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Improving Flexibility: Yoga From A Physio’s Perspective

Posted on 28th November 2016 by

Physiotherapist & Pilates Instructor, Gemma, recently attended a specialist yoga course for Physiotherapists. On this blog she gives a great overview of yoga and also highlights how it compares to Pilates.

Yoga combines movement, meditation and awareness of breathing through a sequence of exercises. This has many positive effects on the body from improving flexibility and strength, to aiding relaxation, body awareness and self-discipline.

Although originating in India, some 5000 years ago and linked with Hinduism and Buddism, Yoga is a non-religious practice and has been adapted into an exercise class format by Western cultures.

Is it different from Pilates?

Yoga and Pilates share many similarities and some of the exercises are indeed identical. However the philosophy and focus are different. Pilates works on training the core muscles, developing stability and improving normal posture. Whereas yoga focusses more on improving flexibility and mind-body awareness; tending to be a more flowing sequence of movements.

Which is better for me?

Generally if you are very bendy (hypermobile), Pilates will be better for you to help gain stability and strength through your joints, and if you’re stiff yoga is great to improve flexibility. However both types of class can be adapted to suit you so a lot of it comes down to personal preference.

What are the health benefits of yoga? 

Yoga can help improve:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Prevent falls
  • Help with arthritis
  • Reduce lower back pain
  • Reduce depression, anxiety and stress levels

Do I have to do headstands?!

No! Headstands are just one exercise from a branch of traditional yoga poses known as ‘inversions’ but other inversions can include simply laying on your back with your feet up against a wall which is much more achievable for most of us!

How hard is it?

Yoga can be as hard as you want it to be… from pure meditation and breathing to an aerobic sweat-inducing power yoga class and everything in-between!

Yoga can be done by people of all ages; from adolescents to octogenarians it can have significant health benefits. It doesn’t matter how flexible you are or how good (or bad) your balance is as all the exercises can be tailored, there are even chair based classes for those less able.

What are the different types of yoga?

There are many different forms, the most common are:

  • Hatha yoga – a simple, slow class of postures
  • Vinyasa – a faster flowing sequence of poses
  • Ashtanga – an intense and athletic ‘pure’ form of yoga postures
  • Hot yoga/Bikram yoga – done in a heated room up to 32degrees C
  • Sivananda – slow, gentle and spiritual, focusing on 12 main poses, breathing, meditation, proper diet and mindfulness

Is it better to do a class rather than use a DVD/Youtube video?

Whilst the internet has a wealth of classes online and DVDs can be a good way of keeping up practice at home, the only way to make sure you’re doing the exercises safely and correctly is to come to a class with a trained yoga instructor. They will also be able to guide you through exercises of the right level, help you develop correct breathing techniques and teach you modifications where necessary to prevent injury.

Gemma is incorporating yoga into her rehabilitation programmes where her patients will benefit. You can read one of her success stories here.

Yoga Pilates


Yoga & Physiotherapy – A Success Story

Posted on 22nd November 2016 by

Physio Gemma, recently attended a specialist course to train in using yoga techniques as part of physiotherapy treatment. She has started integrating some yoga principles into some of her treatment programmes and her patients are benefitting greatly. Mrs A kindly agreed for Gemma to share her success story with you.

Mrs A came to see us one year after arthroscopic knee surgery – she no longer had any pain from the knee and was exercising regularly in a gym with a personal trainer. She felt the knee was strong, however she was concerned by her lack of flexibility; both the knee and hip on the same side had stiffened up considerably since her operation and didn’t seem to be improving.

When she first came to us she couldn’t fully straighten her knee, nor bend it much past 90 degrees, and her hip was similarly stiff, especially in rotational movements.

On her first session we discussed her goals – she was keen to get back to running but mostly wanted to be fit for ski season! We started with lots of hands on mobilisations to loosen up both the hip and knee joints but we wanted to find a fun way to progress her flexibility at home as, lets face it, a series of static stretches can feel like a bit of a chore……

We took her into our studio and chunk by chunk taught her a short routine of yoga poses specifically designed to improve her hip and knee flexibility, with the added bonus of being good strength and balance poses too.

We added to this over several sessions, combining hands on treatment with 1-2-1 yoga in her physio sessions until she was confident in a 10-15 minute routine that she could practice daily at home.

Mrs A said that doing yoga rather than static stretches helped her to relax, clear her mind and focus on the poses to improve her flexibility so that it has now become an enjoyable part of her daily routine.

6 weeks later she has regained full flexibility of both the knee and hip, is back to running and confidently looking forward to ski season!

A great success story! If you think you’d benefit from an integrated approach of yoga with physiotherapy, give us a call and book an appointment to see Gemma.


