Thank you for visiting my website and the FAQ page.

Below I have answered a few fairly typical questions that I am asked about Spineworks.

On the Contacts page you can ask any question I have not mentioned or make comments and give feedback. I will do my best to respond as soon as I can but I do not have a staff waiting to do it for me and I have a life away from my computer. Though sometimes it does not feel like it!

You may well find the answer to your question will appear as a FAQ later so please ask away.

Important note: Under UK law I am not allowed to diagnose nor am I allowed to claim that Spineworks will cure anything.

There is a blog page on the site where you can respond directly to my musings and thoughts in a public way as whatever you write there will be seen by any site visitor.

with much love


The questions and answers are in two sections, the first about Training and the second about Treatments.

Questions about Spineworks and training

  • How do I start a Spineworks practice?

    Questions about Spineworks and training

    Spineworks is a complete system with a philosophy, ethics, and, of course, techniques. Each practising therapist will accept and use the techniques in their own way. Some will take on the principles and philosophy more than others.

    This is just a practical acceptance on my part of human nature.

    If you are a practising therapist then, if you are going to mention Spineworks in your advertising, business card etc, you should add Spineworks as a therapy to your insurance policy. If you do not mention specific systems in your advertising, then you may not have to do this since Spineworks is a gentle form of therapy and comes into the same category as, for example, massage and shiatsu.

    If you are a beginner then you will need to take out insurance. You can use Balens (as I do currently) since it is on their list of therapies. You may care to join the Association of Natural and Physical Therapists (APNT – see and use their insurer.

    Then, as a beginner, you can simply start practising! Many beginners use a room in their home at first but it is a good idea to look around locally to see what group practises there are and contact one of those about renting a room. Some do that by the hour, and some by half-a-day or a whole day; some will provide a reception (sometimes done by the therapists themselves) and s booking or referral service while others expect you to find all of your own clients. In this sense, you can see it is impossible to be specific.

    If you already practise another therapy, or several other therapies, then you need to decide if you will offer each one as a different and distinctly separate mode or you will blend all your skills as a single ‘box of tools’ and use the most appropriate blend for each client. This will affect the way you advertise your services. Most potential clients are not impressed by a long list of systems or techniques – it can give an impression of ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ so you may consider a simple phrase is more inviting than a list of all the courses you have attended.

    However, if you offer different types of service, eg beauty face lifts and Spineworks, then it is a practical and sensible approach since there is no overlap between systems. I know people for whom this approach works well.

    Once you have decided which approach is best for you then you will need to decide what your marketing approach will be. Now, I am no expert at this, but my one piece of advice is; don’t waste time and money just getting all your marketing together – get started! Any leaflets etc you can do in small quantities on your own computer to begin with as it is so easy to change it until you get it right. There is nothing worse than printing 5,000 leaflets and after you have given out 50 or so discovering that you need to change something. Try them out and get feedback and only then think about posh printing. The same goes for a website – only have one if it will help your marketing and bring clients. You can waste a lot of money with marketing.

    Getting out and talking to people is one of the best marketing systems I know, so look around locally and find any networking group or other gatherings of people. And sell your own unique feature.

  • I can't attend a course, is there another way to learn?

    Questions about Spineworks and training

    Yes, there will be soon. I am developing a video and internet based course. This will consist of several videos plus the manual (130 pages) and you will also be able to buy support. Once signed up and paid, you will be able to download the videos and relevant parts of the manual. There are also some recommended books and a mandatory anatomy book on muscles.

    My current thinking is that the course will be available in two forms:

    Ÿ  You can simply pay a one-off fee and download the whole lot, including manual all at once. There will be no support and you will not receive a certificate. But you will be able to buy Skype tutoring on a pay-as-you-go basis.

    Ÿ  You can buy the course plus tutoring. This way you will receive access for each section of the course  and relevant manual with guidance for practice.

    After that there will be some additional videos available covering advanced parts of the system and there will be occasional webinars for students where I can fill in more of the philosophy, ethos and background and we can share our experiences together. So we can create an international classroom. This is a really important part as Spineworks is not just a collection of techniques - it is a continuum.

    It has been said that even a good technique in poor hands will not work but a bad technique in empathetic, feeling hands can bring wonderful healing.

  • I would love to learn Spineworks but am a beginner. What can I do?

    Questions about Spineworks and training

    First of all, thanks for asking.

    If you are a complete beginner then you will need to talk with me and I will do my best to advise you on a programme for you. Usually I will suggest that you take an Anatomy and Physiology course and also some other therapy training such as a massage course. If there is a group of beginners then I will arrange a special course for you. Send me a message via the contact page.

    I am also developing a video and internet based course. This will be available either as a ‘buy-and-go’ / ‘off-the-shelf’ package or as a tutored distance learning package. In the former you can simply buy it and do your own thing. In the latter I will issue it in parts as you study and practise. Even if you go for the first option you will be able to have support should you require it. I am always available to students to advise and discuss with them. I will also arrange webinars for students to cover the more discursive elements of Spineworks such as philosophy and ethics.

  • I would love to learn Spineworks, what do I do?

    Questions about Spineworks and training

    First, it depends on two things, which country you live in and whether you currently practice a body-based therapy.

    If you are a practising therapist or well on with your training:

    If you are in the UK, then I can arrange a course for you. At the moment there is no programme but I hope next year to be able to offer courses in London. If you can get at least three other colleagues together then I will do a private course for you so contact me (via the form on this site) and we can chat about it. If you would like your school to offer it then, again, get in touch and we can discuss it.

    If you are in Greece, then I am planning future courses. I have some requests to teach in Thessaloniki and a potential venue in Athens. (I no longer teach at the NHS school.) Please contact me (via the form on this site), in English or Greek. I have some of my students who will help to organise a course and who will also offer taster treatments to you and talk about the course. The manual is available in Greek and I always have a translator with me in class.

