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There’s Pain So There Must Be Damage – Probably Not

Do you know someone who has this lingering pain that doesn’t seem to go away? This mostly happens with lower back pain. Their doctors have done scans and examinations and found nothing physically wrong with their condition yet they continue to claim they are in pain. Does that mean they are faking it? Make no mistake, if someone says that they are in pain, they are likely serious about it. However, the structures around the back itself may not be the cause of pain anymore.

Previously, we’ve discussed how stress can influence the amount of pain which an individual can feel. Fear of movement can also cause stress which influences how one feels about the pain.

Using low back pain as an example, it can arise if you’ve placed it under heavy load and unfortunately pulled something, ie. during gardening, new movement at the gym or twisting movement during work. In a normal physiological response to pain, there is generally an extremely painful pain that limits movement followed by a period where there is not so much pain with minimal limited movement movement.

Both these periods has some degree of pain; initially there is a lot of pain followed by less further down the tract. Generally speaking, the likelihood of the structures in the back still damaged is relatively low further down the track. This raises the question of why is there pain?

As mentioned in our previous blog, the brain is the organ which registers the pain. The brain can actually increase sensitivity to pain base on our perception of the injury. In other words, if you have really high fear of your lower back pain getting worse, your brain will increase the sensitivity around your back so it hurts even with little movement in your back to help avoid the movement. In addition, avoiding the movement also reinforce the brain to think there is damage to the area, which can also cause increase pain sensitivity.

With that said, breaking out of this pain cycle can be very difficult. There needs to be methods to desensitize the body and brain to the movement and allow for normal movement. If you are having this annoying lingering pain, it’s a good idea to see a physiotherapist to get it sorted sooner rather than later.

Never give in to living with pain, especially if it’s interfering with what you love. At Capital Physiotherapy, we have movement specialists who have experience with chronic pain. If this niggling pain has been with you for a while, please give us a call at 0401 865 333 or book in an appointment online at https://www.capitalphysiotherapy.com.au/online-booking/. We have clinics conveniently located in South Yarra, Footscay and Balwyn.

Neck Tension Related Headaches

Nowadays, headaches are relatively common. What you should know is that there are over 100 types of headaches that have been classified today. Within this gigantic list of headaches is one that is associated with joint and muscle tension of the neck. Although this type of headache is not as common as other types, this one is treatable with conservative management rather without the need for drug usage.

Headaches associated with neck muscles and joints are referred to as cervicogenic headaches. Pain in the neck from either joints or muscles can have a referral pattern towards the head, which can go as far as the front of the head. One theory behind this phenomenon is the muscle and joints of the neck are innervated by the same sensory nerve of the head. So when there is a pain in the neck, it confuses the brain to think that there is something going on with the head as well.

This type of headache is often associated with whiplash injuries. Whiplash injuries are damage to the neck from a violent jerk of the head, like in a car accident. In response to this injury, you’re neck muscles tense up as a protective mechanism. This tension restricts neck movement, which stiffness the joints of your neck. Even after the damage has resolved, muscle tension and joint stiffness remains and can become the new source of pain. When the muscles and joints become stiff, there can be radiating pain from the neck to the head which manifests as a headache.

Another common way for neck muscles and joints to become stiff and tight is from sitting posture. This is common among people who work long hours at a desk. Sustained poor posture for a long period of time can overload the neck joints and cause neck muscles tighten up, leading to cervicogenic headaches. Do check out our previous blog on desk sitting posture and stretches for some more advice to help alleviate these symptoms.

If headaches are a common occurrence for you, it’s best not to leave it for long; speak to your clinician to identify which type of headache you have and how to reduce the severity of the symptoms.

At capital physiotherapy, our physiotherapist have helped manage clients with headaches arising from different sources including cervicogenic ones. If you are having headaches, book in with one of our physios and get started on your treatment today. Contact us at 0401 865 333 or through our website online booking to book in with one of our friendly physiotherapist to build an individualized program best suited for you. 

