I am delighted to announce that we are now open. Regular visitors will notice some changes but our welcome is as warm as ever. Please bear with the new screening process, risk assessments and PPE. We are trying to make things safe and decrease risk as much as possible for all of us. I will be putting more information up here soon and you can go to the Facebook page, Dunelm Osteopaths for more information. I hope to see you soon!

Dear All, our doors are closed but the phone line is open. We know that pain does not respect self isolation or distancing.  Please do not hesitate to ring for advice 07792077315

We are presently still seeing patients, however please do not come in if you feel unwell. We understand if you do wish to cancel appointments everyone must make their own best decisions. Please feel very welcome to phone for advise, we are very happy to talk to you.

At present it is business as usual at the Dunelm Osteopaths and we hope to keep it that way. We are 'anti-baccing' surfaces regularly and asking everybody to wash their hands thoroughly before coming into the treatment rooms. I have stopped short of demanding to hear the 20 second snatch of a favourite handwashing song despite temptation to do so.

  I went through how to properly wash hands with my Cubs last week, suggesting that this was an opportunity to be part of a solution, citizen science in action. Someone in the practice said that he felt we had a communal responsibilty to cleanse hands, screens and surfaces. I really liked this idea. It perhaps is a way of reuniting us after the ill-will of Brexit. It doesn't matter whether you think in terms of kingdom, country, community or family, if we can slow down and contain this virus we will be protecting our most vulnerable citizens and also protecting ourselves from isolation, illness and economic downturn.

  If you are into mindfulness handwashing is a fabulous way of being in the moment of sensation, if a gamer you are blasting covid 19, an action fan maybe saving civilisation as we know are you going to make washing your hands a pleasure forever, not a chore? 

So many questions, so few answers. May I remind everybody to make sure that they get their information from a reliable source. I subscribe to the belief that if you need a second opinin, ask an expert. Also please check information before sharing it.

 With regard to Covid-19 I recommend that you check any information from any source at

I wonder how many fitness trackers were received as presents over Christmas and whether they have encouraged resolutions for increased fitness. It is amazing that we can measure our steps taken, our running speed, our heart rates and even our sleeping can be monitored. Whilst they can be useful to provide information I am worried that they can kill the joy of exercise or even increase anxiety about our activities. (There is evidence that some people are so anxious about their sleep patterns that they are suffering from insomnia!)

  It can be very easy to get caught up in the urge to do better each time you go for a run so that slowing down to admire the blossom on a tree, to pat a friendly dog, to say hello to a friend becomes an issue. We are a competitive species, that's how we have evolved, but we also have the capacity and need to admire beauty, to enjoy contact and sociability and to just have fun. 

  Enjoy your fitness tracker but use it as a tool, not a master. Maybe don't wear it sometimes and see how that feels.Get back to enjoying and doing things because you want to.  After all the device may know that you've done the run, slept the sleep, walked the steps but you were the being who saw the first snowdrop of January and felt your spirits lift because of it. 

Happy Christmas to you all. If you need help over the festive season just ring the usual number 01913830677.

Our very Best Wishes for 2020. Let's hope that the New Year ushers in peace and tolerance.

I went to a new exercise class on Monday, the weather forecast made running look like a chore. I was full of enthusiasm until a couple of hours before whereupon the doubts started.

What if; 

I don't like it,

I make a fool of myself,

I'm  the oldest, fattest,

I'm the worse dressed/wearing the wrong gear.

Then my neck started hurting, maybe I should give it a miss this week. Oh and it was now pouring with rain and it is hard enough finding somewhere new in good weather. And of course just when I wanted to finish on time I ran over...maybe it will be too late.

Luckily I had followed my own advice and had planned my own back up. I had been in touch with a friend who goes to this class and she had confirmed with the class leader that there would be a space for me. The thought of letting my friend down, and not seeing her, got me there. And yes I enjoyed it, I don't think I made a fool of myself and if I did I don't care because I had fun. Ditto oldest, fattest, clothing etc, the only person who might possibly care was me.....and I remembered it didn't matter.

 Go on, get out there DO SOMETHING

With regret, due to rising costs, our fees will be increasing by £1 from &th October. First consultation and treatment/re-exam (if you haven't been for over three years) will now cost £47 and follow ups £37. Under 18s are £37 and £27 respectively.

 As always if we feel that Osteopathic treatment will be ineffective or unsuitable there will be no fee. Please phone for a chat if in doubt.

I returned from a very active week in Switzerland with painful pudding knee which was so swollen that I couldn't straighten it when walking, cue the piratical lurch in and out of the waiting room. Poor knee, I really had pushed a lot of work onto it, although I must confess I'm not sure what specifically had caused the damage. I'd like to blame the endless snaking up and down the queues at Geneva airport (a pet hate) but that was 24 hours after I'd noticed the distress calls from my brain about the joint.

 I limped into work to a suitable amount of sympathy and a few observations that I was hardly a good advert but this last is what I would like to address. I followed my own advice and kept my hot poorly knee cool and treated it with respect. Although I had to work I looked after it. My fantastic colleague treated the biomechanics of the surrounding joints and reminded me that our tissues are designed to heal. We also decided that this was probably a time when anti-inflammatories might be useful. (I took these for 48 hours but stopped when my mouth started to feel sore in that just about to start a mouth ulcer way) I started some gentle stretching and allowed rest periods, made sure that my diet was good and included some good proteins and plenty of fluid.

 The point? I was back running in a week. Injuries happen, especially when we push ourselves, but we are amazing, we are self healers. Don't send the bit that is struggling to Coventry, nurture it, treat it, live alongside it and then once it's healed start the real work. That's the dull bit, remedial exercise, here I come.

It is that time of year, occassional warmth, showers, light and suddenly the garden turns into a jungle. But please PACE YOURSELVES!

In my other life as a Cub Scout Leader we sometimes talk about friendships and peer pressure. Some Cubs are well versed in the fact that your friends shouldn't pressurise you into doing things you don't want to do. However I do point out that sometimes it is good to step out of our comfort zone, whilst we should not be persuaded into anything illegal or dangerous, new things can challenge and enhance our lives. I regularly challenge my patients to explore new ideas and try new movement patterns in order to change pain perception.

  So it was on the persuasion of my work colleagues that I found myself at a Lamberts Healthcare seminar in Newcastle. I have always felt strongly that a good varied diet (especially combined with good varied movement) is all that we need to maintain general good health. However I have been persuaded by research in the last 5 or 10 years that a Vitamin D supplement is beneficial during the winter and early spring months. I've also been following the mindblowing research into the gut microbiota and how it appears to affect both mental and physical health and more worryingly how our microbiotic diversity may be declining due to modern diet and lifestyle. So maybe it was time to look again into dietary supplementation?

 The day was both challenging and enjoyable. It is not often that I think on the cellular level and scientific understanding of the physiology of cells has grown hugely I found it massively interesting to be looking into how the tiny cells that make us as an organism are affected by what we do and of course vice versa. I loved the image of the mitochondria, the producers of energy in the cells, increasing in efficiency and number as we exercise. They too seem to thrive on pressure, a bit of stress, which can be driven by diet, exercise or other external factors such as temperature. 

