Pregnancy & Exercise by Dr Nia May, Melbourne Osteopath at City Osteopathy

Here at City Osteopathy we see many women seeking osteopathic treatment during pregnancy and in the post-natal period.  As well as offering manual osteopathic treatment we seek to provide advice and guidance on supporting physical health during this time of great changes.  One question that often comes up for women we treat is – am I still able to exercise whilst I’m pregnant?


The guidelines are clear that, for the healthy woman, exercise is safe and beneficial.  It offers numerous health benefits for both mother and unborn child, and there is minimal risk associated with physical activity.

So, what are the benefits of exercise?

The benefits of exercise stated by Sports Medicine Australia in their 2016 guidelines are:

  • Improved cardiovascular function and physical fitness
  • Decreased risk of pregnancy related complications such as pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia.
  • Reduced back and pelvic pain
  • Reduced fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression
  • Decrease in excessive gestational weight gain and post-partum weight retention.
  • Fewer delivery complications in women who are active during pregnancy
  • Prevention and management of urinary incontinence.

How should I exercise?

When giving advice to all people at all stages of life about their lifestyle, symptoms, and physical activity, there are always individual considerations to take account of.  This is no different for women during pregnancy, and when there are medical or obstetric complications general exercise may not be recommended.  It is always a good idea to discuss this with your healthcare professional and/or antenatal care provider.

For a healthy woman during an uncomplicated pregnancy, regular moderate intensity exercise is recommended, including both aerobic and light to moderate muscle strengthening components.  This ‘muscle strengthening’ component includes pelvic floor exercises, which in themselves are an important part of maintaining long term health after pregnancy.

This is a time to continue or moderately improve activity levels, gradually progressing activity if pre-pregnancy exercise levels have been low and to select appropriate forms of activity.  Walking, swimming, and modified Pilates are all safe options, though it is not recommended to continue activities with a high risk of falling, or trauma, and supine positions (laying on your back) past the beginning of pregnancy.

Remember that every activity counts and exercise should be spread throughout the week.  Hydration, calorific intake, and maintaining a safe body temperature are all important to consider.  You should listen to your body and adapt your activity, modifying your exercise routine as is appropriate for you.


What is ‘moderate intensity exercise’?

As complicated as it sounds, ‘moderate intensity exercise’ is that which makes you breathe faster, whilst still being able to hold a conversation.  Some people use the guidance that you should exercise so that you can ‘talk but not sing’ indicating that your breathing rate should increase a little, but within safe limits.


Pregnancy is a great time to adopt (or continue!) a healthy lifestyle, knowing that you are doing the best for your own physical, mental and emotional health as well as for that of your coming child.  Pain and dysfunction can influence your ability to move and undertake activity, and it is very common for women during pregnancy to experience new onsets of back pain, headaches, pelvic pain, and other associated symptoms.  Our osteopaths can give you advice and safe osteopathic treatment to support your comfort and health during pregnancy.

Dr Nia May – Osteopath


References –

Sports Medicine Australia

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

APPI pilates – modified pilates for ante- and post-natal period

Finding your happy place!

LET’S TALK:    Finding your ‘happy place’

Often in todays’ society we struggle to find the right balance in our stressful lives. Where it be finding the right work balance to even getting on top of our mental health. This can be often influenced by our lifestyle behaviours where it be negative behaviours such as stress, poor sleep to positive behaviours such as exercise and healthy eating. A recent study of the roles of negative and positive lifestyle behaviours found compelling evidence exists of the role of negative lifestyle behaviours on the incidence of chronic pain.These negative lifestyles behaviours can often be influence the way we feel and effect our ability to get become healthier.1 As such it a way to tackle these behaviours is helped by finding our happy place.

“So what are you on about?”

In order to influence these behaviours, we need to find that place. It needs to be something where you can dedicate yourself the time to switch off from what you are doing, focus all your energy on yourself and allowing yourself the time to think and be yourself with no expectations. Block out a 10-30 minutes from your weekly schedule to allow your body to recover, allows your nervous system to switch off and allow you body to focus on itself. The biggest thing is being comfortable to relax and be aware of your own body and how you feel.

Another pivotal part of this process is sometimes working on or influencing those behaviours and tried to replicate those positive lifestyles behaviours. Here are some studies that look to give you an insight into the benefits of doing these activities and how they can lead you to that ‘happy place’.

