This month, Kieran Lowe, who has been working in healthcare for 14 years, supporting elite and amateur level athletes as an Osteopath and sports rehabilitator talks to His & Hers about setting up his own business and shares some simple tips for looking after our bodies and recovering from pain or injuries.
What motivated you to set up your company?
I have been lucky to work with many experts in their field and have gained valuable experience from their approaches to pain and injury. E.g. Dr Rajat Chauhan – A leader in Sports Medicine now based in Delhi; he has an article in the Times of India and works closely with India’s national cricket and running teams. I knew early into my Osteopathy studies that I wanted to start my own business, my father ran his own carpentry business for many years and I was excited about having a business of my own. I want all ranges of people to be able to access Osteopathy; especially those who may not have the means to access what can be an expensive journey back to health.
With up to 80% of workers reportedly suffering with back problems at some time in their lives, do you think we’re starting to take looking after our spines more seriously these days?
There is a growing awareness of workplace risk of injuries, with back and neck pain being the highest. I feel the focus is shifting from buying fancy chairs and sit/standing desks to understanding why everyone in the workplace isn’t suffering from pain at the same time. Now we’re asking what are the factors that bring on pain, rather than trying to fight the symptoms when we’re doubled over at our desk. More people are taking steps to strengthen and stretch their bodies through going to the gym and to lunch time yoga and Pilates classes. The trick is knowing what will help and what won’t.
Having worked with both elite and amateur athletes over the years, are there any strategies that professional athletes use to prevent and manage pain which we could all make use of?
Yes, I have been very lucky to have worked with top athletes from all over the world; tennis, golf, athletics, ultra running. One of the main differences you can spot in amateur and elite athletes is their approach to strengthening, stretching and sports specific exercises. They all have a routine set up around their work, or if they’re lucky enough to be funded planned out throughout the day. This focus and diligence is what sets them aside from the rest. I see too many people struggling to balance their work, training and social life and typically skipping moving their exercises and stretches down the list of importance. Professional athletes’ exercise programmes are reviewed by their coach and medical team regularly as their training evolves and develops. Best advice: start small and set up regular sessions to improve on your weaker points around your week. Once you can keep this going for 3 months then start adding more as needed.
What were the biggest challenges during the early days of your business?
The biggest challenge was people knowing who your are. Starting a business in London, there are many voices shouting about their services and how they’re the best. I decided to explore sports and teams who could use my help. I have played football for over 20 years at a semi-professional and amateur level, but I knew this world wasn’t for me. I wanted to work with more niche sports, with fewer voices to shout against.
How did you identify a gap in the market for your services?
I came across Roller Derby during my studies and realised very quickly that not only is it one of the best hidden gems in sport, but they had very little support with pain and injury. In the space of 5 years I have become the only Osteopath in London who specialises in Roller Derby and I am now know across the country at the major tournaments and events. My clinics are never short of roller skate laden people with injuries!
Do you think we’re beginning to take a more holistic approach to health and fitness in the UK?
Yes, the mindset of the public is changing, and people are exploring other options for managing aches and pain. As an Osteopath I regularly meet with patients who have sought help from GPs or Physios and have left looking for a different approach or feeling unsatisfied. Not to say their services are poor, but perhaps not what the patient is looking for. With the awareness of Osteopaths improving daily, patients are experiencing a broader approach to managing pain. Holistic is a word I struggle with, however Osteopaths do look more holistically at a patient’s history and presentation in an effort to understand why pain has occurred rather than treating the symptoms.
Do you have any advice for readers who’d like to set up their own businesses?
I was taught how to be an Osteopath, not a business leader! I knew it would be hard and it is, but not without its reward. The best bit of advice I can offer is to ask and get help with what you don’t know. When starting off your role is far beyond treating patients. You are the marketing manager, HR, Social Media guru, Receptionist etc… Be great at what you do and what you enjoy. Outsource the rest! Enlist friends, family and then professionals who cost more.
Which factors do you think have been key to Just One Body’s success?
I have focused my efforts in the early stages on creating partnerships with sports teams and local businesses. Like with any partnership, taking the time to develop an understanding of each other is important. Sharing contact details and popping in from time to time won’t cut it. We work with a range of different sports teams, particularly roller derby and ultra marathon running. We have established ourselves as the number one clinic for Roller Derby and with this have great success working with their teams track side and in our clinics.
Please tell His & Hers about your career highlights to date:
I’m lucky to thoroughly enjoy my job. Day to day care and support for patient is why I do what I do. The icing on the cake moments have been working with people on the world stage. Being at the Roller Derby World Cup working with all the major teams was just incredible. Also, being in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan with Ultra-X and some of the best ultra marathon runners in the world will always be a great achievement.
What does a ‘typical day’ involve for you?
Work, work, work… tongue in cheek but yes, that’s it! If I’m not with patients, I’m developing the business and checking in on patients. I’m not in the same clinic each day, which gives me the opportunity to work with a wide range of people from office workers to climbers. I enjoy the variety which helps keep me motivated to keep moving forward.
What are your plans for Just One Body over the coming months?
There is loads going on at the moment, which is great! We are going out to work in Sri Lanka with Ultra X in April. There are 60 runners we’re looking after for 250 km over 5 days. Our job is to get everyone to the finish line each day… and I can’t wait! We also have a couple of smaller projects where we are looking to expand our services to in-work support. Linking up with Occupational Health in small to medium business offering Osteopathy as a front line solution to work based pain. This is a very exciting angle to take Osteopathy towards national business to business workforce support.
If you could give His & Hers readers just one tip for looking after their bodies better, what would it be?
My best tip is to keep moving. Motion is the best lotion, unless it creates pain. Then come see us. Variety of movement is the trick. It’s too easy to move the same way each day, which can cause problems of overuse and other areas becoming tight and stiff.