Tips For Long Car Rides

Raine’s Top 3 for Surviving Long Car Trips

 

As we come to the busy festive season, many people set out for the long drive interstate to visit family. Just the thought of being cooped up in a car for hours on end might make you start to ache. After just returning from a driving trip to Sydney, Raine has some great ideas to help you arrive at the other in better shape, and hopefully not flare up your old neck and back issues.

 

 

1. Settle in!

Driving should be all about comfort without compromising on safety, we need to ensure that we are close enough to the wheel and pedals so that our elbows and knees are in a relaxed bend (about 30 degrees). You shouldn’t need to be reaching for things, this includes taking things out of your pockets to prevent having to get them later or making us uncomfortable by sitting on them. Don’t forget to recline that seat just a bit, we don’t need to be sitting super straight for a long drive.

 

2. Take breaks!

We want to slip, slop, slap on long drives and even if it’s not sunny, the sun is still out. Don’t forget to stop and reapply, take a load off, have a coffee and do some exercises. It doesn’t have to be a whole routine, walking around the car park a few times is good and if you can do a fast walk, that’s great. Practice some squats or sit to stand off the bench, or some push-ups if you’re feeling up for it. Stretches are great and doing some twists for the lower back or some forward bends are essential, neck stretches can come in handy as well for those who get a sore neck after a while.

 

3. Have Fun!

Play some music and do a little chair dance, moving around doesn’t just have to be when you stop the car. See if you can use some of those arm muscles and practice pressing your back into the chair for ten seconds, or use those neck muscles by pressing the head into the headrest.

 

Just the thought ‘driving’ you crazy?

Get into your nearest clinic for some advice and some treatment for those aches and pains.

Why strength training in adolescent dancers is so important

Dance is an art form that demands grace, precision and boundless creativity. Adolescent dancers, in particular, are at a critical stage of physical and artistic development. As they strive to achieve their full potential, it is essential to recognise the significant role that strength training plays in nurturing their talent. Beyond the aesthetics of dancing, comes the demands of physical strength. Strength training offers numerous benefits that can elevate a young dancer’s performance and ensure a sustainable and successful career.

 

Let’s explore the importance of strength training in adolescent dancers and how it can shape them into strong, versatile and injury-resistant performers.

 

  1. Building a solid foundation

Strength training provides adolescent dancers with a solid physical foundation, which is crucial for mastering the demanding skills required. Focused exercises help to develop overall strength, stability and balance muscle development. As adolescent dancers grow, this foundation becomes the backbone of their dance practice, allowing them to execute complex movements with ease and elegance.

 

 

  1. Enhancing flexibility and range of motion

Contrary to common misconceptions, strength training complements flexibility training. Strengthening muscles around the joints enhances a dancer’s range of motion while reducing the risk of injury. By supporting their flexibility with strength, adolescent dancers can achieve more extensive movements safely allowing them to reach their full potential as performers.

 

  1. Injury prevention

Dancers are susceptible to injuries due to the unique physical demands placed on them. Incorporating strength training into their routine can significantly reduce the risk of common dance-related injuries. Strengthening the muscles also helps stabilise the joints, providing additional protection during challenging skills and dance routines.

 

  1. Improving endurance and stamina

Dancing requires substantial physical endurance and stamina. Strength training helps increase muscle endurance, allowing dancers to sustain high intensity performances without fatigue. As their cardiovascular fitness improves, they can better maintain their energy levels throughout the intensive rehearsals, auditions and performances.

 

  1. Boosting Confidence

Physical strength is intrinsically linked to mental fortitude. As adolescent dancers witness their bodies becoming more capable and resilient through strength training, their confidence grows both inside and outside the studio. This new-found confidence extends to their dance performance, allowing them to take risks and push boundaries, ultimately elevating their artistic expression and performance.

 

  1. How to motivate a young dancer to perform strength training

Perhaps the most important question, how? The simple answer is strength training in whichever way the performer enjoys the most whether it be strength training at the gym, gym classes, a personalised program from a physiotherapist, barre or reformer Pilates. It can often be challenging to encourage even the most dedicated performer to comply with a strength training program but there is one way to always make it more fun, do it with friends, in a group class or a with a team- a way that makes it more social and enjoyable for everyone.

