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Five Ways to Ease the Pain of Osteorthritis this Winter

Our clients often report that their arthritis plays up more than usual during wintertime. However, you’re not alone in this!  Maroubra Road Physiotherapy have put together some helpful tips to help you manage your arthritis this winter. 

Although physiotherapy can’t cure your arthritis, there are many ways that you can get relief from muscle tension and spasms as your body tries to protect you from chronic pain. So pass over that cup of hot chocolate, snuggle into that blanket and read on! 

Why arthritis flares up during winter 

No, you’re not imagining things, your arthritis actually does get worse during the winter. One US study from 2015 confirmed that cold weather is directly correlated to arthritic pain. The study included 810 participants with osteoarthritis in the knees, hands or hips. There was a correlation found between high humidity, low temperature and increased reports of joint pain.

At present the mechanisms for this increase in arthritis pain aren’t properly understood. Current research suggests that barometric pressure and tissue temperature may be the root cause of weather-related arthritic pain. 

Gentle exercise is key 

The idea of moving your sore joints may seem counterproductive during a bout of arthritis pain, but movement is actually incredibly helpful to you. Joints hate to be stiff and so depending on the severity of your condition, movement may be the best therapeutic treatment for your arthritis. Just be careful to not overdo it. 

 

  • Walking in water 

 

Walking in warm water at chest or waist height is an excellent way to provide your body with both support and resistance training. Start with 10-15 minutes of exercise at first and then build up to longer exercise sessions of over time. Begin slowly and then walk faster as you become more comfortable. 

 

  • Swimming 

 

Likewise, gentle swimming is also good for easing arthritis pain. A hydrotherapy pool is ideal for this and provides a warming, soothing and supportive environment for your sore joints. Just be careful with walking out into the cold straight after your soak. Allow your body time to acclimatise to the changing air temperature afterwards. 

     3. Stationary bike 

If you have access to a stationary bike, then this is a wonderful way to mobilise the knee, and reduce stiffness in the knee joint. It’s also effective for strengthening your quadriceps muscle.

 

  • Tai Chi 

 

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese exercise which originated as a martial art. It can offer arthritis relief with its slow and gentle stretching movements. One study by researchers at Tufts Medical School found that tai chi was effective in reducing pain and improving functionality for people living with severe knee osteoarthritis. 

Treat yourself with a massage 

In winter the pain of arthritis can make you feel miserable. So you should give yourself full permission to get a massage. A lot of the pain you are experiencing comes from inflammation of the joints and the supportive muscles surrounding them. Research in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2015 demonstrated that having an hour long massage once every eight weeks reduces pain in the muscles and joints. 

Heat as a healer 

Heat is incredibly helpful for soothing pain. If you experience wrist pain, then a pair of arthritis gloves will help to soothe the wrist joint and keep your hands warm. A simple heat pack placed on the affected area of the body can also do wonders for easing aches and pains. Maroubra Road Physio sell heat packs in a variety of shapes and sizes that are designed to comfortably fit areas of the body needing comforting warmth. 

Soft tissue mobilisation 

At Maroubra Road Physiotherapy our physiotherapists are experts at mobilising stiff joints, massaging sore tight muscles with various soft tissue release techniques. We can also teach you strengthening exercises which will support your joints and help with long term pain management and pain relief.

 

How Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can help 

A diagnosis of arthritis often comes with a lot of worry and a feeling of helplessness. But the great news is that you can live with arthritis and effectively manage it with these techniques and tips. 

The friendly and professional team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can help you to manage your pain by getting you moving safely, rebuilding and restoring affected joints. We will show you how to beat the winter blues by exercising in a way to help manage the symptoms of arthritis. 

We can tailor a stretching and exercise program to your specific needs. This will help you with strength, balance, flexibility and pain management. We can also provide you with advice and tips to improve your posture, and specific therapeutic tools and techniques that will support your body. Most importantly, we listen and are always available to support you to become healthier and happier while living with arthritis. Book an appointment with one of our friendly team today!

If you would like to book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists, please make an online booking or give us a call on 02 9314 3888.

References 

Arthritis Foundation of America (2019) Tai Chi for Arthritis 

Journal of Rheumatology (2015) The Influence of Weather Conditions on Joint Pain in Older People with Osteoarthritis: Results from the European Project on Osteoarthritis.   

