Stay strong

“The core muscles” is a collective term for a number of muscles that add support to the spine, and contribute to maintaining a beneficial posture. These muscles include several back muscles, abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor. Even some shoulder and thigh muscles are considered as core muscles. If you haven’t been trying to strengthen your own core, why not give it a go? Here are a few basics to get you started.

Please remember. If you do have any problems. Check with your osteopath or other health practitioner to check these exercises are suitable for you.

  • Find your core. Think “zip up and hollow”. “Zip up” refers to pulling up your pelvic floor, as if you were stopping yourself having a wee. ‘Hollow’ means pulling your navel back towards your spine, so you feel your abdominal and back muscles engaging. Have a go at finding them, then practice using them. When you do the following exercises aim for 25% contraction in the first instance. As you challenge yourself in an exercise though, you may have to ramp up that contraction.
  • Basic core, hip abduction.

Lay on your back with your knees bent. Allow your spine to rest in it’s neutral position. That is, with the lower back not too arched, and not flat against the floor. Find the mid position. You need to use the contraction of the core muscles to maintain your neutral spine and pelvic balance as you perform the exercise. For this exercise (as in the picture) placing your fingertips on the front of your pelvic bones will allow you to feel if you’re keeping the pelvis stable.

Let one knee drop out to the side whilst maintaining your stable position. It is certainly a case of quality over quantity. Depending how strong your core is, it might be you don’t move very far to begin with. Do what you can, and repeat 6 times on each side.

  • Seated roll-downs

Start seated, spine in an upright position, knees bent. Extend your arms ahead of you at shoulder height. With your core muscles engaged, tuck your pelvis under, and imagine you’re moving your spine down towards the floor segment by segment. Go to the point you are comfortable. Then imagine rebuilding your spine back up to sitting segment by segment. Repeat 6 times. Try and keep your shoulders down and away from your ears as you’re doing this.

To train effectively and develop good habits, attending a core strength class would be great. Or Pilates is another option that gives great core benefits.


Squeeze the floor to feel assured

Pelvic floor exercises can help:
  • with bowel and bladder control
  • reduce the chance of bowel or womb prolapse
    • in women, this may be felt as a bulge in the vagina or a feeling of heaviness, discomfort, pulling, dragging or dropping
    • in men, this may be felt as a bulge in the rectum or a feeling of needing to use their bowels but not actually needing to go
  • they help with recovery from surgery in men and women, and post-childbirth
  • improve sexual sensitivity
  • maintain confidence socially, so a good quality of life.


Its important to do the exercises correctly. Speaking to a professional for guidance may be necessary, and definitely if you are continuing to experience bowel or bladder disturbances. The literature is inconclusive, but would seem to indicate that a weakness in the pelvic floor muscles may contribute to spinal issues too. It seems logical to me that if there is a weakness or loss of integrity in one area, then there could be a knock-on effect/pressure added to another?
The following links offer a guide for both men and women individually.

Do you have joint pain?

Around 8.5 million people are estimated in the UK to be struggling with joint problems attributed to osteoarthritis. One in five adults over the age of 45 have knee problems, and 1 in 9 are experiencing hip problems relating to osteoarthritis. Not all joint problems are the result of these changes. Day to day activities and injuries will inevitably cause problems occasionally. Whatever the underlying reason, osteopathy may help by improving the function of the area and reducing pain. Also providing a plan and advice to manage the area into the future.

If your car broke down you’d take it to a mechanic. If your pipe leaked you’d call a plumber. If your laptop malfunctioned you’d seek help from an IT engineer… So if you have pain in your body, and it is stopping you from working, or doing the activities you love. See an expert – visit an osteopath.

Taking time off work because of a problem with your muscles or joints doesn’t just cost you money, it can also affect your home life. Treatment from an osteopath may accelerate your recovery, helping you return to your normal activities quickly.

It costs less than you might think for a short course of treatment and could be a worthwhile investment in your health and wellbeing. So please give the clinic a call for advice.

