Top five exercises for looking after your back

Top five exercises for looking after your back.

An article by Francine St George, extracted from news.com.au

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ABOUT 80 per cent of Australians will experience an episode of back pain at some point in their lives. In my physiotherapy practice, I see quite a range of back conditions in patients of all ages. In most cases, poor posture and tight muscles require attention, in addition to overall fitness levels.

 

Unfortunately there is no single, magical exercise that will ‘fix’ your back, but there are plenty of stretches you can do to relieve the little niggles and twinges that we all get, and to help protect your back and neck in the long term. Here are five of my favourites. Do them every day or as needed, and in order as described below or as individual exercises.

 

Read the full article, including 5 effective stretches:

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/top-five-exercises-for-looking-after-your-back/news-story/2960e9b1a0052e93c2abe098ddc306b5

Teenage Posture

21 September 2016

Teenage Posture

04091517

Growth spurts, screen time, slouching…. good posture is particularly challenging in the teenage years.

 

Did you know? One the last bones to finish growing is the collarbone? A slumped or slouched posture affects the shape of the spine and final shape of the adult skeleton.

 

 

 

 

 

Give your child the opportunity to see their avatar on a big screen!

clinic-pants

We are offering FREE

3D Postural Assessment

30 Sept, 4 & 7 October in school holidays.

Bookings essential.

To book in for a posture screening and Teen Posture Pilates Class, call reception 9399 7399.

Headaches from running

Headaches from running

 

I recently treated a client with headaches that only came on when running. By working on her neck posture together with specific breathing cues, she is now able to run without triggering neck pain or headaches!

 

Have you ever thought about how you breathe? And how this could be related to neck pain or headaches?

You breathe 12-16 breaths per minute at rest. So that is 17,000 to 23,000 breaths each day! Any bad habits are multiplied manifold.

 

Running out of breath pic

 

 

The diaphragm, a sheet of muscle that contracts to draw air into your lungs, is controlled by nerves from your neck. So poor neck posture affects the efficiency of your main breathing muscle and makes you overuse your neck muscles to try get enough air in. This becomes a cycle of the neck muscles being overly tense with breathing and making it difficult to hold your neck in a good posture….so how do we break this cycle?

Physiotherapy can be immensely helpful. In my client’s case we used joint mobilisation, massage and acupuncture to allow her to relax the tense neck muscles. Then she could work on strengthening the posture muscles of her neck.

 

Becoming aware of your breathing pattern is the first step, try this exercise:

 

Breathing x's sketch

 

 

1. Sit up tall. Place one hand gently on your shoulder, and notice if your shoulder lifts up as you breathe. If it does, you are overusing your neck muscles. See if you can release tension in your neck, shoulders and jaw.

 

2. Next, place your hands on the outside of your ribcage. Can you feel much sideways movement at the ribcage? This is your diaphragm working, as the dome shape of the diaphragm flattens, the ribcage expands laterally. Then, place your hand on your abdomen. Can you feel much rising and falling movement here?

 

If you would like to see if your breathing pattern may be contributing to your neck pain or headaches, contact Alla on 9399 7399.

 

How to Prepare for a 50km Trek

How to Prepare for a 50km Trek

 

You’ve signed up for your first big trek, or perhaps you’re attempting round two. Either way, you’re in the perfect place. Our Physiotherapists, Clare and Alla, completed a fundraising walk for the Fred Hollows Foundation, walking 50km along Sydney’s gorgeous coastline from Coogee to Balmoral. Coastrek raised an amazing $2.5 million to treat preventable blindness around the world. If you are considering signing yourself up for an epic trek, here are their tips:

 

Event Preparation

 

One of their favourite exercises training for Coastrek is for Hip Stability

 

96 adv hip stability

  1. Tie a theraband around your ankles, so that there is some tension in the band when your feet are hip width apart
  2. Take a step sideways, and drop into a slight squat position, then return back. Your kneecap should be centred over the middle of your foot
  3. Alternate sides until you start to feel some fatigue in your glutes

      Progressions

  1. Practice stepping backwards 45 degrees
  2. Dropping down into a split squat position

 

Extra Challenge

  • Repeat the exercise sequence with your heels lifted, balancing on the balls of the feet

 

TIP: Strength in your glutes, quads and calves is key to successfully completing a long trek without injury. It is not just about the hours of pounding the pavement in training alone, but making sure you have strong muscles supporting your joints.

