Author: Karen Ramsay

Osteopathy Treatment during Pregnancy

What to expect.

To begin with your practitioner will take a detailed case history of your presenting symptoms, your medical history and some questions surrounding your pregnancy and what you are looking to achieve from the treatment. We will then run though an examination of the area where you are experiencing pain and any global postural patterns.

Treatment usually consists of massage mobilisation and sometimes where appropriate manipulation.

Keeping you and your bump safe and comfortable

Pregnancy Pillow

Our aim is to keep you and your baby as comfortable as possible whilst we deliver our treatment. We often will use a pregnancy pillow, this can be seen in the photograph to the right. We make sure you are supported on your front and that your bump is not being restricted in any way or touching the couch below. This can be a very comfortable position to receive treatment.  

Side laying

Side laying is more useful for some Osteopathic techniques as it allows the body to move in away that just isn’t achievable when you are lying prone. We use pillows placed between your knees and under your bump to make sure you are supported and comfortable. 

Sometimes we will work with you laying on your back especially when working on your neck and shoulders but the couch is usually propped up at around 45 degrees and we check regularly to make sure you are feeling well and comfortable throughout the session, however if this isn’t working for you most of these techniques can be done in a seated position too. 

Treatment is always adapted for you as an individual and we plan our treatment techniques to suit you and your pain presentation. This being said, if you would specifically like massage techniques using the pregnancy pillow please let your practitioner know and we will use it providing it is safe and comfortable to do so.

Kinesiology Taping

What is Kinesiology Taping

Kinesiology taping is a treatment option if you’ve had an injury or illness that leads to mobility and motor function problems. It involves placing strips of special tape on your body in specific directions to help support your joints, like a knee, ankle, or wrist, as well as muscles and tendons. It can be used to help facilitate muscle function, stabilize joints, or inhibit muscles from contracting improperly. It can also be used to help decrease pain, swelling, and muscle spasm.

What Does Kinesiology Taping Do?

……………..and how does it differ from athletic tape? 

While kinesiology tape seems a lot like elastic athletic tape, there are differences between the two. 

  • Kinesiology tape is used to facilitate motion and inhibit pain and spasm, while athletic tape is used for support and to limit motion, typically because of existing pain.
  • Kinesiology tape is a flexible material that moves when you move; athletic tape is relatively inflexible. 
  • Kinesiology tape helps to improve lymph transport and increase circulation. The tight binding nature of athletic tape serves to decrease circulation.

How Kinesiology Tape Works

There are different theories about how kinesiology tape works. First, it is thought to change the proprioception input of the sensory nervous system in the muscles, joints, and skin. This is the sensation that allows you to know where your body is in space (say, how high your arm is raised).

The tape is thought to improve the interaction between the skin and the underlying structures to help reset the circuitry of this part of the nervous system, resulting in improved muscular activation and performance.

Kinesiology tape is also thought to inhibit nociceptors (pain pathways) in your muscles, skin, and joint structures. Decreasing painful input to the brain is thought to normalize muscle tone, resulting in decreased pain and muscular spasm.

Kinesiology tape can be applied in different ways, depending on why it’s needed. Your physical therapist can show you how to use the tape and cut the adhesive strips into the right configuration.

Some of the taping types include:

  • The “I” strip: This shape can be used to make the other types of strips below. “I” strips are used to support muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They are often used to facilitate your rotator cuff, gluteus muscles, quadriceps, or Achilles’ tendon. It can also be used on your low back and middle back to help you maintain proper posture.
  • The “X” strip: This type is used when kinesiology tape is needed to cover a large area or cross multiple joints. The tabs of the “X” strip cross over sensitive areas such as the back of your knees or front of your elbows. This strip is commonly used to facilitate your hamstrings, which cross both your hip joint and the back part of your knee joint.
  • The “Y” strip: This strip is used to cross sensitive areas of your body such as behind your knee or in the front of your elbow. It is also commonly used for applications to control the position of your kneecap. The “Y” strip is typically not as long as the “X” strip.
  • The “fan” strip: This type can help control swelling of your leg or arm. It is commonly used in lymphedema management or for superficial contusions and swelling.7
  • The “lift” strip: Commonly referred to as the Band-Aid, this strip is often used to support injured tissues or to treat muscle knots or trigger points. It helps to lift skin and tissues off sore muscles and trigger points. It is also used to treat superficial bruises.

Your therapist or sports medicine provider can ensure that you’re placing the tape in the proper position and that the tape is not too tight or restrictive. They’ll also let you know how long to wear the kinesiology tape.

Some specific uses of Kinesiology Tape

  • Facilitation: Kinesiology tape can be used to help improve muscular firing and contraction patterns. This can lead to normalized muscular tone and can also help improve athletic performance.
  • Inhibition and pain management: Kinesiology tape can be used to help decrease pain and muscle spasms that may occur after injury. It can help decrease nociceptive input to the brain which can help decrease muscle guarding and protective spasms.
  • Support and stability: If you have a condition that requires a specific joint to be held in place, kinesiology taping may be right for you. Conditions like patellofemoral stress syndrome, iliotibial band friction syndrome or shoulder instability may benefit from extra support provided by kinesiology tape. The tape can support your joint while still allowing for some motion.
  • Swelling management: If you have had swelling from an injury or surgery, kinesiology tape may help decrease the swelling by decreasing pressure between the skin and underlying tissues. This provides a pathway for excess fluids that have accumulated since your injury to travel through. Kinesiology tape is sometimes used in lymphedema management or for superficial contusions.

