Kayaking – recreational paddling from a Physio’s perspective
Getting into Exercise
It’s all happened to us, even from the most innocuous of activities: picking up my keys. Does our body really start to fall apart as we age?
I just jumped in my car, and as I went to grab the door handle with keys in hand, I dropped my keys. While seated, I twisted and bent over to pick them up – then I felt it – a tiny twinge in my lower spine. Not enough to hurt, but just enough to let me know I’d done something bad down there.
Not thinking anything of it, I drove away, the twinge becoming pain and then acute pain. I drove myself to a physio. By the time I got there, I couldn’t get out of the car without assistance. I had ruptured a lumbar disc.
I’m not alone. Lots of friends have told me similar stories – doing something simple, and then twang – something happens. Generally it’s shrugged off with the statement “this is what happens at our age. Your body starts to fall apart.”
“The age” is mid-30s. The thing is, I heard the same when I turned 40. And I’m sure I’ll hear it again when I turn 50.
There is some truth to it. Your muscles do start to change in your 30s, says Professor Alan Hayes, a muscle and exercise physiologist at Victoria University.
“You have … peak muscle mass in mid-20s and certainly after that point, by about your mid-30s, they start to decline.
“But if you’re that age and just blaming your body, that’s a bit of a cop out.”
James Fell, a sports scientist at the University of Tasmania, says there’s probably no reason to attribute such muscular niggles to age until your 50s.
Professor Hayes thinks it’s even higher: “I don’t think you should do that until you’re in your 70s.”
So if I can’t blame my age, why does it feel like my body is about to fall apart?
Life stage and lifestyle
In short, a lot of it is due to activity — or lack thereof.
“There’s no doubt that the sedentary lifestyle aspect is a major contributor to the injuries that we’re going to sustain,” Professor Hayes says.
When you sit at a desk for hours on end, for instance, your hip flexor muscles, which connect your spine, pelvis and upper legs, remain constantly shortened, Dr Fell says.
“And then you get up out of your chair and expect them to function normally, and you injure them or other associated structures.”
With being sedentary comes a greater risk of obesity. Fat can work its way between muscle fibres, further decreasing strength, and into bone.
The “your body falls apart in your 30s” idea probably also has something to do with that particular life stage, Bond University sports scientist Peter Reaburn says.
Are you over the age of 40 and feel like your body is telling you something? What do you do to keep fit and moving? Do you incorporate resistance training? We’d love to know!
If you’re unsure about what to do, or whether your body is ready to start something knew like lifting weights – then feel free to give us a call or book in for an assessment. You can book on-line HERE, or call us on 1300 842 850. We’ll make sure you don’t fall apart.
If you have been to a Physiotherapist before, there is a good chance you have been prescribed a muscle self-release (Usually performed with a ball) or a muscle stretch of some kind as homework. At Barefoot Physiotherapy, both are prescribed, and for slightly different reasons. Below, we will go through the benefits of Self-Releases vs Stretching and when each are appropriate.
Benefits of both self-releases and stretching:
- Decrease in tension/discomfort in the muscle
- Potential to lengthen the muscle and increase joint range of motion
- Enhance performance
- Can improve motor control
- Can improve posture
The main prescription differences Self-Releases vs Stretching:
- Nerves have the potential to be irritated with stretching. This is why if a client has any neural irritation, we avoid prescribing stretching until that neural irritation has been cleared. This decreases the chance of aggravating any nerves, and consequently speeds up the client’s recovery.
- General tight muscles vs. “knots”. A lot of tight muscles have palpable “knots or trigger points” in them. These are in certain areas and not throughout the entire muscle. To target these, muscle releases (With a ball, pocket physio or foam roller) are more effective than stretching the entire muscles. The mechanism of benefit is similar to that of a therapeutic massage, and relies on pressure to the muscle to relieve tension and increase efficiency of the muscle fibres.
- Stretching on the other hand can be a more effective prescription if the client has an entire muscle group that is notably tight.
- Studies have shown athletic performance benefits when dynamic stretching is used prior to competition.Although there are minimal (if any) studies examining muscle releases immediately prior to athletic performance, we propose that daily muscle releases are also beneficial to performance.
- Performing regular muscle releases can decrease muscle tension and “knots”, and therefore likely benefit athletic performance, similar to stretching.
It is important to understand the benefits and risks of muscle Self-Releases vs Stretching so they can be used safely and effectively. If you have any questions about Self-Releases vs Stretching with your specific exercise program or training regime, ask you physiotherapist or contact us at Barefoot Physiotherapy 🙂
Our friends at Amber Tree Yoga also have a regular release class worth checking out.
