Facet Joint Stiffness

Back pain is a common condition that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It may become debilitating to the point it can stop you from enjoying activity, working, or even sleep.  

Back pain can involve multiple components of your spine, which includes:   

  • Joints
  • Muscles 
  • Ligaments
  • Nerves 

Back pain is not only limited to mechanical issues, as levels of pain can increase due to stress, duties of work and daily activities, sleep pattern, eating and drinking habits, which can be addressed in later blogs. Today’s blog topic will focus on the lumbar facet joint pain, which are the connecting points on the sides of your spine that allows and restricts certain movements such as bending forward and backward, twisting, and side-bending. The facet joints can become stiff or irritated due to various reasons, including:

  • repetitive or overuse twisting or rotating 
  • abrupt/unexpected movements of the spine
  • increased loads to the spine (i.e. weight, running, jumping) 
  • excessive side-bending or twisting of the spine

Your spine is especially strong and can withstand many aspects of load to it. However, sometimes, excessive movements that don’t allow the facet joint to rest can irritate the facet joints. Rest assure, physiotherapists are specialised in treating and planning programs to help reduce and prevent future back pain events.

If you have been experiencing back pain that includes but not limited to:

  • Pain or tenderness in lower back 
  • Local tenderness/ stiffness alongside the spine of the lower back 
  • Pain, stiffness, or difficulty in certain movements (i.e. side-bending, standing up straight) 
  • Referred pain down the butt or legs

At Capital Physiotherapy, we have clinicians who have experience in treating back pain. The service may include deep tissue massage, mobilisation, dry needling and exercise, depending on your presentation. We are conveniently located at South Yarra, Footscray, and Balwyn. You may drop an email at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au or do an online booking here.

Warming Up

Many people neglect the warm-up part of physical activity. Some people simply don’t have enough time because they arrive late to training and want to get into it as soon as possible. Others feel it’s simply a chore and unnecessary to complete. While it does take some time to complete a good warm up, doing a warm-up has a tremendous amount of benefits which you shouldn’t ignore.

Increase Muscle Temperature

Pretty obvious that a warm-up is suppose to increase your body temperature. But why is this so important? Think about your car engine on a cold day; for the best performance you should actually leave it running for a bit before the trip. Same thing with your body. If your muscles are cold when you jump straight into activity, you won’t be able to move as well. There is a good chance you will perform poorly simply because you haven’t taken the time to warm-up. 

Joint Lubrication

Not only should your muscles be warm, your joints need be warm-up as well. As per your muscles, getting blood pumping to your joints allows your joints to move the way you want. Think about if you are trying to use a pair of rusted scissors; it’s difficult to move and takes a lot more energy to move it. This can also impede with your performance with your activity if you don’t have a proper warm-up. It’s best to warm up and scrape off that rust rather than during your activity.

Injury Prevention

Likely the most important reason to complete a good warm up, you reduce the chances of getting injury. Using the rusted scissors example, not only does it not work properly, it also has a higher chance of breaking. Warming up increases blood flow and elasticity of your muscles, which reduces the chance of sustaining a muscle injury. If your muscles are compromised, there is an increased load onto your joints, which also increases the risk of injury.

Mental Preparation

Aside from physiological preparation, getting mentally prepared sport is equally or even more important. Even if your muscles are warm and joints are loose, it is difficult to perform your fullest if your head isn’t in the game. While general warm-ups works the body, specific warm up drills that are related to your sport or activity is very important to get your mindset in the game. To be able to switch on as soon as your activity begins allows you to perform your best.

It is quite unfortunate to sustain an injury because your didn’t have a proper warm up, so take that extra time out of the game and prevent that from happening. If you have unfortunately sustain an injury, best to check up with a physiotherapist to get you back to your activity as safe and efficiently as possible.

At capital physiotherapy, we have physiotherapist who are familiar with all injuries from all types of sports, work or daily activity. If you’ve got any inquiries about your injury, or are in need of a solid warm up routine, come by one of our clinics conveniently located at Balwyn, Footscray and South Yarra. You can also send an email at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au or book online at https://www.capitalphysiotherapy.com.au/online-booking/.One of our physiotherapist will place you in a rehabilitation program best suited for you and give some advice towards how to safely return to activity.

