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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rotator cuff injury

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:

  • supraspinatus

  • infraspinatus

  • subscapularis

  • teres minor

Rotator Cuff Disorders: The Facts | OrthoBethesda

 

 

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:

  • sternoclavicular joint

  • arcomioclavicular joint

  • scapulothoracic joints

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).

Chronic injuries

  • 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
    Tearing sensation
    Immediate severe localised pain
    Reduced strength
    Symptomatic clicking
    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

  • Shoulder weakness

  • 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

Diagnosis

To diagnoses an injured rotator cuff, your physiotherapist will begin with a thorough subjective and physical examination of your shoulder.

  • Subjective assessment

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.

  • Physical assessment

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.

  • Radiology

In addition, your physiotherapist may refer you for imaging tests to diagnosis the cause of your symptoms:

  • Ultrasound: examines soft-tissue structures (muscles, tendons, bursa)

  • X-rays: examines bone health, calcification

  • MRI: provides detailed imaging of areas injured (referred by doctors, specialists or surgeons)

Treatment

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.

Physical therapy

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.

Steroid injection

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

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.

Exercises

Range of movement exercise

Pendulums

  1. Lean forward with one arm hanging freely. Use your unaffected arm to brace against a chair for support.

  2. 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.

  3. Slowly return to a standing position.

  4. Repeat 4-5 times a day

 

Shoulder pulley (Flexion)

  1. Put a chair against the door and sit so you are facing away from the door.

  2. Grasp the door pulley handles with both hands.

  3. 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.

  4. 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)

  1. Put a chair against the door and sit so you are facing away from the door.

  2. Using door pulleys slowly pull down with your unaffected arm so that your affected arm raises up and to the side without effort.

  3. 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.

Wand flexion

  1. Stand upright and hold a stick in both hands

  2. Cup the top end of stick with affected hand

  3. Using your unaffected arm hold the stick midway and drive the affected arm forward and up.

  4. Ensure your elbow is straight throughout

  5. Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.

  6. Repeat 10 times.

Wand Abduction

  1. Stand upright and hold a stick in both hands

  2. Cup the top end of stick with affected hand

  3. Using your unaffected arm hold the stick midway and drive the affected to the side as high as able.

  4. Ensure your elbow is straight throughout.

  5. Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.

  6. Repeat 10 times.

Strengthening exercises with band

Flexion

  1. Stand on one end of the band while holding the other end with your affected side.

  2. Whilst keeping your elbow straight, lift the band up to 90 degrees to shoulder level.

  3. Hold at the top for 1-2 seconds then lower slowly to starting position.

  4. Repeat 10-15 repetitions, rest 20-25 seconds, complete 3 sets.

Abduction

  1. Stand on the band while holding the band with affected hand.

  2. Keep your elbow straight, lift the band up to 90 degrees to shoulder level.

  3. Hold at the top for 1-2 seconds then lower slowly to starting position.

  4. Repeat 10-15 repetitions, rest 20-25 seconds, complete 3 sets.

External Rotation

  1. Attach the resistance band to a secure anchor at belly button height.

  2. Stand with unaffected arm perpendicular to the anchor.

  3. Place a towel between your elbow and your torso to stabilize your elbow

  4. Grab the band using your affected side and then slow pull the band away from your body by squeezing your shoulder blade in towards the middle of your back.

  5. Slowly return to starting position.

  6. Repeat 10-15 repetitions, rest 20-25 seconds, complete 3 sets.

Internal Rotation

  1. Attach the resistance band to a secure anchor at belly button height.

  2. Stand with affected arm perpendicular to the anchor.

  3. Place a towel between your elbow and your torso to stabilize your elbow

  4. Grab the band using your affected side and then slow pull in to your body

  5. Slowly return to starting position.

  6. Repeat 10-15 repetitions, rest 20-25 seconds, complete 3 sets.

Ankle injuries – Your first step to recovery

Common? Oh Yes!

The ankle is the most commonly injured joint in sport. This does not exclude other people such as active hikers, beach goers and even your average Sunday stroller. Good news though – your ankle injury is highly likely to be uncomplicated.

It is still vital that your ankle is examined, evaluated and treated early. This will ensure a swift return to activity and prevent further complications.

 

The road to recovery

Planning for Resiliency and the Road to Recovery

Your clinician will ask you some questions related to how you injured your ankle, pain, instability and any past episodes of injury. The earlier you get your ankle checked, the sooner your recovery will begin.

