοδος, methodos) literally means a pursuit of knowledge, investigation, mode of prosecuting such inquiry, or system. In recent centuries it more often means a prescribed process for completing a task. Methods are found in daily practice as well as in science, philosophy and art. In the closer sense a method is a path taken to acquire knowledge and awareness!

No absolutely not! Within a few days almost anyone can learn how to use this Method.
All you need is the will to learn and two sensible hands. And with some talent only a longer period of practice is required for a student to become a master which should be guided by a qualified Dorn Method Instructor!

Everyone who has a background in medicine or manual therapy will very fast learn the simple procedure and skills and greatly benefit from this new knowledge.

The basic training however, usually done in two days, may only be sufficient for some experienced therapists, but requires an immediate application of the newly learned skills in order to gain the necessary experience.

An extended training (min 4 days) or a review (advanced) training is highly recommended.

Such training is also required for therapists to be listed in the International Dorn Method Directory.

» Further Information about learning the Dorn Method

Anyone can learn and apply the Dorn Method as Self Help Method for Non-Professional use.

» Further Information about learning the Dorn Method

The Professional Use of the DORN Method applied as`Therapy` Method however is usually regulated by the different laws in the respective countries.

If the DORN Method is only applied as Therapy for specific Health Problems (e.g. Back Pain etc.) the Practitioner must have experience and a license to practice. (e.g. MD, ND, DC, DO, LMT, PT etc.)
Often a Liability insurance is also required to practice.

The DORN Method can be applied by Non Medical or Wellness Practitioners (Health Coach, Alternative Medicine Practitioners etc.) for the purpose of teaching the client the DORN Method Principles and Self Therapy Exercises.
This is educational work and may not require a special license.

Any hand's on work in this case must be applied as Non-Therapeutic Client controlled action for demonstration purpose only.

In this way the DORN Method can also be applied as Wellness-Therapy that includes Customer Wellness Education for Prevention and Maintenance. (e.g. in Wellness Centers, Healing Centers, Spa´s etc.)

There are no set number of DORN Sessions necessary and in many cases one session can already bring valuable results.

In a few cases up to three DORN sessions are recommended and in long existing conditions several month of guided adjustment might be necessary so it is best to learn the DORN Method and apply it on oneself or family.

Success also depends on the Users Selfhelp Discipline. The first 6 to 8 weeks are important to stabilize the improved structural alignment and balance and further enhance it.

An improvement in the pain sensation or no more pain does not mean that necessary adjustment reactions have been achieved!

Depending on the state of scoliosis it can!
DORN is a unique method that might improve even quite serious forms of scoliosis. (further info: Scoliosis and Dorn)
Usually it requires some patience from the Client/Patient because the improvement may take several weeks, months or years but can be done by the person itself best with some help of a relative or friend.

It is however recommended that in case of a scoliosis a tailered multi-level approach using different therapies in cooperation between physician, therapist and patient is used for best possible results.

The positive result after a DORN session often stays quite long although this varies from patient to patient.
But without the Clients/Patients cooperation in the recovery process a real long term improvement is unlikely, so Self Help Exercises and changes in lifestyle and habits must be part of the healing process.

It is recommended to do at least 3 practical DORN sessions with a qualified DORN practitioner within 3 months to guide the adjustment healing process properly even the result after the first session is often already very good.

Of course NOT!
It is best to combine the Dorn Method with other good and safe Therapies and Treatments, a change in lifestyle and in cooperation with accepted Conventional Medical Approaches, however a real healing in a state of Imbalance due to misalignments in the structural system is highly unlikely so the Dorn Method (or at least its principals!) should be part of all other approached Therapies.
Complementing treatments like deep neuro-muscular massage, TCM techniques etc. are advised to assist the Healing and to avoid that the tensed muscles are provoking or causing further misalignments!

A combination of different approaches in an integrative medical setup (= conventional medicine, complementary medicine and tradtional medicine working together) is likely to achieve the best results than just one specific technique or therapy.

Since this vision is extremely seldom to find in real life it is up to you to demand this from your doctor or therapist in order to start a change.

No: DORN is not using (prescribing or recommending) any special medication and no special medical procedures like surgery is used in DORN.

