Chronic stress can be damaging to our bodies. It can affect respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive and even reproductive systems. But did you know that chronic stress also impacts the musculoskeletal system?
– The mechanism of stress in pain –
When stressful situations arise, the body’s response is to go into a ‘flight, fight response to protect itself against harm or injury. Physically this can be seen through tightening and spasming of muscles. This is an automatic reflex response, where the muscle tension will generally ease once the stressful situation has passed.
Why does the muscle still remain in spasm after the stress has gone?
Sometimes in the case of ongoing chronic stress, the body may have set into a cycle of pain even after the painful stimulus or stress has gone. It protects itself by staying in pain and so when stress arises again the body is already ‘protected’.
This can lead to a range of conditions such as:
Movement dysfunction – Restriction and pain on normal daily activities
Muscular spasm and muscle weakness
Headaches, migraines and Jaw pain
Neck, back and shoulder pain
The pain cycle can lead to further negative patterns
For example, fear avoidance is where a person with chronic stress and pain will start avoiding more and more things to try and stop triggering pain or stress, even though these activities may not be related. This in turn usually decreases physical activity, increases low mood and leads to further patterns around pain. This will continue in a downward spiral until something breaks the cycle.
– How to relieve pain related to stress –
The earlier we assess and treat when the body is stressed both physically and mentally, the less likely the body will get into a pain cycle. Early intervention is key!
Stopping the pain progression
If your pain has lasted more than 6 months, seek the advice of your health care professional. This is to make sure you don’t need a scan, a specialist referral or medication to help break the pain cycle.
During your consultation an assessment will be performed through movement and orthopaedic test. The key is to find out what is going on so we can offer better treatment and management advice. Often during the movement testing we discover something that can help you at home.
If a helpful, pain relieving movement is found, we will explain the what’s going on so you better understand your pain. Its really empowering! If we don’t find a movement that helps we will move on to some treatment.
Treatment can include Massage, Dry Needling, Joint Mobilisation and Cupping to name a few. As Clinical Myotherapists we have a wide range of tools in our tool kit we can draw upon. This step is about assisting the movement therapy further by reducing pain and increasing movement. Oftentimes we can get more out of the movement therapy after treatment intervention.
Lastly a Remedy Routine is given to you which outlines what you will continue doing to get out of pain. It will detail your movement therapy and may include stretches and strengthening but usually that comes a bit later. We will stay in touch via email to closely monitor progression and follow up in about a week initially to stay ahead of your pain cycle and progress your remedy routine.
– Stress reduction –
Stress reduction is an important part of reducing your pain. Things that can help reduce stress include exercise, meditation or mindfulness and talking about your problems with a friend. Sometimes the help of a Counsellor or Psychologist to learn new coping strategies or CBT for example can be very helpful.
Article by Dwan Rosairo & Sarah Hall (BHSc – Clinical Myotherapy) – If you’d like to chat, click here to book a free 15 minute consultation or book a full consult here.
There are several reasons why you might experience pregnancy pains related to muscle, joint and nerve. Depending on where the pain is, the intensity of the pain and the type of pain will determine the best course of action to resolve your pain. If the following exercises don’t help or if your pain is intense, please get a consultation for personalised advice or visit your doctor. Furthermore If you are unsure of why you have pain (i.e. it’s an unfamiliar pain), if this is your first pregnancy or if your pain is severe, sharp, shooting, throbbing or deep you should see your doctor or specialist before all else.
Low Back Pain
This is the most common pregnancy pain we see at the clinic. The pain is usually right on the dimples at the very bottom of the low back. Sometimes there is referral up and down or across the low back as well. From how long women leave it before seeking treatment, I sense that there is a lot of pregnant ladies putting up with low back pain unnecessarily. Although low back pain is a common part of pregnancy and a lot of women experience it, this doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. Here in the clinic we find treating the gluteal and hip flexor trigger points together with some exercises and sometimes ROCK taping very effective. We treat either lying on your back, side lying or face down with a supportive belly pillow depending on how far along with your pregnancy you are, what area we are treating and depending on what you find most comfortable. We won’t keep you in any one position for too long and we will support you with pillows and towels where needed.