 

If you have difficulty maintaining good alignment of the pelvis, knees and ankles, you may need a physio assessment to outline specific stretches and strengthening exercises for your body

On the Day

 

Strapping tape

Have it with you and know how to use it. Many blister can be prevented with appropriate preventative taping. It can also work incredibly well when a particular muscle is starting to fatigue, to offload it and give some support. Your physio can teach you specific taping strategies for your body.

 

Hydration

Proper hydration is essential in making it to the finish line. Electrolyte mix in you water bottle will keep you going and prevent cramping and dehydration.

 

Trekking poles

Are very useful for when your legs get tired. They allow your Latissimus Dorsi and Triceps muscles to assist in propulsion, taking the pressure off your knees and hips. We were very glad we packed ours for Coastrek.

 

For specific advice on training for your next event, or to assess your alignment and strength, contact PPFC on 9399 7399 to book in to see a Physio

Pelvic Health Problems? There’s an app for that!

PPFC supporting ‘World Continence Week 2016’ June 20-26

 

Pelvic floor probelms- (1)

 

 

Technology and smartphones are pretty incredible! How did we live without them?!

 

We have apps for pretty much everything. Need to find a good restaurant near-by? Want a fun school holiday activity to do with the kids? Jump straight on your smartphone and with a little searching you’ll find the answers right at your fingertips.

 

Pelvic health is no different. There are many apps available for people with pelvic problems or for general men’s and women’s health needs.  There are apps that can help patients with their pelvic problems and support or enhance their home exercise program.

 

Jessica Reale*, a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist in the USA, has put together a great list of apps on her blog and she has kindly given her permission to share them on our blog.

 

If you would like to discuss any of the information below, please contact our clinic to arrange an appointment with one of our Women’s Health physiotherapists.

 

02 9399 7399 / reception@physiopfc.com

 

Helpful Apps for Pelvic Floor

 

Pregnancy/Postpartum

Pregnancy Pelvic Floor Plan
This app by the CFA has both a tracker to see weekly milestones during pregnancy, but also has great information on pelvic floor health. It includes the option to receive regular reminders to perform pelvic floor exercises.

 

Gentle Birth
This app promotes a positive pregnancy and birth experience. It includes mindfulness, breathing techniques, affirmations and hypnosis – combined with evidence based research. Customised programs based on the woman’s needs. Free for a sample program, then requires paid subscription.

 

Mind the Bump
Meditation app geared toward pregnancy/postnatal populations. Includes different meditations for different periods of time (first trimester-postpartum)

 

Pregnancy Exercise- Weekly Workout
This app by Oh Baby! Fitness, based out of Atlanta, includes a new exercise for every week of pregnancy based on pilates, yoga and strength training. 10 weeks is free, then $5 to unlock the rest of the weeks.

 

Rost Moves
This app provides recommendations for body mechanics/movement options when performing different regular home activities. It is especially great for new mums or pregnant women with pelvic girdle/low back pain.

pregnant woman

Pelvic Floor Exercises

 

Squeezy
This excellent app was designed by pelvic physiotherapists in the UK and is endorsed by the NHS. It allows for a personalized exercise program, has reminders, visuals and keeps a record.

 

Kegel Trainer
This app includes information on how to use pelvic floor muscles, and has various levels of exercise based on different contraction/relaxation intervals. It includes reminders and an exercise tracker. Free version includes first level, paid goes up to 15 levels.

 

Pelvic Floor First
This app is from the Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA).  It offers a nice progressive exercise routine for someone struggling with pelvic floor weakness (like we commonly see with urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and postpartum difficulties). The programs go from Starting Out (30 min), Moving On (40 min) to Stepping Up (50 min). Just be sure to chat with your Physio before you jump in the program.

 

 

Pelvic Pain/Relaxation Apps

 

RelaxLite with Andrew Johnson

A popular 10-15 min guided progressive relaxation. He has a paid version too with lots of additional upgrades – the free meditation is great.

 

Headspace

Free version includes a free 10 minute meditation to teach basics of meditation. Upgrade provides access to lots of different meditation options. This app is a great way to start learning meditation.

 

Calm

Another great meditation app. Free version includes the ‘7 days of Calm’ introductory program to learn the basics of mindful meditation. It also includes access to soothing sounds to help relieve stress. Upgrade allows access to all of the different meditation programs (for sleep, calm, etc)

 

Insight Timer
Meditation community app, includes a timer to track meditation with different sound options, and includes over 1300 guided meditations. Also includes discussion groups and meet-up groups.