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2015) Pilot study of massage in veterans with knee osteoarthritisTufts Medical School (2008) Tai Chi and Your Knees

Eight helpful ways that older people can boost their fitness and energy levels

The passage of time ensures that inevitably, everyone becomes older. However, the expression ‘age is just a number’ is a positive and empowering way to look at getting older. In this post by Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, we look at eight helpful ways that older people can use exercise.  We will look at ways to stay healthy and fit, along with how to avoid common injuries that older people regularly encounter.

Boost your exercise regime to make your bones stronger

As we age, our bones become more brittle and are easier to break. Exercise and physical activity plays an important role in maintaining bone density and building muscle mass. Doing so also ensures that older people continue to have a high quality of life into their later years.

Muscle wasting (also known as sarcopenia) is also common as we age. Exercise can radically reduce the risk of sarcopenia, bone brittleness and also boost fitness, strength and mobility.  

 

Exercise regularly to protect your brain and body

Studies have shown that exercise, combined with a balanced diet mitigates against the risks of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia and obesity. Particularly as we age, we do ourselves a favour by maintaining a sustained and regular exercise programme over the years.

 

Try weight-bearing exercises

 

The strength of your bones improves when you regularly place a certain amount of load upon them. This doesn’t need to be a heavy weight or  involve a complicated exercise routine. Weight-bearing exercises could simply mean regular brisk walking, jogging and stair climbing. Other gentle weight-bearing exercises include pilates, yoga and tai chi.

As you gradually build fitness, and in consultation with a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist, you may consider trying a more intense form of weight-bearing exercise, such as dancing, hiking or tennis.

 

Try resistance training

 

Resistance training requires your muscles to contract while you lift weights. This is great for strengthening your bones and muscles. For older people, this kind of resistance training should focus on targeting specific areas that are vulnerable to fractures such as the joints, especially the hips and spine.

Some types of resistance training include lifting light weights to improve your upper and lower body strength.

It’s important to note that the amount of exercise you do, and the degree of difficulty of the exercise will depend on the individual, their health status and any pre-existing sporting injuries. If you have any doubts, speak with the physiotherapists at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy about tailoring an exercise program that best suits you.

 

Avoid falls through balancing exercises

 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a fall is an event where a person comes to rest inadvertently on the ground or floor. As we age, our risk of having a fall increases.  Even though the risk of falling increases with age; balance, strength and conditioning exercises will significantly reduce these risks.

An interesting fact is that 50% of all falls occur in the home. Around one third of all people aged over 65 will have a fall each year. Stretching, strengthening and balancing exercise are a terrific way to manage the health of your bones and muscles and their functional abilities.

Risk factors for falls in the home

It’s not only poor muscle strength and poor balance that contribute to increased risks of falling. Here are some other known risk factors:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Medication side-effects
  • Poor nutrition
  • Hazards in the home environment
  • Inner ear problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • Poor vision

Despite these additional risk factors, regular exercise that incorporates resistance training, weight training, static and dynamic stretches and balancing exercises can reduce the risk of falls by up to 20%. It’s recommended to incorporate at least 2-3 hours of this kind of exercise each week to gain the most benefit.

Prolonged independence, longevity, increased wellbeing, increased muscle strength and power are some of the benefits that older people can enjoy through exercises targeted at falls prevention. It is important to remember that when doing these exercises, special care is needed to minimise the risks of falling. The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will be able to provide the personalised care and guidance needed for this kind of exercise. We also offer small group balance and conditioning exercise classes at the practice twice per week, which are tailored to the individuals participating in the class.

Try some balancing exercises

Here are some great balance-strengthening exercises to try :  Please ensure you are safe from falling when doing these exercises.

  • Tai chi
  • Heel-to-toe stances
  • Heel-to-toe walking
  • Sideways walking
  • Backwards walking
  • Seated Knee Extensions
  • Standing Leg Curls
  • Toe Raises
  • Step-ups
  • Standing on one leg (with hand support as needed)
  • Repeated chair stands (getting up and down from a chair)

Know how much exercise is right for you

Sadly, only 25% of older adults in Australia get enough physical activity each day. Only 6% will do strengthening and balancing exercises.  

Getting your body moving is generally a good idea, if you are healthy. This can be achieved through cycling, walking, gardening and home maintenance.

