Your mid-back as a structure overall is built to be stiff and stable. This is because attaching to it are your ribs which are crucial for protecting your organs that are underneath it.
But a lot of people are in poor postures during the day and therefore have a rounded upper back. If the upper back is stiff then you will be unable to extend your back fully. Not being able to extend your upper back fully has knock-on implications for your neck, lower back and especially your shoulders. So, when trying to fix these issues it is important to not just look at the site of pain but try to fix the mobility in your upper back.
If a fire starts in your house and you running to the smoke alarm and taking out the batteries is similar to just focusing on the site of pain when you get an injury. Without looking at your upper back mobility you can miss the true cause of your problem and therefore not recover efficiently or perform optimally at a chosen sport. This is especially true for gym-goers and throwing athletes.
It is very common for people not to have enough mobility in the upper back and almost no one has enough. We recommend doing mobility work for this area every day.
How to help?
The cat camel is a great exercise to get movement back through your back. This is done by being on all 4’s. Then start by arching your back while taking a deep breath in. Then start to arch your back take a breathe out and tuck your rib cage down at the end of the movement. Then repeat. Aim for 15-20 slow repetitions.
The sphynx variation of the cat camel is great for really targeting your upper back, it is easy to hinge and get motion through the mid-back with just the cat camel so doing this variation might help you target your upper back better. Again start by arching your back and couple the movement with your breathing as this will help expand the rib cage (if your rib cage is not moving well, your upper back is not moving well) and make sure you’re doing the movement slow enough. Aim for 15-20 slow repetitions.
If you suffer from any shoulder issues or want to get more back mobility then contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Hip pain is very common in people who exercise regularly. But how can you help your hip pain and tight hips?
To prepare the body to be able to squat or lift weights pain-free, you should improve your sense of balance and general control single-legged.
Think about it, when was the last time you trained single leg exercises? I mean, really trained it? But it’s never too late to start incorporating it into your workout routine.
The hip airplane which was designed by Dr. Stuart McGill with the aim of being an active flexibilty exercise deals with both balance and general control head-on so will seriously challenge you to perform it equally side to side.
Therefore, the hip airplane will test and improve the stability of the muscles in and around your hip.
Even people who can squat huge amounts of weight can struggle with this and it will lead to injury. This is because of progressively causing micro-trauma to your tissues because you don’t have the functional stability around your hip. So, people of all athletic ability can benefit from training single movements.
So why is the hip airplane so important for the squatting movement pattern?
When you squat you femur’s are in an abducted position (so they’re pointing out) with your feet also out in relation to your pelvis. Your pelvis is the stable point around which your femurs will move and rotate in their socket.
So to recreate this movement but to work on stability rather than strength you can use the hip airplane. This is because instead of having your foot out to the side and your pelvis in neutral, the foot is now directly underneath your body and you will deviate the pelvis.
How to do the hip airplane
Firstly do the exercise barefoot to activate the small muscles in your foot which will help create a stable structure from the ground up.
Starting position: Then go onto one leg and bring your front leg upwards to 90 degrees.
Then bend your torso forward so it is over your leg in contact with the ground, do this while kicking your back leg behind you.
Keep your trail leg straight.
(If you know common weightlifting movements then this is very similar to the single leg roman deadlift or RDL).
Then slowly bring your belly button towards your leg in contact with the ground and then out to the side. Then return back to the starting position.
Aim: Practice quality of the movement with good form. But as a rough guide aim for 1-2 sets of 10-20 repetitions. But this exercise is all about control so even if you can only do 3 to start. Slowly build up from there.
As you do this exercise more and more you will get better at balance and your steering ability in rotation. As you improve you can start leaning further forward to make the exercise harder.
If would like a full functional assessment and to get some tips and feedback on your exercises, then contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Most low back pain is primarily caused by the way you move and how you sit. During the day there are ways to do these things that put less stress on your back. Your spine has 24 vertebrae and it is common to think that all the parts move evenly. But certain areas take on more movement than others which are called hinge points. This blog post will give you some techniques and ideas to help remove these hinge points and to start getting you more pain free.
