Yoga Physio and Props – get the most out of your practice!

Written by Catherine – Yoga Physio

As both a physio and a yoga teacher I can honestly say one of the best things you can do for your yoga practice is to use props!  It’s a legitimate game changer. It’s common for teachers to make suggestions of using a block or bolster throughout a yoga class, but often it’s a bit more difficult to work out exactly how or why you should be using them, especially as we have more and more access to online classes!

The best things about using props is that they change your environment to suit your body and your yoga pose, rather than contorting your body to suit the environment.  We already know that all bodies look and move differently, why should we then expect everyone to be able to come into the same position in a yoga class? As we do more and more in our homes, it’s important to listen to your body.  You’ll get much more out of your practice (in all facets) if you’re not constantly fighting against your body!

A couple of examples (with home prop variations included):

Downface Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Roll up the back of your mat or have a rolled towel to tuck under the heels so that you can soften the calf stretch/ankle dorsiflexion plus make it a bit easier to soften the knees out of a full hamstring stretch.

Yoga physio
Downface dog with prop

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana):  Use a block or a study shoe box under the front hand, either on the inside or the outside of the leg.  This helps to support the torso while also changing the amount of trunk rotation, hip flexion/rotation/abduction required and decrease the likelihood that you just sink into the front knee/shin.

Yoga Physio
Triangle with prop

Warrior 3 (Tuladandasana): Use blocks, or shoeboxes, or a sturdy stack of textbooks under the hands for a bit of extra support and height for the torso before starting to hover or lift the hands.  It also means if you over balance you won’t fully fall out of the pose.  You can also try a standing variation where hands can rest of the wall, or edge of the couch. Nail the glute and core activation with a bit of extra support.

If you have specific niggles going on in your practice that adjustments and props still don’t cut it  give us a call at the clinic on 1300 842 850 or Click here to book an appointment.

Increasing running

Increasing running with Caitlin Sargent

More time for running

With gyms closed and exercise options somewhat reduced compared to normal, a lot of people are turning to running for their endorphin dose. Running is a great form of exercise, with the added bonus of getting some vitamin D and some seeing some fresh scenery. However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. A sudden rise in running volume can lead to injuries, so I’ve put together my suggestions for how to safely increase your running.

Gradual approach

Progressive overload is a term used in exercise to describe how we can safely get the body to adapt to new stimulus. It is generally accepted that a 10-20% is safe, but also effective in increasing fitness. This is often a lot less than people imagine – if you were previously running 3km, then an appropriate increase would 300-600m in one run. It also applied across the whole week – so if you were previously running 5km twice a week and wanted to add another run in, a total volume increase of 2km would be appropriate. So you might consider a 5km and two 3km runs.

If you haven’t been running, I would start with a maximum of 2 runs per week. Depending on your existing level of fitness and strength as well as past exercise experience, you may find you adapt to this quite quickly and can increase your frequency quite quickly. If you have little or no past running experience, it is a good idea to start with a run/walk option. Eg Run for 1 minute, walk for 1-2 minutes x 5. As you progress you can increase the continuous running time and then decrease the rest time (until you are running for 5-10 minutes straight!)

Don’t forget about Strength!

It is easy to get focused on running, especially when gyms are closed and the lure of outdoor training is so high. However running is a high load activity on the body- it is essentially repetitions of single leg squat jumps one after another. Ensuring you have adequate strength and endurance in your leg muscles (in particular glutes and calves) is important for helping prevent injury, as well as improving performance. Strength training for running doesn’t need big heavy weights. When done correctly, body weight exercises like step-ups, lunges and squats (ideally single leg ones) are all great for training up strength and control in running muscles.

Rest days!

Most important of all – allow your body rest and recovery time! 1-2 days of either total rest or gentle walk/yoga is very important for keeping your mind and body happy and healthy

If you’d like to know more or ask Caitlin questions feel free to contact the clinic on 1300842850 or email hello@barefootphysiotherapy.com.au

Cooking pasta

Hobbies and your body – Physio tips to take care of yourself

More time at home can mean more time for hobbies

With many of us spending more time at home, we’re seeing people able to engage more with their hobbies (or even taking up new ones). It’s great to see creativity and passion being nourished like this. While the brain loves being engaged in an activity to the point of losing track of time, often the body feels otherwise. Awkward positions and long periods of sitting are just some of the reasons we may find ourselves more sore as we spend more on our hobbies.

“Hobbies” covers a very wide spread of activities, however many of them are done in some variation of sitting, so that is what this blog will focus on. If you love to cook or bake – there’s a whole other blog about that here.

