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)

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.

Book Online

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. 

How to get pain relief (without codeine!)

As of the first of February 2018, pharmaceutical opioids such as codeine are no longer available over the counter, but have become prescription-only medication. Though this might distress some people suffering with pain, it has been brought about to combat the significant increase in opioid overdoses in Australia over the last decade. It’s quite alarming that between 2001 and 2012 over 8,547 Australians died as a result of opioid overdoses*, and that over half of these deaths were from pharmaceutical opioids rather than heroin or methadone.

So if you cannot get relief from other over-the-counter pain medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, you could seek a prescription from your GP for stronger opioid-based medication,

OR

you could seek drug-free pain relief from your physiotherapist!

Your physiotherapist is the perfect place to start when you are in pain. Physiotherapists are highly trained health professionals equipped with the knowledge and techniques to give you a better understanding of pain, what is driving it, and how to manage it.

Allyson Flanagan | Stafford Physiotherapy Centre | Physio Brisbane NorthWhat happens when I visit my physiotherapist?

Here at Stafford Physiotherapy Centre, a physiotherapist will assess your area of pain through a series of questions and physical testing. We can then help you understand the cause behind your pain and start you on the road to better pain management.

Our treatment plan may involve activity modification and advice; manual techniques for joint mobilisations and soft tissue release; western acupuncture and dry needling; individually tailored exercise programs for the home, gym or Pilates; strapping or bracing for tissue support; and appropriate referrals for holistic management.

For safer ways to prevent, reduce, cope with, and manage your pain today, book online or phone 3857 5815. It’s time to make the change.

This post was written by Allyson Flanagan, Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor. 

*Source: Alcohol and Drug Foundation