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Unveiling The Holistic Approach To Health – Exclusive Interview With Edward Paget

Edward Paget is an osteopath, writer, and creator of the Scoliosis Correction Protocol. With over 18 years of experience, Ed has developed a unique system of assessments and treatments, aiming to uncover the root causes of illness or injury. His expertise led him to work with the Canadian National Speed Skating team and as part of Team Canada's medical contingent at the Winter Olympics. Ed's approach focuses on quality of movement, addressing diet, stress, sleep, and mindset, all aspects of lifestyle medicine... He holds degrees in Exercise and Sports Science and Osteopathy, along with certifications in Applied Functional Science, Performance Coaching and more.


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Edward Paget, Osteopath


Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.


I discovered our healing potential when studying exercise science, personal training, and osteopaths back in the UK in the mid-2000s. I unearthed everything needed to be healthy, yet I felt the environment of the UK was holding me back. The pub culture, the polluted air, and the poor diet of the Londoner’s lifestyle made it hard to live optimally. My father died in his sixties from liver cancer; my mother is type II diabetic and I didn’t want the same things to happen to me. In 2007 I had the opportunity to move to Canada to embrace a healthier lifestyle and I took it. 

 

Could you share more about your journey and what led you to become a multifaceted health professional specializing in osteopathy, writing, and creating innovative protocols for conditions like scoliosis and back pain?

 

Moving to Canada was amazing, weekends were filled with skiing or hiking in the Rockies. But after 10 years, like many middle-aged men, I had lost my way. I was working crazy hours running one of the largest osteopathy clinics in Canada, raising two kids and my health was again suffering. When I would treat patients I would tell them to slow down and reduce stress as it would help them recover from their illness or injury. But I wasn’t listening to my own advice. I had become an unhealthy “health practitioner”. Eventually, the hypocrisy had to stop.


I sold the clinic, sold my house and everything I owned, and moved to Central America to take a sabbatical, teach the kids Spanish, and reconnect to health.

 

This allowed me to develop the concept of “Your Lifestyle Is Your Medicine”.

 

However, I had a challenge, I was used to seeing patients in person but now I could only consult with people online. This made me pivot and create a course for a very underserved demographic; adults with back pain and scoliosis. I chose to work with these people because of something I noticed in my clinic in Canada. The scoliosis clients who did their exercises had better outcomes than the clients who just came to see more for passive hands-on treatment. Over time I’d filmed so many of these exercises it was easier to put them into a logical, step-by-step, sequence and then give that to my clients to have them follow, this was the genesis of using a person’s “lifestyle as medicine”. 

 

Your approach to wellness emphasizes lifestyle medicine and understanding the root causes of illness or injury. How do you integrate diverse assessments and treatments both online and in-person to achieve this goal?


Yes, the shift from in-person treatments to online did take some adjustment. I’m a big believer in coaching and I quickly decided I needed to take some extra training in this area. I worked with a company out of Finland called Hintsa. They had been working in the high-pressure environment of Formula 1 racing for years and had learned how to help drivers reach and sustain high performance, mentally and physically for years. They took what they learned there and applied it to health coaching for executives. As I trained with them I learned how to ask the right questions, repackage what was already in my osteopathic brain, and apply it to online consultations and courses. 

 

Working with elite athletes and being a part of Team Canada's medical contingent at the Sochi Olympics is quite impressive. How do you adapt your methodologies to cater to the unique needs of athletes compared to the general population?


On most levels athletes aren’t much different from the general population, they get injured, they get sick, and they have doubts and insecurities just like everyone else. But where they differ is in their physical and mental performance. My approach has always been as holistic as possible. Helping athletes seek good nutritional advice, practice good sleep protocols, and regularly consult with the team psychologist but my specific area was focusing on biomechanics and injury recovery. This is where we had to be creative. 


These athletes would move so well that it was almost impossible to see deficits as we do with the general population. But when athletes are performing at the limit of human capabilities everything needs to be perfect, myself and the other therapists needed to be able to spot any compensations early, before they became a problem. This involved creating entirely new movement screens based on each athlete’s sport. Meaning we had to make the tests as functional as possible. In practical terms, we ended up testing the athletes in almost the same positions that they would be in for their sports. This allowed us to see glitches in movements and apply early interventions, which could have been therapy, stretching, strengthening, or technique improvement. 

 

Your methodology focuses on movement patterns, lifestyle factors, and emotional well-being to achieve lasting health. Can you provide examples of how you delve beyond surface symptoms to address underlying causes and promote sustainable healing?

 

Yes, in the UK osteopaths are trained as primary health care providers. This means that anyone can self-refer to see an osteopath so our ability to spot something that could be life-threatening or that needs a referral is key.


For example, if someone comes to see me with back pain I’ll ask a series of screening questions to see if the pain is coming from growth on or around the spine (a neoplasm), a referred pain from some sort of kidney dysfunction, a disc herniation or most commonly mechanical back pain. Once I’ve established the client or patient doesn’t need to be referred I start to ask wider questions about their body and lifestyle. For example, I recently consulted with a busy executive who had a stressful, desk-based job. He had a long history of back pain and noticed it would get worse with stress. He had tried everything for a quick fix and was now looking for a longer-term approach. We started with some gentle spinal exercises but also looked at his sleep habits. Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night and he was regularly getting just 5 and a half during the week and then trying to catch up at weekends. Not sleeping enough has been linked with a host of poor cognitive and health outcomes and I’ve noticed ‘binge’ sleeping can make back pain worse by possibly over-stretching spinal ligaments. Next, we looked at stress management, which for him was a glass of beer in the evening.


