5 common nutrition myths: debunked by our dietitian

It seems as though nutrition advice is always changing. One minute we see an article bragging about the latest diet or superfood, and the next minute there’s a TV program or Instagram post telling us to do the opposite. It’s frustrating to try and figure out what dietary changes we need to make for health and wellness when we’re constantly hearing conflicting information.

The easiest way to maintain a healthy weight and prevent diet-related health complications is to follow a healthy, balanced diet which includes all core food groups in moderation. Although there’s always a new diet or “rule” which is a tempting quick fix to fastrack results, these suggestions are often poorly supported by research and are simply misconceptions. Plus, a lot of these diet rules or restrictions take the joy away from eating and might even be counterproductive for our health. Read on to find out why these five nutrition myths are probably best forgotten.

1. You need to avoid all carbs and sugars – even fruit – to lose weight

Fresh bread

Rejoice, pasta lovers – cutting carbs completely is definitely not necessary to achieve weight loss. Carbohydrates are our body’s preferred and most efficiently digested fuel source, meaning that cutting all carbs out will likely lead you to feel fatigued, have impaired concentration and negatively impact your performance and recovery from physical activity. Carbohydrate foods are also an important source of B vitamins, folate, and fibre. In fact, cutting out breads, fruits or other complex carbs can not only influence the amount of fibre you get, but also impacts your ability to get a balance of all types of fibre (including insoluble fibre, soluble fibre and resistant starch). This is a big downfall when it comes to gut health and microbiome diversity. Instead of cutting out carbs, be mindful of portion size to ensure you don’t overindulge, as rice, pasta and breads can be easily overdone. Also look for a balance of complex carbohydrates from wholegrain breads/cereals, fruit, starchy veg and legumes.

2. You can meet your calcium requirements by eating lots of green vegetables

We all know that calcium plays an important role in bone health, but did you know that calcium is equally as important for blood clotting, heart health, and coordinating muscle contractions? In other words, calcium is quite a big deal, so it’s worth clearing up the misconception that green leafy vegetables, nuts and chickpeas are calcium-rich foods. Although they contain dietary calcium, the amount of calcium per serve of these foods is quite small when compared to dairy products. For reference, to achieve the equivalent of calcium in a glass of milk (about 300 mg), you’d need to eat 100 almonds, about 4 cups of green leafy veggies, or 3 cups of chickpeas. And this is only one “serving” of calcium/dairy – most of us need between 2.5-4 times this amount! Essentially, we shouldn’t neglect dairy foods as they are such an important source of calcium. If you have high cholesterol or are watching your waistline, choose low fat varieties. If you follow a plant-based diet or are intolerant to dairy, look for a calcium-fortified milk alternative such as lactose free, soy or almond. Check the label to make sure that at least 120mg of calcium/100mL has been added.

3. Coconut oil is a healthier, more natural alternative than olive oil

All oils have gone through some degree of processing to turn from their whole food derivative into an edible oil product. And coconut oil is not all it’s claimed to be: it’s actually about 92% saturated fat, which is the type of bad fat that increases our LDL cholesterol and contributes to blockages in our arteries when consumed in excess. In comparison, unsaturated oils such as olive oil, avocado oil and canola are healthier options that help to raise the good cholesterol in our blood, and lower the bad cholesterol. It was initially thought that coconut oil was safer to cook with because it has a higher smoke point and is less likely to break down and become carcinogenic. But since then studies have proven that unsaturated oils, especially olive oil, are very resistant to oxidation even at a high temperature. Plus – olive oil packs a huge amount of antioxidants, has strong anti-inflammatory properties and may play a role in preventing breast, colon, lung, ovarian and skin cancer development.

