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


  • 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


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 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


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


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


  • 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.

Brain Overload

The Barefoot Physiotherapy Method

We understand that when you are in pain, it can be extremely hard to function and enjoy life on a daily basis. At Barefoot Physiotherapy, our treatment plan is focused on helping you to do what you want with your body!

We use a thorough whole body assessment to work out the underlying cause of the condition. We can then treat it, teach you to treat it and together take care of your body long term – getting you back to doing what you love sooner.

Ridgway Method

At Barefoot we use a systematic testing process to assess your whole body, this assessment includes testing your:

  • nerves
  • muscles (including tendons)
  • joints (ligaments, discs, bones, cartilage) and
  • movements.

In the vast majority of sports and musculoskeletal conditions, this process leads to a rapid and full recovery. During this initial phase, you can trust that you are either going to get rapidly fixed, or a ‘Plan B’ is required.

In a small percentage of conditions, this process quickly identifies that a referral for a different management of the condition is most appropriate, i.e. ‘Plan B’ where we help you find the right path (whether that be imaging, acupuncture, medical etc.) – this is because we don’t continue treating without results.


For the majority of cases (not a Plan B case) treatment then focusses on the underlying cause to reduce its impact on the rest of your body.

We chart your progress including how long and how many sessions will be required to achieve pain free, full function. Below is an example recovery graph.


Importantly – this involves teaching you how to look after your condition to minimise recurrence. Click here for muscle retraining.

Once you are back doing what you want with your body, looking after your condition is the mainstay of treatment. We call this the ‘maintenance phase’ where your Barefoot Physiotherapist checks in on you at increasing intervals (up to 3 months).

There are three main reasons for these sessions:

1. To test and confirm your good self-management
2. Progressing your skills for achieving better performance
3. To treat any re-accumulation of strain that occurred in between sessions as a result of life’s challenges


We know that for each of our clients, their day to day life can be a mix of different activities. To make sure that you are able to keep doing what you love, we offer home, work and gym setups.

This allows you to:

  • Optimise motor control and postures
  • Improve progression from injured to non-injured state
  • Minimise avoidable strain placed on the body (and therefore decrease the frequency of maintenance sessions in the clinic).

Whether you love hiking, walking, rock climbing or just want to be pain free, we want to help you get back to doing what you love. Want to find out more? Click the link here.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Knee painPatellofemoral Pain Syndrome is a common knee complaint of not only the young and nimble, but also amongst the elderly. To break it down, this can be best referred to as pain felt behind your kneecap, where your patella (kneecap) joins to your thigh bone (femur). This part of your knee is referred to as your patellofemoral joint.


Your patella should glide up and down through the femoral groove during normal movement. When the patella moves to one side more than the other due to muscle imbalances or poor biomechanics it is unable to align and track smoothly on the femur, consequently rubbing against the femur and increasing pressure in the joint. Over time, poor alignment of the patella can lead to kneecap pain, joint irritation, and can eventually result in the degeneration of the surface of your patellofemoral joint.

Although aching kneecaps, especially discomfort behind the kneecap, can impact up to 25% of the population at some point in their lives, patellofemoral pain occurs commonly in athletes. This particular condition is typically found in activities that involve jumping, running and squatting. These sports may include running, tennis, basketball, football and netball. It also commonly occurs when an individual’s activity load increases, for example when starting a new sport, gym program, or with additional training before a competition.high knees

This condition is quite common during adolescence, as our ‘long bones’ tend to grow faster than the muscles, ligaments and tendons, therefore placing abnormal strain and pressure on joints. Stretching and strengthening the appropriate muscles is important to achieve optimal biomechanics throughout our lifespan.


The discomfort that you feel behind your kneecap normally increases gradually, rather than it being instant. For those who suffer from this type of discomfort, it is generally noticed during weight bearing activities that require bending the knee.

Movements such as climbing stairs, hopping, running, kneeling and squatting are commonly painful. As your patellofemoral pain syndrome becomes more severe, it may become painful to walk and then ultimately be painful even at rest.


Musculoskeletal physiotherapy intervention is an effective solution both short and long term for your kneecap pain. The aim of treatment for this conditions is predominately to reduce the ache and inflammation, and to find the underlying cause of the condition to avoid it from reoccurring in the future.

