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Tips for staying active and healthy this winter

Exercise during winter can sometimes feel like a chore. It may be easier to reach out of your doona and hit the snooze button on your phone, right?

However, the benefits you can gain from hauling your sorry self into regular exercise during winter far outweigh the downsides. Exercise improves muscle mass and decreases body fat. Also, a flood of endorphins elevate your mood and give you a feeling of well-being. This has flow-on effects in how you perform in your workplace, your home life and in daily activities.

Listen to your body

Winter often brings with it an increased vulnerability to a cold or flu. If you are feeling ‘under the weather’ with aches, body pains and a fever, it’s best to visit your GP. Or alternately to cease your regular exercise until you feel better.

How to stay motivated

Although people tend to associate winter with increased weight gain, one US study found otherwise. Research showed that there was only a small correlation between reduced physical activity, colder weather and weight gain. Although that’s no reason to start eating unhealthily or to cease exercise. Keeping the right balance is what will keep you healthy, fit and happy during the short days and long nights.  

 

1. Stay hydrated

The air during winter can be dry, cold and harsh. Although because it’s cold we often won’t feel as thirsty as we would in hot weather. Dehydration can affect the functionality and lubrication of muscles and joints, making you more susceptible to injury. So always remember to keep drinking plenty of water during winter. We recommend approximately eight glasses per day.   

 

2. Workout with friends

It’s easier to get out of bed for a jog or to attend netball when you know you have friends counting on your participation.  

 

3. Plan and prepare

As the old saying goes: ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. It’s much easier to stay motivated to exercise when you have your running shoes, yoga mat or workout gear ready for you in the morning. Also consider moving your regular outdoor workout to the early evening after work, when the cold isn’t as intense compared to the early morning.

 

4. Set achievable goals

Instead of saying: ‘I want to enter into an Iron Man Competition by summer’. Or, ‘I want to lose 20 kilos by the summer’, keep your goals for exercise realistic, specific and measurable. A better goal could be: ‘I want to take the dog for a 40 minute walk every other day’. Or, ‘I want to take the stairs up to my office every morning’. Then set a recurring calendar item on your phone to remind yourself.

 

5. Choose the right exercise for you

The kind of exercise that’s right for you will be a combination of several factors. It will involve an activity you enjoy, along with an exercise that’s within your current physical capabilities. This is the magical recipe that will keep you interested in the long term. If you absolutely love dancing, but you feel obligated to continue jogging in order to stay fit, then you have it back to front! Make it easier by doing physical activities that you genuinely enjoy.

 

6. Seek professional guidance

The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will be able to advise you on the best form of exercise to match your current fitness levels, lifestyle, health and physical capabilities.

 

How to warm up properly before exercise

A warm-up is essential before any workout. However it’s even more critical when exercising outdoors in winter.  If you decide to brave the cold, ensure that you give your body extra time to warm up and get your heart and lungs pumping. Warm-ups are vital because they reduce the risk of injury and prepare your body for higher intensity exercise. A warm-up will progress in intensity and should last about ten minutes in duration.

Your warm-up should be specific to each sport and training session because different muscle groups need to be activated. For example a warm up prior to cardio training will be slightly different to a warm-up before a weights session.

 

Warm-up for a cardio session

  • A one kilometer walk.
  • Hip openers, leg swings, A-march, B-march, walking lunges, squats.  
  • Single leg hops, bounding, run throughs.

Warm-up for a weights session

  • For a lower limb focused weights or strengthening session, you should focus on your lower body for your warm up. Include weighted squats and lunges, air squats, glute bridges, skipping and leg swings (forwards and backwards).
  • For a weights or strengthening session that is focused on the upper body, you should warm up these muscles. Start with shoulder presses, rows and bench pressing. Then try out arm swings (forwards and backwards), theraband activation of rotator cuff muscles, and theraband rows.

For more information on warming-up effectively, speak with one of the friendly expert team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy.

How to stay consistent with your training during winter

According to experts from Mississippi State University, you have three ways you can stay warm over the winter. You can either modify your food intake, your activity level or your clothing.

Experts from Exercise and Sports Science Australia take a broad view of what constitutes as exercise. Their tips for successfully maintaining training and exercise regimen during winter are simply summed up in two words – move more!

 

Move more

People who maintain healthy exercise habits during winter are those who are always doing something. They could be walking up six flights of stairs instead of taking the lift. They could be taking the dog for a walk in the evenings. Or having a lunch time walking meeting. If you take every opportunity to move your body during winter, it will reward you with increased flexibility, fitness and strength. The important thing is to keep on moving every day for at least 30 minutes per day.

