BACK TO SCHOOL – IS MY BACKPACK TOO HEAVY?

BY SENIOR PHYSIOTHERAPIST DANIEL BROWNE

School holidays are over and Eastlink once again grinds to a standstill, primary and secondary school aged students have begun their long awaited(?) return to study. With this – a slew of new textbooks, workbooks, the latest graphics calculator and a new pair of kicks will undoubtably all find their way into meticulously “Tetrised” packed backpack. Cries of “man feel the how heavy my back pack is’ and competitions of who’s backpack can fit into the top locker soon fill the halls with rampant discussion. But how much is too much? How should your child wear their backpack? Is there a greater underlying issue at play here? Below we seek to break down some of these questions and consider the wider implications. But first a reflection on the current government guidelines.

The national guidelines for physical activity recommend that for children between the ages of 5-17 at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day, with strengthening or weight-bearing activity occurring three times each week (ADH, 2019).  Of note, according to a recent Australian Physiotherapy Association article (APA, 2017), ‘over the past 40 years, Australia has seen a 42 per cent decline in children walking or riding to school, with no signs of this decline slowing down’. So, the question then becomes, where are children getting their loading? Is running around at lunch time sufficient? Do we need an increase in participation rate into recreational after school sports/outdoors activities?

4 QUICK TIPS ON CHOOSING A BACKPACK

Padded back support of the spine throughout

Wide shoulder straps so as to not dig into the front of the shoulders

Option of supportive straps across the chest and waist to disperse weight

Choose an adjustable back pack that fits – not one the child will grow into!

 

HOW SHOULD THE BACKPACK BE WORN?

 

 

CONCLUSION

If indeed back packs are being worn correctly as demonstrated by the diagram above,  is it the increasingly common sedentary lifestyle of many of our youths over the summer break that is causing the back pain or is it the sudden influx of load as they lug an assortments of textbooks and alike to class for the start of the school year? In reality it’s likely a combination of both – the difference being one issue is transient (that being the heavy load of books comes and goes), the other more omnipresent – the lack of weightbearing activities.

My opinion, don’t overload the backpack – considered splitting up the load of books across days and only take the books you will really need in class. More importantly, in the long-term parents and guardians must consider how much exercise your child is doing both at school and on the weekends. Consider the use of screen time as a reward rather than a given activity, and where possible encourage play that has an increased load baring element to it e.g. running and jumping.

If your child is experiencing any stiffness or soreness upon returning to school, if you would like advice regarding safe exercise to encourage healthy development or even a back pack fitting, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Select Physiotherapy and Pilates.

For additional information regarding suggested activity levels across the lifespan please review the Australian Department of Health’s website link below:

https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines

The sporting shoulder and racquet sports by Daniel Browne

With the summer season of tennis and the Australian Open in full swing, we’re starting to see an influx of tennis related injuries. Today we’re going to focus on some of the key exercises surrounding shoulder rehabilitation in our overhead athletes. Notably, by implementing the exercises below in a structured program, when performed correctly, you will decrease your risk of many of the common tennis/overhead racquet and throwing sport type injuries –you may even improve your backhand!!

1. Building a base- the middle back
In order to build a good base for shoulder movement we need to create both strength and mobility through our upper and middle back.

Middle back rotation
– Thoracic open book stretch/archer stretch

Middle back extension
– long lay on foam roller/arching over foam roller

Shoulder blade retraction/row
– double arm banded rows/ single arm banded rows

2. Developing strength and mobility overhead
Racquet and throwing sports require both strength and mobility overhead – this requires excellent control and synchronisation of the muscles of the shoulder blade/upper back region, along with the muscles of the shoulder

Overhead band pull apart

 

Band resisted shoulder raises

 

3. Bullet-proofing the rotator cuff
The rotator cuff is a collection of four muscles that attach to the shoulder. It plays an  important role in lifting the arm out to the side, turning the shoulder in and out and serves key roles in stabilising the shoulder in a fixed position (such as when performing a push-up). Of note, these muscles (and corresponding tendons) are commonly worn out/injured after many years of repetitive movement (particularly overhead).

