Sarah Oliver Osteopathy, 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) 07708 130 319 (Fulham)

An Exercise for Painful Acute Frozen Shoulder

In the early stages of a frozen shoulder, you may find your arm ‘catching’ on certain movements and giving you a sudden burst of sharp pain.  The muscles at the top of your arm may go into spasm for a short time.


Luckily there’s an easy way to control that pain.

Shoulder Spasm Exercise from


1. Rest the hand on a table or chair back palm up.
2. Allow the weight of the arm to rest on the hand, causing slight compression at the shoulder joint.
3. Breathe deeply and slowly. It helps to apply the pressure as you breathe out.
4. It is as though you were about to lean your body weight on your hand, while only applying a fraction of the force.


This will help your muscles to relax and the spasm to pass.  Remember to keep your arm as mobile as possible during day to day activities.


If you’d like treatment for Frozen Shoulder, call me on 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708 130 319 (Fulham)


What Causes Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen Shoulder, or Adhesive Capsulitis, is characterised by severe pain and stiffness in the shoulder. It typically appears during middle age, with 3-5% of 40-70 year olds suffering with the condition.


Frozen Shoulder lasts on average for 18-30 months, usually starting with a period of intense pain and sudden loss of movement.  There is then a period without pain but with marked stiffness.  Eventually movement returns and the shoulder goes back to normal.


The cause of Frozen Shoulder is unclear, even after over 100 years of research!

However, we do know that frozen shoulder may be triggered by an injury, even a minor one, to the shoulder.  This can include:

- Falling on to the shoulder or outstretched arm.

- Fracture of the arm or shoulder.

- Damage to the rotator cuff muscles or biceps muscle.

- Reaching behind you, such as to the back seat of your car.

- Surgery to the shoulder, particularly if the shoulder was immobilised.

There are also factors which increase your risk of getting frozen shoulder.  These include:

- Medical conditions such as: Diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Thyroid disorders.

- Middle Age

- Menopause



If you think you may have Frozen Shoulder,  take the online symptom test.

I use Niel-Asher Technique to treat shoulder problems and have worked on many cases of frozen shoulder.

To book an appointment call 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708 130 319 (Fulham).

Weekend Reads: August. X-Ray Gifs, Bananas and Avocado Chocolate Mousse

It’s the last weekend of August so it’s time for my monthly links round up.  Enjoy!

Paracetamol  could be no better than placebo for back pain.


wrist xray

These Xray gifs are AMAZING.  I wish I’d had them when I was a student.

I’ve said before that carrying heavy luggage is a big cause of back pain, so I was very excited to see this life hack.   The easiest way to pack one night’s worth of clothes.

I made this avocado chocolate mousse and it was not only very easy but delicious!

10 interesting banana facts

I love this scarf; it is printed with a slice of human bone tissue.

Low vitamin D levels may increase your risk of dementia.

The Telegraph interviewed an osteopath this month.  I don’t agree with everything she says but it’s an interesting read nonetheless.



Maybe this seal needs some osteopathic  treatment after being jumped on by a penguin? (Via Cheezburger)


What have you been reading this month?



Healthy App Review: Moves, Pedometer and Exercise Tracker

There are so many health and fitness apps available that it is tricky to choose between them.  Every month I’ll b testing one app and giving you my honest opinion on it.

App Name: Moves

Platform: Android 4 and up (Google Play), iOS (App Store)

Cost: Free!

Size: 2.6m

Tested on: Google Nexus 5 running Android 4.4.4

What they say:

Moves automatically records any walking, cycling, and running you do. You can view the distance, duration, steps, and calories* burned for each activity. The app is always on, so there’s no need to start and stop it. Just keep your phone in your pocket or your bag.

Moves app screen shot

What I say:

Moves is basically a fancy pedometer.

I’ve been testing Moves for just under a week and it has been surprisingly useful.  I consider myself to be quite an active person but the app has revealed that actually I am quite lazy!  It has definitely encouraged me to plan more exercise in to my day, and I’ve enjoyed seeing my step count creep up.   It seems to be pretty accurate; other than missing the end of one run it looks to have recorded everything.  I’d like to know how it compares to other trackers and pedometers.


+ Automatically recognises your activity.

+ Always on so you can’t forget to record.

+ Label places so you can track usual routes easily.

+ Very easy to use – you don’t even need to sign up, no confusing menus or extensive options.  It just does what it says it’ll do.

