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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 Smart New Year’s Resolutions for your health that will actually work in 2019!

Four Smart New Year’s Resolutions for your health that will actually work in 2019!

Could we please have a show of hands if you’ve ever promised yourself that in the new year, you would magically transform into sparkling new human being?

It’s very reassuring to know that we all make these promises to ourselves! Don’t worry, you’re not alone in that!

This ultimate guide from Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will show you how to bootstrap yourself in 2019 with pragmatic goal-setting. You will learn how to realistically stay the course towards a new and improved you and not become disheartened along the way.

A word first about goals

If you want to take on a big change to your health in 2019, then it’s best to attempt this in bite-sized pieces. This reduces the likelihood that you’ll break your commitment or feel demotivated if the goal is too lofty and seems unreachable along the way. A good way to think about health goals is to make them SMART.

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

Here are some common new year’s resolutions and then a SMART alternative goal that is going to be far more effective, to get you where you need to be…

Faulty: “In 2019 I’m going to eat healthier”

SMART: “I’m going to replace 2 take-away meals per week with 2 home-cooked and vegetarian meals every week”

If you focus on changing your entire diet, you will literally bite off more than you chew. Instead of telling yourself you need to eat healthier in 2019, you should focus on making the goal concrete, measurable and realistic.

By doing away with an ‘I can’t eat that’ restrictive mindset, you won’t feel guilty each time you want unhealthy food. This kind of restrictive mindset might lead you into an unhealthy food binge. Instead, by having a concrete goal of adding healthy food to your overall diet, you will be able to monitor how close you get to achieving this every week. When you do, you can pat yourself on the back!  

So how do you define healthy food? That’s a rather complex question. But it’s a good idea to steer clear of heavily processed foods with additives and preservatives in them. Instead opt for organic wholefoods or unprocessed foods like lean meats, organic dairy, vegetables and fruit. For quick and portable snacks, replace chocolate and chips with fruit and nuts. These are real fuel for the body that will keep you fuller for longer. For more detailed information on nutrition, read the Guide to Discretionary Food and Drink Choices by the Australian Government’s Eat for Health program.

Faulty: “I’m going to look really muscly/really skinny in 2019”

SMART: “I’m going to exercise for 30 minutes every other day”

This kind of faulty new year’s resolution fails to take into consideration that exercise is a constant daily commitment towards overall health. If you make exercise a daily habit, combined with a balanced diet, you will get results.

The problem with this faulty resolution is that you may hit the gym initially with gusto and determination. This overzealous exercise may lead to a strain, sprain or sporting injury, because you’re being too extreme with your workout.

A smarter approach to exercise would be to commit to a manageable and realistic amount of exercise every second day. This may be a lunchtime walk around the block during work hours, kicking around the football with the kids in the backyard in the evening, or walking the dog.

When we are realistic and have an easily achievable goal, this becomes less of a chore and more of a pleasure. Eventually this turns into a healthy habit that totally changes your life.

As a bonus, with this approach you may look into the mirror one day and see a hot version of yourself staring back, just not instantaneously.

Faulty: “I’m going to lose 10 kilos in a month”

SMART: “I’m going to eat five healthy meals per week and exercise for 30 minutes every other day”

While we can control our own behaviours towards eating healthier foods and exercising more, we can’t fully control how much weight we will lose. Looking at the scales and seeing the scales tip in the wrong direction may make you feel bad and discouraged. Instead of worrying about what the scales say, focus on what you need to do to make it happen.

This might mean committing to going to the gym every other day to do a workout. It might mean fitting in more vegetables and lean protein into your diet, rather than getting take-away foods. Measurable and practical goals are far easier to achieve.

Faulty: “I’m going to quit my job because of the physical pain I’m in at work”

SMART: “I’m going to get an ergonomic assessment of my work space and desk. And I’m going to do stretches at my desk every working day”

Before making any dramatic decisions, like quitting your job, it’s always a good idea to work out the core reason why you’re having pain during working hours. Whether you have an active or sedentary job, the way you’re moving and the way you interact with objects in your workplace affects how you feel. A desk that isn’t calibrated to your height will result in back, neck and eye strain over time. For people who work in a warehouse or other industries, a poor technique with lifting items in a warehouse will result in problems with their lower back.

