How to use a spikey ball for massage and trigger points

7 Spikey ball exercises to help ease muscle pain

One of the best ways to maximise the benefits of your physiotherapy treatments is to do some basic exercises at home. We find foam rollers or spikey balls, used for self massage or trigger pointing, to be particularly effective at helping relieve pain from tight, sore muscles.

Using a foam roller for self massage can have several positive effects including reduced pain associated with delayed muscle soreness, reduced muscle tender spots and an acute increase in range of motion. Massage is also one of (if not the) the most effective ways of reducing delayed onset muscle soreness, such as from intense exercise.

To begin with you can lean your body against the ball on the floor or wall and use your body weight to apply pressure. To progress you can roll against the ball for 1-2 minutes. Check out this handy cheat sheet featuring 7 exercises you can do using a spikey ball.

It’s important not to cause further pain or injury when using your spikey ball. Tenderness and mild pain can be expected, but stop if you experience moderate to severe pain, pins and needles or tingling. You should still be able to breathe comfortably when using your ball. Certain areas such as bony prominences (eg kneecaps) and acute injuries (eg swollen, inflamed muscle) should also be avoided.

 

Please call or book online to see one of our Physiotherapists.

 

This post was written by Lucy Beumer, Sports Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at Stafford Physiotherapy Centre. 
References: Behm (2017), Dupuy et al (2018)

A Guide to Acute Injury Management

THE BEST MANAGEMENT FOR ACUTE INJURIES IS PREVENTION!
Always warm up for 20-30minutes before exercise and cool down after.

WARM UP SHOULD INCLUDE:

  • Low intensity aerobic exercise such as jogging
  • Dynamic stretching of all muscle groups
  • Sport-specific drills
  • Moderate intensity aerobic exercise progressing to high intensity sprints.

COOL DOWN SHOULD INCLUDE:

  • Light aerobic exercise/running for 5min with deep breathing to return the body to resting rate.
  • Static stretches – 30sec holds, 3 repetitions
  • Rehydrate and refuel with lean protein
  • Do 20min light cycling or jogging the following day with a stretching session.
THE MAJORITY OF INJURIES IN CONTACT SPORTS INVOLVE CORKS AND STRAINS TO THE LOWER LIMBS.

IN THE FIRST 24-72 HOURS POST-INJURY, IT’S IMPORTANT TO APPLY P.R.I.C.E.R.

P – PREVENTION. The best management of an acute injury is prevention. Always be prepared for competition by training, using the right equipment, warming up and cooling down.

R – REST. Initial rest from aggravating activities is important to allow healing. Gentle movement can be helpful, but do no HARM (heat, alcohol, running, firm massage)

I – ICE. Apply ice immediately in a damp towel (never directly to the skin) to reduce swelling, bleeding and for pain relief. Apply for 20-30min every 2 hours.

C – COMPRESSION. Wear compression garments like Skins or use a compression bandage to help limit bleeding and swelling.

E – ELEVATION. Elevate the injured part above the level of the heart to reduce pooling of blood and fluid in the injured area.

R – REFERRAL. It may be appropriate to see a health care professional such as a physiotherapist. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation to get back on the field as soon as possible.

Your physiotherapist can also provide strapping or braces for return to sport or refer you to other health professionals should imaging or specialist input be required.

This post was written by Allyson Flanagan, Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at Stafford Physiotherapy Centre. 

12 Simple stretches you can do at your desk

A huge number of today’s jobs require people to be sitting at a desk all day, however we all know that sitting down too much isn’t good for our posture or our health. Read on for our suggested stretches that you can easily fit into your day in the office.

If you spend a lot of your day working at a desk, it’s best to take a break from sitting every 30 minutes. Try the following ideas to help you remember:

  • Set a timer on your phone
  • Put a reminder program on your computer
  • Leave your water bottle on another desk or use a small glass of water so that you need to walk to the kitchen to refill it frequently

 

 

Some workplaces now offer the option of a sit/stand desk which is wonderful and we recommend you take advantage of this if your workplace offers it!

It’s also great to leave the office at lunch time – maybe go outside and look at the sky and get some fresh air or go for a short walk if you can.