In between the segments of your spine, there are discs that act as little shock absorbers. As you sleep the discs gather water and hold the water so they become more pressurised when you wake up first thing in the morning, this means they are easier to injure. After an hour the pressure decreases to nearly normal so this is why it is extra important to be careful in the morning.
Ways to manage this in the morning:
Don’t bend and round your back when getting out of bed
When brushing your teeth, avoid spinal movement. Try and hinge from the hips. You should feel like you’re gliding your bottom backwards in order to lean forwards. It’s fine to lean one hand on the sink for support.
Try not to be hunched over when putting on shoes and socks
Don’t have your back rounded when sitting down eating your breakfast
Other problems for your back throughout the day are when you try to lift something heavy. If your job requires a lot of lifting it is vital to know how to squat with good form.
To do this you should have your feet at shoulder width. Then keeping your back straight you should move your pelvis backwards and keep your heels down. To practice this if you get a pole or a golf club and held it along your spine touching the bak of your head, mid-back and tailbone, the pole or club should stay touching throughout the whole squat.
Also, when you are walking day to day it is important to do this correctly to reduce the strain on your lower back. So try to walk with your chest up and bring your head back and swing your arms. Interesting fact, walking is 12% more metabolically demanding with your hands in your pockets, this shows how your arms play a vital role in saving energy. Doing this will reduce tension in your lower back and walking can be therapeutic for back pain if you do these steps correctly.
I hope this helps, but if you do suffer from back pain and would like us to have a look at your problem and run through advice to get you pain-free, then contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.
Tight hip flexors are a common issue we see in clinic.
With tight hips people commonly look for one of two reasons to why they are tight:
– Is it tight because it’s short and so we should stretch it?
– Is it tight because it’s weak so we should strengthen it?
This brings us to an important point.
The psoas muscle plays a role in hip flexion but hip flexors shouldn’t purely be judged off the muscles action but should be judged from the function of the muscle, which for the Psoas is stability of the lumbar spine.
The psoas has a broad origin that is from all the segments of your lumbar spine.
Your lumbar spine has no structural stability unlike for example its neighbour, the thoracic spine. So the lumbar spine relies on muscles to stabilise it.
What can we learn from this?
Rather than attempting to fix your tight psoas by really pushing the muscle into a stretched position or by just directly strengthening it, a different line of attack can be taken by focusing your time on stabilising the lumbar spine and your core muscles.
To really increase the effectiveness when you try to stabilise your lumbar spine and core is focus on resisting force through all three planes of motion for the lumbar spine. These are flexion/extension, lateral flexion and rotation.
To do this you can integrate the Mcgill big three into your workout or daily routines.
Attached below are 3 key exercises to target all three planes of motion for core exercises.
If you suffer from tight hips and would like a full functional assessment and us to take give you tailored advice, feel free to contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.
Firstly, cycling in comparison to other sports has a low rate of injury, apart from crashes or collisions from, for example, someone jumping into the cycle lane on your morning commute and your morning coffee failed to wake you up in time.
However, cyclists do need to take care of their backs because in general, the most common thing cyclists complain of, is their back.
Being hunched over on a road bike will take an effect over time. Low back pain is reported by more than 50% of cyclists and in overuse injuries lower back pain causes the highest rates of functional impairment and medical attention amongst cyclists.
Why do cyclists get low back pain?
There are many potential reasons why cyclists can get back pain but the following are the most likely:
Poor bike fit: This can be from an incorrect saddle height or and uneven saddle
Knee has a less than 25% bend at the end of the stroke. This will force you to rock your pelvis from side to side to get enough power at bottom of the stroke.
Your handlebars are too far forward causing you to overstretch which will increase tension in your lower back.
Flexing the lower back and causing core abdominal muscles to be in a poor position and so won’t work effectively. This means you won’t be in a stable position when you’re cycling.
You can also hurt your neck and upper back by bending your neck too far upwards. This will increase the strain in your neck and you could also hurt it going over unexpected bumps.