Banded external rotation with scapula set at 0 degrees abduction and 90 degrees abduction

 

Banded internal rotation with scapular set at 0 degrees abduction and 90 degrees abduction

Push up position plank/ side plank on outstretched arm

Disclaimer: It is important to note every injury is a little different and the following should be used as a guide rather than absolute advice. For a full assessment of your shoulder function or for specific exercise relating to an injury, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Select Physiotherapy and Pilates where we’ll work with you and your coaches to get you back out onto the court sooner!

CHRISTMAS = NEW SHOES. WE CAN HELP!

CHRISTMAS TIME = NEW SHOES
WE CAN HELP!

What an end to 2019 we’re having- after an unseasonably high average spring rainfall, now there’s snow on the mountains in December! Time to pack away that shiny new kayak and get the snowboard back out,…. Buller here I come! Weather aside, as the year rolls deeper into December, Christmas will soon be upon us. Between all the overcooked sausages, mountains of Cadbury favourites and luke warm salads, we have the dreaded socks and jocks from Mum to deal with (to be fair, I’ve been holding out since early October). Accompanying the smorgasbord of festivities, come the morning of Wednesday the 25th, quite literally tens of thousands of new pairs of shoes will take their first brave step into the new world.

Below are a few tips and tricks when both purchasing and ‘wearing in’ said new presents.

Buying:
1. Make sure you check the size of the shoe- US, Euro or UK? An 8.5 in UK, is a 9 in US, is a 42 in Euro. Getting the correct shoe size is essential – you can’t always wear super thick socks!

2. Keep a gift receipt – you don’t want your recipient to get sore feet as a manner of being polite- allow them to take it back and swap it for the correct size.

3. Particularly when dealing with runners, have a chat to the local shoe salesman (or better yet your local physio or podiatrist) and make sure the new shoes you are buying a reflective of the existing shoes – think medial post (arch of foot), heel lift (back of foot) and width to name a few – you don’t want to change too much too quickly! Often people make the mistake of going from super supportive shoes to fashionable shoes with minimal support or vice versa. Sudden change can create issues.

4. Remember price does not always reflect quality! Quick tests for runners/walking shoes include:

# Bend the toes back towards the heel. The shoe ideally bends at the level of the start of your toes
# Twist the front and back of the shoes in opposite directions. There should be minimal movement though the midline of the shoe
# Squeeze the back heel area of the shoe. It should be firm, not collapsing inwards.

 

Wearing the new shoes in:
Your new shoes will naturally feel different – maybe better, maybe not so much initially (as long as they are still correct for your foot this won’t be an issue long term). Below are some tips to ween the ‘wearing in’ process.

1. Start off wearing them around the house for approximately half the time that you would wear your old shoes i.e. a 50/50 split. If you know you’re going to go on a particularly long walk, then I’d hold off in the first week or so – the muscles in your foot will take a little bit to adjust so best not to stress them too much whilst under fatigue early on.

2. Don’t immediately throw out the old shoes! Keep them around in case the new ones are not the correct fit. If you’re having a day where your feet just ‘aren’t feeling up to it’, then slipping back into the old comfy ones isn’t a bad way to go, but be mindful that you are trying to ween to the new pair!

Follow the above tips, and you’ll be flying around in your new shoes in no time!

If you have any issues or concerns relating to foot pain or footwear, please don’t hesitate to come down and say “Hi” to us at Select Physiotherapy and Pilates.

To all of our clients and followers, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year!

Cheers,

Dan.

 

PHYSIOTHERAPY AND GARDENING SPRING 2019

PHYSIOTHERAPY AND GARDENING SPRING 2019

by Daniel Browne

With the arrival of spring, many of us are extending our gaze outside to find an overgrown garden bed, a tree that needs pruning or perhaps a plot of land that’s due for reinvigoration! Whatever the motivation, gardening is a great way to maintain mobility, build strength and get back in touch with mother nature. Below are a few tips and tricks to make sure the gardening experience you have is a fruitful one!

Warming up

Gardening is exercise and we know that doing a good warm up will prevent injury and optimise our performance. Whether you’re working at ground, waist or overhead level, making sure you have good movement through your hips, lower and middle back will go a long way to keep you out in the spring air! Below are a two of key stretches to help get you moving.

1) Kneeling hip flexor stretch.

2) Thoracic open book stretch.

