Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

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At Dynamic Physio it’s not secret that we love our hockey! But as our therapist Erin will tell you, hockey players are no strangers to the physio clinic. They often experience the knee and ankle injuries common to most sports, but in addition to this the nature of bending over to hold a hockey stick for extended periods can cause issues in the glutes, and lower back.

Lower back pain is not just reserved for hockey players. Up to 80% of people will experience lower back pain at some stage. There are a multitude of causes and the pain can come on quickly, for instance through lifting a heavy object or twisting/jerking awkwardly, or gradually as a result of poor posture or an overuse injury.

If you are suffering from this painful and often frustrating injury, there are a few treatment options that can help. You may start by treating the pain with paracetamol or ibuprofen, as well as a heat pack.

Depending on the cause of the pain your physio can help get you moving again through soft tissue massage, acupuncture, and strengthening exercises to get you back to normal movement and prevent re-occurrence. These exercises will generally be focused around core stability, and helping you to sit, stand, move and bend correctly.

Are you currently suffering from pain or discomfort in your lower back? (or anywhere else!)

Get in touch with the team at Dynamic Physio and we’ll put together a customised treatment plan to get you moving again.

Tension Headaches: a pain in the neck...

In this post we discuss the causes of tension headaches, how to prevent them, and how physiotherapy can help.

Tension headaches are one of the most commonly experienced types of headaches in adults. They can cause pain in the head, neck and behind the eyes and are caused by contractions and tightness of the muscles in the head and neck.

All headaches can be debilitating and affect your day to day activities. They can cause you to be tired and irritable, sensitive to light and noise, and they disrupt your sleep, work and exercise.

If you experience regular tension headaches, your first reaction may be to reach for the paracetamol or ibuprofen. But painkillers are a temporary fix, and you are probably curious to know what’s causing your pain and what you can do to prevent and treat it more permanently.

So what causes tension headaches?

There are a number of factors, but the most common causes are:

·         Poor Posture

·         Stress

·         Caffeine/Alcohol

·         Fatigue

·         Eye Strain

 

What can you do?

There are a number of changes you can make in your day to day life to help prevent tension headaches from recurring:

1.       Improve posture, particularly in your workspace

2.       Get your eyes checked

3.       Reduce caffeine intake

4.       Reduce sitting time and screen time

 

Treatment:

If you experience regular tension headaches, there may be underlying musculoskeletal issues or other factors that can be treated with physiotherapy and/or acupuncture.

Physiotherapy treatment may involve joint mobilisation (stretching), soft tissue massage or postural taping.

Acupuncture treatment is also regularly used to effectively treat headaches, and can assist in prevention of tension headaches by treating contributing factors like stress.  

For support and treatment of headaches and related issues, book an appointment with us today.

Should you use a Standing Desk?

We all know that sitting too much is bad for your health and wellbeing, and is a major contributor to Postural Syndrome (discussed in our series on What’s Causing Your Pain?). At Dynamic Physio we see a lot of clients who are suffering from aches and pains related to sitting at a desk for long period of time.

If you sit at a computer for most of the day you may notice pain in your shoulders, back (upper/mid/lower), and neck towards the end of the day. You may also notice that you experience tension headaches, which can be caused by poor posture and sitting for long periods of time.

There’s been a lot of hype around the benefits of standing desks recently and there are definitely some smart health-related reasons you should consider adopting this style of workspace:

-          Standing burns 50% more calories per hour compared to sitting

-          Reduce health risks around obesity, blood pressure, and actually some cancers

-          Improve posture, and reduce pain related to postural syndrome

-          Improve core strength

-          Increase energy and focus

 

Some considerations if you are thinking of changing to a standing desk:

Adapt gradually: don’t expect to transition from sitting for 8 hours a day to standing for a full 8 hours. Aim to start off with a couple of hours and build up from there.

Wear comfortable/supportive shoes: it goes without saying, standing up for a long period of time in the wrong footwear can cause more harm than good.

Don’t forget to move around: Although standing is better than sitting, intermittent walking breaks are even more important for your health.

The bottom line: holding your body in any position for long periods of time is less than ideal and can lead to pain and injury. We all need to move more, and considering a standing desk for your workspace could be a nice way to help achieve this!

