walking alongside the river thames in londonA recent study by Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University into the physical effects of the brain when interacting with nature has concluded that, a walk in the park or within a tranquil environment can improve your mental health and give walkers a more positive mindset. This is great news for Londoners, who live in an urban environment, but have access to the Thames River walk and nice open green spaces such as the Royal Parks or areas such as Battersea Park or Greenwich.

The study has proven that walkers in greener nature areas reduced stress and had a more positive mental state after the walk, compared to the sample walkers who walked for the same amount of time on streets and in busy, build-up areas.

As an Osteopath in Central London and with an Osteopathy clinic in North London, I think that there’s a real connection between exercise, environment and health and have experienced more positive, less brooding thoughts myself, after a nice walk in one of the Royal parks centrally or Muswell Hill playing fields, close to my North London Osteopathy clinic.

If you’re a Londoner, why not try it out for yourself? Make an honest appraisal of how you feel mentally on a scale of one to ten and then go for a 90 minute walk in the park or along the Thames Path and then honestly apprise yourself afterwards, using the same scale and whatever criteria you feel you can identify and compare.

There are lots of green areas in most parts of London that you can walk around to access this kind of mental health benefit. As already mentioned, the Thames River Walk along the River Path is a good place to start, as it’s the most walked path in the County.

It extends from the Thames’ source at Thames Head in the Cotswolds, which is obviously a long way from London, through beautiful countryside in the Thames valley Oxford, Henley, Windsor and Greenwich to end at the Thames Barrier near Woolwich. If that sounds a bit advanced for you, even though you can just walk parts of it at any time, then head to one of the parks and open spaces in and around the Capital, such as Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park or the parks in central London, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park or St James’s Park.

Another great and relaxing walk is to combine one of the open spaces with a canal walk, such as Regents Park and Regents Canal, Thames Path and Battersea Park, or Regents Canal and the Thames Path. All of these London walks offer greenery, scenery and tranquillity.

You can get a free leaflet on the Thames Path walks from Transport for London or at any Tourist information centre in the Capital. Information of the parks is also available, including routes and walking trails that will allow you to grab some stress-free walking and enable you to charge your mind, body and spirit with some positivity.

There is also a lot of really good information online, especially at http://www.innerlondonramblers.org.uk, which is a website dedicated to walking in and around London. It contains lots of healthy walking ideas, many of which are based in greener settings, rather than the urban sprawl.

Even if you don’t feel any tangible and immediate mental benefits from a 90 minute walk in a park or along the Thames or a canal, you’ll gain physical benefits and easily achieve the recommended levels of daily exercise, as advised by the World Health Organisation.

As an osteopath with clinics in Central London and North London, I’m always interested in people’s perceptions and attitudes towards, diet, exercise, environment, medicines, remedies and treatments, as these are fundamental elements of an individual’s take on health and fitness.

As I’ve said on many occasions, a good level of education and knowledge about these sorts of topics is generally not very common, with a lack of easy to understand information available to all. The AsapScience YouTube video below makes some very valid points about aspects of this general lack of understanding.

A couple of minutes into the presentation, it talks about perceptions of Natural versus Synthetic and explains why the difference between the two is not all that cut and dried. Natural chemicals aren’t always good for you and man made chemicals aren’t always inherently dangerous. This is especially prevalent when looking at the whole area of food and GM crops. Are fears about GM foods justified? After all, for as long as humans have been on the planet, we have selectively chosen and bred plants or animals with desirable traits, such as sweeter fruits or better disease resistance. Isn’t that genetically modifying foods?

Information and misinformation about GM and the entire natural versus chemical comparison does, in my opinion, need to be put into perspective. Not all natural foods are good for you and not all chemically enhanced foods are bad for you. This isn’t just a case of one man’s meat is another man’s poison; this is all about balance and perspective. Watch the video and see what you think.