  I now need to do some work. It is fascinating and useful to learn about our cell and organ physiology. But how effective are supplements? What research is there to show how useful they are. Testing is expensive, are the results worth the expenditure? In my working life I have seen many 'miracle cures' come and go, but some have stood the test of time. Is there really anything that will help our bodies to work more harmoniously and give that energy boost we all seem to be looking for? Or do supplements just drive our wish for a pill for every ill? On the other hand do current dietary regimes do us any good?

 I'll be honest though, as a result of the seminar, having had a period of mild 'flu followed by a heavy head cold which I have struggled to shift I have started taking co-enzyme Q10.......having done no research apart from ensuring its safety record.


I enjoyed a lovely long break over the Christmas period and count myself lucky to have done so. So I was happily back to work, but my goodness it did seem hard physically And then running, oh my legs hurt even though I felt I'd done enough to keep going over the holiday along with a few good walks.Of course the trouble is that when out of routine things tend to slide and I had let slip my very brief morning stretching routine. This usually takes 5-10 minutes three or four times a week and I really enjoy doing it.

  What this has demonstrated to me is how very little we need to do to keep our bodies out of trouble, but how easy it is to stop looking after ourselves. What joy to also know that we can pick up our stretching and training again, and our bodies and minds will respond and embrace the kindness.

The Practice closes for the Christmas holidays on Friday 21st December. The phone will be transferred to Sian if you need any help or advice 0191 3830677 and Liz will be working on 31st December. We hope that you enjoy any time off that you have and look forward to exchanging stories in 2019. 

We still have a few appointments left this week, especially on Tuesday. I just thought I'd say since I know a few people have said that they had put off phoning since they assumed we'd be fully booked. 

Here is a quick posture check....are you sitting comfortably at work? The chances are, probably not. For many years we have been advised to sit up straight at our desks. Now here's a thing, for some while the advice has been changed but the news does not seem to be filtering through.

 Now we are encouraged to snuggle right back against our chair and then tilt the whole back so that we are reclined to an angle of about 100 - 110 degrees. Arms should be at our sides so that just the hands are at the front of the desk resting on the keyboard which will also be right at the front of the desk.

  Check out the ergonomics at work site for info because it works. The whole thing feels quite alien initially and also makes you look rather (excuse the pun) laid back. Changing your seating position may mean changing chair and monitor height soI believe that some office managers may have a bit of an issue with the somewhat relaxed appearance of the posture but it has made a huge difference to many people who come to me with work related neck and back pain. I have a few theories as to why it works, mainly I think it makes it almost impossible to fall into the inevitable slump and tortoise neck which we all adopt because we cannot maintain the bolt upright posture.

  By the way, get to know your chair. Don't be frightened of finding out what all of those levers around the seat do. Then you can put it right for you anytime, even if you are hot desking or someone has 'nicked' your favourite chair.

The usual access to the premises is closed at the Milburngate roundabout. Please follow diversion signs for the route through North Road.

We are delighted that Mark is back working at Dunelm Osteopaths after a break due to ill health. We've missed him as have his regular patients.

Now all we need is the building work at Milburngate to be finished and all will be well. 

I'm a big fan of Dr Chris van Tulleken and his forays into drug free treatment. If you've missed these programmes I urge you to watch them (BBC I player The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs) but prepare to be alarmed. The last programme in the two part series was extra-ordinarily hard hitting, looking at the use of anti-deppressants in teenagers. This is not the place to go into detail watch the programmes for that but of the many questions/issues left in my mind here are two.

The first is a spin off question, not addressed by the programme. Dr Chris was raising the question as to why the sales of child paracetamol (calpol) have raised exponentially in the last ten years. It seems like clever marketing is encouraging us to give our children calpol for the slightest bump, graze or fever. The worry is that children are almost addicted to the stuff, but also come to believe in 'a pill for every ill'. So from my area of interest does this mean that if we are not allowed to experience pain from normal bumps and bruises then do we become more and more scared of this unpleasant sensation called pain? Pain is is normal and necessary for life. It is usually being sent to us by our brains to inform us about something that has happened or may be about to happen. However the amount of pain we feel does not always reflect the amount/chance of damage and usually resolves itself, our bodies are fabulous self healers. So how many unnecessary tablets are we popping in, damaging our livers, kidneys and bank balances. And if we are so scared by pain what effect is this having upon our mental health? Will 'bigger ills' lead to us reaching for 'bigger pills'.

 The second thing is actually an issue which we MUST all become aware of. Lots of jokes are made about 'Dr Google' but it is now normal for us to turn to the internet for help with our health issues. PLEASE, whatever you read, scroll down until you find who has sponsored the site, and then think about the information and advice and where it fits with the company who has generously paid for the article to be written. I have to admit to being slightly anxious when I checked a blog that I follow avidly about gut microbiota, only to find that it is sponsored by Danone. So far I have not seen any covert marketing but I have raised some levels of scepticism. We have to be pragmatic and accept that research and dissemination of information costs money, multi-national companies have that money. But we don't have to be lead like sheep.

Well don't tell anyone. I'm doing the couch to 5k running programme after years of denial due to arthritic knees and feet. I decided that it was time to put my money where my mouth is and do the 'valued activity'. I've spent plenty of time working on mobility and hip stability but was still making excuses. You know the ones; I haven't got time, I need good footwear but it will be a waste of money if I really don't find the running to be enjoyable, every one will laugh at me..... So how's it going? Well thanks. Some runs are harder than others, my knees are certainly no worse and my feet getting over the shock. I haven't heard anyone laughing and now I don't care if I do. I definitely have more energy in the evenings and I am enjoying the time I'm spending purely on me, for me. For info, I'm using the NHS app. Jo Whiley accompanies me at the start of each week with empathy and encouragement. Some runs I do with Michael Johnson because he's too scarey to let down. Maybe I'll see you out there sometime?

Please accept our apologies. We have made the decision to close the clinic until Monday due to travel difficulties caused by the wind and snow. Please stay safe.

Our apologies, Liz has been unable to get into the practice today Thursday 1st March. Please stay at home in the warm. We will be in touch on Monday.


Common back pain myths


Osteopath Anna Roberts, takes a closer look at some of the common myths around back pain, find out more below:

"Happy New Year", it's an interesting phrase. With happiness must come the knowledge of sadness just as we enjoy the sunshine more after rain. No-one lives a life of total happiness, but we can look to find moments of joy, often, wonderfully these moments crop up uninvited, and sometimes the pursiot of happiness can make us sadder as we seek the unobtainable. 

  It is the time of year when the Press tells us we should be bettering ourselves, and why not?  The starting again in January, writing 01 for each days date gives us an opportunity to reassess. But we need to be kind to our bodies and minds. Let's not go battering into our resolutions of more exercise, less food, get this done, that learned because we've been led to believe it will make us happy. Let's do all of these things in order to nurture our wonderful bodies and minds because we want to, and let's do them in such a way as to promote a feeling of satisfaction not despair. Maybe then we can start being more aware of random feelings of joy.