If you are feeling unwell, or your body is in a frail condition, it is important to seek professional help before undertaking an exercise regimen. Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can assess your personal abilities, health condition and how you should approach this exercise regime so that you get the most out of it.

Join a community event and get active

Many older people face barriers to getting active that could be financial, social or practical. Here are some resources and services which offer information, encouragement and organised exercise for older people.

 

At Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, we offer preventative care to help older people with their balance, strength and body conditioning, which helps to prevent falls. We take a holistic approach to the health and well-being of older people, and see the whole person, not just the condition. We have helped many older people to regain their strength and fitness following a musculoskeletal injury.

 

References

The Conversation (2018) Health Check: How much physical activity is enough in older age  

Exercise and Sports Science Australia. (2018) Healthy Ageing: Age Is just a number if you exercise right?

Sports Medicine Australia. Australian Government. (2019) Active Older People

Sports Medicine Australia. Australian Government. (2008)   Choose Health, Be Active: A Physical Activity Guide for Older Australians.

NSW Ministry of Health (2019) Active and Healthy

The Heart Foundation Australia (2019) Walking Groups

The Essential Guide for Surfers on Sydney’s beaches

Did you know that over 2.2 million Australians hit the waves and surf recreationally?  With the spectacular Maroubra Beach right on our doorstep, we thought it was “high tide’’ for a post all about surfing. Here is the essential guide for surfers to avoid injury out on the waves.

The Benefits of Surfing

For your body

It’s possible to burn up to 1,000 calories an hour with surfing.  This makes it an energy-hungry activity and fantastic for losing weight, along with increasing the strength and muscle tone of your entire body. It is  good to remember that the amount of calories you burn will depend on your body weight, workout intensity and metabolism. This varies from person to person.

For your mind

Surfing has a positive impact not just your body, but also on your overall mental health. Studies have found that surfing can be useful and beneficial for treating Anxiety, Depression, PTSD and Bipolar disorders. Another reason to embrace the beauty of Maroubra’s surfing lifestyle.

Preventing the most common surfing injuries

Surfing is considered to be a safe sort, with 2.2 injuries per 1,000 surfing days. And the majority of injuries aren’t serious.

Don’t believe the hype about shark attacks. You are more likely to get a laceration or sprain through surfing, which account for 75% of all surfing injuries. This is followed by dislocations and fractures.

In terms of the area of the injury, 46% of injuries are sustained to the leg, followed by injuries to the head or face (26%), the trunk/back (13%) and the shoulder and arm (13%).

Precautions, warm-ups, understanding the ocean and checking your equipment before you go out, all significantly lower the risk of injury.

Safety tips for surfers

Surfing obviously looks cool. However it’s more complex and tricky than it looks.  There are a number of things that every novice surfer should remember before catching waves.

  • Get the right board: New surfers will benefit from using a longboard (or Malibu board). This board is designed to be easier to balance, stand up and paddle with.
  • Respect other surfers: Don’t cut in on other people’s waves. Many injuries result from collisions between surfers. Respect other swimmers: Remember that surfers aren’t allowed to surf between the flags on patrolled beaches.
  • Look out for other surfers and swimmers: If you see someone else in trouble, alert the life-guards or if it’s safe, assist the individual.
  • Slap on the sunscreen: Always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days.
  • Do a pre-surf equipment check: Ensure that your board is waxed up and has grip. Ensure that your leg rope is in good condition. Use the leg rope on your surfboard if you are a beginner.
  • Wear a wetsuit and booties: A wet suit and reef booties aren’t just designed for colder weather. Remember that everyone has a different idea of what constitutes cold water. This extra layer can also offer some protection against sharp reef and rock collisions.
  • Know how to swim to (at least) intermediate level: The Australian coast is a fickle and unpredictable beast. So don’t tackle surfing in the ocean without first knowing how to swim. You should be an intermediate to advanced swimmer before you begin surfing, otherwise surfing will pose additional risks for you.

Learn how to read the ocean

Did you know that there are around 17,500 rips that are operating on the Australian coast on any given day? Surfers and swimmers getting caught in rips account for more deaths than other natural hazards, such as bushfires and cyclones in Australia.

Being out on a board in the water can feel very relaxing. However remember that it can also be a dangerous place. As a surfer, whether you’re a novice or a more experienced surfer, you should know how to read the ocean and avoid dangerous spots.

