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)
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
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.
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)
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.
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.
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is categorised as an overuse disorder which affects the tendons in your wrist that you use to straighten your thumb. It is associated with swelling in the two tendons around the base of your thumb, which then causes the sheaths encompassing these tendons to become inflamed. This results in increased pressure on surrounding nerves as well, resulting in symptoms such as numbness, tenderness and pain. You are likely to have these symptoms when making a fist, gripping or grasping something, pinching, twisting your wrist, and/or laterally bending your thumb.
The key distinguishing symptom of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is tenderness and/or pain at the base of your thumb. You can experience pain referring up or down your forearm. You may notice the pain gradually develop or appear suddenly, and worsen when using your wrist, thumb and hand. Painful movements include making a fist, gripping or grasping something, twisting your wrist, pinching, and/or laterally bending your thumb.
Other key symptoms include:
Swelling at the base of your thumb
Experience numbness along the back of your index finger and thumb
‘Snapping’ or ‘catching’ sensation experienced when you move your thumb
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is typically associated with the chronic overuse of your thumb, hand and wrist. When undertaking movements like gripping, grasping, clenching, pinching, or wringing items in your hand, the two tendons in your lower thumb and wrist usually glide in a smooth manner via the small tunnel which attaches them to the base of your thumb. However, when you repeat a certain movement day in day out, it irritates the sheath around these two tendons, resulting in swelling and thickening which restrict their movements.
Factors which may increase your risk of developing this condition are:
Being in the age bracket of 30 to 50 years old
Found more commonly in women.
Baby care: Lifting, carrying and/or holding your child repetitively with using your thumbs as leverage.
Hobbies or occupations which involve repetitive wrist and hand movements
Your doctor or physiotherapist will discuss your medical and occupational history, and carry out a physical assessment of your wrist and hand.
The physical examination will include palpation for pain when pressure is applied to the thumb side of the wrist, as well as clinical test called the Finkelstein test. This test requires you to bend your thumb across the palm of your hand and bend your fingers down over your thumb. You will then bend your wrist towards your little finger. If this causes pain on the thumb side of your wrist, you are likely to have this condition.
Whilst X-rays are usually not needed for the diagnosis, however, you may be referred on for ultrasound imaging.
The aim of the management for this condition is to reduce pain caused by the irritation and inflammation of the tendons, preserve movement in the wrist and thumb, and prevent its reoccurrence. If treatment is commenced early, the symptoms should subside in 4-6 weeks. If your symptoms arise during pregnancy, they may settle around the end of the pregnancy or post the breast-feeding stage.
Splints may be utilised to immobilise and rest your wrist and thumb
Ice application to the affected area
Your doctor may recommend the use of anti-inflammatory medication to ease swelling and decrease pain
Avoiding pinching with your thumb when moving your wrist from side to side
Avoidance of aggravating repetitive movements and activities
Administration of corticosteroid injection into the tendon sheath can ease pain and decrease swelling if recommended by your GP
Physiotherapy: Your physiotherapist will examine how you use your wrist and provide suggestions on how to make technique modifications to relieve stress on your wrists. They will teach you strengthening exercises for your wrist, hand and arm to help decrease pain and limit tendon irritation
Surgery may be recommended by your specialist in more severe cases and if conservative management fails
Rotator cuff injuries are the most common source of shoulder problems. They can range from minor sprains causing impingement type symptoms, to massive tears resulting in severe loss of function and pain. They commonly occur as a result of acute injuries (sports, falls), chronic overuse (repetitive loading) or due to gradual aging.
Anatomy of shoulder
The shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) is the most mobile joint in the human body. It comprises of the humeral head (top portion of upper arm bone) which fits in the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade) to create a ball and socket configuration. This anatomical configuration results in limited bony contact between the humeral head and the glenoid fossa, which reduces the stability of the joint.
Several passive and active structures stabilize and maintain proper biomechanics of the shoulder joint.
Passive stabilizers include the ligaments, joint capsule, cartilage and the bony concavity of glenoid fossa. Thick cartilage known as labrum lines the glenoid fossa to further deepen the groove by about 50% which is advantageous in stabilizing the shoulder joint during the articulation.