  If you have found this web-site because your New Year resolution to exercise more has resulted in musculo-skeletal pain, or if your resolution is to deal with a long term discomfort, or any other reason we will be delighted to help you find your own way to achieve your goals. We will listen to you carefully, you are the expert as to what you are feeling. If we think we can help you we will offer hands on treatment and advice according to our knowledge and experience, but you will not be pressured to accept it. We will not hand out 'one size fits all exercise sheets', we will tailor exercise according to your wishes, needs and past experience. We will try to help you achieve your resolutions, but perhaps more importantly we will try to work out HOW those resolutions might be.

We wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas. In a spirit of generosity we give you permission to take the day off from your prescribed exercises, so long as your break involves some fresh air at some stage. 

  The Practice will close for Christmas on Friday 22nd December (some appointments still available at this stage). Our first 'diaryed' day back is Tuesday 2nd January but Sian will be monitoring calls. If you need help over the Christmas and New Year period please ring 0191 3830677.

 You will get a message which will invite you to leave your name and telephone number. The message will also state time that Sian will pick up messages and return your call. If she can help with advice she'll do that and if necessary she can arrange to meet for an appointment at the Practice.

  Best Wishes for 2018, Sian, Mark, Liz, Karen and Jane

The sewerage treatment works along the road (Barkers Haugh..such a great name, any ideas where it came from?) is having a makeover. As a result there are road works going on in the lane at the turn off to the Practice. It may be easier to access the site from the first turning after Crook Hall and then driving in front of the AEP to get to us.

  By the way, whilst it's not so very glamorous to have the sewerage treatment works as a neighbour it does mean that our road is kept clear of ice and snow. I endeavor to keep the entrance and car park clear too. I had to take 10 minutes out of a clinic session last Thursday in that sudden dump of snow in order to spread grit. Apologies to those who had to wait whilst I shovelled but it was a job that had to be done, and the 1st time I've ever had to stop mid clinic because of the weather.

  Pleae take care on the ice, it is possibly better to miss a run/cycle/ walk due to poor surface rather than have an accident and miss several months?

This came in from arthritis action. if you suffer from arthritis why not check them out

An interesting National Geographic article, This is Your Brain on Nature and accompanying video, explore the positive health and societal benefits associated with experiencing and connecting to the natural world.  As they point out, “Science is proving what we’ve always known intuitively: nature does good things to the human brain—it makes us healthier, happier, and smarter.”  Importantly, they mention that positive health benefits do not necessitate full emersion into untouched nature, but can be gained from engaging with the more natural elements of an urban environment and even exposure to images of the natural world. (taken from NOIjam July 27th 2017)

 Those clever people at NOI  (Nuero Orthopaedic Institute)   are suggesting that maybe prescribed home exercise may work even better if done in an environment that makes you feel happy, so for example perhaps we shuld talk about 'garden exercise',  'beach exercise', park exercise'. Not feasible due to the great British weather, location or embarrassment? The good news is that even looking out of the window at something natural or looking at a picture of ntature can be effective inpositively influencing your brain. 

  I've been doing my daily pre-work stetching in my sunroom at home, usually to the accompaniment of the sound of rain. Do you know what? It feels good.

Come to the edge.

 We might fall.

Come to the edge.

  It's too high!


   And they came,

   And he pushed, 

   And they flew.         Christopher Logue

My daughter came home from school with this wonderful little piece of writing. This was in a handout about leaving school (yes I live in changing times) but it made me think too of all of the brave souls who have leapt into my world at work. It is a leap of faith to decide to do something about your pain, and then once you're through the door again and again I and my colleagues ask you to come to the edge. "Trust my knowledge and understanding, my hands, my exercises, TRUST ME"  We always hope that we work in partnership with our patients, we keep up to date and extend our knowledge but it is they who must decide to 'come to the edge'

To all of you who have accepted hands on treatment, revisited GPs, listened to explanations about pain, done exercises and taken up exercise, changed their work stations and practiced such things as mindful body awareness and relaxation THANK YOU. We cannot leap with you, but we can give you the information about safety equipment (and in-flight entertainment).

As sit to write this blog today I find myself totally distracted and darkened by the events in Manchester last night. I have teenage children, I want to hug them tight and never let them out. Then I read of the amazing actions and response of so many people in Manchester, offering help and care to those affected, people of all sexes, faith and colour.

 I have never said in any of my blogs or adverts that all are welcome in our small clinical practice. I never thought it should be necessary. After all  to my mind discrimination is something we should all be aware of, and working against, despite some of the press,and the unimaginable actions of the few. 

  But I'll write it now. We welcome all, of any age, size, colour or faith. We don't care where you come from, or what your sexuality. We are people, we care for people. 

We are pleased to welcome Jane Rae into the practice. Jane will be working with us to use prescriptive exercise to help peoples' recovery from pain and to encourage us all to hit the magic bullet of 150 minutes moderate exercise a week. It's hard if you are new to exercise or returning after a long break, let Jane help you along the way. She will also be doing massage, I for one am looking forward to that! Here is her biography.
Jane is a qualified Personal Trainer and Sports Massage Therapist.
Her aim is to keep people fit and healthy, using exercise as a means to stay as well as possible. Research shows that exercise is often the most effective road to health and wellbeing. 
She currently teaches fitness to a wide ranging age group, and enjoys tailoring exercise to suit the individual. The best exercise is the one you you look forward to doing, let's make it fun.

All roads to Dunelm Osteopaths remain open this Friday 31st March, despite the signage suggesting otherwise. The road to the Riverside will be closed only intermittently to allow movement of machinery.

 We are in contact with the Contractors and will inform people with appointments if there are any changes on this day or any other. However even should this road be closed there will be access via Sidegate which will be signed and there will be people to help guide you. 

About Arthritis Action

Arthritis Action (Registered Charity No. 292569) is the UK charity offering an integrated self-management approach to combat the impact of arthritis.

Members of the Charity can choose from a range of relevant, evidence-based services designed to enables them to live active lives with less pain. These include:

·         Self-management educational events and Arthritis Action Groups

·         Healthy eating and weight management consultations with a qualified dietitian

·         An interactive website and informative magazine

·         Access to subsidised physical therapies through the Associated Practitioner scheme

At Dunelm Osteopaths, we are proud to be collaborating with the Charity as Associate Practitioners, offering people with arthritis protected time with a clinician to discuss any concerns they might have about the condition and to talk about how the self-management approach might help them, at the same time as receiving some hands-on therapy. Please contact Sian for more information.

To find out more about how Arthritis Action can help you, visit their website or follow them on Twitter Facebook and Health Unlocked



First and foremost we all at Dunelm Osteopaths wish you a happy and comfortable Christmas

We are open as usual until Friday 23rd December (except for Mark who is sloping off early ;) )  Over the Christmas break the phone will be transferred to Sian on the mobile phone ,so if you need help please ring the normal number 0191383077 for advise, or if necessary we can arrange to meet at the Practice. 

We resume a with normal diary on Wednesday 4th January. 

Thank you to everybody who has trusted us with their wellbeing this year, we've enjoyed seeing you all....the best bit of our job is seeing you all smile again.

We are seeing some changes at Dunelm Osteopaths.

 Diana has decided to leave Dunelm Osteopaths to concentrate on her very successful Osteo-pilates classes. We will be maintaining close and warm links with her studio at Belmont and and wish her well. She will be leaving in the middle of December.

