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Your first step to recovery

Osteoporosis

 

Osteoporosis is a condition which results in weak and brittle bones- to such degree that a fall or even mild stresses like coughing or bending over may result in a fracture. Bones are living tissues which are continually being broken down and replaced. However, your bones become osteoporotic when the formation of new bone does not keep up with the loss of old bone. This condition typically develops over time without any pain or other major symptoms, and is generally not diagnosed until you have sustained a fracture. The hip, pelvis, upper arm, spine and wrists are the most common structures affected by osteoporosis- related fractures.

 

 

How do you know if you have Osteoporosis?

 

Because there are no obvious early warning signs and symptoms, it is difficult to pre-diagnose osteoporosis. You may be unaware that you have this condition perhaps till you have one of the following:

  • Sustained a fracture from an incident more easily than you should have- like a simple fall or a bump
  • A decrease in the height of your spinal vertebrae over time
  • Change in posture – stooping or bending forwards
  • Back pain, due to a fractured or collapsed vertebra

Please see your doctor if you experience the following:

  • If you are over the age of 50 and have sustained a fracture
  • Sustained a spine, wrist, or hip for the first time
  • Sustained a fracture more easily than you should have (a simple fall or after a slight bump)

 

Risk factors

Key factors which may increase your risk of developing osteoporosis include:

  • Females- particularly post-menopausal Caucasian and Asian women
  • Over the age of 50
  • Excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Having a smaller or petite body frame
  • Poor physical activity levels and leading a very sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Having low levels of vitamin D and poor dietary calcium intake
  • Decreasing levels of testosterone with ageing in men
  • Estrogen deficiency in women (irregular periods, early (before turning 40) or post-menopausal, surgical removal of the ovaries)
  • Use of long-term medication such as thyroid and epilepsy medications, corticosteroids
  • Having medical conditions such as gastrointestinal diseases; endocrine diseases; rheumatoid arthritis; cancer; and blood disorders

 

 

How will you be diagnosed?

Your doctor will review your signs and symptoms, family and medical history. You may be referred on for a specialized X-ray or CT scan to evaluate the bone density to help diagnose osteoporosis. Your bone density will be classified by comparing it to the typical bone density for a person of equivalent gender, size, and age.

 

 

How is Osteoporosis treated?

The treatment pathway chosen for the management of this condition is dependent on results of your bone density scan, gender, age, medical history and severity of the condition. Potential treatments for osteoporosis may include exercise, making positive lifestyle changes, vitamin and mineral supplements, and medications. Please consult your doctor for appropriate advice and treatment options.

 

 

How can Physiotherapy help?

 

Your physiotherapist will help you strengthen your bones and your muscles through a personalized and graduated rehabilitation program. Components of this rehabilitation program may include weightbearing aerobic exercises, resistance training using free weights/resistance bands/bodyweight resistance, and exercises to enhance posture, balance and body strength. Your physiotherapist will work with you to find activities that suit your needs and as per your physical activity level.

 

 

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome refers to the dysfunction of the piriformis muscle which irritates the sciatic nerve. It is characterized by deep buttock region pain that radiates down leg and foot often accompanied by pins and needles and numbness traveling along the path of the sciatic nerve.

The simplistic reason for this widely distributed pain comes down to the piriformis muscle itself – Their close proximity means that direct trauma to the buttock region or the supporting structures can result in inflammation and muscle dysfunction which can compress and irritate the sciatic resulting in referred symptoms.

Piriformis syndrome symptoms may include:

  • Localised deep buttock region pain
  • Pain with continuous sitting or standing for 15 mins or over
  • Pins and needles along the leg down to the outer foot
  • Numbness in outer leg or foot (often resolves on movements)
  • Deep squatting or bending
  • Pain on direct palpation

Anatomy

 

The piriformis muscle originates from the outer surface of a large fused bone of our pelvis called the sacrum. It travels adjacently and inserts into the top of the hip joint. The piriformis muscle is a very active muscle involved in stabilizing the hip and pelvis during majority of our activities (walking, running, standing, sitting or standing, turning in bed). When the piriformis muscle contracts it helps the hip rotate outwards (external rotation) and lift thigh out and up (abduct).

The sciatic nerve originates from where the very base of the spine and the sacrum join known as the lumbosacral region (lower back and saddle region). In this region five separate branches of nerves travel outside of the bony openings of the spine called the nerve roots and connect into a single large nerve – the sciatic nerve. It then travels through the pelvis deep into the buttock region close proximity the piriformis and gluteal muscles. In some individuals the piriformis muscles can travel through the piriformis muscle subjecting them to piriformis syndrome.

