POSTURAL EXERCISES WHILST WORKING FROM HOME

Working from home is something many of us are currently experiencing and may also continue in the future.

At first, working from home seems like a luxury… No traffic, no distractions from colleagues and you can turn up to work in our tracksuit pants! That all seems great, until you realise your chair isn’t quite as comfortable as the one at your workplace, your desk is at the incorrect height and your laptop doesn’t sit as high as your monitor. This might not be a problem for a short period, however, the longer you withstand a poor ergonomic desk set up may lead to problems.

Some Problems That Can Arise With Poor Posture:

  • Headaches
  • Tightness in your neck and shoulders
  • Upper and lower back pain
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Poor digestion
  • Rib problems

I expect some of you may have experienced one or more of these, so here are just a few great postural
exercises to try at home which may help to relieve neck, shoulder and back discomfort.

All of these videos are around 1 min each and are demonstrated by our very own Osteopaths at Pakenham Osteopathy – so you can trust that these exercises will be doing you good!  There are a variety of other exercises on our YouTube Channel so feel free to have a look.  And you can also subscribe so you are kept in the loop with some of the latest stretches and exercises to keep your body moving well.

Short Videos to Help Your Posture:

1. Spinal mobility exercises
2. Upper back mobility exercises
3. Foam roller postural stretch
4. Neck stretches
5. Pull aparts
6. Seated rows using a theraband

Osteopathy BerwickI hope these exercises help, but if your symptoms persist our team of osteopaths are always willing
to help and give some advice specific to your condition.

I also recommend taking a look at Osteopath, Tom’s previous blog on tips whilst working from home. Click here to read more.

Tips For Runners to Remain Injury Free

The weather is warming up, we have said goodbye to the swooping magpie season and 2020 is quickly approaching which all often involve us getting outdoors and increasing exercise. For some, this may mean setting goals to take up running, or striving to improve a current running program.

We see quite a number of runners at Pakenham Osteopathy, from the marathon runner to the weekend warrior. Unfortunately for some, they commonly stumble upon our clinic to seek advice regarding foot, ankle, knee, hip and lower back complaints. 

We understand injuries that cause a set back in your running can be a frustrating time. Here are some tips below which might help to prevent you walking through our doors! 

 

For the beginners 

 

A sudden increase in exercise can lead to musculoskeletal injuries, so it is important to gradually progress your distance and intensity. In the beginning, you may walk more than you run in one session, and this is absolutely okay. A good app for those who are new to running is Couch to 5km. This gives individuals a training schedule to slowly achieve running 5km over a 9 week plan

 

Incorporate strength training into your program

Some runners believe they only need to undertake cardio training to be good at running. However, strengthening workouts can improve your race time by increasing power & decrease injury risk by strengthening muscles.

 

 

Alter terrain

Training in different environments is stimulating and keeps us motivated, however it can also be beneficial when managing an injury. If you are experiencing calf of achilles pain, it may be best to avoid hill climbs as this puts more strain through the calf. Additionally, running on grass transmits less force through our joints, which can be helpful particularly in those suffering knee and shin pain.

 

 

Running shoes

It can be a really confusing process when shopping for the right type of footwear. The most important thing about a shoe is that it is comfortable, is the right size, and provides you with the support you require. 

 

Some runners may need shoes that provide more support and prevent the foot rolling in, whereas others cope well with a neutral style. We often refer our clients to Active Feet who can recommend a suitable shoe for you. Alternatively, our local podiatrists at Walk On Podiatry  are also very knowledgeable in this area.  

If you are unsure when you need to replace your shoes, look for the tread wearing out, or cracks appearing on the soles. 

 

Prepare & repair!

 

Always engage in a dynamic warm up prior to your run, and sufficient stretching to cool down. 

Don’t forget to schedule in recovery days, as it is important for our body to rest and repair our tissues! 