 We are very pleased to welcome Will Philips, Osteopath,  who will be working alongside Mark, Liz and myself. Will comes to us from Darlington and also works in Whitley Bay. Will starts on Friday 2nd December.

Please note that despite all of the construction (deconstruction!) work at the Gates roundabout all roads are open and Dunelm Osteopaths is still easily accessible.

This television programme was on a couple of months ago and is now unavailable so I can't guide you to watch it. The premise was whether a TV Doctor (seen on CBBC and Trust Me I'm a Doctor) could encourage people to be less dependant on drugs such as pain killers, anti-depressants and anti-biotics. Also he wanted to show that Type 2 diabetes and cholesterol could also be tackled with changes in life style.

Of course there is nothing new, probably along with every other Osteopath in the country I was shouting at the television" YES WE KNOW EXERCISE IS THE SINGLE MOST PROVEN FORM OF THERAPY FOR MOST MUSCULOSKELETAL CONDITIONS AND '21st CENTURY DISEASE" but it's not easy to change our lifestyles. The thing that  resonated from the programme was the fact that we all need help and encouragement to stay on track. It's easy for a health practitioner to give advise, and we all intend to follow this advise, but life, preconceptions, disbelief all get in the way and good intentions get forgotten. (Cue my Mother's saying that "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions")

 The answer of course is help, encouragement and reward. We at Dunelm Osteopaths are looking into ways to improve our patients' and our own physical and mental health.

In the meantime...go onto You Tube and look up 23 1/2 hours by Dr Mike Evans

   Despite myself I have enjoyed the Olympics from the sportsmanship and athleticism of the Amazonian hockey players to the sheer joy of the gymnast Simone Biles's floor performance. I say despite myself because I'm not an avid sports fan, neither watching or playing. I used to sail and race quite competitively but it is the memories of sailing around Portsmouth Harbour with a friend in a little mirror dinghy that I treasure (probably would be frowned on parental supervision or rescue boat!) or going for a joy ride along the coast in a super cool sailing machine. 

  It does worry me that the 'Olympic legacy' we have now is about elite training, harsh regimes of self sacrifice with family and friends coming second to training, going to the 'job' of sport. This is fine for the few, but what about the rest of us? Are we left feeling that it's not ok just to do something for fun, for fitness, for sociability, for the sheer silliness of sport? In which case why bother?

Last week I did my annual cycle trip with my son. It was fabulous, we hit that window of fine weather and cycled from Berwick upon Tweed to North Berwick. It was a harder trip than previously in that it was quite hilly, our shortest ride was 9 miles and longest distance was 18 miles but that included the best long downhill bicycle whizz ever :) We don't own a piece of lycra between us nor yet any specialised bike equipment. The cycleways were  empty of traffic.....where were you all?

  My son endures these annual trips because he thinks I'm the funniest thing on a bike and probably the most incompetent. I go because every year I get a bit better on a bike (very small increments) I enjoy being with him and the pleasure of really seeing the countryside. I don't go to pump up and down hills watching the tarmac underneath me. I particularly enjoy the coffee breaks. Surely we cannot count this as sport? Hang on though, I'm increasing my fitness and skills and I'm having fun. Even though I'm not buying into the silly outfits I think I have been doing sport!

  Our bodies work on the premise of movement. Movement, let's be daring and call it 'exercise' lubricates our joints, muscles, fascia and nerves. it helps blood and lymph flow and return and keeps that great muscle known as the heart strong and healthy. It provides our brains with information and feed back, and allows our brains to washed through with stabilizing hormones. It can trigger a great sense of achievement and pleasure and promote social interaction.  Exercise facilitates the  repair of injuries and the upkeep of damaged areas. Muscle strength and agility can be improved at any age, giving us hope  for the future. We actually only have to do some exercise for about 40 minutes a day, and not necessarily in one solid block, to achieve all of these benefits.

  So my plea for an Olympic legacy is that no matter what we do for exercise, if we are getting slightly fitter, slightly stronger, slightly better at it, having fun and maybe encouraging other people to join in we should all feel like medal winners (silliness is optional) 

P.S....actually no, silliness is compulsory

PPS I've just heard from my colleague Liz Baker who is currently doing the Hadrian's Wall long distance footpath in the seasonal torrential rain. The group is currently "water-skiing over cowpats". Definitely should be an Olympic sport. 



Why women should do weights

Osteoporosis is a condition that makes bones more brittle and prone to fracture. Although osteoporosis can effect men and younger people, post-menopausal women are most at risk. One of the best ways to help maintain healthy bones is to exercise regularly – which encourages the bones to absorb calcium and other mineral salts that keep bones strong.

Weight bearing exercises and weight resisted exercises are best for strengthening bones and muscles and as well as helping to keep bones in good health may also reduce the likelihood of falls as you age. Weight bearing exercises are those where your body is supporting its own weight, such as walking or housework or carrying groceries. Weight resisted exercise involves pushing or pulling against an additional weight, like a dumbbell or barbell or resistance equipment in a gym.

The younger you start, the better

Anyone can benefit from weight training but it has been demonstrated that younger women who trained using weights have stronger bones later in life, this essentially means that you can bank bone when you’re younger to help prevent fractures later in life – a kind of insurance scheme for your body. A life time of active living not only protects your bones but also keeps your heart healthy and may protect you from other diseases such as cancer and type two diabetes.

But starting at any age will help

Everyone can benefit from increasing their activity levels. Studies have shown that people who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis can improve their bone health significantly through weight bearing exercising, the key is getting good advice on how to move well and how to self-manage.

Some more benefits

Strong muscles burn more calories, so if you need to control your bodyweight, lifting weights can help. It also helps with balance and can help you to regulate your sleep patterns.

‘I don’t want to look muscled’

It takes women a lot of heavy weight lifting, and sometimes the use of controlled substances like steroids and hormones, to achieve the physique of the heavily muscled power lifter. Women don’t normally have enough testosterone in their bodies to develop bulging muscles, but can, with regular, moderate training achieve lean, toned and strong muscles.

‘I hate gyms’

No problem. There are plenty of other exercises you can do that don’t involve a visit to the gym. Dancing, yoga, tennis, Pilates, walking, running, gardening and even housework count – all you are aiming to do is increase your heart rate and make yourself feel a little warmer. You can do it in several short blocks of 15 minute or more but aim for at least a total of 150 minutes per week over at least 5 days per week for the best results. If you’re unused to exercise, start slowly and build up to this target.

I don’t know where to start

This is where your friendly local osteopath can help. They can screen you for any health concerns that might affect your ability to exercise, help to resolve any injuries or pain that might be holding you back and advise you on what exercises might suit your goals best. Many can teach you how to exercise correctly, avoiding injuries and how to gradually build up as your ability and fitness levels improve.

I loved this item from NOIJAM.

NOI stands for the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute Australasia. This institute's vision is to 'seed healthy notions of self through neuroscience knowledge' worldwide.

JAM for spreadable, digestable, sticky, musical, noisey, flavoursome, collaberative.

Go on, have a look!

