Alison’s approach to osteopathy is to tailor the treatment based on patient needs, clinical experience and the presenting condition. Treatment includes muscle and joint release modalities. I recently caught up with Alison and had a great treatment!
Tell us about yourself
In 1987 I graduated from Osteopathy in London and worked in South West England for 3 years. In 1998, I completed a postgraduate certificate in Traditional Chinese Medicine, including herbs and acupuncture, for musculoskeletal disorders.
In 1990, I came to Australia from England with a return ticket that I didn’t end up using for 4 years! I set up my practice in Sydney’s Inner West in 1991 and haven’t looked back. I really enjoy doing what I do and treating people.
I am a mum to two teenage girls who are schooled in the Inner West and in my spare time I am a keen dragon boater, outrigger, and I compete in both disciplines. My favourite type of yoga is Vinyasa yet if I’m feeling lazy I prefer Yin.
Which treatments do you specialise in?
When I first came to Australia I was quite baffled that there was no culture for treating pregnant or post partum women. People seemed quite fearful of it. I really enjoyed building up my business by being proactive and helping people understand that it was a very good thing to have during pregnancy and afterwards. Having said that I do enjoy treating anyone that comes through the door – it challenges me, offers variety, and keeps my interest piqued. I enjoy treating occupational overuse and RSI problems as well as breathing and voice problems including voice projection. I really enjoy treating necks and backs, which make up the mainstay of my practice.
What can someone expect from a treatment with you?
We, as osteopaths, not only treat people but we diagnose and initially there is pretty extensive clinical note taking covering past medical issues and the current problem that the person is presenting. During the examination I talk through the treatment to help put the person at ease and discuss everything that I feel is a good idea prior to doing it. The person is party to the treatment and not left lying there wondering what is happening next.
If I can’t come up with diagnosis I come up with a good working hypothesis and emphasise self-help, self-care and self-management so that they are not reliant on the treatment to keep them feeling comfortable. Or if a practitioner in another discipline is better suited I will refer them on.
Which locations do you work out of?
Although I am ‘Rozelle Osteopaths’ – I am based predominately in Leichhardt at 73 Foster Street and work Wednesdays at Rozelle Total Health, Darling St Rozelle.
What is the most impressive change or adjustment you have you been able to make for someone?
There are several that spring to mind. Many years ago a little boy of about 4 years came in because his mother was worried he walked crookedly. Their GP had looked at him and had decided he had cerebral palsy and the mother was trying to adjust to that. However, immediately I could see that he was born with one leg shorter than the other and had a few back issues as a result. I treated him and gave him a heel lift and in no time was he running and walking straight and he didn’t have to hold onto his mum constantly to stop him from falling over.
In another case there was an adopted little girl having multiple seizures throughout the day. The mother was a ballet dancer who felt that helping to keep the body aligned meant the less strained and tense it would be. With less stress on the brain it could lead to less discomfort or pain. She wanted to see if the osteopathic treatment it would make any difference to her daughter. The daughter had mild cerebral palsy and epilepsy and after treatment had started her mother reported that the seizures went from 8 per day to a few per week. Her mother attributed that to the treatment.
I also treated a 68 year old who had been in a horrific airplane accident and was the sole survivor. I treated him for 16 years every 2-3 weeks and he was scanned every 3 years. The degeneration of his back didn’t change in the whole 16 years I treated him as it kept everything in a good stable position and kept his pain at a minimum. He had good life quality through to his 80’s as a result.
Which exercises do you believe are the best for body health and unity?
Well it’s different horses for different courses, though having said that I am a fan of Pilates and Yoga. I have found for people with chronic low back pain, the best management of this is swimming because it’s bilateral, symmetrical, non-weight bearing, and strengthening.
Generally, if you are moving it is good. If you are one of those people who finds it hard to get the discipline and self-motivation then join a sport or a team to help keep you motivated and interested.
You also practice Chinese traditional medicine – why do you see that as a good accompaniment to your osteopathic work?
I find that when I combine the treatments one plus one equals three – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Particularly in acute or sub-acute issues I find the use of needling techniques combined with osteopathy gets a much quicker result than simple needling or osteopathy on its own. Also the more chronic conditions will address the deficiency and underlying constitutional state in the person, which can inhibit the body from repairing itself under its own steam.
Do you have any sporting achievements you’d like to share?
I have competed in Australia in Dragon Boat regattas for the past 6 years, and for the past 4 years outrigging which is a Polynesian type of canoeing. I have also competed in single person outrigger canoe races in both ocean and harbour. I train in the Harbour, Middle Harbour, and Pittwater.
If that hasn’t taken me enough out of my comfort zone – training at 5:30am in the dark in the middle of the ocean has removed whatever is left of it! It is a very different creature than paddling in the day. I was paddling to South Head the other day and thought “what am I doing?” It was 6am, it was dark, I couldn’t see and thoughts like “what if I fall in, what do I do next and what about sharks?” were running through my head!
I do it so that I can gloat to my children – it annoys them! I come back with medals and trophies and it annoys them that I compete successfully. They like to be the ones to tell me about their soccer, volleyball, netball and basketball medals and trophies. My husband also has medals from running so we’re a bit of a competitive family in that way.
Advice for mums wanting to start their own business?
It’s a great thing to do and you can mould it to the contours of your family life. It offers great flexibility if your children are sick, you need to attend parent teach meetings, school holidays and for your own personal needs. I for one choose to start some days really early so that I can take an early lunch break to do sport or exercise, shopping or cleaning. Or sometimes I start later. I can block off times ahead and it is ok.
If you are interested in osteopathy, I can’t champion it enough. You can move it around and project how your weeks will be and you can change it to seasons. With any business, find something that has limited overheads and where people pay as they come vs. building up accounts.
I am the happiest when?
Sitting out on the ocean in my canoe I feel happy and rested. I am also happiest when I am going out with my 2 teenagers, that is, when they can be seen in public with me! I get a good douse of happiness meeting the people coming through my front door especially those that I have been treating for so long as we just natter away while I treat them so it doesn’t feel like work. I have a business where people come back and see me and it benefits them. It makes up a genuinely good part of my life. I have true passion for what I do.
Favourite spots in the Inner West?
People and dog watching at Café Bones is an absolute favourite one for me. I also love the Sunday markets at Marrickville and have been going to Orange Grove markets ever since it started, around 18-19 years now. I also love Callan Park for a good walk.
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