Have you got the strength to power through?

Have you got the strength to power through?

Do you get part way through your trainings or games and start to get sore/tight for no apparent reason? It may not be that something is damaged, it may be you need to build up the strength of a particular muscle group!
Our muscles help us to move, dodge and burst into activity, but with repetitive use through games or training, these muscles can start to fatigue and not work as well as we would like. When these muscles start to get tired, our joints aren’t as protected as they were at the start of our activity, and they can start to work in different, less ideal ways, putting stress on different structures and often cause that annoying pain that creeps in half way through our activity. The key to getting through these niggles while we play is STRENGTH!

Often we think we are getting “tight” and that we need to stretch out the soreness, when in fact it is the opposite, we need those fatiguing muscles to tone up and work harder, like they were at the start of our training or game.

One of, if not the most, important muscle in keeping our lower limbs functioning in the right way and keeping our alignment correct is our glutes (buttock muscles). When these muscles start to tire our hips can start to roll in, our knees roll in and the arches of our feet start to flatten. This can lead to a number of aches and pains in the limbs, especially knee and hip soreness. They also work in tandem with our hamstrings, which are a commonly injured muscle group, especially in footballers (could this be related to common glute weakness??)!

The other muscle that works extremely hard when we are running and playing sport is our calf muscles, the ones connecting our knee to our ankle that propel us forward and spring us into the air.
These muscles can often feel tight during sport, and while this can be because of genuine “tightness”, it can also be because of weakness, and the more fatigued they get, the tighter they become. This leads to calf and ankle soreness, “shin splints” and general tightness in the lower limbs. Your physio can quickly and easily assess the strength and endurance of your muscles and see if they are a contributing factor to your pain, or, if they are in fact the key reason you are experiencing soreness. As a general rule we want the strength on our left side to match that of our right side, and there are certain limits we should be able to reach before fatigue, as a test to see if we are strong enough in certain areas.

If you are a sports person, try these exercises:


For “good” calf strength, you should be able to raise up on to your toes on one foot 20+ times without pain or discomfort, and should be able to do this on both sides.


calf stretch

For “good” glute/hammy strength, you should be able to raise your hips up on one leg 15+ times without pain
or discomfort, and again should be able to do this evenly on both the left and right sides.

glute exercise

*If any of these exercises cause pain or discomfort, cease immediately and contact your physio!

Stiff Back…. do I need a new bed??

Stiff Back…. do I need a new bed??

At this time of year after a long cold winter clients often ask if they need to buy a new bed.

They ask this as they often wake up feeling stiff in the back or the neck and assume the bed is a large factor in this.

More often than not we say No.

Unless you are sleeping in a hammock or a super soft bed with no support, often the bed is not the problem. Its you. Sorry –it’s a sign your body is not happy.

If your body is not happy during the day, from prolonged work postures, lots of sitting, driving etc etc it often “guards” to protect you with muscle tightness and stiffness.

This “guarding”often worsens when we stop moving at night.  So we get out of bed and feel like everything is “seized up” And the old bed gets the blame.


Please note the exercises and advice provided is of a general nature and should not be used as personal, professional advice. If symptoms persist we encourage you to see your GP or preferred health care provider.

To be sure if its your body or the bed that needs help, try this:

1. Sleep in another bed for 2-3 nights and see how you feel in the morning. No different ? Still stiff ?…. Its your body that’s not happy.

2. Loosen your body up a bit. Try the simple stretching exercises demonstrated on the video BEFORE you go to bed each night.  It will only take 2-3 minutes.

Try this every night for a week…except Saturday…..well its Saturday night!! Feel better less stiff in the morning? ……..its your body that’s not happy.

3. Tried step 1 and 2 still stiff in the morning?

Book in to see one of our Physiotherapists to have your body fully assessed and we will help make your body happy again. Ph (08) 8556 4416

4. If we can’t help you we will send you to see someone who can.

5. As the last resort we may suggest you >>> buy a new bed !!

My scan/image report sounds bad. Does damage = pain?

My scan/image report sounds bad. Does damage = pain?

Damage does not equal pain, this is why scans can be misleading!

Scans can be very useful for diagnostics and to point us in the right direction, but they can also cause worry and unhelpful beliefs that we should be in pain because of damage seen on scans.