 

The significance of strength training in adolescent dancers cannot be overstated. As they embark of their journey as performers, building a solid physical foundation, preventing injuries and enhancing flexibility are paramount. The fusion of strength and grace elevates their artistry, enabling them to become well-rounded, versatile and confident dancers. Dance is not just about movement; it’s a harmonious interplay of strength, and beauty that comes alive when nurtured with passion, determination, dedication and discipline.

5 Tips for returning to sport

Follow what Greg has learned on returning to soccer at 30

This year, amidst my ongoing quarter life crisis, I decided to return to playing soccer again. Now that I am in my thirties and don’t allocate as much time as I would like to exercise, a team sport that required me to train and play weekly seemed like a good way to force the issue. In any case, it had been seven years since I last played a full game, and two years since I ran for longer than 20 minutes at a time. It was safe to say that training for two hours and playing a 90 minute competitive game every week would represent a dramatic increase in soft tissue and joint loading – loading that my body was in no way ready for.

 

This large spike in activity level dramatically increases the risk of injury. With this in mind, I am writing this so that you can learn from my mistakes. Here are five simple tips that anyone can use to return to sport (or any other activity) as injury free and optimistically as possible:

 

  1. Steady increase in workload

Planning is important! In the weeks, or ideally months, leading up to the start of the activity you should gradually increase your workload. Think of where you are now, where you need to be, then gradually start bridging this gap. Incremental increases will allow your joints and soft tissue to adapt to load as it increases. Increasing load too rapidly will overload your soft tissue and result in tendon and/or joint inflammation.

  1. Warm up and cool down

Make sure to spend at least 15 minutes warming up before vigorous activity. This might include a light jog, some stretching and some activity specific drills. When warming up, stretches should always be dynamic – these stretches are moved in and out of, rather than held, and will improve muscle elasticity without decreasing strength performance. Cooling down is the best time to increase general flexibility – static (or held) stretches are best at this stage to increase muscle length while you are warm from activity.

  1. Optimise recovery

Rest and recovery are a vital part of any training. The use of foam rollers, spiky balls, ice baths and massage are often overlooked. This should be built into your routine and should be done on rest days to prepare the body for upcoming activity. Adequate sleep and a balanced diet are also an important factor in the way our soft tissue recovers after activity as the body needs an array of nutrients to repair and recover effectively.

  1. Listen to your body

Pain is sometimes a helpful friend – it is your brain’s way of warning you that you might be causing damage. Of course, this is not always the case. Pain of around 2-3/10 is usually acceptable when increasing training load. If you begin to feel a bit more fatigued or sore than usual, it is likely because your body is struggling to keep up the demands your activity is placing on it. This might be a good indication to either give yourself an extra day for recovery or to reduce your current workload to a more suitable amount.

  1. Get your niggles sorted

If you have been struggling with pain that is beyond normal soreness, is limiting your activity or has not fully resolved over a 3-4 day period, this is the best time to see your physiotherapist for an assessment and treatment. The longer these issues are left, the worse the outcome usually is – the ‘just push through it’ approach has never worked for anyone. Seeing us early will allow us to create a rehab plan, address any predisposing risk factors, and get you back to activity as soon as possible.

Top 5 Exercises To Keep Your Shoulder Healthy

In the shoulder, the higher the mobility, the lower the stability. However, this theory is not applied on a healthy shoulder. The shoulder is a complex joint that allows the arm moving in a circular motion, also, the joint has four muscles formed as a group called the rotator cuff muscles, which work in a balanced way to stabilise our shoulder.

The rotator cuff muscles
Let’s figure out the locations and the primary functions.

Refer to the diagram below, the rotator cuff muscles include the Supraspinatus (initiates the abduction), Infraspinatus (with the action of external rotation), Teres minor (helping the action of external rotation) and Subscapularis (with the action of internal rotation).

The rotator cuff muscles are important to us.
How can we protect it?
There are few tips to keep the shoulder healthy.

1. Keep a good posture
Chest open, engage core muscles by elongating the spine. Avoid ‘poking out the chin’ and ‘rounded shoulders’, so that the rotator cuff muscles work with proper biomechanics.

2. Avoid repetitive and heavy overhead activities
These are the predisposing factors to develop the rotator cuff tears or tendinopathy (previously known as tendinitis).

3. Regular exercises
Strengthening can prevent rotator cuff tendinopathy or impingement syndrome with age or degenerative changes.