Dynamic stabilizers of the glenohumeral joint is gained from the coordination of rotator cuff muscles that compress the passive structures providing stability and mobility as whole.
The rotator cuff muscles include:
Injury to any or all these four muscles, including the tendons that attach the muscles to bone can result movement dysfunction and severe pain.
Other important joints of the shoulder complex include:
Types of rotator cuff pathology
Tendinitis and Tendinosis
More often than not the term tendinitis and tendinosis are interchangeably used to describe a similar tendon pathology. However, the factor that differentiates the two is the time of injury (acute or chronic).
Tendinitis results from acute injury to the tendon which sets off an inflammatory process characterized by pain, swelling, and redness. On the other hand, tendinosis is a chronic pathology that does not involve an inflammatory process. It is characterized by degeneration of collagen fibers in response to persistent micro-trauma, vascular compromise and aging.
Acute rotator cuff tear
Acute tears result from sudden forceful lifting of the arm against resistance or in an attempt to cushion a fall (for example, heavy lifting or a fall on the shoulder).
Most commonly resulting from occupational or sports requiring excessive repetitive overhead activity.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury are due to the inflammation that accompanies the strain. Swelling that forms within the small space of the joint prevents the normal mechanics of the shoulder, resulting in the clinical picture of pain and decreased range of motion.
Acute rotator cuff tears
Immediate severe localised pain
Reduced and worsening pain with movements
Affects daily activities (personal care, lifting, reaching etc)
Chronic rotator cuff tears
Generalized deep dull ache, sharp onset of pain with movements
Global shoulder weakness
Reduced movements and daily activities (especially moving to the side, reaching behind back)
When to seek medical treatment
See your doctor or a physiotherapist if you experience any of the following symptoms in the shoulder:
Pain, especially pain that does not improve with rest
Swelling, redness or tenderness around the joint
Reduced shoulder movement
For more severe rotator cuff injuries, you may require immediate medical attention.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following symptoms:
Sudden, severe pain
Visible joint deformity
Inability to move or use your shoulder joint
Sudden swelling, discoloration
To diagnoses an injured rotator cuff, your physiotherapist will begin with a thorough subjective and physical examination of your shoulder.
Your physiotherapist will begin with a thorough subjective assessment inquiring about your signs and symptoms of an acute injury as well as any symptoms that may suggest a more long-term problem.
The physical examination often involves observation to look for muscle wasting, deformities, and/or changes in appearance of the injured shoulder to the unaffected side. Your physiotherapist will also palpate different areas of the shoulder complex to find the area of pain or tenderness. Further examination will involve assessment of movement and strength to establish injury to muscles or tendons.
In addition, your physiotherapist may refer you for imaging tests to diagnosis the cause of your symptoms:
MRI: provides detailed imaging of areas injured (referred by doctors, specialists or surgeons)
Early diagnosis and treatment of a rotator cuff tear may prevent symptoms such as loss of strength and loss of motion from setting in.
Initial treatment of rotator cuff tendinitis involves managing pain and swelling to promote healing. This can be done by:
avoiding activities that cause pain
applying cold packs to your shoulder three to four times per day
taking anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen
Rehabilitation plays a critical role in both the nonsurgical and surgical treatment of a rotator cuff tear.
When a tear occurs, there is frequently atrophy of the muscles around the arm and loss of motion of the shoulder. An individualized physiotherapy program is necessary to regain strength and improve function in the shoulder.
Physiotherapy will initially consist of passive exercises to help restore range of motion and ease pain.
Once the pain is under control, your physiotherapist will prescribe exercises to help regain strength in your arm and shoulder.
If you have persisting symptoms, your physiotherapist may recommend a steroid injection. This is injected into the tendon to reduce inflammation, which reduces pain.
Surgery is recommended if you have persistent pain or weakness in your shoulder that does not improve with nonsurgical treatment. In which case, your physiotherapist will refer you to surgeon for an opinion of surgical intervention.
Range of movement exercise
Lean forward with one arm hanging freely. Use your unaffected arm to brace against a chair for support.
