Words from an osteo student: How studying Osteopathy has affected my running

Main image: Holly Dobbyn (in blue) crossing the line first in the 2014 Stawell Gift

Written by Holly Dobbyn – Holly is a 3rd year osteopathy student. Her sprinting achievements include winning the 2014 Stawell Women’s Gift. She is a Ballarat local and occasionally helps us out on reception. 

I began studying Osteopathy in 2015 and am now entering my 3rd year of studies at Victoria University. Having always had a general interest in the Health Science area, Osteopathy was one of few career pathways that truly grabbed my attention and interested me the greatest.

As an athlete, the previous 2 years of study has intentionally and also subconsciously affected the way I interpret my body whilst running. I have become more aware of how my body reacts to different sessions, how I interpret pain and even extends to offering my opinion to injury complaints of other members within my squad.

You could call it a blessing or a curse having expanded my anatomy knowledge of the human body. I have however, become more ‘in tune’ with myself. Having had three fairly significant athletic injuries over the past 3 years in my running career (two hamstring tears, and a stress fracture of the navicular bone in the foot) I have certainly begun to learn when to distinguish the difference between over doing it at training, and pushing through the discomfort of a tough session.

Although it can be difficult to ignore those small ‘niggles’ and the negative thoughts in your head; “This feels the same as when I tore my hamstring last time, maybe I should stop?” I have started to differentiate between these particular concerns in the past year or two. As my understanding of how the body functions from studying theory and practicing at an elite level, I  now naturally think twice about those minor moans and groans, and to particularly pay close attention to when I don’t feel quite right. I also began to appreciate a great deal more of how lucky and fortunate I was, to be able to run injury free.

I have found during my sprinting sessions I’ve become more aware of how important my warm up is. I am constantly paying close attention to my weights training and my progress, as I’ve realised how important prehab and rehab is for my muscles. These are such minor things to the non-athlete, and should be so obvious to many athletes, however can easily be forgotten and disregarded. Osteopathy has made me more aware of the effects of training and time it takes for changes to occur, and to be patient when preparing and waiting for positive results to happen.

Another advantage of having a greater understanding of our body is I get to (or like to perhaps?) give my opinion to others in my squad if they talk to me about a physical complaint! This can sometimes result in me challenging them, as I seem to be more concerned than they are. However, it can also be helpful for them and myself. I’m so interested in what is going on and how I can potentially help them! Of course, I run through all those initial questions. “Where is the pain? How bad is the pain? Does it radiate anywhere? When did the pain begin?” Funnily enough, this is genuinely where my knowledge begins to fizzle out. I’m excellent at taking a history- still working on the diagnosis aspect…I’m sure this will come later!

I feel so grateful that I’m able to study something that enables me to help not only others, but myself in my running endeavours. As each year passes in my course I feel I will become more confident and especially more interested in how much Osteopathy will change the way I run in the future.