However, if you can’t do this, we’ve devised some simple stretches and exercises that you can do at your desk. Even better – stand up and do your stretches to give your body a break from sitting! Encourage your workmates to join you; we promise you’ll all feel better for it!

We’ve even created this PDF cheatsheet so you can print it out and stick it up at your desk as a reference and reminder.

Excellent desk exercises:

See PDF cheatsheet for images of all stretches

  1. NECK ROTATION
    Gently turn your head from side to side. Repeat 5 times each side.
  2. NECK SIDE FLEXION
    Gently tilt your head from side to side. Repeat 5 times each side.
  3. NECK FLEXION
    Gently bring your chin towards your chest. Repeat 5 times.
  4. NECK EXTENSION
    Gently look up towards the ceiling. Repeat 5 times.
  5. SHOULDER ROLLS
    Gently roll your shoulders forwards. Repeat 5 times, then repeat backwards 5 times.
  6. HEAD NODS
    Gently nod your chin (like making a double chin). Hold 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
  7. CHEST STRETCH
    Clasp your hands together and reach behind your back. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
  8. TRICEPS STRETCH
    Gently pull on raised elbow with other hand to feel stretch down back of arm. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times per arm.
  9. SHOULDER STRETCH
    Gently pull arm forward across body to feel stretch across back of shoulder. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times per arm.
  10. SIDE BENDING (pictured)
    Clasp your hands together above your head. Gently lean to one side. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times per side.
  11. TRUNK ROTATION
    Reach across body and grasp back of chair. Gently look over shoulder. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times per side.
  12. SHOULDER BLADE SQUEEZES
    Keep elbows bent. Gently squeeze shoulder blades together. Hold 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

No stretches or exercises should cause you pain. If you do experience pain or discomfort please stop the exercises. Our Physiotherapists are here to help you with any postural related issues or spinal pain you may be experiencing.

 

Please call or book online to see one of our Physiotherapists.

This post was written by Lucy Beumer, Sports Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at Stafford Physiotherapy Centre. 

Basic Exercises for Tight Hip Flexors or Sore Hips – Part Two

We see lots of people who are experiencing tight hip flexors or other hip pain. Last week I wrote about the importance of flexible hip muscles including the hip flexors, hip rotators and hip extensors. That post also included a number of stretches and activation drills to help keep your hip muscles healthy and free from injury.

This week I’ll show you some exercise to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the hips. Remember, when doing these exercises you may feel a mild to moderate stretch but should not experience pain.

Strengthening

Strengthening the hip is important, as this joint is required for many of our daily activities such as walking, going up/down stairs, squatting, getting up from chairs and rolling over in bed.

The exercises below are basic and intended to begin the strengthening process. Initially, your focus should be on the quality of movement not the quantity. Once you feel comfortable performing these exercises, you can increase your repetitions and progress to more advanced exercises.

Bridging
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat (shoulder width apart)
  • Gentle activate TA (see above)
  • Roll your pelvis backwards and squeeze your bottom to lift up your hips so they are in line with your shoulders

 

Leg slides
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat (shoulder width apart)
  • Gentle activate TA (see above)
  • Straighten 1 leg away from your body keeping your back and pelvis still
  • Bring the leg back to starting position and repeat with other leg

 

Dropouts
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat (shoulder width apart)
  • Gentle activate TA (see above)
  • Rotate leg away from body to about 45 degrees keeping other leg still
  • Bring the leg back to starting position and repeat with other leg
Leg Lifts in Sitting 
  • Sitting on chair with feet flat on floor
  • Gentle activate TA (see above)
  • Lift 1 foot off the floor keeping back still
  • Try not to push down with arms for support
  • Bring the leg back to starting position and repeat with other leg
 
Mini squats
  • Standing with feet shoulder width apart, arms out at shoulder level
  • Bend at the hips first – sticking out your bottom
  • Then bend at the knees to continue to squat about 45 degrees down
  • Push up through heels squeezing bottom to stand upright again

 

Got sore hips or tight hip flexors, glutes or hamstrings? Book a physio appointment today.

Some of these exercises can be difficult – if you have any questions or concerns, please come and see our experienced physiotherapists for a detailed assessment and tailored exercise plan. 