If you have any questions about workplace posture, postural syndrome, or back/neck pain, don’t hesitate to talk to your physiotherapist.

Inflammation and Injuries

You’ve probably heard of inflammation in the context of injuries before. When you injure yourself, it’s normal to experience some inflammation in the area. This is caused by the body’s response to tissue damage.

So what is inflammation?

Inflammation is  actually an immune response: the body is aware of tissue damage and is protecting the area against potential infection. 

It has three main actions/purposes:

  • Defend the area against harmful substances
  • Dispose of the damaged tissue
  • Promote healing and renewal of healthy tissue

The main signs of inflammation are:

  • Pain (due to chemicals released by damaged cells)
  • Swelling (due to an influx of fluid to the area)
  • Redness (due to vasodilatation- the widening of blood vessels and bleeding in the joint or structure).
  • Heat (because of increased blood flow). 
  • Loss of function (caused by swelling/pain).

When you have a soft tissue injury along with Inflammation, the best method of treatment to reduce pain and swelling is Rest and Ice. You could also apply a compression bandage to further assist in the reduction of swelling and support the injury.

Applying heat to the area will increase blood flow which in turn increases swelling (and pain). 

Rest is equally important as using the injured limb/joint too much can further damage the tissue and lengthen the recovery time. 

Following an injury, it’s important to see your Physiotherapist as they will be able to assess the extent of the damage and provide advice and a progressive treatment plan to help you return to normal activities as soon as possible. 

Are you suffering from pain and inflammation caused by a suspected soft tissue injury? Book an appointment with Dynamic Physio today and we’ll get you feeling and moving better again.
 

Rugby Season is about to begin

With Winter sport nearly upon us, and rugby specifically, we’re about to see a lift in the number of sports injuries we see at the Dynamic Physio clinic.

The most common “start of the rugby season” injuries we see are knees and shoulders, mostly sprains and strains, along with dislocations.  These injuries are typically caused by a heavy impact or an awkward fall.

Preparation

As a player, the best thing you can do to prevent a season-ruining injury in the first few weeks of the season is to ensure you warm up adequately, stretch regularly and focus on strengthening exercises to support your joints through the game.

Try not in increase your training load too quickly, as this can cause unnecessary stress on your joints and soft tissue. If possible, ease into training and gradually build up the intensity.

Cross Training

Cross training, stability and mobility exercises are your friends as well, as these help to support your body to keep moving correctly. You could try swimming, yoga or stretching.

For help and advice on how to prepare your body and prevent rugby injuries, just ask your physiotherapist. We can put together a plan to ensure your body holds up for the duration of the rugby season.

At Dynamic Physio we take a holistic approach to therapy: we focus on getting your body moving correctly so that you can avoid nasty injuries and enjoy life!

Foam Rolling: What is it? and How Does it Work?

Foam Rolling is an incredibly useful technique to self-release tight muscles and soft tissue. You can use the technique on just about every muscle of the body, from your calves right up to your neck.

Foam Rollers themselves are made of dense foam material, come in various sizes, and are usually cylindrical in shape. 

How does it work?

Exercise (and daily life) causes your muscles to go through a constant process of breakdown and repair.  Over time this can cause the muscles to become tight when the fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles) starts to thicken and shorten to protect the underlying muscle from further damage.

Sometimes this can form trigger points, which can feel like a really tight knot or sore spot needing to be released.

So how do we use Foam Rollers to release the fascia?

The goal with foam rolling is to stretch and loosen the fascia so that it and the other tissue around it can move more freely.

Once you’ve located an area of tightness, sit or lie down with the roller underneath you. Then slowly roll back and forth along the muscle, it’s important to use long slow movements the full length of the muscle.

If you encounter any trigger points, roll over these areas in slightly smaller movements.

You will feel some discomfort, this means it’s working.  If you feel a lot of pain that doesn’t subside once you stop applying pressure, stop the exercise. If the pain hangs around, contact your Physiotherapist.

Important note:

Don’t use your foam roller directly on an injured area. This can increase inflammation, cause further pain, and delay your recovery. Instead, come and see your Physiotherapist for advice on rehabilitation.

 

Want more? Here’s a video from Runner’s World showing how to roll out your IT Band.