Running Recovery and Injury Prevention

Running Recovery and Injury PreventionAs the ‘fun run’ season starts to get into full swing, we are seeing more and more people out hitting the pavement. While running is a great way to improve your fitness (and see the sights), people often underestimate the load it places on your body. Running is predominantly a single leg activity. That is, when running with good technique, there should be little to no time with both legs on the ground. As a result, running requires a lot of leg strength and core (trunk/pelvis) stability. Running can be a fun and rewarding form of exercise, but without the right care, it can also lead to frustrating injuries.

There are lots of steps that can be taken to help eliminate running pain and injury.

Rest and recovery

Soreness following exercise is referred to as “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS). Appropriate rest and recovery strategies can help minimise the severity of DOMS. Below are some recommendations:

  • When you finish your run, do a few minutes of gentle jogging or walking before jumping in the car to head home. This allows your muscles time to cool down gradually and to clear any waste products (such as lactic acid) from your blood. It will help you to feel less stiff the next day and reduce the time needed between running sessions
  • Allowing enough rest time between running sessions. If you have not been running recently, then allow your body a few days between running sessions and only start with 1-2 days of running per week. As you build up your body’s endurance and tolerance to running, you should be able to run more days a week and with less days between
  • Watermelon juice! Studies have shown the tasty fruit juice contains high levels of L-citrulline which reduces the severity and onset of DOMS. Consuming the juice was more effective than taking a supplement of the same dosage
  • There is evidence that hot Epsom salt baths improve muscle soreness. There is also evidence for the slightly less appealing ice-baths… Everyone has their preference so test it out and see what works for you
  • Regular self-releases, massage and physio!

Releases – Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Brisbane

running injury preventionThe main ‘running muscles’, can get tight from the increased work-load of running. Regular releases of these muscles can help reduce the tightness in them and hence reduce the risk of injury. Below is a collection of muscle releases- all muscle releases should aim for 2-3 spots per muscle, with each spot being released for 60-90 secondsRunning releases recovery

  • Glutes are one of the main stabilisers of the pelvis as well as being the ‘powerhouse’ for propelling the body forward when running. As a result they can get very tight!
  • Hamstrings are also important for helping produce force for running and are also commonly ‘overloaded’ when the glute muscles are tight or underactive
  • Quadriceps and hip flexors lift your leg and control your leg when it hits the ground. Tightness in the quadriceps is often associated with knee aches and painsrunning releases
  • Calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus): calves are responsible for the ‘push off’ of your feet and also help control your foot strike when running. Overly tight calves can lead to ‘shin splints’ and Achilles tendon problems



Having an all over body assessment of your muscles, joints, nerves and movements by a running physio can help pick up on any particular areas of restriction that may become a problem.

Happy Running!

How to keep your Dentist and Physio happy!

I have been brushing my teeth morning and night since I was a child. The purpose of this was to make sure that when I saw the dentist for my check-up he would tell me my teeth are good and I don’t need any fillings. I am proud to say that 30 years later I am still filling-free!

physio toothbrush

So, then I thought – I need to do my muscle releases everyday (and maybe twice a day) to ensure that when I see my Physio for a tune-up they will tell me that my body is testing well and I don’t need any extra work. And since I have been doing my muscle releases everyday, this has been the case! (And the time in between my ‘tune-ups’ has been spaced out every session).

Calf self massage

So I wanted to share with you some ways that I have been able to fit my muscle releases into my everyday life…

  • Watching tv (that’s right – roll around on the ball/roller on the ground in the lounge room)
  • Whilst on the phone (put the ball against the wall and roll my shoulders whilst talking)
  • Waiting for the kettle to boil (easy 2 mins right there!)
  • Waiting for the toast to cook or microwave to heat lunch (easy 2-5min right there as well!)
  • Sitting at the movies/on the bus/ in the car (as a passenger) – placing the ball under my foot or under my thigh to release my hamstrings
  • In my lunchbreak
  • Talking to my housemates at home
  • Wake up 10mins earlier than normal/go to bed 10min later than normal
  • At the airport terminal waiting for a plane (& on the plane!)
  • Before my PT or Gym session (get there 10min early – do releases!)
  • Getting a massage (is this cheating? Definitely not!)

Shoulder self massage

Of course this means I carry my releasing ball with me in my handbag everywhere I go and I absolutely freak out if it’s not in there (as one may do if they forget their tooth brush on a holiday). Lucky toothbrushes are easy to buy from the shop though. If you would like to chat to anyone about what muscle releases would be best for you, book in to see one of Brisbane’s best Physio’s at Barefoot Physiotherapy.