Standing Desks

With recent reports about the hazards of prolonged sitting, standing desks are increasing in popularity. Standing desks have shown to be particularly beneficial for people with lower back, hip or pelvis pain and even improve return to work outcomes. However many people report more discomfort and fatigue in their legs with a standing desk and certain health conditions (such as varicose veins) are better suited to sitting.

It is important to note that sitting at work still has a role to play. In fact, a 2 minute walk every 20 minutes can be enough to reduce glucose levels in the body and hence reverse some of the negative health effects of sitting. If you want to learn more about ideal sitting posture see our previous blog here

To help you navigate the standing desk world, we have put together our top tips below.

  1. Ensure you are standing in a good position
    While a standing desk may seem like the answer to certain aches and pains, it will be no better for your musculoskeletal health if you are not in a good position. Ever stood at a concert for a few hours and felt worse afterwards? If you are going to spend extra time standing during the day, it is important to take the time to identify your ideal position.Fatigue at a standing desk is shown to be higher in those who slouch. Similarly, we know that standing too upright can also cause certain muscle and joint problems. So how do you know what the right position is? Well your body will actually tell you! Below are some good general guidelines to follow
  • Maintain a neutral spine. This means maintaining your 4 natural curves. This position minimises stress on your spine and helps prevent injury and will look slightly different for different people
  • Keep your head upright and in line with your shoulders
  • Shoulders should be relaxed back and down –  the muscles on top of your shoulders should be soft
  • Don’t ‘lock’ lock your knees out – you should keep a gentle bend in them
  • Avoid leaning backwards or forwards – your lower back muscles should be soft and relaxed


  1. Introduce gradually

Just as you wouldn’t go from doing no running training, to suddenly doing a marathon, it is important to gradually increase your body’s tolerance for standing. If you are not used to standing all day, suddenly changing from 8 hours of sitting a day to 8 hours of standing can cause a variety of issues. It is recommended to start with just 5-10 minutes of standing at a time and build up to 20-30 minute blocks. When beginning, total standing time in the day should aim to be no more than 2 hours. Compression stocking, inner soles and supportive shoes have been shown to help alleviate feelings of leg fatigue.

  1. Pick the right desk

There are lots of different options and brands on the market, so it can be difficult to tell which desk is right for you. Key things to look for are:

  • Easy to move up and down (if its too difficult or requires a lot of physical exertion, then you either won’t move your desk often enough or you may hurt yourself moving it)
  • “Set and forget” – programmable sitting and standing height. This allows you to take the time to set up the correct height for your body once, then easily move between sitting and standing set-ups without having to re-check your posture each time
  • 10 year motor warranty
  • Can rise to more than 1200mm
  • Large enough to comfortably fit monitor, keyboard and forearms on
  1. Your best position is your next position!

Ultimately, the best option for you is to regularly change position. This is why if you are going to invest in a standing desk, it is important to get one that can easily change from sitting to standing and back again. Likewise, it is important to ‘move around’ in your standing position – this includes having a foot rest to alternate legs with for different posture options.

If a standing desk does not seem right for you (or you’re just not ready to take the plunge yet), then looking for ways to move more during the day is a really good starting point. This includes having ‘walk and talk’ meetings, a central printing station that you have to get up and walk to or taking the stairs (instead of the elevator) as much as possible. All are great ways to move more and keep your body happier!

  1. See your physiotherapist

Every body is different and the demands of every job are different too. That is why seeing your physiotherapist for a thorough assessment of your nerves, muscles, joints, posture and physical work demands is the best way to get personalised, specific treatment and advice for you. You do not need to have any symptoms to have as assessment. It’s like getting your car serviced to prevent a breakdown! If there is any strain building up in your body, we can help teach you how to reduce the strain and prevent it becoming a more significant problem.

Want to learn more, or book in for an appointment? Click here.

Top tips for keeping you body happy at work!

Top 5 tips for those who are sitting at their desk all day.

If you are an office worker chances are you have come across or experienced first hand the pains of sitting for too long. While a typical desk job may seem to expose the body to little physical strain, prolonged sitting can wreak havoc on the body. The reason for this is that we are meant to move. Our anatomy and biology is set up for us to walk, stand, squat, twist, pull, push and a whole lot more. As the saying goes, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. In this case sitting all day causes us to lose our mobility. Muscles become tight and weak, our posture changes, and we become stiff and sore. To remove the risks of prolonged sitting check out our list of top things to do to maintain your mobility and move well regardless of the demands of your job.