Try this exercise at home to see if it helps with your low back pain. Its purpose is to gently mobilise the spine allowing all the ligaments, tendons and muscles to get some blood flow and relax. If one way feels better than the other, you could try just doing one part of the cat stretch and finishing back at neutral spine (where the spine is in its natural position with the little dip in the low back).
On hands and knees gently curve your back towards the roof like you are trying to lengthen the back of your shirt. Make sure you softly drop your head as you get to the end of range.
Now do the opposite. Gently dip your stomach and ribs towards the floor this time softly lifting the head as you reach the end of your range.
Repeat 5-10 repetitions. Once you get the pattern working try moving one spinal segment at a time starting at the base of the spine and working your way up to the head. Try adding a breath, breathe out to move and take a breath in to prepare at either end.
Depending on how far into your pregnancy you are, the pregnancy rib pain your experiencing could likely be your baby pressing up against your rib cage, especially in your 3rd trimester if your baby is in the breech position. If this is the case, positional changes, heat and if really bad pain, paracetamol (at the recommendation of your doctor or specialist only) might be of assistance. The most common musculoskeletal cause of rib pain we see in the clinic however is from the change in spinal position. This is from changes to your centre of gravity along with increased levels of the hormone relaxin. This makes the deep supportive spinal muscles (multifidis & rotators) work harder and in a shortened position which activates their Trigger Points which so happen to refer around the ribs. If your pain seems to start at the back or side of the ribs and run around towards the front, this is the most likely cause of your pain. To help alleviate this pain at home, try the following stretch.
Side Lying Rib Rotations
Lie on your side and support yourself with pillows, cushions or towels as needed. One under the head, under the belly and between the knees is often helpful.
Bend your elbow of the arm that’s on top, drawing the elbow to the roof and sliding your hand along the lower arm.
If it feels comfortable open out further by extending the arm behind you until you feel a gentle stretch around the chest area.
Bend the elbow to gently bring the arm back through to the start position.
Repeat 10-15 times each side.
Notes: Shorter limbs make for lighter work, so always start with the elbow bent and lengthen it to increase the exercise. Don’t forget to breathe! Try a breath in for step 2 and a breath out for step 3. Then a breath in to hold and a breath out to come back to the start position.
Sciatica is a very common pregnancy pain. It can come from the lower back or from a deep muscle in your bottom called the piriformis muscle. Sciatica is distinguished by a pain starting around the bottom or hip area and travelling down the leg past the knee, sometimes as far as the ankle or the foot. During pregnancy the hormone relaxin increases making the ligaments soften. This increases the amount of load placed on your muscles, sometimes the muscles can cause the problem, other times you can end up hanging into new postural positions and putting a lot of strain on the joints especially around the lower back and hips which can aggravate the discs or nerve spaces in the lower back. We treat sciatica a lot in the clinic. Try the following exercise for the back and see if it helps.
4 point kneeling – The rock back
On your hands and knees make sure your hands are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Also make sure you are in neutral spine (no dip, no curve).
Gently rock back towards your feet about half way then slowly return to the start position.
Repeat 10 -20 times remembering to maintain neutral spine the entire time.
There are several things that can cause hip and groin pregnancy pain depending on where the pain is therefore it is essential that you get a proper diagnosis before progressing with any exercises or stretches to help. A more serious causes of pain in this area is a DVT or deep vein thrombosis which is a type of blood clot. Some other things that can cause pain in this area are the round ligament, osteitis pubis, pubic symphysis irritation or inflammation and referral from the lower back.
