Fancy A Few Tips on Your Hips for Summer Activities?

Wimbledon has started, running through to the 16th where Andy Murray will once again hope to be in with a chance of claiming a hat trick of Wimbledon wins under his belt – despite a troublesome hip injury putting a threat to his chances of Wimbledon glory once again.

Murray said he was feeling “good” after practising three times on Friday June 30th, as he recovers from a hip injury which saw him pull out of his final Wimbledon warm-up match.

Murray, 30, has been suffering from his hip problem due to possible twisting and flexing of the hip on a relatively constant basis during his career, intense training from a young age making him become one of the world’s best – does unfortunately take it’s toll with injuries to the body.

It’s not uncommon for amateur/younger tennis players to be affected by these types of hip problems either, but the good news is you can manage your injuries to a certain degree if one of your hobbies happens to be a game of Tennis down your local club.

Trying out different surfaces such as clay/grass/concrete (depending on the courts on offer at your preferred playing spot) can also be helpful, this can help avoid muscles imbalances that might develop if you were to stay on one surface.

If the problem persists after two or three weeks it might be time to seek the help of a professional. Here at Rivermead Osteopaths, we can help with your pain – 14 million people in the UK alone suffer from various types of pain throughout their body and we’re here to try and put that right.

We’ll be keeping a beady eye on the events of Wimbledon over the coming weeks backing Andy Murray all the way! Our man started his title defence on centre court on Monday and we hope there is no recurrence of his injury – otherwise he’ll have to pop by and pay us a visit at Rivermead Osteopaths!

An osteopath may be the answer to your prayers – Call 01245 280636 today to see if your problem can be helped by osteopath Claire Thomas – alternatively you can email us via

Persistent Pain


We all feel pain from time to time. When someone injures themselves, specific nerves recognise this as pain, which in turn triggers the body’s repair mechanism. As the problem resolves, the pain tends to improve and usually disappears within 3-6 months. This type of pain could be argued to be beneficial: if it hurts, you are likely to try and avoid doing whatever it is that has caused the pain in the future, so you are less likely to injure yourself in that way again.

Occasionally the pain continues even after tissue healing has finished. When pain continues after this point, it becomes known as persistent (or is sometimes referred to as chronic) pain. This type of pain is not beneficial and is a result of the nerves becoming over-sensitised, which means that a painful response will be triggered much more easily than normal. This can be unpleasant, but doesn’t necessarily mean that you are doing yourself any harm simply by moving. You could think of this as a sensitive car alarm that goes off in error when someone walks past.

Persistent pain is very common and effects over 14 million people in the UK alone. It often does not respond to conventional medical interventions and needs a different kind of approach, but there are many things that you can do to manage your pain yourself with the support of your osteopath, your family and loved-ones. Keeping active, performing exercises and stretches can help, learning to pace your activities so that you don’t trigger a flare-up of your pain as well as setting goals and priorities are all very important and can help you to maintain a fulfilling lifestyle.

Osteopathy for Work


The health and safety executive estimate that in 2013/14 there were 526,000 cases of work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – about 42% of all work related illnesses MSDs are the second biggest cause of absence from work, effecting over 1m people at a cost to the economy (estimated in 2007) of £7bn.

If you are self-employed, taking time off work with musculoskeletal problem can have a devastating effect on you and your family’s financial security, so getting back to work as quickly as possible is essential. That can seem impossible when you’re in pain and unable to complete your usual daily activities, but movement really helps.

The Work Foundation recommend that you work with your employers and healthcare professionals if effected by MSDs to find ways of returning to work as soon as possible using a combination of treatment, lifestyle changes and adjustment to working conditions. They also suggest that early intervention is key to recovery, hastening your return to a normal, healthy lifestyle and limiting the negative psychological effects of an extended period of sick leave.

