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Back to school and work: Ergonomic advice to start the year right

It’s almost possible to hear the collective groans of millions of people in Australia, somewhere in the middle of January, as they lurch away from the beach or pool-side and back to their respective workplaces and schools.

As we all return to business as usual, it’s easy to forget that workplaces and schools can cause us unintended injuries. Pains, strains, neck and back pain and joint pain are some of the most common ailments people suffer.  Thankfully, they are also the most easily treatable.

Costing the Australian economy over $60 billion dollars per year, workplace injuries are more common than you think with over 106,000 workplace injury claims made in 2013-2014.  

Below is a a guide to office ergonomics and workplace safety. The basic rule of thumb is that preventing injury begins with managing your 1. Posture, 2. Activity, 3. Environment.

Workplaces: an ergonomic and injury avoidance checklist  

Posture

  • Switch positions regularly at your desk. Many repetitive strain injuries occur because you’re sitting for too long in the same position.
  • Ensure that your back is supported and that your shoulders are relaxed but not slumped.
  • Ensure that your eye-line is straight when looking at the top third of your computer screen,  and that your neck doesn’t need to angle up or down to view the top part of your computer screen.
  • Keep a neutral position with your forearms and hands in a straight line on the desk while seated.  
  • Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible.
  • Keep your mouse and keyboard close.
  • Get your eyes checked. Generally, if you need to squint to view what’s on the computer screen, you will automatically create an awkward posture for your body.  Over time, this will lead to injury and discomfort..

Activity

  • Take frequent mini-breaks throughout the day and walk around to get the blood moving in your body. Even better, leave the building for a walk.
  • Give your eyes a break regularly by closing them, blinking and looking off into the middle distance.
  • Instead of emailing someone in the office, go over to their desk to ask a question. Not only are you getting more exercise this way, you’re also making your relationship with them more personable.  
  • Avoid doing the same repetitive action, such as moving boxes, bending or reaching, for more than 1 hour at a time.

Environment

  • Eliminate sunny glare from windows. This may cause eye strain and headaches.
  • Adjust the contrast and brightness of your laptop screen if you regularly move around in changing lighting conditions.
  • Employ stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation or breathing techniques to help with stress.
  • Remove all debris and obstructions from the workplace floor that could be a tripping hazard to people.
  • Ensure that stairwells have adequate lighting and signage to avoid trips and falls.
  • Ensure that lighting in your office is adequate and clear. This will help to prevent eye strain.
  • Covered footwear is a normal requirement for most industrial workplaces.
  • Protective clothing and helmets are a normal requirement in many industries as well.
  • A clean and hygienic workplace prevents rodent or insect infestations that could pose a health risk.
  • Machines and power tools should be checked regularly to ensure that they meet safety requirements.

If you have recently had a workplace injury or you suffer from ongoing pain problems at work, you can speak to the friendly team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy. The team are experts at identifying, assessing and providing personalised treatment plans for these kinds of injuries.

 

Tips for parents to ease the kids back into school

Here are some tips so that your children have the best chances to learn and give their full attention to the teacher this year.  

1. Sleep is a big priority

Children need a lot more sleep than adults. For a comprehensive guide on sleep for people of all stages of life, read Sleep and Recovery: Five ways that sleep mends your body by the team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy. When children get enough sleep, they have the cognitive power to learn and absorb more throughout the day. Over summer they may have been allowed to stay up later than usual, but make sure you return them to a regular routine.

2. Create a quiet, well-lit area for homework

Ideally homework should be done at a desk or a table. It should not take place near a TV or with easy access to mobile devices. Ensure that the study area is well-lit and has a desk and chair that’s optimised for their physical body. For younger children, parents should decide on the time of day for homework, either before dinner or after dinner, and stick to the routine.

3. Ensure children have enough down-time and play time

Playtime and physical activities are essential for children. It’s essential for them have a balance between sleep, learning, rest and play. That’s the recipe for their ongoing happiness.

At Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, we treat and correct children’s posture along with many other specialities. If your child has a sporting injury or is suffering from neck or back pain, please reach out to us, we are happy to help.

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy strives to keep everyone in the Maroubra community healthy, active and moving. The best medicine is preventative and educational. So make sure you subscribe to this blog via Facebook.

Four Different Types of Headaches And What You Can Do To Treat Them

Four different types of headaches and what you can do to treat them

Headaches are one of the most common health complaints in the world. There are many different kinds of headaches and treatments, and you don’t need to let a headache dominate your day. Read our comprehensive guide to different kinds of headaches and how to treat them.

 

1. Migraine Headaches

 

Often migraines occur unilaterally (on one side of the head). The pain is throbbing and pulsing and worsens if you attempt to move around. Sometimes migraines are associated with vomiting and high sensitivity to light, smells and sounds. This moderate to severe headache can sometimes last for up to 3 days.

Migraines are triggered for many reasons:

  • Women experience more migraines than men. That’s because they are linked to fluctuations of the hormone oestrogen in the body. For this reason, migraines often happen before or during a period, during pregnancy and menopause. Also medications that regulate oestrogen like oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy may worsen migraines.
  • Certain food and drinks are known triggers. For example salty, processed foods, cheese, foods containing MSG, coffee and alcohol.
  • Some people get migraines from being exposed to sunlight, loud noise, strong smells, smoke and other environmental triggers.
  • Changes to your sleeping patterns and jetlag can also bring on a migraine, along with physical exertion.

How to minimise a migraine

  • Avoid certain food, drink or environmental stimuli that has triggered a migraine in the past.
  • Avoid using medications that have known side-effects of causing migraines
  • Dedicate time to relaxation, and ensure you get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet.
  • Apply a cold or hot compress to your head and lay down in a darkened room.

 

 

2. Sinus Headache

 

Sinus headaches can be brought on by allergies, a virus or bacterial infection of the ears, nose or throat. The pain from this headache is normally located behind the eyes, across the cheeks and bridge of the nose, along the forehead, or along the top teeth. The pain is unpleasant and could be described as a dull pressure within the skull. Sudden movements or exercise can make the pain feel worse.

How to minimise a sinus headache

  • Steam: Dry air can cause pressure in the head and throbbing pain. So take a hot shower and breathe in the air.
  • Saline flush or nasal sprays: These hydrate dry and sore nasal cavities and sinuses.  
  • Get a good night’s sleep.  
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
  • Drink water: Being dehydrated can contribute to a sinus headache, so drink more water.
  • Try gentle exercise like yoga.

Source: Healthline

 

 

3. Tension headache

 

Tension headaches are experienced as a vice-like sensation of pressure in the skull. The pain of this can be mild to moderate and generally isn’t as intense as a migraine. There isn’t any associated pulsing or throbbing. Unlike with migraines, there is no associated nausea, vomiting and increase in pain associated with movement of the body.

How to minimise a tension headache

Physiotherapy from Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can be highly effective in treating tension headaches. Muscle tension in the neck and head may be causing your headache. The team at Maroubra Road Physio will be able to help you in several ways.

  • Sore neck: We can help with gentle joint mobilisation and massage techniques, taping and dry needling.
  • Tight and overactive muscles: We can provide help with stretching advice, massage and other soft tissue release  techniques.
  • Posture correction: We can also provide guidance on posture awareness, along with advice on neck dysfunction and postures to avoid.

 

4. Cluster headache: 

 

Typically a cluster headache occurs on one-side of the head. However the affected side may change from headache to headache. The pain of a cluster headache is unmistakeable. It’s an extremely severe stabbing and piercing pain. This is relatively short-lived and lasts between 10 minutes to 3 hours and then subsides. However, the headache can recur several times over the course of a day or week.

