Tom Smith Osteopathy YorkIf you had asked me when I first left school what I wanted to do when I was older, it certainly was not to be an Osteopath – I didn’t even know what a physiotherapist was, never mind Osteopathy! My parents were in the Army and I wanted to carry on the tradition of joining the armed forces. I was very fit at school, I played rugby, ran cross country and competed at the ISA National School Championships in Athletics and in Cross Country. I even represented Yorkshire at Rugby and went to a North of England Development camp!

I wanted to join the Army as a Physical Training Instructor and join the Army Physical Training core and specialise in remedial and rehabilitation work at the Ministry of Defence Tri-Services Rehabilitation centre Headley Court.

One Door Closes, Another Opens

After a medical in 2003/4 I received a letter saying I could no longer pursue my application due to short sightedness. This led to a rethink in my career. I went to work in Germany as a pool lifeguard for the summer and came back to the UK to study a diploma in Personal Training and Sports Massage Therapy at the Next Generation Health Clubs in York (now David Lloyd). I was very fortunate enough to work for the gym team at Next Generation in 2004, its where my career started. Which I am very grateful for.

I shortly afterwards embarked on a career onboard cruise ships where I worked on the Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas for Steiner. Among personal training I taught an array of classes such as Yoga, pilates, spinning and exercise to music.

The CHEK Institute

It was only when I came back to the UK that I became interested in the work of Paul Chek, who is a holistic health practitioner and Neuromuscular Therapist from California in the US. I contacted a CHEK Practitioner in London called Leigh Brandon at Body Chek, who then was a CHEK Practitioner level 3 (he now teaches for Paul all over the world and co-created a book and course on how to train Tennis players). Leigh was excellent and gave me all the info I needed about Paul and his teachings. I became obsessed! So I started my studies with Paul Chek and later qualified as a CHEK Exercise Coach and Holistic Lifestyle Coach level 1.

Note: In 2016/17 I accepted the role of Clinical Director for The Centre for Whole Health in Lancashire, home of CHEK Europe

Paul Chek

My Fascination Continued…

As I was starting to learn more and more about the body, anatomy, back pain, rehabilitation and sports injuries I started to see more people that I couldn’t help with my skill set. I studied Neuromuscular Therapy and read more about manual therapy, visceral manipulation, cranial osteopathy and musculoskeletal care.

I thought about physiotherapy so I could work in professional sport, during this time I was invited to work for Watford Football Club by Head of Sports Science at the time, Martyn Pert. I took up internships with other physiotherapists and a day at Stanmore Orthopaedic Hospital in Hertfordshire. Physiotherapy was the polar opposite to what I was taught by CHEK Institute and also that of my good friends and mentors Matt Wallden (Osteopath and CHEK Practitioner) and Dr. Adam Greenfield (Chiropractor). I was later presented with the opportunity to study full time as an osteopath in London.

osteopathy degree courseA Career in Osteopathy

I embarked on a Masters of Osteopathy degree at the British College of Osteopathic Medicine in London. I was very excited as the course taught Naturopathy and Neuromuscular therapy techniques which I was familiar with. However, it was the modules in visceral (organs) and cranial osteopathy (skull) that I was interested in the most.

I was fascinated to learn more about how the body was treated in this way and how it was different to the conventional norm. I was amazed as to how the body is interconnected in this way via the fascia and how by correcting imbalances in the cranial bones/fascia and organs can lead to balancing the whole body.

I later realised my fascination was stunted slightly by research, we studied a lot of osteopathy over 4 years. We studied about other medical topics in orthopaedics, diagnosis, clinical medicine, rheumatology, paediatrics, pathology and pharmacology. Of course, your view of the osteopathy changes with how you grow, mature and evolve.

Noah was born in the middle of my 3rd year. It was tough completing my 3rd and 4th year as a new dad, something that took me a long time to recover from doing my final year research, osteopathy clinic and end of year exams. Since Noah was born, I never thought I’d be interested in Paediatric osteopathy, but I am.

I was born very premature as a baby, 23 weeks in fact and had a 50-50% chance of surviving. For me, I would love to work with children who were born premature and who need special care at a special care baby unit so that I can give back and use my skills to help them grow and evolve.

This year I hope to pursue a post graduate diploma with the Osteopathic Centre for Children so that I can learn these skills and maybe one day, open my own osteopathic childrens clinic in York.

What are your dreams? No matter where you are or what you are doing, think big and see where your path will take you.


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