Self Care Week – helping people take care of themselves

Posted on 14th November 2016 by

This week is Self Care Week. Self Care Week is an annual national awareness week that focuses on Self care week 2016establishing support for self care across communities, families and generations.

More needs to be done to support people to better look after their own health. Empowering individuals to self care has many benefits for their short term and long term health and this is important since people are living longer.

Helping people to look after their own health, and their family’s health also helps to manage demand on health services.

As physio’s we play a key role in helping people manage their health and wellbeing. An integral part of our care is educating people about their injury or condition. This greater understanding and the tailored advice we provide helps people stay active, maintains their independence and helps them take care of themselves. We also incorporate exercise programmes into each and every recovery programme, so you take an active part in your recovery and have tools to help yourself.

Aside from the expert advice and support we give people to manage and resolve their condition, physiotherapy also enables people to take care of themselves better. By tackling painful conditions and injuries, we minimise any periods of prolonged inactivity and help people stay active and become more active – which in turn helps optimise health and wellbeing.

The Self Care Forum have published a couple of informational fact sheets for common ailments that help highlight what you can do to help yourself. These include ones for Sprains and strains & Low back pain.

#selfcareweek #selfcareforlife


Tension Headaches: Causes & Solutions

Posted on 14th November 2016 by

A tension headache is the most common type of primary chronic headache, affecting around 3% of the general population and accounting for 40% of headaches seen within a specialist Tension Headaches Physiotherapyheadache clinic.

They are more common in young adults but can occur at any age. They are often linked to periods of high stress or emotional distress.

A tension headache will often affect both sides of the head, with a tight band or vice like grip around the forehead. They can last from 30 minutes to several days, but on average will last 4-6 hours.

There tends to be a strong association with poor posture and often trigger points within the head and neck muscles will either cause or contribute to this type of headache.

There are a number of causes for developing tension headaches:

  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Poor posture
  • Irregular meal times
  • Eyestrain
  • Teeth clenching/grinding (also known as Bruxism)
  • Prolonged uncomfortable positions

Tension headaches can be classified as either:

  • Episodic – fewer than 15 days within a month
  • Chronic – over 15 days a month for over 6 months

How we can help you

Our speciality is working with muscles. Given that tension headaches are caused by the muscles around you neck area, seeking help at goPhysio for these types of headaches can be very effective. We would start by thoroughly examining the neck region to find out exactly what may be causing your headaches. We will then put together an active treatment plan which may include:

  • Postural rehabilitation and education
  • Strengthening any weak muscles in the neck & upper back
  • Using hands on techniques to ease any trigger points or tight muscles
  • Mobilising stiff or sore joints

Through working with you, we will aim to ease any immediate issues that are causing you pain or distress but more importantly arm you with the tools to help stop these types of headaches being a frequent part of your life.

Some people find a regular, deep, soft tissue massage with one of our professional massage practitioners can be a highly effective way to keep headaches at bay. Surprisingly, doing regular postural exercises, such as Pilates, can also be of great benefit. These exercises will help you focus on strengthening key areas and postural muscles, which longer term can help reduce the build up of unnecessary tension.

If you suffer with the distress of regular headaches and think they may be tension headaches, get in touch. We’ll be able to carry out a full assessment to find out what issues may be causing your headaches.


Cervicogenic Headaches: Causes & Solutions

Posted on 12th November 2016 by

Cervicogenic headaches are the most common secondary type of headaches and are defined as a

“referred pain perceived in any region of the head caused by a primary source in the musculoskeletal tissues innervated by cervical nerves”

In more simple terms, these headaches are caused by a problem within the neck area (or cervicogenic area) hence the name.

This source of pain can be any structure in the neck/head area, including:

  • Cervical joints (the little joints in the neck)
  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Discs

Cervicogenic headaches affect 1-2% of the general population and account for 15-20% of headaches seen within a specialist headache clinic. They tend to affect middle aged people more often, but can occur at any age. They are 4 times more common in women than men.

The pain can either be a dull ache or a more piercing pain, deep within the neck and head. It will often start at the base of the skull and radiate up over the top of the head. This headache can last from a few hours to several days. In some more severe cases, it can be a constant unremitting pain.

They tend to be aggravated by:

  • Neck movements
  • Awkward head positions
  • Sustained postures e.g. sitting at a computer for a long time

Cervicogenic headaches are a common symptom of neck trauma – around 60% of whiplash cases will report cervicogenic headaches.