    If you are in any other country, then the video course I am developing may be the best option in the short term (see my answer to the question about another way to learn). For a course in your country you will need to get at least 10 people together and we can discuss possibilities. Either all students will need good English language skills or you will need to arrange translation of the manual and a translator in the class - which adds to the costs of course. If you can work through a school of complementary therapy, that may be the best approach. I do not wish to discourage you, but it does take a lot of organising.

    If you are a beginner with no experience of A&P or bodywork:

    Depending on your geographic location the above will largely apply. Additionally, in the UK, I am happy to arrange a beginner’s course but, if you want to practise professionally, you will also need to get an Anatomy and Physiology qualification and some other practise such as massage if you wish to join a regulating body. More-or-less anyone can practise in the UK but if you want regulation, qualifications and recognition you will need to get more training as I am not in a position to be a regulator. You can get insurance for Spineworks through Balens and you can join the Association of Physical and Natural Therapists (APNT) - a link for each is on the Links page.

    The same really applies in Greece also.

    In any other country, it will really depend on either working through a school or seeing what we can do privately. It is best just to contact me (via the form on this site) and we can chat through the options and possibilities via Skype.

  • What level of qualification is given at the end of a Spineworks course?

    Questions about Spineworks and training

    There is no 'level' to the course. It is designed for those who already practice some style of physical therapy, eg massage, shiatsu, or have already started with their professional training. It is probably most suitable (though not exclusively so) for practitioners who have done a major course and are practising it and want to explore more remedial work with a gentle, no-force approach.

    I give a certificate of attendance.

    There is no organisation or regulation for Spineworks. If that ever happens it will be covered under some umbrella organisation such as the Association of Physical and Natural Therapists (APNT) or the Complementary Medical association (CMA).

  • Is Spineworks training recognised by the FHT or any other organisations?

    Questions about Spineworks and training


    But many organisations and schools will give CPD value (points) for it. The Scottish Massage Therapy Organisation and the FHT have both approved courses for CPD. The Association of Physical and Natural Therapists (APNT) has attended and approved my courses - see the link on the Links page.

  • What is the total cost of Spineworks courses?

    Questions about Spineworks and training

    Charges vary but for budgeting purpose you can work on a figure of £100 per day overall. It may be a little less or more depending upon expenses over which I have no control, eg venue costs

    If it is run by a school it will depend upon their policy and my fee.

    If you want to organise a private course for a minimum of four people we can work something out.

  • What level of qualification do I need in order to attend a Spineworks course?

    Questions about Spineworks and training

    There is no specific level of qualification but I do expect people to have experience of a hands-on physical therapy and have a working knowledge of anatomy - mostly muscles, other soft tissue and bones.

    Even beginners can learn the system, but see the question above for more information about this.

  • Do you have Spineworks training centres?

    Questions about Spineworks and training

    No, I teach where people welcome me. In Athens I taught for several years at the Natural Health Science school of complementary therapy. Currently I am negotiating further courses in Greece to be held in Athens and Thessaloniki.

    I have taught at the Mulberry House Centre in Edinburgh and in other private venues.

    I am looking for a school in the UK that may support my work and sponsor the course by adding it to their curriculum. So if you are a student or proprietor of such a place please get in touch.

  • Are you in any way connected to other people using variations of the Spineworks name?

    Questions about Spineworks and training


    There are several organisations that use the word 'Spineworks', with a variety of capitalisations and spelling. There was or is a chiropractic based group of clinics in America that used that name and did start to open places in UK - I think it was more a co-operating network rather than a specific system. There is also a UK hospital based group of surgeons using the name, but again, so far as I am aware, not a specific system.

    Tarpan and I have used the name Spineworks since 1994 in the UK so can probably claim its longest use. Tarpan was using it in Australia before then. I have had the domain name since 1994 and more recently and spineworks .eu.

    If you do a search on the internet, you will find other sites using a variety of forms of the words ‘spine’ and ‘works’ and none of them is associated with me or Spineworks. There are also some variations on Facebook, and again there is no association.

  • Can I get Insurance for Spineworks?

    Questions about Spineworks and training


    I am currently insured through Balens. You can insure as an individual or via a group scheme. In practice few people add Spineworks as a specific named therapy to their policy since it is a non-force method without (osteopathic) manipulation. Thus it comes under the same category as massage, Shiatsu etc.

    Other insurance policies will also cover you for Spineworks. If in doubt write to your insurer. I am happy to send a letter for you.

  • Are there any contra-indications to a Spineworks treatment?

    Questions about Spineworks and training

    No, not really.

    But there are some Guiding Principles for therapists  which mean that you would not always give a treatment or you would avoid some techniques at some times for some clients. Generally, if you feel uncomfortable or unsure about something, then don’t do it! Personally, I think it is impossible to give a general guideline and you, as a therapist, are trained to act in an ethical way, within the limits of your knowledge, training, experience and skill. You, with the client, must take your own decisions.

    I am a great believer in personal responsibility of both client and therapist and for both taking their common sense along with them into the treatment room.


Questions about Spineworks Treatments

  • Can Spineworks do anything for Stress?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    Yes, it can.

    If nothing else, then you simply having an hour of downtime to relax and switch off your mind is enough in itself even without the bodywork.

    So the treatment adds to the experience and gives you an excuse to lie down and turn off! And, if you are in business, you can justify it as a genuine business expense; an investment in your business.

    We hold stress and tension in our body. If you feel under stress or pressure, whatever you want to call it, your body will also be tense. Just reach up and have a feel around the base of your neck and out to your shoulders. There are many good examples of where a mental or emotional stimulus causes a clear physical response, blushing is an obvious one and think of what can happen if you have an important presentation to make to a big audience!

