ONLY GOT 30 SECONDS? HERE ARE THE 3 TAKE-AWAYS FROM KIERAN TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO MOVE MORE, PAIN FREE:
- Movement is important. Move your body in range of movements or the body will take that functionality away, and it will become difficult, and painful to move.
- Take the time to be mindful of yourself and your surroundings. It’s too easy to keep pedaling and before you know it you’re not where you want to be. You’ve got to look up for direction from time to time and if necessary get the help you need. Talk to a friend, family member or professional.
- We all know the benefits of movement and exercise. But when pain gets in the way, don’t worry, you’ve probably only just been bitten by a brown snake (read the full interview for the full story!)! Think about the various routes available to help resolve pain. Osteopathy is one of them. I’m not trying to hard sell osteopathy as the answer to all pains and issues, but it can help. As much as physio can help, as much climbing can help…
OUR INTERVIEW IS CALLED WHEN MOVEMENT INTERRUPTS MINDFULNESS… CAN YOU ELABORATE ON WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU AND HOW IN YOUR ROLE AS AN OSTEOPATH, YOU AIM TO HELP PEOPLE MOVE MORE MINDFULLY?
Mindfulness is more than just a buzzword taking the nation by storm. It’s an awareness of being in the present moment and being able to exist without trying to spend time thinking forwards or backwards in time, and being able to accept your thoughts, feelings and sensations of you and your surroundings.
To start a little about me and my interest in mindfulness. I graduated as an osteopath four years ago after finishing a degree in sports rehabilitation in 2004. University was a very different experience the second time around! I was taught how to be an osteopath, which was tough enough by itself. I knew in my final years of osteo I wanted to build a business, which is more than just one clinic with a couple of rooms. However, I wasn’t taught to be a business leader, which required a lot of extra learning on a topic I’m not familiar with.
About six months into this I had my first experience with anxiety. It took chatting to a friend and explaining why I was easily distracted, feeling tired, complaining about old injuries or new ones to be told this. I was surprised more than concerned! It’s something I hadn’t considered or identified with before. It took about a week to really understand what was happening and why. And it was only after this week I began reflecting on what was happening around me and what I was feeling, especially with pain and movement.
YOU TALK ABOUT PAIN. CAN YOU EXPLAIN MORE ABOUT THE MIND/BODY CONNECTION AND WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE MIND/BRAIN WHEN YOU FEEL PAIN?
Pain is a sensation that is created in the brain – it isn’t created by the skin or other tissues in the body. It’s an electrochemical signal that’s created and sent to the brain where it is assessed, interpreted and responded to.
Here’s a story from one of the world’s leading pain specialists – Dr Lorimer Moseley – Professor of Clinical Neuroscience based in Adelaide, Australia.
Frontal Lobe (FL): “Have you been anywhere like this before? Hang on! I’ll ask the Posterior Parietal Cortex (PPC).”
PPC: “Yes you have…”
FL: “In this location?”
PPC: “Yes. When you were growing up you used to scratch your leg on twigs – this is not dangerous.”
What had actually happened was he was bitten by an eastern brown snake and almost died!
Next time he was walking in the bush six months later he felt the same feeling in the leg. The body went through the same cycle of signals up to the brain. The same conversation took place but this time the posterior parietal cortex had the information about the brown snake to consider. This time it created a feeling of pain so intense he collapsed to the floor holding his leg, only to discover that he had been scratched on the skin by a twig.
WHAT STRUCTURES IN THE BODY CAN CREATE AND AFFECT PAIN?
A concept called the Sensory Homunculus which represents the amount of sensory feedback to the brain based upon its location. The nerve endings in the head are much larger than the body with eyes, ears, tongue and lips being very sensitive to pain. But the largest of all the body’s nerve endings are in the hands – an area of the body that needs the most amount of feedback based upon what we use them for.
- Biological: Gender, Ability/disability, Physical health, Neurochemistry, Stress reactivity, Genetic vulnerability
- Psychological: Behaviour, Personality, Attitudes and beliefs, Learning and memory, Self-esteem & emotions
- Social: Education, Social support, Family and background, Socioeconomic status
Somewhere in the middle – a blend of all three areas – is where you can find a great sense of wellbeing. I use this concept when treating my patients and the best way to describe how is through the analogy of an Iceberg.
The tip of the iceberg is the pain, below that is the number of reasons why the pain is there from a biopsychosocial point of view. My job is to identify the tip of the iceberg and where the pain is coming from. I don’t tend to treat the pain directly but try to understand what’s beneath causing the pain. And of course the water level around the iceberg can go up and down to reveal more of the iceberg or not depending on what’s going on in each person’s life, making someone more susceptible to pain or not. So a big part of my job is understanding what’s happening in people’s lives and how that is impacting on their pain.
AND TO FINISH, WE ALWAYS ASK THE FOLLOWING THREE QUESTIONS OF OUR INTERVIEWEES…
HOW DO YOU KEEP PHYSICALLY FIT?
I keep fit through doing things I enjoy. Growing up was no different to today. I come from a background of playing competitive football, which I loved as well as dancing and cycling. I’ve had sporadic and more concerted efforts in a gym environment, but I still see that work as teeth-brushing… It’s not the most exciting thing in the world but it is important for a number of reasons. Since hanging up my dancing shoes and football boots I now climb (boulder) and cycle mainly. Nothing is quite as enjoyable as hanging off a climbing wall or cycling around the Cotswolds.
HOW DO YOU KEEP MENTALLY FIT?
There are two elements of this for me. Firstly, being able to identify if my mental health is struggling. Secondly, having ways of improving it that I know work. I have had my brushes with anxiety since starting my business and it wasn’t until someone reeled off the symptoms I realised I was struggling. My solution has been a straightforward one. Look at the week and see when I need to be focused and when I can have fun, then making sure fun has a good share of the week.