 

Binaural- Pure Binaural Beats
This app allows you to listen (use headphones) to various sounds to promote brain wave activity correlated with relaxation, meditation, problem solving and activity – all of the content is free.

 

Bladder/Bowel problems

 

iDry
Free version includes a tracker for pad usage and bladder leakage. Premium version includes options for interventions, pelvic floor exercises, a more detailed chart tracker, reminders, and options to send to your health care providers.

 

UroBladderDiary
This app allows tracking of urinary frequency, volume, leakage, urgency level and fluid intake. It also allows results to be converted to a PDF so you are able to e-mail them to health care provider. App costs $1.99

 

Flush Toilet Finder
For those struggling with strong urinary or bowel urgency and/or incontinence, this app may become your best friend. It uses your location to quickly identify all of the public toilets/bathrooms nearby.

 

BM Classic
For those with bowel problems, this app not only allows you to track your bowel frequency and stool consistency (using the awesome Bristol Stool Scale), but also allows you to track stress level, water intake, and dietary habits. Could be a great resource for someone struggling with bowel problems.

 

Women’s Health

 

iPeriod
Paid versions only. Use this app to track periods, ovulation and fertility. Graphs of data can be exported to make showing your results to your practitioner easy. Lots of personalisation options too.

 

Clue
Period tracker that predicts dates for your next period, and also allows you to track symptoms such as pain, as it relates to your cycle.

 

My Days
This app tracks and predicts periods, ovulation and fertility. Also allows options to track basal metabolic temperature, cervical mucus and cervix for those trying to become pregnant.

 

 

*Extract from https://jessicarealept.com/

How often do you stop and stretch?

How often do you stop and stretch?

 

The human body was made to move! We are definitely not meant to sit still for hours at a time. However, we are all guilty of sitting at screens for far too long without moving. It can be so easy to become engrossed in a task that we don’t realise how much time has actually passed.

Over time, this can lead to neck and back pain, as well as other injuries. Frequent stretch breaks (every 30-45mins) also ensure you stay more mentally alert and productive.

 

There are hundreds of apps out there to help remind you to move through the day.

 

Some software to consider:

 

Or for those that prefer a physical reminder, a vibrating activity tracker might be the way to go. The wristband will alert you if you are not moving enough, and encourage you to move to reset the inactivity timer.

 

But it can also be as simple as setting a reminder on you PC or phone to get up and move every 30 minutes. Get a glass of water. Walk and chat to a colleague instead of sending an email. Any excuse to move will benefit your body.

 

Exercises to try during your break:
  • Stretching the pectorals improves circulation to the hands and reduces neck and shoulder tension.

 

28a Pectoral release

28b pectoral release

 

 

Place your hand in the doorframe, keeping the elbow bent and pulling your shoulder blade down towards the floor. Slowly rotate your body away from your hand, to create a gentle stretch along the front of the chest. Progress this exercise by moving your hand further up the door to stretch the forearm. Hold for 20 seconds, release, and repeat on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • To release tension in the upper back, cross your arms and put one hand on the outside of each knee. Pull back with your shoulder blades as you gently press the knees into your hands. Hold 15seconds, repeat 2-3 times. 16 sitting in chair, shoulderblade stretch
  • Eye exercises: simply looking out into the distance regularly is important in reducing screen related eye strain.

 

 

We all have tendencies to hold tension in different areas, so an individualised repertoire of exercises, determined by your physiotherapist is essential.

For advice on specific exercises you can do regularly at work, speak to your physiotherapist.

 

By Alla Melman, Physiotherapist

Francine St George on Tony Delroy’s Nightlife

Francine St George on Tony Delroy’s Nightlife

Physiotherapy has come a long way in the last 20 years, and its getting better all the time.

 

What are some of the advances we’ve made in treating sore necks and backs – and what might be yet to come?

 

Join Francine for the last time with Tony Delroy’s Nightlife on ABC Radio, for a look back, and a look forward to the future of physio.

 

For recent Podcasts and MP3 downloads:

Nightlife_Logo http://www.abc.net.au/nightlife/listen.htm

To find Francine’s most recent interview on the site, you may need to scroll down the topics by date of appearance (see below).

Running – Calf Exercises

Prepare to Run with these Calf Exercises

 

Calf tears are arguably the most common running injury. We sit all day, or walk in heels, and the calf muscles get tight. The extra load on the calf in running can lead to a tear. It feels like someone has hit you in the back of the leg, and that’s the end of your running for 4-6 weeks. Faulty foot mechanics can also cause tight calf muscles.