    Releasing this physical stress will ease the mental stress on you. You will feel better able to return to work (or the cause of stress, whatever it is) and deal with it.

    I had a client who didn’t come for stress but after a few sessions told me that he was reacting differently to pressure at work (his own business) and not getting stressed. That was as valuable to him as the physical problem for which he had originally come to see me.

  • Is Spineworks Sports Massage?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    No. In most conversations the term ‘sports massage’ refers to a particular type of deep tissue massage. (Although, there are those who wish the term had never been coined!)

    Spineworks is appropriate to be used in cases of sports injury and I get many clients whose problems have been created or worsened by sport activity.

  • Can Spineworks help Post Polio Syndrome?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    In the UK and most ‘western’ countries Polio has been largely unknown since the mid 1960s. However, before then it was running at almost epidemic proportions and was one of the most feared illnesses. Thus there are many people still alive who contracted it as children or adults. These people will be reaching their 60s and older now and there could be another related epidemic of what has been called post-polio syndrome (PPS). I personally remember at least 2 close friends of my childhood and young adulthood who will, of course, be at that stage now.

    This has nothing to do with the polio virus but is a result of long years of living with seriously affected limbs, weak muscles etc.

    Strictly speaking, the medical professions restrict the term PPS to problems that are a direct result of the polio and has attempted a definition based on overworked nerve cells, viral brain damage and motor units. For example, sore arms through long use of crutches would not be included. I prefer to widen my own definition to include all problems that are the result of living with a polio created disability for many years – regardless of the ’cause’. This can include swallowing, breathing, sleeping and sensitivity to cold.

    PPS occurs as an after-effect of polio, anything from several to many years after the illness. Many years of living with the physical damage of polio is what causes this syndrome so it is going to have a wide range of symptoms and affects. Those for people with damaged legs will be very different from those with damaged arms. Despite this there will also be similarities in the way the involved muscle, tissue and skeleton are affected.

    It is usually a gradual process such that it may be difficult to notice but there can also be sudden changes along with the long periods of stability. Typically, there is a slow weakening of the muscles originally affected but there can also be over-contraction of other muscles as they attempt to do the work that the failing muscle should do or are attempting to support an affected part of the skeleton. Along with the growing weakness comes fatigue, muscle atrophy and skeletal deformity (often in the spine).

    Of itself PPS is not life threatening, which probably means it will be low-priority in most medical facilities, but it will make daily living much more difficult and often continuously painful.

    There are no methods, drugs or systems to cure this range of afflictions. All we can do is to manage the symptoms, seek to strengthen the weak muscles, release the over contracted muscles, adjust the skeleton and reduce the pain levels.

    Spineworks physical therapy can help especially in combination with some specific exercise. The exercise should not increase fatigue so the sort of gentle moves I give to my clients are ideal. You should also space out your exercise and include plenty of recovery time between sessions. Breathing exercises can also help general health.

    If you are someone who had polio those many years ago and have no additional symptoms, the best thing you can do now in your 60s is to look after your health. Get enough sleep, exercise the muscles that work well to keep them flexible, find a gentle exercise for the weak muscles but do not over-work them, practice abdominal breathing and eat a healthy diet while keeping an eye on your weight.

    There is a fuller article on the Ian's Blog page.

  • What is Spineworks Good for?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    Well, from the note in the header to this page, you will realise that I cannot make any claim to be able to cure anything. Even if you are reading this in another country where this is not the law, I cannot say anything as the site is based in the UK administratively.

    Spineworks is a holistic treatment, which, in essence, means that it will stimulate the healing process within your body. If you read the article on the About Spineworks page of this site you will get a good idea of how I think Spineworks actually works to promote healing.

    If you have a particular problem then it is best that you send me your enquiry via the form on the Contact page and I will do my best to advise. Give a little history so I can give you sensible guidance - just giving me the name of a diagnosis is not really of much value and means I cannot give any constructive suggestions.

    Over the years, I, and other students and practitioners, have worked with a wide range of clients with many different diagnoses. This includes spinal problems including spinal chord lesions and impingement,  unequal legs, pelvis problems, sciatica, shin splints, foot pains, scoliosis, kyphosis, frozen shoulder, whiplash effects and other neck pains and problems, hand and wrist pains and problems, specific and non-specific pain and injuries old and new. I have answered about some specific conditions in other questions so do have a look at them.

  • Can I Heal Shin Splints with Spineworks?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    (See the note at the top of the FAQ page.)

    Shin splints is one of the commonest problems in sport, especially for runners but it can also occur in sports that have a lot of short running and instant stops such as tennis. Many runners run on hard surfaces these days and if you keep suffering from shin splints, in the long term you should either change your technique, change your shoes, give up and do something else or grin and bear it!

    Those of you who have browsed my website may know that I am not a sports mad person nor an expert in that strange field called sports medicine. I find it interesting that the rise in sports medicine has paralleled the increase in sport activity in the general population. And the rise in obesity! (Make of that what you will.)

    So what is it? The rather vague name shin splints has now been turned into the medical sounding ‘tibia stress syndrome’ but that is no less vague. I have also seen it called ‘chronic compartment syndrome’ - referring to the so called compartments in the lower leg. It can be stress fractures of the tibia itself or damage or inflammation of various muscles and tissue of the lower leg.