 

Stride length

 

A common running pattern is to strike the ground first with the heel, however this can potentially lead to issues due to increased loads transmitted through the lower extremity. Heel striking often coincides with a longer stride length. Therefore, it may be beneficial to reduce stride length & strike the ground predominantly through the mid foot for better shock absorption. 

Running cadence refers to the number of steps you take per minute, and is a good way to manage your stride length. A person’s stride length does differ depending on height and weight, however many every day runners often fall between 160-170 steps per minute, and elite runners approximately 180. Start by counting how many steps you take per minute, and if you would like to alter your cadence, download the app “MetroTimer” which allows you to set a specific cadence and run to the beat. 

 

Find a running buddy

 

Having someone else to run with helps to keep you accountable, push you a little further, and is a great opportunity to socialise! There are also lots of running groups around like Parkrun and the Pakenham Road Runners

At Pakenham Osteopathy, we are always here to help if you find yourself injured.  We may help with low back pain, hip pain, knee pain, foot pain or any other aches and pains that might arise.  Good luck and keep active!

National Stroke Week 2nd – 8th September 2019

National Stroke Week runs from the 2nd-8th of September, so what a great opportunity to help raise awareness and educate our readers on this condition. It may just help save a life!

Unfortunately, many of us know all too well how this awful condition can affect an individual and their family. Stroke is a leading cause of fatality in Australia and accounts for a large percentage of disability (1). It is also a lot more common than you may think, in fact:

One Australian has a stroke every 9 minutes (1).

A stroke involves a disruption of blood & oxygen to the brain, which can cause brain cells to die. The two most common types of stroke involve: 

  1. Presence of a blood clot in a vessel leading to the brain
  2. Ruptured blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain

Symptoms

  • Weakness, numbness or pins & needles in face, arms and/or legs
  • Dizziness & loss of balance
  • Nausea & vomiting 
  • Trouble seeing / loss of vision
  • Altered speech
  • Confusion or difficulty understanding
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Sudden, severe headache this is unusual to your usual headache symptoms
  • Neck pain with a combination of the above symptoms (Most often than not, neck pain is unrelated to serious medical events)

How to recognise & potentially save a life!

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, this is ALWAYS a medical emergency. You are not wasting ANYONE’S time if it is a false alarm! 

Below is a good reference to be aware of. When it comes to strokes, the faster a person can receive treatment increases chances of a positive outcome. 

(Image source: https://strokefoundation.org.au

Whilst there are some risk factors of stroke that are out of our control (age, gender, family history or previous history of stroke), 80% of strokes can be prevented (1).

The following actions can be put in place to reduce your risk of stroke

  • Avoid smoking or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Engage in regular physical activity
  • Avoid foods that are high in salt and saturated or trans fats
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Regular check ups with your doctor to manage your cholesterol, blood pressure & blood glucose levels. 

Sources

  1. https://strokefoundation.org.au/About-Stroke/Facts-and-figures-about-stroke 

Sitting is Dangerous to Your Health!

Sitting places 40% more pressure on your spine than standing. This can increase to a whopping 90% more pressure if you’re also slouching when you sit!!

 

By now, some of you will have noticed the latest additions to our treatment rooms.  We’ve decided to practice what we preach! All six treatment rooms and our reception, are fitted with sit/stand desks.

With technology evolving and making our lives significantly easier, it is coming at a cost to our health! Many adults will spend over 8 hours per day sitting at their desk, not to mention the extra hours spent sitting commuting to and from work, watching television and eating breakfast, lunch or dinner.

It is well known that this type of sedentary lifestyle can contribute to health implications and chronic illness, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity or
  • Cancer 

Our bodies are designed to move for survival, so when we are sitting at our desks for long periods, this can lead to various problems including:

  • Lower back pain: 1 in 6 Australians have suffered from lower back pain in their lifetime
  • Neck & shoulder muscular strain
  • Spinal stiffness
  • Headaches

So, what are the benefits of standing? Research suggests standing may help with:

  • Increased circulation
  • Improving muscular strength
  • Helps burn fat
  • Stimulate brain productivity, mood and energy
  • Prevent ill health and disease

 

The maximum amount of sitting per day should be limited to 4-6 hours.