Exercise and the effects of decreasing stress

A met-analyses of data was collected involving all the studies of stress and exercise and it was found that  Exercise significantly decreased anxiety symptoms more than control conditions, with a moderate effect size. 2 As you know the benefits of exercise affecting stress and anxiety is high, exercise also plays a big role in allowing us to focus on our body and find that happy place through the hormones that are released in our body when we exercise.


A meta-analysis of 42 RCT studies of the effects of mediation found that over 8 weeks that the meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety, depression and pain.3 This shows that mediation like exercise has similar effect of allowing to affect some of those negative behaviours and play a major role in finding our happy place.

Listening to music

Even though there not as strong studies to showcase the effects of listening to music and pain. A recent study of patients with fibromyalgia, a condition where there are strong amounts of pain was found that that music listening increased perceived control over pain, especially when the music was positive in valence and when it was listened to for the reason of ‘relaxation’.4 This study illustrates the positive effects that using an activity like this and placing yourself in the happy place can influence these lifestyle behaviours.

My Perspective:

From the picture above this is one many places where I can switch off. For myself it is during these runs that I can focus on my thoughts, my own body and be aware of my week and what has been going on around me. It enables to refocus on what is important and be aware of how my body is and most importantly, how my mind is.

Written by Dr Matthew Franz Osteopath at City Osteopathy

  1. Dean E, Söderlund A. What is the role of lifestyle behaviour change associated with non-communicable disease risk in managing musculoskeletal health conditions with special reference to chronic pain?. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2015;16(1):85 – 87.
  2. Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga E, Gould N, Rowland-Seymour A, Sharma R et al. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Akupunktur. 2014;57(3):26-27.
  3. Linnemann A, Kappert M, Fischer S, Doerr J, Strahler J, Nater U. The effects of music listening on pain and stress in the daily life of patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2015;9(2).
  4. Stubbs B, Vancampfort D, Rosenbaum S, Firth J, Cosco T, Veronese N et al. An examination of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for people with anxiety and stress-related disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research. 2017;249:102-108.

Desk Disease: How to Avoid This Modern Epidemic


‘Desk disease’ is term Osteopaths know way too well. It ultimately describes the postural strains caused and maintained by poor work ergonomics. In this blog I’ll talk about some desk observations and a few simple ways you can improve your posture at work. 

Is there a correct way to sit at a desk?

There is a measured standard that can reduce strain on your body. These simple steps involve:

1: Think right angles: have your chair adjusted so your feet are flat on the ground and your knees and hips are bent at a right angle. Ensure your chair is upright and your hips are as far back in the chair as possible. Your arms should bend at 90 degrees at the elbow to articulate the keyboard of your computer.

2: Position the screen: the computer screen should be positioned so the top of the screen is in line with your eyes so it may require to be propped up.

3: Get a sit to stand desk: Too much sitting is bad but too much standing is also bad for us. Alternating between the two modes is ideal though. If you can modulate every 20 minutes to an hour, you will notice a significant positive difference in your back health and energy levels.

What about breaks?

A break from your position every 20 minutes will be ideal for your body and mind. This means going for a stroll around the office or doing some stretches at your desk. Keeping the body moving will reduce any pain and tension.


What are some stretches I can do at my desk?

Some easy stretches that will make a huge difference are breathing exercises, glute and pec stretches. Do them as many times as you can in your breaks, if you tend to forget, setting an alarm on your phone or computer might help.

I’ve attached three exercises below:

1: Glute stretch: hold for 30 seconds leaning forward for a deeper stretch


2: Pec Stretch in three different positions- hold for 30 seconds


3: Bruegger’s breathing exercise: 5 deep breaths in the position below

If you sit at desk and suffer from spinal pain, headaches, pain down your legs, glute pain and fatigue, our melbourne Osteopaths can help you stay pain free and advise you on how to decrease your pain caused by your work posture. We encourage ergonomic assessments and can provide a letter of recommendation for a standing desk. Book in with our helpful Osteopaths today.

Dr Stephanie Norton-Smith

Melbourne Osteopath

City Osteopathy

Is Plantar Fasciitis a Symptom?

Wake up in morning with knife like pain in the arch or heel of your foot? It could be plantar fasciitis. It’s the bane of the foot’s existence and can be very frustrating and annoying. In this article I’ll be discussing all you’ll need to know about why and how plantar fasciitis comes to be and how Osteopathy can help you.


What is Plantar Fasciitis?

First, let’s talk anatomy. It’s common knowledge that the musculoskeletal system is made up of muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons; but there is a very important and often overlooked structure called fascia. Fascia is the sinew that holds everything together, we have layers upon layers of fascia that surround our muscles, tendons, joints and even our organs.