How you can get can help;

  • Fast access – our osteopaths are usually able to see you within a couple of days of seeking an appointment. As osteopaths are primary healthcare professionals you don’t need to be referred by a GP unless you are seeking NHS funded treatment or your health insurance provider insists that you see a GP first.
  • Treatment and advice – once they have assessed your condition an osteopath will usually begin treatment straight away. They can also provide advice on how to avoid making the condition worse or re-injuring yourself.
  • Inexpensive treatment – Many MSDs can be treated by osteopaths over a few visits.
  • Fit notes – A fit note provides your employer with advice on what they can do to help an employee return safely to work. This may include adjustments to working conditions, such as reduced hours, a different work station set up, or recommending avoiding activities that may prevent or slow recovery, heavy lifting for example. Osteopaths are able to issue fit notes which will give employers this expert advice.
  • Onward referral – With your permission, osteopaths are able to share information about your health with other healthcare professionals, such as your GP. If your condition requires the intervention of another expert, an osteopath can provide a letter of referral detailing the diagnosis and any treatment that they have been able to provide, which may help you more rapidly get the help you need to return to health.

Back Pain and Children

Like adults, children can suffer from back pain as a result of a variety of lifestyle activities. And like adults, there are number of things that parents and carers can do to prevent issues arising.


Good school bags

Children are often required to carry bags full of books, PE kits, musical instruments and other equipment to and from school. Parents should try to limit the weight of school bags as much as possible and invest in a good quality back pack that the child should wear across both shoulders, ideally with a strap across the chest to keep the load close to their body. Packing the bag with the heaviest items (such as laptops and heavy books) closest to child’s body, will also make carrying more comfortable and less likely to strain the muscles of the back.

Limit screen time

Looking down to use smart phones, tablets and laptops for an extended period can pull the back and neck into an unnatural posture, resulting in pain. Placing limits on the time spent using devices and encouraging regular breaks may help to avoid problems. If your child has to use a laptop for homework, consider purchasing a support that elevates the screen to a height that allows him or her to sit up straight to look at it.


Regular exercise

A sedentary lifestyle is known to contribute to the risk of developing back pain, as well as contributing to obesity. Regular physical activity helps to keep the core muscles that support the spine strong and maintain flexibility, which will help to avoid back pain. Encourage lots of active play, walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. To keep your child fit and healthy.

The right bed and pillow

Good quality sleep is vital for both physical and mental development. Make sure that your child has a good sized comfortable bed with a firm mattress and a pillow that supports their head without lifting it too high.

Osteopathic Treatment for your child’s back pain

Your child’s back pain may benefit from osteopathic treatment. Using gentle manual therapy, an osteopath will help to resolve any stresses and strains that are affecting their body and relieve their pain. They can also provide lifestyle advice that may help to prevent the problem from coming back.


Ouch! What to do when you sustain an injury

Sprains and strains to muscles, nerve and joints happen to all of us and for most they are a painful, but temporary reminder to be a little more careful.

Strained or ‘pulled’ muscles often happen when we over exert untrained muscles, train without properly warming up or try to go beyond a joint’s natural flexibility. Sometimes we feel the pain straight away, however some injuries might not cause pain until later on. What can you do?

Remember RICE (Relative rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), using these can help to relieve the pain and start the healing process.


Relative rest: The first thing to do if you feel pain is to reduce the offending activity – pain is usually your body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong that needs your attention. It can be normal to feel a little sore after exercises for a day or two, but if it is more than this, pushing through the pain is rarely beneficial.


However, movement stimulates the healing process so stay as mobile as you comfortably can. Try to keep the joint moving through a comfortable range of motion, without forcing it to the point of pain. This will help to encourage blood flow and keep your joint flexible whilst it heals. This is particularly relevant for back pain as gentle exercise, such as walking, can help. You should slowly build your activity levels up as soon as your symptoms begin to resolve and as soon as you are able.


Ice: Cooling the area using an ice pack can help to reduce swelling and pain. Wrap a thin tea towel around the area so as to avoid direct skin contact and then apply the pack to the injured area for 10 – 15 minutes. You should repeat this several times per day for the first 72 hours. This will help to control inflammation, making it easier for your body to get blood and nutrients to the area and resolve the injured tissues.