4. Never skip breakfast if you want to lose weight

We grew up hearing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if you’re hoping to lose weight. A lot of us have heard the myth that we need to eat three regular meals and snacks to “stimulate our metabolism” if we are trying to watch our waistline; however, we now know that this isn’t necessarily true. The only principle required for weight loss is “calorie deficit”, which simply put describes that if we eat fewer calories than what we burn through our resting metabolism and physical activity, then we should theoretically lose weight. The most recent studies show that we could eat one huge meal or six small meals over the day, but provided our calorie intake is the same on both days: we’re no better or worse off for weight loss. Meaning that if you’re not a breakfast person, or have to force yourself to eat every few hours – don’t panic! The only reason I may recommend six small meals over fewer, more spaced apart meals is for appetite and portion regulation. If you think that skipping meals and snacks would influence your hunger levels and cause you to overeat later in the day to compensate, then it’s worth setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier for a hearty breaky and meal prepping some healthy snacks.

5. You need to consume vitamin and mineral supplements to stay healthy

Although it can be tempting to take a vitamin or mineral tablet for piece of mind, I always preach that a “food first” approach to nutrition is more effective. Vitamin and mineral supplements are not needed for the average person that consumes a healthy, balanced diet containing all food groups. In fact, most vitamins can’t be stored for very long, meaning that taking a tablet won’t give you extra nutrition to save for a rainy day. Instead, the expensive supplements you’re taking become no more than – for lack of a better and less cringy word – waste. Secondly, taking vitamin and mineral supplements isn’t an effective “cheat” way to justify a diet deficient in fruit, veg and other important food groups. We actually know that the nutrients in food are better absorbed than the nutrients in supplement form, due to the complex interplay between the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in food. Lastly, certain vitamin and mineral tablets can be toxic in high doses, and can occasionally cause more harm than good. At the end of the day, the only populations that need to utilise nutrition supplements are women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, some vegetarians or vegans, the elderly, people with allergies or malabsorption problems, or those with diagnosed nutrient deficiencies. Otherwise, enjoy a balanced diet to save yourself splashing cash on expensive and unnecessary vitamin tablets.

 

This post was written by Regina Tilyard. Regina is an accredited practicing dietitian and longstanding member of the Stafford Physio team. You can read more about Regina here.

Contact us to book an appointment with Regina. 

Foam rolling part 2: 6 exercises you didn’t know you could do using your foam roller!

We’ve previously shown the many benefits in using foam rollers as a form of self massage, or myofascial release, to reduce adhesions and improve muscle flexibility. But there are also many other exercises you can perform using your roller to improve joint mobility and challenge your core strength! We commonly prescribe these exercises within our physiotherapy exercise classes, but here are 6 of our favourites you can try at home. They might even be a bit nicer than your usual foam roller choices!

FOAM ROLLER EXERCISES

Thread the Needle

Start in four-point kneeling position with your roller next to one hand. Reach your other hand up, twisting with your upper back and keeping your shoulders relaxed. Don’t strain your neck, but follow your fingertips with your eyes as far as you are comfortable doing. Gently thread this hand underneath your body, rolling your hand along the roller to increase a gentle stretch in this direction. Repeat 6-10 repetitions each side.

Arms on roller

With your spine supported vertically along the roller, draw in your core lower abdominal muscles (belly button gently to spine), reach two arms up overhead, and back to shoulder height. Repeat 5-10 repetitions. Try also alternating by taking one arm up while the other arm goes down by your hip, or opening your arms out to the side. Repeat 6-10 times. Ensure you keep breathing gently and keep the core engaged – it will help your back stay still and keep you on the roller!

 

Core + leg lifts

Great core strengthening exercise. Keep your spine vertically along the roller with your head supported, gently draw in your core muscles, and try and lift one foot up to table top position (90 degrees at hip and knee). Keep the roller as still as you can while you return your foot to the ground. Repeat alternating legs 5-10 times each.

Bridge feet on roller

To increase gluteal and hamstring muscle strength, as well as pelvic stability. Squeeze your bottom muscles, gently lift up, slowly peel down with your spine. Repeat up to 10 times.

 

 

Wall shoulder flexion/arm raises

Standing about 30cms back from the wall – start with the roller at your wrists, about shoulder height. Keep your chin in and shoulders down, and gently roll the roller up the wall as it moves towards your elbows. Maintain your posture as you roll back down to starting position. Repeat up to 10 times. Try this with theraband around your forearms for added shoulder strengthening.

