March 27, 2012 - Mike Dilke

I recently spoke with Gillian Brown, an osteopath at the Harpenden Osteopathy & Sports Injury clinic. I pretended to be a member of the press and carried out an ‘in depth interview.’ Her thoughts on a healthy lifestyle and practising osteopathy are, I think, relevant to everyone.
Interview with Gillian Brown – an osteopath in Harpenden
Gillian’s route to being an osteopath came via tennis and this is still a big part of her life both professionally and in her leisure. On leaving school she won an American tennis scholarship and studied sport science at Northern Arizona University. Her professional tennis career continued for eight years after university and Gillian was ranked in the top fifteen in the country and won many medals and competitions.
While being in the rarified  atmosphere of professional athletes she developed an interest in injuries and their treatment. Osteopathic treatment for a persistent knee injury lead Gillian to become qualified herself and she now practices in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

Does being an osteopath change the way you play tennis?

I see a lot of sporting injuries that are caused by insufficient warming up and cooling down time before and after exercise. I do this as a matter of course after my time as a professional athlete but seeing my patients suffering from avoidable injuries impresses the importance of this on me -  so I’m always really keen to advise my patients on correct warming up and cooling down routines.

What are the most common injuries that you treat?

With my continued connections to tennis I treat a lot of tennis elbow and other sporting injuries such as, calf strain and Achilles problems associated with runners along with all the normal everyday problems, such as back and neck pain. As I specialise in gait and orthotics and looking at the way people walk I treat a lot of foot related injuries.
 What is apparent is that most chronic injuries are due to an underlying issue or habit that has existed for a long while and it has just been a matter of time before problems are experienced.  The underlying issue could be poor posture, sitting poorly for many hours a day as part of a sedentary lifestyle or being overweight.

How do you approach your diagnosis?

I see my role as a detective to find the root issue of what is causing the problem and treat it. As mentioned chronic conditions are often due to years of neglect and after initial treatment some maintenance is required. This could be more osteopathic treatment and/ or a specific exercise program.
In some instances the root cause can be the foot and I use gait analysis equipment to allow me to prescribe orthotics that correct the foot arch and bio-mechanical problems. I use this approach where appropriate. My interest in this came after personal experience and I still use orthotics in my shoes every day to prevent the foot problem re-occurring.

What do you see as a major future cause of problems for your patients?

With more people choosing to work from home for a day or two a week it is becoming more common to not have a good work set up at home and working on the kitchen table can be the reality for many. This can lead to real problems – possibly not immediately but after some time a chronic condition is likely to ensue. I am very keen to advise my patients on an effective ergonomic set-up and regular exercises and movement to keep the postural muscles strong.

What do you sit on?

I sit on the Back App ergonomic chair which promotes a healthy posture and also ensures movement.

Do you still enjoy your work?

Very much so. I enjoy helping people get to grips with what has sometimes being a long term problem and give them a new lease of life. I have personal experience from being a patient of osteopathy and from beneficial use of orthotics.

Would you recommend someone to become an osteopath if they were considering it as a career?

Certainly I find the profession very rewarding. If anyone considering this as a career option would like to talk with me then please feel free to call on 01582 764361 or send me an email at

Gillian’s practice, the Harpenden Osteopathy & Sports Injury clinic contact details are;
Tel:  01582 764 361/ 07969 138607