In the practical application during a DORN session only gentle manual impulses are used to guide the joint-structures into better balance and alignment in combination with simple, natural movements done by the Client/Patient that is in fact a non-manipulative self-regulation!

The DORN Method cannot replace other Therapies as well as other Therapies cannot replace The DORN Method.
In case of problems usually the following priorities and possibilities are recommended: (depending on the actual case of course!)

  1. Appropriate Emergency Procedures if indicated!

  2. Conventional Medical Approach best in cooperation with CAM (Complementary Alternative Medicine)

  3. Self Help including Exercises, Education instead of Medication, Proper Nutrition including healthy drinking habits, healthy life-style habits.

Beside or integrated into a conventional medical approach CAM Therapies in following Priority are recommended:

  1. The DORN Method

  2. Holistic Therapies for the Muscles and Nerves (Manual Therapies like Massage, Osteopathy, Chirotherapy, CST, Acupressure, Rolfing, etc.)

  3. Holistic Therapies and Approaches that improve our Metabolism (Detox, Herbal Medicine, Good Food Supplements, Natural Biological clean Diet, Exercise etc.)

  4. Holistic Therapies that improve our Physical and Non-Physical Imbalances (TCM-Approaches like Acupuncture, Hydro-Therapy, Reiki or other Energy-Therapies, Hypnosis, EFT, Meditation, Yoga, Non-Fanatic Religion (Prayers), Electro-Magnetic Therapies (like the BEES, Rife), etc.)

  5. Last but probably most important: Self Help (Look for the Solution inside Yourself not only on the outside) by changing Lifestyle and unhealthy habits and patterns. Find sense in life without causing harm to others and the environment.

No, the DORN Method is different in most aspects! Although the outcome target is the same, namely a correction of misalignments, the way this is achieved varies to a great extend, however it has some similar approaches and could be called a gentle relative to Chiropractic and maybe even a closer relative to Osteopathy.
(Click Research to read more about that relationship)

Chiropractic and Osteopathy can be a very effective and safe approach and it has proven to be with very little risk if done properly, however it is not completely risk free.
Because the DORN method is not yet as popular as it should be a good Chiropractor or Osteopath would always be the recommended choice when it comes to Back Problems.

Unfortunately quite a few Chiropractors as well as many other Medical Professionals seem to be more after the financial result rather than the highest benefit of the patient which is somewhat understandable after a long period of study and the enormous cost  involved in our modern (advanced???) medical system.

Actual time spent with a patient is often only around 15 minutes and patients are more like ‘numbers’ rather than people with a name that’s remembered on a follow up consultation.

I hope that one day in the near future many Chiropractors and Osteopaths will also learn the DORN Method and combine the two Therapies and revolutionize the way Back Pain is dealt with.

A session with a good DORN Method Practitioner most likely takes at least one hour intensive hands on work and tutorial and explanations, that is time most other Medical Practitioners simply don’t have anymore even they would like to!

Compare Chiro and DORN: (Ch=Chiro / D=DORN)

Ch: Abrupt, fast corrections / D: Gentle, sensitive corrections:
Ch: Uses traction (stretching) / D: Uses gentle pressure only (no traction)
Ch: Correction in static position / D: Correction in a dynamic (motion)
Ch: Surprises the muscles / D: Diverts the muscles attention
Ch: Very few repetitions possible / D: Unlimited repetitions possible
Ch: Patient stays passive / D: Client/Patient cooperates actively
Ch: Numerous contra-indications / D: Very few contra-indications
Ch: Some risk (if done incorrect) / D: Almost no risk
Ch: Long training period required / D: Very short training period (few days)
Ch: Pre-knowledge required / D: No Pre-knowledge required
Ch: Few explanations to patient / D: Detailed explanations to patient
Ch: No Self Help Exercises / D: Numerous Self Help Exercises

» The DORN Method can be combined with classical chiropractic however the DORN Method should be applied after any Chiro-Treatments = manipulative adjustments.

A good DORN Method practitioner should have a certificate showing that she/he was properly trained by an authorized Instructor.