London Osteopath Robin Kiashek asks With The Shorter Daylight Hours, Should You Take Vitamin D Supplements?Insufficient Vitamin D can lead to softened bones, potentially causing rickets in children and osteomalacia or osteoporosis in adults. With Vitamin D coming from exposure to the sun, should you take Vitamin D supplements as the days shorten?

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate. Both of these help keep your bones strong. Therefore, maintaining the right level of Vitamin D can help minimise the chances of problems such as rickets, osteomalacia or osteoporosis. When your body has sufficient Vitamin D, you can absorb high levels of calcium but with low levels, you may only be able to absorb a quarter to a half of the normal amount.

The NHS tells us that there have also been other claims made about the benefits of Vitamin D such as reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis, lowering blood pressure, relieving the effects of asthma and even suggestions that it can reduce the chances of getting cancer.

Whatever the true answer about exactly how beneficial Vitamin D is, we already know that it is extremely valuable to us and that a shortage of Vitamin D can give us serious problems. Therefore, it is important to maintain our Vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D comes from two sources, from the sun and from what we eat.

When the sun hits your exposed skin, your body produces Vitamin D. In a typical British summer, most of us will expose enough of our skin to the sun for long enough to maintain a healthy level of Vitamin D. But what about in the winter? There’s less sun and we are wrapped up to keep warm and less likely to expose our skin. It is estimated that the average person gets enough Vitamin D from the sun for only 5 months of the year. And those 5 months are the ones just ended. We’re going into the other 7 months now.

There is another source of Vitamin D and that is from our food. Some food, such as oily fish (salmon, sardines, etc) naturally contain Vitamin D and even eggs and mushrooms contain a little. Other foods (such as breakfast cereals) can have Vitamin D added to them. However, it can be hard to get sufficient Vitamin D from food alone. So, should you take a supplement?

While not having enough Vitamin D can be a problem for you, so can having too much. With too high a level of Vitamin D, your body can absorb too much calcium causing calcium deposits in the heart and lungs, kidney damage or stones and a range of other problems. However, cases of Vitamin D toxicity are rare and tend to apply to people who have been taking supplements above the recommended dosages for some months.

The current Department of Health recommended guidance for Vitamin D supplements is that people at risk should take supplements. This includes pregnant and breast-feeding women, babies and children under 5 years and adults over 65 years. You may also want to consider taking supplements if you have a darker skin (as the sun cannot penetrate your skin and create Vitamin D as efficiently) or if you have limited exposure to the sun. The recommended dosage is 10 micrograms for adults and 7-8.5 for babies and your children. However, please recognise that this should include any Vitamin D from fortified foods (eg infant formula). Also, please talk to your GP if you are considering taking Vitamin D supplements on a long-term basis.

As The Robin Kiashek Central London Osteopathy Clinic continues to grow, we have been able to expand our reach and bring in two highly experienced associate therapists, both with specialisms that offer additional support to our patients.

Adrian Farrell - Alexander TechniqueAlexander Technique – Adrian Farrell

Bringing the Alexander Technique to our list of focused treatments, Adrian Farrell has worked extensively within the corporate sector for over a decade, assisting busy London executives such as bankers and stockbrokers to bring balance to their lifestyles by making sure that their long hours in front of computer screens and the stress of a busy work environment doesn’t manifest itself into back, neck and shoulder pain.

Adrian also specialises in helping to improve running performance and reducing the risk of injury from athletic activities. Based at the Soho Complementary Health Clinic in central London on Monday’s, Adrian can be contacted on 07808 612 510 and you can find out more information about his background and techniques by visiting his website www.alexander-technique.london.

Neil Turner Psychotherapist LondonPsychotherapy – Neil Turner

Another associate therapist adding to our Osteopathy services in central London is UKCP and BACP registered Psychotherapist Neil Turner, operating from The Soho Complementary Clinic on Wednesdays and Fridays, 7am until 10pm.

