Can Osteopathy Heal The Mind? An Interview with Olympic Osteopathy

by Gemma Pike

What do you think of when I say the word Osteopath?
If you winced and thought of someone cracking your spine, you would be correct! However, this is only one part of what they can offer.  I went to visit Steve, or Steve the Wizard as he is affectionately referred to by clients, at Olympic Osteopathy to talk about the health triad, neurological osteopathy and the benefits for mental health.

Hi Steve, do you want to start by telling me a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming an Osteopath?

When I was younger I broke my leg and had physiotherapy to help recover from it. Later on in life, I started to suffer from back pain as a result. I didn’t quite know what to do but I knew I had to find help. I saw an Osteopath, he helped to treat my back pain and helped me to understand a few things about my body. With an interest in health and fitness and a joy of working with my hands, I decided to become an Osteopath.

Since then I have studied under many specialists to learn some of the best treatment approaches possible. I now specialise in a neurological approach to enhance the effects of manual therapy.

What is Osteopathy and how does it help people?

Osteopathy was discovered by Dr Andrew Taylor Still. After suffering from a headache, Dr Still rested his head on a rope swing which actually helped his headache. From this, he researched further into this simple ‘cause and effect’. With his knowledge of anatomy and the principals to which the human body adheres to, he started the process of what was to become osteopathy.

Although Osteopathy is mainly seen as a manual therapy to help someone out of pain and to get them moving better. Osteopathy takes more into consideration by helping people re-establish a healthy environment within the body. By assisting people into good health, the body can operate at its optimum. By increasing movement and reducing restrictions osteopathy can help reduce congestion, inflammation and disease.

What is unique about what you offer in addition to traditional Osteopathy?

I have studied and researched many ways to influence health. One of which is implementing a neurological treatment. This has become a bit of a missing link when it comes to treating people.

The missing link looks at the ‘programming’ of the body. To explain, if you think of a computer we can consider the computer screen, mouse, keyboard and components inside the computer all as ‘hardware’. In comparison, the skeleton, muscles, nerves, ligaments, organs and tendons are also the ‘hardware’. What makes the internet, excel spreadsheet, games or a word document appear on the screen is the ‘software’. In comparison, the neural signals that send messages to the muscle, ligaments, tendons etc are our version of the ‘software’. Now, just as you wouldn’t physically open up a computer to get rid of a computer ‘virus’. The neurological approach to my treatments works in a similar way, whereby you wouldn’t physically open up or manipulate the body to get to the neural signals.

With this knowledge, we are able to now communicate with the body to discover the dysfunctional signals causing inappropriate physical behaviour, restriction or pain.

So what is your approach to general health and fitness?

Health is multifactorial. It encompasses the physical, emotional and chemical (nutrition). An approach to health should, therefore, take all of these into consideration. However, it is not just a simple triad; the physical is not just exercise. The physical should consider the environment in which we live in. For example, getting a good amount of natural sunlight exposure, in the morning and limiting artificial (blue light) exposure, in the evening. The chemical is nutrition, but also the chemical environment we put ourselves in. For example, which cosmetics we wear, or cleaning products we use. The emotional will encompass all of these factors as well as the physical and chemical relationship with each other.

When it comes to fitness ideally the above should be taken into consideration. When it comes to exercise, people should engage in a variety of activities. From resistance training to yoga to rock climbing to gymnastics to dance. The more experimental, new and fun the exercises can be the more the body will have to adapt. Adaptability is key to good health and fitness.

That is such a well-rounded approach and one I think people often forget about all these elements. Especially the importance of environment on mental health!

Steve the Osteopath holds a model spine whilst sitting on the treatment bed.

Steve with his trusty model spine!

The more I learn, the more fascinating the human body seems to be.

 

What do you think Osteopathy can offer those who may be struggling with mental ill health?

Osteopathy may help those with mental ill health because of the understanding of the health triad. The physical, chemical and emotional are all interlinked. Helping to provide the right environment for the body to perform will mean the body becomes less stressed. With lower stress comes more physical ease, with more physical ease, comes increased energy levels. Increased energy levels, coupled with good nutrition, the more the body can make good use of, which can be fed into a positive loop.

Mental illness can cause physical symptoms, tiredness is an example one that can be particularly difficult, what would you recommend the best exercises/stretches that someone could engage in to increase their energy/mobility?

As mentioned before, variety is the key. Try as many activities or sports as possible and always consider training in groups with like-minded people. This also has great psycho-social benefits. Incorporate large movements. This has great metabolic and hormonal benefits. Also, consider the environment in which you do those activities. For example, training outside in the sunshine.

What advice would you give to someone looking to turn pain into passion?

This is a great question. Pain is actually a really healthy signal! At the end of the day we are all creatures that crave movement and as I mentioned earlier, if we don’t get enough movement we start to lose flexibility. This can cause congestion, inflammation and disease. So we need to reverse that process.

Pain means that something has to be done and if it is chronic pain then something different has to be done. This actually opens up a world full of opportunities.

Many people tend to stick to what they know and almost lose the excitement of something new. So why not try a different hobby, sport or activity? This in itself may be enough to turn someone’s pain into a passion.

What do you love most about your job?

The more I learn, the more fascinating the human body seems to be. When it comes to helping people, the neurological part of my treatments always interests me and my clients. No two clients are therefore the same even if they have the same bodily complaints. I, therefore, get to play detective and decipher the codes of the problem. Eventually, unravel them and at the same time, clients leave happy and out of pain.

What next for Olympic Osteopathy?

I would love to pursue further study and research into the motor system and the dysfunctions that it presents. As well as looking at movement-based therapies to complement what I can already offer to patients.

I am also looking to recruit a second therapist so more specialities can be offered to those in need.

Thanks so much, Steve, I can really see how passionate you are about your work.
I have learnt so much more about Osteopathy!

To see Steve and experience his wizardry, claim your free assessment here.

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