Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

Is Osteopathy For You? – Denise Li

If you have a sports injury and prefer a non-invasive approach to healing, why not give osteopathy a go? 


I’ve been living with a knee injury that I sustained during muay thai sparring awhile back. I wasn’t sure if it was a meniscus or ligament issue … but the reason that I’d been putting off getting checked out properly is because I feel that many doctors tend to be a bit “conservative” in their approach. The last thing I want to hear is them telling me that I should lay off the martial arts – I can’t imagine anything worse than a life without it! Also, my impression is that some doctors might be a little enthusiastic in recommending surgery. Again, this is not something I’m personally a fan of as I feel that it should be a last resort.

Now, I’m not saying that doctors are bad or that I personally recommend living with pain, cos that can really affect the quality of your life! I was, however, on the lookout for an alternative solution that could speed up the rehabilitative process without requiring any drastic action, so when the opportunity to try osteopathy came up, I jumped at the chance.

Prior to my visit to The Osteopathic Centre, I had only a vague idea about what osteopathy entailed. I know they did things like realign the spine to fix certain back problems … but that’s it really. But as I’ve been even more active than usual of late, I knew I had to have my knee checked out as it was limiting my progress in certain areas of martial arts (not being able to kick properly or executing certain grappling moves due to difficulty in bending my knee joints).

I visited The Osteopathic Centre’s clinic at Chevron House and was greeted by Jenny Mullen, an osteopath with over 13 years experience as a rehab specialist.

She first made me do a series of movements to determine what exactly was causing the pain, after which she concluded that it was likely a meniscus issue. She then went on to tell me that my weak glutes and some stiffness in the hamstrings was likely worsening the issue; osteopathy works on the principle that various parts and functions of the body are closely related. Weakness and stiffness in one part could have a knock-on effect on other parts/joints. Jenny also pointed out that the injury was worsened by the fact that there was some imbalance on one side of my body – probably due to me overcompensating for the injury.

Next, she massaged the area around my injury and my glutes to loosen up the muscles. Before our session ended, she prescribed a series of four exercises that are supposed to help strengthen my glutes and the muscles around my injury to better protect it. She also reminded me that it was important to do these exercises religiously at home to aid in the recovery.

The massage really helped (especially in relaxing my super tense glute muscles), and though I felt a slight soreness in the days that followed (as she predicted), I definitely saw some improvement. I continued exercising as normal, but the pain was alleviated somewhat. Of course, I did my best to follow through with the exercises that she had prescribed, as you need to be diligent with doing your “homework” to see any real improvement.

As with most types of treatments, you cannot expect miracles after just one visit. But I’d definitely recommend osteopathy if you have any muscle, joint, or ligament issues and prefer a gentler, non-invasive approach to treatment.

Jenny Mullen, osteopath with The Osteopathic Centre

Jenny Mullen, osteopath with The Osteopathic Centre

Here’s Jenny to tell you a bit more about osteopathy’s all about:

What exactly does osteopathy entail?

Osteopathy examines posture, muscle length and strength, range of motion at joints and integrity of joints. The emphasis of osteopathy is on the interrelationship of structure and function of the body.  Osteopaths take an in-depth medical history to gain an insight into the overall health of the individual. Osteopathy is based on the theory that the various parts and functions of the body are closely inter-related, and that health depends on the integral functioning of the various body parts. Osteopaths aim to find the root cause of the problem, often they will assess the joints above and below the site of pain to ensure the body is functioning optimally. Osteopathy predominantly utilises a hands-on manual treatment approach although other modalities such as rehabilitative exercise prescription and taping are also used. The osteopathic training includes joint manipulation techniques.

Osteopathy seems to be considered an “alternative” therapy. Why is that?

Osteopaths are now considered primary healthcare providers. Within the UK they are now integrated within the National Health Service. The osteopathic curriculum has changed over the past ten to fifteen years to incorporate more evidence based research to follow a similar pathway as general medicine.

What sort of ailments can osteopaths help with?

Osteopathy aims to restore normal function to the body by utilising treatment modalities that assist the bodies natural healing process. Some of the common ailments that people seek osteopathic treatments for are:

Muscle and joint injuries of the upper and lower limb, ligament injuries, neck pain, back pain, repetitive strain injuries, sports injuries, postural abnormalities, osteoarthritis, sinus problems, pre- and post-natal neck and back pain, feeding problems for babies, torticollis.

What sort of ailments can’t osteopaths help with?

Osteopaths use a holistic approach by considering your past medical conditions, diet, levels of activity and emotional state to consider the whole person. Through this process it may become apparent that referral is needed to a specialist in that area – as osteopaths we refer to GPs, podiatrists, orthopaedic surgeons, dentists, Pilates and yoga instructors depending on the needs of the individual. Osteopaths cannot prescribe medication or administer steroid injections.  If you are suffering with a general medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung disease then a general practitioner should be your first port of call.

You mentioned that osteopaths can also help newborns who have trouble latching onto their mother’s nipple during breastfeeding. Do tell us more.

Osteopathy can help babies who are experiencing problems latching when breastfeeding. At the Osteopathic Centre, we work closely with mothers and children. We receive referrals for babies with tight jaws, tightness in the neck muscles and tongue tie. Very gentle and simple osteopathic techniques can be used to loosen out the muscles of the jaw and neck and to encourage the sucking reflex. We teach the parents simple exercises to encourage moving the jaw forward and stretching out the neck muscles. Usually, for latching problem,s the babies respond very quickly and may only require 2-3 treatments.

What can a patient do to ensure that she benefits as much as possible from osteopathic treatment?

The philosophy of osteopathy it is a tool to aid the body’s natural healing process, hence the patient also needs to work with us to accelerate healing. This may involve being prepared to break bad postural habits, increase activity levels and follow an exercise rehabilitation programme.

The Osteopathic Centre is at Body With Soul, 44 Rochester Park, 6779 0660; Level 23 Chevron House, 9760 1556; and 22 Siglap Drive, #01-02 Bowmont Centre, 6446 7236

Material World was invited for a trial at The Ostepathic Centre and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own. 

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.