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The Daily Telegraph

How to give your joints an age test

Last Updated: 12:01am BST /04/2001

MOST of us take our joints for granted until they play up, by which time significant degenerative changes may already have occurred. Many people are unaware of minor losses in mobility, or may just attribute stiffness, aches and pains to the season or the weather.

Osteopath Torben Hersborg has developed a Joint Age Test to assess whether your joints are ageing faster than the rest of you. As most joint problems become worse if not tackled early, take the test to see how you fare.

Add up the points in brackets after the questions to which you answer YES:

  • Do you have quirky sounds from some of your joints? (10)
  • Do your joints ache? (10)
  • Are your joints swollen or have they changed shape? (10)
  • Do you have any old joint injuries? (5)
  • Do you do repetitive work/exercise? (5)
  • Do you have a sedentary job and take no exercise? (5)
  • Does arthritis run in your family? (5)
  • Do you ache more than your peers after exercise? (5)
  • Do your hands, fingers and feet get cold and stiff? (5)
  • Are your joints difficult to straighten? (10)
  • Are you over your perfect weight? (5 for every stone overweight)
  • Are the joints in your big toes painful or stiff? (10)
  • Can you flex one knee more than the other? (5)
  • Are your knees painful if you sit on them? (5)
  • If you sit cross-legged, are you unable to bring your knees close to the floor? 1 fist between floor and knee?/2 fists/3 fists? (5 for each fist)
  • Do you feel a need to stretch your back on a daily basis?/twice a day?/several times a day? (1 per stretch)
  • When standing, are you unable to touch your toes with your knees straight? 2in from toes? /4in?/6in?/8in? (1 for every inch from the feet)
  • Is your neck rotation limited when reversing your car? (5)
  • Are you unable to align your chin and shoulder tip? (5)
  • Are you unable to touch your chest with your chin? (5)
  • Can you bring one arm further up behind your back than the other? 1in?/2in?/3in?/more? (2 per inch)
  • Can you flex one wrist more than the other? (10)
  • Are you unable to flex all your fingers completely? (10)To obtain your joint age scoreAdd the number of points in brackets after the questions to which you answered YES.Subtract your age from the total number of points – this may leave you with a positive or negative score. Halve this figure. If it is a positive score, add it to your age. If it is a negative score, take it off your age to give you the actual age of your joints.Ideally, your joint age should be the same (or younger) than your actual age. This test is intended to create awareness of your joints, as they are important to look after. It should not be taken as giving an exact age or accurate description of the state of your joints. If in doubt about any part of this test, always consult your GP or an osteopath.Ways to improve joint healthWarm up and cool down properly with gentle stretches before taking part in sport.Keep joints warm in cold weather and do daily stretches. Torben suggests the following: Stretch your fingers out completely and then close your hands to make a fist; roll your shoulder blades; turn your head from side to side and swing your arms from side to side; put hands on hips and then move your hips in large circles; sit on the floor and then hold your kneecaps and then move them in circles.Consume essential fatty acids to lubricate synovial joints and for their anti-inflammatory action. Eat oily fish at least twice a week. Supplements containing olive, flaxseed or omega-3 fish oil supplements are beneficial, as is cod liver oil, which contains additional vitamins A and D important for bone health.Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, and consider taking an antioxidant supplement. Vitamin C is both a powerful antioxidant and needed for the production of collagen – a protein found in skin, ligaments, cartilage and other body tissues.Drink at least two litres of fluid per day to maintain good hydration, and a flow of nutrients to the joints.Take glucosamine sulphate, which contains building blocks needed to make synovial fluid (the joint’s oil) more cushioning, and to repair torn cartilage, sprained ligaments or strained tendons.Try Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) and New Zealand green-lipped mussels (Perna canaliculus) – both contain glycoproteins that produce significant reductions in pain and stiffness.
  • Torben Hersborg may be contacted at the Central London Osteopathy and Sports Injury Clinic
  • Torben recommends the Seven Seas combination of glucosamine and omega-3

Commonwealth Games: Thomas applies supreme will:
Independent, 19 09 1998 by Mike Rowbottom in Kuala Lumpur
IF ANYONE even faintly doubted it, they know it now: Iwan Thomas is a championship racer par excellence. The 24-year-old Welshman yesterday added a Commonwealth 400 metres gold medal to the European and World Cup titles he has won in the space of a month, having overcome a back injury, which, he revealed, had left him unable to walk after his second-round heat on Wednesday.
His victory was a blow for his domestic rival Mark Richardson, who had been desperate to make up for his defeat by the Welshman at the European Championships late in July.
Just three days after making the 6,000 miles flight from Johannesburg, the World Cup venue, Thomas completed his trial by ordeal with a time of 44.52 sec as Richardson, teeth clenched with effort, followed him home to take silver in 44.60. It was a demonstration of strength and endurance that was hard to credit. But even the rugged Welshman is human – as it became clear following his win. After his second-round heat a disc in his back began to give him such pain that he was unable to walk properly.
“I was in tears, because I wasn’t going to be able to run,” he said. Then he heard that Torben Hersborg, a Danish osteopath he knew, was in town and he sent out an SOS. “Torben arrived at the athletes’ village at 11 that night, and he was still working on me at four the following morning,” Thomas said. “I felt something go click – and then it was all right.”
Twelve hours later he was chatting his way down the final straight with Welsh team-mate Jamie Baulch to qualify from his semi-final in 44.61. Perhaps, he isn’t human after all.