If you find yourself sitting far longer than this, now is the time to assess different ways you can implement standing into your day. Here are a few tips from us:

  • USE your sit/stand desk, changing position every 20-40 minutes (many people already have a sit/stand desk, but fail to take advantage of it!)
  • Stand or walk during work meetings
  • Take a walk or go to the gym on your lunch break, instead of cutting into you family time after work
  • Set alarms on your phone to remind you to move
  • Stand up to take calls
  • Move your stationery, bin or printer further from your desk to encourage you to get up to access these items

 

So what are you waiting for?  If you don’t have a sit/stand desk already, ask your employer if this is an option to improve your health and wellbeing. Alternatively, if you already have a sit/stand desk at work, track how many hours per day you’re currently sitting and create a challenge for yourself this week to reduce that!

Joint Cracking – What Is It & Will It Cause Arthritis?

It is a noise some people find so satisfying, yet it can make others cringe. It’s the noise that all too often makes your parents or grandparents say “don’t do that, it will give you arthritis!”.

Joint cracking is also known as joint manipulation. When appropriate, the technique is often used by manual therapists (like us Osteopaths!) to improve joint mobility, relax surrounding muscles and reduce pain.  Osteopaths are trained to perform this technique using as little joint range as possible, and being really precise so that patients feel more comfortable.  We actually refer to this technique as “HVLA” – high velocity, low amplitude.  What that means is we perform the technique quickly and with as little movement of the joint as possible.

 

So what really happens when we crack our joints? And what actually makes that popping noise?

A common misconception is that the technique puts a joint “back into place”. This is not the case!

Within our joints we have fluid which lubricates the bony surfaces on either side of the joint, and this fluid contains different gases. When we stretch or thrust the joint to a certain position, the pressure in the joint is reduced, and this results in bubbles of gas “popping”.  This is the “popping” or “cracking” sound we hear. Over the following 20 minutes or so, the gas is once again re-absorbed into the fluid.

Sometimes the clicking sounds in joints are not always due to this mechanism. Muscles commonly attach near our joints via tendons. Occasionally these tendons can move over a bony region, and then “flick” back causing a “snapping” type of sound.   

 

Will cracking my joints really give me arthritis?

No, luckily this is an old wives tale! Previous studies have been carried out comparing imaging (X-rays and MRIs) from 2 distinct groups of people.  One group repetitively cracked their knuckles, the other did not. Researchers found that there was no correlation to the incidence of arthritis with either group.  The study concluded that repetitive cracking was not shown to be a causative factor of arthritic change (1).

 

Why Do Osteopaths Use This Technique?

Osteopaths may use joint manipulation in combination with other techniques like soft tissue massage, stretching and mobilisation, to help encourage movement in stiff or restricted joints.  It may also reduce pain felt in that joint.

The American Medical Association published a review in April 2017 endorsing spinal manipulation as best practice for acute low back pain (2).  Manipulation was shown to be associated with significant benefits in pain and function for up to 6 weeks.

At Pakenham Osteopathy, we always take an extensive history from you to screen for any risk factors that may make this technique inappropriate.  More importantly, we always ask if you are comfortable being manipulated. It’s perfectly fine to say no, it just means we use other tools in our tool box!

If you have any questions regarding this article, please feel free to email me at rebecca@pakenhamosteopathy.com.au or check out our website here for more information about our services

 

References:

1 J Am Board Fam Med. 2011 Mar-Apr;24(2):169-74. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2011.02.100156. “Knuckle cracking and hand osteoarthritis.” Deweber K1, Olszewski M, Ortolano R. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21383216

JAMA. 2017;317(14):1451-1460. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3086. “Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back PainSystematic Review and Meta-analysis.” Neil M. Paige, MD, MSHS1Isomi M. Miake-Lye, BA1,2Marika Suttorp Booth, MS3; et al. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2616395

 

Do you suffer heel pain? This article may help you….