 

Start these simple tips and exercises to run better this season.

 Tips

  1. Start your running slowly and avoid explosive bursts until you are warmed up.
  2. Look up when running hills, and shorten your stride a little.
  3. Increase your running rhythm and don’t overstride to increase your speed.
  4. If you are getting bruised toes or a bunion on your big toe, this is usually a sign that something is wrong. You may be overpronating. We can assist by offering stability exercises and changes to your footwear can correct overpronation. We can also advise if you need to see a Podiatrist.

 

Exercises

Calf Raises114 calf raises2

  1. Start with your knees straight and raise yourself up onto tip toes, maintaining balance and posture. Then, lower your feet back down onto the ground. Don’t grip the floor your toes. Repeat 10-15 times.
  2. Stand on one leg, and repeat this exercises 10-15 times. Repeat on the other leg 10-15 times.
  3. Try this routine with your knees slightly bent.
  4. Once you are confident with these exercises, progress to raising yourself up fast and then lowering back down slowly.115 towel exercise2
  5. Make this exercise more challenging by doing the exercise on the edge of a step or with a rolled up towel under your toes.

 

Stork

  1. Stand in front of a mirror with one foot on the inside of the opposite thigh.78 stork position2
  2. Spread your arms our 90 degrees from your body.
  3. Engage your gluteals to maintain your posture.
  4. Once steady, slowly raise yourself up onto tip toes and then slowly lower back down.
  5. Maintain your balance, and repeat 10-15 times on each leg.

 

 

Stretch

If you have an old chopping board and some large books or bricks, you can make an effective wedge to stretch your calf muscles.Calf stretch - wedge

  1. Angle the wedge down towards a wall. Stand with your back against the wall, and your feet up on the wedge.
  2. Hold this position for 1-3 minutes with your knees straight.
  3. Repeat with your knees bent a little.
  4. Turn your feet in a little to make this stretch a little more challenging.

 

If you’d like to have an assessment of your running biomechanics, improve your stability, speed or strength, please contact us on 02 9399 7399.

 

Alex Sherborne

Physiotherapist

Injury-free Skiing – Exercises

How to Improve your Performance and Have an Injury-free Ski!

 

It took just one hailstorm in Sydney to get me itching to ski this season. Most of us ski just a few times each year, and don’t get ourselves conditioned to ski. Try these easy ski-preparation exercises leading up to your ski holiday!

 

Step 1: Check your Alignment76 sit to stand

Start by preparing how you stand. Draw a mark on the centre of each kneecap and stand in front of a mirror. The mark should be directly above your second toe. Adjust your feet and knees until they are. Do a half squat, keeping the marks above your second toes, then stand back up.

Try lunging forward with one leg, keeping the mark above your second toe, then stand back up and repeat with the other leg.112a standing stability work

Repeat each exercise 30 times, squatting lower and lunging a little further forward each time.

Practice will help you align your legs properly to ski, and get you holding an edge like a pro. If you are having difficulty with these exercises, it may mean you need the canting adjusted on your ski boots.

 

Step 2: How’s your Balance?77b hip extension77a standing knee hug into hip extension

Most skiers put too much weight on the back of the ski. Keeping your weight even from front to back will give you more control and a faster ride. It’s great to practice weight-bearing on a balance board, bosu or duradisc.

Try this exercise on solid ground. Stand on one leg, hugging the other leg into your chest with both hands. Make sure that the centre of your kneecap is over your second toe. Get the weight on your toes the same as the weight on your heels. Once you feel steady, extend the leg and your arms behind you, keeping the weight even on toes and heels, then return to your starting position.

Repeat 10 times on each leg.79 advanced pendulum exercise

Progress to the Arabesque position, extending the leg straight behind you, with one arm extended in front. Then return to the starting position.

 

 

Step 3: Strengthening Glutes & Quads

Gluteus Medius

No sport uses Gluteus Medius as much as skiing. Good control of the hips includes having strong glute meds, and this is essential for your turns.04081502

Stand side on to a wall, with your hands on your hips. Lift the knee closest to the wall. Pushing this knee into the wall will make the glutes contract on your standing leg. Maintain your alignment and balance throughout this exercise.

Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8-10 times each side.

To progress this exercise further, try turning out the foot you are standing on, against the resistance of the floor.

Quadriceps113 quads step strengthening

Your quads are the workhorses of your skiing. You need strength and endurance in these muscles.

Stand with one leg on a step and the step the other down towards the floor in front of you. Stop before your foot actually hits the floor and return to your starting position.