Where there is a rip, you will see:

  • Murky brownish water caused by sand being stirred up from the bottom of the ocean.
  • Darker colours in the ocean (indicating deep water).
  • A smoother ocean surface with much smaller waves, alongside white water.
  • Waves breaking further out to sea on both sides of a rip.
  • Debris, flotsam and jetsam that’s floating out to sea.

Warm-up before you surf

Surfing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. It involves a lot of different muscle groups when you paddle out, catch a wave, balance on a surfboard and attempt aerial moves. Therefore it’s important to warm-up to prevent injury or painful muscle cramps once you hit the water.

Your warm-up should consist of exercises that increase the heart rate, release tight muscles and lubricate joints.

Breathing Squat: perform a squat movement, exhaling as the body moves down, and inhaling as the body comes back up, extending the arms towards the sky.

Warrior Lunge: Begin in a basic standing position and lunge forward into a lunge position, extend your arms to the sky, push up off front foot and back into starting position. To advance the movement, you can repeat the prior movement and then add a side bend in either or both directions.

Butt Drops: Reach towards the sky and then bend forward to touch your toes. Drop your butt towards your heels as you lift the chest to face forwards. The elbows are inside of the knees, pushing them outwards. Lower your butt as low as possible and keep your chest as tall as possible. Hold this position for one inhale/exhale and then lift your butt back towards the sky, as your head and chest move back towards ground. Stretch the hamstrings and repeat the movement.

Single Leg Upper Body Rotation: Stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent, and your hip pushed backwards. With your arms placed in front of the body, rotate from side to side slowly. Control the movement and remain balanced on one single leg.

T-Rotation Push-ups: Begin in push-up position, and then rotate one arm towards the sky, while simultaneously rotating the body onto one side. You are now balanced on one hand, with the other hand/arm extended towards the sky. Rotate back into push-up position and repeat on the other side.

Bent Shoulder Circles: Keeping a straight back, with slightly bent knees, bend the torso forward. Get to an angle where you begin to feel a light stretch in your hamstrings and bring the arms out to the sides into a T-position. Perform small arm circles for 30 repetitions in each direction.

About Maroubra Road Physiotherapy

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy treat muscle sprains, joint injuries, back, neck and shoulder injuries. In the past, we have treated many novice and experienced surfers in the local area. Coming in for treatment early on reduces recovery time and also the risk of injury recurrence. If you have a surfing injury, the experienced and friendly team here at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy hope to hear from you.

If you would like to book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists, please make an online booking or give us a call on 02 9314 3888.

 

References

ABC Science (2013) Australian Surf Deadlier than Bushfires

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (2019) Want to be healthier and happier in 2019 – dive in!

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (2018) What exercise burns the most calories?

Sports Medicine Australia (2017) Surfing Fact Sheet

Surfer Today (2018) The Complete Guide to Surf Training

The Victorian Government Better Health Channel (2019) The Health Benefits of Surfing

How to travel in comfort and avoid injury during a holiday

Great weather is finally here and most people are contemplating going away on holidays over the summer. If you’re going away to a far-flung location – you lucky thing! Make sure you read Maroubra Road Physiotherapy’s comprehensive guide to staying safe and looking after yourself and your family overseas.

Between 2016-2017 the Australian government’s consular services supported 1,701 Australians who got into trouble and were hospitalised far from home. In this article, we will provide you with a run-down of all the things you should consider to avoid injuries this silly season.

Choose a destination that’s safe

Some parts of the world are statistically more high risk for a holiday than others. Things that we take for granted in Australia like safe roads, law and order and political stability often don’t apply in other parts of the world. The Australian government’s Safe Traveller website can give you up-to-date safety insights for your dream destination.   

What to avoid on your next holiday

Here’s some food for thought, According to Bupa, these are the most common injuries or illnesses suffered by Australian tourists at popular tourist destinations. It’s worth keeping this in mind.

 

  • Thailand: Head Injuries from motorcycle and scooter accidents.  
  • Indonesia/Bali: Gastroenteritis.
  • France: Cycling accidents.
  • Singapore: Rabies and bacterial infections as a result of monkey bites.
  • Philippines: Parasitic water-borne viruses.
  • China and Mongolia: Respiratory and breathing problems.