Here at Barefoot, a lot of our clients present to us with an injury they sustained during sport. From dance to yoga and football to power-lifting, there is nothing more frustrating than having an injury prevent you from doing the activity you love. The most common question in returning to sport after injury, is how long should I wait? or get treatment for?
Other questions such as:
- How long until I can get back to running?
- How long until I can compete again/re-join my team?
- If I play will I re-injure myself again?
There are some injuries with healing time-frames which dictate roughly the minimum amount of time an athlete will spend in recovery. For example a bone fracture or a complete rupture of a muscle or ligament will have very specific time-frames (and possibly surgical involvement) which will prevent someone from returning to sport within those first couple weeks…
Over the next few paragraphs we’ll discuss sporting injuries, and the approach we take to them at Barefoot Physiotherapy, and how we determine if an athlete is ready to return to their sport.
The most frequent types of injuries we see in clinic are ligament, muscular and tendon soft tissue injuries – of varying degrees.
The steps we take at Barefoot when aiming to get someone returning to sport after injury (After acute management has been given):
- First and foremost – we need the athlete to have no nerve irritation. An athlete with nerve [neural] irritation stemming from the spine will not recover as fast as one who is neural clear. When nerves are irritated (as shown objectively on our Neural Dynamic Tests) the muscles around them tense up and may spasm to protect the nerve. This reduces movement and places higher forces on joints/structures in the body, consequently taking the body longer to recover. If not cleared fully it also predisposes them to further injury. This is a crucial step.
- Appropriate Ranges of Motion (Ideally throughout the entire body – and definitely equal on both sides of the body). By going through the Barefoot Plan, we will determine areas of the body contributing to reduced ranges of motion, and treat those accordingly until an athlete has full range.
- Full Strength and Proprioception about the affected joints – To regain strength and balance, steps 1 and 2 need to have been addressed. The actual strength gains itself will be developed through a therapeutic, sport specific graded exercise program prescribed by one of Barefoot’s Physios or one of the trainers who we commonly refer to.
- By this point in an athletes rehabilitation, pain should be substantially diminishing, if not completely gone.
- Once steps 1-3 have been accomplished, it is now time to think about actually getting this athlete returning to sport. This is done by starting with the most basic principles of their chosen activity, and working our way up to the most complex/challenging aspects of it. To truly be able to determine if someone is ready for returning to sport at 100% intensity, we recreate their sport specific environment, and assess their performance.
- If the client has any pain, discomfort, imbalance or poor motor patterns during the assessment of their abilities…then they are surely not ready to SAFELY return to sport at this time. See below example for returning to sport for a soccer player
For example, assessing a soccer player’s ability to return to sport would involve:
- Running in a straight line – slow pace, no change in speed no change in direction
- Then in a straight line – medium pace, no change in speed no change in direction
- Followed by running in a straight line – fast pace, no change in speed no change in direction
- Then Zig-zag between pylons – slow pace, no change in speed
- Repeat at moderate to fast speeds
- Finally running backwards, then turning and running in the same direction forwards – slow pace
- Repeat at moderate and full speeds
- Soccer ball skills
- Passing a soccer ball short distance (1m) – inside of the foot
- Repeat at moderate and long distances
- All of step 6 above with a top of the foot pass
- Again all of step 6 with right and left foot
- Dribbling the soccer ball
- Slow pace
- Moderate pace
- Fast pace
- All of the above performed in a straight line, and in varying pylon set ups (zig zags)
- Incorporate an unstable environment:
- Steps 1-5 re-performed without the athlete knowing which way they are going to run
- Example: Athlete running at a moderate pace towards Physio, at the last second Physio will point either right or left and the player has to sprint for 3 seconds in that direction
- Steps 1-5 re-performed without the athlete knowing which way they are going to run
- Combination of steps 1-5 with steps 6 and 7
- Incorporating running with ball control
- Example: get the athlete jogging, not knowing when the Physio will pass her the ball, and when it’s passed, having her pass it back immediately with one touch.
- This can be incredibly variable, and will start slow and steady and progress to full speed drills in an unstable environment, where the athlete has to change their speed, change their direction and perform sport specific (soccer ball) skills, all on one drill.
The assessment above is done in such an order (most basic drills to the most challenging) because we want to know immediately if there are any concerns with the athletes’ injury recovery. Unless all of the above can be performed with no concerns, then we would not be happy to tell somebody that they are ready to be returning to sport.