4. Consultation
If you have any shoulder pain, stiffness or weakness, always seek the guidance of your physiotherapist. We can refer on if we think you need investigations or a medical consultation.

 

Top 5 Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

Here are some of the shoulder exercises which can train our shoulder stay strong and healthy. If any of these give you pain, see your physiotherapists for some easier exercises.

 

1. Wall Angels
Good to warm up your shoulder. Do it slowly and with control.

Start standing with shoulders and head touching the wall.
Draw the shoulder blade inward and downward.
Bend your elbow. Keep the forearm touching the wall.
Bring your arms up as high as you can get them, then return and repeat.

 

2 Scapular Retraction – putting arms in position ‘L’, ‘M’, ‘Y’, ‘T’
Improve the upper back and shoulder blade muscles strength. Too easy? Add some light weights!

Lie on your front with your forehead rested on a small towel.
Move your arms out to your sides then bend your UL in ‘L’, ‘M’, ‘Y’, or ‘T’
Keeping your chest and head in contact with the floor throughout, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and then arms off the floor.
Hold this position for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat.

 

3 Shoulder Elevation with Thera band
Shoulder elevation with shoulder stabilization.

Stand up straight facing a wall.
Loop a resistance band around both of your wrists.
Keeping this control with your shoulder blades, brings the arm up and down.

 

4 Gym Ball Wall Bounces

Raise the gym ball to shoulder height in one hand.
When ready, bounce the ball against the wall whilst keeping your elbow at shoulder height.

 

5 Arm Lift on Foam Roller
Arm strengthening exercise with cores muscle engagement.

Lie on top of a foam roller supporting head and buttock, draw shoulder blade inward and downward, flatten the lower back, feet on the floor.
Hold a pair of dumbbell and lift arms up and down.

Common Myths About Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the most common conditions treated by physiotherapists and if you are unlucky enough t

o have been a sufferer, you know that severe back pain can take over your life. With improved understanding, health professionals have come to identify some common myths about back pain that are inaccurate, misleading or even counterproductive.

Myth #1 – Discs can ‘slip’ out of place

Sitting between the vertebrae of the spine are soft discs that provide flexibility and shock absorption to the spine. In the past, many health professionals including doctors and physiotherapists told patients that these discs had ‘slipped’ as a way of explaining their pain to them. While this was helpful to some extent, it is not entirely accurate, as these discs are actually very secure and rarely, if ever ‘slip’ out of place. Discs may bulge slightly or in some cases tear, however more often than not these injuries will heal without any permanent damage and exist in many people without causing any pain at all. Thinking that a part of your spine has permanently ‘slipped’ out of place can cause you to move differently, which can create more pain and dysfunction in itself.

Myth #2 – If you have low back pain, you should stay in bed

When back pain strikes, our natural instinct is to rest, avoid movement and wait for the pain to pass. However, studies have shown that being active and performing targeted, gentle exercises can help improve low back pain. In fact, our impulse to stop moving and protect our spines can actually cause abnormal movement patterns and stress, leading to ongoing pain after the original injury has healed. If you are unsure of what kind of exercises you should be doing, your physiotherapist can help guide you with a targeted exercise program.

Pain that is severe, and strikes suddenly, without warning can be a very scary experience. If this happens to you, you could be forgiven for assuming you must have sustained a very serious injury. The fact is, however, that the spine, being surrounded by nerves is a particularly sensitive area of the body and pain in this area can be very strong without significant damage. A small ligament sprain or muscle tear can actually cause a large amount of pain and it is common for severe pain to settle down quickly, even disappearing within a few days. In many cases, symptoms that last for longer than 2-3 weeks are caused by changes to your movement patterns in response to this pain and not the original injury itself.

If you are suffering from back pain, the best person to see is your physiotherapist. They can help you to recover without any complications or side effects and help you safely return to your usual activities while also ruling out any serious damage that might need further investigation.

None of the information in this article is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.

What Does a Physiotherapist Do?

 

Many people know the value that physiotherapy brings to their life and some have even been visiting their physiotherapist since childhood. However, for those who have never been to see a physiotherapist before, there can be a question mark over exactly what it is that physiotherapists do. In fact, this is one of the most common questions physiotherapists are asked.

What is the main job of a physiotherapist?