Keeping a mental note of things like initial pain, swelling, ability to walk and balance will go a long way in assisting your clinician to making an accurate diagnosis.

 

Investigations

Ankle x-rays

In most cases, initial X – rays are done to rule out broken bones.

Ultrasounds can be used to diagnose some ligament and tendon damage.

MRI is the best form of imaging but this does come at a higher cost and higher exposure to radiation. These are usually done after failed conservative treatment or in instances where pain remains high for longer periods.

A CT scan is helpful with complicated foot and ankle fractures. It will normally be ordered by a specialist surgeon who is planning for an operation.

 

What to look out for

Ankle sprains:

This is normally a twisting injury that causes a stretch or tear of ligaments surrounding the ankle. Your health care professional will provide you with all the information and tools you need for recovery.

These heal relatively quickly when the outside border of the foot is affected and a little slower when the inside border of the ankle is affected.

You will normally feel pain on certain ankle movements, stiffness in the ankle and experience some swelling and bruising.

Ankle - Wikipedia

 

Ankle Fractures:

These normally present with swelling, bruising and pain initially – although not always. In some cases, it is too painful to put weight on the ankle.

They are usually best confirmed with X – ray and specialist referral.

Management may be surgical or non-surgical depending on the severity and site of the fracture.

Fractures generally take longer to recover compared to sprains.

 

What treatment to expect

Foot and Ankle Doctor | EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region

Acute phase:

Your healthcare professional will normally initiate techniques to minimise your pain and swelling with rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Analgesia and anti – inflammatory medication may also be used.

Strapping may be used for stability at this stage and can be done by your physiotherapist.

You will also be encouraged to increase movement and begin strengthening.

 

Rehabilitation phase:

Balance and proprioceptive exercises will be given to you by your physiotherapist.

Strengthening will continue and running will start soon.

Once running in a linear motion pain free, you will progress to sport specific exercises.

Finally, you will return to sport or previous function such as trekking with a graded program.

Strapping may continue for up to 12 months after your injury in order to prevent re–injury.

 

What can you do on the day of the injury?

Rest by reducing time spent walking or standing. This will help the ankle to heal.

Ice the ankle for up to 20 minutes every couple of hours.

Compress the ankle with a firm bandage during the day and remove the bandage at night.

Elevate the leg.

Attempt circulatory exercises such as ankle circles and foot pumps (About 10 – 30 repetitions every couple of hours).

Contact your health professional or physiotherapist in order to make appointment for assessment.

If you are unable to stand on your leg or have excruciating pain in the ankle, head on to the local emergency department for immediate investigation.

 

Remember, your injury will heal and you will recover!

 

To find your nearest Physio Fusion clinic and book an appointment call 09 6266186 or visit our website https://physiofusion.co.nz

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

Exercises you can do during lockdown

I know how hard it can be when it comes to working out and its really easy to find an excuse to avoid lockdown workouts but it’s not just about staying in shape its also about keeping active to feel mentally strong. We know that exercise does wonders for mental health and at a time where its all uncertainty, anxiety, and a daily dose of doom and gloom, we all need to work out that frustration somewhere!

If you’re struggling with a lack of motivation or negative mindsets there’s only one way to turn it all around: Take :boom: ACTION :boom:

 

How much exercise is enough?

You’ve heard the saying something is always better than nothing and that’s the case when it comes to exercise. The current recommendation for adults according to Best Exercises for Health and Weight Loss.org is to aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week (or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity) with two sessions of strength building activities per week. That’s about 30 minutes of movement, five times per week.

This is a quick full body routine:

Bodyweight Squats

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core muscles and gently squat down. As you squat, bend from your hips. Keep your back straight as you push your hips back and counterbalance by leaning your torso forwards. Keep your knees aligned with your toes. Your weight should be evenly on your heels and the balls of your feet, not your toes. It might help to image your are trying to sit down in a chair that is too far away from you. Tense your bottom muscles at the bottom of the squat and keep them tense as you straighten back up to the start position.

Arm dips

Start in a seated position. Place your hands on the seat of the chair and use your arms to move yourself forwards towards the front of the chair. You will need to move your feet further forwards to help your stability. From this position, use the strength of your arms to slowly lower your body directly down towards the floor and then raise yourself back up. Do not actually sit on the floor and keep your hands close in beside you. Relax and repeat.