Tips On Continuing With An Exercise Program

As physiotherapists, we highly promote exercise as a form of therapy to keep your body strong and healthy. Really, there should be no restrictions to what type of exercise you do as long as you remain within your skill level. This can range from your gym based exercise to a group fitness class to dancing on your own. As much as it is beneficial to exercise, many would agree it is difficult to start and even more difficult to sustain. The right exercise to engage in is definitely based on individual preferences. So, how do we find which form of exercise is right for you?

Keep it fun

The truth is, not everyone likes to exercise. Exercise requires work, takes time and just isn’t fun for everyone. This point is really important for those who don’t like “exercise”. If you are able to view “exercise” as an entertainment, it wouldn’t even be considered “exercise” anymore. It would be just like watching a good show on the tele. Easy enough right? However, if the show is boring, you would stop watching it. This means you have to find the right show to continue to watch it for a long time. Same with exercise; if the exercising like a drag, the likelihood of continuing drops significantly. So go experiment with dancing, team sport, gym activities, you name it. Make sure it’s something you enjoy.

Bring a friend, or even friends

It makes it that much more entertaining if you exercise with a friend. Bringing a motivated individual also increase your own motivation. This is definitely true if you make it into a competition. Within the gym, you can’t expect to jump from 10kg squat to 30kg within a week. This needs to build up. And if you miss a day, you are giving your friend an advantage. This level of competition motivates people to continue your program. Not just the competition aspect, it’s simply more fun to chat to someone about the things you are doing. So bring a friend to fuel that motivation. It’s good fun and healthy for all of you.

Get some advice

For some people, there is that fear of starting exercise for because you’ve never been before. If you fall under this category, it’s helpful to get started with a bit of guidance. You can definitely turn to someone who has more experience in the field of exercise, including personal trainers, specific sport instructors and even friends who have a bit more experience with exercise. For other barriers to exercise like you’ve hurt yourself doing exercise or unsure if your injuries has healed enough to continue, it might be a good idea to consult with a physiotherapist to make sure you are healed and strong enough to continue the specific exercise.

At capital physiotherapy, we strongly promote exercise as a form of treatment for rehabilitation, recovery, strengthening, injury prevention and entertainment. If you are seeking advice on safety of exercise, come down to get a thorough assessment and some recommendations. We are conveniently located in Balwyn, Footscray and South Yarra so send us an email at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au and lets get you on track with your goals.

Bone Bruising

You’ve probably had your share of experience with bruising. It is a very common injury associated with collision with someone or an object. This happens frequently if you are playing a competitive sport and collide with someone while chasing the ball. Another frequently culprit of bruising is the table corner which you just forgot about and bumped into it really hard. Not the most pleasant feeling in the world, but generally it gets better within 1-2 weeks. 

On occasions, there are times the bruising feeling feels a lot more deeper than the usual bruising feeling. Sometimes this feeling can last a while and seems to be healing really slowly. In this case, you might have suffered not a bruising for your muscles but your bones.

Bone bruises are similar to muscle bruising but occurs within the bones instead. There is comparatively less blood going through the bones compared to the muscle, which is why healing process takes longer. To get a formal diagnosis of bone bruise can only be done through MRI, but the treatment of this injury does not require this formal diagnosis. It is important to ice it down, give it time and do everything within pain free level to allow for optimal healing to occur.

For the active individual, pain free levels can be rather difficult to sustain. Telling a footy playing who has mild pain to not play yet is rather difficult. However, it is essential as the pain interferes with muscle function and increases the risk of injury. It is a good idea to check up with a physiotherapist to ensure you return to sport in a safe manner. 

At capital physiotherapy, we have clinicians who have ample experience returning athletes back to sport. If you’ve got lingering bruising pain that is sticking around longer than expected, book in with one of our friendly physiotherapists and get some recommendations on what to do. We are conveniently located at South Yarra, Footscray and Balwyn so choose a clinic most convenient for you. You may drop an email at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au or do an online booking here.

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.