 

4 point diagonals

(hands or knees – or both! – on roller)

This is a great core and postural strengthening exercise! Start in hands and knees with the roller under both hands. Switch on your core muscles by gently drawing in your belly button towards your spine and make sure your spine is straight (not dipping down with your lower back or curving with your upper back). Tuck your chin in gently to ensure your head is in alignment with your spine also. Maintain this position as you extend one arm. Repeat keeping your upper body still and extend one leg. Progress by doing one arm and opposite leg at the same time! Alternate sides. Perform up to 10 repetitions of each.

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

 

This post was written by Megan Esdale, Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at Stafford Physiotherapy and Pilates. 

5 ways to exercise for busy mums with kids

It can be very difficult to try to find the time (and energy!) to exercise with little ones around the house. I know when my kids were younger, they demanded 100% of my attention when we were at home together, and then I was too exhausted by the time they went to bed to consider going out to the gym. Though it can be a great way to get ‘time out’ and dedicate some much needed and deserved time your yourself, I don’t know many mums that do.

So I ended up trying to involve the kids in my exercise regime. Here are some of the things we tried together. It ended up being a lot of fun and my now almost-6-year-old talks about exercise in a positive way being important to keep him fit and healthy.

  • Walk the dog together. Either take a good sturdy pram or encourage your toddler to ride their scooter or balance bike. I recommend taking the empty pram anyway for when they get tired and need a ride. Most prams can support the scooter and bike on top too.
  • Follow a yoga workout together. There are lots of YouTube clips around. One I found is Mommy and Me Yoga at Home by CamiRose Yoga. You’d be surprised how much the kids enjoy getting out their own yoga mat and setting it up beside Mummy to copy the moves with you.
  • Head to a park. The kids will be entertained on the equipment for ages while you jog some laps around the equipment interspersed with exercises such as sit-ups, push ups, squats, lunges, etc. You can even use the park equipment if you dare!
  • Running races and obstacle courses in the back yard. Who doesn’t love a good competition; I know my kids do. Make it fun with different rules and courses, even let them come up with some themselves. My favourite one at home was complete with Captain America’s shield and Thor’s Hammer to defeat the ‘bad robots’ (or garden stakes) in various places around the yard.
  • Of course, you can always take them to the gym with you. Many gyms offer a crèche service or have a space with kids’ activities so they can occupy themselves. I currently take my 4year old with me to a personal training session once a week and she absolutely loves it. She will copy a lot of my exercises and has even started setting up her own challenge for me to complete at the end of class.

So let your imagination run wild and get the kids involved in your exercise regime at home. You’ll all have a great time and be instilling important healthy movement ideas in your kids early. All while getting exercise yourself at the same time.

 

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

8 Simple Pregnancy Exercises

Pregnancy and giving birth have been recently described as the physical equivalent of running a marathon. With this in mind, it is important to try and stay as fit as possible during your pregnancy. And it’s not just pregnancy and birth; once baby arrives there will be a lot of carrying and lifting that can place additional strain on your neck and back.

Here are 8 easy exercises to do at home to support you through pregnancy, birth and beyond! Perform 3 sets of 10 of each exercise. If you experience any pain during the exercises please stop and consult your physiotherapist.

 

< Wall Squat

Using a fit ball, lean against the ball resting up against the wall. Look straight ahead. Make sure your feet are hip width apart.

Squat down to 60 degrees at your knees. You should still be able to see your toes.

If you don’t have a ball, lean directly up against a wall.

 

Calf Raises >

Lean against the ball resting up against the wall.

Rise up and down on your tip toes.

If you don’t have a ball, use a table for balance in front of you.

 

< Wall Push Ups (ball optional)

Bend your elbows to bring your chest towards the ball.

Push away from the wall to straighten your arms. Keep your body straight.

 

 

Bridges >

Sit on top of the ball. Slowly walk your feet out so your head and neck rest on the ball.

Lift and lower your hips, squeezing your bottom.

If you don’t have a ball, rest your shoulders on your couch.

 

< Bicep Curls

Sit on the ball or a chair, feet flat on the ground.

Hold onto a small weight (1-5kg) and bend your elbows to bring the weight up to your shoulders.