 

  • Do you have heel pain?
  • Do you get sharp pain upon the first few steps you take in the morning after getting out of bed?
  • Do you notice your pain is worse upon walking after periods of rest or sitting at your desk?

If you answered yes to any of these questions you may be experiencing plantar fasciitis. This is the one of the most common foot complaints we are currently seeing at our clinic!

What is it?

The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue on the sole of the foot that spans from the heel to the toes. It’s role is to support the arch of the foot, and is important in the mechanics of walking. Pain develops when the plantar fascia becomes irritated and inflamed, and may also show weakness and thickening in medical imaging.

Why did I get it?

This condition is most commonly seen in those who are runners, have poor foot mechanics (eg, ’flat’ feet), poor choice of footwear or an occupation that involves prolonged standing. All of these factors place increased stress and loading through the plantar fascia. Middle aged and pregnant women are also frequently effected due to hormonal changes which can alter our tissues.      

What can I do about it?

If you think you may have plantar fasciitis, here is a few quick tips to try at home!

  • Roll a frozen water bottle under the sole of the foot
  • Foam rolling through your calf, hamstring and gluteal muscles
  • Temporarily de-load your current running regime
  • Change footwear, and regularly replace your runners

Who can help me if it’s still sore?

We understand plantar fasciitis can be a real nuisance. I, myself have suffered this condition so I understand your pain (literally!) all too well! If what you’re currently trying at home isn’t helping, please speak to one of our osteopaths at Pakenham Osteopathy.   We can give you advice on your footwear and running regimes. We can also provide you with strengthening and loading exercises to speed up healing, taping techniques to offload the plantar fascia, and all of our practitioners are trained to use radial shockwave therapy – a therapy that involves a state of the art piece of equipment shockwave machine. 

Shockwave is used to treat Olympic athletes and AFL players.  It involves the transmission of sound waves pulsing through a hand held applicator on to the affected tissue.  To learn more about shockwave, please click here.

Should you have any questions about plantar fasciitis, please feel free to email me at rebecca@pakenhamosteopathy.com.au or call the clinic on 5941-4157

Part 1 – A Pain in the Bum, literally!!!

We see it time and time again in the clinic…. Female patient aged around 50 (give or take 10-15 years!) who’s getting aching, sore hips to the point where lying in bed on her side is painful.  If that sound like you or someone you know, please read on!

This is a really common complaint that we see in the clinic.  The official name given to this injury is pretty fancy, “gluteal tendinopathy”, but in reality it is just inflammation of the big tendon that sweeps across our bottoms and on to the side of the hip.

 

How It Presents

Gluteal tendinopathy typically affects females between 45-65 years.  It can come on after an event (eg. prolonged lying in bed due to illness) but more commonly it’s the result of tiny tears that happen to the tendon over many years.

 

It can be aggravated by walking, stair climbing, prolonged sitting, running and lying on the affected side (or sometimes even other side too!). Although the classic symptom is lateral (outer) hip pain, it may radiate to the groin, or, in approximately one third of patients, pain will radiate down the outside of the thigh or further towards to the ankle.

 

Causes of Gluteal Tendinopathy

Gluteal Tendinopathy is due to the wear and tear or degeneration of the tendons around the hip, most commonly the Gluteus Medius muscle, which inserts onto the bone on the side of the hip (hence pain in this region).

 

So how do I fix it?

Firstly, you need to know whether you have gluteal tendinopathy in the first place – that’s where we come in.  Osteopaths are trained to accurately diagnose this condition through clinical findings and examination. If it is indeed gluteal tendinopathy, then we work to settle the inflammation down so that your hip is a little less “angry”, then we move to strengthen the muscles of the hip to stop it from recurring.  