Repeat 10-15 times and do 3 sets on each leg. Maintain your alignment and balance. Move to a higher step and add weights to progress this exercise when you’re ready.

 

 

Step 4: Endurance

The fitter you are, the longer you will enjoy your day on the slopes. That chair ride up only lets you recover so much!

Running, skipping, cycling or using an elliptical trainer as often as you can – at least every second day – is the easiest way to improve your baseline fitness and endurance.

If you have the right space and equipment, in-line skating uses many of the same muscles and techniques as skiing. Jumping exercises get the heart pumpin04081501g and help prepare for those moguls. Find a sturdy, low box that you can stand on, and give yourself lots of room. (Step aerobic steps are great for this.)

Start by standing feet together on the box, and stepping one leg sideways until it touches the ground, then return to both feet together on the box. Step to the other side. Repeat 30 times to each side, and keep your alignment and balance as you go.

Once you’ve mastered this exercise, keep your feet together and jump both feet to the floor on one side, then back onto the box, then both feet to the other side. Repeat 30 times on each side.

Increase the height of the box, and try jumping forward and back when you can.

 

 

Step 5: Improve your Flexibility

Flexibility is particularly important when you are doing tricks or racing, and it is vital that you stretch any muscle that feels tight before andCalf stretch - wedge after your day on the slopes, especially as fatigue and the cold will make your muscles tighten up.

A good stretch for your calf muscles can be achieved by using a low wedge (an old cutting board against a brick or similar will do the job.) Angle the wedge down towards a wall, and stand with your back against the wall. Hold this position for 1-3 minutes with your legs straight (gastrocnemius), and then repeat with your legs a little bent to reach you61 hip flexor stretchr deeper calf muscles (soleus).

 

Your hip flexors will also need a good stretch after skiing. On your knees, lunge on leg forward with your pelvis tucked under, and then stretch the arm on that side over. Hold for 20 seconds, and repeat on both sides.

A simple quad stretch will also assist your muscle recovery after skiing. You can use a wall or table to support you. Stand up tall on one leg.

107 standing quads stretch

Bend the other leg and reach the foot up behind you. Hold onto your foot and try to keep your knees together. Hold for 20 seconds, and repeat on both sides.

 

 

If you follow these 5 guidelines, your performance will improve on the slopes this season, and you are much less likely to suffer injuries. Prevention is always better than cure! If you have any trouble with these exercises, or would like to improve your performance further, speak to your Physiotherapist.

 

At PPFC, our resident Skiing Physio is Alex Sherborne. Call to make an appointment with him on 02 9399 7399.

Why does my neck STILL hurt??

Why does my neck STILL hurt??

Neck pain can persist for many reasons, but one of the most common is that the relationship between your eye and neck muscles has changed.
Do you feel like your head is crooked when you look straight ahead? This could be a sign that it is influencing your neck pain.

The neck has receptors that tell you where your head is and whether it is straight or crooked. These receptors can be damaged through injury or wear and tear. Studies have found this to be a particular problem after a whiplash injury or if you have arthritis. Balance is an essential part of treating ankle and knee injuries, but is often overlooked in other parts of the body!

 

    

Eyes Closed

Close your eyes

Looking to left

Turn to left

Try this simple test of balance and position of your head:

1. Sit down and focus on a small spot in front of you (eg. a spot on the wall, or a part of the pattern on a curtain.)

2. Close your eyes and turn your head as far as you can to the left.

3. Keeping your eyes closed, turn your head back to where you started.

4. Open your eyes.

 

Looking straight

Open your eyes.

How did you go? Are your eyes focused exactly on the same small spot? Are you a little to the left or right? Are you a little above or below?

Next, try this test on your right side.

Is the result any different?

 

If your head is in balance, you should be able to return to your starting position, open your eyes and be looking exactly at the same spot.
Studies have found that some people are consistently off the spot by an average of 4cm. Often, they are off focus in one specific direction, but perfect in others. Computer work often requires you to quickly turn your head away from the screen, and then return to the part of the screen you were working on. Without realising, you may be constantly correcting your head position. This is often a contributing factor in neck and shoulder pain or stiffness.

The good news is that this can improve and be corrected with practice. By using head-mounted laser equipment, we are able to show you how to correct your head balance, and provide the specific exercises for you to improve your balance and also relieve your neck pain.

 

To find out if this is the reason for your ongoing neck pain, or to discuss what your found when doing this test, book an appointment with Alex Sherborne, or send us an email via our contact page.