    The most common causes of shin splints are over-exercising, bio-mechanical abnormalities, poor technique and poor footwear. The two muscles most often affected, tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior, are mostly used in landing and decelerating, ie the contact phase or foot strike of gait, because of the increased forces placed on them at this time. In (eg) tennis it is fairly obvious to observe this as a long rally takes place. With runners it may be less obvious and the amount of stress can depend on your running style. If you land on your heel then your body is coming to an instantaneous stop for the tiniest fraction of a second before you move forward again. So you are stopping about 1,000 times in every  kilometre and you also lose the natural flexibility of your lower leg and the arch of your foot. If, on the other hand (or foot!) you land on the ball of your foot, you keep moving and put much less force through your leg.

    My running friends tell me that modern, expensive trainers encourage heel landing because they are nice and thick and soft.  It is worth remembering that these shoes were invented only in the 1970s and before that human beings ran quite safely for centuries, millennia even, barefoot or in shoes with flat, thin soles - here in the UK we used to call them plimsoles when I was at school. In these, and on hard surfaces, you cannot land on your heel because, after a while, it hurts! I can’t say there were no injuries but I wonder?

    I have been looking at some websites on what has been called barefoot running, though it is only rare that it is truly ‘bare’ as few people can run without some foot protection. Harvard University has an excellent site with some very technical illustrations of running gait, foot strike and bio-mechanics. If you are a serious runner look at, the page on Running Before the Modern Shoe is particularly interesting.  There are many other sites, some that specialise in footwear.

    And, on the other hand, I have seen a website that puts ‘landing on the balls of your feet’  as one of the causes of shin splints! Clearly there are still arguments to close.

    Most authorities recommend rest initially to help the injury to begin healing. Treatment such as Spineworks with its gentle approach to soft tissue can also help in this stage and speed up the healing and then help to strengthen the injured muscle with Muscle Energy Techniques (MET). In Spineworks I would also want to work the foot and upper leg and also check your pelvis. By far the majority of my clients have what is called unequal leg syndrome and this will make your running (and everything else) out of balance. Many cases of this can be corrected relatively easy and if your are a keen runner or are about to be then I would recommend you have it checked. BUT - do not accept the prosthetic insole you may be offered, see a therapist who will help you get it aligned.

    And to finish some quotes I like from

    "Runners are the most injured people in the athletic arena and usually suffer prolonged downgrade of the sex hormones.”

    “Genetically speaking, we're made to throw a rock at a rabbit, not to run after it. We're not aerobically designed machines; we're designed for short bursts. Slow, continuous aerobic work also interferes with the brain's ability to recruit high-threshold motor units and interferes with power development.”

    Your body adapts extremely fast to steady-state cardio and you'll burn fewer and fewer calories the more you do. With interval training, your metabolism will be elevated for the next 24 to 48 hours, giving you an after-burn effect.

    “Research is showing that the best way to condition your heart and burn fat is NOT to jog or walk steadily for an hour. Instead, it’s to alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise with gentle recovery periods. This type of exercise, known as interval training or burst type training, can dramatically improve your cardiovascular fitness and fat-burning capabilities.”

  • Can I Heal flat feet with Spineworks?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    (See the note at the top of the FAQ page.)

    Fallen Arches and Flat Feet - sounds like a new rock band, doesn’t it?

    Flat feet can often be the result of inadequate development of the child. Many of the muscles in your lower leg have long tendons running down and into the foot where they attach to the tarsals and metatarsals and so operate the feet. If you slowly waggle your foot up and down against resistance in each direction you can see and feel those muscles working. If these muscles are not working correctly then they will fail to help create the natural arch in your foot.

    That arch is one of those often forgotten parts of our body that we often do not give enough regard to. It is part of the natural cushioning or shock-absorbing quality of the complete leg structure. Failure to use it can be a cause of injury to runners and the ubiquitous shin splints. Runner friends and some websites also suggest that the problem is worse with the most expensive (and supposedly better) trainer shoes. Another long-term problem, especially with women, is wearing high-heel shoes, which can cause back problems as well as foot problems.

    The best way to work the foot is to start with the lower leg. As I say in my youtube video (channel SpineworksBodywork), many of the muscles that operate the foot have their origin and belly in the lower leg, so you need to start on releasing them first. These muscles are also important to keep the blood flowing up the leg in the veins, especially the soleus and gastrocnemius which connect via the achilles tendon to the heel. For a self treatment, get hold of a porcupine ball (a plastic ball with nobbles) and roll it under your foot for a minute or so each day. (It has a beneficial effect on the hamstrings as well!)

    Working the foot itself is lovely for both practitioner and client but many people have fears or shame or fetishes about either touching or being touched on their feet. Always check this out before ploughing in. (I had one person on a course who was frightened to touch anyone’s feet. With encouragement she eventually did, in her own time, and it was a good process for her.)

    With any client that you are seeing regularly over a period of time you should dedicate at least one session on the feet. They are, after all, our contact with the earth and the fulcrum of our balance in gravity when standing.

  • Can I Heal Slipped Disk problems with Spineworks?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    (See the note at the top of the FAQ page.)

    Low back pain is often diagnosed as ‘slipped disk’ even when there is no specific evidence that this is indeed the case. (Read through my notes to the FAQ about back pain.) Our medical system is based on making a diagnosis and thus giving a treatment based on that diagnosis. This tends to work only when the diagnosis is correct. However, the human being is much more than any diagnosis and, in any case, diagnosis is based only on the most obvious current symptom so often cannot find the root cause.

    Many people, medical people included, argue that there is no such thing as a slipped disk; disks do not slip. They can be squashed though.

    The disks, or intervertebral disks to give them their correct name, are doughnut shaped tissue in between each disk. They are composed of fibrocartilage, the outer being hard and fibrous while the inside is more elastic and pulpy. This helps in the shock absorbing properties of the spinal curves. Disk problems occur most frequently in the lumber spine (which I focus on here) and sometimes in the neck (cervical spine). Although it is infrequent in the thoracic vertebra, it can still happen there.