Diagnosis

There are no specific tests to diagnose piriformis syndrome. Diagnosis of piriformis syndrome is made by the report of symptoms and by physical exam using a variety of movements to elicit pain to the piriformis muscle. In some cases, a contracted or tender piriformis muscle can be found on physical exam.

In cases where there is underlying pathology (such as disc injury, arthritis, sacroiliac dysfunction or hip injury) resulting in true sciatica – piriformis syndrome may develop to become an additional muscular dysfunction that is required to be addressed. Because symptoms can be similar in other conditions, radiologic tests such as MRIs may be required to rule out other causes of sciatic nerve compression, such as a herniated disc.

Consultation with a physiotherapist in this case is highly recommended as they will perform a comprehensive clinical examination to identify the root cause of your symptoms.

Exercises for piriformis syndrome

Corrective exercises with a combination of strength and flexibility regimen is an essential way to treat true piriformis syndrome (without involvement of other underlying pathologies).

The exercises outlined below follow a phase-by-phase progressive regimen to strength key muscles of the hip, buttock and legs.

As you work through these exercises expect to feel some pain during and after your exercise. Pain you may feel during the exercise is an expected sign of muscle activity. Pain you may feel after the exercises is an expected sign of muscle healing and recovery. However, if you are unable to participate in the exercises due to symptom deterioration – it is highly recommended you consult your physiotherapist to rule out other potential causes.

Otherwise, to help you gauge the correct amount of pain you should expect during exercise – use this scale. The ideal range should be 2 to 5. If your baseline pain is over 6 or 7 – it is recommended that you consult your doctor for pain relief appropriate to manage your pain, followed by a consult with a physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist will be able to modify the following exercises or prescribe alternative exercises best suited based on your current level of function and symptoms.

Symptom noting – is a great way to keep track of your progress and symptom behaviour.

  • Take a diary
  • Note down pain before you begin the exercise.
  • Note down the pain rating after each exercise.
  • Note down pain at the end of the day
  • Repeat the pain recording process for the next 4-5 days
  • Examine the trend in your symptoms.

Interference with everyday tasks – Your participation or level of exertion with everyday activities may interfere with your symptoms impacting your exercise tolerance. It is therefore important to note any of these interferences’ contributory to your pain.

Phase 1 – is a beginner stage.

This phase is intended for gently priming muscle activation. It will demand your concentration on technique and compliance to change the possible compensation your body has been used to as a result of pain. This phase can last between 1-2 weeks.

Instructions:

3 sets of 10 repetitions. Hold each repetition for 8-10 seconds. Rest 10-15 seconds between sets, 30 seconds between exercises. Do this exercise 1-2 times per day.

Bridges

 

Lie on your back.
Bend both knees and place your feet flat on the bed.
Lift your buttocks from the bed.
Place your buttocks back on the bed.
Repeat this exercise and remember to continue to breathe properly.


Clam shells

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lie on your side with your feet, ankles and knees together.
Bend the legs a little and tighten your core stability muscles.
Keeping the feet together, lift the top knee up.
Make sure you don’t roll your body back with the movement.
Control the movement as you bring the knee back down to the starting position.


Phase 2 – intermediate stage

The intermediate phase is similar to the beginner stage with the difference of using changing elements of progression to challenge the muscles capacity further. In this stage you may choose to progress the exercises by choosing to change ONE factor:

  • Increase repetitions
  • Increase hold time
  • Increase sets
  • Add appropriate resistance

Instructions:

  • 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. Hold each repetition for 10-15 seconds.
  • Rest 10-15 seconds between sets, 30 seconds between exercises.
  • Do this exercise 1-2 times per day.

Bridges with resistance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tie a resistance band around both thighs, just above your knees.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and legs hips width apart.
There should be tension in the band.
Raise your hips up into a bridge, keeping the knees hips width apart.
Control the movement back down to the start position, maintaining constant tension on the band.


Clams with resistance

Lie on your side and place a band above your knees, approximately an inch or two above the knee joint.
Bend your legs a little, keeping the feet in line with your back.
Use your core stability muscles to keep the body stable.
Keeping your feet together, lift the top knee up against the resistance of the band.
Ensure you stay on your side and do not roll your hips and your body back with the movement.
Lower the knee back down, controlling the resistance.