The answer is tricky, because physiotherapists do so much. Primarily, we might be described as pain management experts, as we work to reduce the pain of our patients, from those who have suffered a new injury, to those who have had pain for several years. We first identify the cause of the pain and then provide manual therapy techniques, education and management strategies to help our patient understand, manage and reduce their pain.

While pain is usually the first thing that brings patients to see a physiotherapist, this pain has often caused patients to give up activities that they love and can even be getting in the way of everyday tasks. Many of us reduce our activity levels to reduce pain without even realizing it. Physiotherapists are able to identify which areas you are struggling in and why this is occurring.

By identifying the cause of your symptoms, we can help to get you back to full function. Physiotherapists are able to do this for everyone including elite athletes and those dealing with serious disabilities. In fact, physiotherapists have a role to play at practically every stage of life.

We can assess infants to monitor their motor skills development and as they grow we help them deal with the pains and vulnerabilities of a growing body. Among other things, we can help improve the function of athletes, assist in preventing injuries, help those with pelvic floor dysfunction and work to prevent falls in the elderly.

Not just exercises and massage.

Physiotherapists offer a range of treatments, from targeted stretches, manual therapies, dry needling, exercises and massage. Physiotherapists are also committed educators and take our role as such seriously.

A huge part of recovering from pain and injury comes from understanding what is happening and how to best manage these issues. Rather than create a dependency on their therapist, we aim to empower our patients to improve their health independently as much as possible.

Physiotherapists aim, to improve your quality of life and remove any barriers to full participation, whether these barriers are due to pain, weakness or stiffness.

None of the information in this article is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual condition.

Happy Feet, Happy Me!

 

Our feet are an extremely important part of our body. They provide us with important sensory information from our surroundings and provide essential strength and stability for the rest of the body to work from. If you have poor posture and strength in your feet, it could lead to pain and increase your risk of injury in both the feet and ankles, as well as further up in the knees and hips.

Over the last few decades, people are spending more and more time in supportive shoes and less time moving and working their foot and balance muscles. As a result, many people have stiff and weak feet with decreased balance.

So how do you turn these stiff weak feet into amazing ‘Happy Feet’?

Gradual exposure is key. Start with 5-20min a day of bare foot activity around the home or walking on grass. Build this up gradually over time. Be sure to incorporate a foot mobility and strength exercise program.

 

 

Try a couple of these foot exercises at home:

1. Big toe flexionWrap a piece of yellow or red TheraBand or a thick rubber band around your big toe.

  • Keeping the other 4 toes long and flat flex your big toe down towards the ground against the resistance band. Hold for 20 seconds and slowly release it again.
  • Try to work the big toe independently from the other toes.

 

2. Trigger ball rolling of the plantar fascia

  • Using a firm ball roll your foot along the ball on the ground.
  • Try going along the length of your foot as well as side to side.
  • Pause on tight or tender sports for a longer release.

3. The perfect heel raise

  • Always hold onto the wall or a bench for this exercise, it is for strength not balance
  • With parallel feet slowly rise onto the ball of your foot.
  • Keep the middle of your shin bone or ankle joint directly above your 2nd toe. Be careful not to roll outwards.
  • Slowly lower the heels back down to the ground
  • Do not use momentum to help you raise your heel, you should not feel like you are rocking forwards and backwards on your heel.
  • Do as many repetitions as you can of a full height heel raise. Once you can do 20, try doing them on a single leg.

4. Balance

  • Challenge yourself daily with a balance exercise. Try feet together, one foot forwards one foot backwards, single leg.
  • Try balancing on a rolled up towel, a pillow, the edge of the gutter, a log fence at the park, let your imagination run wild!

These are a couple of my favourites that are included with many more exercises and fun movements in our ‘Happy Feet’ class. Come and give it a try!!

 

How to Safely Return to Exercise post COVID 19

One of the most challenging things people are finding when they are recovering from COVID-19 is managing fatigue. Fatigue, like breathlessness and lack of mental focus make up some of the symptoms post COVID that last mid to long term post infection. These symptoms can come and go over time and can impact our ability to complete activities of daily living, limit social interactions and limit the return to healthy lifestyle habits like exercise.

Most of us are aware that physical activity is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and should be part of our daily routine. But how should we tackle this safely after being infected with COVID 19? 

But How Do I start??