  1. Perform an audit of your workstation setup

Often making a few changes to your workstation can cause you to form good posture without having to even think about it. Here’s some common faults and fixes for your workstation setup.

Common faults with workstation setup:

  • Chair too low → looking up at monitor
  • Monitor too low → looking down at monitor
  • Desk too low or seat too high → hunched over keyboard

Fix these with:

  • Chair at proper height → eyes are level with top of monitor
  • Hands comfortably at keyboard → shoulders are not rounded
  • Monitor at correct height → neck in neutral position

Want to learn more about how to setup your workstation? Click here.

 

Optimise your sitting posture:

often when we think about posture, it can seem overwhelming, often you are left with one question . . . What is the right way to position my body?

To ensure that the curves of the spine are maintained: roll your pelvis forward until you achieve a very slight curve in the lower back, sit up a little straighter through your mid/upper back, and check that the position of your head isn’t too far forward of back. It should feel nice and balanced over the rest of your body.

The next step is to get used to what being in this position feels like so you can adjust your position without thinking about it too much. After this you must form a habit of getting into and maintaining this position. To form a habit it is helpful to have habit triggers. Every time one of the following occurs hold your good posture for 5-6 deep breaths or until you forget about it:

  • You get an email
  • You answer or hang up the phone
  • You take a sip of water
  • You set your desktop background to a picture of someone with good posture and do what they do when you see it.
  • You set a reminder on your phone to notify you that its time to practice your posture habit.

Remember the most important point is that the body is made to MOVE. Even though we have outlined a perfect posture position above, remember that it’s always good to change positions often.

Regularly change your position throughout the day.

Been sitting for an hour? Why not stand for the next half hour? Or even kneel? The point is to do something different and to put your joints in a different position.

Don’t have this option? Get up go for a short walk to refill your water bottle, make a tea, go to the bathroom. You could even try marching on the spot, rolling your shoulders in circles, or doing a couple yoga moves. The takeaway from this is that there a million +1 ways to move your body and you must move it away from the position you have been spending a lot of time in.

Ideally change your position every 20-30 minutes but another useful technique is to listen to your body, i.e. is it starting to feel stiff? Are you starting to twist and move around in your seat to find a better position? If so, it’s time for a break. Get up and move or change your work position.

  1. Move often

 This can take the form of formal exercise, gardening, going for walks, anything really. If your body can handle regular movement/exercise it will develop better resilience to the strain that lengthy desk work can have on the body. Plus you’ll reap the numerous other health benefits of exercise.

  1. Get a thorough assessment from your physiotherapist

At Barefoot Physiotherapy, we assess your nerves, joints, muscles and movements to measure the amount of strain you have built up in your body. You do not need to have any symptoms or conditions to have this assessment; think about it like going to the dentist for a check-up to prevent something happening! If there is any strain building up in your body, we can help teach you how to reduce the strain and prevent it coming back again. Want to learn more or book an appointment? Click here.

Stretching vs Releases

Ever had a tight muscle that doesn’t seem to budge no matter how many stretches you do? It’s so common at Barefoot to have new clients tell us ” I stretch my ** tight muscle ** all the time and it still feels super tight” . . . so why is this happening?

Alot of tight muscles often have palpable “knots” and “triggers” in them. These are specific areas of contracted muscle within the entire muscle belly. To target these specific “hard or ropey” spots it is more effective to perform muscle releases (using a ball, pocket physio, foam roller, dry needling or trigger point massage) rather than doing a stretch. When you “muscle release” this allows for sustained pressure on a trigger point, at a specific angle held for around 90 seconds for 2-3 different spots per muscle group.

Muscle Releases

Muscle releases can still be performed if your muscle is tight due to nerve irritation, however stretching should definitely be avoided. It is difficult to know whether you have nerve irritation or not until it is tested by a qualified Physiotherapist. If you have consistently stretched a muscle correctly for >3 days and you’ve had no change, then you’ve tried doing muscle releases and there is still no change, then it is likely that there could be nerve involvement. Luckily at Barefoot this is something we test and specialise in, so if you need to get this checked click here to book an appointment.

