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!

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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

Feet, Lifestyle, Physiotherapy

High Heels – The Pain for the Gain

High-heeled modelLove them or loathe them high heels have a marked effect on how a woman stands and moves and most men will know that these effects can often be quite alluring.

High heels:-

  • Increase the curvature of the calf improving muscle definition and in doing so enhance the slimness of the ankle
  • By lifting the heel the buttock muscles have to work harder and in doing so appear more pert.
  • The shift in weight means the chest is pushed forwards thereby enhancing breast lines.
  • The general awkwardness of the revised gait means that swings, sways and jiggles are introduced that tend to attract extra attention.

Xray of High HeelsHOWEVER!!  . . .

as can be seen in the X-ray of a foot in high heels, there are other factors to consider that not only cause pain during and after wearing, but can also cause long term damage.

  • Metatarsel pressureThe pressure on the Metatarsals  (the long bones just behind the toes or balls of the feet) is increased enormously. This increased pressure increases the risk of the development of a ‘Morton’s Neuroma’, (nerve aggravation between the metatarsals) which develops into a nerve growth.
  • Toe Squash in high heelsIf you compare the ultimate healthy state of barefeet it is easy to see how the toes are  pushed together to fit into the ‘glamorous’ narrow shoe, increasing the likelihood of Bunion formation ( Hallus valgus) and an overall cramping and deformation of the foot results.
  • Achilles tendonThe Achilles Tendon is shortened and prolonged wearing will cause permanent change which in turn changes the foot ankle dynamics and increase risk of ankle sprain and tendon damage.
  • The increased arch often affects the lower spine, increasing joint pressure that can cause episodes of back pain and instability.

So…. a physio’s advice (who has been known to wear high heels herself from time to time)  is to keep the really high heels for very special occasions!   Choose lower heels when you can. Keep this in mind when shopping girls!!

After a night in heels spend a few days in flats – or even barefeet if you can.

If heels are part  of the work attire, wear flats to and from work and slip on the glam’ professional look only when necessary.

Girls… remember it was a man who designed high heels and back in the times when men did wear heels they were not 15cm high and definitely not stilettos but wedges which are a more stable option!!!

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

Gardening, Lifestyle, Physiotherapy, Stretching

Keeping the ‘Ache’ out of Gardening

GardeningGardening can be the most restorative of activities – unless we overdo it, and most people will be guilty of that at some time or other.

The key is to not go at it like a bull at a gate, but to pace yourself (regardless of your age) and pause during repetitive tasks to let joints and muscles rest. Every fifteen minutes is a good target but don’t leave it more than half an hour before RESTING and performing the OPPOSITE movement for a short while.

Hands & Wrists:

Extended pruning with secateurs is a classic cause of RSI (repetitive strain injury).

Secateur-Hand-StretchJust pause now and then to stretch your fingers, hands and wrists in the opposite direction to the pruning action.  Joints will recover, muscles will shed their fatigue and you’ll be more efficient.

Shoulders:

While pruning or clipping overhead your shoulders will take most of the strain.  Just pause for a few moments and roll your shoulders down and back in a circular motion for one minute. Apart from providing rest for the muscles, you’ll also relieve those joints and tendons temporarily.  Remain standing tall during the exercise and keep your chin in.

Clipping-Shoulder-Roll

Back:

While digging, raking or bending to weed, stop and arch your spine and shoulders backwards with hands pushing your pelvis forwards.  It’s a classic for very good reason as it allows the gelatinous content of squashed discs to revert to balance again.

I see so many patients suffering from lower back pain from gardening, yet this small exercise can prevent so much discomfort.

Digging-Back-Arch

Knees:
Many gardening tasks involve kneeling and even if you’re wearing kneepads to protect the front of your knees, the knee joint and surrounding tendons needs rest and opposite action too.  So stand up and give them a rub and a wiggle (that’s a technical term for repetitive re-traction by the way).

Weeding-Knees-stretch

Painful Joints:

Many mature gardeners will suffer some occasional joint pain, whether it be arthritic or rheumatic and many will avoid outdoor activities at these times.  But all joints benefit from movement as it stimulates joint lubrication which in turn provides the nutrition for the joint linings and cuffs.

People who immobilise tetchy joints do themselves no favours as the joint will become stiff and produce even more pain. If you have painful joints and decide to do some gardening then warming up first is all the more important as this will minimise the initial discomfort.

But, as with all things to do with health, all movements should be performed in moderation. Stop if sharp pain persists and consult a doctor.

Post by Catherine Stephens B. App Sc (Physio) MAPA.  This article appeared originally on www.gardensonline.com.au

Improving Movement, Physiotherapy, Stretching

4 Tips for Effective Calf Stretching

Stretching the calf muscleImportant after any extended walking, running, golf or weight bearing sport!

1)    Ensure the foot is directly in line with the leg. Toes not turned out as is often the case.

2)    To get an effective stretch you need more pressure than just stepping backwards so press into a wall or bench with hands or forearms.

3)    Roll the heel backwards so the very back of the heel is on the ground and lift the toes just a little.

4)    Straighten the knee completely feeling tightness in the muscles above the knee, lifting the knee cap.

Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds to get effective lengthening through the entire length of the calf muscles.

Note : in the case of Achilles tendonitis this is not suggested as it tends to aggravate the tendon.