 

Know your physical limitations

Often when we go on holidays, we can feel temporarily invincible. We’re away from the normal working week, so we feel more energised and bolder than usual. Holidays are often times when we try risky activities like free-diving, surfing in turbulent waters, mountain climbing or something else that tests our physical limits. This can be a grave mistake when not prepared for it and may result in injury or even worse!

Mentally you may feel emboldened by your sudden energy, but actually, you haven’t trained in the lead-up to your physically challenging activity and have overestimated your fitness. This is when strains, sprains, sporting injuries and back injuries often happen. In planning your adventure in the months prior, you should gradually increase your fitness levels and choose sport specific exercises that use the same muscle groups as your chosen activity. A personal trainer or physiotherapist will be able to provide advice for this.  

Advice for long-haul flights

Part of Australia’s charm is the multi-cultural diversity of its population.  For some people, this may mean up to 28 hours on a flight to get to their loved ones over Christmas. Long-haul flights can be the most boring and gruelling part of a holiday. You can make traipsing across multiple time-zones more enjoyable and less painful by following this advice.  

 

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine on the flight. Along with the pressurised cabin, these drinks will dehydrate you and leave you feeling more tired than you otherwise would.
  • Try and get some shut eye. Many people often take a sedative like Ambien or Valium on a long-haul flight. Yes you will probably sleep, but when you arrive, you will still feel groggy and half-asleep, which isn’t fun.
  • Invest in a decent pair of noise-cancellation headphones. These are designed to block out all ambient noise. You can comfortably listen to a relaxing album or podcast until you fall asleep. Planes are surprisingly loud. Blocking out all the ambient noise will make a long-haul flight far less stressful and tiring.     
  • Drink a lot of water to rehydrate your body. Before, during and after your flight, staying hydrated will make you feel more energised.
  • Don’t stay stationary for long periods of time. Instead, get up every hour, move and stretch.

 

Stretches on the plane

The key to feeling great after a flight is to do some leg work. Hours staying stationery in a confined place will mean that your blood becomes stagnated in the body causing swelling in the feet and ankles and in some cases, resulting in the dangerous DVT or deep vein thrombosis.

1. Fifteen calf raises every few hours

You should do some in-seat stretches every hour or two. A calf raise involves pushing up onto your toes and engaging your calf muscles. Then, if space allows, lift your legs so they are outstretched in front of you and flex your feet, hold for 20 seconds, and repeat.

2. Hamstring and glute exercise every hour  

The muscles in your hamstrings and glutes naturally shorten on a flight when you are stationery for many hours. This can cause pain and soreness in your lower torso. To help relieve soreness and pain, put your heel up onto the top of your opposite knee and push down on your leg to get a good stretch in your glute.

 

3. Neck and shoulder exercise every hour

Sitting down in a cramped position for many hours always leads to tension in the neck and shoulders. To alleviate this, do five shoulder rolls forward and then five backward, then turn your neck to the right and back to the centre five times and then turn it to the left and back to the centre 5 times. Try and do this every hour.

4. After your flight

Walking through the terminal after the long flight will help to loosen and warm up your muscles again. Then once you arrive in your hotel (Phew, finally!) you should do a gentle stretching or a gentle yoga routine to release tension in the legs, hips and lower back. This will help to re-energise you, help with jetlag and prepare you for sleep. For more advice on stretching and pain relieving exercises, speak with the team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy.

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can help

If you arrive back in Sydney after a holiday full of aches and pains, book an appointment today with our friendly team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy. If you enjoyed this post, make sure you like and share this with someone on Facebook who is going on holiday soon. Bon Voyage!

 

To move or not to move: Is movement helping or hindering your recovery?

To move or not to move: Is movement helping or hindering your recovery?

If you have sprained your ankle, torn your ACL or slipped a herniated disc, you will be familiar with the saying ‘make pain your friend’. Pain can be a horrible companion though, keeping you laid up on the sofa with day-time TV as your miserable companion. It can also be the key to understanding when you are ready again for exercise and when you still need to recuperate.

It can be incredibly frustrating to be out of action for weeks and sometimes even months! However injury recovery time is essential to ensure that you don’t stay on the couch for even longer periods. Here are some pointers for when you should resume exercise, and when to take it easy following an injury. Every injury is different, so it is advisable to discuss these suggestions with your physiotherapist to make sure they apply to you.