Stretching can be effective if you have an entire muscle group that is notably tight and is not originating from nerve irritation. If this is the case, it is important to hold your stretches for a minimum of 60 seconds each using the correct technique to have the desired effect. If you do not know the correct technique, a Physiotherapist can help teach you.

So how will this help your muscles & body?

  1. Your muscles will feel “good” when relaxed at rest.
  2. Your injuries will be prevented
  3. Allows you to maintain full motion of your joints
  4. Allows full strength by having full range of motion
  5. Your recovery will be quicker after exercise!
  6. Your muscle soreness will be reduced
  7. Happy muscles & joints = happy nerves!
  8. Sports performance will be improved
  9. A reduction in headaches
  10. To stop us feeling old & creaky!
When and How?

Practicing muscle releases or stretches everyday is ideal. We recommend you set aside a minimum of 10 minutes a day to work on the areas that make the biggest difference to your body.  If you have a few areas to work on, you have had a big day at work or you are exercising at a high level, we would recommend 20-30 mins. If you aren’t sure what areas need to be released in your body to help you perform better, a Barefoot Physiotherapist will do a head-to-toe assessment to work out where you need to focus on for your body.It is normal to feel some discomfort during these releases and it should stop as soon as you release the pressure. If it doesn’t, please notify your Physiotherapist to find out why. Remember to breathe while you do your releases! Breathing in & out deeply will help relax the muscle contraction and speed up the releasing effect.

Be aware of your position while you stretch/release. Our brain always likes to take the easy option, so it will sometimes sub-consciously put us in the position where we get the least resistance. This doesn’t help us achieve the flexibility we are after. Posture and technique are key to sustaining a good stretch on a muscle. Want to know more? Check out the rest of our post here.

Women’s Health Week: Pelvic floor and Pregnancy Tips

Pregnancy is such an exciting time, however it can also bring a lot of questions about your health & well being. As your pregnancy progresses and your baby bump grows it’s important to strengthen your pelvic floor and improve pelvic floor health.  Sami Cattich from Body Birth Physio gave us her tops tips for improving the health of your pelvic floor, positive positions and how to maintain posture throughout your pregnancy!

√ – Practice Good Alignment

Poor alignment affects our pelvic floor muscles decreasing the ability of the abdominal and gluteal muscles (which are essential to the function of the pelvic floor!) to respond appropriately. Since your becomes used to what you do most frequently, continuous poor alignment while sitting, walking, or standing will result in a less functional pelvic floor. 

Often when you’re pregnant, or even when you aren’t it can be so easing to stand in positions that cause us to lean our pelvis our in front. With the hips out in front of you, your pelvic floor muscles are no longer able to appropriately respond to the load of the rest of the body and belly above it, and as such will not receive the input to build the strength required to support this extra weight – so pregnant or not, think hips over heels!

 √ – Sit With a Neutral Pelvis

Having a slouchy posture with your weight on your tailbone or sacrum (which is the middle of your pelvis) will put you pelvic floor muscles again into a disadvantaged position where it cannot do its job properly. Furthermore, pushing the sacrum INWARDS, especially when the ligaments are more stretchy thanks to pregnancy hormones, will have the affect of shortening the pelvic floor muscles and narrowing the pelvic outlet or birth canal – not something you want to be doing leading up to childbirth. The solution? When sitting – get your weight ON your ischial tuberosities (i.e. your “Sit Bones”) and OFF your tailbone and sacrum.

 √ – Release Your Stomach and Abdomen

Unfortunately this can be one of the most difficult tips to master ( we struggle with this too!) We’ve been conditioned from a young age as women to believe slim is desirable and as such suck in our stomachs and tense our abdomens on a daily basis.  However what you may not know is that this inhibits the ability of the pelvic floor and abdomen from functioning properly? That pressure has to go somewhere, and its usually down towards your pelvic floor causing undue stress and strain on the pelvic floor muscles. Try to relax and release your tummy & try not to wear restrictive or tight clothing that causes you to “suck in”. 

 √ – Employ a Proper Position While On the Toilet

Who would have thought that there was a proper position while on the toilet?!?