In the clinic we mostly see people with pain relating to an imbalance of muscles around the pelvis and low back. Due to being right or left dominant in stance and exercises we tend to be a bit stronger on one side. As the relaxin hormone kicks in these muscles have to support your pregnant body more and more. If some muscles are stronger than others they start to play a game of tug of war which can cause pain in many different areas. We get people in who have already been diagnosed with things such as symphysis pubis, osteitis pubis, lower back disc irritation and round ligament pain just to name a few. Most people we see have more general aches and pains through the glutes, hips and groin and have not yet had a musculoskeletal diagnosis. We find either way, it comes back to this imbalance of muscles so our assessment, treatment and prescribed exercises will revolve around loosening off the tight muscles and strengthening the weak muscles. If there is inflammation we might use taping to help support to give the area a chance to heal. Taping is very safe during pregnancy unlike many anti-inflammatory medications.
One of the most common exercises I give to pregnant women is to strengthen their glutes and hamstrings. If you are still comfortable lying on your back try the first exercise, otherwise try the side lying exercise.
Pelvic Curl with Thera-band
Tie the band firmly around your thighs and lie on your back.
Place your knees and feet approximately hip width apart. Make sure your knee heights are the same before continuing, we want everything in alignment.
Next imagine dots on your shirt and pants where your spinal segments are. What colour are your dots?!
Press with 50% effort out into the band and peel one dot at a time away from the floor starting at the bottom and working you way up to your shoulders. This should take about a 5 seconds and is nice to do on a breath out.
Take a breath in at the top to prepare.
Breathe out to slowly return the dots back down to the mat, this time starting at your shoulders and working down towards your bottom, try not to skip the lower back and maintain the pressure out into the band if you can.
Repeat 5 repetitions the first time you do it and see how you feel the following day. Slowly add an extra repetition each day until you are doing 20 a day.
Sidelying leg kick with Thera-band
Tie the band around your thighs just above your knee and lie on your side supporting yourself with pillows particularly for the head and your belly.
Lift your leg to hip height then keeping your body steady, squeeze your glute muscles to take the leg behind you about 5-10 cms depending on your flexibility.
Slowly return it back to the start position and repeat 5 times each side. If you feel good the next day you can add 1 repetition each day until you are doing 20 each side.
I hope you’ve gotten something out of todays article on pregnancy pain. Please remember that these are not tailored exercises for you specifically so if your pain persists or gets worse please come in and see us or if serious problems with your doctor or specialist. Here at Waverley Myotherapy Clinic we use a pregnancy pillow so you may be able to lie face down, a real treat during pregnancy! Once you are too big for the pregnancy pillow we will support you with pillows in the sidelying position. If you have any questions please contact us.
What is TOS and how do us myo’s treat it? That’s what today’s blog is all about! If you have any hand or arm symptoms such as pain, numbness or tingling even if it only occurs at night it would be worthwhile having a read.
What is TOS?
Thoracic outlet syndrome is where the blood vessels and/or nerves become squashed between the first rib and the clavicle. This can result in numbness, tingling or pain in the neck, shoulder, arm or hand or a combination of symptoms in a combination of areas on down the same arm. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms it can be diagnosed and treated. It usually takes a month or two to resolve. If your symptoms are severe we suggest going straight to a medical practitioner for scans and specialist opinion however if your symptoms are moderate or mild Myotherapy may be a quicker and cheaper alternative to alleviating your pain.
How does Myotherapy treat TOS?
We will first do some clinical assessment including a neural assessment to check what is causing your symptoms. Sometimes even though you have the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, your pain and symptoms can be coming from elsewhere such as carpal tunnel, from the neck of referred pain and tingling from trigger points around the shoulder, neck, arm or forearm. Once we determine the true cause for your symptoms we can usually do some treatment straight away.
The treatment for TOS specifically involves treating the muscles and mobilising the joints involved in drawing the first rib and the clavicle closer together. These might include the scalenes or the pectoralis minor for example. Next we will work with you to develop a plan so it doesn’t become a recurring theme. This may involve simply identifying the cause and changing some habits however it may also include some home based exercises, self treatment with a self release tool or some specific exercises you will need to do under supervision. We take into account your busy lifestyle so don’t worry that you’re going to go home with a long list of exercises.