With a masters degree in psychotherapy, Neil specialises in providing integrative therapy for both individuals and couples. His expert guidance can help with issues such as relationship difficulties, anxiety, stress, depression, family dynamics, grief, self-doubt, sex and sexuality. For more information about Neil’s brand of talking therapy, please visit his website, www.psychotherapy4london.co.uk.

You can also read more about Adrian and Neil on the Associate Therapists page.

family watching TV - strictly come achingIt’s that time of year again, Strictly Come Dancing has kicked into action and we’re heading for the sofa! While that may be great entertainment value, it could be painful …

The launch of the Autumn TV shows attracts many of us to our sofas like moths to a light. For some of us, this means we will be enjoying the equivalent of 2 whole days of extra sofa time before the glitterball is finally lifted.

And that can result in pain! And, no, I don’t mean the pain of spraining something when trying out the dance moves. I mean back pain from sitting too long on the sofa!

I see a lot of patients in my London Osteopathy clinics who come to me with back pain. Poor posture is one of the prime causes of back pain and sitting incorrectly (or slouching) on the sofa can ruin an otherwise enjoyable night in front of the TV, especially if you are prone to back pain.

But you don’t have to give up your TV to avoid the pain, there are three simple things that you can do that could mean you can enjoy Strictly, pain free.

Firstly, sit up straight! Think about the shape that your spine is in as you are sitting and adjust your position. Keep your back straight and your head held high. This will put your spine into a “neutral” position that doesn’t strain it. You may find it helps to sit in a chair that gives you better support for your spine. Also, sit with your feet flat on the floor and the whole of your body facing forwards, from nose to toes.

Secondly, take a break! Your body is not designed to sit in one position for long periods. Give it a rest by standing up and walking around for a few minutes, at least once an hour. Maybe get yourself a glass of water?

Thirdly, exercise! No, you don’t need to do 30 push-ups. But stretching your muscles will help to counteract the effects of inactivity. A few gentle exercises will loosen your muscles and prepare them for the next few Strictly dances. But, a word of caution here, if you are in any doubt about what exercises might be best for you then please book an appointment to see me and I can advise you.

So try this and see if it helps you. And try to avoid being over enthusiastic when practicing the dance moves too!

I came cross this video on YouTube recently, which talks about pain and how it manifests itself physically and mentally. It’s by a guy called Lorimer Moseley, a clinical neuroscientist, seeking to explain ‘Why Things Hurt’. Please check it out…

As an Osteopath working in both Central London and North London, I deal with people’s pain every day, so I’m really interested in this sort of subject. Within the video, several points are made, in an entertaining and memorable way, and the presenter explains in simple terms how the physical body conveys messages to the brain about pain and how the brain responds.

A central question here is how one convinces someone in pain that, we understand that they are in pain, but that it’s not just about the physical, it’s also about the mental. In other words, pain is an output of the brain, designed to protect you, as Lorimer cleverly says in the video. Pain is a construct of the brain.

A further interesting point here is described as when pain persists, it’s a sign that the brain is effectively over protecting you. When pain spreads, it because the brain is being less specific and intensifying pain to help you more, so to control pain, we must understand this conversation that the physical body is having with the brain, in order to truly help people who are in pain. Interesting stuff…

Walk In The ParkAccording to a recent study into the physical effects of the brain when interacting with nature, a walk in the park can improve your mental health. The study, which has been conducted as part of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, has observed physical changes taking place in the brains of people visiting nature, especially in those people who normally live in an urban or built-up environment.

Various studies have shown that people living in more urban locations have much less access to green spaces and are much more susceptible to anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses, when compared to people living in more rural locations, who have unlimited access to nature. As an Osteopath in Central London, I see this a lot and think that there’s a real connection between exercise, environment and health.