 

How to minimise a cluster headache

The Migraine Trust recommend a number of preventative treatments on their website. Discuss these options with your doctor.   

 

See a doctor about these kinds of headaches:

Diagnosing and treating a headache is not an exact science. The exact reasons for a headache vary extensively. However most headaches are not life-threatening and resolve themselves by having adequate rest, looking after yourself and taking mild painkillers.

Although rare, a headache may be associated with a more serious medical condition. If you do have a headache that is associated with the following, it may indicate something more serious is going on. You should be seen by your doctor.

  • A severe thunderclap type of headache.  
  • Symptoms of a neurological condition: Motor weakness, memory loss, confusion and behavioural changes.  
  • A headache associated with the symptoms of meningococcal infection: a stiff neck, fever, nausea, aching muscles, lack of appetite.
  • Severe and sudden weight loss, nausea and fever.
  • A headache that has arisen out of a blunt force trauma to the head or body, e.g. a car accident or fall.

 

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will be able to advise you on viable treatment options for certain kinds of headaches. In the case where the cause of your headache can’t be treated by physiotherapy, the team will direct you towards other specialists who may be able to help with diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Headaches shouldn’t be endured for the long-term and Maroubra Road Physiotherapy are always here to help. Book an appointment today!

How To Prevent Neck & Back Pain. What Every New Mum Should Know..

Avoiding The Common Problems That Cause Neck And Back Pain For A New Mum

As a new mum, you may be vulnerable to experiencing low back, pelvic or neck pain.  Your body is still trying to recover from the changes it went through during your pregnancy.  These changes include fluid retention, ligament laxity, weight gain, changes to your centre of gravity and overstretching and shortening of postural muscles.

Up to 12 weeks after you have given birth you may continue to be at risk of joint hypermobility and ligament laxity due to the influence of hormones on your ligaments and connective tissue.

Tight neck and shoulder muscles and overstretched abdominal muscles combined with poor posture, interrupted sleep and increased lifting, loading and repetitive activities may put you at risk for developing neck and back problems.

Here are a few tips to help you prevent these issues from occurring:

When breastfeeding:

  • Always make sure you are sitting in a good supportive chair.
  • Make sure your back is supported.
  • Support your elbows on arm-rests or a pillow.
  • Maintain a neutral spine position for your neck and upper back while feeding.  Don’t bend your neck for prolonged periods. You could take regular breaks by looking at your baby’s reflection in the mirror.
  • Use a footrest if your feet don’t touch the ground.
  • Always look after your posture, especially during night feeding when you are exhausted.  Feeding in side lying may help.

When bathing your baby:

  • Look after your back and neck by kneeling rather than bending over the bath.
  • If you are using a portable baby bath, ensure that it is the correct height for you.
  • Use bath chairs to support your baby.

Most important of all, look after your mind and body by sleeping when the baby sleeps. Give yourself time to do exercise and stretches.  Your physiotherapist can advise you on the best exercises to do and help you with your posture.

Happy Mothers Day from the team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy.

 

Is Osteoarthritis Affecting Your Life?

Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints.

OA can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in the knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.

In normal joints, a firm, rubbery material called cartilage covers the end of each bone. Cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones. In OA, the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint.

Strengthening exercises build muscles around OA-affected joints, easing the burden on those joints and reducing pain. Range-of-motion exercise helps maintain and improve joint flexibility and reduce stiffness.

Physiotherapy can help relieve your pain by showing you specific exercises designed to correct muscular imbalances.

Here are just a few exercise guidelines to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle!

  • Concentrate on quality rather than quantity with your exercises.
  • Move your joints smoothly and slowly. Always maintain good posture.
  • Be aware of pain and swelling.
  • If pain lasts more than 2 hours, you have overdone it! Ease off during the next session.
  • Do not continue with an exercise that causes pain.
  • If you have had surgery, or if your joint pain or swelling is not responding to rest, seek professional advice from your surgeon or physiotherapist.