Despite having given postural advice over the last 25 years I'd never been on a course looking at ergonomics at work. That omission has now been corrected and thanks to the enthusiasm of the Ergonomist turned Osteopath running the event I have a new found passion for getting everybody sitting comfortably. It seems to me that most people have appropriate equipment at work but often we are not using it properly, either due to lack of knowledge and training or a lack of interest. However when I first started in practice the low back was the most common place for spinal problems. Nowadays I see so many people with painful necks and shoulder girdles which are, I am sure, work related that I feel the need to start nagging and wagging my finger. 

   So here's the challenge;

Ask a colleague to take a snapshot of you at your desk/workstation unawares. Really get to know your chair and what all of its levers do. Do you need a footstool,( yes even men often need them too) do you need to raise/lower your screen?                                                                Walk to the printer and rather than e-mailing someone in the office get up and speak to them. Get a drink, go to the loo. All of these will break up the hours sitting in one position. Then set yourself up EVERY time you return to your desk, it'll take less than a minute.                                Now, dare we even look at those of us working from home. To my shame I had forgotten that  'lap top' has to be one of the worse names for a piece of kit in the history of names for a piece of kit. 'Personal computer which will give you neck and back strain if you use it on your lap' is not quite so catchy, but nearer the truth. Please I beg you, sit at a table with your screen raised, a keyboard in front of you and an ergonomic mouse. Yop can buy the keyboard and mouse, and a laptop stand for less than £35 which is the cost of a treatment from me...hang about I'm trying to put myself out of business. 

Next time you're in to see me, bring that workstation picture and I'll try and advise you on how to improve your sitting habits, or give me a ring and I'll come and see you behind your desk at work.



Earlier this year, I underwent 7 weeks of a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) online programme with Although everybody is different I thought I’d report on some of the important things I learnt.

  Get up at the same time every day, yes even at week-ends. (After 2 months I became a little more relaxed about it but still aim for a regular time with the odd half to one hour lie in.)

  Go straight to bed to sleep only when your eyes struggle to stay open, having avoided watching screens for a while before. I try to avoid really bright lights too.  No reading, puzzles or ‘technology’ in the bedroom.

  Learn to relax, I can recommend the wellbeing podcasts on, and put together a gentle and enjoyable bedtime routine. I find doing even a bit of my routine is helpful if I’ve been out or busy.

  An eyemask is brilliant to keep the room dark and earplugs keep things quiet.


Since doing the sleepstation course my quality of sleep has improved greatly. I am still aware of waking during the night but return to sleep quickly. I have discovered that my musculo-skeletal system probably needs me to wake and move otherwise my joints get very stiff and sore. That’s fine. However I don’t think I’ll ever be a happy morning person and nor do I want to be. I reserve the right to be grumpy until I’m on the outside of a cup of tea.


    You can self-refer to Sleepstation and pay privately (just under£100) or get an NHS referral  from your GP. Either way they will support you through a programme based on information you give them and sleep diaries which you fill in on-line. The programme does involve sleep limitation and is tough going but worthwhile.                


In the new year I embarked on an on-line Cognitive Behavioural Training (CBT) programme to try to solve my sleeping difficulties. Taking part in a course of treatment as the Patient has really made me think about how we 'deliver' Osteopathy at Dunelm Osteopaths.

   I have realised that one of the things we believe in strongly is a collaborative approach to treatment. Ideally we listen to your story, examine your musculo-skeletal system and try to get an understanding of your values the first time that we meet you. However this is quite a tall order in an hour, so subsequent treatments will always carry on the conversation about what is happening; How do we both see your progress, what's going well and what's difficult or challenging to accept or achieve. We accept that the delivering Osteopathic treatment our job but we still want you to be part of the process in understanding what we are trying to achieve from each treatment session.

  As Osteopaths we are very aware that we do not heal people, they do that themselves, but we can help to encourage their body's own ability to achieve wellbeing. We try to constantly expand our knowledge base so that we can find an approach that suits each individual, but we need each individual to guide us in how to do that.

   There is a Mindfulness metaphor that we are all climbing our own individual mountain. We can look across and see other people on their mountains and sometimes see foot and hand holds that they cannot because we have the benefit of some particular knowledge or experience. So we can attempt to guide the person up that bit of their mountain, but we cannot climb it for them. I'm hoping that once you've been to Dunelm Osteopaths you will feel that we are providing the climbing harness and helmet, weather report and confidence to climb to health. However we need you to do the climbing and report on local conditions. (For mountain please feel free to use your own metaphor, I like a sailing analogy, others may go for football, baking, gardening...)

 Oh and yes the CBT programme worked very well thanks for asking, more about it later!

We hope you will enjoy a happy holiday. The phone will be transferred across to Sian's mobile so if you have any injuries or worries please get in touch. You will probably have to leave a message but she will phone you back and, if necessary, arrange to meet for an appointment.

Well what a dark miserable solstice. I do believe that we are creatures of the light and that this gloomy weather dampens the majority of us. However we are also waterproof. I challenge everybody to try to get out for twenty minutes every day and enjoy the feel and sound of the wind and rain, or at least the relief of coming back inside!


About 15 years ago Osteopaths moved away from a voluntary Register and we all had to re-apply for the title 'Osteopath' in order to become a member of the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It was a hard process causing a lot of work and anxiety but it has meant that the title 'Osteopath' is protected in the UK. Nobody may use the title unless they are properly trained, (usually a minimum of 4 years full time education,) insured, and regulated. We all have to reapply for the title yearly and provide proof of good character and a minimum of 30 hours Continued Professional Development.

 You should never be embarrassed to ask anybody who calls themselves a therapist, back pain expert, physical therapist or even osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor about their training and continued education. If they've done it they will be proud to tell you all about it. 


We need pain, it keeps us safe, but my goodness we fear it. However pain is just a sensation like any other. We taste, touch, smell and analyse these sensations. Perhaps we don't like the taste of marmite but we don't fear it. Maybe if we analysed the pain we feel it would become less scarey? Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Quick, the sun's shining, let's get out there and gobble up a bit of Vitamin D. As with many vitamins and minerals, opinion is divided as to how much Vitamin D is needed for optimum health, but I think it's safe to say that most of us in the North-east of England are running on very low stocks. Vit D is best known for being needed to keep bones and teeth healthy by regulating the uptake of calcium and other bone minerals but deficiency has also been linked with other health problems such as aching muscles and bones, fatigue and depression. The best way to increase your Vit D levels is to go out into the sunshine, expose as much flesh as is decent (!) and stay out for about half the time it would normally take for you to burn. So being quite fair skinned I only need about 7 minutes in the midday sun, if you are darker skinned you'll need longer. 

Why not combine your healthy sun session with a brisk walk? This will really push you into a healthy zone. Walking will help lift your mood, it is weight bearing exercise with helps to guard your bone density (thus warding off osteoporosis), it increases your breathing rate thus helping with cardiovascular strength and blood return from your feet and ankles. The rise and fall of the diaphragm and movement through your low back massages your abdomen which helps gut efficiency. OK, shut down your device, be it tablet, phone or pc. GET OUT THERE (just remember to cover up once your Vitamin D sunbath time is up)


As anybody who has been to see me will tell you, I'm very keen for people to take pain killers if it means that nearer normal activities can be resumed. However all drugs need to be used sensibly. The recommendations are that you shouldn't use anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen for example) for at least 3 days after an injury. Your marvellous self-healing, self-regulating body is using inflammation (heat, swelling redness) to help to mend itself, so try not to interfere if possible. A bit of ice or contrast bathing (cool/warm/cool) will not come amiss. Try taking some paracetamol, if this isn't enough codeine may be useful BUT PLEASE read the instructions on the packet and if in doubt, or on other medication, talk to a pharmacist at your local chemist.