    If muscles of the back* become tight then they will pull down on the spine and the stress will be focussed on the least resistant part - ie the disks. When the disks become squashed they can bulge both outwards and inwards which can impinge on the nerves. There can be other causes of low back pain of course, accident probably being the most common and this can lead to more serious problems such as spinal chord lesion and paralysis below the disk.

    The Spineworks approach to (probable) disk problems in the low back is, generally, to start by releasing the muscles of the low spine with the usual Spineworks based techniques. The basic idea is to ease the pressure on the spine and thus the squashing effect on the disks which may have the result of enabling the disks to recover.

    * including parts of erector spinae and the intervertebral muscles such as interspinalis, mulitifidiis, rotares.

  • Can I Heal Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) with Spineworks?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    (See the note at the top of the FAQ page.)

    RSI is repetitive stress injury and is a common term used to suggest that the cause of a pain in the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder or neck is caused by some oft repeated movement. It usually involves a quite limited range of movement and is common amongst people who do repetitive work such as musicians, production line workers and office workers (mainly from the ubiquitous computer keyboard).

    As a limb, the arm has more mobility and range of movement than any other part of your body and the best way to take care of it is to use it fully. Ask your self  when was the last time you stretched your arms fully above your head and how frequently might you do it? Have you done it recently bearing a weight? Often the only time we get close in our modern lives is reaching to the kitchen wall cupboards.

    As part of a client’s rehabilitation I would encourage them to use their arms as fully as possible - there is a tendency to protect the part where you feel pain but that is useful generally only for a short time to get over a trauma. After that it is a good idea to start bringing it back into use. Life = movement. Movement = life.

    It is useful to trace the path of the nerves involved. They arise from the neck (cervical spine), travel through the shoulder as a bundle (plexus) and pass into the upper arm where they split and run down and throughout the arm, through the wrist to the hand and fingers. So, there is much scope for any nerve impingement. (For a minute compare it with how we define and diagnose sciatic pain, which can be felt in the leg and foot. We often say that it stems from a problem in the lower back, not the ankle.) In my book of guidelines it is quite possible for the seat of a ‘carpal tunnel’ problem to be in the neck or shoulder.

    Thus in treating this pain I would always start with work on the neck and shoulder - you can check this work out in my youtube videos (channel SpineworksBodywork). After the first session you can give the client the exercise I show at the end of the video on carpal tunnel.

    Of course, there is no reason why it cannot be the cause of pain or injury elsewhere. I would expect that footballers can suffer in their leg or hip and most international sports-people can have pains from repetitive movement and stress.

    As I work I would ask the client to let me know if any place I touch gives a sensation or even pain where they usually feel it - when this happens it is likely that I am in the right place - the place that is causing the nerve impingement. There may be other ‘right places’ too so I don’t then assume it is fixed.

    Many people resort to surgery for this problem, and, in some cases, it can be the right treatment but isn’t it better first to try something that is less final? Spineworks should be on the list of choices.

  • Can I Heal Carpal Tunnel with Spineworks?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    (See the note at the top of the FAQ page.)

    The Carpal Tunnel is the name given to a band of fibrous tissue around your wrist. The reason its name is often used to describe pain in the wrist and hand is the thinking is that it can trap nerves which is what causes the pain. This may be the cause of some such pains but there are other possible causes too.

    RSI, another common term, is repetitive stress injury and is used to suggest that the cause of a pain in the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder or neck is caused by some oft repeated movement. It usually involves a quite limited range of movement and is common amongst people who do repetitive work such as musicians, production line workers and office workers (mainly from the ubiquitous computer keyboard).

    As a limb, the arm has more mobility and range of movement than any other part of your body and the best way to take care of it is to use it fully. Ask your self  when was the last time you stretched your arms fully above your head and how frequently might you do it? Have you done it recently bearing a weight? Often the only time we get close in our modern lives is reaching to the kitchen wall cupboards.

    As part of a client’s rehabilitation I would encourage them to use their arms as fully as possible - there is a tendency to protect the part where you feel pain but that is useful generally only for a short time to get over a trauma. After that it is a good idea to start bringing it back into use. Life = movement. Movement = life.

    It is useful to trace the path of the nerves involved. They arise from the neck (cervical spine), travel through the shoulder as a bundle (plexus) and pass into the upper arm where they split and run down and throughout the arm, through the wrist to the hand and fingers. So, there is much scope for any nerve impingement. (For a minute compare it with how we might define and diagnose sciatic pain, which can be felt in the leg and foot. We often say that it stems from a problem in the lower back, not the ankle.) In my book of guidelines it is quite possible for the seat of a ‘carpal tunnel’ problem to be in the neck or shoulder.

    Thus in treating this pain I would always start with work on the neck and shoulder - you can check this work out in my youtube videos (channel SpineworksBodywork). After the first session you can give the client the exercise I show at the end of the video on carpal tunnel.

    As I work I would ask the client to let me know if any place I touch gives a sensation or even pain where they usually feel it - when this happens it is likely that I am in the right place - the place that is causing the nerve impingement. There may be other ‘right places’ too so I don’t then assume it is fixed.

    To illustrate this neck link, I had an occasion with one of my students who had a hand/wrist pain in class when I did not have time to give a proper treatment but spent 10 minutes or so just working around C7/T1 and the pain stopped, never to return.

    Many people resort to surgery for this problem, and, in some cases, it can be the right treatment but isn’t it better first to try something that is less final? Spineworks should be on the list of choices.

  • Can I Heal Sciatica with Spineworks?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    (See the note at the top of the FAQ page.)