Book an Appointment

This post was written by Lucy Beumer, Sports Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at Stafford Physiotherapy Centre. 

Basic Exercises for Tight Hip Flexors or Sore Hips – Part One

Do you experience soreness or tightness in your hips? If so, this can come from tightness in the muscles around your hips.

Some of the main hip muscles are:

  • Hip flexors: Iliopsoas, rectus femoris, tensor fascia latae and sartorius
  • Hip rotators: piriformis, gemelli, obturators
  • Hip extensors: gluteals, hamstrings

Flexible hip muscles are important for healthy hips and also necessary for long-term mobility and stability in your lower back. This blog post includes a range of stretches and activation drills that will keep your hip muscles healthy and help you to prevent pain and injury.

If you have any questions about the following exercises (or if you would like to book an appointment for your tight hip flexors or general hip pain and tightness), don’t hesitate to contact us.

Stretches

Hip flexibility is important because it ensures full range of motion. When performing these exercises, you should feel a mild to moderate stretch and no pain.

Hamstrings
  • Put your foot up on a step or chair
  • Bend your knee slightly
  • Lean forward from your hips, pushing your bottom backwards as your chest goes forward
  • Feel stretch at back of upper thigh
  • Hold 30 sec x 3

 

Hip Flexors
  • Kneel on the floor with affected leg knee on the floor
  • Tuck bottom under and lean weight forward slightly
  • Feel stretch at front of hip
  • Hold 30 sec x 3

 

 

Gluteals
  • Sit down with unaffected leg straight
  • Bend affected leg knee over unaffected leg
  • Pull bent knee towards chest as you turn towards affected hip
  • Feel stretch around bottom
  • Hold 30 sec x 3

 

 

 Piriformis
  • Lying on back
  • Put affect leg foot on opposite knee
  • Pull unaffected leg towards chest
  • Feel stretch around bottom
  • Hold 30 sec x 3

 

 

Activation Drills (Isometrics)

Isometric contractions involve a muscle tensing or contracting without creating movement. These drills target the small, deep stability muscles around the hip and pelvis. These muscles are often inhibited from working properly when you have an episode of hip pain.

These exercises should be performed without pain – it is important that you master these exercises before moving on to harder exercises.

Transversus abdominis (TA)
  • Lying on back, knees bent up and feet flat
  • Gently draw in lower tummy without moving back or pelvis
  • Hold for 5 breaths
Pelvic Floor
  • Lying on back, knees bent up and feet flat
  • Gently draw pelvic floor up and in – like you are stopping the flow of urine when doing a wee
  • Hold for 5 breaths
Gluteus Minimus
  • Lying on your unaffected side with pillow between knees
  • Try to draw the ball of the hip into the socket
  • Hold 5-10 sec x 10
Gluteus Medius
  • Lying on your unaffected side with pillow between knees
  • Imagine lifting top leg slightly without actually moving leg
  • Hold 5-10 sec x 10
Hip abductors
  • Lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat (shoulder width apart)
  • Tie belt around thighs
  • Gently press out into belt – try to keep muscles at front of hip relaxed
  • Hold 5-10 sec x 10
  • This can also be done in standing
Iliopsoas
  • Lying on your back with knees bent over 2 pillows
  • Imagine lifting your affected leg off the pillows without actually moving your leg
  • Hold 5-10 sec x 10

 

 

Some of these exercises can be difficult – if you have any questions or concerns, please come and see our experienced physiotherapists for a detailed assessment and tailored exercise plan.

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Stay tuned for part 2 – hip strengthening exercises! Want to find out more about how you can improve your health and wellbeing? Check out these simple lifestyle changes you can make.

This post was written by Lucy Beumer, Sports Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at Stafford Physiotherapy Centre. 

Simple lifestyle changes to improve your health and wellbeing

As January draws to a close, only 11 months remain to achieve your New Year goal of improved health and wellbeing. Traditionally, January and February are when people are most motivated – although sometimes the approach is a little too gung-ho. Improving your health and wellbeing is best approached as the turtle not the hare; making small changes slowly is the best way to prevent injuries, make continuous progress towards your goal, and to form new and lasting habits.