The practical DORN session must include explanations, leg length control and re-balancing, gentle treatment without causing pain and the teaching of self help exercises as well as explanation of possible causes and wrong movement habits. The Client/Patient should be given instructive hand-outs for their homework, and information about other selfhelp sources! »

Treatment fees may vary but should be reasonable.

The DORN practitioner should be available for further guidance and advice.

The DORN practitioner must maintain the highest ethical and moral standards.

The DORN practitioner should not be in a rush and have sufficient time for the Client/Patient.

The DORN practitioner must not act against the advice of a physician and make the Client/Patient believe that this approach is the answer for all concerns.

The sincere desire to help should be the first concern before any material consideration.

The DORN practitioner should be skilled and have some familiarity with general medicine concepts, anatomy and physiology.

The DORN practitioner should know and follow the DORN code of ethics !

There are many possible reactions following a practical DORN session:

Usually the Client/Patient feels better directly after the treatment which is also an indication that the treatment did no harm! Due to the new situation of the joints = improved alignment (especially in the spine) the muscles may react with some tension and pain up to a few days after the session.

The areas that was treated may be sensitive when touched and some marks may appear on the skin. Also flue like symptoms are possible. The increased nerve flow may lead to a detoxification of our body due to a positive change in our metabolism so this cleansing can show at the skin or in a chance in urination or stool.

Even psychological issues may appear.

All this is often called a healing crisis and should be judged positive.

The Client/Patient is encouraged to drink enough clean water and refrain from unnatural body positions and movements and heavy exercises directly (the day) after the session. Remember: Healing needs time, some rest and patience.

Of course many positive reactions like: Less pain, more energy, better breathing ability, less tensions, better organ functions, more balance sexual life, better digestion etc. are very often experienced directly after a DORN session and when doing the selfhelp exercises regularly.

All relevant DORN selhelp exercises should be explained based on the practical demonstration during the manual application. Personal limits must hereby be recognized and observed!

Important: Regularly and long term application of the DORN selfhelp exercises.

A good DORN practitioner should, if possible, give hand outs = illustrated descriptions to the Client/Patient
» more details here: DORN practitioner stuff

» A good possibilty to encourage and motivate the Client/Patient to learn and do the DORN Method selfhelp exercises is the new selfhelp webapp:

Awareness and Self-responsibility is an important aspect on the path towards a healthy life that is why a DORN practitioner should always give some information, advice and motivation to their Clients/Patients concerning:

  • Problem-Causes or contributing causes i.e. one-sided, un-natural movement patterns, should be avoided.
  • Stress should be recognized and observed.
  • Life-style improvements should be contemplated e.g. drinking habits, nutrition, training, proper rest (time-outs) etc.
  • Motivation for the necessary self-discipline to do the daily DORN selfhelp exercises.

This is done through:

  • Feedback from the Client/Patient when beeing touched (i.e. sensible areas) that also allow the Client/Patient to become aware of this.
  • The condition of the respective tissue-structures along the spinal column (i.e. tensed up or soft) become recognizable through touch and vision.
  • Palpable differences at the spinous processes along the spinal column (e.g. different resistance during touch = giving pressure or sliding along) become recognizable.
  • Possible curvatures of the spinal column will become recognizable through touch and vision and help the Client/Patient to become aware of this.
  • Findings serve as awareness help for the Client/Patient und must not be medically rated (evaluated) = are not a medical diagnosis!

» continue exploring DORN: How DORN works  

» new: Dorn selfhelp webapp

NOTE: Never try to use the DORN Method on other people without proper training best conducted by an authorized DORN Method Instructor. Although the DORN Method and the Self Help Exercises are very safe if done correctly, the DORN practitioner is not responsible for any consequences resulting from the application during the manual session and Selfhelp exercises. In any case it is advised to consult your doctor first because health problems and back pains may have other causes than misaligned joints and vertebrae and should be checked by a trained medical doctor or other healthcare professional. The DORN Method has certain Limitations that must be cleared prior to any practical application! Remember: The DORN Method is NO Replacement for any other form of medical or non-medical treatment but it can be a very effective complement in an integrative medical system.

©copyright: AHHAI - Thomas Zudrell

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