The most natural position while going to the bathroom is squatting. It allows your muscles to relax and removes the kink in your bowel that would otherwise make things difficult.  Unfortunately for those living in most western countries the height and shape of your toilets are not set up to allow for this. The solution? A raised platform like a shoe-box, stool, or squatty potty (if you haven’t heard of it, they explain this whole squatting while on the toilet concept in the most entertaining of fashions here) under your feet to allow you to assume this all natural position while going to the bathroom. 

The squatting position will also allow you to go without pushing – which is you do not want to be doing, especially when pregnant with the ligaments being more prone to stretch because of hormones. Pushing on the toilet can be a large contributor to prolapse and pelvic pain, so don’t go until your body lets you know its time and try to relax.

 √ – Wear Flat Shoes

They may make our legs longer & come in all different heights, shapes and sizes but for pelvic health  Unfortunately I’m not just talking about your favourite pair of stilettos, I’m also talking about those running shoes with a padded and elevated heel. Your pelvic floor health starts at your feet, the more time you spend in a shoe with a heel that is higher at the front than it is at the back, the more your body will adapt to that position – think shortened calf muscles and a pelvis that is constantly trying to compensate for being loaded in the wrong position. 

What you may not know is that wearing heals over a long period of time and cause your body to adapt even when you take them off! So we suggest trying out a pair of cute flat shoes, with a neutral heel when moving and exercising.

 √ – Move

This one is relatively straight forward, get up and about and keep moving! Sitting in the same position for long periods of time can cause shorting of your hips muscles, limiting the mobility of your pelvis and also contributes heavily to pregnancy-related lower back pain. 

Try to plan a walking meeting at work, stand at your desk occasionally, take a movement break, or print at the furthest printer from your desk – the options are infinite and the result is you getting move movement into your day.

Thanks to Sami Cattach from Body Birth Physio for these incredible tips and blog post !

To find out more about pregnancy and physio click here or follow the links to book in to see one of the Barefoot Team.

Tradie Health Month! Are you at risk of injury?

August is Tradie Health Month and we wanted to thank all the wonderful tradies for doing what they do! With that said, the work involved on a day to day basis for tradies can often be demanding on your body. 

There is an ever increasing number of injuries that occur when tradies are working. Did you know that 1 in 5 workplace injuries involve those working on the tools? What you may not know is that the predominant amount of these injuries are preventable – Physio Alistair has all the details!

How to tell if your body may be at risk of injury

Before a painful injury occurs there are often clues that the body is being exposed to strain. You may feel tightness or soreness in your muscles, stiffness through your back, or perhaps there will be days where a body part aches, and then the next day it feels totally fine. These are all signs that your body is under too much strain and there is a limitation causing the body not to move as well as it should.

Strategies to prevent injury

    1. See a physio – A physiotherapist will assess your movements, muscles and joints to see where your body is limited. At Barefoot we will treat the cause of your movement limitations and teach you strategies to maintain good movement. Once your body is able to move better you are less likely to load up other body structures which may be compensating for poor movement in another area of your body. The result is better movement, less pain and stiffness, and more knowledge on how you can best look after yourself.
    2. Develop a technique to keep your back in it’s optimal position while performing heavy physical tasks. If you’ve ever experienced an episode of back pain you’ll know how debilitating it can be. Any movement at all feels uncomfortable and you can’t do the physical activities required for everyday life. To prevent injury to the back it is helpful to learn what in fact neutral spine is and how it feels to move maintaining neutral. We call this this the two-hand check and have adapted it from the book Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett. Here’s how to do it:
    1. Place one hand at the bottom of your sternum with your palm facing down and your other hand at your pubic bone palm up. This should create two parallel horizontal planes – the top hand represents the bottom of the ribcage while the bottom hand represents the pelvis.
    2. Lean back and forward and notice how your hands move apart when you’re overextended and together when you’re rounded forward. These are indications that your spine isn’t in neutral. While the spine LOVES to move (and we love it to do so!) when a task is heavy it is best to maintain neutral spine as this places the least amount of strain on it.
    3. Have a go with your mates seeing if you can do a squat while maintaining neutral spine!

