Transcript forFive ways: How to relieve stress with Nick Potter, Bakpro
Most of us will admit we don’t move around or exercise enough during the day, especially those who work in sedentary jobs at a computer. Whether slouched at our desks or stooped over our phones, modern life involves an awful lot of hunching, and this, teamed with the stress of long hours, lack of sleep and the constant pressure to perform, means we are particularly prone to suffering from chronic back pain.
Indeed, our desk-bound, technology-dependant lifestyles are becoming such a problem that osteopath Nick Potter – who has his own practice on Harley Street and spends two days a week treating trailblazers at a leading central London hedge fund – would go as far as to say ‘sitting is the new smoking’, and that if you sit for eight hours a day, even if you go for a run in the evening, it doesn’t negate the effects of sitting for a long period. ‘What’s better is to get up 12 times in the day, go around the block and come back again,’ Potter advises.
In the 1980s, Potter was training as a doctor when he incurred a spinal injury playing rugby. It was when he was referred to an osteopath who prevented him needing surgery that Potter became interested in how osteopathy works. ‘I’m fascinated by every part of what makes people tick,’ he says. ‘Not just physically, but psychologically too, and the two are very linked.’
He studied rehabilitation medicine, originally in sport, but rather than work with ‘healthy, fit people who pull muscles’, Potter was more interested in helping ‘co-morbidly damaged’ patients, who weren’t necessarily suffering from a structural disorder, but manifestations of stress – a topic he’s currently writing a book about. ‘People talk about stress a lot, but they don’t really know what it is,’ he says.
‘Stress is anything that promotes a response in somebody, and sometimes we thrive on stress, but often in very high-pressure jobs where your performance never stops, you don’t deal with anxiety and stress because it seems like a weakness, and you bury it in your tissues so it becomes a physical problem. It’s called somatization, and it’s a bad reflection on society, because people who are open and share things manage stress a lot better.’
In response to the recurrent stress-induced pain he observed in people in corporate jobs, Potter began to put together a series of tools and exercises that focus on releasing the spine and working the muscles that shorten when you sit all day. ‘One of my clients suggested I make it into a pack, so I created the Bakpro kit, which is a box of tools specially designed to release pain and tension in your muscles and spine, integrating a mind and body approach.’
The kit consists of five different components, and three key pieces of equipment; a Stim Ball for relieving strain in the hips, pelvis, hands and feet; a Stim Roll you can lie on to massage your glute and back muscles and enhance breathing exercises; and an S-shaped Stim Stick that can reach all the muscles down the back of your neck, shoulder blades and back and release trigger points that are responsible for pain. As well as the tools, users receive access to a mobile website that demonstrates how to do all the training, including breathing exercises to help treat the stress that’s causing the pain.
‘Stress is the biggest driver to illness in the world, and 40-60 per cent of people presenting to a GP have a stress-related disorder,’ explains Potter. ‘Doctors know this, but they only have seven minutes with you, and the quickest and easiest thing is to prescribe a tablet. I’m offering an answer that isn’t drug-related – it’s about recognising what stresses you and understanding it.’
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