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

Emmett Technique – Have you Tried It?

Have you heard of Emmett Technique?  I came across it last month at CAMexpo and was intrigued by its promise of gentle, easy muscle releases.


Emmett Technique (Emm-Tech) uses a sequence of ‘holds'; finger tip pressure on to certain spots, and ‘switches'; flicking across areas of muscle, to release tension and reduce pain.  They are usually performed 3 times in a row.  The area is the retested to look for the desired change, which is ‘locked in’ with gentle movements.


Emmett Technique


It was invented in the 1980s by Ross Emmett, an Australian with a very interesting story.  His career includes time spent working in a mine, 5  years working in animal research and 30 years as a remedial therapist.  He is qualified in techniques including NLP, Bowen technique and massage.  During his work as a massage therapist he came across these ‘points’ which seem to be particularly effective.  Through a process of trial and error he refined the technique.  News of his work started to spread across Australia and New Zealand, and then on to the rest of the world.  Emm Tech was first taught in the UK in 2007.  All qualified practitioners in the UK are registered with Emmett-UK and trained on a course devised by Ross himself.


Emm-Tech is used in conjunction with other manual therapies, with exercise such as pilates, and as a stand alone therapy.

I decided that I’d like to find out more, and with two of my Ashlins colleagues signed up to a 1 day taster course.  Our tutor, Hayley, is a pilates teacher and Emmett practitioner.  She took us through a series of 11 releases, clearly explaining how to test before and after each move and how to accurately execute the techniques.


I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how effective Emm Tech seems to be.  We could certainly see and feel a difference after each technique, and it was relatively easy to pick up.  I’m not qualified as an Emm Tech practitioner so I won’t be using it at work just yet.  I do plan to test it on friends and family though, as I’m interested to find out how long the effects last and how they complement my usual osteopathic techniques.


Anyone can do the 1 day taster course.

There’s more information about the technique on Emmett UK’s website:


If you’re suffering with aches and pains, I already know plenty of techniques to help! Give me a call on 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708 130 319 (Hammersmith).


Back Strengthening Exercise: Pelvic Tilt

Exercise to strengthen your back
1. Start by lying on the floor with your knees up. Your feet, buttocks, upper back/shoulders and head should be resting on the floor.
2. Breathe in, then as you breathe out tilt your pelvis towards you. Your low back should come into contact with the floor. Concentrate on pulling your pelvis with the muscles in your abdomen, rather than pushing with the muscles in your buttocks.  Imagine pulling your tummy button down towards the ground.
3. Breathe in and return to the starting position.
4. Repeat this 5 times.




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

Move gently and slowly. Exercises should not hurt.

If an exercise 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).*

Back Care Advice for Autumn Gardeners and Allotmenters

I treat quite a number of gardening related injuries and I’m sure there are many more sufferers out there who don’t make it in for treatment.

As Autumn sets in there’s lots of clearing and tidying to be done in the garden and allotment – prime candidates for causing low back pain. Don’t put yourself out of action.  Follow these tips for a pain free season of gardening.


Photo Credit: John Picken via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: John Picken via Compfight cc

– Moving Compost, Growbags, Heavy Pots

If you follow one of my suggestions from this article, make it this one.  Please, please, please, bend your knees and not your back when lifting.  Stand as close as you can to whatever you need to lift, put one foot in front of the other and crouch down.  Then grasp the pot/bag of compost firmly and push up with your legs to stand. Don’t crouch; keep your back straight.

Ask someone to help you if the item is too large or too heavy for you to manage alone.


Photo Credit: USDAgov via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: USDAgov via Compfight cc

Planting Bulbs and Planting up Pots

If you’re planting up small pots, put them on a table while you work so that they are in easy reach.


For larger containers or planting into the ground, kneel or squat down so that you’re close to the planting area.  Be careful not to stoop.  You should also avoid twisting to reach things.  Just get up and  move your body.


Photo Credit: AdamBindslev via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: AdamBindslev via Compfight cc

- Digging

Try and keep your back upright while you dig. Stand with one leg in front of the other and bend them as you dig.

Hold the spade with your weaker hand far down the shaft, and your stronger hand at the handle.  This helps you manage the weight of the soil as you dig.

An obvious but important tip is to work slowly and steadily!  Move a small amount of soil at a time – your body will thank you!


Many thanks to my brother Matt, who is a Horticulturist, for his help in putting this article together.


If you have back pain and would like some treatment, give me a call on  020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708 130 319 (Fulham)

Weekend Reads: September. Hamster Wheel Desk, Wearable Chairs and Piglets

The last weekend of September is upon us, signalling another edition of Weekend Reads.


This is a cool invention: The Prosthetic Leg that Plugs Directly into the  Skeleton


Would you try this?  Sit Anywhere on the Chair you Wear


 Why do we shrink when we get old?  “Our vertebrae – the bones that help keep us upright – get compressed and rubbed all the time, so we might lose some of the actual bone. Our muscles and ligaments also get weaker, which adds to the effect.”


I really enjoyed these videos about dealing with dyspraxia




We know that sitting all day is terrible for you.  Could this hamster wheel desk be the solution?


You know I love Xrays – 25 Strangest Things Found on X-ray


Lastly, here’s the happiest piglet you’ll see all day (via Cheezburger)

What have you been reading this month?

App Review: Drink Water

Every month I’m testing a health and fitness app so you don’t have to.  This month we’re looking at Drink Water, an app which unsurprisingly aims to help you stay hydrated.

Drink Water   Android Apps on Google Play

App Name: Drink Water

Platform: Android 4 and up (Google Play), iOS 6.0 or later (App Store)

Cost: Free on Android, 99p on iOS

Size: 1.7m / 0.6m

Tested on: Google Nexus 5 running Android 4.4.4

What they say:

“The app that helps you drink water properly. Calculate how much you need to drink each day and receive reminders . If you do not know how much you need to drink each day , no problem! Our app has a super water calculator to help you. Just enter your weight and Drink Water tells how much you should drink per day.”

Drink Water ScreenShot

What I say:

Many people, myself included, struggle to get enough fluid each day.  Dehydration is a common factor in tiredness, headaches, ‘brain fog’, dry skin and many other issues.  A regular reminder to drink water should be a handy addition to anyone’s phone.

Drink Water does exactly what it says on the tin.  It will notify you at regular intervals that it is time for more water and keep a running total of how much you’ve drunk that day.


This app is pretty basic and doesn’t do a great job at estimating your required fluid intake.  It bases the estimate on your weight and doesn’t consider your activity levels or meals.  Your food actually contains a lot of the fluid you require.

You also need to know how much you’ve drunk in millilitres, so I had to measure my mugs and glasses.



+ Suggests water intake based on your weight.

+ Allows you to set sleeping hours so the app won’t disturb you at night.

+ Set notification frequency to suit your routine.

+ Choose imperial or metric measurements.

+ Easy to use.

+ Uses a nice clear illustration to show how much you still need to drink.



– Doesn’t take activity in to account.

– Doesn’t take meals in to account.

– You have to enter fluid intake in millilitres, so unless you only drink out of bottles you’ll need to measure your favourite mugs and cups.

– Has advertising.



The bottom line: This app is handy for reminding you to drink regularly but I wouldn’t pay too much attention to your estimated target.  You’d be better off drinking according to thirst.

Download it from Google Play or App Store.

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.

Download a pdf of this stretch ▶

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).*