Jock to crock – and back again

Daily Telegrah  14/08/2006

We’re all encouraged to take up exercise, but few think of the risks, as James Flint discovered to his cost
Are you a weekend warrior? Do you try to keep fit by playing squash once a week? Or by running round a football pitch on Sunday mornings, then sitting at a desk for the rest of the week? Far from staying mobile and healthy, you could end up achieving precisely the opposite effect.

James Flint

Wary warrior: James Flint

I’ve always tried to keep fit. In my 20s, I played shambolic weekend football. Then I turned to jogging for half an hour every couple of days. Gyms and personal trainers were, I thought, for corporate clones. And why would I see a doctor or a physiotherapist? I wasn’t running a marathon. All I was doing was staying in shape.
Then one day, without the slightest warning, both my knees swelled up like balloons. A scan revealed that the slightly idiosyncratic way in which my legs are formed had allowed the combination of exercise and the muscular stress of long hours at my desk to pull my kneecaps out of line. For years, they had been rubbing on the films of cartilage that are supposed to lubricate and protect them, and had eventually worn them out.
Joe Simpson, whose catastrophic sporting injury provided the plot for Touching the Void, his bestselling book and film, could have told me what I was in for.
“Don’t believe the doctors,” he says, “it’s physiotherapists who are the gods.” After he sheared his tibia and rammed it up through his kneecap falling into a crevasse in the Peruvian Andes, surgeons told him he’d never walk without a limp or climb again. But, after several operations and two years of physiotherapy, he has managed both.
In my case, surgery couldn’t help and it took two years of physiotherapy to get me mobile again. Thanks to that – and to taking up yoga – I can now cycle and swim, although running and football are out.
Whereas Simpson’s injury was extremely serious, I had damaged myself by combining relatively mild exercise with desk work. How many other weekend warriors have done the same thing?
Plenty, according to Torben Hersborg of the Central London Osteopathy and Sports Injury Clinic. Hersborg, who is the osteopath for the British modern pentathlon team, says he sees them every day. “People come in with back problems, but eventually tell me they have a long-term knee or hip problem that has stopped them doing sports.”
So common is this that he has started importing electrically-powered height adjustable desks from Denmark that allow users to switch between standing and sitting postures as they work, greatly reducing the strain on their muscles and frame….
…The trouble is, I didn’t know I had such a condition until it was too late. If I’d consulted the likes of Hersborg before I’d started exercising, I might have saved myself much pain and trouble.
As it is, I’m saving up for one of Hersborg’s levitating desks. Ernest Hemingway’s knee problems forced him to write standing up. If it worked for him…
Central London Osteopathy & Sports Injury Clinic (020 7833 5530;



More ways your workout could be damaging your health

by ROSALIND RYAN, 28th February 2002

Regular exercise should give you firmer muscles and boost your immune system. But it can also have a negative effect on your health. We tell you how.
Swimming incorrectly
Swimming is generally recommended as a good all-round aerobic exercise that relieves the impact on the joints associated with other aerobic activities such as jogging.
But swimming incorrectly can increase any problems you do have with your joints, particularly in the back, neck and shoulders.
‘Breaststroke is the worst one as it forces your head out of the water to breathe,’ says osteopath Torben Hersborg. ‘This then forces the joints in your upper back and neck into extension, causing pain.’
Breaststroke also makes your lower back to sag as it forces the vertebrae to push against one another. For people already suffering from lower back pain, this can be agony after a session in the swimming pool.
A better stroke to use when swimming is the front crawl. Mr Hersborg explains, ‘This is because you are swimming in a straighter line and turning your head to the side to breathe rather than lifting your head up.’
If you want to keep using breaststroke, try wearing goggles while you swim. This means you will keep your head under the water for longer periods of time, minimising the damage to your neck and shoulders. …

If you feel your weights are too heavy, or not working your muscles hard enough, this could be down to poor technique rather than the wrong weights.
Osteopath Torben Hersborg says, ‘Joint problems are partly caused by using bad weights, but partly down to poor technique. This is why it is imperative to be assessed to see how you are using the weights.’


