Healthy body, healthy mind. Exercise – it’s better together!
Osteopaths are all about having a healthy body and healthy mind and when we treat our patients we are looking at the person as a whole. I really try hard to practice what I preach. Since January I have been running twice a week with a local running group called ‘ThisMumRuns’. We run a 5km route but it’s all about inclusivity and having a social chat whilst we run. Last weekend we took part in a local 10km race ‘Race the Neighbours’. This 10km race was our group’s first ever 10km. It was definitely a challenge taking in some significant climbs around Alexandra Palace. However we stuck together and encouraged each other up those hills. The power of being together was amazing. Individually any one of us may have been tempted to have a sneaky walk in sections but we urged each other to keep going and all of us ran all of the way.
Running a 10km race might not seem that impressive for some. I admit it’s not the London marathon. It was a special achievement for me given that this time last year I was still struggling to walk without pain after recovering from a nasty ankle fracture.
What I wanted to share is not just the physical recovery but the mental one. When I broke my ankle I was totally devastated. I had been building my osteopathy practice and in a matter of seconds I was unable to work and was unable to do even the most basic of tasks. That physical injury had the potential to significantly affect my mental health too if I allowed it to.
Recently I listened to a motivational speech given by Jaco van Gass, a former member of the British Armed Forces Parachute Regiment. Jaco sustained horrendous life changing injuries when he was hit by a Rocket Propelled Granade towards the end of his second tour of Afghanistan. He needed 11 operations and intense rehabilitation. It would have been quite understandable had this soldier given up and suffered from depression. His injuries were so severe and he was no longer able to do the job that he loved.
This amazing gentleman went on to be a successful downhill skier. He competed in multiple marathons. He was part of an expedition to climb Everest. He was a member of an expedition to walk unsupported to the North Pole. More recently he was part of the GB Para-cycling team competing at World championship level. Any one of these feats of physical endurance are beyond most able bodied people’s realms of possibility.
Clearly my injury was nowhere near as devastating as Jaco’s. However I set about doing whatever I could to improve things as quickly as possible once the plaster cast was removed. Exercising combined with osteopathy sessions got my ankle moving. I got a part-time job working at the University College of Osteopathy (UCO) as the Continuing Practice Developing Coordinator and I embarked on my quest to rehabilitate myself into someone who could run completing the ‘Couch to 5k’ NHS programme.
Making exercise sociable – improving mental health
I am a total convert to the power of exercising with others in a friendly inclusive way. I used to exercise a lot but this used to be predominantly in exercise classes where you go, take part, exchange a few words with familiar faces (you don’t always know their names) and then go away again. It was group based exercise but was not sociable at all.
My little running group is something that I really look forward to! At 7:30pm on a Wednesday and at 8am on a Sunday I know I can find a few local ladies whom I can run with. We enjoy a chat and take in the sights and sounds of some of the amazing parkland that we are blessed with in North London. It is truly uplifting and different every time.
Exercising outside and exercising with other people in a social group is often discussed as being good promoting a healthy body and a healthy mind and my little group ticks both boxes. Finding something to look forward to in the week, something that makes you smile, makes you feel good and gives you a little bit of head space is so important in today’s busy world.
Running in a group is not for everyone but there are other options if you want something a little less energetic but exercise in a social setting all the same. ‘Walking for Health’ is a national volunteer lead group that organises local, social supportive walks. These are an excellent way to get outside, make new friends and improve your physical activity levels.
I am not about to now sign up for next year’s London marathon or a half marathon come to that but I will keep up running with my new running mum friends. I combine my work in my home-based osteopathy practice in North London with the part-time role at the UCO. I enjoy treating my osteopathy patients old and new, getting to know them and using my osteopath role as an Allied Health Professional to support the public health message.
If I can influence just one person to improve their physical or mental health then I am happy.
I will be racing the neighbours next year. You never know I may even go a bit faster!
Get in touch
If you feel I may be able to help you with any existing aches and pains, injuries or just want some advice on how to improve your health and well-being get in touch. My home based practice is at 25 Ringwood Avenue, London, N2 9NT. Telephone 020 8444 6725.