With your affected side, gently swing the hanging arm from side to side, forward and back, and in a circular motion for 15-20 seconds each direction.
Slowly return to a standing position.
Repeat 4-5 times a day
Shoulder pulley (Flexion)
Put a chair against the door and sit so you are facing away from the door.
Grasp the door pulley handles with both hands.
Pull down on the pulley with your unaffected arm. This will lift your injured arm up over your head. Pull it as high as you can.
DO NOT FORCE THE MOVEMENT. Your affected arm should be relaxed. The unaffected arm does the work.
Hold for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat 10-15 times, 3 sets.
Three times a day.
Shoulder pulley (Abduction)
Put a chair against the door and sit so you are facing away from the door.
Using door pulleys slowly pull down with your unaffected arm so that your affected arm raises up and to the side without effort.
Your affected arm should be relaxed. The unaffected arm does the work.
Hold for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat 10-15 times, 3 sets.
Three times a day.
Stand upright and hold a stick in both hands
Cup the top end of stick with affected hand
Using your unaffected arm hold the stick midway and drive the affected arm forward and up.
Ensure your elbow is straight throughout
Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.
Repeat 10 times.
Stand upright and hold a stick in both hands
Cup the top end of stick with affected hand
Using your unaffected arm hold the stick midway and drive the affected to the side as high as able.
Ensure your elbow is straight throughout.
Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.
Repeat 10 times.
Strengthening exercises with band
Stand on one end of the band while holding the other end with your affected side.
Whilst keeping your elbow straight, lift the band up to 90 degrees to shoulder level.
Hold at the top for 1-2 seconds then lower slowly to starting position.
Here are definitions of common terms for body parts you may hear your doctor or physio use!
Ligaments are cordlike extensions that serve to connect ends of two bones to form a joint. They are made up of strong, durable, slightly elastic bandlike structures comprised of collagen fibres. The structural make up of ligaments is advantageous providing joint stability by limiting excessive movement.
Similar to ligaments, tendons contain densely packed bundles of tough collagen fibres that hold muscles together to the bone. They are located at the ends of every muscle in the human body. Bound together in tight sheaths they are made to withstand tension and transmit forces exerted by the muscle to the bone to cause movement.
Human body is made up of over 600 muscles categorised into three different types – cardiac, smooth and skeletal muscle.
Cardiac muscle – is only found in the walls of the heart. Its contractions help propel blood through the blood vessels to all part of the body.
Smooth muscle – is found mainly in the lining of internal organs (except the heart) including digestive and uninary tract organs, blood vessels. Smooth muscle works to transport substances through the organs by alternately contracting and relaxing.
Skeletal muscles – Skeletal muscles are the most abundant type of muscles that form the flesh of the body. They are attached to bones of the skeleton by tendons. They are responsible for voluntary movements of body. Facial expression, mobility, postural control and breathing are some of the movements we observe when skeletal muscles are subjected to voluntary control.
Skeletal system of the human body is made up of 206 bones. Bones are most involved in providing an architectural framework by providing body shape, support and protection of vital organs and for locomotion. Besides these functions, bone is a reservoir for mineral and fats as a source of stored energy and formation of blood cells. Bones are classified by their shape as long, short, flat and irregular. They are connected by ligaments to form joints.
There are three different types of cartilage found in the human body – hyaline, elastic and fibrocartilage. Hyaline cartilage is the most common cartilage in the human body. It covers the ends of most bones at movable joints, connects ribs to the breastbone, forms the voice-box and nasal passages. It consists of high water content that provides resilience to withstand great compressive forces found predominantly in joints.
In the foot, pronation should occur naturally when the foot comes into contact with the ground. Pronation will appear as the foot rolling inward and the arch flattening.
What are the benefits?
Dissipates the force that the foot receives from the ground
Allows the foot to become a stable and mobile adaptor to enhance movement opportunity
Loads the muscles of the extensor chain (calf, quads, glutes) to convert ground reaction forces into forward momentum so we can propel efficiently.
So why have I been told this is bad?