Compression: Gently applying a compression dressing may help to temporarily support the injured joint and reduce swelling, though remove this immediately if there are signs that this is reducing the circulation to the area (numbness, pins and needles, the skin turning white or blue etc).


Elevation: If the injury is in the lower limb (knee or ankle), elevating the area a little can make it easier for your body drain fluids that might accumulate around the area, causing swelling. For example, if you’ve hurt your knee, sitting down with the knee raised on a low foot stool may ease your pain.


Seek medical attention. If you have pain that can’t be controlled with over the counter painkillers, can’t put weight on the injured limb, experience paralysis or loss of sensation or the swelling is very bad seek help from your local A&E department, urgent care centre or telephone 111 for advice.

Look out for your feet

Feet take the weight of our whole body, so over time it’s not hard to imagine how problems can crop up. Problems with feet can easily turn into problems elsewhere – ankle, knee, hip and spine problems can result from a foot injury, altered gait or weight bearing position.

Despite us all recognising the obvious strain our feet go through, it’s often the case we ignore them, or don’t think enough about looking after them. Statistics from the Royal College of Podiatry found 9 out of 10 people suffer with some sort of foot problem, with 1 in 5 reporting foot pain often or constantly.

As an osteopath I can help with foot pain, when it’s the result of a mechanical problem. People who suffer with their mobility, poor eyesight, or conditions such as diabetes that can result in poor foot health, should consider having their feet regularly checked and cared for by a podiatrist/chiropodist.

Try this exercise. It helps keep the joint mobile that can cause a problem with bunions, a common issue that can be painful and cause problems fitting into shoes. Practice it on both feet doing 10 repetitions each day. Stop if it causes pain, but it might take a little while to grasp it, especially if your feet are stiff. CLICK ON BUNION EXERCISE TO VIEW!

Bunion Exercise

The following are some general footcare tips:


  • Wash your feet daily in warm soapy water.


  • Dry your feet well, especially between your toes. This is where infections may develop.


  • Change your socks often to avoid foot odour.


  • If you get dry feet moisturise them. You can also use a foot file or pumice stone to remove dry skin. Note that sometimes a dry, harder area is evidence of a change in the way you bear weight through the foot. Think about seeing someone like myself if you have had an injury, or problems with pain.


  • Cut your toenails carefully. Cut straight across, never at angles to avoid in-growing toenails.


  • Be careful with your footwear. If you need to wear high heels at work or to go out. Travel to and from the office or party in sensible shoes and change in and out of them.


  • Sensible shoes should support your foot, fit well and be comfortable. Having a small broad-based heel, perhaps up to 3/4″ is better than having a completely flat heel.


  • Try and avoid wearing flip-flops for too long a period of time. They offer no support and can result in pain.




Have a happy and healthy festive season and beyond!


I’m definitely an advocate for doing the best you can to look after yourself, as I’m sure most people are. I’m by no means perfect, but try to exercise wisely, eat well and stay hydrated. All things I would recommend my patients to try and do too. We’re all different, what works for one, may not be the best course of action for another.

I’ve just read an article suggesting we ditch the new years resolutions of more exercise and perfect diets. The article discusses that this kind of approach places way too much pressure on us, and is destined for failure. Potentially making us feel a bit fedup with ourselves and as a result giving up the new year’s resolutions.

The article discusses the need to take a consistent approach, to adopt “a long term better approach to health”. This way we can start to combat the obesity issues the country is increasingly suffering, and the many problems that can run alongside them – diabetes, cardiovascular illness, musculoskeletal problems.

As an osteopath I can help you with your body mechanics, the musculoskeletal bits. So if you’re finding you have any niggling issues, may be problems that stop you being as physically active as you would like to be. I might be able to help.

I don’t just deal with backs! Although spinal pain is very common. I also look at problems relating to muscles and joints all over the body, and I take a holistic approach to this wherever your pain is. So it might be we need to look at another area of you, as well as the bit that hurts, to really address a problem fully.