Phase 3 – advance stage

Body weight squats

Start position is standing straight with the arms out in front and bent at the elbows, the fists should be clenched and the palms facing inwards.
Move downwards into a squat position so that the knees are aligned over the toes and the heels are in contact with the floor, make sure the back is straight.
Keep the head and chest upright and the gaze horizontal.
Hold for 2 seconds and return to the start position.


Lunges

Stand straight with your arms to the side or on your hips.
Take a large step forwards on your affected leg, then drop your hips directly down between both feet, bending your hips and knees to a 90 degrees.
Push back up to the starting position, and repeat.
Make sure you take a large enough step that your front knee does not travel over your foot, and ensure your knee travels directly forwards.
Keep your body up straight throughout the movement.


Crab walks

Place a band around your ankles and gather some tension.
Side-step keeping constant tension on the band.
Make sure you do not bring your feet too close together and keep your toes and knees pointing forwards.


Phase 4 – return to activities

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Stretching

Do you always need to stretch the muscle? The answer is NO. While stretching is an important tool to improve muscle elasticity. You may not always need to stretch a muscle if it is NOT tight. Thus, stretching is recommended to be limited to areas you feel are TIGHT when you perform a given movement. Check the affected side and unaffected side – don’t need to stretch a muscle that doesn’t need to be stretched.

Seated piriformis stretch 

Start in a seated position.
Cross the symptomatic leg your ankle is resting on, to the opposite knee.
Apply gentle pressure to the knee as you lean forward, increasing the depth of the stretch.
Hold this position, you should feel a comfortable tension with no pain.


Pigeon stretch

 

Start on your hands and knees.
Cross the symptomatic leg underneath you, then lower your hips down to the ground.
Rest your body forwards on your arms.
You should feel a stretch across the buttock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Managing your Medial Knee Pain: MCL injuries

What is it?

Although your knee has free movement going forwards and backwards, its’ sideward movements are restricted by the robust collateral ligaments on either sides of your knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is situated on the inner part of your knee, but on the outside of your joint. The MCL connects the top of your shinbone (tibia) to the bottom of your femur (thighbone). It helps hold your bones together, provides stability and prevents your knee from bending sideways away from your body.

Injuries to the MCL are from the result of a direct blow to the outer part of your knee- and is most commonly seen in contact sports such as football and soccer. These injures may either over-stretch or cause a tear in the ligament. Whilst surgery may be needed in some severe cases, it is not always the go-to form of management.

Read on to know how physiotherapy can help manage your MCL related-knee pain.

 

 

Mechanism of Injury

Injury to the MCL typically occurs when a force drives the lower leg in a sideward direction away from your upper leg and body. Awkwardly landing from a height, twisting of your knee with your foot fixated to the ground, or from a direct blow to the outer part of your knee- most commonly seen in contact sports, are frequent causes of injury to the MCL.

 

 

Grading of MCL Injuries

MCL injuries are often graded using the system below:

Grade 1: Regarded as a minor injury- means that the MCL has been overstretched but not torn

Grade 2: Regarded as a moderate injury- means that there is a partial tear in MCL, and presents with some degree of instability in the knee

Grade 3: Regarded as a severe injury- means that the MCL has completely ruptured/torn, and presents with noticeable joint instability

 

Often 3 MCL injuries are associated with concurrent medial meniscus and ACL ligament damage, which may need surgical intervention. But, the good news is that most MCL injuries may be treated well with conservative physiotherapy management. It usually takes between 2-8 weeks for Grade 1 and 2 MCL injuries to heal, and a graduated rehabilitation programme is highly commended for prevention of future injury.

 

 

Signs and Symptoms

Because injury to the MCL may present with similar symptoms as with other knee injuries such as ACL damage, it is vital to have a medical professional such as your physiotherapist evaluate your injury.

Common symptoms of an MCL injury may include:

  • Tenderness and pain along in the inner part of your knee
  • Swelling in the knee
  • Experience catching and locking sensations in the knee joint
  • A ‘pop’ sound at the time of injury
  • Actual or feeling of giving way of the knee (often indicate grade 2 or 3 injury)

 

 

Diagnosis

Your physiotherapist will discuss your injury and its presenting symptoms, past medical history (including a history of any prior knee injuries) and will also undertake a thorough physical examination. During the physical examination, your physiotherapist will assess the structures of your injured knee and compare them to the non-injured side. The range of motion, strength and stability of your knee will be assessed. You may be referred on for imaging such as X-rays and Ultrasounds to help aid the diagnosis. For more severe MCL injuries, and if your symptoms do not resolve with conservative physiotherapy management, you may be referred onto a specialist who may consider referring you for an MRI to get a deeper look at your knee.