( See from left to right – Neutral, Extended, Bent)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Get your work mates involved to call you out when you’re in a poor position! See your buddy hunched over in some funky position when he’s lifting something? – let him know about it! It’s easy to fall back into old habits and ways of moving and we all need reminders to stay in a position that’s going to prevent injury. Having others to keep you accountable in maintaining a good position will help you build this habit and prevent injury long term.

Want to learn more, or pop in to see one of the Barefoot Team? Click here. To get involved visit the Tradies health Facebook page or the Tradies health website.

Accumulative Strain explained

You’re bending down, or doing a movement you have done hundreds of times and then all of a sudden you’re in a world of pain. Accumulative strain can present in multiple ways, and significantly affect how we function and move on a day to day basis.

Have you turned slightly the wrong way and had your back go?

Have you had an injury seemingly come out of nowhere?

These are just a few examples of how accumulative strain presents in our body.

 

So what is Accumulative Strain?

It is a build-up of load from various sources, such as:

  • Postural load
  • Sports technique
  • Previous Injury
  • Poor footwear
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stressful/Emotional load on our brain (anxiety, worry, depression)
  • General Health issues (immune system, endocrine/hormonal systems, infections, illness)

And leads to:

  • Tight muscles
  • Stiff joints
  • Irritated nerves

One thing on its own may not be enough to cause injury or symptoms, but in combination, strain can add up so that a small change in one aspect of your life can lead to a seemingly disproportionate amount of pain/ injury/ dysfunction. If previous injuries/stressors were never completely resolved we bring our tipping point closer to the pain threshold.

In the graph below you can see this depicted. Ideally everyone should be functioning in the optimal zone. This is when muscles and joints feel relaxed and mobile, movement ranges are 75% + and other factors such as nutrition, sleep and stress are being addressed.

What can I do to limit strain?

To limit strain in your body you want to improve all aspects that contribute to it. For example:

  • Improve your posture at work, on the couch at home, driving in your car, or standing at a bar having a drink.
  • Set your workstation up best for YOU!
  • Ensure you are as fit and strong as you can be for the activities you do.
  • Be smart about your footwear.
  • Getting enough sleep. Sleep is essential for brain development and cell recovery.
  • Lead a Balanced Lifestyle. Try to take time out to do the things you enjoy often. Working too much or feeling stressed can have negative effects on your body & your health.
  • See a Barefoot Physiotherapist. To work out if strain is building up in your body that would eventually become an issue, we can do a thorough assessment of your nerves, muscles, joints and postures. You do not need to have symptoms to have an assessment. It is a positive step towards injury prevention.

At Barefoot our goal is to get you back to doing what you love. Whether you are an elite athlete, an office worker, a parent or even a student, it’s so important to listen to your body. At Barefoot Physiotherapy we want to help you continue to live the life you choose, pain free. Want to find out more? Click here.

So what exactly is Sports Physiotherapy?

Sports Physiotherapy explained

More often than not it can be confusing deciding what physio you should see, and how will this change your Physio experience. To answer your questions about Sports Physio we sat down with Barefoot Physio and Olympian Caitlin Sargent!

Many people ask me why we differentiate between the terms ‘physiotherapy’ and ‘sports physiotherapy’.  And fair enough, as the term sports physio isn’t widely understood – in fact, physio in general isn’t widely understood. But there’s a difference, which to us and our clients is vital.

Most people think of physio as a massage, followed by a bunch of home exercises for rehabilitation. So on that basis, sports physio would simply be the same but for people who play sport, right? Not at Barefoot Physiotherapy, and I’ll explain why. Let’s say you’ve presented to your GP with one of the usual suspects like neck, shoulder, back or knee injury. An attentive GP will likely spend a few minutes with you looking at your range of motion and asking about the circumstances of the pain you’re experiencing, before giving you a referral for some physiotherapy. 

Now this is where your journey can make a decisive turn. If you’ve been sent to a regular physiotherapist for rehabilitation, you’ll probably notice the treatment in your session will go straight to the site of the pain. It seems very cause and effect – you have a knee injury, so let’s get to work on that joint.

But this approach misses the key fact that often the site of pain is not in the same place as the cause. Still experiencing pain after a few visits? It’s a safe bet you’ve been treating the symptom and not the cause. At Barefoot we look at the root cause of the pain and treat it, helping to teach you to treat the problem area yourself and help to prevent further injuries in the future.