How you can take care of your body

  1. Think about your set-up
    There is usually another component to hobbies other than just ‘sitting’ – either leaning over a desk – drawing/puzzling /sewing or with something in hand – knitting needles, crossword book or a digital tablet. It is important to keep in mind how these other elements are affecting our posture. A few things to keep in mind
  2. If you are leaning over a table – try to keep your chin tucked in to reduce the amount of strain on your neck. If you have easy access to an adjustable table (like a drafting table with a changeable angle), this is another way you may be able to ease the load on your neck
  3. Try to keep your elbows tucked in – its very easy to let your arms rest out to the sides, especially if they’re engaged in activity. However, this tends to result in extra work for your shoulder muscles so aim to keep your elbows relaxed by your side.
  4. Take breaks
    Bodies are designed to move, so long periods in any one position often result in stiffness or aches. If you know your hobby often makes you lose track of time, then try setting a timer to get up and move every 30-60 minutes. Depending on your hobby, you can also try changing positions – eg sitting, standing, reclining on the couch/armchair.

If your body is sore and stopping you from spending more time on your passions, book in to see a physio to get to the root of the cause and help customise your hobbying posture! You can book online with a Barefoot Physiotherapist here

Physiotherapy Brisbane, Barefoot Physiotherapy

The Barefoot Physiotherapy Plan

Barefoot’s 10 step plan

Client’s will often ask us how we will best determine the cause of their symptoms or ask us what sets us apart from other physiotherapy clinics. Our answer is simple, our Barefoot Physiotherapy Treatment Plan.

Every client we see at Barefoot Physiotherapy is always approached with the same treatment plan, a 10 step process to help you get back to living your Barefoot Lifestyle. Now 10 steps may sound like a lot but I’m going to break them down so you can see how they can help you move and feel the best you can.  

Getting started

Whenever anyone comes to Barefoot Physiotherapy we always take the time to discuss their story, and work out what their individual goal of coming to us is (this is one of the best parts because we get to discuss goals and how you can be the best physical version of yourself possible). Our next stage is to always determine if other health professionals or any type of investigation is needed so we can reassure you that not only are you in the best place for your care, but that we are confident we have all the pieces to solve your puzzle.

Your first session with will include us testing to see if your nerves are involved in your condition. Our nerves run throughout our spine branching up into our neck, down to our fingertips and to the tip of our toes. If we determine that your nerves are restricted or you might hear us say ‘grumpy’ we will treat them and then teach you how to keep them happy. This way once our nerves are moving well, our muscles and joints will be able to move freely and it will help us make long lasting improvements to your muscles and joints.

Whole body holistic approach

Once we have made those grumpy nerves happy we will complete a full body assessment testing muscles, joints, movements and accompanying thoughts and worries. This will lead to us completing a systematic testing process to work out the primary cause of your condition, which we can then treat YAY!

Next we are at step 8 (nearly complete), it’s now time to teach you how to take care of the primary cause of your symptoms, with muscle retraining and self-treatment. We will then discuss booking you in for tune ups with increasing intervals to keep your body happy and keep you living your Barefoot Lifestyle.

If this all sounds great to you and you or someone you know is experiencing any muscle joint or possible nerve irritation please contact us. We can determine if it is a musculoskeletal issue before having to see a GP. We are open 5 days a week and a couple Saturdays a month. We have early and late appointments available. Please call us at 1300 842 850 or Click here to book an appointment.

Physiotherapy Brisbane, Barefoot Physiotherapy

Corticosteroid injections and Physiotherapy

Corticosteroid Injections

To get a Corticosteroid injection or not is a common question we as Physiotherapists are often asked by clients. As health professionals we always respond in a way that provides our clients with all the details and facts they need to know to help them make an informed decision.

Corticosteroid injections are essentially a very strong form of anti-inflammatory medication. They are administered by a medical practitioner and can be given into either a painful joint or muscle.

The evidence

The evidence surrounding corticosteroid injections show that they do provide some immediate pain relief, which is often a result of the local anaesthetic provided during the injection. However, it may then take the injections a few days  or weeks to start working and the effect generally wears off after a few months.  The best long term effects of Corticosteroid injections have been shown when the injection is administered in conjunction with ongoing Physiotherapy.