I can help you get on top of the problem with osteopathic treatment, but also offer advice on exercise, and general lifestyle. Small changes can make a lot difference. We try and investigate what the root cause of the problem is. Often something seemingly trivial, but you do it a lot, can be an issue. Problems around work posture, poorly fitting bras, poor footwear, and many more everyday matters are very common.



So I hope you all have a fantastic festive season, and I wish you all a happy and healthy 2017. Take a sensible approach to looking after yourself and call me if you think I may be able to help. 

Rivermead Osteopaths Tel: 01245 280636

Get started now for stronger bones

Osteoporosis is a condition that makes bones more brittle and prone to fracture. Although osteoporosis can affect 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 weightlifting, 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. Unlike women, men usually try to become stronger and bigger in the gym.

‘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.

This could save you money on Osteopath bills!

Please forward this post to any children or grandchildren where its appropriate. However it applies to us all. This newsletter contains some tips on how to reduce back strain.

The Back Care charity reports that 1 in 4 secondary school students gets regular or daily back pain. Half of those that suffer with back pain report their school bag is too heavy, or too tiring. Amongst this half, back pain was 10 times more common.


Problems can develop from our younger years if we don’t take proper care. A problem not identified in childhood/adolescence, may become an issue in adulthood. Four out of five adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

  • Check your bag? Does it evenly distribute the weight you carry on your body? Do the straps dig into you? A rucksack carried with both straps across each shoulder is the ideal bag for your back. The straps should be padded. Waist and hip straps can help redistribute the pressure from your shoulders.


  • Don’t carry more than you need to? Check your bag regularly for clutter!


  • Try and avoid sitting where you can. Sitting for long periods can strain your back. Getting up and moving around regularly is ideal.


  • When you need to sit, try and sit well. So sit up straight on a chair, with your bottom to the back of the seat. Ideally the seat would support your lower back. Adding support in the small of your lower back with a rolled up jumper or jacket might help. Avoiding soft and low seats should help too.



  • Lead a generally active lifestyle. Rest is important too, but find an activity you enjoy to regularly move and strengthen your body. As well as keeping you mobile, there are obvious benefits for your heart and general well-being.


  • Be careful that your footwear doesn’t add unnecessary strain to your back. A flatter, supportive shoe is far better than a high heel to spend a long time standing in.




  • Drinking plenty of water, and eating a balanced diet, are also very important to keep your whole body healthy, not just your muscles and joints.



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Don’t give yourself a reason to whine about your spine!

Our spine is important and a vital part of our body. It transports information from our brain to the rest of the body, and vice versa. It is involved in all activity and it has to put up with a great deal – sitting for long periods at a desk –  at work/home/school, long car journeys, carrying bags, strain through sporting activities, lifting and carrying, and restriction accumulated through poor positioning and posture. I’m sure we all aspire to remain active, to be able to carry out our lives as we wish to, and to stay free from pain. 

Some spinal problems are the result of poor care. The problem can build up slowly and isn’t always noticeable initially. It may follow months or years of bad habits. This is the stuff we can do something about! Mechanical problems in the spine can relate to the joints, discs, muscles, ligaments and nerves.



Here are some general considerations that could genuinely make a difference to you and your family, if you’re prepared to make a few changes:

  • A rucksack is the best bag to carry to try and avoid back problems. It should be carried over both shoulders, and adjusted so the bag sits close to the back.
  • De-clutter bags so you’re not carrying around unnecessary items.
  • We all need to stay as active as possible. Take regular exercise to help general fitness and improve your mobility.
  • Wear a decent pair of shoes that will be comfortable, supportive and appropriate for the sport, job or task you’re undertaking.
  • Stay mobile generally. If you find you’re at the computer, or TV, on a car journey or just sitting around. Try and get up every 40 minutes to avoid getting too stiff.
  • Check your computer set-up, make sure your chair and desk are adjusted so that they work for you.

If you experience a problem. Osteopathy can help get you moving, it also helps relieve pain and discomfort. Call Claire today if you’re having a problem.



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