What is the best home treatment for TOS?
Want to try something at home to help? Find us on instagram or facebook @myothrive for tips such as spiky ball release for the pectoralis minor muscle. Because the pec minor attaches from the coracoid process which sits just under the collar bone, and then down onto the first couple of ribs, when it gets tight and short, it can lift the rib cage up causing a narrow space for the nerve, artery and vein to pass through. By gently releasing the muscle we can allow the rib cage to drop back to it’s usual resting place and give more space to the blood vessels and nerves. Overdoing this one will leave you feeling bruised so take it slow for best results.
If you want to organise a chat with one of the Myotherapists here at Myothrive, simply email us at [email protected] and we can organise a time. Want to book now? Here’s the link!
WHAT IS IT? Did you know Sciatica or Sciatic Nerve pain is a term used to describe a set of symptoms caused by an underlying medical condition; it is not a medical diagnosis. It may refer to a sharp or burning pain that radiates down the legs from the buttocks. For you to have true Sciatica, […]
Do you UNDERSTAND your pain? Did you know you can change your pain at a cellular level by how much knowledge you have about your pain? Its called Pain Re- education which turns into Cellular Adaptation. Yes, the more you know, the more you feel better. Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to your pain. […]
Here in Australia gyms, Pilates Studios and Personal Trainers are starting to open again post our COVID-19 hibernation. I’m sure you’ve already seen plenty of posts and blogs telling you to go slow in getting back into it to avoid injury and to avoid early burn out but we think this is such a valuable time to make some meaningful SMART goals to really set you up for success, a positive mindset and ultimately a great end to the year! Read on to find out what a SMART goal entails, what the readiness to change stages are and a step by step of how to start putting your goal together.
What is a SMART Goal?
A SMART goal is an acronym to assist in making a goal. It stands for:
S – Specific. Make your goal specific and narrow with numbers and real deadlines.
M– Measurable. Make sure your goal is trackable. Decide how you are going to track your progress and reevaluate when necessary.
A – Achievable. Work towards a goal that is challenging but possible. Make sure to consider your deadline when considering whether your goal is achievable.
R – Relevant and Resonant. Make sure your goal is relevant to your values and any larger objective you have in mind. Make sure it resonates and excites you!
T – Time-based. Give yourself a deadline. Make sure it is realistic but ambitious to motivate you and help you prioritise.
A SMART goal differs from setting a broad goal by giving a comprehensive vision of what your goal looks like and gives you something to action straight away.
Consider your readiness to change…
Before you start jumping into your goal setting, consider where you are at on the “Readiness to Change Scale”. If you are a beginner, your first goal might simply be to try a few different personal trainers for example. This would be the preparation phase. Here’s the full scale so you can identify where you are at specific to the goal you have in mind.
You are likely considering a change but you occasionally catch yourself saying “Do I really need to…?” You are likely in denial. Try asking someone close to you, who you know will be honest with you. An ideal gym goal for someone who is in the pre-contemplation stage might be “I will do some research on the benefits of regular exercise”.
At this stage, you know you want to make a change but you haven’t worked out anything beyond this such as barriers (time, cost, fear, etc…). A good goal for this stage might be “I will research some of the gyms and personal trainers in the area” and a seperate goal for this stage might be “I will work out who I’m going to ask to be my support person in helping me achieve this goal”.
You are likely now prepared to try a few things. You’ve mentally overcome your barriers and now you are ready for a small, achievable goal. A ideal goal at this stage might be “I will book in a personal training session with X” and “I will try that class that my friend recommended”. Remember at this stage you are just having a taste to see what you like and what might suit your lifestyle, budget etc…
This is the stage where you take definitive action towards a change. This might be joining the gym, committing to a 10 class pass at yoga or signing on with a new personal trainer. The goal at this stage might look like “This week after yoga class I am going to buy the 10 week set”.
At this stage you have been taking action consistently. You now feel ready to work on maintaining the new behaviour over the long term or making the goal a bit more challenging. A good goal for this phase might be “I am going to buy the annual pass to yoga and commit to 2 classes each week”.