The great news is that you don’t need to take drastic action to resolve that kind of pain. With a personalised treatment approach to workplace related conditions, the friendly team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can help you to resolve this issue with our therapeutic approaches and techniques. This will help you to return to work quickly and prevent further injury.

Would you like some help with making some realistic SMART goals for your fitness, health and injury recovery? Book a consultation with the team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy today and get a customised approach to sports injury recovery.

7 Things Parents Can Do About Kids And Sports Injuries

Kids And Sporting Injuries – 7 Things Parents Can Do

Exploring and experimenting with different sports can create fantastic memories for children. It helps them to burn off their exuberant physical energy, as well as gain confidence and social skills.

Nevertheless, there is a worrying increase in the number of serious injuries sustained by children playing sport. Medicare data cited in an ABC article showed that number of kids undergoing Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstructions has tripled over the past 15 years. Many of these ACL injuries in children arose out of them playing high risk sports like netball, Australian rules football and soccer.

Being a parent is challenging at the best of times. On the one hand you want to swaddle them in cotton wool, and on the other hand you also want to give them free rein to explore their physical capabilities. As a parent, the best way to do this is to empower yourself with knowledge.

The top ten

Just for your reference, here are the most high risks sports in Australia for sporting injuries, ranked from highest (1) to lower (10).

  1. Australian rules football
  2. Soccer
  3. Cycling
  4. Wheeled motor sports
  5. Rugby
  6. Water sports
  7. Roller sports
  8. Equestrian activities
  9. Basketball
  10. Netball

Source: The Guardian

  1. Try many sports, not just one

While children are still growing, they are developing motor skills in many different ways. By focusing on one particular activity too early in their lives, your children could develop injuries that relate to repetitive stress and overuse of particular muscle groups.

Instead, get them to try a broad variety of physical activities like dance, performance theatre, different types of sports and more gentle, calming exercises like yoga for strengthening and balancing their growing bodies. Over time, they will develop a preference for a particular sport and want to continue this into their teens. To ensure they don’t burn out and to help prevent injury, give them at least three months off this sport per year.

  1. Downtime and recovery is important

People of all ages and stages of life will injure themselves when they don’t eat right, stay hydrated or get enough sleep. Even though sport and physical exercise is a key part of a healthy life, so too is recovering and resting.

If your sporty kids want to spend the entire weekend at a netball or football tournament, then make sure they get a hearty and nutritious lunch, plenty of water and plenty of sleep the night before.

  1. Warming up is key

Starting a sporting activity without warming up is a recipe for disaster at any age. Before they hit the pitch or the court, make sure your children do at least 10-15 minutes of dynamic warm-ups. YouTube has countless great warm-up videos which are a great place to get inspiration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDfvWrGUkC8

  1. Are we having fun yet?

Ensure that your child is enjoying the sport in question. Each week if they drag their feet and look all mopey at the prospect of going to football or netball training, then question them about why. In order for them to get the benefit of the sport, they need to enjoy it and want to continue, otherwise it’s just a chore.

  1. Choose a bike helmet that meets Australian safety standards

If your child’s chosen sport is BMX racing, skateboarding or cycling then ensure they have the right protective gear. In Australia, all bike riders are legally required to wear a helmet. Although there is no law for skateboarding and rollerblading, it’s still a good idea. That’s because research shows that wearing a helmet can lower the risk of head injury by 69% and brain injury by up to 74%. When you buy a helmet for your child or yourself, ensure that it meets the Australian Safety Standards (AS/NZS2063) and that it is right size and fit. If you buy one online, it may not meet the Australian safety standard.

  1. Tread carefully with equestrian sports  

Horses are beautiful there’s no doubt about that. But My Little Pony and your daughter’s dreams aside, you should consider that there are many risks and variables to equestrian sports. That means you should plan wisely for this sport and choose an experienced horse trainer and a horse with a calm temperament. Ensure that your child has access to high quality gear and that your child gets adequate training on riding before jumping in the saddle. There is a lot to consider. Although horse-riding can become a life-long passion. Speak to any horsey person and they will tell you that it’s worth it.