One of the big differences between physio and a sports physio is a specific understanding of what’s required from your body to perform at such a high level. To get you performing at optimal level, it’s important to help you understand your whole body as a working system. This means looking at your pain and treatment at a holistic level, teaching you to understand your body in a “bigger picture” sense.

Sometimes through treatment it can be determined that your injury may require further investigation from another health professional. We might even determine at an early stage that your shoulder injury, for example, needs investigation from another health professional before we can begin treatment. Or we might pick up in our early assessment that nerve irritation is causing muscle weakness and affecting your technique, which undetected would make a strength training program a very ineffective treatment.

Through looking at the whole picture our physios are able to identify if things like sleep position or posture at work are causing accumulative strain. Identifying this can help to solve your pain – not just fix it temporarily!

Who Should See a Sports Physio?

First of all, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to see a sports physio. In fact, most of our clients don’t fit that description at all (though we do treat some of the best in the business!).

It could be anyone! Our clients range from people who play sport socially, work out alone, weekend warriors and even professionals who need their body to function well as part of their physically active day job. We understand that movement and living an active lifestyle is just as important as those who are professional athletes. Having a body that is able to move and help you continue to do what you love is so important!

Naturally, most of our clients do love sport and achieve amazing results through the way we treat their sport injury or help them to improve performance. Non-professional athletes can often think they don’t need professional advice, but small gains at this level (especially when everyone else is thinking the same thing) can lead to huge performance benefits.

If you would love to get back to doing what you love, or don’t feel like you are performing at your optimal level pop in to visit the Barefoot Team! Click here to read more or book an appointment.

Are you sitting at a desk? Read this!

Work Station Set Up

Our bodies are made to move, and when they aren’t moving often you can start to experience stiffness and soreness. We’ve all experienced the pain of standing at a concert for too long, or sitting still while watching a 3 1/2 hour movie. When our brain is focusing on other things, it doesn’t give us the signal that our joints, muscles and nerves need to move.

Being in one position for long periods can cause some muscle groups to shorten and others to lengthen over time. This can be the reason that muscles eventually become tight or weak, joints can become stiff and then nerves aren’t able to glide through the body as they normally do. This will start to accumulate strain in your body.

Don’t fear! We have a few key actions that you can do during and after your work day to prevent strain building up in your body.

  1. Take regular breaks from your working position.
    A lot of our clients tell us that they get up often to go to the photocopier, get a glass of water or talk to someone. This may be the case and the question is more about consistency. Are you moving that often every hour, or only some of the day? Ideally, changing your position every 20mins is recommended. A change in position doesn’t have to mean standing up and walking around each time, it may just be doing a gentle spine twist in your chair, turning your neck from side to side, rolling your shoulders or tilting your pelvis back and forth a few times.
  1. Choose a reminder system to correct your posture.

We love hearing how our clients remind themselves to correct their posture, here are a few suggestions:

  • Every time you hear the phone ring
  • Before you open an email
  • When you walk through a doorway
  • Setting the background picture as a reminder on your computer or smart phone
  • Using an app that pops up on the screen of your computer or phone

How to prevent strain building up in your body outside of work:

  1. Do regular exercise. 
    The more that your body can handle long walks, lifting weights, practising Yoga or gardening, the easier staying in one position at work will seem. Being strong and flexible will not only help you hold a better position at work, it will also help to slow the build-up of strain in your body and prevent injury. Not to mention the added work-life balance benefits! 
  1. Get a thorough assessment from your Physiotherapist.
    At Barefoot Physiotherapy, we can assess your nerves, joints, muscles and movements to measure the amount of strain you have built up in your body. You do not need to have any symptoms or conditions to have this assessment; think about it like going to the dentist for a check up to prevent something happening! If there is any strain building up in your body, we can help teach you how to reduce the strain and prevent it coming back again.

