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Guest blog: an insight into how Osteopathy can complement Pilates

Stuart Walker, Teddington Osteopaths

By Stuart Walker BOst, BSc(Hons), PGCert, Head of Practice, Teddington Osteopaths


As an osteopath and head of practice at Teddington Osteopaths, I regularly refer patients on for Pilates sessions with Kirsten, Maria and their team. In this blog I hope to highlight what osteopathy is, how it may help you and how osteopathy and Pilates can combine to enable patients to achieve a better understanding and control of their body and posture, reducing pain and risk of injuries.

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy was initially conceived in the USA in the 1870s by Dr Still following his frustration with the existing medical interventions at the time. Most of these, such as alcohol, opium and mercury were as, if not more, damaging than the disease processes themselves! Dr Still stressed the importance of the relationship between the structure and function of the body to enable the achievement of optimum health and the resolution of problems. The world has moved on and osteopathy treatment has also developed to incorporate the latest research findings.

What sort of problems do Osteopaths treat?

Initially created as a complete system of healthcare to remedy all types of illness, today osteopaths are best known for their treatment and management of musculoskeletal conditions including;

  • Employment, recreation and sports related activities.
  • Back, neck and shoulder pain
  • Sciatica
  • Joint pain including hip, knee, ankle, foot, elbow and wrist
  • Arthritic and rheumatic pain
  • Muscle tension
  • Cervicogenic headaches (caused by muscle tension)
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Posture checks
  • Osteopathic care during pregnancy and for mothers, babies and children
  • Sports injury management

How do Osteopaths treat their patients?

Osteopaths use a wide range of treatment methods according to the individual’s age, physique and particular problem. Methods range from soft-tissue ‘massage’ of muscles and ligaments, passive stretching and traction to joints and manipulative techniques (which patients often feel as a click) to improve joint mobility.  In addition they may use ultrasound, taping and dry-needling or Western Acupuncture to enable a patient’s recovery. Osteopaths are trained to recognise the need for medical investigation and will refer as appropriate. All osteopaths must be fully insured and registered with the General Osteopathic Council.

Why do Osteopaths refer patients for Pilates?

Many of the problems that osteopaths see in their patients relate to:

  • A lack of strength within the body’s stabilising musculature
  • Poor control of body movements
  • A lack of flexibility of the spine and peripheral joints
  • A lack of body awareness
  • Muscle imbalances or weaknesses following injuries, particularly to the spine

Pilates has been shown to help with many of the above problems and whilst osteopaths concentrate their time and effort in reduction of pain, helping patient’s better manage their problems and improving their function and flexibility; often ongoing rehabilitation is a slow and laborious process requiring exercises and activity by the patient. This is where Pilates can help. A well-trained, experienced and attentive Pilates teacher, such as those at The Pilates Suite, will be able to guide patients through the process of strengthening and stabilising the body to both help with recovery and, probably more importantly, to avoid future injury.

If you’d like further advice or information about how Osteopathy could help you, please contact me or one of my team.