Using BIG gears. You should aim for a cadence of around 90 RPM. If you are getting lower than this then it will put extra stress on your back.
Tight hamstrings. If you have a reduced range of motion in your hamstrings then this will pull on your pelvis and rotate your spine into a more rounded position.
Poor core muscle strength.
If you are riding on bumpy terrain. This increases jarring and compression to the spine while you ride and can cause pain in your back.
Length of cycling done weekly. Cyclists who ride an average of 160 km or more per week are significantly more likely to report back pain than those who rode less km per week.
Things to check if you have back pain while cycling:
Ultimately there are 3 main things to do:
Check your bike fit. There is an association between bike fitting and your comfort while cycling. This can increase pain if your bike is not fitted properly.
Check your cadence and see if it needs to be increased. A low cadence puts more strain on your back.
Strengthen your core and back muscles. The low back is not designed to take much hard work when cycling. Your core should protect it and provide support.
If you suffer from back pain when cycling and would like a full functional assessment feel free to contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.
Wearing high heels shoes can create a lot of problems when it comes to walking biomechanics which could cause injuries in your feet and further up your body into your hip and lower back.
What changes high heels make?
It creates a-lot of pressure in your big toe
It will reduce the ability to get a spring in your step because there is less tension in your calf due to it being in a shortened position.
You have to step higher to clear your foot off the ground and this can cause injuries to other areas of the body. The higher the heel, the higher you have to step.
With your heel raised the knee is moving forwards so there is more loading through your quadriceps and therefore more compression across the knee.
Whereas the people who use a low heeled shoe are more likely to put the foot under their centre of mass and use the muscles around the front of your lower leg as shock absorbers.
Simply put, if you run downhill you will feel like your knee is under more pressure. Therefore, if you wear high heeled shoes you are changing the biomechanics of your walking to affectively be always walking downhill.
High heel wearers moved with shorter, more forceful strides. This movement pattern continued even when they kicked off their heels and walked barefoot.
Try it yourself:
If you go up on your toes and take a few strides. It is very difficult it is to take a full stride and engage your glutes.
But, if the foot is flat on the floor with your toes extended it is much easier to engage your glutes.
So what can we learn?
If you wear high heels for a long period of time, your calf fibres could shorten and be put under much greater strain than if you do not wear high heels.
None the less, there is a bigger problem lurking and brewing underneath when heels are worn regularly.
Slowly and gradually the disuse of the muscles at the front of your lower leg will weaken and your calf will shorten. If left too long, it will result in tightness.
Exercises and rehabilitation
Instead of just stretching the calf and forcing the ankle into a position, the aim is to strengthen the front part of your lower leg.
First, bend the knee and lift the foot up with the leg bent. This will access lots of the required muscles. Then slide the foot forward and lower the leg. Repeat and slowly slide forwards.
Bend the knee, come onto your toes so the whole calf is engaged. Then lower the heel down but as you do this increase knee flexion while the toes are raised. Do this one leg at a time and slowly move backwards.
Do 2 minutes of each of these exercises every day. This is especially important if you are doing running as an exercise.
If you would like a full functional assessment or have any pains when exercising feel free to contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.
Scoliosis is a lateral bending and/ or rotary deformation of the spine presenting as one or multiple curves in the back. It can be functional or structural.
If it is functional, then it is usually a compensatory pattern, possibly posture-related, and can be corrected with stretching, strengthening, joint manipulation, and postural retraining.
If it is structural then it is due to anatomical changes. There are wide varieties of structural scoliosis, but the most common one is Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS).
What is Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis?
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) is of unknown cause and usually happens during adolescence- age 10 to 18. It is more common in young girls and the progression usually slows down after the menstruation starts.
What is the treatment for AIS?
There are many different approaches to help prevent AIS progression and also possibly decrease its curve if it has a functional component.
It can be addressed with:
Possible bracing depending on the severity of the curve
Strengthening and stretching exercises to properly address the curvature
Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilisation
Soft tissue work
Below is an exercise that can help:
If you suspect that your child has a scoliosis contact the clinic for a consultation on 057 8678904.