    Sciatica is another of those syndromes whose name tells us little. It refers to the sciatic nerve which runs from the lower spine, deep through the pelvis and down the centre of the leg all the way to the toes. But there is also another nerve, the femoral nerve, that comes from the lower spine and passes though the pelvis, but more laterally and then down the outer side of the thigh, stopping at the knee. So, depending upon where you feel your pain it could be either of these nerves that is implicated - or neither.

    So, what is causing your sciatic pain? Well, once again it could be anything from a whole list which makes it difficult to diagnose and treat - in fact only rarely will a diagnosis give you a CAUSE, all it gives is a LABEL. If your system of treatment relies on the diagnosis of symptoms and you do not know the cause then how do you treat? If you want to understand your pain a bit then get hold of a few pictures of the nervous system and just look at the many branches and links in the sciatic and femoral nerves.

    From a Spineworks viewpoint, most of our problems are caused, supported by or maintained by tight muscle. Even where there has been an obvious trauma, it is the muscle reactions that will hold the traumatised and damaged area in its stable position. Your body is very good at what I call compensations - something goes wrong so your body finds a way to keep you going even if it means constant pain. I guess this is part of our survival instinct where life is the ultimate goal. We have just ‘civilised’ it a bit.

    Let’s return to the sciatic nerve; if it is sending a pain signal to your brain then something is damaging or irritating it. This could be bone or tight muscle. So if there is tight muscle in your low back (go on, have a quick feel) it is pulling the vertebra together squashing the disks and could be trapping the nerve. Through the deep pelvis there is much muscle, and tightness here can squeeze, squash or irritate the nerve as it passes through, possibly  by trapping it against the pelvic bones or hip joint - stand up and have another feel. There can also be tight muscle down your leg though we generally think this is less likely to be the cause of ‘sciatica’ per se but can be the cause of local pain in the same nerve.

    So, once again, the Spineworks approach begins by releasing the tight muscle. In most cases I will start with the lower back and spine to ease the pressure on the disks but in the first session I will also want to start work on the pelvis and gluteal tissue. Once we start to release tight muscle there will be a knock-on effect as other tissue finds itself under less pressure so in a first session I often like to release over a wide area. At the next session I can see what has changed and how the client feels as a result. In my youtube video (channel SpineworksBodywork) I have only given a brief look at the techniques I would use with the client face down and how I would go about these initial muscle releases.

    I would proceed to work on the sacro-iliac (SI) joint, the L5/S1 joint and releasing the abdominal muscles and iliopsoas. There are also muscle energy techniques to assist in these releases and to move (gently) the SI joint.

    With Spineworks I have had clients who have been on multiple doses of painkillers each day eliminating them completely within a few sessions.

    As a start, and if you are nowhere near to me, take a look at my Youtube channel, “Spineworksbodywork” and you will find a video demonstrating the treatment and another on the constructive rest position. Do this exercise maybe three times a day or anytime you feel like it.

  • Can I Heal Frozen shoulder with Spineworks

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    (See the note at the top of the FAQ page.)

    Frozen Shoulder is the term given to a whole range of symptoms from slight discomfort and stiffness right up to severe constant pain and almost complete immobility. Thus, as a term in itself it is not much help!

    The shoulder is the most complex joint in your body with the widest range of movement and over 20 muscles that directly move it, hold it together and sling it onto your back.

    Structurally, the entire shoulder connects to your skeleton at a tiny joint between the end of the clavicle (shoulder bone) and top of the sternum (breastbone) so that is the pivot point for all its movement. The rest is done by soft tissue, including, of course, muscles. Running through the shoulder area there is also a mass of nerves called the brachial plexus which rises from the neck and supports the shoulder, arm and hand - so pain in your arm and hand (including the carpal tunnel) can be caused by spinal neck problems. If you want to have a good understanding of your problem (or that of your clients) then it is worth looking at an anatomy book and making a study of where all these muscles are and what their action is. Then you can see what movements hurt you the most and this will give you an idea of which muscles are involved. It will never give you a complete picture, though, since your body is more complicated than that. So never believe anyone who says they know the cause.

    In fact, seemingly localised problems like this often have a root cause somewhere else in your body - and you may never find where that is. So the only way to get permanent relief is to look at your whole physical body and the way you use it in normal life. Often shoulder problems are started or caused by some specific, repeated pattern of use or abuse so if you are going to continue or return to this after healing then it will simply come back again and no amount of treatment will remove it entirely until you stop doing whatever it is.

    Having said all that and really worried you, what can you do about it? As always, the Spineworks approach is to start by releasing tight muscles. My youtube video (channel SpineworksBodywork) on Frozen Shoulder shows just a little of the way I work with this condition. I don’t show all the techniques as it would lengthen it beyond boredom but you can look at the first two videos in the series to understand why I think this approach is important and to see some of the ways I do this. In a frozen shoulder, I would use many of the techniques of Spineworks since it is the most mobile joint we have and each of these will help different muscles.

    Particularly, but NOT exclusively, I release the muscles that tend to tighten across the joint itself, including the four muscles of the rotator cuff.

    I also use mobilisations and passive movements that, once tissue starts to release, will open up the joint and restore flexibility.

  • Is Spineworks helpful with fibromyalgia? How many session are necessary?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    Spineworks can help Fibromyalgia is the easy answer. But, of course, it is not so simple as that.

    Your treatment and recovery will depend on many things such as

    • how long have you suffered?
    • how severe are your symptoms
    • how widespread is the pain?

    And your speed of recovery will depend on these and also what you are doing in your daily life. You may even notice a difference after the first treatment but it may also take years before it is gone. This sort of complaint tends to react in a series of plateaus, ie you may notice big changes for a while and then it will seem as if there is no more progress (but underneath there is) so you may get despondent and then there will be another sudden improvement. And so it can go on for some months.

    And only you will know when the time has come to stop - when you are as well as you want to be.