 

Commit yourself to an exercise class

Another way of staying consistent with your exercise during winter is to commit to a dedicated exercise class. Maroubra Road Physiotherapy have several classes a week that are run by experts in exercise physiology and physiotherapy. These classes will help you to gain or maintain your strength, conditioning and flexibility.

 

Balance and Conditioning classes

This progressive class is especially designed for people with balance issues due to general deconditioning from age or injury. The classes are taught by a physiotherapist who specialises in movement and rehabilitation.

 

When:           Select a time that suits you.

Tuesday 2.30 pm

Friday 11.00 am

Cost:              Check with your health fund if you may be eligible for cover.

$25 per session.

 

New patients. $80 for an initial 30 minute screening to evaluate your current fitness level, goals and any pre-existing medical conditions. This also includes one free trial class.

Who:              Anyone is welcome, however spots are limited. Please register your interest by calling 02 9314 3888.

Where:          Maroubra Road Physiotherapy. Shop 4-5, 16 Maroubra Road, Maroubra, 2035.

Core Strengthening Classes

Whether you are suffering from pain or wanting to prevent injury – this class will engage your core and create body awareness and progressively build strength required for optimal function.

When:           Select a time that suits you.

Tuesday 3.15 pm

Wednesday 6.00 pm  

Friday 11.45 am

Cost:              Check with your health fund if you may be eligible for cover.

$25 per session.

New patients. $80 for an initial 30 minute screening to evaluate your current fitness level, goals and any pre-existing medical conditions. This also includes one free trial class.

Who:              Anyone is welcome, however spots are limited. Please register your interest by calling 02 9314 3888.

Where:          Maroubra Road Physiotherapy. Shop 4-5, 16 Maroubra Road, Maroubra, 2035.

 

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy treat people at all stages of their lives and for all kinds of reasons with our caring, experienced and professional team. Book an appointment today on (02) 9314 3888

 

References

 

The Conversation, (2019) It’s cold! An exercise physiologist explains how to keep your body feeling warm. Dr John Eric Smith. Assistant Professor, Exercise Physiology. Mississippi State University

NHS (2018) A Guide to Exercising During Winter

University of Massachusetts Medical School (2006) Seasonal variation in food intake, physical activity, and body weight in a predominantly overweight population. Y Ma et. al.

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (2018) 15 Exercise Habits You Need

Happy Mother’s Day! Tips for mums to stay pain-free

Happy mother’s day! Tips for mums to stay pain-free

Mother’s Day is coming up and that means a lot of cake, cups of tea in bed and other delights. Hopefully, you can get the morning off on this special day! For all mums, the journey of motherhood can sometimes be daunting. There is a lot of information to consume about how to care for your baby as they turn into a child, a teen and eventually an adult. But what about caring for all of those niggling aches and pains that you experience ? This Mother’s Day, honour and cherish yourself with these helpful hints and tips for avoiding common ‘mum’ pains in the body.

Where is the pain coming from?

Pain can either be localised to a specific area of the body or referred from another part of the body. Pain in the abdominal region or pelvis are quite common in the weeks after childbirth, but also at other times during motherhood.  

Strengthening weakened pelvic floor muscles

The pelvic floor muscles extend like an elastic band or a hammock between your hip bones and spine and encompass ligaments and nerves. Essentially they keep your abdominal organs in place. Giving birth can often weaken pelvic floor muscles. Although women of all ages and stages of life can have a weakened pelvic floor.  This can also be caused by hormonal changes during menopause and gaining weight.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! There are many therapeutic treatments out there to help strengthen your pelvic floor. Common interventions include manual therapy, massage or a therapeutic exercise prescription such as clinical Pilate’s classes. The friendly and highly experienced team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will be able to help you to reduce pain and restore function to body.

What are Kegel Exercises?

Kegel exercises are also known as pelvic floor exercises. They were invented back in the 1940’s by a gynaecologist named Dr Kegel. Women of all ages are encouraged to try Kegel exercises. The exercises are great for recovering from childbirth, as well as for dealing with hormonal changes to the body during menopause.

A Kegel exercise to try

The great thing about Kegel exercises or pelvic floor exercises is that you can do them almost anywhere and nobody will even know!

Exercise: cat cow squeeze

Step 1:

Kneel on your hands and knees on the ground. As you would for a cat-cow position in yoga.

Step 2:

Close your eyes, imagine what muscles you would tighten to stop yourself from passing urine.   

Step 3:

Now that you can feel your pelvic floor muscles working, tighten them and hold for three to five seconds. By doing this, you should feel your pelvic floor muscles ‘lift up’ inside you and feel a definite ‘let go’ as the muscles relax.