Take care of yourself if exercising or playing sport this summer

As Kiwis we love sport and we love summer, but it's important to look after yourself out there. Here are Dynamic Physio's top 5 tips for exercising during the hot summer months: 

1.    Be sun smart


New Zealanders have the highest rates of Melanoma in the world. Make sure you protect yourself if you are out in the sun at any time of day but using a good sunscreen, wearing a hat, and sunglasses if possible.


2.    Avoid dehydration

It seems simple but too many of us forget to stay hydrated while we’re exercising, especially in the heat. Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day, and during exercise, to replace what you lose through sweat. 


3.    Be aware of your body’s reaction to the heat


Everybody has a slightly different tolerance for hot weather. The key is to pay attention to your body, and if you feel dizzy, nauseous or even just overly fatigued – then take a rest straight away! Sit somewhere cool, drink some water and wait until you feel better.


4.    Re-hydrate adequately


We all know to drink water after exercise in order to re-hydrate our bodies. But you should also consciously drink water for the hours following any sport to ensure proper recovery. The test is to keep hydrating until your wee is clear!


5.    Allow rest and take it easy


During hot weather you may find that you get tired more quickly, and some days you might not feel like exercising at all. It’s ok to take a break when you need it, or modify your routine to adapt to the weather conditions. Perhaps you might exercise in the early morning when it’s cooler, or add in some swimming as cross training. 

The most important thing when exercising in hot weather is to listen to your body and enjoy yourself!


And remember, if we can help sort out any aches, pains or niggles – get in touch with Dynamic Physio for a free consultation.
 

Tips to Keep Active During the Summer Holidays

Ahh the summer months, gorgeous long days, perfect for backyard cricket and fish and chips on the beach.

No doubt by now you've had time to process your Christmas indulgences, and perhaps you've set yourself some fitness goals for 2017.

Here's some tips from us at Dynamic Physio on how to stay active during the summer holidays, when your routine may be slightly out of wack.

1. Set yourself a REALISTIC goal:

Don't set out to go from the couch to getting up at 5am every morning for a 10km run. Start with a manageable routine that you can evolve into a habit. Perhaps start with 3 mornings a week, and build up from there.

2. Get your exercise out of the way early in the day.

Especially if you are on holidays, as the day wears on it becomes easier to just put off your exercise to the next day. You may be distracted by the kids, or a big lunch, or some afternoon beers. If you've ticked off your exercise in the morning you can relax and enjoy yourself.

3. Don't beat yourself up

Even if you have a couple of lazy days (we all do!), it's never too late to pick up where you left off.

4. It takes 21 days to make (or break) a habit.

So stick with it! Try to keep to your routine as long as you can, and it will eventually become a habit.

Hopefully with those easy tips you can create and stick to your fitness routine and goals for this 2017. 

But take it easy in your Jandals, every year the ACC processes around 250 claims for Jandal-related-mishaps!

 

"Maybe it will go away..."

So you've got a niggle, or an ache, or worse.

In some cases, your injury and pain will recover with time (and rest!) however more often than not physiotherapy will help speed up your recovery, and help prevent the injury from recurring.

There are very real risks in leaving an injury and hoping it recovers on its own. This could cause further damage to the muscle or soft-tissue, or it could have a knock-on effect by changing your gait and limiting your normal movement which in turn can cause strain on other areas of the body.

At Dynamic Physio we take a holistic approach to your wellbeing.

We conduct a thorough assessment at your first appointment to determine what’s causing your pain.

Then we use a variety of techniques including massage, joint mobilisation, acupuncture, strengthening exercises, and stretching to aid in recovery. Some of these you can carry on by yourself at home, and it all works together to help get you back to normal activities as soon as possible.

Don't suffer for no reason, book an appointment today and we'll help get you back to normal fast.

Acute Injury Management (or how to treat that sprained ankle...)

You have probably heard of the RICE method for treating a soft tissue injury. It is a really useful formula to remember should you suffer from a sprain or strain.

Here’s how it works:

Rest

Stop your activity. Running around on a sprained ankle is likely to make the injury worse and increase your recovery time.

