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

Dr Clair Hurst, osteopath is back at City Osteopathy!

Dr Clair Hurst, osteopath is back working at City Osteopathy! Clair has spent the past 6 months travelling in Europe, in particular spending a lot of time walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

We are so happy to have her back…:)) Clair will also recommence her pilates practice in our Queen st studio, those who have seen her know she has an amazing zest for life, pilates, osteopathy and health! Clair is a wonderful practitioner, come in and reconnect with her, you wont be disappointed.

You’re giving me a headache!


Headaches, we all have had one at some point; but did you know there are different types? As an Osteopath I treat headaches daily and in this blog I’ll explain a few of the different types, handy tips on avoiding getting certain headaches and how our Melbourne Osteopaths can help you.

Types? I thought a headache was a headache.

This is a misconception, a headache can vary in presentation depending on the cause and type. The main types I’ll be discussing are Cervicogenic Headaches, Tension Headaches and Migraines.

Cervicogenic Headaches: These headaches are very common and are caused by tension or tightness in the neck muscles. The tightness in the neck muscles can begin at the base of the neck and shoulders and can travel up to the base of the skull. The headache presents in a ‘rams horn’ distribution starting at the base of the skull and can curl around the sides of the skull to behind the eyes. The headache can feel like a throbbing or constant ache and relief is felt when the neck is stretched.

Osteopathic treatment: This is the most common headache Osteopaths treat, after appropriate assessments an Osteopath can use safe manual therapy techniques to loosen of problematic muscles, release the joints of the neck and balance the skull to decrease tension.

Tension Headache: These headaches are caused by primarily by stress. Stressors include: lack of sleep, emotional stress, mental health stress, and poor diet. They present as tenderness and tightness in a ‘visor’ like distribution around the front of the head. These headaches can come on suddenly and last for 30 mins to several hours with little relieving factors.

Osteopathic treatment: These headaches are tricky as it’s not easy to tell a suffer to stop stressing; but the good news is Osteopaths are holistic, we are trained to educate suffers on how to avoid the triggers in systematic and rational ways. Such ways include having a sleep routine before bed, hydrating well throughout the day and performing Osteopathic manual techniques that calm down nervous system to provide an opportunity for the body to restore its normal function.  

Migraines: These headaches are characteristically different to the any other. These headaches can begin with an aura or sensory disturbances lasting 5-60 minutes, about 1 in 3 migraine sufferers will experience this. These include: seeing lights and colours, photosensitivity, feelings of dizziness and nausea, confusion and decreased ability to speak. A migraine presents as constant and intense throbbing on one side of the head and can last up to three days. It’s a life long condition that has no cure.

Osteopathic treatment: It’s important for Osteopaths to diagnose the trigger to migraines, they can be stress and anxiety, hormonal imbalances, foods and medications, bright lights and loud noises. Further testing and liaison with your GP might be appropriate to ensure nothing else is causing the migraine. Osteopaths can perform gentle and safe manual therapy to try and balance the tension in your body, this may reduce the frequency of attacks.

Our Melbourne Osteopaths at City Osteopathy are experienced with headache sufferers. We perform the appropriate orthopedic testing and take a thorough history to ensure you are diagnosed correctly. Don’t hesitate to book in today and get the relief you deserve.

Dr Stephanie Norton-Smith  

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

Osteopathy can help manage your reflux


GORD (Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease) is the medical term used to describe reflux and heart burn. It’s an excessive production of stomach acid that can creep up and irritate the Oesophageal lining, producing a distinct burning sensation in the chest and throat. It’s very common, 80% of the population will suffer from it at some point in their life; so if not yourself chances are there are people you know who may suffer from this irritating illness.

What causes GORD?

The most common cause of GORD is due to the weakening of a ring of muscle called the Lower Oesophageal Spincter (LOS). The LOS is located between the stomach and Oesophagus and its primary roles are to relax to allow food into the stomach; and to contract when no food is passing through, this incases in the stomach acid within the stomach. When the LOS is weakened it allows stomach acid and/ or food to back track up the oesophagus causing inflammation and damage. 

Common causes of LOS weakening include:

  • Being Obese and/ or overweight
  • Fatty foods due to prolonged acid requirement to digest
  • Substances that relax the LOS; such as tobacco, alcohol, caffeine and chocolate
  • Pregnancy due to hormones that relax the LOS and compression of the stomach in later stages
  • A hiatus hernia, this is a portion of your stomach that pushes up through your diaphragm creating a pocket of unused stomach
  • Helicobactor Pylori, a bacteria that causes stomach ulcers
  • People who suffer from stress

How is GORD treated?

GORD is usually very treatable once the cause is diagnosed. Your General Practitioner may order a series of blood tests, breath tests and scopes to diagnose your cause. Depending on the cause the solution could be as simple as a change in diet, cessation of smoking and weight loss. More complicated reasons may require medication and surgical intervention.

How can Osteopathy assist management?

In conjunction with your doctor’s recommendations Osteopathic manual therapy can help release any postural tension that can be contributing to compression of the stomach and surrounding soft tissue structures.  This could mean loosening off your diaphragm muscle, loosening off  both the upper abdominal muscles and intercostal muscles, and improving function and movement of your thoracic spine.  We can also give advice on natural remedies that may help this issue, give you exercises, evaluate your breathing technique and improve this and discuss your diet.

At City Osteopathy our Osteopaths Melbourne use safe and effective techniques that can help decrease the severity of your symptoms. We can give you advice about ways to manage your posture and stress to help relieve digestive issues. Book in with our informative Osteopaths today!


Dr Stephanie Norton-Smith

5 Health Benefits of Coconuts!

Five Health Benefits of Coconuts!

1. Reducing belly fat. Fat in the abdominal cavity and around organs seems to reduce with eating cocounts. This is the most dangerous fat of all and is highly associated with many chronic Western diseases. Waist circumference is easily measured and is a great marker for the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity.

2. Reduces your appetite. One interesting feature of the fatty acids in coconut oil is that they can reduce your hunger. This may be related to the way the fats are metabolized, because ketones can have an appetite reducing effect.

3. Coconut oil contains natural saturated fats that increase the good HDL cholesterol in your body. They may also help turn the bad LDL cholesterol into a less harmful form. By increasing HDL, many experts believe that coconut oil could be good for heart health compared to some other fats.

4. May protect skin, hair and dental health. Many people are using it for cosmetic purposes and to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair. Studies on individuals with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture content of the skin. It can also reduce symptoms of eczema. Coconut oil can also be protective against hair damage and another application is using it like mouthwash in a process called oil pulling, which can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth.

5. Populations that eat a lot of coconut can live a long time! like the Tokelauans, who live in the South Pacific!

Dr Shane Heslop.  Melbourne Osteopath.

City Osteopathy