They are also often associated with additional symptoms:

  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Light or sound sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Referred shoulder & arm pain and even face pain

How we can help

Our speciality is working with joints, bones and muscles. Given that cervicogenic headaches are caused by exactly these structure, seeking help at goPhysio for these types of headaches can be very effective. We would start by thoroughly examining the neck region to find out exactly what may be causing your headaches. We will then put together an active treatment plan which may include:

  • Postural rehabilitation and education
  • Strengthening any weak muscles in the neck & upper back
  • Using hands on techniques to ease any trigger points or tight muscles
  • Mobilising stiff or sore joints

Through working with you, we will aim to ease any immediate issues that are causing you pain or distress but more importantly arm you with the tools to help stop these types of headaches being a frequent part of your life.

Some people find a regular, deep, soft tissue massage with one of our professional massage practitioners can be a highly effective way to keep headaches at bay.

 


The Prevalence of Headaches: Types and Causes

Posted on 10th November 2016 by

We often get patients coming into the clinic suffering with headaches. In this blog, we will look at the prevalence of headaches – what causes them, how they are classified and then will prevalence of headacheslook at some of the more common types of headaches in more detail and how Physiotherapy can help with managing and resolving these.

Most of us have experienced a headache previously – the World Health Organisation has reported that:

  • 75% of adults aged 18-65 have experienced a headache in the last year
  • 47% of adults have experienced an episode of headache disorder – recurrent or prolonged headaches – in the last year
  • Around 30% of adults reported suffering from a migraine in the last year
  • Around 4% of adults report having a headache for over 15 days each month, known as Chronic Daily Headaches

These figures show us that headache disorder is a worldwide issue and they are ranked as the 3rd highest cause of ‘years lost due to disability’. Migraine on its own is the 6th highest cause. Headaches tends to affect women more than men – for example, for every one male reporting Chronic Daily Headaches, three women will be affected.

Headaches can be triggered by a number of factors:

  • Mechanical issues – poor posture, neck position, working habits
  • Hormones – likely why more women report headaches than men
  • Stress levels
  • Medication induced – known as ‘medication overuse’
  • Teeth grinding
  • External factors – smell, bright lights, pressure and humidity

Headaches can also be classified into either primary or secondary.

  • Primary headaches are benign, often recurrent but are not caused by an underlying disease or structural problem. Tension type headaches are the most common type of primary headaches.
  • Secondary headaches are a result of an underlying disease or structural issue, such as infection, head injury, vascular problems or spinal issue. Cervicogenic (neck based) headaches are the most common type of secondary headaches.

Both tension type and cervicogenic headaches are types of mechanical headaches and can be helped greatly with Physiotherapy intervention.

If you suffer with headaches and would like help in tackling them, give us a call on 023 8025 3317 and find out if we can help.


5 Tips for Working at your laptop pain-free

Posted on 9th November 2016 by

Flexible working, working on the move, working from home and the advances in technology mean that more and more people use a laptop for their work. But ergonomically, laptops aren’t great for working on and overtime can cause issues.

So, here’s a few tips to help keep back, neck, shoulder and arm pain at bay.

  1. Use a laptop riser. There are multiple types available varying from small and inexpensive to large and more expensive. This will allow you to adjust your screen height to the correct level preventing back and neck pain.
  2. Get a separate keyboard. This will allow you to have your screen at the correct height without compromising on optimal keyboard level. A wireless keyboard is often a better option as it avoids being restrictive due to cables.
  3. Work at an adjustable desk allowing you to sit or stand. Recently, there have been desk risers released which sit on top of a normal desk, are height adjustable themselves and have separate spaces for both your keyboard and mouse, and laptop enabling correct posture when using all equipment.
  4. Posture – sitting and standing upright while looking straight ahead will reduce the risk of back and neck injuries which arise from prolonged periods of poor posture.
  5. Try using the keyboard and its shortcuts more than the tracker pad or mouse. This will reduce the risk of overuse injury to your shoulder and arm.

Lap top ergonomics


Warming Up for Sport: Things to Consider

Posted on 9th November 2016 by

Warming up for sport is important. It prepares you for the movements you intend to undertake, getting you ready to perform to your best from the offset. Exercise warm ups are intended to safely get us ready for sport and reduce the risk of injury.

Next time you’re warming up think of the following:

The movements of your sport: You want to replicate them in your warm up but at a lower intensity and building them in gradually. i.e. if your sport is weightlifting, you would begin with half squats, repeating several times and gradually increase the depth of the squat until you reach full squatting position.

Dynamic stretching: Your warm-up should include movements which will gradually stretch your muscles. The walking lunge is an example, starting with small lunges, repeating several times before increasing the stride length of your lunge. Static stretches where you hold a muscle in position should be avoided during the warm-up as these have been linked to injury.

