So there I was, lying down on the treatment couch being treated by Mr Wernham. John Wernham.
He was about 98 years old at the time. But that wasn’t the amazing fact. The amazing, nay, bewildering fact is that Mr Wernham was one of the first british student of John Martin Littlejohn, the physiologist who brought the wonderment of osteopathy across the oceans, onto british soils in 1913 Further more, JM Littlejohn was trained by Andrew Taylor Still, in Kirksville Missouri in the late 19th century by the father/founder of osteopathy. The school still stands and teaches to this present day.
So Mr Wernham was not a 98 year old osteopath treating me, he was teaching me great principles that most will only ever learn from a book. His style of treatment, his quality of touch, his movement with my body, harnessing my vitality to facilitate my healing, is a finesse experienced by a fortunate few. I’m one of them. For not only was I his patient, but also a student. His one sentence influenced the way I practice, his one sentence made me a better osteopath. ‘Anyone can crack’ he said, ‘but not everyone can stabilise’.
I was there having treatment for my chronic lower back pain, caused by a rotational strain in the sacral iliac joint. Aggravated by training as an osteopath! We don’t half pull each other about when we are learning the art of osteopathy! By that point I had treatment from my peers, and colleagues with only a short term relief. This problem emanated from somewhere deep in my early teens so I never expected a quick fix. What happened to my body under Mr Wernham’s few treatments deserves a blog of its own, which I may write at some point. What echo’ed through my thoughts were his words ‘anyone can crack’.
It is so true! I bet you have a friend who can crack your back, I know I have seen roadside barbers in india cracking their clients necks. My massage lady in dubai attempted to crack my back, I wasn’t expecting it, and it wouldn’t ‘crack’ because she was doing it so dangerously incorrectly I had to pull her up on it! The art really is not in the cracking. Some of my patients crack their own neck’s and I can always tell. The art is in ‘stabilising’. To me that means balancing the mechanics of your spine and body, to allow your centre of gravity to flow as close as possible through the correct apexes of your spine. To ensure you are balanced equally on both feet and well grounded. That no part of your spine is compensating for another vertebrae. The strain in my sacroiliac joint was the result of my poor mechanics in my mid to lower thoracic spine. Years of childhood asthma changed the way I use my diaphragm, the weight of school books, sitting at school desks then eventually having osteopathy students pull me about resulted in compromised mechanics eventually ending up as sacroiliac pain. To ease the pain Mr Wernham had to unravel my spinal history and stabilise my sacrum, only then would I gain some long term relief.
That one sentence, changed the way I look and diagnose then treat your body. I count myself incredibly lucky to have studied under legendary names in osteopathy, and eternally grateful that my education had been supported by some of Mr Wernham’s brilliant students who to this very day nurture my osteopathic education. Any complicated issue I have, I can turn to my mentors by phone. Thank you Chris Batten, Henry Lee and Tim Sparrow. I have been trained by legends in osteopathy.
Thank you for reading!