In Profile: Claire Cheetham

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Claire Cheetham, along with Vince Cullen, run the Active Health Clinic located on Wigmore Street, just off Marylebone High Street. These two Osteopaths have over 45 years of experience between them in osteopathic health-care and are fully registered with the General Osteopathic Council.

When did you open the clinic?

I started practising from John Bell & Croyden the year after qualifying as an osteopath in 1994, so 20 years now! It sounds awful when I hear myself say it, but the time has flown by (and yes, the police officers do look young now!). During my years here, I’ve had many people consult me at the clinic who both live and/or work in the Marylebone area. It has been a pleasure to get to know so many different individuals from diverse walks of life as well as helping them in their return to health.

What attracted you to set up in the Marylebone area?

I remember coming to Marylebone and falling in love with the quirkiness of it all! The fact that big multinational companies are located in the same vicinity as a tiny ironmongers or shops which only sell buttons or ribbons – it’s a great mix.

Although this area has historically been synonymous with high quality medical care, there were few osteopaths practising here when I first started.  Because of that, establishing my practice was reasonably straightforward, and I was lucky enough to be based in the world renowned pharmacy/healthcare retailer, John Bell & Croyden, which helped my exposure. Setting up a clinic in this area now would be very difficult because of the greater competition involved due to a much increased number of healthcare practitioners of all kinds. I’ve benefited from my long established good reputation, both among Marylebone residents and the people who commute to this area every day.

How have you seen the area change in your time here?

Sadly, some of the smaller businesses have inevitably gone over time, but it’s still an area of great diversity and individuality. Recently, John Bell & Croyden – where my clinic is – underwent a massive refurbishment and changed from having the look and feel of a shop very much resembling ‘Are You Being Served’ to a fantastically modern, state-of-the-art showpiece of health care.  One which still retains the individually focused approach to its customers though, with excellent staff who have a wealth of knowledge.

My clinic too now has a new look and I’m very happy to still be able to provide the same individually centred service to my patients I have always done, but from a much sleeker and professional looking premises. I expanded the clinic, so that now my husband, Vince Cullen – another osteopath with over 25 years of experience – works with me, as well my friend and colleague Mathilde Konczynski, who operates her BodySpheres group of osteopaths/physiotherapists from the Active Health Clinic a couple of days a week.

People seem to have less and less time to look after their personal health – do you have any small tips or changes that could improve our health?

Recently, more and more evidence has come to light about the wide-ranging detrimental effects on our health from spending many hours a day sitting down; even if we make time for exercise outside of work. Our bodies simply aren’t designed to sit all day, we’re designed to be regularly moving around, but sadly sitting has become what most of us do most of the time.

Many people with back/neck problems find it helpful to stand for at least some of the time they are working, rather than sit for many hours.  However, not everyone has the benefit of a sit/stand desk that can be adjusted to the appropriate height. Regularly getting up from the desk and walking to do tasks, going to speak to someone in another office instead of calling or emailing them, standing whilst making phone calls or whilst chatting to colleagues, all add a surprising amount of activity to the day as well helping our muscles to stretch and work, and our circulation to flow.

One more tip is to drink plenty of fluid (non-alcoholic!) to assist the body in balancing its many physiological processes that cope with all the hardship we throw at it, and to prevent dehydration causing widespread effects on the optimum function of the body systems. Even slight dehydration has been found to impair physical and mental performance – and of course, drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluid counters the pain of drinking too much of the alcoholic kind!

I could go on and on here, but the importance of getting regular good quality sleep is frequently overlooked. Increasingly, researchers are finding negative consequences to disrupted sleep, such as raised risks of heart disease, diabetes and mental health issues.

Do you think 9-5 office jobs are to blame for many of your patients?

At the Active Health Clinic, we see people presenting with a wide variety of complaints.  Because we see residents who live in the Marylebone area, as well as those working there, we see all kinds of people – from small babies to the very elderly. However, inevitably a large proportion of our patients are office workers who present with conditions associated with stress, poor work-station ergonomics, and (again!) simply spending too many hours sitting doing the same activity. In addition, they may try and counter this by going to do some form of explosive exercise a few times a week in order to ‘let off steam’; the two extremes can lead to their own problems.  In reality, I know many of my patients would be only too happy doing a 9-5 job – most do much longer hours than this – and sadly, even if you have the best ergonomic work set-up possible, sitting all day at it, especially in a stressful environment, is not going to be best for your health.

Do you spend much time around Marylebone? Any favourites?

I love Marylebone and I often meet friends here after work or for lunch. My favourite lunch-time haunt is the wonderful deli-café, Paul Rothe & Son, on Marylebone Lane. It’s like going back in time to a quirky ‘50s diner (but with much better food!) and it has a huge variety on offer, with any combination seemingly possible.  As well as this, the walls are covered with jars and tins of fabulously original sweets, spreads, biscuits, chocolates and savoury snacks.  It’s fantastic for Christmas presents too, with seasonal munchings from all over Europe, as well as great stocking-fillers for kids. I remember I bought a tin of chocolates there one year, which doubled as a music box. The next year I bought my first tin of chocolate worms! Fabulous!

More info: activehealthclinic.com Phone: 0207 486 8141


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