Balance, Daily Exercises, Lifestyle, Physiotherapy, Stability

Heart – the Most Important Muscle of All

People tend to think of physiotherapy as only being concerned with the obvious muscles like “glutes”, “pecs”, “biceps”, “quads” etc.  And although having strength and power in these muscles is important, there is one muscle that overrides all in it’s importance to maintaining good health.

SkippingI’m referring of course to the heart muscle! Without a healthy heart then all the good work done in keeping your other muscles strong is wasted!

Here at Northern Beaches Physiotherapy we are dedicated to helping our patients maintain good overall health. One major aspect of this is achieving good cardiac fitness and endurance!

There are myriad ways to exercise the heart but one of the easiest and most convenient (and therefore most likely to be done on a regular basis) is skipping.  The equipment costs are probably less than $5 and you need a space only as big as a small room or courtyard to do it in!

Skipping for five-ten minutes every day is about as good an exercise as you’ll get. Its not just aerobic – it will also keep many other muscles in tone, including your calves, thighs and buttocks.

Skipping also provides a challenge to the stabilising muscles of your ankles and core, as well as challenging the coordination of your shoulders, wrists and legs!

So go buy yourself a skipping rope and challenge yourself!! Skip for five-ten minutes everyday and in next to no time you will see the benefits to your overall fitness and health!

 

Post by Angus Tadman (B.App.Sc Phty Hons I)

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Achilles, Daily Exercises, Feet, Injuries, Lifestyle, Physiotherapy, Sports, Stretching

The “Achilles Heel” of runners!! 5 tips to help remedy Achilles tendon pain.

Whether you are a professional marathon runner or simply enjoy a recreational jog it is likely that you have experienced pain in the Achilles tendon at some point. The pain will generally be most prominent during warm-up, settle down significantly as you run only to return with a vengeance after you have cooled down after running! If it continues to worsen, it can become very debilitating and prevent from running altogether!

This article will help to arm you with the anatomical information and practical knowledge necessary to help recognise Achilles tendon pain and how to manage it!

Firstly, it is important that you know the anatomy of your Achilles!

Achilles tendonThe Achilles tendon joins the calf muscle to the heel bone. Tendons are a soft tissue structure made up of the elastic material called collagen and always attach muscles to bone. The role of the Achilles tendon is to transfer the power produced by your calf muscles through to the heel bone to move the ankle joint and provide you with forwards thrust as you run.

Pain in this area can be as a result of tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) or tearing. It can sometimes start very suddenly after a big load through the tendon, such as falling into a pothole as you run. More commonly, pain in the Achilles develops a gradually over time as a result of overuse and worsens unless managed appropriately.

Things that can predispose you to Achilles tendon pain are:

  • Poor foot mechanics (corrective orthotics or well prescribed sports shoes can help enormously)
  • Stiffness of the ankle joints (this can occur after an acute ankle injury such as a rolled ankle)
  • A significant and sudden increase in training load (such as further distance, increased regularity, or extra hills etc.)
  • Weakness of the hip or core muscles

To remedy the situation there are 5 simple things that you can do:

  1. Stretching may aggravate the tendon! Avoid dropping your heel off a step or doing strong calf stretching as this is too aggressive for a sore or damaged tendongastrocnemius-stretch-stairs
  2. Mobilising the sciatic nerve system before rising from bed can help with morning stiffnessHamstringAnim2
  3. Avoid high impact exercises like jumping, skipping, running (especially soft sand running!)Skipping
  4. A small heel raise can help alleviate pain and overstretching in the short term (put one in both shoes!)heel lift illustrated  copy
  5. Get some professional advice from a physiotherapist. There are a number of important exercises that can be done to improve your tendon pain and get you back to running ASAP!!

 

Post by Angus Tadman (B.App.Sc Phty Hons I) and Catherine Stephens (B.App.Sc Phty)

abdominals, back, Core stability, Daily Exercises, Gymn Dangers, Hips, Improving Movement, Injuries, Physio's Personal Tips, Physiotherapy, Pilates, Stability

How stable is your core?? Here’s how to check!

personaltrainerOften, people spend hours doing “core training” in the gym such as sit-ups, planks and the like only to find that they still experience symptoms of instability such as low back pain during training or, they get injured regularly doing exercise. The problem? This kind of “core training” addresses the strength of your abdominal and oblique muscles which are responsible for providing movement but does not train the deeper, stabilising muscles that are responsible for maintaining good alignment of the spine.

Here is a little exercise to introduce the feeling and the essence of stability in you torso. The true “core”:

1. Lie on your back, knees up, feet flat on the ground.

2. Breath, and feel how your ribs move and the shape of your spine changes.

3. Place your index fingers on the bones at the top of your pelvis at the front.

4. Feel what happens when you lift one foot from the floor REALLY SLOWLY!!! No jumping it up!!!

5. Try again and try to not allow any movement in your pelvis or lumbar spine.

Did you hold your breath? Did your pelvis roll toward the side you lifted? Did your back arch away from the floor? Did you get a “ping” of back  pain?

If YES was an answer to any of these questions you have room for improvement in you core stabilisation.

Practicing this exercise is actually a great way to begin the reactivation of your deeper, stabilising muscles.  Breathing as you move and load the spine is essential to prevent rigidity. Our bodies are designed to be fluid and coordinated when moving and breath holding can stifle this and cause us to become to stiff when moving! If you don’t breath while you do anything you won’t do it for very long!!

