How to camp injury & pain free this Easter break!

So.. it’s that time of year again! Easter is just around the corner and the tents and camping gear are getting unpacked and dusted off, prepped for their annual use!  So here are just a few things to keep in mind to make sure that you can enjoy a camping trip that’s injury free and as pain-free, as possible, and also, that you don’t end up too stiff and sore when you get home from your relaxing escape!

Sleeping

  • Don’t forget to take your own pillow so that you can maintain good neck support despite your otherwise potentially nonoptimal sleeping set up
  • If possible, take an extra pillow to either place under your knees if you are a back sleeper, or between your legs / in front of you to wrap your arm around if you are a side sleeper – this will greatly improve your sleeping position on a potentially minimal support sleeping surface
  • A great way to add some extra support and cushioning to a camping mattress that may either too thin, or lacking some integrity (we all know the feeling of waking up in the hollows formed by a slow air leak! ) is to use a mattress topper or protector if you have one – simply fit it to your air/foam mattress for a more comfortable and supported sleep! Especially for those with sore and stiff low backs, shoulders and hips.

Setting Up

  • Remember your safe lifting and manual handling techniques when setting up your campsite! The last thing you want to do is injure yourself at the start of your trip and spend the rest of the time recovering! So remember:
  • Use your legs to lift, not your back;
  • Avoid lifting or loading in awkward positions or when you are twisted or rotated;
  • Avoid bending and twisting at the same time especially when lifting a heavy item (e.g. eskies), and always keep the load close to your body; use two people to lift these heavier items if needed;
  • Avoid loading or working in over-stretched or over-reaching positions (e.g. when tying off ropes or setting up poles)

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Running- The Perfect Form (From Head to Toe)!

Running better, from head to toe.

Whether you are in training for the upcoming local running and triathlon festivals, or simply just love to run, the following tips will be worthwhile reading.  If you’re anything like me, you have probably opened your computer a few days after a race, only to be in absolute denial and shock to see the struggling ostrich pottering along is in fact you. Yep, the bib numbers don’t lie.  

The struggle is real—and not just superficial. There are a few easy things you can practice to improve your form, helping you get faster and more efficient as well as prevent injury.

Instead of focusing on the overwhelming technicalities of running, stick to these simple, easy-to-implement, and actionable running tricks. Let’s break it down:

Head: Let your gaze guide you. Look ahead naturally, not down at your feet, and scan the horizon. This will straighten your neck and back, and bring them into alignment. Don’t allow your chin to jut out.

Shoulders: For optimum performance, your shoulders should be low and loose, not high and tight. As you tire on a run, don’t let them creep up toward your ears. If they do, shake them out to release the tension.

Arms:  Your hands control the tension in your upper body, while your arm swing works in conjunction with your leg stride to drive you forward. Keep your hands in an unclenched fist, with your fingers lightly touching your palms.  Many runners have a lot of side-to-side action, most often in the arms which can be inefficient and exhausting. Picture your body split down the middle. The movements of each side shouldn’t cross the middle line.

Torso: The position of your torso while running is affected by the position of your head and shoulders. With your head up and looking ahead and your shoulders low and loose, your torso and back naturally straighten to allow you to run in an efficient, upright position that promotes optimal lung capacity and stride length. If you start to slouch during a run take a deep breath and feel yourself naturally straighten. As you exhale simply maintain that upright position.

Hips: Your hips are your centre of gravity, so they’re important for good running posture. With your torso and back comfortably upright and straight, your hips naturally fall into proper alignment, pointing you straight ahead. When trying to gauge the position of your hips, think of your pelvis as a bowl filled with marbles, then try not to spill the marbles by tilting the bowl.

Legs/stride: When you see distance runners in their zone, you can usually tell if they run a lot of k’s. That intuition comes not from visual cues like skimpy split shorts or compression gear, but something much simpler that most long distance runners share—shorter, quicker strides. Many new runners tend to over-stride and reach out with their foot to take a longer stride which sends far too much impact through the leg. However, efficient endurance running requires just a slight knee lift, a quick leg turnover, and a short stride. When running with the proper stride length, your feet should land directly underneath your body. As your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly flexed so that it can bend naturally on impact. If your lower leg (below the knee) extends out in front of your body, your stride is too long.