  If you want a more holistic approach to pain try to recognise that pain is generated by your brain to prevent further injury. Your brain is looking at all sorts of scenarios; how amazing, it's looking at past experience and knowledge and also projecting into the future trying to predict outcome. So the bit that's hurting you isn't doing it out of spite, it needs a bit of consideration and care. If you can bear to, try and spend a little time 'in company' with the pain. You might like to see how large the area of pain is, is it a pain you've felt before, does it have a colour, is it as nasty as you first thought?

  Now also might be the moment to really eat well. Your body needs a full complement of vitamins and minerals to mend itself, as well as some quiet time. On the other hand nothing beats the depression of pain and boosts the healing systems like a good laugh with friends.

  Get help. A few words of good advice are often the best pain-killers, and the only silly question is the one you didn't ask.

I wonder at what age we become embarrassed about falling down? I've just had a week-end away with my Cub Pack. At age 8 to 10 1/2 it's part of the day's work to fall over, run into things and generally get into scrapes. However, the younger members of the group tend to fall and wail BUT they stay down until they or some-one else decides that there has been no damage done. Most adults' immediate reaction is to hope desperately that nobody has noticed and to get up as quickly as possible whislt vigorously refusing help.

    Probably staying on the floor is the most sensible option to allow our brains a short time to assess if there is a problem. I have never known anything other than kindness and maybe a bit of gentle leg pulling (no pun intended) when I have hurt myself by tripping or falling and yet I know that my reaction is to try to pretend it didn't happen. I can't really claim that I've got up to get out of danger, it's always due to embarrassment. How odd!

When you come to see us at Dunelm Osteopaths we sit down and encourage you to tell us about your symptoms, your daily life, what's happening now, what happened in the past and what you would like for the future; ie your story.  We're not being nosey, although curiosity is high on the list of what it takes to be an osteopath, but all of this information is necessary for safe and effective treatment. 

Sometimes your job or hobbies/life situation will make an impact on your body and they may certainly affect the advise we give you, for example, there's not much point recommending parents of young children to avoid lifting. A compulsive exerciser may be advised to rest, an exercise avoider to move, but using exercises which can be done on the couch. Some conditions are age related, others not.

Pain and discomfort can be very frightening and yet sometimes just sitting down and talking with somebody allows you to approach the pain safely and start to get an understanding about what is happening. A discussion about how and when the pain started, what it feels like, when it's worse all start to allow us to try to find out what is happening to you. We will do a thorough examination but it helps if we've got an idea about what we're looking for.

 We will ask you about your medical history. Sometimes this may influence our thoughts and treatment. Poor breathing patterns may affect the neck, ribs and diaphragm, all of which are musculo-skeletal structures which may exacerbate or even cause symptoms, irritable bowel is often associated with low back pain, past accidents may be influencing present symptoms.  Cetain drugs can cause muscle pain and weakness, some illnesses also. Regrettably sometimes pain is due to other medical or more malign causes and will need referral to your GP. Our job as Osteopaths is to work out whether it is safe to treat you. 

 If we feel that we cannot help you osteopathically after the case history we will tell you and hopefully recommend what to do next but we will not charge you. At the end of the process we hope to have got to know you a little, and hope that you will feel comfortable with us.

The North-east Osteopaths group met at the Centre for Life last week and looked around the Body Works exhibition. These are real cadavers which have been 'plasticised' and dissected to reveal our human anatomy. It was fascinating to see beneath the skin, it's many years since I attended dissection classes when I was training, and in some cases really made sense of what I palpate every day in my working life. Osteopathy is such a hands on discipline. We use so many different techniques and approaches including articulation, muscle energy manipulation and massage to education, mindfulness and exercise yet it is all based on the premiss of what we can feel. Most of the exhibition I felt really was useful just to see what's there.

  Some of the exhibits I found to be less informative, perhaps showmanship triumphing over education? It was hard to imagine these bodies as living people despite some of the poses they had been put in, on a tight rope or a rock guitarist for example. And once I'd marvelled at the anatomy displayed in the exhibition I remembered again that our skeleton needs to be alive and mobile so that it can express it's person. Those living statues we see in our town centres are spooky because they display no emotion. It's not just the dead pan faces, a person can be identified by their posture, the way they move. Their mood can be exposed in the way they hold themselves, the way their feet move over the ground or in the way they respond and echo others movements. People in pain often struggle because they limit their movements, they become frightened to use their body. It's one of the finest moments of my day when I see some-one who had lost their ability to express themselves with their musculo-skeletal system come back to being comfortable in their own skin.

Well that's it. A lovely restful holiday over. If you haven't been to Northumbria recently do yourself a favour and get up there ASAP. How lucky we are to have it on the doorstep.

  So back to normal. Sian is in all day  Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon/evening. Mark is in both Tuesday and Friday mornings. Diana is in Monday sfternoon and Thursday mprning. Liz is doing her Chronic Fatigue clinic on Wednesday afternoon. Come in and see us!

Next week is half term and Sian is away so please be patient with using the answering machine. Mark and Diana will be in Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friady morning and able to see new and registered patients so no there is need to suffer! If nobody answers the phone when you ring please leave a message. Just your name and telephone number will be fine. The messages will be answered although it may be later in the day so bear that in mind when leaving your contact details.

We are soon to be joined by another Osteopath.  Diana Thurston has studied Osteopathy as a second career after  initially training and working as a pharmacist. She is also a pilates teacher and where appropriate will combine her Osteopathic and pilates training. I'm hoping to get her to introduce herself on this blog soon.

I am happy to report that I have a new receptionist startingat Dunelm Osteopaths. Karen will be keeping order on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. I am aware that I can be difficult to get hold of at times, I can't keep breaking off during a treatment to answer the phone. Hopefully Karen's arrival will ease this problem. I will try to answer the phone but if you could possibly ring when Karen's in you'll be pretty sure to get a lovely human rather than an answering machine. 

   For old clients, yes, regrettably this does mean that Heather has definately retired but I'm happy to pass on messages to her when she and I meet for lunch. She's sorely missed.


Well I've moved in to Number 5 Riverside Centre and enjoying the peace, the space and the parking. Most people have found the new premises easily and have remarked on the lovely setting.

 I'm looking forward to having Osteopath, Elizabeth Baker, joining the practice on Wednesday afternoons. Liz will be running an M.E. clinic using the Perrin Technique. Apart from being pleased to offer something new I'm looking forward to working with Liz and enjoying her lively humour and great interest in all things osteopathic.

