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.

Disclaimer:

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 !!

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.