Forward this to a friend if you think it could help.

Ageing and Bone

The following are a couple of factors that are natural and normal changes in bone as we get older.

There is a reduction in calcium and other minerals. It can begin at about 30 years of age in females, and typically starts around 60 in males. In females, often around 45 to 50 years of age, there is a dramatic reduction in the amount of the hormone oestrogen produced. This has an effect on bone density and strength. The loss can continue until as much as 30% of calcium is lost from the bones by the age of 70.

Worse case scenario, osteoporosis can develop. This is a condition of low bone density and so greater susceptibility to bone fracture. It isn’t exclusively a female problem. Males get osteoporosis too, but the changes around and following the menopause might be more dramatic.

These are natural occurrences. Sometimes different diseases and medications can cause lowered bone density. In whichever case, it is important to look after your bones. Osteoporosis is a “silent” condition. It often isn’t identified until someone has a fracture. The condition, if it progresses, can have many implications on lifestyle.

Another factor is that of the reduction in the rate of protein synthesis with ageing. So namely the collagen that makes up the matrix of our bones. This will reduce bone’s tensile strength. Again, this has a similar overall effect, in that it creates a greater possibility of bone fracture.

So to look at it more positively! What can we do to help ourselves?

  1. Take regular exercise. It is the pressure through bone that allows it to re-model. So walking, jogging, lifting weights…anything that adds resistance to the bone will help.
  2. Take your exercise outside, or take part in outdoor activities. Vitamin D, important for bone health too, is created in our bodies via a reaction to sunlight. Paler skins can be served well by around 10 minutes exposure a day (so no sun lotion, and not all the skin covered by clothes), darker skin may need a little longer. In the UK, the sun is not strong enough to be effective all year around. Some people might need to consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
  3. Make sure you are eating a balanced and varied diet. If this is the case, and you aren’t avoiding food groups or have an issue that prevents you from taking up nutrients into the body. You are probably getting what you need. Calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and boron are some of nutrients needed for good bone health.

If you feel there is a problem with your digestion. Seeing your doctor may be necessary to assess any potential issues and receive the appropriate care. Sometimes seeing a nutritionist or nutritional therapist can also be very useful.

If you need more general guidance on making sure you have a balanced diet. My new Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching service could be useful. Please get in touch if necessary.


One Day Plan With Musculoskeletal Wellbeing In Mind

The food portions in this plan amount to just under 2000 calories. So this may need to be altered up or down depending on your needs and/or health goals. It clearly doesn’t cater for all diet preferences, so is based on the assumption all foods can be consumed in the diet.

On waking

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into boiled water and enjoy when cooled.

Have a glass of water.


Combine 100g whole plain Greek yogurt, 100g blueberries, 70g (no added sugar) museli, 1 tablespoon of raisins and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.

Snack 1

One small palmful of whole unsalted almonds (about 20g) and one whole orange.

Have a glass of water.


Combine 40g of baby spinach leaves, 6 cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds, a grilled skinless chicken breast (about 125g) and 30g Emmental cheese. Add 1 tablespoon of houmous as a dressing.

Have a glass of water.


Go for a 20 to 30 minute walk. Or perform some gentle stretches.

Have a glass of water.

Snack 2

One apple and one boiled egg.

Have a glass of water.


Find 5-10 minutes just to rest quietly and focus on relaxed breathing.


4 new potatoes, 1 average-sized salmon fillet, 80g courgette, 2 carrots and 70g green beans.

Have a glass of water.

Snack 3

90g Greek plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds, 80g raspberries and 1 satsuma combined.

Have a glass of water.


Do something you enjoy and start to think about winding down for bed.

Forget about your back!

We often take our spine for granted. Despite it’s essential role in helping us to move around and protecting vital nerves and organs, unless it causes us trouble we don’t tend to think about it.

Keeping your spine healthy could save you from unnecessary discomfort and keep you doing the things you enjoy.