 

Research suggests the best way to resolve the problem is with targeted glute strengthening exercises that load the tendon to improve its ability to withstand repetitive stressors – we can show you what to do!  We will also give you heaps of advice to decrease your symptoms such as avoiding aggravating activities, icing the hip and sleeping on the unaffected side with a pillow between the knees.

 

Be aware!

 

Hip pain can also be referred from other sources like our organs and lower back, so it is best to seek an opinion from one of our Osteopaths to determine where your hip pain is coming from and why it is occuring.

 

Hopefully that helps give some insight into this condition.  Please share with friends or family or anyone you believe may benefit from this blog.  In Part 2 of this blog, we’ll give you a video of the most commonly prescribed exercise to help recover from this painful condition.

 

Thanks for reading!

5 Common Misconceptions About Low Back Pain

Approximately 90% of Australians will experience low back pain in their lifetime.  With the numbers so high it’s no wonder it gets so much attention. However often people don’t manage it well due to the sheer volume of information – and not all of it is correct!  There are a lot of unhelpful myths about what low back pain actually is and what we should do about it. This blog aims to debunk some of the common misconceptions about low back pain.

 

Myth 1: “I’m in heaps of pain so I must have really damaged my spine!”

As a general rule, there is little correlation between the intensity of back pain an individual is experiencing and the degree of tissue injury. Each individual’s experience of pain is unique and we all have different pain thresholds. Patients may report significant pain levels with minimal tissue damage, or alternatively feel very little discomfort with a severe injury. Often, patients experiencing very intense pain will have a significant decrease in their pain levels once their body understands it is no longer under threat.

 

Myth 2: “I should rest completely to let my back heal”

Whilst it may feel better to rest and do nothing, this can be one of the least beneficial things to do when experiencing back pain. In fact, prolonged sitting or immobility may worsen symptoms.

During acute back pain, it is best for you to keep mobile within pain free limits. This could include walking around the house every 20 minutes or simply changing positions frequently while you’re resting.

Recent studies are also showing exercise is an effective therapy for reducing chronic lower back pain and improving function.

Motion is lotion! It may help to improve healing, increase blood flow, lubricate joints and reduce muscular weakness associated with immobility.

 

Myth 3: “I need to get an Xray or scan to diagnose what is wrong”

Osteopath’s can typically develop a diagnosis based on the patient’s presentation so imaging is not always necessary. Imaging can be indicated when there is no improvement with treatment, to clarify the degree of injury or to rule out underlying conditions if suspected.

Commonly when patients undergo imaging, it reports very little significant findings relative to the patient’s back pain. Alternatively, some patients can experience no lower back pain but have incidental findings on imaging, for example, disc bulges.

 

Myth 4: “I should apply a heat pack to my back when it is painful”

For acute injuries, it is best to apply ice to the area of discomfort. As a general rule, do this for 10-20 minutes, 4 times per day within the first 24-48 hrs of injury. This acts as an anti-inflammatory measure, therefore may reduce pain and improve recovery.

Heat is generally more effective for chronic conditions that haven’t involved a specific injury, particularly muscular tightness. This helps increase the blood flow and nutrients to the area which may promote healing and reduce tightness.

 

Myth 5: “I have ‘put my back out’ and ‘need to see someone to put my back in’”

This is a very common myth! When our joints go “out” this refers to a dislocation which would indicate a medical emergency. More accurately, what is actually happening in an episode of back pain, is that a spinal joint become immobile.  There are various causes for this including muscular strain or spasm, joint sprain or inflammation of the underlying tissues just to name a few.

Osteopaths work to release muscle tightness and improve joint mobility to relieve pain.

 

Hopefully this blog has shed light on some of the common misconceptions surrounding back pain.  Should you be experiencing back pain or if you have any questions regarding this article, please email us on osteo@pakenhamosteopathy.com.au .  We’d love to hear your feedback!

Thanks for reading!

Rebecca Kurrle (Osteopath)

 

Dreisinger, T. E. (2014). Exercise in the Management of Chronic Back Pain. The Ochsner Journal, 14(1), 101–107. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3963038/