+ Pretty to look at and easy to understand.  Displays your day as a timeline, with total steps and activity time totalled in a colourful circle at the top.

+ Displays your journeys on a map.  You can review them to work out new routes.

+ Doesn’t take up much space on your phone.  The app is currently using only 7.36 mb on my phone.

+ Easily share your activity on other apps.  Moves will prepare an image of your daily summary for you to share with your friends.


- Only understands walking, running and cycling (on Android) so no good for recording other forms of exercise.

- Always on so maybe a bit stalkerish!

- Might drain your battery, but I’ve not really noticed much of a difference.

- Bulkier than a wearable pedometer/activity tracker.

- I don’t usually walk around indoors with my phone in my pocket.  If you do, well done.  If not, you will miss out on some activity.


The bottom line: Recommended. I really like Moves and will be keeping it for the time being, but I’ll look at testing some alternatives.

Download it from Google Play or App Store.

Treatment for Shoulder Pain: New Research on NAT

New research has shown promising results for osteopathic treatment of frozen shoulder, a major cause of shoulder pain and stiffness.


Niel Asher Technique (NAT) is a form of manual therapy for shoulder pain.  It is based on trigger point and deep massage style techniques and was developed by osteopath Simeon Niel-Asher in 1997.

There are currently about 5,000 NAT practitioners world wide, one of which is me!

adhesive capsulitis causing shoulder pain

In a recent study, 154 frozen shoulder sufferers were treated by 4 independent  NAT therapists.  During the course of treatment the patients showed a significant improvement in shoulder movement (in flexion and abduction) and a significant reduction in pain levels.

On average the participants had 7 sessions of treatment over an 11 week period, demonstrating a much quicker recovery than in an average frozen shoulder sufferer.


Restore shoulder movement with NAT in Walthamstow

Photo Credit: Muffet via Compfight cc

Frozen Shoulder is a relatively common shoulder condition, affecting 3-5% of 40-70 year olds.  It is characterised by severe pain and stiffness in the shoulder.   Frozen shoulder is usually a self limiting condition, typically lasting for 18-30 months.

Various treatment options are available, including surgery, but to date few have been shown to be effective.



Want to know more?

Do you have frozen shoulder? Take the online symptom test.

Read the abstract of the study on the IJOM website.

Learn about NAT on the official website.

*Book an appointment with me for frozen shoulder treatment.  Call 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708 130 319 (Fulham).*

Stretch: Supine Spinal Twist

This is a very nice stretch for loosening the whole spine, but particularly the low back.  It is important to take this nice and slowly.  You may not feel a lot at first, but this is a powerful stretch and you could hurt yourself if you try and force this movement.

loosen your back with a spinal twist stretch

1. Lay on your back.

2. Bend both knees up and gently lower them down to your right.

3. Place your right hand on your knee and press down towards the floor.

4. Turn your head towards the left.

5. Stretch your left arm out to your left.

6. Rest in this position for 30 seconds.

7. Slowly turn your head and legs back to a neutral position.

8. Repeat in the opposite direction.

9. Perform 3 times, once a day.


Keep breathing normally while you stretch. Do not hold your breath.

Stretch gently and slowly. You should be able to feel a stretching sensation but it should not hurt.

If a stretch becomes painful, stop immediately and seek advice from your therapist.

Only perform stretches which have been prescribed or approved by a qualified individual such as your GP, physiotherapist or osteopath.  This information is provided for reference only.



Download a pdf of this stretch ▶


*If you suffer with back pain and would like professional osteopathic treatment, call me on 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708 130 319 (Fulham).*

How to Improve a Bad Back by Sitting on your Sitting Bones

Poor seated posture seems to be a major factor in cases of back pain.  Once you learn to sit correctly, strain to muscles and joints in your low back is reduced and you should start feeling better.


What does ‘sitting correctly’ entail?

It is easy to say you will sit properly but hard to do!  While there is a lot to consider when it comes to posture, I have an excellent starting point for you: Sit on your sitting bones.


Sit on your sitting bones and prevent a bad back

There are two bony points near your hips called your ischial tuberosities, but more commonly known as the sitting bones.  These are able to support your body weight while you are sitting.

 If you sit upright, with your weight going evenly through these two points, your low back should remain fairly well balanced and unstrained.

The mistake most of us make at some stage is to sit with more weight going through one side than the other, or to slouch back and rest our weight on the back of the pelvis.  This is not a good idea!

How do you find your sitting bones?