The plantar fascia is the extension of the achilles tendon that runs over your heel, along the bottom of your foot to the tips of your toes. It holds your foot together, encasing your arch, blood supply, nerves, tendons, muscles and small bones of the ankle. If the Plantar Fascia becomes inflamed and irritated it then presents as sharp unremitting pain in the arch or heel. It’s often worse in the mornings or after rest and is referred as plantar fasciitis.  

What causes Plantar Fasciitis?

This is the million dollar question. There’s little proof of an exact cause but there are studies that show plantar fasciitis being a manifestation of another biomechanical problems in the foot or leg. Biomechanical problems can be split into two categories;

Compressive forces: This is where the arch structures are very weak and collapsed similar to someone who has a ‘flat foot’; therego putting extra pressure on the plantar fascia to hold the foot together. This causes the plantar fascia to overstretch, inflaming its attachments to the heel; and in severe cases causing spurs on the heel bone. People who are obese and/or have flat feet are predisposed to this kind of injury.

Traction forces: This is where the plantar fascia is being overused and overstretched in someone who runs or walks on their toes. The repetitive physical stretch of the plantar fascia during the push off phase of running and the over activation of the calf muscles can pull the plantar fascia tight over the heel; therego irritating it. Athletes are more prone to this kind of injury.


How can an Osteopath treat this?

Osteopathic manual therapy can provide immense relief for people who suffer from this injury. Firstly an Osteopath will diagnose the cause of your plantar fasciitis and treat the problematic structures with safe, gentle manual therapy techniques. The most important factor is to change what is causing your plantar fasciitis and proceeding to strengthen the arch supporting muscles in the leg and foot. Our friendly and helpful Melbourne Osteopaths here at City Osteopathy will help you with your plantar fasciitis. Book in today!

Dr Stephanie Norton-Smith

Melbourne Osteopath

Gold Coast Marathon, Rohan and team killed it!

Our resident running osteopath Rohan Armstrong, took a crew of 5 to the GCM on JUNE 30.
In it’s 40th year, this event was a sell out when 7,600 competitors took the start line for the 42.2 km journey.
Marathons are all about the last 10kms, as that is known as when the real race starts.
In hot, humid conditions, the Melbourne crew were tested coming from much cooler training conditions, but with a solid preparation and race plan in hand, they stuck to their paces and strategies and all managed to finish with PBs over the distance and Rohan managed another sub 3 hour result.  A Job well done on a great day when many pulled out, or lay cramped on the sidelines including many of the pacers, there were some big highlights and PBs from some of Australia’s best athletes such as Jess Trengove.

From here, Rohan and his crew look ahead to the Melbourne marathon in just over 12 weeks.
All the best, and if you’re looking for some running coaching guidance or technical advice don’t hesitate to getting touch with Rohan.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT); Fast Effective Exercise for Busy People

Exercise is important, we all know that; but some find the monotony of non structured gym memberships gruelling and time consuming. Research has shown that short bursts of heart rate increases over a 30 minute period increases your fat burning metabolism amongst other health benefits.  Our resident Melbourne Osteopath, Dr Stephanie Norton-Smith explains…


What is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

HIIT is structured around periods of unsustainable high intensity cardio activities such as sprinting; followed by recovery periods and/or low cardio intensity activities such as jogging or weight lighting. The peak in heart rate triggers your body to deplete energy stores in the muscles triggering fat metabolism for energy, then lowering the heart rate keeps the body in a fat burning state.   


What are the benefits of HIIT?

  • Weight loss: HIIT encourages fat metabolism during and two hours post exercise making it very effective and time efficient
  • It can increase Muscle growth: There are studies that suggest that incorporating weights into HIIT regimes will increase muscle growth than just doing weights alone.
  • HIIT can increase your oxygen levels: Studies have compared short bursts of 20 minutes of HIIT training with 40 minutes of steady cycling; the results showed the oxygen consumption increase of both cohorts were almost identical.
  • It decreases blood pressure and heart rate: HIIT has shown an effective decrease in blood pressure and heart in obese/ overweight individuals who suffer from pre-existing high blood pressure.
  • It reduces blood sugar levels: HIIT has been found to effectively regulate blood sugar levels due to it nature of depleting muscle glycogen stores and metabolising fat. It also decreases insulin resistance lowering your risk of type two diabetes.

      Example of a simple do it at home HIIT program


Dr Stephanie Norton-Smith

City Osteopathy