The above example is a fairly basic one. At Barefoot Physiotherapy, returning to sport assessments are tailored to the individual and their specific position and or role in their chosen activity.
Our Job at Barefoot
Athlete safety and recovery is of the utmost importance, and we are here to support you. As part of your support system, it is our job to take you through the above steps, and make sure you are FULLY RECOVERED before we give you our OKAY to return to your chosen activity. There is nothing worse than being told you are recovered, and going out and re-injuring yourself.
If you have any sport specific questions about rehabilitation, please do not hesitate to ask 🙂
Anyone can, and does fall at some point throughout their lives, for most of us it is multiple times. Unfortunately, the older you get the more impact these falls can have. As we get older we need to take further precautions in order to stay safe. We can do this by putting in place some falls prevention techniques.
Here are some falls prevention quick tips for either at home or in the community.
- Stay active and participate in group activities such as Tai Chi, Yoga or Walking.
- Making sure you have good fitting shoes with good gripping soles, and avoid wearing loose fitting shoes (slippers) or socks, especially when walking on a slippery surface.
- Make sure there is enough light for you to see well, especially when walking at night. This does include turning on the lights when getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
- Using a walking aid, such as walking stick or frame, when you need to.
- At your house, you can consider putting grip tape on the edge of your stairs.
Physiotherapy’s role in falls prevention can be somewhat underestimated, so how do we help?
Well firstly we are able to fully assess not only your body, but your balance to help determine the level of risk you have to fall. Then once we have determined this, we are able to come up with individualised programs to help decrease this risk. These programs are things that will work on your muscle strength (not necessarily lifting heavy weights), and your balance. For example, standing on one leg in a yoga pose can go a long way to correcting and ensuring good balance.
Along with coming up with this program, we are also experts in the adjustment and maintenance or your walking sticks or frames, making sure they are as safe for you as possible. This may mean that we either adjust a frame or stick that you already have, or we may suggest to you that you get one, in order to help prevent any future falls.
We hope you’ve found these tips, tricks for Falls Prevention helpful. We’d love to hear from you if you have further ideas on how to prevent a fall.
If you feel you would love some help from us, you can give us a call, or book on-line for an appointment today!
At Barefoot Physiotherapy we utilise techniques from multiple learnings all combined into our unique Barefoot Physiotherapy Plan. These techniques include; LJ Lee’s training in The Thoracic Ring Approach™all of our Bachelor/Masters degrees, Mulligan, Maitland and Ridgway Methods, Western Acupuncture, Dry Needling, and Pain Science/Graded Motor Imagery. We are continually learning and evolving our Framework and an essential part of it is the Thoracic Ring training we have had.
The Thoracic Ring Approach™ is an innovative assessment and treatment technique for the body (treating through the thorax – which is the middle of the back and ribs) based on a broader understanding of how these areas are designed to function optimally. It fits well within our framework of seeing the body as a whole and in the context of whole body movement and optimal health of the whole person.
What is a Thoracic Ring?
A Thoracic ring is the 2 vertebrae and the ribs attached. For example the T4-5 vertebral segment (including disc) and ribs 5 on left and right.
How do you know if the Thoracic Rings are ‘The Driver’?
With the assessment of multiple rings and treatment techniques for them we can facilitate optimal biomechanics and replicate ideal motor control for the Thorax while hands on. If this facilitation/correction improves movements/meaningful tasks we can know that this is a significant area of the body (and potentially a Driver further through the body). We combine this information with the rest of our Clinical Reasoning in our Barefoot Physiotherapy Plan to determine whether the Rings are a true underlying factor of the clients problem (ie the reason they are seeing a physio!). As the LJ Institute states: “The reason this is essential is that it is common for the thorax to be relatively pain-free but dysfunctional; the dysfunctional thorax creates adverse stresses, loads and forces that can cause pain in any other area of the body.”
Treatment of The Thoracic Rings
When we move well we feel good and we move more. But the catch 22 is that we need to have the body feel good enough to move. Our treatment framework is based on getting the body moving through hands on treatment initially and teaching people how to move well – whatever that is for them! This dynamic view of the body means that an essential component of treatment is training optimal muscle activation patterns and muscle balance around the thoracic rings if they are a Driver. Manual techniques, taping, needling and self-release techniques such as “self stack and breathe” are used to treat Thoracic Rings if we have found them to be Drivers or significant in the clients body. What this does is release non-optimal muscle patterns to create a window of opportunity to train new muscle patterns.