So as you are now aware, pronation is very normal and a critical movement to ensure we move and propel ourselves forward efficiently.
What you may have heard someone say to you is that you ‘overpronate’?
Firstly, overpronation is subjective and not as black and white as it is sometimes made out to be. Overpronation has be defined as: ‘a foot that rolls inward toward the arch excessively’.
What we must understand is that a pronation can only happen when the foot has a stable tripod on the ground. This means that the calcaneus (heel bone), 1st metatarsal (big toe knuckle), 5th metatarsal (little toe knuckle) must all remain in contact when the foot rolls inwards and the arch flattens.
So, If you have been told you are ‘overpronated’ , it is most likely that your whole foot is ‘everting’ NOT ‘overpronating’.
What is Eversion?
Eversion can be defined as: ‘the process of turning inside-out’.
In pronation your heel must naturally ‘evert’ (sole of the heel will move away from the midline of the body) NOT your whole foot.
If your ‘whole foot’ everts (turns out) you will no longer have a stable foot tripod as the 5th metatarsal (little toe) will lose contact with the ground.
The key to ensuring this does not happen is to provide an environment for the bones of the midfoot (middle of the foot) and forefoot (toes) to experience the opposite motion to that of the heel. This will mean that the foot has an opportunity to truly pronate with a tripod on the ground.
So how can you help me do that?
At Physio fusion we can help you to bring your own body into alignment and create an environment in which the healing can begin
Foot strengthening exercises
Referral to other healthcare specialists for further assistance (e.g. podiatrists)
Low back pain is a common health problem which affects up to 80% of the population at some stage in their life.
In New Zealand ACC spends in excess of $130 million a year treating back pain related injuries.
Most back pain occurs between the ages of 25 and 60, and most typically in the 40s.
In an era of smart devices, posture has never been more important or harder to achieve. As technology continues to grow, sitting at a desk on a computer or on our phones is becoming more prevalent at work. Having a sedentary desk job can result in sitting for around 8 hours a day. This position actually increases the load on your spine more than standing. Spinal pressure “sits” around 140mm pressure. This pressure usually does not hurt the back right away however, builds up over time and can even change the structure structure of your spine. So, if you slouch then spinal pressure increases to 190mm; add some weight and you’ve put 275 pounds of pressure on your spine.
A compromised spine constricts your blood vessels and nerves, causing problems with your muscles, discs, and joints. And all of these problems can lead to headaches, fatigue, and even breathing problems. Your back is a delicate machine. When one part falls out of alignment, it can affect everything setting off a domino effect and wreak havoc throughout your back and body.
Below is a graph showing different postures and the pressure it exerts on the spine;
But, remember: While you may feel comfortable and supported in your chair and find a perfect sitting posture, staying in the same position for long periods is not healthy for your spine. Varying your postures by occasionally standing and moving around for at least a few minutes each half hour will help keep your spinal joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments loose and pain free.
Stand Up for Your Spine
If you don’t have a sit-stand desk, you can still combat “sitting disease” and protect your spine. Consider these tips:
Do some work standing at a high table or counter.
Use a lumbar roll behind your back when sitting to improve seated posture
Set a timer on your computer for a stand-and-stretch break every 30 minutes.
Exercise to assist in improving body weight to lessen additional load on the spine
Strengthen the core to provide additional support
The focus is simple: Reduce your sitting throughout the day. But, remember that varying postures is best for your back and neck, so do not go the opposite extreme and never sit. Alternating sitting, standing and movement throughout your day is the best way you can keep your spine safe and body healthy—at work and beyond
Still having back pain?
Schedule an initial assessment with one of our Physiotherapists so they can determine the root of the problem. During this assessment your physiotherapist will be able to decide whether your pain is a source of nerve root irritation, discogenic, postural related, or musculoskeletal. After arriving with the consensus of the problem, we will be able to use many techniques to relieve the back pain. These include: manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and postural recommendations.
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
MOVEMENT IS KEY
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
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.
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human-body. It is a band of tissue that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone (calcaneus). This tendon primarily facilitates general mobility such as walking, running, climbing stairs, jumping, and standing on your tip toes, by helping to raise the heel off the ground.