  1. Choose the right mouthguard

In one Queensland study, over 50% of young rugby players had sustained an injury to the face or teeth while playing sport. It’s really important to use a mouthguard when playing sports like rugby, Aussie rules, soccer and boxing. This is because a custom-fitted mouthguard will absorb the impact of a blow to the face more evenly and reduce the risk of injury to the mouth or jaw. The Australian Dental Association says that self-fitted, boil and bite mouthguards don’t provide adequate protection. So you’re better off getting a custom-made mouthguard that’s designed to fit in your child’s mouth more comfortably.

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy strives to keep everyone in Maroubra healthy, active and moving. The best medicine is preventative and educational. So make sure you like, share and subscribe to this blog to stay in the know about the best ways to look after your and your family’s health. 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.

 

 

Back Pain

Back Pain – Common Misconceptions

Just over 80% of the population will experience back pain at some stage of their lives and most people don’t take the correct steps to manage their pain. There is a sea of information out there regarding back pain and navigating the waters is both daunting and intimidating. Here are some common misconceptions about your low back pain.

1. Resting Is Good For Me

Lying in bed or on the couch will cause your muscles and joints to stiffen, resulting in prolonged and possible persistent pain! It is important to keep moving muscles and joints as tolerated. A qualified physiotherapist will help you manage your symptoms and provide appropriate gentle stretches and exercises to help get you moving.

2. My Pain Is Tolerable, It Will Go Away If I Leave It

Pain is your brain telling you that something isn’t quite right. Sometimes pain is not indicative of the severity of the issue. The pain may increase over the course of days, weeks, or months. It is essential that you get checked out if you feel any pain that doesn’t readily settle.

The body always follows the path of least resistance. When you’re in pain, you may adopt alternate postures to protect your back, and you engage muscles and joints in a way they were not designed to be used, thus overloading them and causing further pain and dysfunction in other areas. This may cause you to present with a much more global picture of pain affecting multiple joints and muscles , than if you had addressed the problem sooner.

3. My MRI And XRAY Show Disc Damage Which Is Contributing To My Pain

Disc degeneration, prolapses, disc bulges and annular tears are highly prevalent in the pain free population. They are not strongly predictive of future low back pain and correlate poorly with levels of pain and disability. These changes are similar to getting grey hairs, a natural part of aging.  Therefore the findings on these investigative scans are only relevant if they correlate with your actual symptoms. The spine is one of the strongest and most robust structures in the body, and is designed to move!

 

Common Misconceptions About Your Low Back Pain

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – All You Need To Know

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

 

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist, made up of bones and ligaments. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is defined as a condition that affects the median nerve that causes hand pain and numbness/tingling – specifically the thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of your ring finger. Various reasons such as repetitive work (typing, drilling, playing an instrument), pregnancy, or diabetes may cause this tunnel to get smaller and restrict the median nerve’s ability to send signals to the hand.

Here are a few tips to help prevent and treat carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Take frequent breaks. Give your hands and wrists a break by gently stretching them periodically. Alternate tasks when possible. If you use equipment that vibrates or requires great force, taking breaks is even more crucial.
  • Modify your activities. Avoid activities that bring your wrist into end of range flexion or extension. Keep it nice and neutral!
  • Seek professional advice. Nerve stretching and manual therapy are a great way to allow your median nerve to move and flow without restriction. Often nerves can get tethered and caught in between muscles. “Releasing” the nerve from being tethered in the fascia or muscle is an excellent way to get the nerves gliding as optimally as possible.

For more information on what we treat, please visit: https://maroubraroadphysio.com.au/what-we-treat/joint-problems/

Ankle Sprains – All You Need To Know!

Ankle Sprains – All You Need To Know!

A sprained ankle occurs when your ankle ligaments are “overstretched” or “torn”.

There are 3 grades of ankle sprains, depending on the severity of the injury.