 

Management

The management options for MCL injuries will be dependent on the severity of the injury. In the initial stages of injury, management is focused on controlling swelling and pain, whilst allowing your body to initiate healing processes via inflammation. This is typically achieved through the P.O.L.I.C.E. principles (Protect, Optimal Loading, Ice, Compression and Elevation).

Over the counter medication such as ibuprofen and paracetamol may be taken to reduce pain. Other stronger painkillers and NSAIDs may be prescribed by your doctor to help reduce swelling and inflammation as well.

After assessing your knee, your physiotherapist will frame a rehabilitation programme with exercises tailored to your needs. The purpose of physiotherapy is to help restore your knee’s range of motion, stability and strength, which in turn will then allow you to safely return to your usual day-to-day and sporting activities as soon as possible.

Management of most MCL injuries usually only involves knee bracing and physiotherapy treatment. However, in some cases, surgery may be recommended. Particularly if there is damage to more than one ligament or structure in your knee or if you continue to experience instability in spite of physiotherapy.

EASY STRETCHES DESK STRETCHES

Sitting at a desk working, studying or surfing the net for long hours at a time makes it extremely difficult to maintain proper posture. That’s because our bodies are not designed for hours of idle sitting. So as the clock gets ticking many of us have the tendency lean forward, slouch our shoulders and hunch our backs.

Unfortunately, this increases pressure on multiple areas in your body. This explains why most of us experience pain and stiffness in our neck, shoulders, back and in some cases your tailbone!

So what do I need to do you ask?

The answer is simple, STAND, MOVE AND STRETCH!

It sure does sound easier said than done, especially if you are pressed with time to complete set work tasks. BUT the good news is that stretching or moving is a buildable habit that can be easily implement as you work. It doesn’t take long!

For starters set an alarm to take micro 2–3-minute break for every 20-30 minutes. Use this time to stand up, walk over to a colleague, go for a toilet break, drink water or make yourself tea or a coffee.

Or try out these simple easy stretches while you sit or stand at your desk

So let’s get started!

SPINAL TWIST:

  • Sit up tall, relax your shoulders
  • Cross one leg over the other, then place your opposite elbow on your top thigh.
  • Take a deep breath and as you exhale slowly twist your body (not your neck) and look over your shoulder.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Slowly return to resting position and repeat on the other side.

BACK ARCHES

  •  Sit tall, set your feet flat on the ground hip-width apart.
  • Rest your hands behind your hips, then slowly arch your back as you gently tilt your head back.
  • If you experience pain or discomfort in your neck or tingling in your arms – do this stretch without head tilt.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, return to start and repeat

ARM REACHES 

  • Sit up tall with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Interlace your fingers and stretch your arms straight as you turn your palms up to the ceiling.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat

SHOULDER CIRCLES

  • Sit or stand up tall, feet hip width apart
  • Relax your arms and shoulder, begin by rolling your shoulder backward in a circular motion.
  • Do this 5 times, repeat forward circles

NECK CIRCLES

  • Sit or stand up tall, with feet planted flat on floor
  • Slowly begin to roll your head in a clockwise position
  • Do this 20 seconds, then repeat in a counterclockwise direction

CHEST STRETCH

 

  • Stand close to wall or a door frame
  • Place your forearm in a 90-degree angle at shoulder height.
  • Take one step forward on the leg closest to the wall and slowly rotate your chest away until you feel a stretch across your chest.
  • Do not hunch or round your shoulders.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, repeat
  • Do this both for both sides

BACK EXTENSIONS

  • Stand with your legs at hip width apart and straight.
  • Place your hands on your hips.
  • Lean your body backwards, trying to arch in the lower back as much as you can, lifting your chest up towards the ceiling.
  • Try to avoid allowing your hips to swing forwards too far.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds, return to start position & repeat 5 times.

 FLOOR REACHES

  • Sit on a chair with upright posture
  • Slowly bend forward to plant your hands on the floor.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, return to start

SHOULDER BLADE SQUEEZE

  • Start in an upright position.
  • Practice bringing your shoulder blades back and down.
  • Picture gently drawing your shoulder blades towards the centre of your lower back.
  • This is a subtle movement, ensure you do not over strain your shoulder blades when performing this action.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 3-5 times

SHOULDER BLADE STRETCH

  • Clasp your hands together and hold them in front of your body.
  • Push your arms as far forward as you can whilst rounding your shoulder blades.
  • Gently drop your chin down to your chest.
  • Hold this position while you feel a stretch between your shoulder blades.