If you were hospitilised due to COVID-19 symptoms OR had symptoms of myocardial injury such as chest pain, severe breathlessness, palpitations or syncope, you should be assessed by your doctor or medical specialist first.

If you had mild symptoms of COVID-19 it is advised to rest and recover for 10days from when symptoms started. When you have been symptom-free for 7 days and you are no longer requiring medications such as paracetamol, you may start your journey back into exercise. 

Here is your 4 phase guide. Aim to spend 1-2 weeks in phases 1 and 2, then a minimum of 1 week per phase for 3,4 and 5. 

**Please remember, STOP EXERCISING IMMEDIATELY AND CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF YOU experience chest pain or palpitations, unexpected breathlessness or signs of blood clots such as red,swollen calves.

Phase 1:  Extremely light intensity activity. Start gently back into body movements such as flexibility and breathing exercises, balance exercises and gentle walking. You should be able to hold a full conversation throughout the exercise.

Phase 2: Minimal to light exertion. Start increasing your movements but keep the intensity to a level you can still hold a conversation throughout. Activities might include household and light garden tasks, gentle walking, balance or yoga exercises, stretching and light strengthening activities. Once you can perform all your activities of normal daily living easily AND walk 500m on the flat without feeling fatigued or breathless, it’s time to progress to phase 3.

Phase 3: Moderate intensity aerobic and strength exercise. Start increasing the intensity of exercise from a gentle walk to brisk walking, cycling, jogging or swimming. It’s a great idea to start with 2x 5minute blocks of exercise and build these up. Try exercising at this intensity every 2nd day allowing recovery in between. When you can tolerate 30min of moderate exercise in a session progress to phase 4.

Phase 4: Moderate intensity aerobic and strength exercise. 30min sessions of building intensity. Allow for a rest day every 2 days where you should stretch, or roll and release tight muscles. Progress to phase 5 when fatigue levels are as pre-COVID levels.

Phase 5: Return of pre-COVID level of exercise. Hard to Very hard intensity exercise as you are able. Be sure to manage training load with moderate and low intensity exercise days as well as rest days in your training program to manage risk of overuse/overtraining injuries.

 

Citing article : Returning to Physical Activity after COVID-19. BMJ 2021;372:m4721

 

Meet Our Team: Jessica

We’ve recently welcomed Jessica Clarkson to the Stafford Physiotherapy and Pilates


What motivates you?
I am motivated by staying physically active, continuing education, and interaction with people. I feel it’s important to have healthy and positive habits that you can share with others.

What’s your favourite 3pm snack? A cheeky vanilla slice and an iced coffee! Thanks to my gran, this tasty treat has become a staple every time I visit her.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy the client interaction, problem solving and most of all, having a skill set that can assist clients with pain relief.

What’s your favourite part of the day? 100% Early mornings! Summer or Winter, Queensland has the best mornings which are highly motivating for physical activity followed by a good coffee.

If you weren’t a physio, what would you be? If I wasn’t a massage therapist studying to become a physiotherapist, I would love to do environmental sciences

What’s your favourite restaurant/ cafe? Phat Pho Vietnamese in Tenerrife & Little May espresso in Montville.

Would you rather dance, or do karaoke? Karaoke often occurs in my car, while dancing often occurs out on the trails where I can’t be seen ha! I would do karaoke to Mumford and sons, Vance joy, Of Monsters and Men, Billy Idol, Tv on the radio or The National.

Meet Our Team: Raine

We’ve recently welcomed Raine Mitchelson to the Stafford Physiotherapy and Pilates team. Raine will be working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday mornings. 


What motivates you?
I am motivated by small gains, anything that keeps us progressing. Ability to do an activity for a little bit longer, or a little bit faster, or to get a little bit more enjoyment out of something.

What’s your favourite 3pm snack? I like kit kat the most, however, i have such a sweet tooth so anything sweet is fine with me.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I like being around and working with different types of people.

What’s your favourite part of the day? the nighttime, I’m a bit of a night owl.

If you weren’t a physio, what would you be? I would probably still be working in sales or in public health. somewhere where i can still help people and work with like-minded individuals.

What’s your favourite restaurant/ cafe? The yellow deli in the blue mountains

Would you rather dance, or do karaoke? I’m happy to do both, i don’t have a favourite song but anything with a beat is good.

Read more about Raine here.