 

Side Arm Openings >

Lie on your side with a pillow supporting your neck, your arms out straight and palms together.

Breathe in, then as you breathe out lift your top arm in a sweeping motion above and behind you. Follow your arm’s movements with your head. Inhale as you return to the original position.

 

 

< Horsekick

Start on hands and knees. Draw tummy in towards spine. Look down at your hands.

Slowly lift 1 leg towards the ceiling, keeping your back and hips still.

Stop if you feel nauseous or experience any pelvis pain.

 

Sitting Balance: Leg and Arm Lifts >

Sit on a ball or chair. Slowly lift one foot off the floor without moving your hips sideways.

Intermediate: Lift your leg and the same arm.

Advanced: lift your leg and the same arm holding onto 2kg weight.

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Foam rolling part 1: stretch and roll your way to mobility

Whether you are a regular walker, building up to your goal running event, or just looking to increase your exercise levels in general, it is important in any exercise regime to make time for stretching and strengthening exercises to reduce risk of injury.

Foam rolling involves rolling along the length of a muscle group, or using sustained pressure to a particular area. This is a way of using self-massage, or myofascial release, to effectively reduce adhesions between tight underlying muscles and connective tissue or fascia. It is a great means to help improve muscle flexibility and joint mobility. In addition, foam rolling increases blood flow to area, which can improve recovery of muscles and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. It is a useful tool in training as part of your warm up or cool down, as well as after work to reduce postural tightness. There are plenty of different options for foam rollers, with varying firmness, smooth or jagged surfaces, and different lengths. Smooth, longer rollers are great as they can be used for a great variety of core and strength exercises also.

 

FOAM ROLLER EXERCISES

Here are some examples for mobility exercises, try rolling throughout each muscle group for 30-60 seconds, and repeat each exercise 1-2 times through. If a portion of the muscle is particularly sore you can sustain pressure to this point (but modify how much pressure you use by pushing up with your hands or other leg!). Remember to also use sustained stretches as part of your cool down and recovery for all of the big muscle groups used for running (calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes).

 

Calves

Roll up and down along the length of the calf muscle, you can apply downward pressure with your other foot if desired.

 

 

 

Glutes

Sustain pressure or roll up and down or side to side. You can use the mid portion or edges of the roller.

 

 

Quadriceps

Roll up and down from hips to knee.

 

 

 

 

Iliotibial band

Roll from just below the bony point of the hip (greater trochanter) to just above the knee. Moderate your pressure using your hands and other foot – this one can be sore!

 

 

Pecs along the roller

Sustain this stretch for 20-30 seconds. Vary your elbow position to stretch through different muscle fibres. Make sure you don’t push into any shoulder pain with this exercise.

 

 

Thoracic spine extension

Support your head and neck with your hands, lift your bottom a little, slowly roll from the top to the bottom of the shoulder blades.

 

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

 

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

How mindfulness can help you

Ever wondered what mindfulness is and how to incorporate it into your already busy life?

I know I’m not alone in feeling like there aren’t enough daylight hours in the day. I find myself constantly racing against the clock to squeeze it all into one day, and ultimately ending up feeling stressed, exhausted and drained. Often being in this rushed state I end up focusing on getting tasks done and not actually being present in the moment.

Being in this constant state of rush often leads to an increased feeling of anxiousness, increased stress or body tension, lack of sleep and increased pain state in people with persistent pain. We are starting to learn how important it is to slow down and pay full attention to what’s happening both around us and within us in a practice called mindfulness.

Mindfulness is focusing on the present, taking the time to observe your thoughts, feelings, taste, smell, sight, touch and sounds around you. Taking a moment to explore mindfulness has been shown to decrease stress, increase mental clarity and memory, decrease pain by decreasing body tension, increase sleep quality and quantity, and decrease depression and anxiety.

So how can I improve my mindfulness?

