Is stretching necessary?

Active Stretching

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1321″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]I’m sure traditionally, everybody has been told numerous times to stretch before and after exercises, or in the morning before you get going or at night before you go to bed. And, I do get a lot of patients coming in and saying that, “I know I should do my stretches, and I don’t stretch enough.” But is stretching really necessary? Yes and No.

Growing up, I’ve always been able to bend myself backwards, or in half, rotate my joints to 360°, and anything you name it, I can do it. And no I’m not a gymnast; I just have hyper flexible joints! And right now, just because our world has been taken over so much by emoji’s, I bet every single one of you have already expressed in a million emoji’s to what they’ve just read above! LOL…

With flexibility comes a lot of mobility, so do I need to stretch when I’m that mobile? The answer is no, because I can bend in half and not be able to feel the stretch. I have learnt that for myself when I started going to crossfit. While a lot of people have really tight muscles and reduced range of movements, the mobility drills we do just before we start on our weights and our WODs (workout of the day), would benefit a lot of people, however, I have found that I injure myself easy, as when I stretch or perform those mobility drills, my muscles and joints become too lax to support me and I hurt myself easier by spraining my joints.

Enough of me, and let’s talk about technicality and fancy terms…

So do all of us need to stretch? No. If you were someone that struggles to touch your toes or have difficulty squatting at the gym, then stretching would be necessary for you to achieve that range of movement. However, if you have already got that flexibility, and you struggle to do movements like back squats, deadlifts – putting it in day-to-day life, bending and lifting something, reaching or lunging, then you may need to improve on your mobility!

So what’s the difference between flexibility and mobility?

Flexibility is your joints ability to go through range as far as it is structurally capable – this is your passive range of movement, and to determine that, someone like a physiotherapist is able to do that for you, while you are in a relaxed position and they simply just lift your arm up as far as your joint can go, for example. And, mobility is simply how far you can move that arm actively by yourself.

So while your joints may have the flexibility, it is quite possible to lack mobility. Or if your joints are not flexible, then you may lack both of them. This is when stretching comes into play, and it will definitely give you that extra movement before your exercises or even doing activities of your daily living.

As for me, when I have both flexibility and mobility, stretching and mobility drills don’t quite work for me, as after doing them, I can’t lift heavier weights and have no control, as I have stretched out all my muscles till they are relaxed, so they don’t protect me! Therefore, I use a simple yet precious piece of resistance band to activate my muscles, whether it be doing clamshells, shoulder internal and external rotations, and so on; so that I have that muscle contraction and activation to support my joints to be able to perform my weight lifts and have the control through my movements.

To make it sound less complicated, everybody is very different in terms of their body composition, structure, joints and muscle contractility. While something works really well for a group of people, it may not work at all for another. Whether you’re someone who’s very flexible or very tight and have no mobility, there’s always something that can be catered to you to enhance or improve the quality of your movements without getting injured, may it be at the gym, at work, or even doing chores at home.

So come and see us here at Enhance Physiotherapy, we have abundance of stretches, mobility drills and even muscle activation drills to help you with all your needs!

Simmi xxx

Simmi works full time at our Thornlie Clinic. To book an appointment with Simmi call 6161 8901 or simply book online.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

What is Pilates?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1977″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Pilates is a form of exercise that involves low impact, small controlled movements to target flexibility and muscular strength and endurance.

Originally named “Contrology”, Pilates was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates to rehabilitate WWI soldiers. It involves precise movements with an emphasis on alignment and breathing to strengthen key muscle groups and improve balance, coordination and stability in the entire body.

Traditional Pilates has a specific focus on developing a strong “core” (“core” consisting of the global and stabilising muscles around the abdomen, lower back and hips). From a rehabilitation point of view, our bodies have two muscular systems; a global muscle system and a stabilising muscle system. We usually do a fantastic job training and strengthening our global muscle system, however often neglecting the stabilising muscles. Unfortunately, over time this can lead to muscular dysfunctions and ultimately pain and injury. Pilates has a strong emphasis on correctly activating and isolating those smaller stabilising muscles that have been forgotten and left behind.

At Enhance Physiotherapy, our Pilates classes not only target “core” strength but also full body strength with the aim to just get our clients moving!  Our classes involve matwork exercises with various equipment to increase the intensity of the class.  Each exercise can be modified in difficulty from beginner to advanced and each class is tailored towards the specific goals or injuries of the clients attending.

Having recovered from an ACL reconstruction and more recently a lower back injury, I am a firm advocate of Pilates to assist in rehabilitating those important stabilising muscles essential for everyday movements and activities. Pilates has helped me tremendously to bounce back from injuries and to return to doing the things that I love faster and stronger. Now, I continue to practice and teach Pilates at least twice a week for injury prevention and maintenance, as I find it is a great way to enhance my other training and sports.

I strongly recommend Pilates classes to anyone rehabilitating back from an injury and looking to get stronger and fitter, and especially to those who may be injury-free and training to achieve that next level, goal or personal best!!

For more information regarding our group Pilates classes including prices and times, please call 9583 5165.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Chronic inflammation and exercise

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”2549″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]I’m sure a lot of us reading this article right now have had an injury in the past that has settled or has persisted over time, and a lot of times you find yourselves asking why is this still going on or what else can I do for that injury to settle completely.

I am also aware that there are a lot of mixed messages given to us these days whether or not to exercise so that we could potentially improve or worsen the symptoms.