  • Sit on a firm, flat chair with both feet flat on the floor (or a foot rest if you are short)
  • Sit on your fingers.
  • You should feel a bony lump pressing down on to your hands.  That’s your sitting bones.
  • Lean a little over to one side and you’ll feel a large increase in pressure on those fingers.
  • Lean forwards and back, and notice how the pressure changes.  The ideally position is with your weight directly underneath your torso.

Practice finding this position whenever you are sitting down; not just at work but also on the train, in front of the tv, at dinner time etc.  With time and practice it will feel more natural and easier.

*If you suffer with back pain and would like professional osteopathic treatment, call me on 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708 130 319 (Fulham).*

Weekend Reads: July. Cycling, Holiday Stretches, Skeleton Steve and Iced Coconut Mochas

It is the last weekend of July making it time for Weekend Reads! Enjoy my favourite bits from this month on the internet.




How much does sitting negate your workout benefit?

I’ve just got a bike and found this beginner’s guide to cycling really helpful.

Speaking of which, did you know that Waltham Forest council offer free one to one cycle training for people who live, work or study in the borough?

If you’re off on holiday, try these stretches I shared on the Ashlins blog.

Would you try an iced coconut water mocha?


Skeleton Steve, Ilkley Osteopaths

Some of my colleagues in West Yorkshire joined in with the Tour de France in their own special way.

Handy: 6 things productive people do each day.

What have you enjoyed reading this month?


How to deal with a Bad Back at Festivals

The festival season is in full swing and I’m sure many of you are looking forward to a weekend of music, sunshine and camping over the summer.

Sadly festivals can be quickly ruined if your back starts to hurt.  Here are my tips for staying safe and comfortable.


pain free festivals with advice from an osteopath

Photo Credit: fussy onion via Compfight cc



Pack light. Be picky about what you pack.  Remember that you can buy many things on site.  Choose the smallest, lightest equipment you can find.

Carry your things in a rucksack, on both shoulders.

Pack your rucksack properly, with the weight evenly distributed.

Keep the straps on your rucksack nice and short so the weight is close to your centre of gravity.


Back care at festivals

Photo Credit: burge5k via Compfight cc



Use a camping mat under your sleeping bag to cushion your body.  Self inflating mats are particularly good.

Support your head and neck with an inflatable pillow.

back pain advice for camping

Photo Credit: Stew Dean via Compfight cc


During the Day

Sit down as often as you can.  Look for benches and chairs on site.  You may want to take a camping stool or chair or a ‘shooting stick’ so you can sit in comfort wherever you like.

 Change position often.   Sitting on the floor, standing and walking for long periods can really take its toll on your back.  So mix things up as much as you can.  If you’ve been standing still for a while, have a sit down or go for a walk to another stage.

Carrying your day bag.  Again, keep carrying to a minimum, and if you need to carry heavier items such as water bottles or beer, use a backpack on both shoulders.  Take it off and have a rest whenever you can.

Stretch. Even if you are not in pain, gentle stretches each day will help you feel more comfortable.  Try these: 123.

Treatment.  Many festivals have healing fields full of massage therapists, osteopaths, spiritual healers and anything else that might take your fancy.  A visit to one of these therapists could be worth every penny if your back starts to give up.

Alcohol acts as a muscle relaxant, meaning you will probably feel lovely and flexible and pain free after a couple of drinks.  Don’t go too wild though – relaxed muscles are not very supportive and leave you vulnerable to hurting yourself, particularly if vigorous dancing is involved.



 When you Get Home

Get treatment from your local therapist to help your back pain clear up.  Don’t put up with it and hope it will go away on its own.


If you suffer with back pain and would like professional treatment, call me on 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708 130 319 (Fulham).


Stretch your Quads

Quads stretch standing


1. Stand upright and hold on to a wall to support yourself.

2. Grasp one ankle in your hand, and pull it up towards your buttock.

3. Gently pull your bent knee backwards as shown above. Do not bend forwards; it is important to keep your back upright.

4. You should feel a stretch at the top of your thigh.

5. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side, once a day.


Keep breathing normally while you stretch. Do not hold your breath.

Stretch gently and slowly. You should be able to feel a stretching sensation but it should not hurt.

If a stretch becomes painful, stop immediately and seek advice from your therapist.

Only perform stretches which have been prescribed or approved by a qualified individual such as your GP, physiotherapist or osteopath.  This information is provided for reference only.

Download a pdf of this stretch ▶