Although it may help people unwind, habitually drinking alcohol can increase weight, disrupt sleep, increase blood sugar levels, and so on. An alternative is an evening walk or even some meditation that will help prepare him for sleep.


We also delved into his “Why”


Why did he want to get better? Was it simply so he could be out of pain or was it something else, something bigger?


Having a reason for getting out of pain, losing weight, and getting fitter is key. The bigger the reason the better!


We peeled back the layers, which can take time, and uncovered that if he was out of pain he would be less irritable at home and at work. Being less irritable would allow him to work better and therefore get a larger bonus. With this bonus, he was planning on buying another house which would allow him to have another source of income and retire earlier.


Having him focus on retiring early made it easier for him to shift some of his poor habits and change his life to be more healthy. 

 

With a diverse array of certifications and additional training, you possess a comprehensive skill set. How do you tailor solutions for your clients that encompass various aspects of wellness, such as movement re-education, manual therapy, and lifestyle optimization?


Having a diverse skill set allows me to tailor treatments to the individual in front of me. I sometimes see colleagues doing the same manipulation or massage technique to every patient regardless of their problem, this is not bespoke to the client or patient.


I’m always looking at ways to get people better faster and permanently. 


This could mean a quick back adjustment for someone who’s simply tripped and tweaked their back while playing a sport, or it could mean a series of sessions in person or online for someone who is struggling to shift chronic pain or illness.


Conversely, I also use these tools to help people to perform better, both physically and mentally. 


I get excited when someone initially comes to see me with something like a sore shoulder that hasn’t recovered for months. I look for possible reasons why the body isn’t healing which might be due to a habitually poor posture from work. As I work with the client to correct their posture and strengthen their shoulder we might find out that they aren’t breathing efficiently, this then opens the door to breath work and stress management. If a person is stressed they might use their upper ribs to breathe, when ideal breathing should come from the diaphragm. Not using the diaphragm properly can lead to changes in digestion and possibly symptoms of IBS, which are constipation and diarrhea. As we work on breathing mechanics the person might notice that they lose a little weight due to their body shifting out of a chronically stressed state. Soon they notice that their visit to the osteopath for their sore shoulder has resulted in better posture, less anxiety, weight loss, and a pain-free stronger shoulder!

 

Beyond your clinical practice, you're known for empowering individuals to take control of their health journey. How do you approach education and providing clients with the knowledge and tools they need to thrive, whether through one-on-one sessions, workshops, or your writing?


Education is a key component in my methodology.


Over the years I have amassed a library of podcasts, articles and YouTube videos that I can easily share with my clients. My scoliosis and back pain courses also contain a huge amount of information that allows people to look at their whole anatomy and lifestyle when it comes to healing.


However, I noticed that some of the resources I wanted to share weren’t a perfect fit for my clients so a year ago I started the podcast, “Your Lifestyle Is Your Medicine” where I interview experts in all the respective areas of Lifestyle Medicine which are: Physical Activity, Nutrition, Sleep, Stress Management, Avoid Toxins and Community. 


This then allows me to use my own “library” to help educate my clients.

 

Tell us about your greatest career achievement so far.


One of the most challenging things I have done was to be the first osteopath in the Canadian province of Alberta. No one knew what I did and people were very skeptical. I initially created an association for myself and any future osteopaths and then started to lobby insurance companies to pay for osteopathy. This helped take away any financial risk from potential clients and at the same time I worked to educate other practitioners and the public on what it is we did. This involved speaking at medical conferences and “lunch n’ learns” in big oil companies like BP, Shell, and Suncor. My efforts paid off and after 10 years there were over 80 osteopaths in Alberta and I was able to sell my clinic so that I could pursue health and learning in the sun of Central America. 

 

If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?


Outside of the US osteopathy and lifestyle coaching are considered minor players in the health world. However, the extra time we spend with clients and patients to get to the root of the problem can be life-changing. I would like to see more collaboration between established, but overworked Medical Doctors, and allied health practitioners such as myself. 

 

Tell us about a pivotal moment in your life that brought you to where you are today.


I can tell you exactly when that happened.


I was competing in triathlons in my early 20s and wanted to optimize my training. Having graduated with a sports science degree I had certain areas of my training dialed in but I wanted to be better. I ended up seeing a therapist who helped athletes, via adjustments, perform better. He took an x-ray of my spine, even though I didn’t have pain, and noticed that I had a whole host of ‘problems’. He gleefully listed off the long, complicated medical terms that described the differences in my spine compared to a perfect spine, he actually had an x-ray of a near-perfect spine on the board next to mine. Not knowing any better I signed up for months of treatments to try and prevent future damage. However, during that time I started to develop some back pain that didn’t get better. Someone suggested seeing an osteopath and on my first visit, I showed him my x-ray so that he could ‘go gentle’ on my back. What he told me changed my life. All those catastrophic-sounding abnormalities in my back were in fact normal wear and tear from the rugby and judo I’d played all through my life. There was nothing I could do to change the x-ray and I shouldn’t worry about it, instead, I should just keep strong and flexible and be kind to my body. After 2 sessions my back pain had cleared up and I was so impressed that I enrolled in the 4 year full-time osteopathic training degree.


When I look back at my experience with the first therapist I can clearly see how that approach can lead to fear and chronic pain. Luckily since then the research has also caught up and practitioners are now trained to not ‘scare’ patients into treatment but work with them giving them the correct and appropriate information so that they can work together to look for solutions for their health and healing. 


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