Ankles/Feet: To run well, you need to push off the ground with maximum force. With each step, your foot should hit the ground lightly (landing between your heel and midfoot) then quickly roll forward. Keep your ankle flexed as your foot rolls forward to create more force for push-off. As you roll onto your toes, try to spring off the ground. You should feel your calf muscles propelling you forward on each step. Your feet should not slap loudly as they hit the ground. Good running is springy and quiet. A slight forward lean from the ankles happens naturally without even trying. So don’t consciously try to lean forward. Instead, focus on running tall with a straight, erect posture.

Cadence: Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute. An average cadence of at least 170 for easy runs means you’ll reduce impact forces on your legs, cut your injury risk, and even improve your running efficiency. How? With a shorter, faster stride, you’re “bounding” less and not introducing the stress that accompanies longer, more impactful strides. In other words, you’ll get hurt less often and probably get faster. Focus on these fundamentals and you’ll reap the rewards: fewer injuries, more enjoyable runs, and maybe even some new personal bests.

Sometimes no matter how hard you try to run tall or how short and quick your strides are, something is still not right- and that runners knee just won’t budge. If this sounds like you, follow these 3 simple stretches and exercises to find the missing puzzle piece.

Kneeling hip flexor stretch:

  1. Keep your spine and pelvis neutral thoughout the stretch
  2. Squeeze your gluteal muscles of your back leg and move forward from your hips

Hamstring stretch

  1. Keep your pelvis squared off and tilt forward from your hips

Gastrocs (calf) stretch:

  1. Move forward as far as you comfortably can

Strengthening exercises for injury prevention

Lunges:

  1. Gently cpontract your pelvic floor, then contract your transverse abdominus
  2. Keep your feet straight ahead and your patella in line with your second toe
  3. Maintain your neutral spine throughout the movement
  4. Return to the start position
  5. Your knee will never pass in front of your toes

Single leg bridge:

  1. Set feet hip width apart on the floor, then lift one foot off. Engage core throughout.
  2. Press into half bridge using gluteals of thr grounded hip. Be aware to maintain square alignment of thigh and pelvis throughout.

Single leg squat:

  1. Gently contract your pelvic floor then contract your transverse abdominus
  2. Keep your foot straight ahead and your patella in line with your second toe
  3. Keep your chest upright and remain tall through your spine
  4. Return to the start position

Complete 3 sets of 15 reps for all exercises

Still in doubt about whether you’re “doing this right?” Seek the help of one of our experienced physiotherapist for advice on how you can perform your best running yet.

Brianna Morgan

Physiotherapist

Rod McRae

Spinal stenosis a narrowing of the canal, that a spinal nerve travels through, leading to nerve irritation and pain. Rod McRae has spinal stenosis and through hard work and exercise has achieved amazing goals.

Rod wanted to be able to lie flat without pain, stand up from a chair pain free and get out into the garden.  Due to his hard work with his exercise classes and physiotherapy, he has been able to manage his back symptoms and improve his overall function. He can now lie flat, stand up straight without too much pain and spend more time in the garden. His hard work and patience with rehabilitation has really paid off. Thanks for your hard work Rod! Amazing progress like this really makes our job worthwhile!

Back Pain, will you need a scan for that?

MRI, CT, X-Ray, Ultra-Sound scans – are they necessary to diagnose your back pain?

On a daily basis, I have patients come into the clinic with low back pain. The majority of patients have heard horror stories about someone else who has back pain and are usually terrified that their back is permanently damaged beyond repair. In most cases, they come with scans that they have been referred for (usually an x-ray, MRI or CT). In the majority of cases, these scans will show findings such as disc bulges/protrusions, end plate narrowing, osteophytes, degeneration, and in some cases fusion of joints.

All of these things sound extremely scary! But the truth is in 85% of cases these findings are IRRELEVANT!

The Facts

Research is consistently showing that in the majority of cases, (over 85%), the cause of a person’s low back pain cannot be attributed to the spinal abnormalities shown on a scan.


In fact findings such as disc protrusions, facet degeneration, end plate narrowing, and osteophytes are actually a normal part of the aging process.