Listen to your body and respect it

This is easier said than done, All you want to do is get out there and pound the pavement or get on your bike to resume your workout regimen.

However by listening to subtle (and not so subtle) signals that your body is giving you, and then acting accordingly, you are going to prevent worsening your injury.

After having a rest period, your injured body will now be in a weaker and more vulnerable state. Going from zero to 100 straight away is not a wise move. After a strain, sprain or sporting injury you need to ease back into it.

A return to exercise after an injury needs to be carefully managed by a physiotherapist. However an example of a return to exercise may initially include low-impact exercise like yoga, stretching and walking. Then after a week or two and no obvious signs of pain, you could increase the frequency and intensity of your daily routine. Perhaps you could try a 3 km slow jog twice per week. Although in any case with an injury, it is best to be assessed by a physiotherapist or other healthcare professional for a tailored programme.

Listen for signs

During any physical activity post-injury, listen out for pain in your body. This will indicate when you should ease up on exercise or stop altogether. Pain is an obvious and clear signal that you have done too much too soon.

Begin with low-impact exercises

Walking is the most natural type of body movement. It’s what we humans were born to do. A gentle walk can be a low impact way to stay active. Swimming and yoga are also low impact choices for stretching out your muscles and gaining strength following an injury.

Try balance and strength exercises

Pilates, yoga and other strengthening exercises are great for improving your posture, muscle strength and core strength. You would be surprised at how many muscle injuries occur due to a lack of core abdominal strength. Exercises that promote abdominal strength are vital for preventing many strain and sprain injuries. You should consider integrating balance and strengthening exercises into your injury recovery, this will help you in the long-term.

Avoid high impact and weight-bearing exercises

Weight-bearing exercises should be avoided following an ankle or leg injury to avoid the chances of worsening your condition. Not only should you put down the hand-weights, you should also avoid high impact exercises and high impact cardio like running, basketball and netball which take a heavy toll on the joints for the same reason.

Eat well, sleep well and stay hydrated.

Food, sleep and hydration play a critical role in accelerating or hampering your recovery time after an injury. You should therefore avoid fatty, sugary and processed foods in favour of fresh fruit, vegetables and grains. If you must eat meat, make sure it is a lean cut of fresh meat.Try and avoid alcohol because it won’t help your body to heal itself. Conversely, good old water is going to help your body’s tissues to heal quicker by keeping them hydrated. A decent night’s rest every night can also have a positive impact on your recovery time.

See a friendly and caring physiotherapist

A physiotherapist will assess your current physical state and give you deep insights into your prospective recovery time. Many factors including your age, health, fitness and how long you have been injured and immobile will influence the length of time you take to recover.

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy is made up of experienced, caring and friendly physiotherapists who are passionate about helping the local community. We take a holistic approach to looking after people and see the whole person, rather than just the injury. We create step-by-step programmes that are uniquely tailored to your circumstances and needs. The team get a real thrill out of seeing people get back on their feet again and back into healthy exercise and living a full life.

Getting a physiotherapy assessment will help to ensure that you don’t worsen the injury or lengthen your recovery time unnecessarily. It also means you are recovering from injury in a personalised way that is safe and beneficial to your health. Speak with the team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy today to book an appointment on (02) 9314 3888.

Do You Work in An Office? Here are Six Top Tips Every Office Worker Should Know! | Blog | Maroubra Road Physiotherapy

How do I change the bad posture I’ve developed in my office job?

Modern life poses a lot of challenges on our bodies every day. Mobile phones, tablets and laptops demand our attention. The blue light from devices changes your circadian rhythms making your mind and body feel awake and it can lead to headaches and pain.

Also, peering into your computer screen or mobile phone causes you to change your neck and back posture. Our reliance on technology extends beyond the end of a working day and into every aspect of our lives. This impacts how our bodies work in a fundamental way.

Bad posture isn’t only going to impact how you look. Bad posture, left untreated can have a serious impact on your back, neck, and shoulder injuries. According to many studies, poor slumping posture while sitting and standing also affects your breathing, causes headaches and even impacts how you feel emotionally.  

Although there is no magic pill solution for a life-time of bad posture from working in an office, using stretching techniques on an ongoing basis yields many health benefits. Here are some tips to help manage bad posture in the workplace.