Digging

When digging a hole, it is important to pick a shovel that’s the right height . Too long and the lever arm (handle) will be awkward to manoeuvre, placing extra strain through your shoulders and neck.Too short and you’ll find yourself hunched over, putting undue stress through your lower back.  When picking a shovel, it’s important to pick one that will serve its purpose – think of the shape of the shovel head (more/less dirt vs ability to cut into the finer spaces) and the ergonomics of the handle (is it rubber supported/wood/steel). When measuring the shovel, a good length is approximately just above you hip bone – this way once you get into your split stance position, your back can remain straight and you can generate adequate force through your legs and torso. Another simple tip is not to overfill the shovel, think 2/3 of the total head and consider utilising a wheelbarrow so that you don’t need to cart the dirt around – this also saves mess!

 

Kneeling

For those who get knee pain when kneeling, trialling a soft matand/or knee pads can be a quick and cost-effective solution. Alternatively, going into a split stance (one leg up, one down similar to the kneeling hip flexor stretch listed above) will give the knees an opportunity to take a break from the load. If you’re someone who tends to lose track of time in the garden (like me!), at times you may notice your feet or lower leg may feel like it goes to sleep. In general it is important not to hold any sustained body posture too long whether that be seated/kneeling or otherwise. I’d suggest getting up and moving a little every 20 minutes or so – this will keep you mobile and give you an extra opportunity to stand back and admire all your hard work!

Trimming overhead

As we all know, the trees aren’t going to trim themselves nor drop branches in a nice even pattern! Spending extended periods of time working overhead can lead to issues with your neck and shoulder,potentially causing pain and stiffness. A simple solution here is to make sure you get yourself close to the level of cutting utilising a ladder (make sure to check the level of the ground first!). Alternatively, you could invest in an extender arm for the trimming which will allow you to operate the machine from chest-waist level and take the strain off the shoulders and neck.

Personally, I’m excited to be back in the garden. As with all physical activity, it’s important that we start slowly and build up. By following some of the tips and tricks above, not only will you be able to spend more time tending to the garden, but you’ll be giving your body that extra little bit of healthy exercise and sunlight we’ve all been missing!

https://select-physiotherapy-and-pilates.cliniko.com/bookings#service

Preparing for Finals August 2019

Preparing for finals

It’s the business end of the season – finals time. After a long season slugging away through cold evening nights and frosty weekend mornings, finally there’s a reprieve of sunshine beginning to break through. All the hard work and dedication starting in preseason now has the opportunity to come to fruition.

Below are 4 key recovery tips to keep your body fighting fit for the finals series!

1. STRETCHING AND MOBILITY WORK
Although the research is always evolving regarding the ‘best’ warm up technique (previously it was thought static stretches were the way to go, now dynamic movement that will emulate the activity is in vogue), post training and game static stretching still very much has its place.

For running sports, gentle hip flexor, calf and glute stretches are key to staying mobile. Upper body dominant sports rely on opening up through the thoracic spine (mid back) to facilitate smooth neck, shoulder and upper back mobility (note: all sports will benefit from both upper and lower body mobility work).

2. MYOFASCIAL RELEASE/MANUAL THERAPY
Using a foam roller or spikey/trigger point ball before and after activity can be a great way to soothe those stiff muscles. Active release work has a different effect on the body when compared to stretching. There is debate around which is more or less beneficial, but ultimately a combination of both will be key to optimise your performance. Aim to spend 5 minutes releasing before and after training, 2-3x per week. A regular myofascial release by a manual therapist is also of benefit.

3. HOT Vs COLD IMMERSION THERAPY
Again, another topic of contention recently – what’s better hot or cold or a mix (contrast therapy)? Currently it depends which research paper you read. What we do know however is that being immersed in the water (whether that be walking or swimming) has proven benefits in managing swelling via hydrostatic compression, improving lung capacity and provides a great medium to perform some unloaded low impact exercise which is particularly valuable towards the end of a season. For example, if you’re looking to keep up your cardiovascular endurance but your knees are a bit achy, swimming can be a great alternative to give your lungs a workout without pounding the pavement.

4. SEE YOUR LOCAL PHYSIO!

– Physio’s are experts at preventing potential and treating existing injuries via load management. A physiotherapist’s role in sport includes advice on training loads both on the track and in the gym, advice on strapping, bracing and taping, as well as providing hands on pain relief and management advice for both acute and chronic injuries.

If you have any questions relating to our blog, please feel free to give us a call or pop in to Select Physiotherapy and Pilates for a consultation to keep you on the track this finals season!