Sarah Oliver Osteopathy, 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) 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 ▶



Prevent Holiday Back Pain, Pack Light

During the summer I see streams of people who have hurt their backs on holiday. In many cases the problem started with lifting and carrying heavy luggage.   Prevent holiday back pain, osteopathy tips

Don’t let your luggage ruin your precious time off! Here are my tips for packing light and handling your bags with care.


Try to take the minimum possible!

- Come up with a colour scheme for your holiday wardrobe and only pack items in those colours.  That way everything will mix and match.  If you can’t decide, stick with neutral colours and take colourful accessories.

- Pack what you’ll actually need while away, not every possibility.  For example, if you’re going to do a lot of sightseeing, choose comfy trainers and light layers rather than fancy dresses and heels and vice versa if you plan to party all night.

How to pack light and look after your back on holiday –  Be picky when packing shoes.  Even if you’re going away for several weeks you will only need 2-3 pairs.

- Wear your heaviest and bulkiest clothes when you travel.  That way you don’t have to carry them.

- Remember you can wash clothes while you’re away rather than taking a fresh outfit for each day.  Particularly applicable to holidays longer than 1 week.

- When you’re packing, try putting a rolled up towel or hoody in the bottom of your bag.  When you’re done just take it out.  This helps stop the temptation to fill your bag or suitcase up!

- Avoid packing heavy items such as big bottles of water, other fluids, denim and big shoes/boots wherever possible.

For fantastic and detailed advice on packing light I cannot recommend more highly.


Carrying luggage is a lot easier when the bag or suitcase is nice and light, so follow the above tips first!

avoid lifting heavy luggage for a pain free holiday

You’re always best off keeping weight as close to your body as possible, and distributed over both shoulders if you can.

Backpacks are a great idea and shoulder bags are ok if you wear them across your body with as short as strap as is comfortable.

Personally I hate wheely bags, but if you are a fan of annoying fellow travellers with one please be careful not to overload it.  Also keep it close behind you; don’t lean backwards when you’re pulling it along.

When it comes to lifting luggage in and out of cars and baggage carousels you should follow these lifting tips.


If you do manage to hurt yourself, try some gentle stretches (1, 2, 3), keep moving as much as possible and use a cold pack on the area.

For personal advice and treatment, make an appointment with me. 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 0770813019 (Fulham).

Weekend Reads: Bee’s Knees, Brain Ageing and Hiccups

July is just around the corner so it is time for another links round up.  Here are some of my favourite bits and pieces from June.

These are cool socks:

Bone anatomy socks


I’m not sure why this is news but nonetheless, it is good advice: serve water with meals instead of fizzy drinks.

 Has science solved the mystery of hiccups?

If hot weather has been disturbing your sleep, try these 10 tips.

Being bilingual slows brain ageing

Why anaesthesia is one of the greatest medical mysteries of our time

Some local osteopathy clinics were reviewed by the Evening Standard


It’s the bee’s knees:

bee's knees