Basic Principles 

  • Keep work as close as possible to your body (papers, keyboard etc)
  • Keep items that are used regularly between hip and shoulder height
  • Only short periods of time should be spent doing repetitive tasks and holding static postures (aim for having a break every 20-30mins)
  • Keep heavy reference materials in arm’s reach or so that you need to stand to access them
  • Maintain upright posture and avoid twisting/slouching

Posture

  • Maintain a neutral spine. This means maintaining your 4 natural curves. This position minimises stress on your spine and helps prevent injury. This applies to sitting, standing and lifting postures.
  • Ensure your lower back is supported by the chair or a cushion/towel. Your back muscles should be soft
  • Keep your head upright and in line with your shoulders.
  • Shoulders should be relaxed back and down –  the muscles on top of your shoulders should be soft
  • Don’t hold the phone between your ear and shoulder – a headset is ideal

Chair

Adjust the height of your chair to match the following:

  • Elbows should be at desk height or slightly above
  • Thighs are parallel to the floor & feet flat on the floor – you may need a footrest to achieve this
  • Have a 2-3 finger width between back of knee and front of seat
  • If you have a very deep seat you may need a cushion behind your back to allow for optimal posture & back support
  • Adjust the height of backrest so it fits into curve of lower back
  • Tilt backrest backwards slightly to minimise strain through the low back

Desk

  • Desk surface should be just below elbow height
  • Footrest should not interfere with movement of the chair
  • There should be a gap between your desk and your thigh
  • Items under the desk shouldn’t interfere with your feet
  • Place frequently used items in top drawer
  • Place phone so you can reach the handset and buttons without needing to move your trunk

Monitor

  • Directly in front
  • Top of screen level with or slightly lower than eyes when sitting upright
  • Arm’s length away

Keyboard

  • Flat on desk
  • 5-10cm from front edge of desk
  • Don’t rest wrists on desk or keyboard while keying


Mouse

  • Directly beside keyboard
  • Alternate sides
  • Avoid holding mouse while not using it  (avoid holding a prolonged position)
  • Avoid controlling the mouse with only  side-to-side wrist movement – keep your wrist  in line with your forearm & move the forearm  & wrist as one

Document Holders

  • Place document holder next to the monitor and at the same height and distance as the monitor
  • Use an angled surface to decrease prolonged periods of neck bending e.g. when reading for prolonged periods of time

Laptop Computers 

If using a laptop for extended periods of time, consider:

  • Docking station to ensure correct screen height and distance (as above)
  • Use of external mouse and keyboard to avoid excessive reaching

We understand that sitting at a desk can be a part of every day life, that’s why it’s so important to understand how to take care of your body while at work, or at home!

If you would like any more information, or would like to book in with one of our physios click here.

Are you suffering from Persistent Back pain?

When Pain Persists – What is going on? And what can WE do to help?

When you move well, you feel good. The better you feel the more you move. Sounds simple enough, right? So often we find ourselves limited by our pain, which affects how we go about every day life.

As human beings, we need movement and exercise to feel good, for both the body and mind. So what happens when movement hurts? The more it hurts, the less you want to move. It’s very much a catch 22.

When you are injured or in pain (especially over a prolonged period of time), your body has limited choices in ways to move so to avoid pain in the easiest way possible, but as a result reduces your life activities. This might be playing your favourite game of sport, going for a run or just walking down to the shops to carry a carton of milk home. This lack of choice impacts you on how to move your body correctly to avoid further pain and discomfort.

When you compensate your everyday movement to avoid pain, this then has a negative flow on effect for the rest of your body. An example of this is when people are in pain from just trying to sit with the correct posture. Sitting may cause great discomfort, so they try to sit in a position that is less painful, resulting in bad posture.

As physios, we often see people using the same strategies and compensate for all movements to avoid further discomfort. For example, when asking a client to bend forward it causes the lumbar erector spinae to spasm. This is not a ‘normal’ reaction, but it’s the best one they have due to the lack of ‘choice’ in their movement.

At Barefoot Physiotherapy, we look at these patterns of movement and aim to provide treatment to the right areas so you can increase the availability of your movement choices. Your movement may not be predictable as your body has created its own strategies to still achieve certain movements. For example, a swimmer may have great overhead but cannot go through their full range to get there. It is important to remember that everyone is different, so overcoming ongoing pain may take more time for some and less for others.

It is important for you and your physiotherapist to set realistic goals if you are suffering from chronic or persistent pain. You may not even realise how much you have had to limit yourself in your movement, just to get through your day.