What your body part looks like while you are lying in a tube does not correlate well with how someone feels and moves. A lot of people have problems found on x-rays and other scans but have no pain or symptoms at all!!
Below are some great examples of why we don’t need to be getting too worked up about what our scan results are showing, and how with the right treatment and mindset, you can beat your pain!

Intermittent Pain

In most cases, people will describe their pain as having varying intensities, and at times it is not there at all, which is great! This means there are times when your nervous system is happier than the times you are feeling the pain – These “happy” periods can be extended.
In terms of a scan, even when we are in these happy, pain free zones, an MRI or X-Ray will still look the same as when you are in pain, so you can live comfortably and pain free with your scan still looking like it does!


Degeneration is a term used to describe “wear and tear” that our body and its joints naturally experience through living life! Degeneration begins to appear even in our late 20’s (pain free individuals included!).
If you have one sore knee and one pain free, studies have shown that the “good” knee will show just as much degeneration, sometimes more, than the other knee, as they are both the same age and likely to have done similar amounts of work, so why would only one knee be sore if degeneration is the source of pain??


It has been shown that up to 87% of people in their 20’s had disc herniation’s/ protrusions, highlighting that this sort of movement or change to the disc is considered quite normal! Many people live with these things every day and have never had a painful back.  So a disc bulge seen on CT scan or MRI is not a recipe for long term back pain.

 Pinched Nerves

Nerves are very strong, resilient structures, but can be very sensitive when aggravated. They are designed to be stretched, squashed and moved in all directions, so a “pinched nerve” seen on MRI/CT may not be the main source of pain.  We sit on our sciatic nerve all day, and stretch nerves every time we bend and twist, and the majority of the time – no problem.
Whatever our spine looks like on an MRI, chances are it looked like that the day before you had pain as well, as these changes take years to develop, as long as there was not a major trauma or incident.

What all of this tells us is that what we see on a scan may not be the actual cause of your pain.

At Willunga Physio we look at your whole body the ‘whole picture’ to locate the source of your problem.  We check every muscle, joint, action and nerve that may be contributing and fix the cause of the problem.

Ice or heat for my stiff neck?

Ice or heat for my stiff neck?

When we get an injury we all want some relief, but we also want to make sure we aren’t doing any more damage to the area and to know that what we are doing is beneficial.

But what about when you’ve woken up and your neck feels ‘locked’? Every time you try to turn it you get a sharp pain or stiffness. What is best?

Which brings us to the age old question, should I apply Cold or Heat??

What does Ice do?

When cold is applied to an area, it restricts blood flow and causes constriction of blood vessels, hence causing the bleeding of an injury to be reduced, along with any inflammation.  It can be a very effective pain reliever (once you have got over the ‘cold’ bit).

And heat?

Heat application causes dilation of blood vessels and increases the blood flow to a muscle, which can have a relaxing effect and aid in pain relief.

Both are useful and both can provide relief, however it is important to know at what stage to use them and the symptoms to look for that can help you choose which medium to use!

So if you have injured yourself

As a general rule, if an injury is showing signs of inflammation, ie. It is hot, red or swollen, then Ice is recommended as this will reduce the inflammatory process.

Other signs of inflammation can be

  • pain at night or when you settle for the day,
  • throbbing pain, or
  • pain that is a dull ache/throb deep in the area of injury.

Usually inflammation occurs for 2-3 days post injury, so if you roll an ankle, pull a muscle, get a knock or have a definite injury, ice for the first 2-3 days is recommended, using it for 20 min every 2 hours.

For that sore back or neck

Heat is generally used for a more chronic injury, or if an injury has passed this inflammatory stage and is feeling more stiff and tight. Because of the increased blood flow, heat can help relax tight muscles, and with increased blood flow and nutrients to the source, can be a nice way to get some pain relief.

Signs to use heat may include

  • feeling stiff and tight,
  • waking in the morning with tight/stiff areas that improve as you get moving,
  • pains that feel better when you have a hot shower or do some exercises to warm them up
  • general aches and pains that have been there for a long time and haven’t recently been stirred up.
And my locked neck?