If you can hold longer (but no more than a maximum of eight seconds), then do so. Repeat up to ten times or until you feel your pelvic floor muscles fatigue. Rest for a few seconds in between each squeeze.

In order to keep your pelvic girdle strong and to prevent pelvic pain it’s recommended to exercise your pelvic floor regularly. If you do have questions about your pelvic floor muscles, or pelvic pain you should make an appointment to see Maroubra Road Physio’s team of physiotherapists. Our friendly and highly experienced team offer assistance with ante-natal and post-natal physiotherapy.   

Post-partum back pain

Back pain during pregnancy is a common occurrence. Generally though, you should be experiencing less and less pain in the months following delivery, as your body heals itself. If you have persistent back pain, you may need to seek help from a physiotherapist.  

Gentle exercise

When you have gotten the OK from your physiotherapist you can gradually start doing exercises to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. Walking, gentle stretching and gentle yoga are often recommended. Just be sure to avoid extreme positions or overstretching. Listen closely to your body for any signs of pain or discomfort and stop immediately if you experience this.

Correct body posture post-partum

Adopting the correct body posture while breast-feeding or feeding your baby with a bottle will help with back pain. Ensure that you use plenty of pillows to support your back. Adopt a position where you sit up straight with your back erect and supported to avoid straining your back. Try out different positions when breastfeeding. If you have tense or sore shoulders or upper back, a side-lying position for breastfeeding might be the most comfortable for you.

Remember that when picking up a baby or any other heavy object, you should bend from the knees in a crouching position rather than bend from the waist or hips. The latter method puts a lot of pressure on your spine and leads to pain.  

Sacroiliac and lumbosacral pain

The biological necessity for rapid growth during pregnancy causes a lot of changes to your body as a mum.

These changes include fluid retention, weight gain, changes to your centre of gravity, ligament laxity and overstretching your postural muscles. Sacroiliac and lumbosacral problems are experienced by many women in months after delivery. But if the problems persist for 12-18 months after giving birth then you can try some physiotherapy and self-care solutions to resolve this.

Causes of sacroiliac and lumbosacral pain

The release of a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy causes the ligaments in your pelvis to loosen. This means your body is more easily able to accommodate the growth of the baby. Although it does lead to instability of the pelvic joints, also known as the sacroiliac joints. The weight gain that naturally occurs during pregnancy also places an additional load onto the pelvic joints and lower back making them more susceptible to injury.

Pain is often felt in the buttocks near the tail-bone and lower back. Pain can also radiate to the front of the pelvis, hips and thighs.

One or both legs may feel weak and you may feel less able to bear weight.  When walking, turning in bed, bending forwards to pick up your baby or attempting to breastfeed you may be experiencing pain.

Self-help for sacroiliac pain

Here are some easy at-home tips for preventing sacroiliac pain:

  • Avoid being in positions where your body weight is unevenly distributed between each leg.
  • Change your position in bed by first sitting up right, then turning around.
  • Sit down when you put on your socks or shoes.
  • If walking is particularly painful, try using a pelvic support belt until the pain subsides.
  • Try contracting the muscles in your abdomen prior to exerting yourself through movement.

Physiotherapy treatments for sacroiliac and lumbosacral pain

The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will employ a range of treatments and provide advice on many ways the pain can be alleviated. You may receive education on movement patterns and positions to avoid.   Often the gentle mobilisation of stiff joints in the hip, back and pelvis, which may be contributing to this pain, may help. Soft tissue release techniques will help to relieve pain in the strained muscles.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself  

Here’s a good excuse to get some alone time in the first few months. A soak in a warm bathtub will really ease muscle aches and pain, improve your mood and energy levels. Remember that it’s Mother’s Day coming up. That means you’re allowed to schedule in some much needed ‘me’ time. From everyone at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, we hope you have a great Mother’s Day and a great year ahead.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with a woman you love, whether it’s your own mum, a friend or someone else. And if you would like to know more about overcoming musculoskeletal pain, then give the friendly and professional team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy a call on (02) 9314 3888.

References

Department of Health, Australian Government (2017) Physiotherapy advice after childbirth.

The Conversation (2019) Are Kegel Exercises Actually Good For You? Melissa Kang, University of Technology, Sydney.

Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine (1997) Myofascial pain syndrome and trigger-point management Dr Stephanie Han et. al.

South Australian Government (2018) Pelvic Floor Exercises After Giving Birth

The Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne. Pelvic Floor Exercises.

Cochrane Database System Review (2015) “Interventions for preventing and treating low-back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. Liddle S.D., and Pennick V.

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (2016) “Predictors and consequences of long-term pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain: a longitudinal follow-up study” Elden H., Gutke A., Kjellby-Wendt G., et al.