Whatever sport you do you’re no doubt putting in endless hours of specific training, along with maybe some alternative recovery and rehab sessions like yoga and stretching. However, like most people, there’s even one more activity you’re probably doing more of than even sleeping – sitting! It’s the new epidemic.
We all spend too much time sitting. Whether it’s in the car, at work, at home or at the dinner table – you always find yourself sitting. This situation gets even worse if your job involves a computer. If you do have a job where a computer is an essential part of your day, chances are you spend more time sitting in front of a screen than you do exercising.
If sitting were a sport, we’d probably all be World Champions. How many hours a week do you think you sit for? A full-time desk job could have you sitting for 40 hours a week. I bet if you checked your Strava, your training hours would be around 6 to 8 for the above average athlete – way less than the time you spend sitting.
It’s obvious that when we sit for most of our week, slouching hours at a time in front of a computer, problems are inevitably going to occur. Muscular imbalances, lower back pain, tightness, all of which can carry across into our training causing more pain, stresses and even injuries. You probably end up looking like this for most of your day:
Sitting is the new epidemic. Not so much the act of sitting, but how we sit – slouching, neck forward, shoulders internally rotated, lower back collapsing. Core muscles disengaged. Glutes asleep. Hip-flexors and hamstrings shortened. Just like the image here.
Those that train for many hours and then hold an office job can tell you how bad this recipe is. What you think is a training issue stems from prolonged sitting after your workouts. Added to this could be RSI from your computer mouse, screen and a bad office chair. Your workouts may not be enough to counteract prolonged sitting. In fact, even a yoga class during the week may still not be enough to wake up sleepy glutes, undo tight hamstrings and wound up iliotibial bands.
So what can you do? The solution is to treat your sitting, as an extension of your overall training. Seek ways to cultivate healthy postural habits throughout the day that will positively transfer to your sport.
What’s key is to be as disciplined in the way you sit, as that you give your training sessions. Correct posture is key and a big part of this is how you set up your sitting spaces [like your office desk]. Click here for more info.
You need to sit up in that chair, keeping your back straight with a slight forward pelvic tilt to maintain the lordosis of your lower back. Your head should be in a neutral position – meaning that you might have to lift your computer screen right up. Roll your shoulders back and let your scapula’s move down your back. Your ears should be aligned over your shoulders, and your shoulders over your hips to avoid that forward slouch.
Stand up desks are gaining popularity – as it’s said it will be better posture for you, however you still need to be very careful. You can still ‘slouch’ while standing – and in fact contribute to sitting issues.
Caitlin, one of our Senior Physiotherapists here at Barefoot Physiotherapy, reminds me all the time that “the best position, is the next position”. So, at the least, incorporate frequent breaks into your workday to break up extended hours of sitting or standing at a desk. Lunch break walks, having to move to get to the printer will all assist your body. In fact a friend of mine ensures that they drink water all day, not to just stay hydrated, but to get you walking to the toilet.
There’s so many things you can do at your desk, in your chair or while standing in your office cubicle. Muscle activation exercises and stretching is always available to you, and don’t make you look too stupid to your work colleagues. In fact, when you begin to stretch, it’s infectious – anyone watching will usually start to do the same and comment, “oh yeah, I need to do some of that”. Here’s 10 ideas to get you moving:
- Nod your head as you would say yes, then increase the range of movement so that your chin touches your chest and then look raise your head and look at the ceiling above you. Then gently tilt the head from side to side, ears to shoulders.
- Roll your shoulders, forward and backwards – feel how awesome that is.
- Interlock your fingers behind your back, straighten your arms and stretch the front body. Look up, look down while you do this.
- Just stand up! Do number 3. Above while standing in a gentle lunge – oh yeah.
- While standing, you can do a forward bend and stretch the hamstrings and calves. For the more adventurous, stand on one leg as you bend the raised foot to your glutes for a lovely quadricep stretch. Push that hip forward to stretch the hip flexors. Change legs.
- While standing, place a hand on your desk, stretch your fingers wide, as far apart as they can go. Straighten your arm and then do some arm rotations – internal and external. Great for the rotator cuff and your wrist. Change arms. Do both arms. Do it against a wall. Have fun.
- Put a heel on your chair, straighten that leg and stretch your hamstring. For the more flexible, use your desk [you might have to take your shoes off].
- While the leg is on your chair or desk, rotate your torso over the leg, trying to get your shoulders parallel with the leg – your ITB, piriformis and glutes will thank you.
- Do some calf raises, both legs, then one leg with the raised foot locked behind your grounded foot. Hold on to something if you can’t balance.