    Fibromyalgia requires a very gentle treatment approach as in many sufferers there is a great sensitivity to being touched. So you will be looking for a sensitive practitioner.

    In addition, it is important that you take care of yourself in other ways such as with nutrition, your normal diet as well as supplementation and supporting or boosting your auto-immune system. This is the internal automatic system that protects you and heals you.

    Recently (mid 2012), I have come across a newish solution that seems to be having some notable success with cases of fibromyalgia. It is called ASEA. A testimonial a colleague had reads “My mother has had pretty bad fibromyalgia for over 4 years, to the point that most times, she can't even bear to have her arms touched..... also very high Blood Pressure. She has been taking ASEA for 3 months, BP normal, fibromyalgia now manageable..... almost gone. All of her friends are amazed at how youthful she is looking and wanting to know her secret, which she shares gleefully!”

    ASEA is traded through a network marketing system and I can provide you with some. Send me a message through the contact page if you want to learn more.

  • What causes back pain and problems?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    There are many possibilities. Doctors are now beginning to acknowledge that the cause of most back pain is unknown. The way it affects each individual is different and the way it needs treating is different for each person. All anyone knows is that when it affects YOU, it hurts, and influences most things that you do.

    Back Pain is arguably one of the worst curses of modern society. It will affect thousands of people in their life - at least in societies where a large proportion spend each day sitting at an office desk or doing repetitive heavy work. Back pain is the biggest single medical cause of time off work - here in the UK it accounts for nearly half of all sickness related absence from the workplace, that's just over 50 million lost working days every year. Half of us will suffer from at least one episode of back pain every year. And that ignores the people not working - youngsters and the elderly for instance. (From a total population of some 60+ million.)

    In a BBC radio programme in 2006, the presenter asked the guest doctor, a back specialist, what was the cause of common, non-specific back pain, he replied, “… we cannot say for certain where most, what we call, mechanical back pain actually originates. At different times it probably comes from the joints, the ligaments, the muscles and the discs in the back. But for any one individual patient on any one individual occasion it's difficult, if not impossible, to actually say what the source of the pain is.” This type of case, he went on, represents about 90% of his patients.

    When asked about symptoms he replied, “People come along often with pain that started suddenly when they've been doing something ordinary, perhaps after a bout of gardening, people tell you that they bent over to pick up a pen and suddenly their back's gone ‘twang’ and they feel pain across the lower back, it may spread as far as their buttocks and sometimes as far as one of their thighs but typically it's in the lower region of the back below the ribs on one or both sides or sometimes in the middle.”

    For a system that relies heavily on symptomatic diagnosis for its choice of treatment this is a problem. Diagnosis is difficult since our methods are mainly a variety of scans. The same doctor explained “Well x-rays are very insensitive tests and there's a very poor correlation between people's symptoms, the seriousness of what's going on and anything you might see on an x-ray. The difficulty with MRI scanning, … is that it's too sensitive, it shows us absolutely everything, which is great but it also shows up lots of irrelevancies. And we have a saying in the spine clinic where I work which is to treat the man not the scan. If your symptoms, the things we find when we examine you, and the scan all fit together that's great but primarily we treat patients not pictures.”

    Another doctor on the same programme said, of diagnosis, “what we tend to do is to come up with ideas about what's wrong, so sometimes people get very firm messages - oh it's just the facet joint or it's just the L5 disc. In actual fact those people who are really in the know, the real experts, who are really honest, have to admit that very often we just can't tell that. And so in fact in some areas of back pain we back off from these very focused diagnoses and say no you've just got back pain.”

    It is also worth noting that in a few cases it can be a more serious problem. If your symptoms do not go away after a few weeks, doctors will start looking for other possible reasons and will look at your complete history since back pain can be caused by other factors - old injuries, even cancers that have metastasised into the spine. But, please note, these are far and away the minority of cases.

    Even when there is an accident just before the pain started, it alone is often not the cause The accident may just be the result of a slow build-up of abusive use over a long time which resulted in the accident and the pain started - your body, with its efficient, ‘let’s get on with life’, attitude, could have been hiding the pain up until then.

    It is fair to say at this point that many people get better without any treatment whatsoever, which is great. And the current advice is DON’T lie down, keep moving. The only problem there, is what it leaves in the body to come again, and often incidents can become more frequent each time it recovers. Spineworks can help to reduce the number of incidents and to reduce recovery time - even without further treatment.

    In the youtube video (channel SpineworksBodywork) I show you a glimpse of techniques of Spineworks that you can use to relieve back pain. Spineworks takes a holistic approach to release muscles, initially in the back, and then in other places.

    As a client, I would also give you exercise to help improve your situation, to give you the responsibility for your healing and health and give you tools for the long-term care of your back. You need to treat the exercise like you would take medication for (say) diabetes and do it every day, regardless. In this way you can then remain pain free for the rest of your life. The exercise I give will be specific to your problem and as you improve you can then look at more conventional exercise and maybe join a class or club to make it social as well as treatment.

    Finally, the other important thing to look at is how you use your body in normal life. If you are doing something that puts a strain on your back and you keep doing it, then you will keep getting back pain! So you need to learn how to do it differently and how to pace yourself. Simple!

    Going back to that radio programme they all agreed in the end that hands-on work can help, especially in chronic cases, combined with a holistic approach which includes movement and returning to work.

  • What is Scoliosis, Kyphosis and Lordosis and can Spineworks help?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    Scoliosis is condition where the spine curves to one or more sides. So when you look at someone from the back, most commonly, you will see an “S” shape.

    Kyphosis and Lordosis are curves of the spine in a forward and backward direction. It is normal to have some curves in this direction (just look at all your friends) and it is only a problem if it becomes exaggerated. The two problems can occur together, probably the strains from the one helping to cause the other.