Simple motor control is lost when you are in a great deal of pain, and this can be extremely frustrating, especially when you go to a physio after being in pain for years and they try to teach you how to sit properly, but all you feel is pain. In my experience, the majority of my clients bodies do not have the ability to sit in a good position until we first settle their body down.
What can be confusing to both the client and their physio is that they may have much better strategies and patterns of movement at a higher level of activity, resulting in less pain during that motion, but can experience high levels of pain undertaking their day to day activities. For example, you may love to kayak, and you can kayak at a high level of intensity with your body working in the way it should, however when you are being treated by your physio they notice that you are unable to squat, which is an essential position for kayaking.

At Barefoot Physiotherapy, we aim to get you to your optimal health. We know how important it is to move well and to have multiple strategies to obtain this level of movement. Our treatment aims to decrease the old strategies that may be contributing to current pain or injuries and providing you with new strategies and support. These often include releasing irritated nerves and tight muscles/joints to assist in re-learning your bodies motor control patterns to increase your choice of movement.

Move well, feel great! To find out more about Barefoot Physiotherapy, or to book an appointment, click here.

A good nights sleep for you & your body

There is nothing better than a good nights sleep. It can set you up for a productive day, allows for our bodies to reset and helps our mind to clear and recharge. So what happens when your body is strained and tight throughout the night? A bad sleeping posture can lead to pain and joint stiffness – which doesn’t exactly allow for a refreshed state.

Finding the ideal sleep position for YOU is important to ensure that you don’t put any strain on your muscles and joints at night, especially if you already have a musculoskeletal condition. Some clients report to us that they feel stiff or painful first thing in the morning. This makes it extremely important for you to know if you are sleeping in the right position for your body.

One thing to note is that there is not one perfect pillow or mattress for everyone. We all have a different width of our shoulders and a different length of our spine. So how do you know what’s right?

It’s quite simple really…

Your muscles will tell you how happy your body is to be in the position you are in (this applies to other postures as well). The first thing to do is lay on your bed with your normal pillow in your usual sleep position. Place one or both of your hands on your neck muscles and move them around. Do the muscles feel squishy and relaxed, or do they feel tense and ropey? (Try to avoid pushing too hard with your fingers).

Assessing your neck in your sleeping position:

If your neck feels squishy and relaxed, then that pillow and that position is right for you.

If your neck feels tense and ropey, you may need to adjust a few things. First assess this; Is your head in line with your neck, or is it 1. Being pushed up too high, or 2.Hanging down onto the pillow.

  1. If your head is being pushed up high, the pillow may be too high for you. Try a different pillow, or if it is an orthopaedic pillow that has a high side and a low side, try the low side. Once you have changed this, re-assess the muscles for squishy-ness.
  1. If your head is hanging down onto the pillow it may be too low for you. You could try a different pillow at home that is higher, or build up the height of the one you have. An easy way to build up height is to fold a towel and place it under the pillow. You may have to try different amounts of fold to get the perfect height for you. To keep the towel in place, put it inside your pillow case on the bottom side of the pillow.  Then, re-assess your muscles for feeling soft & squishy.

  1. If neither of these works, it may be worth trying a new pillow altogether and do the same tests with a new/different pillow. You can usually do this in store if you are purchasing a new one.

It is often best to avoid sleeping on your tummy for long periods of time as this position often builds up strain in your neck and/or shoulders. Try to make a habit out of sleeping on your back or side.

Assessing your low back in your sleep position:

We will do a similar test on your low back muscles either side of your spine.

Get into your usual comfortable position. If this is on your side, feel the top side of your back muscles. Do they feel squishy and relaxed, or do they feel tense and ropey.

  1. If your low back muscles feel tense and ropey when you are on your side, try putting a pillow in between your knees and have your knees slightly bent. Re-assess your back muscles to see if that makes them more relaxed. Similar to finding the right height pillow for you neck, you may have to do the same test/re-test for the pillow in between your knees.

  1. If you sleep on your back, slide your fingers under your back and feel the muscles either side of your spine. If they are tense, try putting a pillow under your knees.
  2. If neither of these work, try pillows in different places on the bed to support yourself, especially if you are in pain.

If you would like further information, or to book in with one of our Physio’s click here.