If you did something to injure your neck (twisted quickly of jolted it somehow).  Ice is best.  BUT if you just woke up feeling stiff and didn’t do anything to injure it, Heat will help relax the muscles and ease some pain.  As always, if unsure contact your friendly physiotherapist.

To sum it up:

ICE is best if – red, hot, swollen, acute injury (2-3 days), achey/throbbing pain, sore at night when resting.

HEAT  is best if – stiff, tight, feels good when shower or do exercises, morning stiffness, no acute injury.

What is Clinical Pilates?

What is Clinical Pilates?

Improve Muscle Tone, Posture, Prevent Back and Neck Pain.

Every body type is different, and every person wants to achieve a different goal. While some people may love a certain exercise, others may find it makes them sore, and depending on the injury a person has had, there are certain positions that we want to encourage, and ones we want to avoid.

For this reason we make individual programs for each person, tailored to their needs, goals and fitness level, and it allows you to come in whenever suits you to complete your individualised program as often as you like, not having  to worry about working around specific class times.

This individual approach to Pilates is known as Clinical Pilates, and as it sounds, it takes a more clinical approach to the setting up of a program and aims to make significant improvements in a person’s function and improve their injury/soreness/weakness. This is why we do 2-3 sessions 1 on 1 with the physio and client so that we can figure out exactly what type of exercise you need, and make sure that we are getting those improvements before we set you up to do the exercises yourself!

All of the Physios at Willunga Physio have extra qualifications in Clinical Pilates.

Once we have set up your program we will review your exercises regularly and offer suggestions to progress /improve them as you improve.

Clinical Pilates programs are covered by Private Health Rebates.

Pilates is a gentle form of exercise that targets the core muscles of our body, and teaches our body to function in a normal way while these core muscles support our spine to prevent any unnecessary twinges and strains.

It’s not like going to the gym to get big arm muscles where you want to really “feel” it working, it should be comfortable and not overly taxing to do! This makes it a great form of exercise for people who have had previous injuries, people wanting to begin exercise but want to get a bit stronger first and work into it, or for those already exercising and want to reach a higher level of performance.

At Willunga Physio we love to give our clients strategies to keep themselves going well and staying as fit and strong (and pain free!) as we can.

Crook backs, and arthritic areas: Ridgway Method can help chronic pain!

Crook backs, and arthritic areas: Ridgway Method can help chronic pain!

Ridgway Method (RM) is systematic approach to physiotherapy, allowing a way of assessing the body to find the “underlying cause” of your condition, i.e. to find out what structure is causing your body to “guard up” and give your body a reason to create the pain and stiffness you are experiencing.


When someone has a chronic injury, it means they have had an initial injury just like any other condition we see, but it has not resolved and has continued to give them trouble for months on end. If an injury has been going on for this long, there is often a lot more of this guarding going on throughout the body,

because your brain understands that the underlying cause has not yet been found and fixed,so it continues to tighten things up and give you pain to make you aware that there is still an issue somewhere in your body that needs addressing!

As we are learning more and more, this issue in the body is quite often in a completely different area of the body to where you are feeling your symptoms. As there is no hard wired nerve or pathway for “pain”, and it is just a creation of the brain to protect us, it may be mapped to anywhere in the body that the brain thinks it will best serve to keep us from doing more harm. So while you may have had this chronic low back pain for years, the pain in your back may just be the body’s best way of protecting an area in your upper back, or in your leg, or even in your arms/shoulders/neck, which explains why having your low back rubbed and treated all these years does not give long term relief, because the issue is not actually in your low back, and your body knows this..

This is where RM comes in...

RM searches your whole body and finds out exactly what structures in your body are stiff, sore, or just not functioning ideally. Any of these dysfunctions within the body have the potential to cause the guarding up and stiffening of the body that we spoke about earlier, which can then lead to pain.

Once we have a list of these dysfunctions, we can then test each one individually to see which one is the primary contributing factor (PCF) to your condition, and when released, lets your body move in the most free and painless way possible.

So when we have found this PCF, and released it, and got your body moving in an ideal way, the brain no longer has a reason to protect that spot, so all of that guarding throughout your body, even if it has been there for 5 years, can let go!

Once the guarding lets go and you are moving freely again, there is no need for the pain “warning signals” so the pain goes away!!