While this is a huge area of discussion, our focus for this blog will be on how we can identify chronic inflammation and what can we actually do to reduce the symptoms, just because it’s never impossible!

Let’s go back and review our high-school biology basics…

Inflammation is our body’s very natural protective and beneficial response to any injury in order to repair the tissues and return to its previous healthy state as much as possible and as quickly as possible.

All the tissues in our body whether they are muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, bones, cartilage or organs, are made up of different types of cells and hence have their own inflammatory and healing processes.

Acute inflammation occurs suddenly and is short in duration, characterised by redness, heat, swelling and pain after an injury for e.g. an ankle sprain.

Chronic inflammation refers to slow tissue healing that persists for a long period of time. It occurs when our body fails to remove or stop all the processes that caused the acute inflammation in the first place. This is where our immune system has forgotten to switch off the inflammation button in our bodies.

The reason for these low-grade, persistent reactions, regardless of the mechanism of injury, could be due to both intrinsic factors that include posture, physical mal-alignments, muscle weakness, stress, sleep deprivation, nutrition, age, gender, hormones, alcohol consumption, smoking; and extrinsic factors that include nature of occupation, repetitive movements, changes in climate and temperatures, reduced physical activity or lack of exercise.

How do I know I have chronic inflammation?

While an acute ankle sprain with lots of swelling at the start can progress into that focal chronic swelling leading to ongoing pain and instability, chronic inflammation is not only that. It can also occur from within.

Therefore, conditions such as chronic neck, shoulder and low back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, chronic respiratory (e.g. bronchitis, asthma), heart (e.g. atherosclerosis), digestive (e.g. irritable bowel disease) and metabolic (diabetes) conditions, and many more, are amongst the most commonly treated and managed as a result of chronic inflammatory processes, with a lot of inflammatory markers and mediators floating around in the individual’s system who are suffering from them.

Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation…

  • Feeling and looking really tired all the time
  • Irritating tummy symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea or even constipation
  • Disrupted sleeping pattern or waking due to pain
  • Frustration and unmotivated towards exercise
  • Mood swings
  • Skin changes e.g. eczema, redness, acne, etc.
  • Raised blood sugar levels
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Changes in appetite

Note: All of us are very different and that’s what makes us unique in our own special way, however, the above are listed possible signs and symptoms which are not exhaustive, are noticed quite a lot in the clinic and are to be used as a guide to assist you in seeking appropriate help from your medical practitioner.

How is exercise relevant to chronic inflammation?

We all know that exercise is good for us and countless researches have also shown and proven in writing that it is the most effective way to reduce pain, strengthen muscles and prevent injuries. But how are they relevant to chronic conditions?

Think about the time you went for a walk or run in the park, took your dogs for a walk or strolled along the beach and coming home feeling so refreshed and relaxed that you want to do it again the next day!

Happy hormones such as endorphins serotonin are released when we exercise, that leaves us happy and feeling far away from pain. I know that’s baby stuff, but at the same time, it also reduces the levels of adrenaline and cortisol, which are also meant to be beneficial hormones, however, add to our dilemma when we take our on-the-go lifestyle into consideration!

You may be rolling your eyes going, duh.

But when it comes to chronic inflammation, put your hand up if you at once rest your face in your hands and think, “I don’t even know what to do, that beach walk left me in pain for days, it’s too painful to exercise, I’m sore for days after a struggling session…”

There is a lot of evidence to support the fact that moderate exercises have shown to improve symptoms of chronic inflammation by lowering the amount of inflammatory markers and C-reactive protein, as opposed to strenuous exercises in the long run (Beavers et al, 2010).

So simply, here’s what to do…

  • Speak to your medical practitioner about your interest in exercising, and they will be able to do all your baseline checks for you.
  • Don’t know where to start? The key is to start small to be able to achieve big and maintain it. Pick an activity that you would like to do the most, for example, swimming, walking, bike riding, etc.
  • Use resources around you, whether it is the leisure centre close by, community centre, clinics that offer exercise classes such as clinical Pilates at a physiotherapy clinic, etc.
  • Prefer to do things yourself? Not a problem! Keep a diary, note down the amount of time you can walk, walk in a pool, swim or ride before you start to struggle. Do it again the next day at half the amount of time and increase it a little at a time every other day.
  • Recommended options that would be safe for you:
  • Hydrotherapy: Exercises performed in a warm pool, which can be catered to any conditions for rehabilitation.
  • Clinical Pilates: Focuses on core strengthening and whole body stability.
  • Balance and Strengthening: Exercises based on functional movements that you require doing your activities of daily living, e.g. mini-squats/squats would mimic a sit to stand movement, a lunge would allow you to modify your lifting by widening your stance.
  • Gym-based program: Tailored to suit every individual to overcome chronic pain and inflammation.

Chronic pain can be overwhelming, however, I believe that all of us suffering from this broad-spectrum condition can overcome this to be able to lead a pain-free lifestyle!

At Enhance Physiotherapy, we offer all the options mentioned above at our clinics, and they are tailored specifically to you by our lovely physiotherapists!

If you feel that you’re not sure what is right for you, you’re most welcome to pop in to see us and ask as many questions as you like, as we will be more than happy to answer them for you and so that you are able to get the help you need!

Simmi

Simmi works full time at our Thornlie Clinic. To book an appointment with Simmi call 6161 8901 or simply book online.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]