How to write your SMART goal.
1. Write down your big picture goal
This is the thing that really moves you and excites you! For example – “I will drop a dress size by the end of the year as we are going on a beach holiday!“
2. Write down the first step you need to make in order to achieve your goal
This will become your SMART goal. This is also the time to consider your stage of readiness to change. Example – “I will increase my personal training sessions to 2x per week” This person seems to be in the action stage but may also be in the maintenance phase.
3. Expand the first step to achieving your goal into the SMART acronym
Specific. Example – “I will do Personal Training on Mondays and Thursdays from 7am – 7:45am starting next week”. Notice the Specific included where it would be done, dates and times and how long it would be done for on each occasion.
Measurable Example – “I will cross off the days on a calendar each time I go to Personal Training so I can see my attendance progress. I will get the Personal Trainer to help track my physical progress by measuring me once a month”. For a goal to be measurable you need to come up with something that will be different when you’re finished, something to let you know you’ve completed your goal.
Achievable Example – “I have already been going to Personal Training once a week regularly for over a year so I feel I can easily add one more session in per week.”To effectively ask yourself if this goal is achievable you need to reconsider what stage of readiness to change you are at surrounding this goal. As noted above this example is at the action stage.
Relevant and Resonant. Check back to your bigger goal. Is this smart goal really in alignment with what you are trying to achieve? Is it in alignment with your values? Great! Now make sure it resonates. If not already, change it to a powerful “I am” styled statement. Imagine when this goal is complete; does it make you want to cheers and high five? Example “I am so excited to go to Personal Training twice per week on Mondays and Thursdays from 7am – 7:45am as I know it is helping me to achieve my bikini body!”
Timely. Example – “My deadline is Thursday the 19th of November 2020 when I will have my final measurements taken and reward myself after training with buying a new bikini for the holiday!” Write down the exact date and time of the deadline for completion for this goal.
Now you have your goal, congratulations!
4. Next write your goal down with you’re favourite pen on your favourite paper and stick it up all over the place!
Put one on the bathroom mirror, one near the kettle, one in the bedroom where you will see it when you wake up. Ideally stick your goals up in 5 different places. You can have more than 1 goal on each piece of paper but your main or most important goal should stand out the most or be at the top. I use photo paper with a felt tip pin so it stands out and that way I can use different inspiring colours as well. Once you feel like that goal is a reality or you have moved into a different stage of the “readiness to change”, make sure you update your goal by going through the same process.
I hope you take the time to use this approach and that you get as much out of it as we do. We use this a lot around MyoThrive. If you get stuck try searching google images for SMART goals sometimes there are worksheets available that lay it out and all you have to do is fill in the blanks. If you’ve never made a goal before or would love to learn more check out this article. It was a really good read about setting goals. If you’re working on something specific feel free to bring it along to your next Myotherapy session and we can spend the first 5 minutes on it. Click here to find a time that suits you best.
The things your plan and focus your energy on always come into fruition because they are achievable, actionable goals that you truely desire!
If you already have a self massage ball, you probably know how amazing they are. Whether its a spiky ball, a lacrosse ball or a borrowed cricket ball from your kids, they are great for relieving tight muscles all over the body. Due to covid-19 isoloation happening all over the world, todays post will be focused on helping those who are working from home.
Disclaimer: These exercises may not be right for you. We recommend you check with your musculoskeletal health care provider before trying any new exercises or therapies.
A lot of our customers have been commenting how sore their arms are getting from going from a ergonomic desk set up to a throw together home office set up. Some of them don’t have the same amount or length of breaks because everything is so handy in a home set up environment. If this is sounding familiar and your arms are starting to feel like dead weights, give this self release technique a go.
Step 1 – Put the ball on the bench and put your forearm on the ball.
Step 2 – Hold on the sore spot and then move your wrist back and forth, you can even add a stretch with the other hand which aids the myofascial release. 30-60 seconds on each spot should be plenty.
