Nick Potter: The Bakpro kit to combat stress

The osteopath talks about how he came to create a kit to help relieve the physical effects of a deskbound lifestyle


I started out training as a doctor, and when I had my own spinal injury playing rugby back in the 1980s, I saw an osteopath who stopped me having surgery.

I decided to become an osteopath myself because I find people fascinating, and I enjoy learning about every part of what makes people tick and how they interact with their environment – not just psychologically, but physically, too, as the two are fundamentally linked.

I trained here in the UK, in the States and in Australia, originally in the field of sports injuries and performance. However, my interest in sports waned, as my patients were basically healthy, fit people who pulled muscles and were well supported. I was much more interested in 'co-morbidly damaged' patients in the general population who didn't have access to good treatment. I also volunteered in Angola and India, where there are a lot of orthopaedic injuries that don't get treated because there's no access to MRIs and scanners.

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I also became very interested in stress, a topic I’m currently writing a book about. People talk about stress a lot, but they don't really know what it is. Stress is anything that promotes a response in the body. Sometimes we thrive on stress, and being 'on it' in the moment when it matters, but malignant stress – when you can't cope or feel like your life isn't going anywhere – is becoming a chronic problem.

A lot of people who came to my practice with back pain were often not suffering from a structural disorder, but the manifestation of stress in their tissues. It is very often easier to bury a hard-to-manage psychological worry and manifest it as a physical one. If you're in a very high-pressure job the constancy of the stress and inability to show it takes its toll. It's called somatisation – you bury in your tissues anxiety and stress that you don't deal with because it seems like a weakness. This is a bad reflection on society, because people who are vulnerable and share things manage stress a lot better.

Indeed, stress is the biggest driver to illness in the world, and 40–60% of people who present to a GP have a stress-related disorder. Doctors know this, but they have on average only seven minutes with you, and the quickest and easiest thing is to prescribe a tablet. However, with Bakpro, I'm offering answers that aren't drug-related, it's about recognising what stresses you, and understanding it.

80% of the population sits all day in corporate jobs, not moving, hyperventilating and shortening all the same muscles. Many now indulge in the laptop-latte culture with poor ergonomics and as 'netizens' we use electronics too much. About four years ago I realised I was giving patients various pieces of equipment to use to release their spines along with advice about how to recognise and treat stress.

It was one of my patients who said "this is amazing, why don't you make it into a programme?" So I did – the Bakpro kit.

I put together a one-stop-shop series of specific exercises, which stretch only the muscles that shorten because you sit all day. The kit consists of a box of tools, specially designed to release pain and tension in your muscles. It's a definitive, holistic programme to stretch, restore and maintain your muscles and spine, integrating a mind and body approach. Essentially, it's my knowledge, in a box, with all the equipment you need.

There's the easy-grip Stim Ball that's good for working on your glutes, hands and feet. There's the foam roller Stim Roll that you can lie on to align your spine and mash your aching legs. Finally, the Stim Stick is an awesome S-shaped tool that means no muscle is out of reach, particularly in your neck, back and shoulders. You can release painful trigger points in them with minimal effort. You start by learning the breathing technique to release intrinsic tension, then use the tools to relieve pain. The exercises maintain flexibility and prevent return of pain. We also cover sleep and a multitude of other things, all available on a mobile website.

NICK POTTER 'cut his teeth' in the sports world but soon realised he was more interested in chronic, complex and multi-system problems in the general population. He is principal and clinical director of The Centre for Physical Medicine and he co-founded The London Spine Clinic, a private neurosurgical unit on Harley Street. He now works at The Princess Grace Hospital Orthopaedic Centre and is a consultant to Brevan Howard Asset Management on human performance and wellbeing. Bakpro kits are £125, available at

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