I'm pleased to be able to move that as from Monday 7th July we will be situated at 





We look forward to seeing you there

Subject to Planning Permission we are hoping to move to new premises at the end of June. Our new address will be

5, Riverside Centre

Frankland Lane



Frankland Lane passes in front of the Passport office and the Raddisson Blu Hotel. The Riverside Centre is just beyond Crook Hall, number 5 is the last unit, it stands alone and it's set back a little from the other offices. There's plenty of parking, we have two allocated spaces and there is plenty of on road space (30p for half an hour) and car parks nearby. It's the same distance from the bus station as the Elvet address. The Pennyferry Bridge gives access from the Claypath side of town.

 We will have two treatment rooms and hope to extend the range of services available. We look forward to welcoming you.

Twice now my son has had episodes of nausea, headache and vomiting, especially on lying down. The first episode seemed initially to be associated with generally feeling unwell so we put it down to one of these 'viral illnesses'. However the 2nd bout didn't seem to fit into the pattern of 'a bug'. As you can imagine I was getting very concerned so thought to pnone a colleague. As I presented his case to her, nausea, headache, neck pain the week before (actually a really sore neck having been involved in a fabulous singing and dancing project at school) I realised that actually I'd seen all this before. It's not that uncommon for neck problems to cause a feeling of nausea, there are several neurological pathways which can be implicated. I have in the past treated many people with neck symptoms who mentioned feeling ill and others who were quite handicapped with the vomiting that accompanied their neck pain. My son has a record of childhood/teenage accidents a recent collision had resulted in a fine clattering of heads, luckily no concussion to my surprise. However he had been most unwilling for me to check his neck after (well what would I, his Mother know about anything)

  Of course with your own family it is difficult to be objective and a decent case history is rarely done, but oh reader, the guilt when after one treatment he stopped being sick and after 2 more the neck is not better but well on its way to soundness. Of course only time will tell if the neck truly is the cause of his symptoms, resulting in time off school and the misery of not seeing his friends, but at least his neck will feel better.

The Serenity Prayer:  To have the courage to change what I can,

                                 the serenity to accept what I cannot change

                                 and the wisdom to know the difference.

I'm presently doing a course about mindful acceptance of chronic pain, which encourages us to lead a full and valued life despite physical and mental difficulties which are we may suffer. The serenitty prayer suggests that even if we are not perfect we can strive to improve but manage with what limitations we have. However, the first time I saw these words I thought that this summed up the quandary facing me every day in practice. The best part of my work is when someone becomes painfree, closely followed by the patient who comes in having achieved a goal despite pain or discomfort. The hardest time for me is when I can't help with a problem. Sometimes it becomes obvious during the case history or examination that Osteopathic intervention is not appropriate. In this case I do not charge for the consultation, all I ask is to be kept informed as to the outcome of any referral I might make. And I try to stay serene.

Happy New Year. Thank you to all of you who chose to visit Dunelm Osteopaths last year, and another heartfelt thanks to everybody who recommended family, friends and work colleagues to come and see us. We try to offer a personal and individual service, and rely on referrals both to keep the Practice going and as confirmation that we are at least doing some things right. Mark and I wish you a fulfilling and healthy 2014. If we can help you in that wish please ring us!  

Deck the arms with loads of pressies, fah lah lah lah laa, lah lah lah laa,

Just make sure they're not too heavy, fah lah lah lah laa, lah lah lah laa.

Apologies, for the rhyme crime but the fact is every year I see people who've had a miserable Christmas with neck pain, back ache and tennis elbow agony due to carrying heavy bags and spending far too long wrapping presents. The rules are

1) Try not to stagger round with shopping...can you return regularly to a central drop off (car, work, partner in cafe, (be the partner in the cafe!))? Regular drinks stops will help to keep you hydrated, but stick to non-alcohlic or the staggering may result in poor co-ordination due to alcoholic injuries.

2) Wrap in stages and try to think about your posture, usual rules apply with shoulders relaxed but at your sides not under your chin, back and neck upright as often as possible. Materials and tools to hand. That thing where you can't see the sissors but you've got your hand on the present on the wrapping paper so you have to reach, twist and grope blindly for the ***** ******(transation = who's stolen my sissors)? Well it's funny to watch but not so great for your skeleton. Good luck with trying to get this one sorted, again the alcohol possibly to be avoided, the red wine stain due to knocking the glass over whilst finding the end of the sellotape is going to cause stress tokens?????


Back pain is a complex affair. I often say to would be osteopaths that if you want to understand what is happening most of the time don't even think about my job. There are so many variables from the shape and quality of the bones and joints, the health of the surrounding tissues and the past experience of injury and pain.  Now we all like to have a diagnosis. Apart from anything else it's easier to say to your boss, yes my sciatica is bad today. But of course 'sciatica' is a description of the sciatic nerve being painful. It doesn't explain why this particular nerve is causing a line of unrelenting pain down your leg. The reasons for its dysfunction could be simple but difficult to treat (a severly herniating disc for example) or complex but readily amenable to osteopathic treatment and a change in lifestyle (ie different shoes, postural change or exercise advice). Often my diagnosis/evaluation will evolve over a period of time, and I feel like a detective piecing ideas and facts and experience together. Sometimes I'll think I know exactly what's going on only to find thatI have just grasped one piece of the puzzle. However it's the acceptence and willingness to keep thinking and learning which makes my job so interesting. (Just on Friday afternoons it would be nice if things were straight forward)

During the summer holidays my son and I went off with our bikes to Berwick with the aim of cycling to Alnwick over a few days. We weren't in any hurry, I don't consider myself to be a cyclist and my son had recently had his appendix removed. After the weeks of sunshine imagine my horror at the forecast and resultant torrential rain which swept across Durham the night before we went (not much sleep THAT night). The rain was of course heading north and we remade our acquaintence with it in Berwick but headed off regardless off being soaked within the first half hour. At one stage during the day as we pushed our bikes along/through a muddy estuary my son looked back to me, his face shining through the rain as bright as the sun, had it been out. "Oh, this is such an adventure". And he was right, we were there doing it, despite surgery, arthritic knees and a fear of cycling on roads. THIS is why we try to maintain our physical and mental health, this is why we do what we can to keep fit and eat well. And this is why we must sometimes accept our limits but work with them so they do not control that we can all still have adventures.

Often people are quite surprised when I ask them about pain killing medication and actively encourage them to take it. I think that Osteopathy is still sometimes regarded as alternative medicine rather than complementary. From my point of view I want to get your body as mechanically well as possible. Pain in the short term is the body's protective system and useful, but it can also eventually cause its own problems. For example a chronically painful spine if unused becomes stiff and weak. Social life becomes limited and we often see a downward spiral of less and less activity, enjoyment and optimism. So anything that can help interrupt this should not be ignored. 

  Consider the idea of taking a regular dose of paracetamol (several doses are much more effective than a one off). That trip to the cinema or walk out becomes possible, still a bit painful but manageable. The trip out lifts the mood, and the pain decreases. The movement through the body sends positive messages to the brain and again the pain messages are 'turned down'. No you're not mended but you've taken control.

  All drugs of course have risk involved so always follow instructions on contra-indications and dosage to the letter. Ask for advise. All drugs have stories to tell. Codeine can cause constipation and doesn't work at all for 10% of the population. You should never exceed the maximum dose stated on the paracetamol packet even if you are over 6foot and 'rugby player build'. Anti-inflammatories may actually slow down recovery from an injury if they're taken immediately...... You get the picture, every medicine has pros and cons which are not always well advertised so never just take something  your Grandma had in her medicine cabinet (!), but keep an open mind.