Regular checks from an osteopath, who can identify and treat problems before they cause serious pain, and advise on exercise and lifestyle, is one way you can care for your back. General considerations are:

  • Stay mobile, find an activity you enjoy.
  • Consider a specific exercise routine to aid mobility and strength.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water whilst limiting caffeine and alcohol.
  • Eat a balanced diet focusing on whole foods.
  • Get outdoors.
  • Try and maintain a sensible body weight for you.

Try and incorporate the above into your life, and hopefully you can forget about your back.

nutrition lifestyle coaching

To give you a head-start, follow this link for some lower back exercises.

Lower Back Pain


Interval Training – Beneficial To All

Interval training/High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has received a lot of attention over recent years. It has been made popular by celebrity trainers like Joe Wicks.

To summarise, the benefits noted are:

  • It can be adapted for all, what’s high intensity is different from one person to another.
  • Many people don’t fulfill the guidelines for time spent exercising each week. HIIT offers exercise in more manageable time-frames.
  • Weight loss.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity, so therefore better blood sugar control reducing the likelihood of suffering with Type II Diabetes.
  • Better blood pressure control.
  • Reduced body fat with your sport of preference.

If you have concerns around what exercise might be appropriate for you, please feel free to ask me at the clinic. Or make sure you check with a relevant professional before embarking on a new exercise activity.

Hip Stiffness

These exercises may help reduce hip joint stiffness in different scenarios. For people who are a little out-of-shape, to those with osteoarthritis and in many other scenarios. They offer controlled mobility through the hip joint, but all the same be careful.

If they cause pain then don’t persist with them, and if you had surgery or are a senior citizen you need to take it slower.


1. Lay on your side with your knees resting together to start. Keeping the feet in contact, open the knees as far as you’re able whilst keeping the spine straight and stable. Return to the start position. Repeat 10 times.


2. Keeping the knees together. Open the feet apart as wide as you’re able whilst keeping the spine straight and stable. Repeat 10 times.



3. Laying on your back. Place one hand on your knee. Think of this as drawing a circle on the ceiling with your knee. You can make the circles as small or large as you’re able to, but try and keep the spine straight as you do it. Repeat 5 times in an anti-clockwise, and 5 times in a clockwise direction on each side.


Happy New Year!! – Could a visit benefit your health?

Happy new year. Could a visit to the osteopath help you achieve what you want to in 2019?

Every day 30,000 people in the UK see an osteopath…We see and help a wide range of musculoskeletal complaints and support many people in achieving their physical goals. 

Patients seek help from an osteopath for a variety of conditions including neck or back pain, joint or muscular pain, sports injuries, recurring headaches and more. Many patients are pregnant mothers, unsettled children, those with work strain, or pain and stiffness related to advancing years.

Could a visit benefit your health?

Appointments are usually available without the need for referral from a GP. Give us a call today to see if you can be helped at the Rivermead Osteopaths.


Happy Christmas!

Here is an exercise to keep your spine moving over the festive season. Remember to try and stay gently mobile whilst having a good rest and a great time.

Happy Christmas!


These exercises shouldn’t cause pain, if you experience a problem, stop the exercise and consult your Osteopath or other medical practitioner. If you have an existing complaint, it would be wise to consult your practitioner to check these exercises are appropriate for you.


SPINE CURL EXERCISE – This is the sort of exercise where you want to aim for quality over quantity. So if you’re new to this, maybe only aim for 3-6 really good repetitions. Aiming for 10 if you’re a bit more practiced.

1. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You may feel better contact with the ground without shoes on – your choice.
2. Do a pelvic tilt by tucking your pelvis under so you can feel the contact of your lower back with the floor. Think about making this contact one vertebrae at a time to try and work every segment of your spine.
3. Beyond the pelvic tilt, gradually lift your spine off the floor, again thinking of doing this one vertebra at a time. Only go a high as the shoulder blade region so you’re not stressing your neck. Then return back to your start position by placing one vertebra at at time back to the floor.
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