Physios Perspective on Back Braces

Back braces are becoming more and more popular. Some people use a back brace because they have sustained a back injury. Others may use the thing to improve their posture. Have you wondered which is the correct way to use this device? Better yet, what are the consequences of using a back brace?

We discussed the pros and cons of braces in one of our previous blogs: (https://www.capitalphysiotherapy.com.au/sports-physiotherapy-pros-cons-bracing-taping/)

Generally, a brace is used protect your body from injury or prevent further injury. Therefore, if you’ve sustained a back injury, a brace can potential reduce the amount of strain some activities may cause you. This would allow the injury heal. An example of this would be using a back brace after sustaining a back injury to go back to playing footy. You would still need to be mindful of some movements that you do, but the brace just might be enough to bring you back into the game.

Back braces can also be used as a preventative measure to add extra support during activities which you know can be risky for your back. Take weightlifters for example. Many weightlifters wear a back support when completing an extremely heavy deadlift.

The above examples are solid reasons to use a back brace. On the flip side, using this device with the intention of improving their posture is a bit more controversial. For example, if you work in front of a desk a lot, there is a good chance that your posture isn’t the greatest and your neck or back can get painful from sustained long sitting position. Using a back brace to correct your posture reduces the load which your body has to sustain in that position and allow you to work for a longer period of time. 

However, by reducing the load which you back needs to take may also weaken your muscles. This would make you reliant on the device to reduce the load of prolonged sitting. Overtime, your body may progressively weaker to a point where the support of your back brace is not enough to reduce pain. 

As physios, we highly recommend preventing back and neck related injuries through a solid, individualized preventative strengthening program rather than using a brace to alleviate the pain. If you have lingering issues with your back, it is a good idea to see a physiotherapist before it gets any worse. 

At capital physiotherapy, we have excellent physiotherapists who have considerable experience with back related issues. We believe each individual injury is different and will set you up with a rehabilitation program tailored to your individual needs. If you are in the area around South Yarra, Footscray or Balwyn drop us an email at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au and one of our physios get you started on a holistic back program. 

Hamstring Injuries

“Ow, I think I pulled my hammies”. If you play any sport, you probably heard this one before. Indeed, this is one of the most common injuries in sports, especially anything that has to do with running. Let’s go into a few more details about this big muscle on the back of your leg.

The hamstring is a collection of 3 muscles that has the main function of bending the knee. Although it is located on the back of the thigh, most of the muscles actually don’t attach onto the back of the thigh bone. Instead, they originate from the sit bone of the pelvis. Because of this attachment, the hamstring muscles has a function which is to extend the hip.

As mentioned, runners seemed the have drawn the shorter end of the straw as these individuals seems to have a higher occurrences of hamstring injuries. Other running type sports including soccer, footy, american football and athletics. If any of these sports are what you love, be sure to check out our previous blog on essential stretches for runners and cyclist: https://www.capitalphysiotherapy.com.au/essential-stretches-runners-cyclists/

Other than the type of sports, specific individual risk factors have been found including but not limited to:

  • Tight hip flexors
  • Imbalanced quadriceps and hamstring strength
  • Short pre-season
  • Leg dominance 
  • Previous hamstring injuries

After sustaining a hamstring injury, it is vital to undergo good rehabilitation program prior to returning to sport. The hamstring needs to be progressively loaded to be nearly as strong as the other leg before returning to sport. Along with strength, there is other fitness factors to consider including balance and body awareness. With these factors in mind, it would be a good idea to get a good rehab program going through a physiotherapist.

At Capital Physiotherapy, we have physiotherapists who are familiar with hamstring injuries and have brought many people back to sport after sustaining a hamstring tear. If this sounds like you, be sure to contact one of our clinics located at South Yarra, Footscray and Balwyn or send an email to info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au to get you safely back to doing what you love. 