Ice

Applying an ice pack to the affected area can reduce swelling and inflammation, and help with pain. Make sure you wrap the ice in a cloth to avoid burning the skin, and as a rule of thumb apply ice for 20mins at a time.

Compression

Wrap the affected area in a compression bandage as this helps to reduce swelling, and supports the stability of the joint while it heals.

Elevation

Take it easy and put your feet up (literally). Elevating an injured limb helps to get blood flow to the area which in turns promotes healing. Limit walking around on an injury, and take rests where you can.

How long until I'm better?

Depending on the severity of your injury, a sprain or strain can take between 1 and 6 weeks to heal properly.

The key thing to remember with any injury is to allow yourself time to heal. Rushing back into sport too soon can prolong your healing time and make things a lot worse.

For advice on getting strength and mobility back to a sprained joint, come and see us and we’ll put together a rehab plan to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Contact us today to make an appointment.

How Physio Can Help After Surgery

Physiotherapy is often used for rehabilitation after orthopaedic surgeries such as knee reconstructions, hip replacements or shoulder reconstructions.

Following any surgery you are likely to be tight, stiff and some of your muscles may have weakened. Physiotherapy can be extremely useful in gaining your mobility and strength back in the affected area and in training your body to use muscles correctly again.

Physiotherapy can also be useful prior to surgery, as it can help strength the supporting muscles around the affected joint, and significantly improve your recovery.

So if you’re planning a knee reconstruction, hip replacement or similar, it’s worth talking to one of our therapists to make a plan for your preparation and recovery. This way you can get back to your old self much faster!

Here's some awesome inspiration:

Take a look below at one of Tom’s amazing patients, Peter, who just last weekend completed the Auckland Half Marathon only 6 months after undergoing an ACL (knee) reconstruction. This was an awesome feat only possible through huge dedication by Peter supported by great rehabilitation therapy from Tom.

Tom and Peter celebrating at the finish of the Auckland Half Marathon

Tom and Peter celebrating at the finish of the Auckland Half Marathon

Don't Skip the Cool Down

We know that warming up before exercise plays a big role in preventing injury, but cooling down is equally (if not more) important.

It’s all too easy to skip the cool down if you’re exhausted and keen to get home, but taking a few minutes to ease your body back into normal functioning and prepares you better for your next activity.

Try this:

After Running: taper down to a light jog, then power walk, to a nice easy walk before coming to a stop. Then remember to stretch gently for a few minutes.

After Sport: (football, netball, rugby etc) an easy cool down is a light jog around the pitch or court, followed by stretching. It’s easy to do this in a group as well.

Allowing yourself to take a few extra minutes at the end of your exercise will mean you recover much faster, are less likely to injure yourself next time, and it will even reduce the dreaded next day muscle pain.

Stretching after exercise is vital to aid recovery. 

Stretching after exercise is vital to aid recovery. 

Trust Quality and Experience in Physiotherapy

These days there are a lot of Physio clinics advertising that they are “Free under ACC”.  This basically means they don’t charge you any fees on top of what they receive from the ACC to cover your treatment.

If you have injured yourself It makes sense that you would look for a Physiotherapist based on a balance between getting quality treatment and saving money.

These “Free” physio clinics are often staffed by less qualified and less experienced therapists, because they make their money through sheer volumes of patients. This can mean that your injury takes much longer to heal, or you may receive inappropriate treatments which can even make things worse.

Often it can be worth the small surcharge payment to visit a better quality Physiotherapist, as you’ll have peace of mind you are in good hands.

At Dynamic Physio we pride ourselves on skilled, quality physiotherapy treatment. We aim to take care of your whole wellbeing and get you back to normal activities faster.

If you are covered by ACC your first session will be free, and follow up sessions just $15 (less if you are a concession card holder). 

Physiotherapy + Acupuncture - How does it work?

Many physiotherapists now offer acupuncture as a complimentary treatment. At Dynamic physio we believe strongly in the benefits of combining these two techniques.

Here’s how it works:

There are 3 subsystems of the musculoskeletal system that maintain our function:

1.     neural (the nervous system)

2.     active (muscles & tendons)

3.       passive (bones, ligaments, spinal discs)

Physiotherapy mainly involves the use of manual therapy to help improve muscle & joint dysfunction, thereby mainly treating and affecting the active and passive sub systems (although there are some neural effects). 