There are many apps available to help you with some guided mindfulness. We like Smiling Mind and Headspace which can be found in the App store. Otherwise, try these ideas:

  1. Take a moment to breathe in slowly, then out before you rush to answer the phone, or dive into the next job to be done.
  2. Take a mindful hike. Go for a walk outside in nature but be aware of your surroundings. The feel of the ground, the smell of the bush, the sound of the birds etc.
  3. Embrace a moment of silence. Very rarely do we get a moment of silence so be sure to use it for some ‘mindful listening’. It might surprise you the sounds you’ll hear that you would normally miss. The breeze, the birds etc…
  4. Stop multitasking. Keep your mind on one job at a time and see what happens when each task benefits from your full attention.
  5. Turn off your phone. Try going without using technology, even for just 10 minutes. We are often tied to technology so much that we forget to talk to the people sitting directly in front of us. Give it a go, you might surprise yourself!

 

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

How to stay active in winter

The temperature is dropping, you’re eating more hearty, carby food and you need loads of layers to stay warm… Winter is sometimes the hardest time to get motivated to stay active, particularly if you’re an early morning, outdoors kind of exerciser! We asked our physios what their favourite way to keep moving is through the cooler months.

Sandra

Winter is a great time to walk! There are no excuses as it’s not too hot (and in Brisbane I think we could say not too cold too!) and it is a quick way to warm up if you are cold. Don’t forget you can drive to a more scenic place (in the mountains or by the water) or a flatter area if you live near hills and your knees or back hurt on slopes. If you want more of a challenge, drive to somewhere that includes hills or stairs. Of course, you can also walk in shopping centres if you feel vulnerable (to falling or dogs) when outside, or if it’s windy or rainy. Go by yourself or grab a buddy (for extra incentive) or a group. Add a nice sit and chat at the end as an enticement!

Sandra showing how to stay active in winter
Sandra walking her lovely lab, Suzie.
Megan

Running is a great way to warm up. The temperatures are cooler which means faster times and you don’t have to start at 5am to avoid the heat and humidity of summer. Parkrun can be a great motivation for free timed 5km runs at 7am every Saturday all over Brisbane (and around the world). There are also many fun runs held at this time of year, including Jetty2Jetty and Bridge2Brisbane.

Ally

I second running. There is nothing better than cooler temps for a nice brisk run. My other favourite winter activity is hockey. Team sport a great motivation to get out of the house and catch up with friends whilst exercising. It’s hard to bail in favour of staying snuggled up on the couch if it means letting your team down!

Lucy

Yoga is my favourite winter exercise. It can be done at home, at a studio or outside if you prefer and the weather permits. There are many local studios and online apps to help get you started. Classes range from easy to hard depending on how hard you want to work but, either way, you’re guaranteed to warm up! I also enjoy the mindfulness aspect of this form of exercise.

And of course…

We couldn’t forget Pilates-inspired exercises as another great way to warm up throughout winter. You can exercise indoors with our highly trained physiotherapists and keep strong ready for spring, or get working on that summer bikini bod! Join one of our Physiotherapy Exercise Sessions, or contact us for private Pilates classes.

Our 7 top tips for reducing inflammation

What do I need to know about an anti-inflammatory diet?

Inflammation has been a hot topic lately, with a lot of circulating information about anti-inflammatory diets, foods and supplements. And for good reason – research has now shown that certain foods and eating patterns can reduce the occurrence, symptoms and severity of inflammatory conditions. In particular, an anti-inflammatory diet can supplement the effects of physical therapy and medication for managing arthritis, and has been shown to reduce symptoms of pain, joint stiffness, swelling and tenderness.

Still wondering what the term “inflammation” actually refers to? You’re not alone. As a recent buzz word, many are yet to learn that inflammation refers to the body’s protective response to illness or injury. Inflammation can be either acute or chronic. Acute inflammation is the body’s immediate response to short term illness or infection, such as swelling when you stub your toe. On the other hand, certain conditions can cause a prolonged inflammatory response that we refer to as “chronic” inflammation. These conditions include arthritis, coeliac disease, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammation can also occur after we exercise as our body adjusts to increased stress and loading. Lastly, many people don’t realise that conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes are in fact “inflammatory” (a.k.a. inflammation producing) conditions.