Within this study, conducted by Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at Stanford, it’s been proven that people living near parks and city dwellers who visit more natural environments on a regular basis have lower levels of stress hormones after exposure to the great outdoors than people who have not recently been for a stroll in the park or taken part in an outdoor activity within a greener environment. What’s less clear is why green spaces have this calming effect on brains and whether or not any more permanent exposure can improve emotional and mental health.

In an early part of the study, Bratman and his colleagues found that volunteers who walked briefly through a greener landscape at the Stanford campus were more attentive and happier afterwards, than volunteers who strolled for the same amount of time near heavy traffic, however, the study did not examine the neurological mechanisms that might underlie the effects of being outside in nature, and so the team set about a second study.

Within the second study, the team focused in on the effects that a walk in nature might have on individual walkers’ positive or negative moods. To do this in a scientific way, the study zeroed in on ‘brooding’, which is a recognised state amongst cognitive scientists and is described as a metal state of morbid rumination. Essentially, from time to time, we all experience brooding, mostly when we keep going over things that have recently gone wrong with aspects of our lives. Continued negative pondering is not a healthy state for the mind to get into and brooding can be a precursor to depression and, as previous studies have already proven, is disproportionately common among people who live in the City compared to country dwellers.

The study set out to look for signs of morbid rumination as it manifests itself in increased brain activity within the subgenual prefrontal cortex. Tracking activity within this portion of the brain before and after walks in nature, could establish a link between exercise activity within a greener environment and changes in the brain related to mood and mental health.

In the study sample, 38 healthy, adult city dwellers were questioned to determine their normal level of morbid rumination. Each volunteer also had their subgenual prefrontal cortex scanned, with blood-flow tracking used to record stimulation of brain activity.

With half of the participants randomly assigned to a 90 minutes ‘park’ walk and the other half assigned to a more urban walk, with traffic and noise, the conditions for the test were set and after the walks, participants were questioned again and the brain scan information was updated and compared.

The results showed that walking within an urban setting increased blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex and participants levels of ‘broodiness’ increased or remained largely unchanged.

However, volunteers who had taken part in the nature-trail walk, showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, when re-questioned, and blood flow within the subgenual prefrontal cortex was much less, suggesting a more rested and less stressful walk. In other words, getting out into natural environments could be an easy and fairly quick way to improve moods and maintain a healthier mental state.

Perhaps you could try this for yourself? Make an honest appraisal of how you feel mentally on a scale of one to ten and then go for a 90 minute walk in the park and then honestly apprise yourself afterwards, using the same scale and whatever criteria you feel you can identify and compare. Even if you don’t notice a difference in your mood, there is no downside and you’ll have walked for 90 minutes, (around 10,000 steps), which is what the World Health Organisation suggests you should walk in a day to maintain a healthy mind and body.

It is most certainly the case for osteopaths in Central London and North London such as myself, that it’s becoming much more common place to be working alongside GP’s and other healthcare professionals to provide private treatment by way of referrals.

Bodies such as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend osteopathy as a source of manual therapy and treatment for lower back pain, while and the Department of Health has published specific guidelines that advocate osteopathy as an effective treatment for musculoskeletal problems in patients.

The NHS, GPs and consultants recognise the value that osteopathy can bring to people in pain, resulting in our services being referred by a number of doctors in and around London, who have been kind enough to also give us testimonials. Here are three such glowing testimonials…

“I have been a patient of Robin Kiashek and also referred many of my patients. The consensus of all of us is that he has been a committed, thoughtful and wise osteopath who has also brought in other disciplines and approaches to his work to achieve an even greater chance of benefit.”

Dr Michael Gormley, General Practitioner, The Basil Street Practice, London.

“Over the years I have referred a number of patients to Robin. I have always received very positive feedback. He has a holistic approach to treatment and is genuinely interested in helping his clients to gain a long term solution to their problems. He is very professional. His excellent communication skills form the basis of his clinical assessments. His treatments are skilful, thorough and effective. I would be happy to recommend Robin. The clinic facilities are of a high standard and are quiet and relaxing.”