Step 3 – Try finding a few more spots. Also try the other side of the forearm.
2. Between the shoulder blades
This self massage technique can be done with one ball, but it feels amazing if you have 2. You can also use what’s called a bak ball or a peanut where it’s like they stuck 2 balls together. If you don’t have that you can simply put 2 balls inside a sock to hold them together. The 2 balls in a sock idea actually works better because you can move them further apart for different areas of the spine by tying knots between the balls. Try this technique on the between the shoulder blades first but it may feel nice to try on your neck or other areas of your back. Just remember you are aiming to release muscle, don’t put the balls directly on the spine.
Step 1 – Lie on your back with the balls underneath you between your shoulder blades. Make sure the balls are going across ways so they don’t press on your spine.
Step 2 – Hug your elbows and gently circle your arms 5 times in 1 direction and then 5 times in the other direction. It should feel like a nice massage.
Step 3 – Repeat this process on 2-3 other sore spots you find between the shoulder blades.
No doubt that your neck is probably coping most of the home office stress right now. We go from working at the computer in our work time to checking our phone (words with friends is soooo addictive), watching television or reading a book in our down time. All this head forward posture puts a lot of repetitive load on our neck. Try this self massage technique if your neck is feeling stiff or starting to give you headaches!
Step 1 – Lie on your back and place the ball under the base of your skull.
Step 2 – roll your head from side to side or do small nodding actions to find a good spot.
Step 3 – Let it sink in on each sore spot for about 30-60 seconds. Choose 2 or 3 spots, there’s no benefit to over doing it!
Lower Body Edition Coming soon
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We stock spiky balls, lacrosse balls and peanuts for all your self massage needs! Simply email [email protected] with what you’re after. If you live local to us we’ll even drop it off to your letter box in iso style! In addition we are offering online and in clinic consultations for people who need a bit more help. Click here to find a time that suits you best.
Wether you enjoy yoga or climbing mountains, we all need exercise!
Government guidelines for exercise are 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week and 2 strength training sessions per week. These recommendations are based on current research but what does moderate cardio feel like and how hard do the strength sessions have to be?
150 minutes of moderate cardio per week is most achievable when broken up into 30 minute chunks which ends up being 5 cardio sessions per week. Moderate means a perceived exertion level of 7/10. If you were chatting with a friend you would need to pause every 5 words or so to catch you breath. Need something more technical? I love the 180 formula developed by Dr.Phil Maffetone. This formula is designed to keep you in the aerobic zone to avoid poor posture and gait and to decrease incidence of injury. It’s also been shown to give you greater fitness advances.
… the take home? what is moderate for me might be different than what is moderate for you.
Strength training on the other hand is a little more complex. Research tells us to avoid things like osteoporosis and muscle deterioration it’s important to do strength training but do you need a gym membership?
In short no, you don’t.
Some simple squats, push ups and pull ups can do the trick. Exercises like these you can do anywhere. They can be altered to make them easier or harder depending on your fitness levels and they can be altered to allow for any injuries or conditions you may have. We can work out a program for home that it right for you and that will keep you motivated.
The Classic Push Up Exercise can be done in so many different ways, here the medicine ball is designed to be a slight unstable surface to work your muscles in a balancing fashion. We can change to angled push ups, kneeling push ups and supported push ups with a band to make them easier while you learn technique or overcome an injury.
How to get your personalised program.
To get your own personalised program book online or fill out our contact form. We look forward in helping you achieve your health and fitness goals!
Pelvic curl x 10
Bridge x 10
Standing crab walk with stretch band x 5 each way
Stretch Band straight arm pull x 10
Stretch Band straight arm row x 10
Bent over row with dumbbells x 10
Band assisted pull ups x 10
Band assisted push ups with hands wide x 10
Band assisted push ups with hands narrow x 10
If you want to learn more about how we can help you achieve your health and fitness goals, please contact us and one of our friendly Clinical Myotherapists will be in touch with you!