Healing With Magnetic Therapy by Sarah Brewer
Publisher: D. Jay Ltd (15 Sep 2001)
In her latest book, Healing with Magnetic Therapy, Dr Sarah Brewer, Health Journalist of the Year 2002, profiles the many uses of magnetic therapy in treating a broad range of common complaints. These include Arthritis.Menstrual pain.Jet lag.Travel sickness.Tension headaches.Sports injuries.Insomnia.RSI. The foreword is written by Danish-born osteopath Torben Hersborg, therapist to many top athletes, including Modern Pentathletics gold medalist, Dr Stephanie Cook.
“I came across magnetic therapy about 10 years ago when I had a jogging related injury,”said Dr Brewer. “A friend suggested I try it and I was impressed with its rapid effects.” Dr Brewer says magnetic therapy is 85% more effective at relieving pain than many drugs:”It can be used to treat many different conditions, including backache, fracture pain, migraine, toothache and tension headaches



“Sitting at your desk is a killer”

By OLIVER STALLWOOD – Monday, March 12, 2007

Office workers who spend hours at their desks are at a greater risk from deadly blood clots than long-distance air travellers, a new study has shown.
One in three patients admitted to hospital with signs of deep vein thrombosis had been seated at work for long periods before they became ill.
Just one in 70 had recently travelled on long-haul flights, researchers found.
Prof Richard Beasley, who led the study, said: ‘Being seated for long periods of time … the risk is certainly there. There are considerably more people who are seated for long periods at work as part of their normal day than there are travelling.’
In deep-vein thrombosis – or DVT – a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the legs. It can be fatal if part of the clot breaks off and blocks a blood vessel in the lungs.
It has been estimated that more than 60,000 deaths are caused every year in Britain by pulmonary embolisms.
The worst affected were IT and call centre workers, the latest study, carried out in New Zealand, showed.
It also unearthed evidence of a long hours culture, with some patients reporting they had been seated at their desks for up to 14 hours a day.
Dr Beverley Hunt, of thrombosis charity Lifeblood, said the threat to office workers was greater than many realised.
‘It is sensible, if we are sitting for long periods of time, to get up, walk around and start moving our legs,’ she added.
But Dr Ali Khan, a DVT expert from the Oxford Haemophilia Centre and Thrombosis Unit, said: ‘I find it hard to think of anyone being restricted in an office for more than six hours without being able to move around.’

Your views
Readers have commented on this story so far. Tell us what you think below!
THE ANSWER IS TO STAND UP FREQUENTLY, both to reduce the DVT risk and to help your back, which is not designed to sit in one posture the whole day.
It is possible to do this WITH AN ELECTRIC DESK, which moves up and down, so you literally sit for 1/2 hour at the time and stand up in between, still able to work in comfort, as the desk moves really high up.
I have seen a lot of good results amongst patients of mine, who I have imported these desks for.
There are different suppliers, but prices vary a lot.
Good luck, yours Torben
– Torben Hersborg, registered osteopath, London

>See this link for ergonomic sitting
From a forum:
Posted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 7:29    Post subject: Can anyone recommend an osteopath in the Putney Area?
Having a few problems with my back, wondered if anyone had used an osteopath from around putney.
ta, Wayne

Posted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:26:
I go to see Torben Hersborg, who’s based in either Kings Cross or Old Street.
He’s well worth the trip. He changed my life, no exaggeration. I could hardly walk let alone cycle a few years ago, after all kinds of treatment.
He treats the British Olympic Team, if that helps persuade you?!
020 7739 5666


I work in an office & sit at a desk for a while at a time but I always make sure I take breaks & get up to walk around every half hour or so – its common sense to take breaks really! COME ON PEOPLE USE YOUR NOGGINS!!
– Gina, St George, Bristol


Happy Customers | Their Testimonials

Physio Treatment by Ange

During my business trip to London, I twisted my back and was in pain. I found Central London Osteopathy and got an appointment just a couple of hours later. I was referred to Ange who treated me very professionally in such a way that may back was much better after the session. He has a very good understanding of the body and knew exactly what to do. I definitively can recommend Ange and the osteopathy

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Chronic Pains

Outstanding clinic. I have been seeing Torben and Stephanie for 18+ months. Their combined expertise helped me overcome a long-term back/hip issue, and uncovered the source of the problem almost immediately after more than 10 years of seeking treatment elsewhere. On-going treatment with Stephanie has been an absolute game-changer, and has allowed me to get back into weight training pain free. Can not recommend highly enough!

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Amazing team, very very good at sports or pain relief both for massages and osteopathy. i wont go anywhere else

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Anna Friel Recommends

"The only man who touches my back (when there are problems) is Torben. He is THE BEST. When I was told my back would take 2 weeks to fix - Torben had me on my feet in 2 days.

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Back and Neck Injury

Just came back from a treatment at Central London Osteopathy this morning... yet AGAIN they've taken me from zero mobility to completely normal... I can't recommend this clinic more....C.L.O. is a life saver!

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Emergency Treatment

The best clinic in London- I wouldn’t put my trust anywhere else. Whatever back problem you have - it’s always fixed and whenever it’s an emergency they do their best to fit you in ASAP. Excellent service from start to finish.

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BACK PAIN STOPS HERE....Trusted by Olympic Champions.....Established 1991....Open 7 days/week....Emergency slots available...

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