Increase heart rate gradually: Start with gentle exercises which get the big muscles of the body going such as jogging. Then begin skipping or some gentle high knees exercises. Follow this by increasing the speed of each previous exercise. This will increase your heart rate steadily and safely.

Give your muscles time to warm up: Avoid trying to squeeze all your warm-up exercises into a 5 minute timeframe especially if you are going to engage in high intensity exercise. A typical football warm-up can take anywhere between 20 and 40mins.

Correct clothing: Make sure it’s flexible enough to allow you to perform all the actions you need without restriction. Make sure it’s warm or cool enough suitable for the conditions you will be in.


Post Exercise Pain – What You Need to Know About DOMS

Posted on 4th November 2016 by

We can all experience muscle aches during exercise and the following day. Sometimes its two days
later and can linger for a few days after that. This happens more when we do an activity which we haven’t done for a while or pushed ourselves a little harder than usual. This is not harmful, in fact it is good as it shows our body is adapting to exercise and getting stronger.

What is DOMS?

The achy muscle feeling after exercise is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Often it happens after starting a new exercise programme, changing your routine or increasing the duration or intensity of your routine. When we exercise harder than normal, microscopic tears occur in our muscles and our body thinks “I must make that muscle stronger so it doesn’t happen again” so it starts to repair the damage. This results in the muscles stiffness and
soreness that is DOMS. These microscopic tears stimulate new muscle fibre growth which makes us build muscle and improve fitness.

Who does is affect?

It can affect anyone, from recreational exercisers to elite athletes. For those who are new to exercise it can be quite off-putting and worrying. It is important to remember that this will improve. As you get fitter your muscles will adapt and the DOMS will become less apparent. If you’re aim is to get fitter and stronger then expect to have achy muscles each time you adapt your routine. This is how we progress stamina and physical strength.

How long does it last?

Typically it lasts between 3 and 5 days, and usually occurs 1 or 2 days after exercise.

Treatment?

There is no one treatment proven to be 100% effective. Keeping moving and some gentle exercise often helps to alleviate symptoms. You may also find it helpful to have a bath, use a foam roller or have a massage to ease the soreness.

Can it be prevented?

Starting a new activity programme gradually can help minimise DOMS, giving your muscles time to adapt to new movements and loads. There is no evidence to suggest that stretching either before or after exercise reduces or prevents DOMS.

How do I know if I’ve actually got an injury?

If the pain and discomfort is more focused in one area and isn’t easing over a few days, it may be that you’ve pick up an actual injury. You’d expect DOMS to be easing gradually over a week and be more of a widespread ache in the area(s) you’ve exercised. If in doubt, just give us a call, one of our team would be happy to chat to you and offer advice.

 


What Should I Wear To My First Appointment?

Posted on 3rd November 2016 by

goPhysio FAQIt’s really common for those visiting a physio or sports massage practitioner to be a bit apprehensive about what they should wear to their first appointment.

In order to do a thorough assessment ideally your physio will need to be able to clearly see the area where you are getting your pain and place their hands on it to identify any changes in the tissues around that area such as swelling, heat, stiffness and trigger points in the muscles, as well as to do some hands-on treatment.


So what you need to wear will depend on where your pain is, here are few common examples:

  • If you have a neck, upper back or shoulder problem you will usually be asked to remove your top so we can clearly see your posture, however for ladies it’s absolutely fine to wear a strappy top if you feel more comfortable like this.
  • Lower back problems can be linked to biomechanical issues with the lower limbs and your physio may need to check how your nerves in your legs are functioning so it’s a good idea to bring shorts, especially if you have pain radiating down the leg. You will usually be asked to remove or roll up your top so we can see your lower back too.
  • For hip, knee and ankle problems again a pair of shorts is a good idea or alternatively a loose skirt is fine for ladies. Tights, shoes and socks will need to be removed.
  • For elbow, wrist and hand problems a short sleeved top is usually fine.
  • If your issue is linked with a sport like running it’s also a great idea to bring along your running trainers, your physio may well get you on our treadmill to help them identify factors that could be contributing to your pain.

Here at go physio we understand it can be a little daunting to get undressed in our clinic rooms so we aim to be as professional as possible and will preserve your modesty with towels when needed. You may prefer to arrive a few minutes early for your appointment and get changed into shorts or strappy tops beforehand.

If you have any cultural or religious reasons for not wanting to remove an item of clothing that’s fine, just let us know and we will do our best to work around it.

You will never be asked to remove your underwear by a physiotherapist.

If you would prefer to be seen by a male or a female physiotherapist let our reception team know when you are booking your first appointment.