Common Achilles Pathology
Achilles tendinitis and tendinosis are two common disorders and are typically classified as overuse injuries.
Achilles tendonitis involves inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or disease, and often causes swelling, pain, or irritation. This inflammation is typically short-lived. Over time, if this is left resolved, the condition may progress to degeneration of the tendon- Achilles tendinosis, in which case, the tendon loses its organized structure and is likely to develop microscopic tears.
There are two types of Achilles tendonitis and it is based on which part of the tendon is inflamed:
Insertional Achilles tendonitis affects the lower portion of your tendon where it attaches to your heel bone.
Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis involves fibres in the middle portion of the tendon and tends to affect younger people who are active.
In both non-insertional and insertional Achilles tendinitis, damaged tendon fibres may also calcify (harden) and often bone spurs (extra bone growth) develop with insertional Achilles tendinitis. Achilles tendonitis may also increase your risk of sustaining an Achilles tendon rupture (tear).
Typically referred to as “overuse” conditions, Achilles tendonitis and tendinosis are often caused by the sudden increase in repetitive activity involving the Achilles tendon. This can put too much stress on the tendon too quickly, that can then lead to micro-injury of the tendon fibres. Because of this ongoing stress on the Achilles, the body is not able to repair the injured tissue. The structure of this tendon is then modified, resulting in continued pain and other symptoms. The Achilles tendon also has poor blood supply that makes it more susceptible to injury and may make recovery from injury slow.
Common factors that may lead to the development of disorders of the Achilles tendon include:
Weak and/or tight calf muscles
Rapidly increasing the amount or intensity of exercise within a short span of time
Hill climbing or stair climbing exercises
Presence of bony spurs in the back of your heel
Changes in footwear – especially changing from wearing high-heeled shoes to flat shoes
Wearing poor fitting, inappropriate, or worn out shoes during sporting activities
Exercising without adequate warm-ups and stretching
A sudden sharp movement which causes the calf muscles to contract and the stress on the Achilles tendon to be increased. This can cause the tendon fibres to tear.
Poor feet positioning and biomechanics (excessive pronation and flattening of the arches of the foot)
Common symptoms include:
Pain and stiffness along the Achilles tendon especially first thing in the morning
Pain along the tendon or back of the heel that worsens with activity
Severe pain the day after exercising
Visible thickening of the tendon
Tenderness to touch
Swelling that is present all the time and gets worse throughout the day with activity
If you have experienced a sudden “pop” in the back of your calf or heel, you may have torn your Achilles tendon. Please seek urgent medical attention if you think you may have torn your tendon.
If Achilles tendonitis or tendinosis is suspected, please deter from any activity or exercise which causes the pain. It is advisable to see your doctor or physiotherapist as soon as possible so that an accurate diagnosis may be made and appropriate treatment recommended.
You will be asked about the nature and duration of your symptoms and the medical professional assessing you will have a look at your foot and ankle. Ultrasound scanning may be used to evaluate the damage to the tendon and/or surrounding structures.
An MRI may be recommended if symptoms persist. X-rays may also be taken to rule out other disorders which may cause symptoms like Achilles tendonitis and tendinosis.
Treatment will depend on the nature, severity, and length of the injury. Generally speaking, the longer the symptoms are present before treatment commences, the longer the timeframe until full recovery is attained. Full recovery may take between three and nine months.
Initial treatment options in the early stages may include:
Rest – to avoid further injury to the area
Ice – to reduce inflammation
Elevation – to reduce swelling
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and inflammation.
How physiotherapy can help:
Physiotherapy typically focuses on two main areas: treatment and rehabilitation. Treatment may entail massage, shockwave therapy, acupuncture, gait re-education, and gentle stretching, whereas, rehabilitation predominantly entails strengthening of the Achilles and surrounding musculature.
Strengthening of the muscles surrounding the Achilles tendon facilitates healing in the tendon itself. Strengthening is attained through the utilization of specific exercises, that will be taught by your physiotherapist. It is common for the rehabilitation programme to take up to three months.