 

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.

 

Mountain Climbers

Adopt a plank position insuring your hands are directly beneath your shoulders.
Fully flex one hip and hold.
Extend the bent leg to the rear and repeat the movement pattern on the opposite side

 

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.

Disorders of the Achilles Tendon

Basic Anatomy

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).

Causes

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.
  • Excessive mobility
  • Poor feet positioning and biomechanics (excessive pronation and flattening of the arches of the foot)

 

Symptoms

Achilles tendon pain: Causes. when to see a doctor, and treatment

 

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
  • Bone spur
  • 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.

Diagnosis

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.

Achilles Tendonitis - Ankle - Conditions - Musculoskeletal - What We Treat  - Physio.co.ukHow to Treat Achilles Tendinopathy with Physical Therapy -  prohealthcareproducts.com

Treatment

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.

 

Exercises

 

 

Stay safe, Stay fit

Our daily routine has been forced to change during the lockdown and it has never been more important to focus on your physical and mental health. The current situation we’re facing is strange, stressful, emotionally exhausting and there is no surprise that the motivation to keep fit has been a bit of a struggle. It is in these disquieting times that exercise can provide much-needed solace.

Research shows that being physically active helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure and can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Physical activity also maintains mass and bone density, reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis (loss of bone density), Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass), and helps boost one’s immune system, as it flushes bacteria from the lungs and airways, increases white blood cell circulation and raises body temperature, all of which help the body fight infection.

How much Activity is Recommended?

Be active every day, in as many ways as possible. Aim for at least 2 ½ hours of moderate (or 1 ¼ hours of vigorous physical activity) spread throughout the week. The Ministry of Health outlines how much physical activity New Zealanders need to stay healthy https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/food-activity-and-sleep/physical-activity/how-much-activity-recommended.

Create a Routine

Whether you are looking to maintain an exercise regime or just stay motivated from one day to the next, as your own four walls start to make you feel a bit stir crazy, many people find that it helps to have a set routine. It portions the day into bite-size chunks and allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment as you tick off the day’s tasks.

Few of us are lucky enough to have an exercise bike/treadmill at home. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple exercises that you can do around the house or with household objects that will work instead. If you do not have your own weights at home there are some surprising substitutes you can utilize instead i.e bags of rice or flour, a tin of beans and bottled water can be used, if you need something heavier you can always fill a carrier bag with a few items inside.

1. Squats

Directions:

Lie on the floor and rest on your back. Ensure that your knees are bent, and your feet are touching the floor.

Put your hands behind your head and then lift both your chest and your legs slightly but leave a gap between them.

Go back to the starting position and repeat.

2. Crunches

Crunches are another important exercise for your abs to strengthen your body core.

Directions:

Widen your feet parallel to your shoulder and extend your arms in front of you.

Bend your knees and your hips slightly and then do the traditional squat position.

Push up using your heels and repeat.

3. Stationary Lunge

Directions:

Stand up straight and put your right leg forwards and your left leg backward. It should look like you’re preparing to run.

Place your hands on your hips. Bend your right leg, leaving a little gap between the floor and the knee.

Then, switch your legs and do the same.

These bodyweight exercises are a great way to start your day and get the blood pumping in your body.

 

Safety during exercise outside

If you’re working from home, getting outside for physical activity will do wonders for your physical and mental health. Regular walking, running or cycling is a great way to stay active and healthy during lockdown, but it is important to keep your distance and stay more than two metres away from others. Plan your route when you’re thinking of heading out for a cycle/jog. If possible try to think of roads, neighborhoods, and parks that will be quieter and less congested. Follow the latest advice about whether you will also need to wear a mask.

Take a Bit of You Time

Fill your own cup first…Being healthy is not just about maintaining an exercise regime and eating right, it is also about staying mentally healthy too. If you are in isolation with your family, it is easy to spend the day making sure they are happy and entertained, but don’t forget to take a bit of time for you. Do a quick meditation or yoga routine while the kids are watching TV or maybe just go into the garden and take a few deep breaths to relieve some stress!

During this time of uncertainty, something we can take control of is our health and well-being. So, whatever your situation, try to keep active, eat healthily, and stay hydrated.

Ngā mihi and stay safe