1. Get help with your workstation set-up

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will be able to help you understand problems with your workstation set up. Our physiotherapists will point out possible flaws in your workstation setup and postural alignment when performing certain tasks, such as typing and sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Our physiotherapists will be able to advise you on postural awareness; appropriate pause exercises; and strength and endurance exercises. This will enable you to cope better with the demands placed on your body; and help you return to work as soon as possible. Over time these changes to your workstation will become more noticeable in your body and help with problems in your sitting posture.

 

2. Do regular yoga or pilates

Recent research into the effects of yoga and pilates on chronic neck pain, found that both forms of exercise had a positive impact on the pain scores and muscle functionality for study participants. Additionally, pilates increased the strength and size of the semispinalis capitis muscle in the neck.

Yoga and pilates have become a secret weapon for many people who suffer from chronic pain and if you are wanting to help yourself, you should give it a try, after all you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

3. Alternate standing and sitting at work

Ask your workplace about a stand-up desk, which means you can work standing up. Alternating between sitting, standing and moving periodically throughout the day in 30 minutes blocks will help with your posture, muscle fatigue and your experience of  pain or discomfort. For more information if it is better to stand or sit at work, here is our blog

 

4.  Use an exercise ball along with your normal office chair

Even if you happen to have a beautiful and comfortable work chair, it’s always a great idea to mix it up a bit. Moving is key.  You can try using an exercise ball as a second seat for short periods of no more than 30 minutes and rotate between your normal chair and the exercise ball over the course of the day. It is possible to slouch on the ball so you still need to remember good posture.  It does make you work a bit harder, encouraging your body to use core muscles even while you’re simply working at your desk. Using a ball is not appropriate for everyone, so it is advisable to discuss this option with your physiotherapist.

 

5. Stretching and pause exercises throughout the day

 

Stretching your body and simple pause exercises throughout the day will help to improve and maintain your posture. The form that these exercises take will depend on your own preferences and health at the time. These exercises are not time-consuming and can be performed while working or on the phone. In the below video you will find some great desk-based pause exercises that help with posture and chronic pain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAq9vV7gkrs

Some people take the opportunity to walk or jog at lunch time if the weather is nice. Or even go to the gym.

6. See a physiotherapist

The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy are well equipped to treat work-related conditions. They use a combination of manual therapy, soft tissue release techniques, education and exercise based rehabilitation.

The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy take a holistic approach to physiotherapy that looks at the whole person, their lifestyle and overall health. Our friendly physiotherapists are experienced at resolving chronic pain challenges for clients. Empower yourself and change the way your body feels with Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, book an appointment on (02) 9314 3888.   

Calf Stretching – Advice from our Physiotherapists

Two calf stretches to prevent injury

Why should you stretch your calves?

Stretching your calves is important because it has a domino effect on your body. Tight calves can lead to decreased arches in your feet which may cause plantar fascia pain (on the sole of the foot), tendinopathies or stress fractures from muscle imbalances and overuse. Tight calves can also be implicated in muscle tears, Achilles pain, knee pain and even hip and back issues. Ideally calves need to be longer and stronger to do their job in shock absorption and generating power.

 

 

 

There are two main muscles in the calf: the gastrocnemius (aka “gastroc”) and soleus muscles. The gastroc is a two joint muscle meaning it crosses the knee and ankle joints. The purpose of the gastroc is to bend the knee and push the foot off the ground during walking or running. The gastroc attaches to the heel via the Achilles tendon.

The soleus muscle is a single joint muscle as it only crosses the ankle joint. It is responsible for pushing the foot off the ground while walking/running and it is effective in pumping blood back to the heart because of it’s position and design. It also joins with the Achilles tendon.

 

How to tell if you have tight calves and how to stretch them:

When you dorsiflex your ankle (bring your toes to your nose) the normal range of movement is between 0 to 20 degrees. Running and jumping requires flexibility in the higher end of this range.

 

Gastroc Stretch

  1. Standing in front of a wall, step forward and place your hands on the wall
  2. Keep the back leg STRAIGHT, heal on floor and toes pointed forward
  3. Lean forward slightly until you feel a gentlepull/stretch on the back of the leg
  4. Hold 30 seconds minimum and repeat 2-3x

 

Soleus stretch

 

  1. Stand in front of a wall, step forward and place your hands on the wall
  2. Keep the back leg BENT, heal on floor and toes pointed forward
  3. Lean forward slightly until you feel a gentlepull/stretch on the back of the leg
  4. Hold 30 seconds minimum and repeat 2-3x

 

 

When is the best time to stretch?