Research has been conducted which shows that scans were taken on people with no low back pain or history of low back pain also show these findings. Therefore there is a large portion of the population walking around with disc protrusions and significant degeneration in their backs and they have NO PAIN! This means that in the majority of cases a scan will not change the management of your low back pain.

So what causes the pain?

There are many structures in the back that can potentially cause low back pain. In my experience generally its overactivity of big muscle groups, muscle strains and ligament injury that cause pain. Generally, there is muscle spasm and tightness around an injured joint which compresses the joint and causes pain. Swelling in an area can also cause nerve irritation which can refer pain into the groin, buttock, and leg.

Are scans useful?

There are a group of patients for which scans are useful. These are patients that present with more sinister pathology that is long lasting (longer than 6 weeks). These people will also have symptoms such as muscle weakness, foot drop, change to their bladder and bowel function, pins and needles in their saddle region, and reduced reflexes. In these cases, scans play an important role in diagnosis and referral to a specialist may be required.

The good news

The majority of low back pain cases can be successfully treated with Physiotherapy. If it is the first time you’ve had low back pain and you have had it for less than 6 weeks, your pain is usually resolved (with physio) in less than 6-12 weeks. In most cases, if the treatment plan is followed (strengthening exercises are completed), the low back pain will not re-occur. The good news about this is that you have control over your recovery and the pain is not ongoing!

So if you or someone you care about is experiencing low back pain make sure you get them to come in for a check with a Physiotherapist.     If you have a scan you would like explained feel free to book a consultation today with one of our lovely staff, who will happily answer your questions and address your concerns.

We look forward to helping you move and feel your best!

The best office stretches!

There is an increasing proportion of the population that find themselves in a predominantly sedentary job position which can involve many hours spent sitting an office desk. Our bodies are designed for movement and inactivity due to prolonged sitting can bring about a myriad of postural related pains.

Of course, we can all improve our posture and decrease our chance of postural related pain by ensuring we sit correctly in our chair. Simple changes such as making sure our hips are positioned all the way back into the chair and sitting upright with a lengthened spine can make a large impact.

Office workers don’t have the opportunity to move around during the day, and often their complaints of pain are associated with tight muscles or joint stiffness. To combat this issue, here are 3 simple stretches that you can do right in your office chair:

Trunk rotation

  • Keep your feet on the ground and place an even amount of weight through both sides of the buttock
  • Twist your upper body to one side
  • Feel the twist occurring at your spine and not just your shoulders moving
  • You can use the hand on the side you are rotating towards to hold the back of the chair for an increase in the stretch
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Perform the same on the other side
  • This is a great stretch for someone who complains of stiffness in the mid back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knee to chest stretch

  • Make sure you have moved your office chair out from underneath your desk so that you will have enough room to lift your knee up
  • Hug both hands around the back of one thigh and pull it as close towards your chest as it will allow
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds
  • You may feel a stretch into your bottom
  • Remember to perform the same on the other side
  • This is a great stretch for someone who complains of tightness in the buttock or low back

Side bend neck stretch

  • Place your right hand underneath the right side of your buttock
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Tilt your head to the left so that the left ear moves down towards the left shoulder
  • Feel a stretch along the right side of your neck
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Remember to perform the same on the other side
  • This is an effective stretch for someone who complains of tightness over the back and sides of their neck

If you experience any ongoing pain or discomfort from prolonged sitting please seek the assistance of one of our experienced and qualified physiotherapist’s at Physionorth who can tailor individual treatment regimes and exercise programs to suit you.

Call our friendly team on 07 4724 0768 for appointment bookings if discomfort persists!

 

The Squat

The squat is probably the most well-known exercise in the health and fitness industry. It is considered a compound movement of the lower limbs that requires not only strength but neuromuscular control and adequate joint mobility to perform correctly.

The squat is not just an integral component of our learned movement patterns; it is also performed in multiple sports and occupational tasks. We start squatting before we learn to walk and our bodies are made to move like this. It is also one of the most common movements we retrain here in the clinic!

So, what is the best squat technique?

Unfortunately – there isn’t just one technique, everyone is different and there is a range of different squat variations. However, there are a couple of common ways to squat at work, home and at the gym.

