Feet First Approach is ‘Key’ to Back Pain

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The feet of a local physiotherapist could hold the secret to solving the chronic and often debilitating pain of back ache for many sufferers throughout Northern Ireland.

Julia Webster, who has just opened a unique treatment centre in Holywood, was the fifth physiotherapist in the UK to be accredited and fully trained in the Sarah Key Method – in which she uses her feet to mobilise the various joints of the body, offering long term relief to many suffers.

“Treading Lightly" is the ‘key’ to back pain relief: Julia Webster who is one of the few physiotherapists in the UK to be fully trained and accredited in the Sarah Key Method demonstrates the renowned pain-solving technique on Irish rugby legend, Willie Anderson.

The specialised treatment has been developed over the last 30 years by Australian physiotherapist Sarah Key who, by using her feet to dig deep into stubborn tissue, has today established a worldwide reputation for success.  She is also renowned for treating the collective back problems of the British Royal family, and in particular for helping to relieve back pain suffered by Prince Charles who is one of her staunchest supporters.

Local physio, Julia Webster first became aware of the Sarah Key Method in 2006 and after much research, decided to follow the extensive training, examination and accreditation process. Faced with an expanding patient list, Julia then decided to open a dedicated treatment centre in Holywood – North Down Physio and Sports Injury Clinic – from where she now treats sufferers from throughout Ireland.

According to Julia, who has over 13 years’ experience as a qualified physiotherapist including working in a private clinic in New Zealand and with the hugely successful Ballynahinch Rugby Club, the secret lies not only in the foot action, but in the holistic approach to treatment:

My decision to open my own practice stemmed from my training, my experiences in New Zealand, and my desire to help people tackle their pain in a way in which I totally believe and which I know will work.  The Sarah Key Method is based on the five stages of spinal breakdown and through a detailed history taking combined with my palpation skills, I’m able to diagnose and develop a ‘bespoke’ treatment for each patient. For example I use the heel of my foot, applying different pressures in different directions to free up stiff links in the spinal chain and to work straight to the nub of the pain.

Particularly effective in the treatment of chronic and acute back pain, Julia also uses the Sarah Key Method to help sufferers of sciatica, thoracic spine and rib dysfunction.  It also complements her other physiotherapy skills in the treatment of neck pain, hamstring, calf strains and shoulder problems.

My job is all about solving problems, treating pain and offering relief to sufferers. I’m also a great advocate of patient education and place a lot of emphasis on explaining my diagnosis, why the pain has occurred in the first place, and how they can aim for better spinal health in the long term. My success is most accurately measured when each patient’s pain is managed and they no longer need my services.

In addition to physiotherapy Julia and her team of professionals also offer sports massage, acupuncture, tailored rehab programmes and podiatry services, personal training, nutritional advice and reflexology. Her patient list includes people from all backgrounds and walks of life – with many developing back pain as a result of a sedentary lifestyle and long hours working on computers.

According to rugby legend and ex-Irish international, Willie Anderson, the Sarah Key Method has brought much relief after years of sporting injuries: “I definitely see enormous potential for this unique form of treatment. On a personal level it has brought me immediate relief and  I totally appreciate the time Julia invests in helping me understand the treatment – after years of working with many physios, her level of understanding is very reassuring.”

While it many look far removed from the traditional ‘hands on’ style of physiotherapy it is vital to be treated by one of the few professional who are fully trained and accredited in the Sarah Key Method (APSKM). Anyone interested in finding out more should contact Julia Webster at North Down Physio and Sports Injury Clinic in Holywood on 028 9042 5517 or on www.northdownphysio.com