Here are some suggestions for a healthier you:

  • If you sit at a desk during the day, try to get up every 30 minutes. Walk to the kitchen/toilet/printer; maybe even do some squats!
  • Shoulder rolls and gentle neck stretches during the day may help relieve neck and shoulder tension, especially if you use a computer
  • Park your car further from the bus-stop, train station or workplace and walk the extra distance (2 minutes or 20 minutes depending on your fitness)
  • Try to be active on your lunch break rather than sitting – go for a walk,
    go to the gym, do some stretches, stand up to eat
  • Assess your workstation ergonomics – check your elbows are at 90 degrees, the top of your computer screen is at eye level, and your feet are flat on the floor
  • Add some stretching to your day – morning, lunch, evening – whatever time suits you
  • Have a walk-and-talk meeting rather than sitting around a table – you can still take your coffee!
  • Don’t forget to breathe. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, then out through your mouth. Repeat 4 times.
  • Schedule time to exercise. If it’s a ‘date’, you’ll be less likely to skip it
  • Exercise with a friend or family member
  • Remember that exercise doesn’t have to mean running a marathon. Find what you enjoy doing – boxing, bushwalking, swimming, Pilates, yoga, running, weights, crossfit. There are so many options out there!
  • When eating, take your time. Chew your food and enjoy it.
  • Have that niggly pain assessed and diagnosed; prevention is always better than cure.
  • And finally, don’t forget to put a smile on your dial – it keeps those face muscles strong and you never know who might be watching. ☺

Not sure how to make small and safe changes to your lifestyle? Our dedicated team of physiotherapists can help. We are movement and exercise specialists who want to help you improve your health and wellbeing. We recognise that all our clients have different goals and abilities and are always happy to help.

If you’re unsure about your body’s abilities, how to perform an exercise, or need further lifestyle advice – we are only a phone call away.

This post was written by Lucy Beumer, Sports Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor. 

Setting Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

New year’s resolutions… We’ve all been there and done that!

I want to lose weight. I want to eat better. I want to do park run every Saturday. I want to take up yoga. I want to return to playing soccer.

Did you know 80% of people have given up on their resolution/s by February? By the end of 2018 only 8% will succeed in achieving their new year’s resolutions.

“Setting goals is the first step in making the invisible into the visible” Tony Robbins.

Goal setting is important when setting resolutions and the best goals are ‘SMART’.

So, what is a SMART goal?

Lucy Beumer | Physiotherapist at Stafford Physiotherapy treating pilates clientS = Specific

Outline in as much detail as possible what your goal is. Ask yourself the following questions: What do you want to achieve? When do you want to achieve it? How will you achieve it? Who will help you achieve it?

M = Measurable

How will you measure your success in your goal? This can be done in a number of ways, but needs to be relevant to you and your goal: How many kilometres do you want to run? How much weight do you want to lose? How fast do you want to run 5km?

A = Achievable

Is your goal achievable? Consider how you will achieve it? Do you need to consider time and financial constraints? Do you have an old injury that is bothering you and might limit your success?

R = Realistic

Have you been realistic in what you can achieve and how you will achieve it? Do you love chocolate way too much to give it up completely? Are you really going to have the time to exercise every day? Make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure!

T = Time based

Set a time frame that you would like to complete your goal within. Remember it needs to be achievable and realistic.

So, how can physiotherapists help?

As physiotherapists we can support you in achieving your new year’s resolutions. We are movement and exercise specialists and can help you by:

  • Assisting you in setting SMART goals
  • Providing you with a detailed physical assessment prior to starting an exercise program
  • Planning a tailored exercise program for you including stretching, Pilates, gym and running programs
  • Suggesting injury prevention and recovery strategies
  • Showing you correct form and how to exercise with good technique and safely
  • Communicating with your support team, such as your coach and/or doctor
  • Recommending appropriate footwear, braces and supports

And if things go awry, we can help you tackle any injuries or aches and pains that you get so that you’re able to get back on track as soon as possible. No matter how slow you go, you’re still making more progress than if you were doing nothing!

This post was written by Lucy Beumer, Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at Stafford Physiotherapy Centre.