I have followed Esther Gokhale’s method for healthy, pain-free posture and movement by reading her book ‘8-steps-pain-free-back‘; watching online videos and displaying inspirational images on my screen saver.
I have shared what I have learned with most of my patients and I am very inspired by her story and methods.
Carpenter with great posture
I am excited to hear that Sophie Dhenin from Scorpio Clinics, where I treat patients 3 days-a-week, has arranged for a foundation course to be run in Virginia Water at her practice.
This course is being run by a qualified Gokhale Method teacher, John Carter.
Use this link to sign up for the course. I believe spaces are limited to 8 places so do sign up soon to avoid disappointment.
Do you sometimes feel that you just need a bit of ‘WD40’ in your joints to get them going? Your wishes may well come true. A new drug free topical gel ‘Flexiseq’ has been launched into the UK market and is clinically proven to be effective to treat joint pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis.
I originally heard about this product from a patient of mine that managed to get a hold of it from a friend of a friend and imported it from Germany. She reported good results for her knee osteoarthritis. I didn’t take much notice of it at the time. However, not long after an article appeared in our industry osteopathic magazine ‘ Osteopathy Today’ written by Ken Brooks an Osteopath in Worcester, who tried it on his own painful knees and was impressed and then proceeded to trial it on a small group of patients in his practice.
This grabbed my attention and I proceeded to look into more detail into how the product works and how well. I was impressed to see the number of reviews on Amazon (1072) with 66% scoring it 4 or 5 stars. Reading through some of the reviews there were some that thought it was a miracle gel for pretty bad arthritis and others it did not help at all.
The main complaint was the cost per tube and the need to wait 10-minutes for the gel to dry which according to the manufacturer is very important.
This gel is specifically designed to lubricate joint spaces and thereby reducing pain associated with worn cartilage. The gel is neither an analgesic (painkiller) or anti-inflammatory so it will not work on strained ligaments or muscles (this is my understanding from its mode of action). There seems to be very specific requirements to target the joint space improving lubrication and not the muscles, ligaments or tendons. So, it would not be effective for a tennis elbow or repetitive strain injury complaint. I wonder if the reason it may not have worked on some is the difficulty in knowing where the joints are and therefore not targeting the correct area.
As an example, I found that a patient of mine was applying her gel to her low back and buttock and hip muscles (all the areas that hurt). Although she had a very good result from her experience she was certainly wasting a lot of the gel by applying to all areas that were painful rather than the problem joint only. Of course, I educated her on exactly where she needed to apply the gel. It would be wise to ensure that your pain is from arthritis and that you are advised on where the actual joint spaces are before using this very expensive gel.
I must say I am encouraged by what I read and hear about this product and will be recommending that my patients with the appropriate condition and education use it.
I am treating an interesting case of a young lady in her early 40s with multiple spinal fractures from the area between her shoulder blades to the base of her spine. Her spinal consultant has concluded that this is most likely due to softening of her bones due to a Vitamin D deficiency. This is the first case that I have seen of the frightening effects of this awful condition known medically as osteomalacia in adults or Rickets in children. We don’t expect this condition to be around in this modern age. After months in a wheelchair she is progressing well through her rehabilitation but will have lifelong changes to her spinal curves and posture as a result.
Their is an increasing amount of media reports about the importance of Vit D and our health but wanted to write about this to remind everyone that this is a very real problem. The most effective way of increasing Vit D is by exposure to the sun but this of course increases the risk of skin cancer. Taking Vit D3 supplements is also effective if you are unable to get enough sun exposure. The Vitamin D council (http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/) has been set up to educate people on Vit D and is a useful resource if you want advice on dosage, sun exposure, foods to consume and the latest research.
The Sarah Key Method
I have recently returned from a wonderful masterclass with Sarah Key which was located at Prince Charles’s residence in Highgrove.
Sarah Key is a well-known Australian physiotherapist. You may have heard of her but not quite remember why? Let us remind you… Sarah looks after the Queen and the Royal Family and has been awarded an MVO (member of the Victorian Order) in 2003; she has written several excellent books on back pain, most notably ‘The back sufferers bible’; and she has developed a marvelous system of diagnosing and treating spinal pain. So, I was very excited to hear that she was running a masterclass in the UK to learn about her take on simple back pain and how to treat it.
Fortunately for all of us, Sarah (enthusiastically backed by Prince Charles) is intent on teaching her approach to the rest of the world. And I am now a convert to her simple understanding an approach to the 5 stages of break down and most importantly her effective treatment regime and self help exercises patients. You will now find me on my back every evening in front of the TV practicing what I preach.
We have adapted this description of spinal breakdown from Sarah’s website:
The spine consists of separate blocks of bone called vertebrae. In between each vertebra sits a hydrated fibrous disc that acts as a connector and shock absorber. The discs stay healthy by sucking in and squeezing out the nutritious fluid that surrounds them in a sponge-like manner. Back problems begin when a disc becomes unduly dehydrated through excessive compressive loading (mainly through prolonged sitting) and a lack of expansive spinal movement. Over time, this causes the lowermost discs to lose the ability to absorb shock and resist stretch. The outer wall of the disc is called the annulus fibrosis: this is the only part of the disc with a nerve supply and therefore capable of sending the brain signals of pain. Spinal pain then worsens as surrounding joints and ligaments adaptively shorten and further restrict spinal movement. In addition, spinal muscles develop a protective muscle clench [called spasm], which simultaneously inhibits your abdominal muscles, and the deep spinal muscles which control segmental movement. This cascade of breakdown is of course, entirely counterproductive as the evidence based science suggests: discs need to receive nutrition from the fluid sucked in and pushed when squashed and pulled apart with everyday movement.
So what’s the solution?
Pressure change therapy (PCT)
Back Block Exercise
Sarah advocates stretching and compressing the disc by performing full range, large-scale spinal movements to cause significant disc pressure changes and shunt nutritious fluid in and out of the disc. This is achieved by using a small block (called a BackBlock – see website www.sarahkey.com) under your back followed by spinal bending movements such as squats and knee hugs. Sarah combines this with her own ‘feet on’ treatment methods to mobilise and loosen individual vertebrae that need un-jamming.
This is one of the treatments we offer at Datchet Osteopathic Clinic. We don’t quite walk on your back, but we do get you to lie face down on the floor and use our heels to mobilise your back. It’s incredibly effective and not as painful as it sounds! (in fact most patients describe it as a “sweet pain”). This approach to treatment is always accompanied by the backblock exercises which are quick and easy to perform.
Do research Sarah’s treatment on the internet. We guarantee you’ll be impressed. www.simplebackpain.com or download her Iphone App – the Back app