Mullumbimby-Pilates

For detailed explanation of core stability refer to our previous blog “What is core stability?”. You can find it here: https://northernbeachesphysio.com/2014/03/28/what-is-core-stability/.

Also, watch this video of one of physiotherapists, Angus, walking through the above exercise and explaining how to activate your core!

abdominals, Balance, Core stability, Daily Exercises, Hips, Injuries, Lifestyle, Physio's Personal Tips, Physiotherapy, Skiing, Sports, Stability

Skiing injury prevention program!

If you are a budding skier then you have probably experienced the frustration of getting injured early in a skiing holiday and missing out on enjoying the rest of your time at the snow. After all that expense, the last thing you need is to be injured!!

The following series of informational videos provides a step by step exercise program designed to improve your skiing specific strength, power and stability. Most importantly, the following exercises will not only help to prevent injury, but will maximise your performance on skis!

Please enjoy the following exercises and always practice caution when learning something new! We’d love to hear how you managed with the program so please, comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

Post by Catherine Stephens (B.App.Sc – Physiotherapy)

Alarm Clock
Daily Exercises, Gluteal, Improving Movement, Injuries, Lifestyle, Physio's Personal Tips, Physiotherapy

Morning stretches!

Stretches in the morning:

Spinal stiffness and pain is a common complaint. This can be caused by inflammation, arthritis or muscular tightness as well as injuries such as bulging discs.

The impact of spinal symptoms can easily be reduced by doing a regular morning stretching session.

Generally, I advise my patients to wait 20-30 minutes after rising from bed before they commence spinal stretching. This is to allow the discs to compress slightly after they have been expanding during sleep. This reduces the risk of injury to the discs.

Following is a list of great exercises to do in the morning to get your spine moving!

Knees to chest rocking: bring the knees to the chest and tuck up in a gentle rocking motion 10 times.

CurlRock

Sciatic nerve stretches: using a long belt stretch the leg as shown by gently moving the ankle forward and back, keeping the leg straight.

HamstringAnim2

Piriformis and gluteal stretches: place the ankle of one leg on the knee of the other and lift both legs up toward you as shown, hold for 20-30 seconds as you pull the stretching leg toward the opposite shoulder and push into the ankle with the opposite knee.

GluteStretch

Open book stretch: lying on your side as shown, breathe in as you take your top arm across your body, allowing your head and shoulders to turn with it. Hold the stretch and breathe out. Repeat 10 times both sides.

Thoracic Open Book stretch

abdominals, Balance, Core stability, Daily Exercises, Physiotherapy, Shoulder, Stability

Swiss Ball for Stability – video-blog

Hello and welcome to our first video blog.

Its all about core stability, pelvic stability and balance – all three very important to maintaining a healthy balance within yourself.

Here’s Angus to demonstrate the exercise.

If you haven’t got a Swiss Ball at home then we highly recommend you get one – they are an extremely versatile aid to keeping yourself in-trim at home and to top it all they are great fun to use too.   We’ll have plenty more demonstrations of exercises you can do with a Swiss Ball soon.

We have them in stock in the shop so ask at reception. Here’s the page that lists all our supplies:- https://northernbeachesphysio.com/supplies/

We’re aiming to make a lot more video clips over the course of this year which will be hosted on our Northern Beaches Physio channel on YouTube.

Here’s a link:-  http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNCRpch8eeN3bPCH4oaAPFQ

Stay tuned !

So, how are we doing?  Did Angus do well? (and no, channel seven, you can’t have him).  Do you like our blogs?  What would you like to see more of?  Use the ‘Reply’ field below to have your say, we’d love to hear from you.

Post by Catherine Stephens B. App Sc (Physio) MAPA.

Daily Exercises, Improving Movement, Physiotherapy, Stretching

Avoid the Hump – the stiff thoracic spine

Do you spend hours bent over a workstation? Does your job involve repetitive bending and heavy lifting? Do you, like so many of us in recent years, use a tablet, smart phone or laptop computer for hours every day?

Thoracic HumpIf you answered yes to any of the above then it is very likely that you will have developed stiffness in your upper back.  This ‘thoracic region’ is the largest part of our spine.  It starts at the base of your neck and ends just above the lower back.

As a result of daily habits, like those described above, and poor posture, the thoracic spine is more likely to become stiff.   This may not present as a major problem initially but it can have flow-on effects to the lower back, neck and shoulders.

The most immediate obvious effect of thoracic stiffness is in an increase in the natural curvature of your upper back and causes you to stand with “rounded shoulders”. This poor posture that we so often adopt as a result of laziness of our muscles eventually becomes permanent as the joints lose their ability to move back into a more upright position!

There are two wonderfully effective stretches that can help to increase thoracic spine mobility:

1)    The open book stretch: Lay on your side as shown. Breathe in as you move your top arm across your body and turn your head and shoulders with it, keeping your knee firmly placed on the floor. Breathe out as you hold the stretch for around ten to fifteen seconds, then return to the start and repeat 10 times.

Thoracic Open Book stretch

2)    Extension over ball: Place a small inflatable ball on the floor – an exercise ball is best as it is quite squishy but a soft soccer ball will also do. Lay over the ball positioned between your shoulder blades. Make sure your head is supported on a pillow or a rolled up towel and your legs are bent. Stretch for 2 minutes with your arms overhead, breathing fully and relaxing into the stretch.

Lay over ball

Post by Angus Tadman B. App. Sc (Phty) Hons Class I