Quick Q&A with Laura O'Byrne: Manual Therapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at PhysioActive
Today we take the opportunity to welcome a new physiotherapist to the team. Laura O'Byrne who was originally born in South Africa. She completed her schooling and obtained her first degree – Health Science & Physiology – in Ireland before moving to the United Kingdom, where she completed her degree in Physiotherapy and worked within the NHS before moving to Singapore. Laura is a member of the MCSP in the United Kingdom and a fully registered member of the AHPC in Singapore.
Laura is an experienced manual therapist with a strong interest in postural and spinal dysfunction. She is able to put this into clinical practice through her pilates training and specialist interest of ergonomics in the workplace. Find out more about Laura here...
How did you come to be in Singapore?
That's quite a funny story… The Ministry of Health was recruiting in the United Kingdom and Ireland. My friends were going for an interview and I went along for the open day. When we arrived, the man who was interviewing them asked if I was a Physiotherapist too. My friend replied that I was. When he asked if I wanted an interview, she said that I did indeed. I was a little horrified when she told me, as I was not prepared for an interview! Anyhow, I completed the paperwork, had the interview and a couple of weeks later I got an email offering me a position. I accepted, thinking it would just be for a year. Four years later, I have no plans to leave!
Where did you work before PhysioActive?
I was recruited by the Ministry of Health to help them in the set-up and transition process from Alexandra Hospital to the new Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. I was there for three years, after which I worked in a private capacity at a Pilates clinic before joining PhysioActive. In Britian I worked in the National Health Service in a muscolo-skeletal role in Nottingham and in a rotational position in Norfolk, where I gained invaluable orthopaedic experience.
What is your specialism?
I am very interested in spinal and postural dysfunction, which results in another particular interest of mine, which is ergonomics which can help people achieve an optimum working environment. I also enjoy working with ankle rehabilitation and I find that incorporating Pilates into a functional exercise programme delivers great benefits.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Coffee, most definitely coffee! Although I enjoy Singapore’s dynamic night-life, I am quite a morning person – provided the sun is up before me!
What do you do in your spare time?
Travel where ever and whenever possible! I enjoy reading, going to the cinema, gym, dancing, socialising and, of course, the all-important Singapore pastime: eating!
Why Has Pilates Become So Popular?
In recent years Pilates has grown to become one of the most well-known and popular forms of exercise. I often get asked by my patients about the benefits of doing Pilates.
In principle, Pilates focuses on strengthening the core. When we talk about ‘the core’ perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions is that this just involves strengthening the abdominal muscles. This is in fact untrue. The core comprises of not only the abdominal but also:
• the back muscles
• and perhaps most surprisingly, the buttocks
These muscles are vital in providing support and stability for the lower back which may be why Pilates has become a popular form of exercise for people with low back problems. When the core is properly conditioned, the stresses and strains through the back will be reduced and the spine will also be better aligned and therefore able to move more effectively. It is not only people with back problems that will benefit from Pilates, people returning from injury, athletes and women who have just had a baby will find it beneficial too.
I always compare Pilates and developing core strength to the process of building a house. Time is taken in the early stages of constructing a house to lay down good strong solid foundations to ensure it will withstand the test of time. The same can be said for the body and the core can be compared to the foundations of a house. If these muscles are strong then you will have a strong foundation to build up further strength, this is especially true for athletes. Since Ryan Giggs declared he did Pilates a few years ago there has been a steady increase in the number of men participating. Other male fans of Pilates include David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Tiger Woods
Perhaps one of the most appealing things about Pilates is that it doesn’t necessarily have to rely on the use of expensive equipment. Other than the use of the reformer machine, Pilates doesn’t require much more than a mat and maybe a resistance band to get an effective workout. Because of this, Pilates is accessible to everyone and, if structured classes at the gym are not your thing, or if you are often away for long periods due to work, then simply doing the exercises on the living room floor will be just fine also!
One of the other major factors for the popularity of Pilates could be the fact that you don’t have to have certain level of fitness required to be able to start in the first place. Anyone of any age can do it……I had a man in my class well into his 70’s! The beauty of the exercises are that there are many different levels so whether you are a beginner or if you have been doing it for years, there is always an exercise to challenge you.