Injections and Physiotherapy

Corticosteroid injections can help facilitate your physiotherapy sessions by providing a reduction or elimination of the inflammation and pain in your joint and muscle. This allows Physiotherapy to progress through rehabilitation with less resistance, treating the underlying cause of your symptoms. However, our physiotherapist will often always recommend you start some anti-inflammatory oral medication if your symptoms require it as a way of calming the inflammatory process in your body and progressing treatment without the need for a corticosteroid injection.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any muscle joint or possible nerve irritation please contact us. We can determine if it is a musculoskeletal issue before having to see a GP. We are open 5 days a week and a couple Saturdays a month. We have early and late appointments available. Please call us at 1300 842 850 or Click here to book an appointment.

Muscle tightness

Why are my Upper Traps always tight?

It is a common complaint

One of the most frequent problems we see in the clinic, is people with tight shoulders. Given the prevalence of desk jobs, many consider tight shoulders just a fact of modern life. However we often find that tight upper traps are rarely the real issue and rather they are a symptom of the body being unhappy.

In particular, we find that tension in the upper traps is often present when there is neural irritation. Nerves should be able to move freely and easily through the body however they can get restricted. Nerves are quite sensitive and may get irritated by a variety of causes including tight neck joints, stress and sickness. When nerve irritation occurs, the brain switches on “protective mode” and creates a wide-ranging response, aimed at avoiding further aggravation. This protective response can include symptoms such as pain, numbness, pins and needles or weakness, as well as muscle tightness and movement restriction.

Why do they get tight?

Upper traps are one of the muscles that is often part of this protective response. Given their role in protecting the nerves, releasing them directly often won’t make lasting changes. It may give some temporary relief although sometimes it can result in an aggravation of symptoms.

So if you releasing the upper traps is not the answer, then what do you do? Treatment should be aimed at working out why the upper traps are tight and treating the underlying cause. By addressing the primary issue, the brain can then switch off (or decrease) the protective response and in turn, then upper traps should start to soften.

If you or someone you know is experiencing tight upper traps or possible nerve irritation, please contact us. We can determine if it is a musculoskeletal issue before having to see a GP. We are open 5 days a week and a couple Saturdays a month. We have early and late appointments available. Please call us at 1300 842 850 or click here to book an appointment.

Sports physio

Old injuries coming back to bite you

Old injuries and Accumulative Strain

Remember that incident from years and years back? The one has completely healed and doesn’t give you any pain, but it was a pretty big deal at the time? It may not seem related to a pain you are currently experiencing, and maybe it isn’t, but no matter where or what the injury was, it DID cause load and strain on the body. This load and strain causes other muscles and nerve pathways to fire differently – initially, it might be for a protective response, but over time, those adaptations to avoid pain can become your new ‘normal’ leading to tight muscles, irritated nerves and restricted movements. Pushing into these limits over and over can lead to pain in a seemingly new area.

Example

If we take an example of a surfing incident and hitting the waves hard, the breath may have been knocked out of you, nothing was broken, but your body had been very sore and it took a week or so to be moving normal again. Your body will have been moving very differently as taking a breath was hurting you. Your breathing becomes shallow, you limit your turning and arm movements because it hurts and this continues without you realizing even after the initial pain is gone.

Fast forward to now, you are back at the gym, back at work, and your shoulder starts getting sore over a period of a couple weeks.

You come to us, we assess and treat. We draw your accumulative strain graph on the board and we work with you to find out how your body has come to this point:

What we are looking at is how the body has been dealing with strain up until that surfing incident. The other points of discussion are what else causes strain:

  • Poor sleep
  • Stress at work, financially, or with relationships/family
  • Poor or changed nutrition
  • Energy levels

Other injuries also go onto this list:

  • Rolled ankles
  • Car accidents
  • Neck pain

Each time your body takes on one of these events, you may never get back into the optimal zone or a low level of strain. These events can layer on each other and our body becomes less tolerant and more likely to be triggered into a pain event.

Why

Strain builds up and our body handles it, but at the expense of something else: a different muscle pattern is now required or that last bit of movement is coming from the joints above or below that injury. You start using these postures in everyday life, and so those muscles now are working harder and harder. Eventually, you keep pushing and pushing, and for your body to tell you to stop, you get pain.

When you come to us, our Barefoot Approach will bring us to the full body check, so we can discover if some of these old injuries are holding you back from feeling great! Book online or call to chat to one of our physios to discuss any new pains that could be stemming from older injuries!

Rib treatment

Rib pain and physiotherapy treatment

Our rib cage is an essential for protection of our organs, having a strong trunk and is involved in our everyday movements, like breathing or turning our bodies. Our rib cage rises and falls with each breath using the muscles between the ribs and our diaphragm. Just like any other joint and muscle, these areas can be loaded and irritated. Rib pain is frustrating and can be treated with Physiotherapy.