Inflammation and diet

Whilst certain superfoods and supplements often steal the limelight as “anti inflammatory foods”, the most effective way to manage inflammation through our diet is to consume a wide variety of healthy, anti-inflammatory foods. Foods that reduce inflammation include fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, oily fish, nuts and seeds. These food groups are commonly associated with a Mediterranean diet pattern, which explains why a Mediterranean diet has been proven to lower levels of inflammatory markers and reduce symptoms of arthritis and generalised joint pains. You’ll also notice that that an anti-inflammatory diet is consistent with general healthy eating recommendations.

In terms of anti-inflammatory foods, variety is key, as each anti-inflammatory food functions differently. Different foods contain unique compounds (including types of antioxidants, polyphenols and fibre) which target different inflammatory processes. Because of this, no single food or nutrient will “cure” inflammation. Likewise, we also know that certain foods can contribute towards inflammation and should be avoided, including junk foods, alcohol and processed meats.

7 top tips for reducing chronic inflammation

1. Eat five servings of different coloured vegetables daily

The benefits of our “2&5” are extremely underrated. Vegetables contain many important vitamins, antioxidants and phenolic compounds that help reduce inflammation in the body. Aim to incorporate a variety of different colours, as different pigments provide different nutrients, which each possess different anti-inflammatory properties.

 

2. Experiment with recipes containing legumes and beans

The resistant starch in legumes and beans is a type of fibre that helps to fuel the bacteria in our gut. Throughout it’s fermentation process, resistant starch helps to reduce inflammation in the gut and throughout the body.

3. Cook with extra-virgin olive oil

Olive oil contains an antioxidant called oleocanthal which produces similar benefits to the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen.

4. Consume oily fish 2-3 times per week

Oily fish such as tuna and salmon contain omega-3, which metabolises into anti-inflammatory compounds called resolvins and protectins. Nuts, chia seeds and flax seeds are also sources of omega-3 that can help to reduce inflammation.

5. Flavour foods with spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and ginger

Spices, especially turmeric, contain chemicals that block inflammatory pathways throughout the body. Plus, they taste delicious and are a fantastic alternative to flavouring foods with salt.

6. Enjoy nuts/seeds as snacks, through salads or as breakfast-toppers

Nuts contain many anti-inflammatory compounds such as omega-3, magnesium, l-arginine and vitamin E. But remember, nuts are easy to over-portion and can contribute to weight gain when consumed in excess. The recommended serving size of nuts and seeds is 30g, or a small handful.

7. Replace refined carbohydrates for wholegrains, and limit fast foods, fatty meats and sugary drinks

Not only will this help to maintain a healthy weight and happy gut, but will prevent the production of inflammation.

 

Feel like you’re running in circles trying to eat healthy, manage your nutrition and meet your health and fitness goals? Personalised dietary advice is more effective than “dieting” when it comes to losing weight, and keeping it off. Our Accredited Practising Dietitian, Regina Tilyard, will work alongside your needs and preferences to create a nutrition plan that will deliver results.

 

This post was written by Regina Tilyard. Regina is an accredited practicing dietitian and longstanding member of the Stafford Physio team. Contact us to book an appointment with Regina. 

How can physiotherapy help during pregnancy?

Pregnancy is an amazing time, but it also tends to lead to some pretty significant changes to your body! Physiotherapy can help through all stages of pregnancy, from treating aches and pains to providing exercises and advice to aid in recovery.

PRE-NATAL

It’s never too early to start working on your posture and core muscles, including your pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles are stressed during pregnancy, even if you have a caesarean birth. Your physio can assist you with pelvic floor and core strength exercises to help prepare your body for pregnancy and help prevent incontinence during and after pregnancy.

FIRST TRIMESTER

During the first trimester your body is getting used to many new hormones. You might be feeling great, but you might also be feeling tired and nauseous. It’s important to listen to your body and be kind to yourself during this stage of pregnancy. Gentle exercise such as walking, Pilates and yoga can be beneficial, but if you feel too exhausted then let your body rest. It is not recommended to start a new type of high intensity exercise that you have never done before, such as running or weight lifting.

If you haven’t already, this is the perfect time to start your pelvic floor exercises.