    You can check this yourself and it is best to do it standing, sitting and lying down since the stress on the spine is different in each position. It may help to run your fingers simultaneously down each side of the spine to feel any curve.

    If you have children it is good to check it throughout their growth. Conventional thinking is that puberty is a common time to start developing scoliosis but there is no strong evidence for this. It may just be that it is first noticed at that time because it starts to become more obvious and a parent will notice something unusual. For one of my clients some years ago, her parents noticed a rib sticking out when she was about 11. At 49 she came to see me and received Spineworks treatments for it and has made good progress. So it is never too late to seek help. If you suspect a problem it is best first to consult your doctor who will be able to make a measurement. Most doctors then will either do nothing, offer a restricting corset or suggest an operation. There are other options and a series of Spineworks treatments is one of these.

    Excess kyphosis often worsens with age and, I think, it is becoming more prevalent with increasing use of computers in office work and many people using laptop computers on their lap. (Though, according to my dictionary only women and some Scotsmen can have a lap!) As it worsens you will often see the head being thrust forward and the eyes cast down.

    Scoliosis and kyphosis can be accompanied by pain or be pain free and there seems to be no relationship between the amount of curve and the amount of pain. A scoliosis with a small curve can be excruciating while a huge curve can be pain free - I have seen both in my clients.

    The cause of scoliosis is unknown, in fact the medical term often used is ‘idiopathic scoliosis’ and idiopathic simply means that the cause is unknown. Even if it runs in a family, which can happen, the root cause is still unknown. I prefer to think of it as a compensation within the body, reacting to some other primary stress or strain or imbalance. That also implies that, by removing the root cause, it can be helped.

    The medical approach to scoliosis is often to give a brace during adolescence and then surgery if that does not work well enough. Surgery can be great and I am grateful that there are people with that skill. But it should be treated as the last resource since there is no retreat if it does not work. Also it results in a lack of mobility within the spinal column which weakens it.

    Since the cause of scoliosis is unknown, a holistic approach is, for me, the first treatment of choice. Then, even if a decision is taken to do surgery later on, it will be made with greater knowledge and awareness and on a straighter spine. It seems to me fairly obvious that if someone’s spine is curved then, whatever the cause, there will be other effects in the body including tight muscle as it works to maintain balance within gravity and ease of pain free movement.

    The same will be true for excess kyphosis and lordosis, or, indeed, a flattened kyphosis and lordosis. The difference here is that we all need a gentle kyphosis and lordosis in our spine, it is one thing that gives the natural flexibility and shock-absorbing properties. If our spine were dead straight then if you fell heavily on your feet there would be a tremendous shock wave right up your spine with serious affect.

    Spineworks can help these problems with its holistic approach to releasing tight muscle and soft tissue which eases pressure and strain on the body structures.

  • What can influence a child’s back health?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    Many things. Carrying a bag of heavy books every day for example – especially if it is done on the same shoulder all the time. Sitting at a table in school and having constantly to turn around the same way to see the teacher. Constantly bending over a flat table to do schoolwork (in my schooldays we had sloping desks).

    Exam stress, bullying and other psychological factors can also be influences.

  • What can Spineworks do for my problem?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    Spineworks is a system that works by removing the stress from the muscles affecting the problem. Bones do not just go out of alignment by themselves. The muscles are responsible both for movement and support of the skeletal structure thus it is over-stressed muscles that pull the structure out. There are some cases where a congenital weakness or other known genetic condition can affect it but in my experience the majority of cases are at the very least strongly influenced by muscle stress. Releasing this stress reduces the tension on the skeleton and allows it to re-adjust – sometimes by itself and sometimes with a gentle assistance, but always with no force.

  • Will I experience side effects or feel sore after receiving a Spineworks treatment?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    It is possible that you will have some reaction, however you should not necessarily regard this as negative.

    Spineworks is about relaxing muscle that is in spasm and, in many cases, has been in spasm for a long time. I cannot be certain of the scientific explanation but, it seems to me, that often the brain will have locked out the messages telling you there is pain. When these muscle start to release then the messages can once again fire back to the brain. The first messages can often be pain signals, probably because that is what the brain remembers.

    However this pain should not be severe nor last for long. If it does then get straight onto the therapist and he or she should agree to see you immediately as an emergency.

    The most common effect that my clients report to me is of great tiredness – many say they just went to bed on arriving home after their treatment. Another common reaction is to feel as if you have just done an energetic sports session.

  • Should I stop receiving any other kind of treatment whilst I am having Spineworks treatments?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    Personally I think this is a good idea, whatever therapy you are receiving. If you are receiving two or more different treatments and you get better, how will you know which one worked for you? Another consideration is that the therapies may be countering each other, particularly if the therapists do not know you are seeing someone else.

    My advice when someone comes to see me is to finish the treatments they are receiving elsewhere and if they work then they won’t need to come and see me. If they decide they are not working then stop them and come for Spineworks and see if that can improve their condition.

  • Do you give exercises and how important is it that I do them?

    Questions about Spineworks Treatments

    Many therapists (not just Spineworks therapists) ask their clients to do some form of exercise or movement and all of them have clients who do them and (mostly, actually,) clients who don’t.

    I hope it goes without saying that if you do them then this will enhance and speed up your recovery. That, after all, is why we ask it. However, even if you don’t, it might just take a bit longer.

    So, think of the exercises as an investment in your future and as saving you money!

    Exercise is a bit like a drug – you need to take it for a while to have a lasting effect, it is the same with the exercise I will give you, and I may advise you to continue for all your life. If you were training for an Olympic event you would not train for four weeks and then stop, you would train every day until the event. This is not surprising, yet many people seem to think they need do it for only a few days when it is about treatment.