Shin Splints

“Shin Splints”. This word has been thrown around and used often, especially within the running population. Most people would suspect they have shin splints if they have pain on their shins. Ever wonder what exactly this condition refers to?

Let’s state some of the obvious first, this condition occurs on your lower leg. The big bone on your lower leg is called the “tibia”. In front of the tibia is a muscle called the “tibialis anterior and another muscle behind it called the “tibialis posterior”. These muscles work in coordination to adjust your foot position during walking and running. When these muscles are overworked, they can become irritated. Irritation of these muscles is what shin splints is.

Since these muscles are involved in foot position especially in walking and running, people who do a lot of running or walking like runners, soccer, basketball and hikers would have higher risk of irritating these muscles. If there is some change in your usual routine, it would force these muscles to work harder which increase the risk of getting shin splints. This includes recently changing shoes, started a new training program, increased your intensity or starting running on a different surface. 

The most important thing to do to help shin splints recover is avoid things that hurts the condition. So, if running hurts it, you need to stop running; if walking hurts it, you need to find ways to help reduce the load on the muscles so it doesn’t hurt during walking. This is a lot easier said than done. Another thing is shin splints do take a while to recover, so jumping back straight into activity once the pain has settled can re-aggravate it. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to check up with a physiotherapist to get some recommendations. 

At capital physiotherapy, we have therapist who are familiar with and have managed many running injuries including shin splints. If you’ve got what you believe to be shin splints, book an appointment with us today at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au to get started on a recovery program tailored for you. We are located in Balwyn, Footscray and South Yarra so choose a location closest to you. 

New to Trampoline – Here’s Some Warm-up Tips for Newbie Flyers

Bouncing around on the trampoline is extremely fun for both children and adults. In our previous blog, we’ve discussed the benefits of trampoline as a form of exercise. As much as it is a great way to exercise, it can be a difficult to get started if you have no idea what you are doing. Here some warm up tips keep you safe and help boost your confidence.

1) Joint Warm up

Like all forms of exercise, warming up is essential to prep the body for exercise and prevent injury. Jumping around on the trampoline is a whole body exercise, so make sure do specific rotation warm ups for all the joints of your body including neck rotations, shoulder rotations, hip rotations, knee rotations and ankle rotations. 

2) Overall Warm up

As good as joint rotations are, these examples unlikely to cause you to break a sweat. A good indication that you’ve done a good warm up is if you are sweating by the end of it. Make sure you include overall warm ups activities including running on the spot, high knees, bouncing on the spot, mountain climbers and squats. 

3) Trampoline Warm up

Now that you’re nice and warm, it’s good to lightly bounce on the trampoline before attempting any tricks at all. I would recommend bouncing side to side from one leg to the other to get your body use to the sense of the rebound the trampoline will give you. After that, next step is to get a bit more height. With the height, do simple movements with the feet including opening and closing the hips, tucking in the hips and butt kicks to get use to how your body will move in midair.

This warm up is a nice progression from a static position to get onto the trampoline. Warming up is likely the easiest thing to do before any activity to prevent injury. With that said, it doesn’t complete protect you from injury. It’s normal to get a bit of muscle soreness the first few days after bouncing. However, if it lingers from longer than that it might be worthwhile to get a second opinion from a physiotherapist.

Physiotherapist are movement specialist who are experienced with various types of injuries. At Capital Physiotherapy, our friendly physios complete a thorough analysis of your pain and will recommend various rehabilitation protocol to strengthen muscles and joints that are involved to relieve your pain and also reduce the likelihood of the injury reoccurring.

If you’ve got any issues preventing you from flying on the trampoline, drop by or contact us by phone or email. We are convenient located in Footscray, South Yarra or Balwyn, make an appointment today at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au to set up a program best suited for you.

Falls and Balance

The word fall seems like a very simple word but has drastic effects on individuals who have had falls, especially in the older population. Children and teenagers, on the other hand, generally don’t have to worry about it because they have good balance developed from an everyday activity like running, jumping around, playing and exploring the world. Youth also has a stronger ability to heal from injury, therefore it wouldn’t be too big of an issue even if the fall happens.