Mr Ron Miller MS FRCS FRGS Consultant Urological Surgeon, St Johns & Elizabeth Hospital, London

“Robin Kiashek is my ‘go-to’ osteopath for my complex patients with neck and back problems. He combines excellent clinical care, effective treatment and a friendly approachable manner. He always communicates well with patients and the referring specialist. I would strongly recommend him to anyone in search of a first class osteopath.”

Dr Paul Jarman, Consultant Neurologist, The National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London

If your health insurance covers osteopathy, some insurance companies will require you to be referred by a doctor first before receiving osteopathic treatment. You can ask to be referred to a specific practitioner if you so desire.

As a registered Osteopath based in North London and Central London, I aim to work with patients to address their presenting symptoms and understand causative factors to promote ongoing health. With over 20 years experience in London of Osteopathy and allied therapies, I offer safe, gentle and effective treatment for a wide age range of patients and conditions. All referrals are welcome.

The results of a survey* released by the Mental Health Foundation suggests that the number of people who often or always feel stressed is 29% and the figures for those feeling anxious were 24% and depressed 17%.

The charity is now calling for a therapy called mindfulness to be made available nationally on the NHS. However, the recommendation is for specific groups of patients. These groups include patients who repeatedly relapse into depression or who are experiencing distress because of a serious physical illness such as cancer.

Mindfulness is derived from Buddhist meditation and is a technique which helps people reduce stress by focussing on the present moment.

Mindfulness sessions can be prescribed by GPs in some parts of the country; however, it is not widely available. The mindfulness technique has been endorsed by NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) and the Government’s chief medical officer. For some of the groups of patients it is being recommended for, trails have suggested that it can be as effective as anti-depressant drugs.

We will wait to see whether the charity’s recommendations are taken on board.

For many years I have taught Autogenic Training (AT). Both AT and Mindfulness have a common baseline – they tone down the Autonomic Nervous System, which, amongst other functions, controls the ‘Flight or Fight’ response.

AT can be very powerful as one of my patient’s found having suffered from insomnia for many years:

“After all these years and the many, many things I have tried, I really didn’t think anything would help me – thanks to Robin and Autogenic Training, I have been proved wrong – and that’s a first!” DL

Visit an experienced London Osteopath in W1 and N2 N10

If would like further information on how I may help you with AT or to book an Osteopathy appointment at either of my osteopathy clinics in London W1 and London N2 N10 please feel free to send me a message or call me on 020 8815 0979.

While the name tennis elbow may imply that this is a ‘tennis’ specific injury to the elbow, this is not the case. Tennis elbow is most often sustained as a result of repetitive overuse or wear and tear from any hobby, sport or activity. However, sometimes a single injury can cause the symptoms.

The pain and tenderness associated with tennis elbow are experienced in the outside of the elbow joint. Unfortunately, the pain can be prolonged as a result of a person’s normal activities and habits.

Whilst many cases of tennis elbow can ease naturally over time many people seek treatment and advice from an osteopath.
Three Ways a London Osteopath can help you …

1. Low Level Laser Therapy & Acupuncture

As an experienced London osteopath, with over 20 years experience, I aim to work with my patients to address their presenting symptoms and understand causative factors to promote on-going health. I use a combination of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), acupuncture and massage techniques, whilst also assessing the biomechanical relationship between the hand, shoulder and upper back region.

2. Advice & Guidance

I can offer advice that will help you, including activities and movements to avoid and specific exercises to help you. As a qualified Display Screen Equipment assessor, ergonomic advice may be included.

3. Referral

In rare cases it may be necessary to refer you for further investigations

Visit an experienced London Osteopath in W1 and N2 N10

If you are suffering pain or discomfort and you would like further information on how I may help you or to book an Osteopathy appointment at either of my osteopathy clinics in London W1 and London N2 N10 please feel free to send me a message or call me on 020 8815 0979.