Acupuncture involves the stimulation and manipulation of the nervous system to produce treatment affects.

So by receiving both Physiotherapy and Acupuncture treatments, you are covering all 3 aspects of the musculoskeletal system, and the result is you feel better much sooner.

More on Acupuncture:

Firstly, there are 2 types: Traditional Chinese (Eastern Acupuncture) and Western Acupuncture. Most physiotherapists (including Dynamic Physio) practice Western acupuncture.

  • Western acupuncture involves the use of fine needles inserted into meridian points around the body. The practitioner uses their anatomical knowledge of the body to select points that will stimulate nerves to induce the effects of acupuncture.
  • Multiple needles are used in various parts of the body to achieve the aims of the treatment. The needles are left in place for 20-30mins and are stimulated to achieve a Qi sensation (experienced as a tingling, warm or heavy feeling)
  • Acupuncture can reduce pain, headaches, inflammation, promote healing, reduce muscle tension, activate and strengthen weak muscles as well as promote general well-being.
  • Western acupuncture is used by physiotherapists to achieve these things by stimulating the nervous system (the brain & spinal cord) to produce and release the body's own pain relieving neuro-chemicals. The release of these chemicals help assist the body's own natural healing process.
  • Other effects of the release of these neuro-chemicals include promoting sleep and general well being through the release of melatonin.

 

Sounds pretty great hey? Here's how we use it at Dynamic Physio:

Depending on your specific condition, you may have acupuncture needles inserted before/after or during the use of other manual therapy techniques such as massage to the same or different area &/or joint stretching/mobilisations.

It doesn’t hurt, all you will feel is a mild tingling, or warm/heavy feeling radiating from the area.

And the result? Faster, more effective pain treatment and injury healing time!

Want to know more? We would love to explain how acupuncture can help you in more detail. Just get in touch with us via the form here. 

Sitting is the New Smoking

One of the most common issues we see at Dynamic Physio is people who have injured themselves due to an underlying issue or weakness caused by poor posture at work.

Do you sit at a desk all day? You could benefit from physiotherapy to address underlying weaknesses before they lead to a more serious injury.

There is a lot of research around about how our sedentary lifestyle is causing a multitude of health issues. This is where the phrase “Sitting is the new smoking” comes from.

From a physiotherapy perspective, some of the injuries we see which are caused by sitting at a computer are:

The main cause of these injuries is due to poor posture, and the fact that sitting still requires us to hold parts of our body steady for long periods of time.

So what can you do to prevent these types of injuries?

The #1 thing you can do is to take regular breaks from sitting.

Here’s some ideas:

  • Stand up to make your phone calls
  •  Have meetings outside, perhaps while walking around the block
  • Physically get up and go speak to a colleague, rather than emailing them
  • Schedule short breaks between work tasks and allow yourself to stand and stretch for 3 minutes

The second thing you should do is sort out the ergonomics of your workstation.

Make sure the desk and chair are at an appropriate height, and that you don’t have to strain your neck or eyes to see your computer screen. Take a look at this graphic for more detail on the idea work setup:

Do you already have aches and pains caused by sitting at a desk? The Dynamic Physio team can help, trust us we see this ALL THE TIME. Make an appointment today, and we’ll get you feeling like yourself again.

How Does Physio Help Me?

Physiotherapists use proven techniques to restore or maintain the proper movement and function of the body.

Primarily concerned with Joints, Soft Tissue and Bones, Physiotherapy is well known for treating injuries and helping to recover from surgery, but it can also be a huge help in preventing injury in the first place.

At Dynamic Physio we approach our therapy holistically; we place a focus on overall wellbeing and optimal health. Our mission is to get you moving efficiently (and painlessly!) so your body can operate at its peak, no matter what activity you are doing.

If you have injured yourself through sport or just day to day activities, we can help you get back to normal movement and function faster than if you go it alone. We can also assist with exercises and other techniques to prevent injuries from happening again!

And if your injury is covered by ACC, your first appointment and consultation are 100% free. We have really flexible opening hours and heaps of parking too, so there’s no excuse to put off treating that painful limb, back, neck, shoulder or knee… Just give us a call, email, or BOOK ONLINE today.