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Turtle Conservation in Malaysia

Putting her diving ability to good use while she studies for a Masters Degree in the Environment, Kirsten recently landed her Dream Job studying and caring for Turtles in Malaysia.  Turtle Conservation is her passion and her journey is amazing. We’re excited to share her story:

You have just scored your dream job, working in turtle conservation in Malaysia for 8 months. Tell us more about what the job entails and why you are so passionate about this work

I have worked on a few turtle conservation projects in the past, which have involved patrolling the beaches at night for nesting mothers. When you come across one there is often a procedure of measuring, tagging and observing the nest and its parameters which are crucial to understand their mortality rates. The work also involves tracking hatched nests, their success rate and causes of depredation among the eggs.

Turtles are the most magnificent animals to work with and I’ve never felt more peaceful than sitting with a mum as she’s laying. Sometimes it isn’t the most glamorous work (scrambled turtle eggs and vultures is not an uncommon combination) and walking anywhere up to 8km throughout the night can be tough but being around these prehistoric creatures make it all worth it in a heartbeat.

The programme I’ll be looking after in Malaysia will cover all these things, where I’ll be working to coordinate volunteers from all over the map. I’ll have some big shoes to fill but having the beach as an office has been my dream for some time!

A few projects I’ve worked on have also involved surveying the beaches for poachers. Luckily this isn’t a problem in Australia, however is still a reality in many countries where sea turtles lay their eggs. I fell in love with sea turtles on a project in Costa Rica in 2012 with an amazing crew of local conservationists who were dedicating their lives to protecting them. Only a few months after I came home in 2013 one of my mentors, Jairo Mora Sandoval was brutally murdered by poachers. Its hard to believe, but this is how serious animal trades have become in some parts. I’ve never met someone as passionate for conservation as him, and I promised myself that Jairo’s death would not be in vain.

One of your big passions in life is scuba diving – tell us what it is you love so much about diving and where are some of your favourite dives?

 The feeling I get when I’m underwater is indescribable. It’s one thing to sit on the beach and marvel at the view but knowing what lies beneath makes me appreciate what I’m looking at a whole lot more. I feel so lucky to live in a world where such exquisite life exists. And even better is how us humans have worked out how to breathe underwater!

 

 

Every dive is different, but my most memorable ones have been throughout Central America. I dived in a cenoté in Mexico which is an underwater limestone cave that you enter through a hole that may only be a few metres wide but would open up to a range of huge caverns underneath. It was extremely challenging both mentally and physically, knowing that you had to conserve enough air to be able to follow a line throughout the cavern. At one point we surfaced into ’The Bat Cave’, which as the name suggests, was full of bats hanging from the stalactites (those formations that hang eerily from the roof). I don’t know if I’d do that bit again!

Nothing compares to exploring your own backyard and diving over at Stradbroke Island during Grey Nurse Shark season is truly amazing. They are gentle sharks who nurse their young in the waters off Straddie, and I’ve been lucky enough to see a manta rays, turtles, nudibranchs and so much more on the same dive!

 

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.