- Get to that in-office corporate yoga program that HR has been beating on about.
Of course if you’re doing a lot of these exercises during your day and still can’t get rid of that niggle in your back or legs, feel free to click here to make a booking with us.
So your spending more time sitting at a desk or in a car during the week – undoing all that fantastic training and potentially hurting your body more than you know. The key is to focus on good posture and breaking up hours in a chair with movement –whether it’s light activities, stretching, walking or anything that supports your overall health and fitness goals.
We’d love to hear back from you around your thoughts on sitting. How long do you sit during your day? What do you do to counteract the effects of sitting? Feel free to comment below, or email us here.
Here’s a great article from our Industry Body explaining the current situation with Codeine becoming prescription only, and how Physiotherapy for Pain Management can be an effective treatment option.
With codeine becoming a prescription only drug from February, a large number of Australians will be seeking alternative ways to manage their pain.
National President of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Phil Calvert said, ‘The good news is that physiotherapy is proven to provide effective pain relief, which treats rather than simply masks the underlying cause of pain.’
‘We appreciate that restricting access to codeine may cause anxiety for people who suffer an injury. So we want them to know that physiotherapists help people to manage their pain and recover movement with great success, without the use of addictive drugs.’
Research has shown that the relative level of pain that is experienced by someone can be influenced by a range of factors including their emotions and social environment. This means that pain can be a very complex issue to successfully treat.
‘There is no one size fits all approach in assessing and treating someone’s pain. So physiotherapists are practiced in considering a range of factors that may be contributing to the pain. We’ll talk with patients about their lifestyle goals and introduce an appropriate treatment including exercise programs, joint manipulation and mobilisation,’ said Mr Calvert.
What to expect from a physiotherapy consultation:
- Your physiotherapist will perform a physical examination and find out more about your history and any other factors that may be contributing to the pain.
- In most cases of acute pain (the period in which an injury is expected to heal), the pain will settle as the tissue heals. Your physiotherapist will explain the nature of the injury and normal healing times. They may provide early treatment, but in many cases advice regarding self-management strategies, including gentle exercise, will be enough to help resolve the pain and return you to full function.
- In situations where the pain has become chronic (generally more than three months – longer than normal healing times), assessment and management may be more complex. Things other than tissue damage may be contributing to your pain, which your physiotherapist will investigate. In complex situations other specialists may also form part of a wider treatment team.
- At all stages of pain management, physiotherapists will work with you to encourage self-management, remaining active as appropriate and avoiding a reliance on medication.
If you’re experience pain or difficulty with movement that may cause pain, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Here’s a BLOG of ours to read, If you’d like some simple exercises to assist with pain management: http://www.barefootphysiotherapy.com.au/easy-exercises-keep-healthy-active-age/
Easy exercises to keep you healthy and active as you age.
For many people, aches and pains have become a normal part of their life, especially as they age. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re 7 or 77, pain is not a normal part of life, and should be something that you take seriously. This includes general aches and stiffness from your daily life!
Here are some easy exercises and body management tips to keep you happy, healthy and moving beautifully through life!
- Keep moving!
- Studies have shown people who stop moving are more likely to experience stiffness and pain. Now this movement is a little more than just pottering to the kitchen and back. This means you should be getting out of the house and moving around. Some good activities you could try are; heavy gardening, a half-hour brisk walk, riding a bike for 30 mins or more, team sports, or even dancing!
- Moving gets the blood flowing and joints lubricated. So not only should this movement help with any pain that you are already experiencing, but it will also help to prevent the onset of stiffness and pain!
- Deep breathing and muscle relaxation
- If your muscles are tense, then they are not going to be happy and they will send pain signals to your brain. So how do we relax muscles without going to the physiotherapist or for a massage?
- Deep Breathing Exercises;
- Make yourself comfortable (lying down or sitting in a chair)
- Loosen any tight clothing
- Start to listen to your breathing in its natural pattern, without changing anything
- Place your hand on your stomach, and start breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Imagine that you are breathing down into your hands, letting your belly move in and out with your breaths
- As you breathe out, imagine all your tight muscles are relaxing away all their tension
- Continue for 3-5mins
- Regular exercise can also help the back pocket. A few studies have shown in the older population, those who exercise spend less time and money on things such as doctors, and hospital visits…because overall they are generally healthier people.
Lastly, if you are experiencing pain on a daily basis and can’t seem to find relief, make sure you seek help. You can always give your physiotherapist a call, if you don’t have one you can make an appointment with us, or book in to see your GP.