Your physical therapist may use various treatments and exercises to help treat your specific problem. Kinesiology tape may be a part of your treatment. Talk to your Osteopath or Sports Massage Therapist to learn about the tape and set realistic goals for its use.

How to avoid soft tissue injuries:

How to avoid the most common workout injuries, according to experts

Soft tissue injuries are the bane of any physically active person. They are the most common injuries in sport, can be difficult to heal and often reoccur, knowing how to help prevent them is key to staying healthy and active.

Your soft tissues support, connect and surround your bones and internal organs, and include muscles, tendons, ligaments, fat, skin and blood vessels. The most common soft tissue injuries occur in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Think injuries such as hamstring strains, tennis elbow or ankle sprains. These afflictions often happen while exercising or playing sports, although sometimes they occur from unknown incidents.

Soft tissue injuries are generally traumatic or repetitive. That is, they can occur suddenly — rolling your ankle when you step off a curb, for example — or from overuse. While traumatic injuries are the most dramatic, repetitive injuries are more common. 

Repetitive soft tissue injuries occur when a tissue undergoes more damage than it can heal from over time. The ultimate cause of all repetitive soft tissue injuries is simply doing too much, too soon.

To prevent a repetitive injury, you need to take a measured approach to exercise and sports and not have the weekend warrior approach in which you’re inactive all week, then run 15 miles at the weekend. It’s also important to acclimate your body slowly to a given activity. 

A good rule of thumb: Don’t increase your workout volume more than 10% per week. And every four to eight weeks, give your body a rest by significantly reducing the volume and intensity of your workouts. 

Avoiding soft tissue injuries isn’t necessarily all about training, however. Research suggests major changes in your environment may affect your risk of injury, too, so eat well, get plenty of sleep and perhaps skip tough workouts when your stress levels are high. 

Take any injuries seriously

If you do get injured despite your best precautions, take it seriously. Even when people realize they have a soft tissue injury, they often carry on with their program hoping it gets better with time. More often than not, it just gets worse and worse until it hurts badly enough that the person simply can’t train due to the pain.

Instead of ignoring that muscle or ligament strain, see a qualified health care provider, Physiotherapist or Osteopath and expect to spend a few weeks to a month or more recovering, depending on the severity of the injury, your age and other factors. Most importantly, complete your entire rehabilitation process to reduce the risk of another injury.

Osteopathy and Covid Recovery

COVID-19 – how Osteopathy could support your rehabilitation post infection.

Disclaimer: This post is based on our clinical findings in patients who’ve had COVID-19, therefore it is mainly anecdotal. Internet links have ben added where appropriate.

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are changing all the time but over the course of the pandemic we’ve seen patients suffering with the musculoskeletal effects of the virus, which have had a profound effect on the way they breath. This, in turn, has a knock-on effect on other areas of the body and even the nervous system. Patterns have continued to emerge in those contracted the virus. 

What happens to the musculoskeletal system?

Lung capacity is sometimes reduced in patients who’ve had COVID-19 causing shallow breathing, this reduces oxygen intake leading to post-viral fatigue. This may be exacerbated by a continuous cough. Over time the ribcage may become restricted, and the patient is no longer be able to breath deeply. 

Common clinical examination findings in patients who’ve had COVID-19:

  • Restriction in the ribcage and back caused by shallow breathing, limiting thorax expansion, and coughing, leading to intercostal muscle tightness/spasm.
  • Shortening of the diaphragm muscle (primary muscle of respiration) due to limited ribcage expansion. 
  • Use of “secondary muscles” of respiration to enable the patient to take a deeper breath. These muscles are found in the neck and upper back; this can lead to tightness/pain in the neck and shoulders due to muscle fatigue and even headaches if the neck becomes restricted.

How can Osteopaths help?

  • Retraining and strengthening breathing with exercises and mediation techniques. 
  • Mobility exercises and stretches for the neck, thorax and lower back to optimise movement through the spine and reduce restriction.
  • Hands on treatment using diaphragm stretching and articulation through the ribcage and neck. 
  • Cranial treatment is sometimes effective rebalancing the nervous system.

What can patients do to help themselves?

  • Rest! In the first few weeks after contracting the virus it’s important to rest and recover. Avoid strenuous activity as this will create too much stress on the body.
  • Slowly reintroduce exercise, with gentle walking, stretching and breathing exercises.
  • Keep hydrated. 
  • Avoid stimuli such as alcohol, caffeine and sugar. These can be inflammatory and will hinder your body’s recovery.
  • Book an osteopathic consultation and see how we can help you. 

Everyone responds differently to any virus; many people have experienced all the symptoms of COVID-19 whilst others were completely unaware they had it in the first place. It’s important to understand what you can do to help yourself. The NHS Covid recovery website is a good resource for those looking to tailor their own recovery. 

Janine Norris

Abshot Osteopathy