  • Slight tearing of the ligament with mild tenderness, swelling, and stiffness (Grade 1).
  • A larger but incomplete tear with moderate pain, swelling, and bruising. Although the ankle may feel stable, the damaged areas are tender to the touch, and walking is painful (Grade III).
  • A complete tear of the affected ligament or ligaments with severe swelling and bruising. The ankle is unstable and may feel “wobbly.” Walking is usually not possible because the ankle may give way, and there may be intense pain especially on weight bearing (Grade III)

Assessment and Treatment

Treatment options will vary, depending on the severity of your injury. Your physiotherapist will assess your injury and give you guidance to promote optimal healing. If we are concerned by the severity of your injury, we will refer you on to your doctor for further investigation.

Until you’ve been accurately diagnosed, use the following guidelines:

Rest, Ice, Compression, & Elevation (first 48-72hrs) are great steps to ensure that your injury is on the correct road to recovery.

It is important to book an appointment with a physiotherapist. During the session, we will assess your strength, range of motion, walking patterns and biomechanics to ensure normal function is restored following your injury.

We will help to keep you moving, as your ability to move your ankle is often restricted following a ligament sprain. We will use manual therapy techniques for joint stiffness, and massage and soft tissue release techniques for muscle spasm and tightness. We will also give you rehabilitation exercises to improve your strength and function. These exercises will include:

  • Range of motion Exercises (foot and ankle)
  • Gentle strengthening exercises
  • Band and body-weight resistance exercises
  • Proprioception/balance exercises
  • Functional weight-bearing activities to improve walking patterns and return to function and sport

Book an appointment with an experienced physiotherapist at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy to facilitate healing, prevent re-injury, and get you back on your feet!

When should I book a Physio Appointment?

When should I book a Physio Appointment?

You don’t have to wait for pain and injury before seeing a Physio. Many injuries tend to occur when people ignore a niggle and don’t deal with the discomfort or stiffness straight away. If you ignore an injury, it is possible for it to become chronic. Chronic pain is harder to treat and will take longer to heal, so it is important to get treatment sooner rather than later.

If you get injured while playing sport, it is important to deal with the problem straight away. If you don’t deal with the issue, soft tissue injuries are more likely to recur. Misguided statements such as “I thought I’d let the swelling go down first” or “I thought the pain would eventually go away” can often lead to persistent pain.

When returning to sport after an injury, it is important to gradually build your strength and conditioning. A Physio can help guide you to return to sport safely and avoid further injury.

Prevention is better than cure

You’ve probably heard this a million times. But here it is again! Don’t wait for that niggle of pain or stiffness to turn into debilitating pain and stiffness before paying attention to your health. We are skilled at assessing and targeting deficiencies before they become a major problem.

Invest in your health

We invest in so many other facets of our lives. Don’t forget about your health and mobility. Imagine your body is a vehicle that is made to last a life-time and that you want to keep it in peak condition and performance. Seeing a physiotherapist for regular scheduled maintenance will help you run smoothly and keep you on track.

Five Tips To Help You Feel Great

Five Tips To Help You Feel Great

The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy want to get you out and about and enjoying life! We know it’s hard to do this when you are suffering from pain or discomfort, so we’ve put together the following 5 tips to help you take advantage of life without pain!

Tip 1: Always keep your head level and your shoulders relaxed, especially during activities like walking, standing and even sitting. This will improve your posture and reduce the risk of back pain. Standing with your knees slightly bent can also be beneficial.

Tip 2: Try not to sit for long periods at a time. Stand up and stretch or walk around every 30 minutes.

Tip 3: Lifting heavy objects is one of the most common causes of back pain. Therefore, make sure you always observe correct lifting techniques – hold the load close to your body, feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees, not your back, and lift from your legs. Avoid twisting! Use your feet to turn and don’t lift the load higher than waist height.

Tip 4: The correct type of mattress and pillow will help you get a great, relaxing night’s sleep. Both should be firm enough to support your body weight and shape. Your spine should be straight when lying on your side, and maintain a natural curve when lying on your back.

Tip 5: Promote good posture when seated, especially during driving by using a rolled up towel positioned for your lower back. This will help to prevent back and neck pain.