SECOND TRIMESTER

During the second trimester your body generally gets more used to the changing hormones and this is often said to be the most comfortable trimester. From week 16-20 it is recommended that you avoid lying on your back if possible as this can place extra pressure on the vein suppling the blood to you and the baby. If you find you wake up on your back, gently roll onto your side and try to get back to sleep.

Continue gentle to moderate exercise during this trimester. Light weights can help to build muscle strength in both arms and legs, which will come in handy when bub arrives!

THIRD TRIMESTER

Your body releases more of the hormone called relaxin during the third trimester. This is to prepare your joints for childbirth. The downside of this hormone is that all your joints become a bit more stretchy. Aches and pains may start to hurt in your neck, around your lower back and pelvis or other joints. Our physiotherapists are here to help so don’t suffer in silence. A heat pack at home can also help reduce those aches and pains.

Your stomach muscles may also start to separate due to the size of your baby. This is called rectus diastasis. Your physiotherapist can assess this now and again after birth and advise you of appropriate abdominal exercises.

Walking can become difficult especially if you have put on weight or are carrying twins. Swimming is a great form of exercise for the third trimester. If possible, try to find a pool with a ramp rather than a ladder to get in and out with.

Leg strength is important for labour. Wall squats are a simple home exercise that you can perform daily. Start with 10 second holds and build up your endurance as able. Breathing exercises can also help prepare you for labour.

POST-NATAL

The hormone relaxin stays in your body for at least 3 months post birth. This means you need to be careful when lifting and returning to exercise. If you’ve had a caesarean then you need to be extra careful in the first 6 weeks. Pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscle exercises can be started early under the guidance of your physiotherapist.

Other common problems in the post-natal period include neck and shoulder pain from feeding and carrying baby, carpal tunnel, thumb pain and pelvic floor incontinence. See your physiotherapist as soon as possible to ensure an accurate diagnosis and management plan.

 

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

 

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

 

7 Tips to reach your goals this running season

As the days are finally starting to cool down, the winter running season is fast approaching. Whether you’re a weekend park runner or training for a marathon, it’s important to prepare your body and prevent overuse injuries that could stop you running for the season. Here are Ally’s 7 top tips to help you get through the season without time out due to injury.

1. Start training early and often

It’s ideal to get out for a run at least 3 times a week if you are training for an event. Aim to do 2 shorter runs and a third longer run, increasing these distances as you get closer (and fitter) to your event.

2. Warm up

It’s important to slowly increase your heart rate and generally loosen up your joints in preparation for a long distance run. Start with a few minutes of walking progressing to easy jogs including acceleration and deceleration over 100m. Finish your warm up with dynamic stretching rather than Static stretching. Dynamic stretching has been shown to better prepare your muscles giving you more power and a lower injury rate than static stretching.

3. Stretch cool down

A stretch cool down helps to flush out lactic acid and restore normal muscle length. Conclude your run with 5 minutes of gentle aerobic exercise (fast walk, slow jog) with deep breathing to return the body to its normal resting rate. Follow this with long static stretches i.e 30 second holds, 3 repetitions. Think gluts, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and calves.

4. Hydrate and get appropriate nutrition

See our dietitian Regina Tilyard to help you fuel your body appropriately pre-during-and post exercise. Always consume 2 litres of water daily, but increase this if you have exercised.

5. Take 2 rest days before the event

If anything, do a slow, very short 15min run to burn off nervous energy but definitely don’t set out for a long, hard last-minute training session. You will only fatigue your body and then underperform on race day and potentially be at risk of injury when you try to push harder.

6. Include strength and core stability training

Endurance athletes can be prone to overuse injuries of the lower limb. You can help safeguard yourself from these tendon injuries of the hip knee and foot by staying strong. Include 3 strength sessions a week of squats, lunges, heel raises, glut bridges, balance and abdominal exercises. If you are inexperienced in these types of exercises, or already suffering pain in your hip knees or feet consult one of our physiotherapists.

7. Get enough sleep

6-8 hours before exercise is ideal to allow the body to repair and prepare for exercise. Not enough sleep and you could already be fatigued before your event! This puts you at risk of a muscle tear, especially when trying to power up that hill that always seems to be in the last kilometre before the finish line!

 

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