For adults and older individuals, falling comes with more unwanted effects. Stating the obvious, we get taller as we grow. This also means we fall harder since we are further away from the ground. The healing abilities of an adult and older individuals are also not as good, therefore injuries take time to heal. During this time, muscle tends to atrophy relatively fast, so rebuilding muscle mass would take time. With the loss of muscle mass also comes with reduced balance as well and increase the risk of falling.

From that vicious cycle of falling, deteriorating and further increasing risk of falling, something has to be changed. We highly recommend starting an exercise program that specifically trains your balance. Balance specific exercises have been found to reduce the risk of falls, especially in older individuals. 

With that said, make sure you check in with a physiotherapist to ensure you are safe to complete the specific exercises. Some of these exercises are specially designed to challenge your balance, in which there is always that risk of falling during the completion of the exercise. To ensure safety, it is best to get a trained pair of eyes to monitor and guide your process.

If reducing the risk of falling is something you are interested in, speak to a physiotherapist to see which exercises are best suited for you. At capital physiotherapy, we encourage exercise based therapy as a preventive measure for falls risk reduction. Our physiotherapists have ample experience setting up balance specific exercise program and can give individualized recommendations to help with falls prevention. Our clinics are located in Balwyn, Footscray and South Yarra so contact us today at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au and get a holistic individualized program set up that is best suited for you. 

Common Injuries in Skiing

The days are getting colder and winter is coming. What better time to head to the mountains and get your adrenaline pumping with a ski trip. Who doesn’t like a bit of speed to get your blood pumping in the snow? Skiing is a great form of exercise because it develops your cardiovascular fitness and your balance as well. To be able to ski properly, requires quite a bit of control and coordination before you get fluent with the motion. This does take some time to train up, so in the meantime do be weary towards some common ski related injuries.

Skier’s Thumb (ulnar collateral ligament tear)

A very common injury which the thumb is wrenched backwards when falling onto your hands. The name Skier’s Thumb is appropriate because it occurs more commonly in skiing. This is due to the poles that you fall on adds an extra lever of force to bend the thumb backwards.

Shoulder Dislocation

If you fall during your skii, you little time to think about how to land. Both falling on an outstretched hand or directly onto the shoulder has a chance for your shoulder to dislocate, especially when you fall at a high speed.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)

PCL injuries mostly occur when you fall directly onto your knee, causing the lower leg to shift backwards. The skis and boots add an extra weight to shift your knee backwards during the fall, therefore increasing the risk of this injury to occur.

Lower back Pain

If you are ever going to gain lots of speed in skiing, you’ve need to lean forward to cut through the air. This does put quite a bit of strain in your lower back. For people who have not maintained their fitness levels, your core and lower back muscles may not be developed enough to sustain this position and therefore are more susceptible to back pain.

With all these potential injuries that can occur, it is important to take steps to reduce the chances of these injuries from occurring. There are plenty of ways to accomplish ski injury prevention. The simplest way is to maintain or increase your fitness levels. This means continuing with your walking activities or ramping it up to a run, maintaining your gym activity or increasing your intensity inside the gym.

On the other hand, if you hardly do any exercise and are wanting to get into skiing for this season, it might be a good idea to start some specific strengthening and prevention exercise before starting. 

At Capital Physiotherapy, we have physiotherapists who are familiar with starting people in the right level of exercise intensity aimed to progress to intensive sports like skiing. If you planning to start a new activity, make an appointment so we can point you towards the right direct safely and efficiently.

Capital Physiotherapy is conveniently located in Balwyn, Footscray and South Yarra. You may call, email us at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au or book online today to get started on a program best suited for you.