Generally, the best time to stretch is after you have warmed up your body or after activity. 

When not to stretch your calves

If you have recently sustained a calf tear or Achilles strain, do not stretch your calf without advice from your physiotherapist or doctor first. Do not stretch your calves if there is pain or an increase in pain after stretching.

Do you sit at work all day? Is it better to stand or sit?

Have you recently acquired a sit-to-stand desk? Is it better to stand or sit?

Current research has shown that sitting all day is unhealthy for you. Many health and wellness blogs are quoting that sitting is the “new” smoking. In the last 10 years, research has shown that if you sit all day, this can lead to heart related problems, type 2 Diabetes and numerous chronic issues related to obesity. Many believe that exercise before or after work will reverse the effects of sitting all day. Unfortunately, it has been shown that you can’t make up for the negative effects of prolonged sitting over the work day by only exercising after work.

With all this research, there has been an intense focus on ergonomics, which has seen an increase in sit-to-stand desks in the workplace, where workers are spending more time standing at their desks.

So, if you have a sit-to-stand desk and you stand all day, is this solving the problem? It is addressing the issues that are linked to sitting but the reality is that standing all day can also lead to fatigue and cardiovascular problems. You may also find that you still suffer from low back pain, leg and foot pain, especially if standing in the incorrect posture, so all you are doing is shifting the part of your body that you are loading.

So, what it the solution?

The answer is in fact MOVEMENT.

Regular movement is the key to promoting good health. This can be achieved by moving regularly. The common response is that there are not enough hours in the day and moving is disruptive to your flow of work. The truth is that you don’t have to stop working for very long. The key is to move more, more often.

Next Steps

If you need help, you can make an appointment with one of our physiotherapists to prescribe a sit-stand programme to suit your needs or they can create a short pause exercise program for you. You can also use a pedometer during the day to track your steps, set your alarm on your phone or your smartwatch to remind you to move.

Have You Considered What Your Mobile Phone Usage Is Doing To Your Posture?

Insights from our Maroubra Physio team:

Next time you take a bus trip to work or you are waiting to see the doctor, look around you. Most people will be using their phones; checking e-mail, reading the news, using the internet and playing games. The common posture one would adopt would be hunched over, hands down, neck bent forward and shoulders rounded. This posture puts an enormous load on your neck and upper back causing them to ache and fatigue. These poor postures can lead to pain, muscle spasm, joint stiffness and weakness. Sitting up straight will seem like an effort once you have adapted to these postures.

We see many patients that have neck and back pain and while using their phones might not be the primary cause, it is often a contributing factor.

Here are a few ideas to improve your posture while using your phone.

Sit back. Ensure that your lower back is touching and supported by the back of the chair. Raise your chest so that it is not hunched forward.

Bring your arms up so that you can keep your neck straight rather than looking down. To support your arms, tuck your daypack or workbag under your elbows or use one arm to support the other by hugging your waist and rest your elbow on it. This will support your arms and shoulders better and allow you to look forward while looking at your phone rather than looking down.

If you are standing, stand with your feet apart, raise your chest and elbows. Bring your phone closer to eye level rather than looking down.

Take a break every 10 minutes.

Give this a try and see if you feel less achy by the time you get home after a long day at work. You could consult one of our physiotherapists if you need more input or if you need manual therapy to release those sore muscles or even some exercise advice to strengthen weak postural muscles.

WE ARE HIRING! PHYSIOTHERAPIST | FULL TIME | PRIVATE PRACTICE | MAROUBRA, EASTERN SUBURBS

14th August 2017

A new opportunity has become available for a passionate, hands on physiotherapist to join our friendly and supportive team on a full time basis. The scope of the role involves providing Physiotherapy treatment to our patients in a brand new, purpose built private practice facility located on Maroubra Road in Maroubra. We see a wide variety of private patients, workers compensation, EPC and DVA.

We offer continuing education through subsidised courses and regular in service training sessions with the practice owners.

What we are looking for:

  • Full registration with AHPRA
  • Good communication skills
  • Excellent Team player
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • 2+ years experience in private practice preferable

If you think that you fit the above criteria, we would love to hear from you! Please email your CV, together with a cover letter to psphysio@gmail.com