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Snotty noses and Sinus pain: How stretching and osteopathy can help clear heavy heads.

By Osteopath, Melissa McDougall B.Clin.Sc. M.H.Sc. D.P.O.

snotty nose
In this weeks blog we outline how osteopathy and stretching can help clear stuffy noses and sinus pain in patients aged 0-100 years.


Osteopaths are well known for relieving pain, and we do this well. Most patients are surprised to hear that osteopathy can also give a great deal of relief to those with stuffy noses, recurrent colds and sinus pain- which later can be maintained by a few simple stretches.



It’s all about getting the drainage pathways from the head to the ribcage flexible, open and clear.

There are four main areas that when balanced and flexible, result in a clear nose:
The base of the skull
The neck
The jaw
The upper ribs (which most people would call their shoulders).

For efficient sinus drainage, our chin needs to be gently tucked, our bite soft and jaw relaxed, our neck long and our upper ribs (or shoulders) a little mobile as we breathe in and out. The osteopath brings balance and flexibility to these areas through massage, stretching, and in some cases, gentle joint manipulation.

All bodies are different and it is always best to check with your osteopath before beginning any therapeutic exercise or stretching program. Here are some general tips to stimulate drainage pathways:

Please note, the following is not intended to diagnose or treat any respiratory condition.


tricep stretch overhead

  1. Give yourself a double chin: that’s right- bring your head back and drop your chin towards your throat: like your squeezing a plum under your chin*
  2. Keeping your double chin, get creative with your jaw movements: open your mouth, bring your jay forward, back, side to side, yawn.
  3. Upper rib/shoulder stretch: Sit tall, reach one arm toward the sky, then bend at the elbow to bring the hand behind your upper back, use the oppisitve hand to pull the elbow across and increase the stretch**

*may not be suitable for people with a cervical spine disc injury- best check with your osteopath.

**may not be not suitable for people with a shoulder injury history of shoulder dislocation- best check with your osteopath.


Infants and children:

Ruby tx rotation seated

  1. With your baby or child sitting, gently massage the ribcage, providing a little twist left and right.

There may be some other stretches suitable for your baby or child, however it is best speak with your osteopath to ensure these are performed correctly.




Breathe in and smell the roses… Spring is coming!!

About the Author

Melissa McDougall

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