 WRIST STRETCHES

  • Stretch out your arm straight in front of you with your palm facing away
  • Use your opposite hand to gently pull your palm back
  • Hold for 5 seconds, repeat with your palm facing your body

MANAGING FALLS IN OLDER ADULTS

Having a fall is dangerous at any age, however, they become more frequent and may most probably result in injury in adults 55 years and over. It is also estimated that in Aotearoa, approximately a third of older adults over the age of 65 sustain a fall every year. This leads to harmful consequences for them, especially for those who live alone. Alongside, sustaining serious injuries, you may face loss of independence, mobility and confidence. But!!! The good news is that there are a number of ways that you can reduce your risk of falling.

 

So Why Do Older Adults Have Falls?

  • Poor lower limb strength
  • Cognitive and functional impairment
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Prior and/or ongoing history of falls
  • Vision deficits
  • Balance or gait disorders
  • Medication related- especially when using anti-depressants, sedatives, anti-arrhythmics, anti-hypertensives, diuretics, and anti-convulsants
  • Hazards around your home environment such as loose carpets, slippery surfaces, poor lighting, lack of safety equipment particularly in the bathroom/toilet
  • Medical conditions such as vertigo, dizziness, diabetes, postural hypotension, drop attacks, and fainting spells

 

The Vicious Falls Cycle

Older adults who have had a fall may limit what they do because of their loss of self-confidence and fear of falling. Whilst this may seem like the most sensible thing for them to do, it increases their risk of falls. This is because, this leads to a further reduction in muscle strength, coordination and balance. Hence, it is healthier for older adults to keep up with their activities they enjoy as safely as they can, work on improving their muscle strength, coordination and balance, and manage their blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and weight under the guidance of their doctor.

 

 

Falls prevention tips

 

Below are some measures you may take to prevent yourself from falling:

Exercise regularly: A number of benefits include better sleep, improved muscle strength, balance and flexibility, increased energy levels, stronger bones, better management of weight, blood sugars and blood pressure. Exercise programs tailored especially for muscle strength and balance have resulted in a reduction in the number of falls and injuries resulting from falls by approximately 30% and 50%. It is advised that you speak to your doctor or physiotherapist before initiating or progressing your exercise levels.

Keeping your vision in check: Vision deficits makes getting around safely a lot harder. Therefore, you should get your eyes checked yearly and wear your contact lenses or glasses with the correct prescription strength.

Being aware of the effects of your medication: As they may have certain side effects that increase your risk of falls. You should review your medications with your doctor for side effects like drowsiness or dizziness.

Reduce hazards at home: Most falls typically take place at home. So be sure to make your home safer by removing tripping hazards, having adequate lighting, and adding in handrails in hallways and bathrooms/toilets.

Other tips:

  • Taking your time to get up and when moving around- no rushing!
  • Having a personal medical alarm (please talk to your doctor about how to get one)
  • Using a night light when you get up at night
  • Wearing appropriate, supportive and well-fitted shoes
  • Not using an easily moveable object to stabilise yourself
  • Using the support of handrails in bathrooms and hallways
  • Avoiding or being very careful on wet or slippery floors
  • Appropriately using your walking aids

 

If You Have Had a Fall

If you sustain a fall, it is vital for you to stay calm.

If you think you are able to get up safely, try to bend your knees, roll to your side, and attempt to get into a 4-point kneeling position. If there is a chair near by or if you are able to crawl towards one, you can use it as support to get yourself up. Please take your time and rest as needed.

If you are unable to get up safely, attempt to crawl or roll towards a phone. You may call out to other members in your household or your neighbour. If you’re at risk of falls, please do consider the use of a personal medical alarm to call out for help when you have a fall.

After a fall, please contact your doctor as soon as you can for an assessment of potential injuries sustained, muscle strength and balance to help prevent future falls. You may be directed to community or in-home sessions to enhance your balance and strength. Please discuss this with your doctors.

We Want You To Understand Your Pain

What is pain?

Pain is the brain giving out a message to protect you . It is part of our bodies natural defense system.

When an event occurs that we need protecting from, our brains response is to increase our pain. Living things detect and respond to stimulus. | Characteristics of living  things, Natural hairstyles for kids, Characteristics

Example: Putting a hand on a hot pan. You feel pain, which is the brain giving you a warning signal to move your hand away.

Pain is all about protection, never about measuring the condition of the tissues in the body.