Squat at work vs

Squat whilst gardening

As shown in these two photos squatting down to pick up an object in a workplace versus a squat variation while gardening.  These two positions are quite different as they stress different structures of the body and serve a different purpose but are commonly used throughout the day.

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Pregnancy – are you split down the middle?

No, unfortunately these are not my abs!

I’m not sure if it’s because I am pregnant myself and trying to adjust to my ever changing body, but social media seems to be rife with female fitness idols showing off their growing bellies surrounded by hints of what used to be a 6-pack of abs.

Strolling through the comments I was quite shocked to read threads about whether other women noticed an issue with abdominal separation. One woman proudly claimed that she didn’t have any tummy separation, and the fitness model replied saying “I thought you only got it if it was in your genetics”.

Unfortunately, many women aren’t aware that:

  • a) separation of their tummy muscles exists,
  • b) that it’s not a genetic issue
  • c) it is more common than you think
  • d) that if not fixed post-baby this can contribute to a number of musculoskeletal issues.

So what is abdominal separation?

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Killer High Heels

The devil wears Prada… by the devil, I mean our feet. We are our own worst enemy when it comes to wearing high heels for prolonged periods. There is no denying that a pair of Valentino 4-inch heels would be a perfect statement to go with any little black dress. However, as far as Physiotherapists are concerned, the only statement these shoes will be making is a painful one.

The simple elevation of the heels causes a chain reaction from the toes to the neck that can lead to a range of problems. Common issues seen in high-heeled culprits include: 

  • shortened muscles;
  • lower back pain;
  • poor posture;
  • plantar fasciitis;
  • bunions;
  • pinched nerves;
  • hip pain; and
  • other joint issues.

Your back is designed with precise natural curvatures that optimise shock absorption to protect your back.


When we wear heels the lower back is forced to curve even more. This adaption decreases the overall stability in the trunk.


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The Construct of ConnectTherapy

Have you been experiencing pain for a long time but have found treating the area of pain has not been effective for you OR is your recovery only short term and you continue to reinjure yourself?

Sometimes treating your symptomatic or painful area can be ineffective or give only short term relief.

Assessing using the framework of “ConnectTherapy” considers the complicated network of physical connections in the human body, as well as, other factors such as social and emotional contributors that may be relevant to the pain that you are experiencing.


Without addressing these factors in a holistic and collective way the real root of your problem or pain will remain unchanged.


Dr Linda-Joy Lee is a Physiotherapist and creator of the treatment model called ConnectTherapy. Her research is driven by her unconventional thinking and her passion about changing people’s lives. The framework integrates current scientific research with her clinical expertise. A detailed and thorough assessment process is used to determine how all areas of the body are linking and interacting with each other during a specific task.


ConnectTherapy aims to find the root of the problem to prevent the injury from reoccurring.


Over time, your body can learn bad habits with basic movements or postures.  These bad habits may occur as compensation for previous injuries or as a result of asymmetries that may develop from work, recreation or sporting activities.

Ultimately, these lead to altered mechanics of movement which are often accompanied by pain and dysfunction. Any functional task, whether it be sustained postural positions or dynamic activities requires integration and effective performance of all regions of the body. Effectively, the whole body has to work well together to allow us to function and perform well. This is why it is essential to assess the whole body, not just the area that is in pain or symptomatic.

 

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Headaches… can be a pain in the neck!

Most of us will experience a headache at some point in our life. For some, it is a rare event that lasts only momentarily. For others, it can be a regular occurrence that can affect day-to-day function and quality of life. They can range from being just nagging and frustrating, to totally debilitating. In some cases, there are clear-cut causes, like too many late nights, not enough water, or perhaps a little too much red wine. However, many cases aren’t so clear-cut, and can be an absolute pain in the neck (literally)! Headaches can reduce your ability to concentrate, work and do the things you love to do.

There are many different types of headaches and Physiotherapists play an important role in the treatment and management of all types.  Musculoskeletal-related risk factors of developing headaches include:

  • Poor posture
  • Neck and upper back stiffness
  • Muscle imbalances
  • Muscle weaknesses
  • Muscle tightness
  • Previous neck trauma
  • Inappropriate work set up
  • Poor sleeping posture
  • Stress
  • Sedentary lifestyles

 

 

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