Symptoms

Sometimes rib pain is hard to describe because there is not a specific place where it occurs. Often, we hear comments like:

  • “When I take a deep breath, it hurts”
  • “I have a burning or achiness at the middle of my back”
  • “There is a pain under my shoulder blade that I cannot reach with a trigger ball or roller”
  • “I have pain that starts in my back but wraps around my side”

Other times, it is more obvious as to why there may be pain in the ribs or around the ribs, and clients may come in already with a diagnosis from their GP or another physiotherapist, including:

  • Rib fractures – this may be diagnosed with an x-ray, but small fractures are sometimes hard to pick up even with a scan 
  • Rib pain in pregnancy – as the belly expands, then rib cage also has to make space accordingly
  • Costochondritis syndrome – inflammation of the area where the rib is attaching to the sternum at the front of the chest
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome – an issue with blood flow that may be associated with compression from the upper ribs of the blood vessels branching out to the arms
  • Rib spasm – a reactive response of the muscles between the ribs called intercostals

Treatment

Our holistic approach at Barefoot Physiotherapy will help to determine the underling causes and triggers related to your rib pain. We implement a specific rib technique that treats the rib cage as a ring, called Thoracic Rings (developed and taught by LJ Lee, a Canadian physio). This approach looks at each ring and how they may be interacting with each other, therefore, causing load and muscle pull in your area of pain. This understanding is termed Connect Therapy (LJ Lee).

Our treatment techniques involve rib joint mobilizations, manual therapy rib and ring corrections, muscle release for the intercostals (between rib muscles) and surrounding areas like the back and shoulders, individually tailored motor control activation, and maintenance exercises.

Rib pain is not always straightforward, and we are here to help you understand where it is coming from so that you are able to return to your everyday life without having to worry about it. We will develop a treatment plan based on your specific presentation and create self-management strategies to maintain being pain free.

If you or someone you know is experiencing rib, trunk, or chest pain, please contact us. We can determine if it is a musculoskeletal issue before having to see a GP. We are open 5 days a week and a couple Saturdays a month. We have early and late appointments available. Please call us at 1300 842 850 or click here to book an appointment.

Barefoot Physiotherapy Brisbane

What is nerve pain?

Nerve pain is a common contributing factor to a person’s overall pain presentation. It can cause tight muscles, stiff joints and restricted movements. Sometimes this pain is harder to describe and localize making it a difficult condition to understand. Nerve pain can be also be described as nerve irritation or nerve inflammation. When specific branch of a nerve is involved, it will often be named after that nerve.

Here are some common examples:

  • Piriformis syndrome – involving the sciatic nerve as it runs through the piriformis muscle
  • Sciatica – pain from the sciatic nerve that may start near the back/buttock and travel down the back of the leg
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome – involving the median nerve at the inner wrist

Other terms used to describe nerve issues include:

  • Radiculopathy – a nerve entrapment at the nerve root when it exits from the spinal cord through the spinal joints, sensation changes, weakness, or pain can present anywhere along the path of the nerve 
  • Peripheral neuropathy – usually associated with other health conditions, such as diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or other neurological conditions, often felt as sensation changes or weakness in the hands or feet 

Symptoms of nerve pain, nerve inflammation and nerve irritation can include:

  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Pins and needles sensation
  • Weakness
  • Heaviness
  • Change in skin sensation
  • Feeling of tight muscles and stretching does NOT help
  • Achiness in a muscle or joint

A scan or imaging is NOT always required for nerve pain. Our physiotherapists will ask you specific questions and can perform specific tests regarding your pain to determine if a scan is required. If so, we will discuss this with you and your GP. Sometimes nerve pain medication prescribed may not make a difference in the pain you are experiencing.

Most nerve pain and nerve irritation can be treated by a musculoskeletal physiotherapist. At Barefoot Physio, we have specific and sensitive tests that will give us the information to guide our treatment. Our treatment is called Neural Tissue Management which involves joint mobilizations to neck or back joints. It can also include muscle treatment along the path of the irritated nerve. This will reduce the sensitivity of the nerves to allow them to be restored to their full gliding movements within the muscles and joints.

With our individualized and specific treatment approach, we can teach you ways to continue to keep your body happy and pain free. We will teach you muscle releases, motor control and exercises to ensure that nerve pain in the future is prevented.

If you or someone you know is experiencing nerve pain, whether it be a day, a week, or years, please contact us. We are open 2 days a week with early and late appointments, along with a couple Saturdays a month to accommodate your schedule. Please call us at 1300 842 850 or click here to book an appointment. All our physiotherapists are trained in nerve pain assessment and treatment.

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