These frozen shoulders are a menace. Painful and debilitating they really interfere with life's activities and sleep. The onset is usually a mystery, there are often many factors involved including trauma. posture, hormones, genetics and so on. It's not a popular syndrome with therapists either, treatment can be painful to administer and results are not always as good as we would like. To this end I spent some of my Easter break doing a study course on frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) using the Niel Asher technique. 

 Niel Asher is an osteopath who has developed a system of treatment using osteopathic techniques and trigger points. The treatment is no more painful than the condition and did well in a small trial done with the Rheumatic Research Unit at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge. So far I have found the treatment approach to be very helpful even with shoulder problems other than Frozen Shoulder. Of course the anatomy revision never does any harm when it comes to osteopathy. So all in all time well spent during that nasty cold week back in March.

I was speaking at a womens'networking group alongside my friend and colleague Lyn White (reverse therapy) last week. We were talking a little about life/work balance but also acknowledging that many people do spend long hours sitting at desks often in front of computers. I took the blog I wrote a while ago  about sitting  and we went through some exercises which can be done at the desk, my part of the talk was entitled 'sit at your peril.'  Before I started I was able to observe my audience and it was so interesting to try to match sitting posture to mood. Somebody in discomfort leaning over to the side was next to somebody who was obviously wishing she hadn't come. Luckily most were sitting forward in expectation of some interesting information although there was some apprehension once I started talking about desk exercises. The point of this piece? Just to say that your face may smile but your body often tells other people how you're really feeling. It is possible to fool people by adjusting your posture but be careful..if you sit and look alert open and interested you will probably end up feeling that way too.

Hurrah, Spring seems to have arrived. Don't trample the kids in the rush to the garden, the bike, the boat, the tennis racket or whatever is your sunshine fancy. And in your rush don't forget that after a long gloomy winter you may not be as fit as you were six months ago. Make sure that you warm up those muscles and joints and pace yourself, better to start gently and build up your fitness than cause an injury which results in another  long lay off. Go on, go and have some fun, enjoy the sun on your face.

It seems to have been a long, dark, muddy winter for those of us who prefer to get our exercise outdoors. I'm going on a watersports week just before Easter and all my good intentions about getting fit to do sport seem to have foundered. I've followed my own advice a bit and incorporated a bit of stretching into my daily routine, but as for increasing my cardio-vascular fitness and core strength well it hasn't really happened. It's very difficult sometimes to do the things we know will be helpful. I was pondering over this (another excuse to avoid a core strength session) and I remembered an inspiring clip I saw on You Tube. It's called 23 and a half hours. Do have a look at it, even if you're not the sporty type. I'm off now for a brisk, muddy walk.

A frequent complaint from people is that their joints 'click', 'crack' or 'pop'. The qusestion is whether this is normal or something to worry about, and of course why does it happen. So in quick order yes it seems that it is normal, no don't worry unless the 'click', 'pop', 'grating' is painful. Ask for advice/help maybe from your friendly local osteopath. Pain is your body's alarm system, it's sent to you when your brain considers that you need to reconsider what you are doing. Don't ignore it. 

  As to what causes the painfree noise..thats a QI 'nobody knows' answer. There are some thoughts that gas can expand into a vacuum caused by joint movement. Sometimes it's not joints but muscles or ligaments/tendons moving over each other. Either way apart from being slightly annoying to some people it's a normal natural human sound. Of course what isn't normal or natural,  is when somebody constantly cracks their knuckles or neck. Whilst it's probably untrue that the constant cracking will cause arthritis, it is probably true to say that it's a most irritating habit. (and yet somehow compulsive)

Ok quick check, are you sitting comfortably? Are you on the edge of you seat, or at the back, go on have a wriggle to sit supported. Are you curled over a laptop? Do yourself a favour and arch backwards for a moment to stretch between your ribs, let's get some air in, and give your heart and stomach some room to work. Now look to see if your shoulders are in front of your rib cage, and your chin even further forward in that attractive tortoise posture. Try a little experiment. Look to the left and then right. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the back. Now look left and right again, I bet you you had more movement. You'll also have a grateful neck which isn't having to carry the weight of you arms. Job done. Repeat regularly, to improve lung function, digestion, venous return, muscle balance, inter-vertebral disc health and general attractiveness.

The phone was not working earlier but is now fixed

 Many people return to my practice after the Christmas break a little despondent because they've not done their exercises. If you've been to see me you'll know that I try to give 'functional' exercises that can be done 'any time, any place, anywhere' rather like a certain drink from the '80s. In other words my exercises try to reproduce normal human movement and you rarely need to lie on the floor to do them. The trouble is remembering to get them done. Usually the best method is to tag them to another routine, so for example calf stretches can be linked to brushing teeth, core/pelvic floor work can be done whilst on the phone, walking, waiting for the kettle to boil. Some sitting stretches work very well whilst watching the television (or e mails). So no need to give up. Of Course we get out of routines during a holiday, that's the pleasure of a break, but we can pick up where we left off, and hopefully feel fresh enough to plan just WHEN the exercises are going to get done. You can increase the strength and elasticity of muscles at any age and even after a lifetime of inactivity.

Happy New Year. I hope that you've managed to get though the festive period unscathed by virus or accident.

One of the first gentlemen I saw after Christmas had been unfortunate to catch the dreaded norovirus. he had fainted after a prolongued session of vomiting and hurt his lower back. Obviously the first concern was why he had lost consciousness but we felt it was probably due to low blood pressure due to dehydration. Indeed his tissues felt dehydrated under my hands...yes I know only an osteopath...and we got talking about how much liquid do we need for optimum health. The easiest way to see if you taking in enough liquid is to check the colour of your urine. It should be pale and clear. Obviously sweating due to exercise, heat or illness affects our overall water balance. We get water from our food as well as drink, (another reason to eat plenty of fruit and veg which tend to be juicy) so we can finally ditch the 7 glasses water myth, coffee, tea, juice, squash, it all counts. And at risk of sounding like a grumpy old women, unless you are exercising hard, I can see no reason for walking round swigging water out of a bottle in our temperate climate.

 Talking of grumpy, if you haven't discovered Grumpy Cat may I suggest you look him up on line. I defy you to kep a straight face.

We  close for Christmas onFriday 21st December. Any problems or concerns, Please phone the normal number and you will be transferred through to Sian. If necessary an Appointment can be arranged between now and the 2nd Jan when we get back to normal hours.

We wish you a Happy and Symptom free holiday. Try tokeep the good habits and exercises going. It's harder when we're out of routines. And if you do forget for a few days don't despair just pick up the pieces again when you can!

I've just got in from walking the dog. It's quite cold so I had areasonable cardio-vascular work-out. However I became aware of out how tightly I was holding my back and shoulders over some very icy sections. Luckily a bit of arm swinging stretched out the tight muscles and I realised that my decent walking'wellies were a good investment. Please do check your foot wear. This is the time of year that we see hip and knee pains associated with poorly fitting boots.If the soles don't slip on the ice and your feet don't slip in the boot you can enjoy the sparkling world of winter