Preparing for Snowboarding

With the snow season just around the corner, you might be thinking now is the time to start a snow sport. Snowboarding seems really cool; why not jump into that? How hard can it be to jump on a board and slide down the slopes? Like in most sports, there is a minimum level of fitness safely start a new activity. Sliding down a snowy slope seems easy enough, but there’s a lot more components of fitness it requires. So before you start, here’s a few exercises you might want to practice before strapping up the snowboard boots.

Balance + Coordination

The most obvious component of fitness for this sport is balance. Your balance has to be pretty good to be able to stay upright on a board that slips and slides along with going down a slope at top speeds. To test your balance, try balancing on bosu ball. If you find you’re wobbling a lot, time to start training your balance by trying to be a still as possible on the bosu ball.

Once standing still on bosu becomes quite easy, time to do some dynamic movement on the bosu. Snowboarding is definitely a dynamic balance sport, therefore you’ll need to add in some movements to challenge your balance on the bosu. This causes the balance component on a bosu ball to transfer better into snowboarding. The next step on the bosu ball is doing squat on it. This will really challenge your balance. You’ll find you can pick up snowboarding a lot quicker if you can do these well.

Core + Glutes

For specific strengthening, you want to be targeting your core and glutes. The balance and coordination exercises mentioned above will definitely work your core and glutes. But if they are simply not strong enough or doesn’t know when to work, you’ll benefit from exercises to isolate the muscle group. Bridges and planks are good examples of simple exercise to start of strengthening your core.

When you find the bridge and planks getting a bit easy, time to build it into a standing position. Progressing these exercises into crab walks and squats is a great way to go. Many people feel everything in the legs when completing these exercises. Ideal, the core and glutes should be working as well thus make sure you feel in the core and glutes when completing these exercises.

If you’re having trouble getting started, it would be a good idea to get a human movement expert to take a look and give some advice. Physiotherapists are experts in this field and can get you started on what your should be working on, estimate when is a good time to start and answer any inquiries you have regarding starting snowboarding.

At capital physiotherapy, we have friendly physiotherapists who are familiar with balance, coordination, core and gluteal strengthening protocols. You are unique and likely require a specific exercise to target the proper muscle group; each program will be adjusted to target what you need to perform well at your hobby. If you need any guidance towards getting started, book an appointment at one of our clinics conveniently located at South Yarra, Balwyn and Footscray by sending an email at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au.

The Slipping Vertebrae Spondylolisthesis

There’s lots of ways that the back can be injured. We’ve covered one condition that is relatively common one, which would be the bulging disk . Now let’s go over another condition, only not as common in everyday life activities: spondylolisthesis.

This word is a bit of a mouth full and it does describe something a tad more rare than the disk bulge. Let us first review some basic anatomy of the spine. The spine is made up of various segments called vertebra and each vertebra has a body and a tail portion. In spondylolisthesis, there is a fracture of a specific tail portion of your vertebrae called the “pars interarticularis”. Due to this fracture, the stability of the spine becomes compromised and a section of the spine can slip forward.

With this forward shift, lots of things can cause pain, including the disk between the vertebrae, the bones itself and even the nerves that come out the side. If the nerves are not involved, the pain would likely stay that the back. If the nerves are indeed affected, you can have various neurological symptoms like numbness and tingling down the leg.

Fracturing this part of your vertebrae is pretty difficult. The most common occurrence of this condition with be in dancing. This is because most dancers are required to arch their back while performing high impact jumping type movements. The combination of both movements causes much stress on the tail portion of the vertebrae, therefore placing dancers at a higher chance of getting this injury.

As common as back injuries are, diagnosing the exact structures can be rather difficult. If you have any issues with your back, it’s a good idea to get a professional to have a closer look and make sure everything is okay. At Capital physiotherapy, we have physios who have plenty of experience with identifying the correct treatment for back injuries. If you’re in the neighbourhood near our clinics located in Balwyn, Footscray and South Yarra, book with one of our friendly physiotherapist by emailing us at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au to get you back to the activities you love.