In this instance we experience a high level of pain to prevent a bigger injury eg. causing a burn.

This is our bodies way of protecting us

So what is happening in our brain?

  • We as human beings are amazingly adaptable. The longer we have pain, the longer our brains learn to produce pain.

  • It hurts in the tissues (back, knee, hand), but the problem is in the nervous system. There is an adaptation within our nervous system.

Long term pain or Chronic pain

Chronic pain is defined as persistent or recurrent pain lasting longer than 3 months

If you have had pain for more than 3 months, your system is now overprotective. Your nervous system and immune systems have learnt.

 

Movement is medicine: why exercise therapy reduces chronic pain - Hinge  Health

 

  • With chronic pain the buffer size is increased- therefore pain comes on quicker than before.

  • You get pain when you are not anywhere near being in danger.

Management of chronic pain:

  • Identify why your brain is protecting you – fear, anxiety, quality of movement, posture, injury

  • Reduce the size of your buffer – desensitization, reassurance, progressive load management

  • Understand your pain- know that it may not go completely, but can become more manageable

Medication:

  • Depending on the type of pain you are experiencing, painkillers/NSAID’s may be beneficial in the short term – speak to your GP/pharmacist

  • Note: the research does not show good outcomes for the long-term use of medication to treat chronic pain.

Occupational Therapy:

  • If you have been off work because of your pain – try to return to work asap. An OT can discuss and plan a gradual return to work plan for you

  • They can also assist by providing aids to helps with daily tasks such as getting out of bed, or putting on shoes.

Physiotherapy:

  • There is no quick fix for persistent pain. We can help guide you along your journey to recovery

  • With persistence and hard work you can learn to adapt and cope with your pain

  • Movement is king – it is critical for retraining the system

  • Movement gradually suppresses the pain system.

  • Finding any form of exercise or movement that you enjoy and gradually increasing the volume over time

  • Moving regularly- on your good days and your bad days

Self Help:

  • Meditation or mindfulness – Apps such as Headspace or Calm are easy to use and will guide you through the process

  • The Pain ToolKit

Do You Have a Healthy Work Station Set Up?

An ergonomically correct workstation has all the best practices to help maintain a healthy posture and improve your health and productivity.

Here are a few helpful tips;

1. Set up your screen

Adjust the monitor height so that the top of the screen is at—or slightly below—eye level. Your eyes should look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen. Position the monitor at least 20 inches (51 cm) from your eyes—about an arm’s length distance. If you have a larger screen, add more viewing distance.


2. Set up your chair

  • Height – You should be able to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your thighs roughly parallel to the floor. If you require a taller chair in order to reach the floor you can use a foot rest to ensure you achieve the right angle.

  • Backrest Recline and Tilt – Research has shown that a reclined seat (at least 135 degrees back)  significantly reduces the pressure on your back, and is particularity beneficial for people with back

  • Lumbar support – the shape of the backrest should have a natural curve to support your lower back.

  • Arm rests – Look for armrests that are not just height adjustable and support the entire length of the forearms.


3. Adjust your Desk Height

  • Your legs should fit comfortably under the desk if you are sitting with your feet flat on the floor: you should have enough space to cross your legs.

  • The angle between your forearm and upper arm should be between 90 degrees and 110 degrees while your arms are at rest on the desk.

  • Make your desk organized using storage accessories i.e. Document holders

  • Use an ergonomic mouse pad; to keep your wrists supported.


4. Organizing your Desk space

Organize all the items on the workstation according to their priorities and assign them to the proper ergonomic reach zones.

  • Primary Zone: High use items, easiest access

  • Secondary Zone :Medium use items, comfortable reach

  • Third Zone: Low use items, reduction in efficiency

:sparkles: MOVEMENT IS KEY :sparkles:

Its a simple action step, but mighty! Get up out of your chair and take frequent posture breaks!

When we sit in one position for hours without moving, our performance slowly starts to deteriorate, our body slows down, static loading takes over our muscles and we actually get fatigued even when we aren’t putting in any physical effort. However, when you consciously integrate these microbreaks into your day, you’re giving your body a much-needed refresher and an opportunity to wake up your muscles and replenish blood flow. Research has shown that movement can also help with creativity, or get you ‘unstuck’ so you can approach your work with a different or fresh perspective and energy.

If you think your desk set up could be better, or want us to have a quick look we can do this via a video call. Book in for an appointment www.physiofusion.co.nz or give us a call on (09) 626 6186

Do you experience Cervicogenic Headaches?

