So, What is osteopathy?, and What does an osteopath do? That isn’t easy to explain in a few words because it is based on a set of principles about the self-healing mechanism of the body, rather than just a thing! I find the most succinct way to put it is we are like car mechanics for the body. We can ‘MOT’, service and help you repair your body but unfortunately, we cannot replace parts. We have to deal with what we have! Which is why general health and posture are so important. One of my lovely patients once called me a body whisperer which I think is a lovely way to put it!
I find we get a bit intimidated about core stability as it’s been made a bit mythical but really it’s very simple. It refers to engaging our deep stabilising muscles which help us balance our core against gravity. In other words, the deep stabilising muscles hold us steady whilst our superficial mobilising muscles move us.
If we can engage our core and lower our centre gravity with good posture, we are much more stable and balanced, more coordinated and hopefully we are less likely to strain and hurt ourselves.
Our body likes to move! Almost 60% of our body is made up of fluids, and movement help those fluids to move and flow. This includes the blood circulation, our lymphatic/immune system, our breathing/respiration, digestion system and every joint in our body, particularly synovial joints. As one of my peers succinctly put it "movement is life if you don’t move you die". So, it’s kind of important to move! Walking is one of the best rhythmical activities we can do. It is ‘free’, and should be available to us all at some level.
Now I’d like to talk about how to stand. Ideally tall and proud.... like the queen.
The Queen is known, in her younger years, for standing at ceremonies for long periods of time without fidgeting. She is balanced, upright, stable and yet still soft and elegant, definitely not rigid. My understanding is it is the military at ease position. For anyone who has done Pilates, Thai chi, Yoga standing is often one of the first things we learn.
The body is like a super intelligent computer, it does what you tell it to with the added ability to self heal! So, whatever you spend most of your life doing will become your bodies default habits. This is a good place to start trying to improve things, if you need to!
In this modern world we spend a lot of time sitting. This influences your bodies patterns and therefore how you ‘do’ everything else
After over twenty years of practising osteopathy I have become very passionate about POSTURE. So what is posture? It is much more than just standing upright and putting your shoulders back. Posture is everything! It’s about the balance of your mind, body and spirit. If your physical posture improves not only does your digestion, breathing and circulation improve but YOU ‘feel’ better and it improves your mood, and vice versa.
“A strong body makes the mind strong.” – Thomas Jefferson
Did you know, there are over 650 muscles in the human body, the Gluteus being the largest and the Stapedius (found in our middle ear) being the smallest. Our muscles not only support movement, they also help maintain posture, keep blood circulating as well as assist with breathing. As the muscular system dominates our other bodies systems in terms of size, it’s no surprise that many, if not all of us, have had some exposure to muscular knots, either physically or at least heard/used the term ‘knot’.
Proprioception aka “joint position sense” is the body's sense of its position relative to its environment e.g if we wave our hand above our head we know where it is without looking at it, and in the foot's case, it is what gives us an “instinctive” sense of where it is relative to the ground. There is a constant stream of information from the foot to the central nervous system as to what's going on underneath it, this is processed, and information is sent back down to the foot as to how to keep us upright. (The other two input mechanisms of balance are our vision i.e. maintaining a horizontal horizon, and the "internal gyroscope" we have in our inner ears.)
Massage therapy is centuries old, with the earliest recordings dating back to 2700BC! As the practice of massage has evolved over time and gained momentum in recent years, why is it that massage has stood the test of time?
Those of us looking forward to this year’s skiing holiday may be surprised to learn just how challenging this is for our musculoskeletal systems, even if we consider ourselves quite cardiovascularly “fit”.
At Bishop's Stortford Osteopathy and Physiotherapy we often use Medical Acupuncture in parallel with osteopathic techniques to alleviate pain.
Breathing is the most basic function in the body and one of the most important, not just to keep you alive but to achieve an active state of health. Relaxed regularly breathing is a reflection of physical and mental balance.
Do you want to continue doing the sport you enjoy, into middle age and beyond?
Are you finding your performance is being hampered by twinges of pain and a lack of flexibility?
Don’t assume that it is just “old age” setting in and that nothing can be done. We can help you to continue to enjoy your sport and exercise for years to come.
There is ongoing debate about the merits of exactly which part of your foot should land on the ground first when running. This not only throws up some interesting questions about running technique itself, but from a therapist’s point of view has wider implications about the role of artificial means of support in all forms of exercise and activities of daily life.
Are you spending long periods at a desk, laptop or in the car? Or maybe curled up on the sofa with feet up, knees raised and a phone or tablet resting on your legs? Sounds familiar? Osteopath Andy McGowan explains how improving your posture doesn't need to be strenuous or difficult.
We’ve all heard about putting heat or ice on an injury, but which?
Given that cold & heat are opposites how can both be helpful, surely it’s one or the other? Here’s our guide on what to use, when to use it and how to use it most effectively.
What to use, and when.
In general if something is a recent injury or very acute/painful a Cold Pack can be the most helpful, but when if something is less angry and more of a chronic (long term) ache or pain, alternating Hot and Cold packs can be much more beneficial than Cold Packs alone.
What to expect at a sports massage
One question I am often asked is “what should I expect from a Sports Massage”? It’s a great question, as talking to one of my clients on our second or third massage I actually found out that she didn’t know what to expect, that she was actually quite nervous and had in fact put it off for quite a while. So to put your mind at rest, this is what will normally happen…
We often get asked how osteopathy particularly cranial osteopathy can help newborn babies. The best way I have found to explain it is to say the three things that a baby has to do a lot of is eat, sleep and poo! - oh and grow!!
Osteopaths believe that the healthy balance and function of the musculoskeletal framework of the body is essential for whole body health.
Osteopathy is based on the principle that the structure and function of the body are intimately related. If the structure is not in balance then the function is affected, and vice versa. In turn osteopaths can help the body find the changes it needs to make to develop to optimal efficiency.
Posture is about how we hold and use our bodies. In all animals including humans, posture can provides significant clues about our mental and physical health. A good posture should mean that the body is aligned and working at maximal efficiency which in turn should imply to good health and relaxation. A healthy body has an ability to heal itself and to revert to its normal structure and function when outside influences have been removed. Sometimes when an injury is either of major trauma, such as a car accident, or following repetitive minor trauma such as bad habits when in time it gets confused as to what ‘normal’ really is, the body needs physical (manual treatment) and sometimes chemical (painkillers) to help rebalance itself.
“Nature itself is the best physician” Hippocrates
In modern life we now often reach for a tablet to ‘cure’ an illness or complaint. Don’t get me wrong, modern medicine is amazing – just look at how long we are all living now. But in many ways we seem to have forgotten that the body has to heal itself – medicine just helps!
After an injury one of the first things to happen is that tissues swell and become inflamed, and it is this inflammatory process that causes us pain, as the damaged tissues become more swollen and pressured. Ironically inflammation is part of the healing process and therefore important. However excessive inflammation can increase pressure and therefore cause long term tissue damage, so it can be helpful to moderate inflammation when symptoms are abnormal. However many people cannot tolerate some anti inflammatory medication, but luckily nature has an answer.