What on Earth is a cervicogenic headache??

Headaches happen for lots of reason and can be cause by several sources- both primary and secondary. Once major “red flags” are ruled out, understanding the type of headache is important in order to have it properly addressed.

A cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache arising from a musculoskeletal dysfunction within the cervical spine, and is a disorder that many physiotherapists treat. The main players that are typically involved in generating the pain are the joints, discs, ligaments, nerves and/or muscles found in the upper portion of the neck.

Characteristics of a Cervicogenic Headache:

:sparkles: Pain usually one sided or one side dominant

:sparkles: Pain originates from the back of the neck and radiates along the forehead, orbits around the eye, temple area and ear.

:sparkles: Steady ache or dull, diffuse pain that travels into shoulder region

:sparkles: Limited neck movement especially when turning head

:sparkles: Tenderness to touch at the muscles at the base of the head.

Here are some exercises that would help alleviate your pain:

  1. Cervical side flexion with chin tuck

  • Sit upright in a chair.
    With your shoulders relaxed, relax one arm to your side.
    Drop your opposite ear to your shoulder until a stretch is felt.
    Using your fingers, tuck your chin in, as to resemble a double chin.
    Gently release pressure with your fingers and hold this position.
    Relax and repeat

2. Levator stretch Neck stretch – levator scapula

  • Start in a seated position.
    Place the hand of the side you want to stretch down by your side.
    Tilt your head forwards and to the opposite side at an angle, as if you are trying to
    look at your armpit.
    Keeping your back straight and upright, continue to tilt your head down until you
    feel a stretch from the base of your skull down into your shoulder blade.

3. Neck stretching (Upper trapezius)

 

  • Stand up straight.
    Take the hand on the symptomatic side and place it behind your back.
    Take your other hand and place it on your head.
    Tilt your ear directly down towards your shoulder and hold this position.
    You should feel a stretch down the side of your neck.

If you believe you experience Cervicogenic Headaches get in touch with us https://physiofusion.co.nz/ for an in-depth assessment and lets knock out those headaches and decrease you dependence on pain meds

What is your Rotator Cuff and What does it do?

 

You may have seen videos or posts online about people talking about a specific area of your shoulder known commonly as the “Rotator Cuff” and wondered what they were on about. Your shoulders do a lot of important things you might take for granted! They help you get something off a high shelf, comb your hair, or play a game of cricket.

It’s a complicated process that your body makes look easy. And your rotator cuff is a big part of that. It protects and stabilizes your shoulder joint and lets you move your arms over your head. It’s importance is widely used in sports like swimming, tennis and netball.

In New Zealand healthcare, shoulder injuries have one of the highest prevalence when it comes to ACC claims and overall cost. Within this, rotator cuff injuries are among the most common pathologies affecting New Zealanders. Other pathologies include acromioclavicular injuries, dislocations, osteoarthritis and frozen shoulder.

 

So, what exactly is the cuff and how does it influence the shoulder?

  • The rotator cuff (RC) is a combination of four muscles that run through and attach onto specific areas of the humeral head (top of the arm bone).

  • Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor and Subscapularis are the four muscles comprising the RC and each one plays an important role however they all contribute to shoulder stability:

Supraspinatus

Infraspinatus

Teres Minor

Subscapularis

A thin triangular muscle that helps perform abduction

A thicker, triangular muscle that performs external rotation.

The smallest muscle of the cuff, helps with rotation as well

The largest muscle of the cuff performs internal rotation (arm behind your back!)

 

 

Many people suffer from shoulder pain, so here are the most common injuries that can happen at the rotator cuff:

Rotator Cuff Tear:

A rotator cuff tear is often the result of high levels of load over a short amount of time or a high impact force stressing one or more of the tendons/muscles. Fortunately, majority of tears are partial. Tears are more common in people with jobs that involve heavy loading or lifting or in high impact sports like rugby. It also can happen suddenly if you fall on your arm or try to lift something heavy. Common and easily treatable with conservative management by a physiotherapist, a rotator cuff tear can come right.

Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy:

A rotator cuff tendinopathy is the most common shoulder pain complaint/injury resulting in inflammation and irritation of one or more of the cuff tendons. This pathology is more common in individuals who have an occupation where repetitive use of the shoulder, particularly in an overhead position such as carpenters or painters, or individuals that play highly repetitive, throwing sports like tennis, baseball or volleyball. Once again, this injury is treatable by a physiotherapist, conservative management can be very effective in treating these injuries with a thorough, well planned exercise program to help get patients back to doing what they love.

Majority of people experience pain around the shoulder joint, with some movements being highly provocative. Tenderness on touch at the affected site is also common – this helps your physiotherapist hone in on potentially which tendon is causing those problems!

 

Medical management vs Physio management

 

Medical management will be advised by your local GP if you decide to see them first. They might prescribe NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen) to help with the pain you’re experiencing and recommend you see a physiotherapist. Depending on your injury as well as your ability to function, surgery may be an option if conservative medical and physio treatments don’t help. Most people get by without the need of surgery but some tears can be too large to heal without the use of surgical intervention.

Physiotherapy management is designed around reducing pain and disability, restoring range of motion and helping people return to work or sports to perform how they were prior to the injury. In the early stages of these injuries, rest and ice and/or heat are recommended to allow the inflammation to settle – then your physiotherapist will begin to introduce a detailed exercise program, this may include:

  • Isometric (static hold) exercises
  • Resisted movements using bands
  • Range of motion exercises to restore lost movement
  • Functional loading – task specific or sport specific

If this is successful, the last step is to build back up the strength that was lost over time – this is done by concentrically (against gravity) loading the affected tendons/muscles in a way that they adapt and lay down more tissue, grow and becoming stronger in hopes that you get to return to what you enjoy!

 

 

Lifting Mechanics

IS IT DANGEROUS TO LIFT WITH A BENT BACK?

One common belief about lifting is that rounding your back when lifting an object is considered dangerous while lifting with a straight back is considered safe…

 

 

However, there is a lot of misinformation circulating around lifting mechanics and what is deemed “good technique” versus “bad technique.”

Here are some key myths and misinformation that you may have heard:

 

A ROUNDED BACK WHILE LIFTING OVER STRESSES THE BACK MUSCLES AND LIGAMENTS

  • Research has shown that regardless of lifting position, whether you’re stooped, squatting or weightlifting, your back has to produce the same amount of force. Statistically speaking, it’s not significantly different.

 

 

FLEXING THE SPINE WHILE LIFTING INCREASES THE LOAD ON THE LUMBAR DISCS

  • Under heavy loads, discs are unlikely to fail unless >95% flexion is achieved (which is near impossible)

  • With low loads, the disc is unlikely to fail unless you do thousands of repetitions continuously

  • Your body is an amazing adapter, this includes discs! Your discs can adapt and become more and more able to handle loads when stressed appropriately

 

THESE COMPOUND TO CAUSE INJURIES AND PAIN TO THE BACK MUSCLES AND DISCS

  • Resistance training has demonstrated through countless studies the ability to increase bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine. BMD is actually positively associated with the strength of the spinal discs and ligaments at that level. With appropriate loading and training, disc, ligament, bone and muscles are going to adapt favourably

 

A NEUTRAL SPINE IS SAFER, STRONGER, MORE EFFICIENT AND BETTER TO LIFT WITH

  • There is no significant difference between activities that encourage more spinal flexion and one’s that do not in the long term

  • Lifting with lumbar flexion is not a risk factor for low back pain

  • Research has shown lifting with a bent back is more metabolically and neuromuscularly efficient

  • When the spine is in extension during bent over activities, the hip is actually flexed to a greater degree – decreasing the ability for the glutes and hamstrings to create as much internal torque. Flexing the spine reduces this effect and reduces the moment arm for the hip extensors

 

STOP BACK PAIN & INJURIES BY LIFTING WITH A NEUTRAL SPINE

  • Your lumbar spine flexes every time your hip flexes! It is impossible to isolate one versus the other. It is also impossible to not flex while doing common movements

  • Extreme flexion however (>/=100%), may pose an increased risk under heavy loads, but not at light loads

 

You may still be wondering why you have back pain (stay tuned for our next blog!). Your pain may not be directly related to your lifting strategy.

 

 

Could you have pain with forward bending? Absolutely.

Is bending at the lumbar spine an increased risk for pain or injury? In the vast majority of situations, no.

If I have pain with forward bending, is it bad to temporarily limit doing so? Not at all.

Should I fear bending at the spine with or without pain or injury? No. Being fearful of flexing/moving your spine is actually a stronger predictor of disability and back pain.

 

Work on moving through your spine, after all it’s what it is designed to do! Choose comfortable movements and gain confidence over time, then build up your strength gradually with resistance training – try and not to push too fast, we want nice, healthy adaptation! Give your body time to adapt, back pain is not quick fix sometimes but you are resilient and with healthy, normal movements and some patience, you will be okay.