Now some of you know exactly what I'm talking about when I mention the pelvic floor however the majority of people either have no idea what those words mean or you’ve heard about it before and now looking around your office feeling embarrassed about whether you should continue reading...
So what is it? Why does it matter? And what should you do about it?
What is it?
Like its name suggests, the pelvic floor is a muscle (many muscles in fact) that stretch like a muscular trampoline from the tailbone to the pubic bone (front to back) and from one sitting bone to the other sitting bone (side to side). These muscles are normally firm and thick.
Imagine the pelvic floor muscles as a round mini-trampoline made of firm muscle. Just like a trampoline, the pelvic floor can move down and up. The bladder, uterus and bowel all lie on the pelvic floor layer which has holes for the tubes of these organs to pass through to the external layer or the body.
How does it work?
Pelvic floor muscles help give us conscious control over the bladder and bowel so that we can control the release of urine, faeces (poo) and flatus (wind) and allow us to delay emptying until it is convenient.
Pelvic floor muscles are also important for sexual function in both men and women. In men, it is important for erectile function and ejaculation. In women, voluntary contractions (squeezing) of the pelvic floor contribute to sexual sensation and arousal.
What goes wrong?
The prolonged and regular pressures we put through our abdomen (such as the coughing, laughing, straining on the toilet, bending down, pregnancy, jumping activities) the pelvic floor has to contract to balance the pressure of the abdomen pushing down - to keep everything safe where it should be.
Sometimes this pressure through our abdomen onto our pelvic floor can become too much and without working the pelvic floor muscle it becomes weak. The weakness then leads to a problem with the normal function such as toilet control and you can get symptoms such as leaking.
Why does it matter?
So the pelvic floor muscle is potentially the most forgotten or ignored muscle in the body. 50% of women aged 45-59 years of age experienced some degree of mild, moderate or severe urinary incontinence – that’s one in two women in that age group. On top of that studies show that 70% of all people with urinary leakage do not seek advice and treatment for their problem.
Because so many people don’t reach out about leakage, it reinforces the stigma attached to this problem when really, we should be embracing women’s health (and men’s) by seeking professional help and advice.
If you have symptoms of the pelvic floor it can be embarrassing, awkward and make you feel like you are restricted in the things you want to do. We want you to get comfortable talking about these topics such as leaking and acknowledge that yes they may be COMMON but that does not mean it is NORMAL.
We want all women (and men) to feel empowered in their health and comfortable in their skin whether it be lifting the laundry basket, playing with their children on the trampoline or participating in cross fit 5 times a week without any leaking.
Your health matters.
What should I do?
Firstly, don’t listen to advice from friends or family that include: "it happens to everyone", "don't worry it's normal", "just carry round spare underwear, that’s what I do" just think to yourself; do you want to wait and see if your symptoms go away? Or do you want to stop those symptoms, so you can feel comfortable in your own skin again? Do you want to jump on a trampoline or run up some stairs, or laugh in public without fearing your leakage?
Don’t delay or fear; get yourself booked in to see a qualified health professional to assess your pelvic floor muscles. Women’s Health Physiotherapists are amazing people, they see all sorts of symptoms and problems to do with the pelvic floor and will help you understand your symptoms and what you can do about them.
Why wait to get yourself on the right track to being the happiest, most comfortable version of yourself?
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the skeleton becomes weak and fragile – and as a result bones are in danger of breaking easily. Because bone loss is gradual and painless, there are usually no symptoms to indicate a person is developing osteoporosis and is often referred to as a ‘silent disease’. A person with osteoporosis may suffer a broken bone after only a minor bump, a sneeze, or a fall from standing height.
Who does Osteoporosis affect?
Osteoporosis affects both men and women usually over 50 years of age. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will break a bone due to osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures are reported to occur every 3 seconds. Sadly, in women over 45 years of age osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in hospital than many other diseases, including diabetes, heart attack and breast cancer.
If Osteoporosis affects people over 50 I don’t need to worry do I?
Even though age is a ‘non-modifiable’ factor that is strongly linked with the development of Osteoporosis the earlier on in your life you take ‘healthy bone action’, the better your chance of reducing the risk or even preventing the disease.
If I have Osteoporosis will my children get it?
Throughout life our bone mass is being lost and replaced all the time, but as we age the amount of bone lost isn’t fully replaced by new bone. Following a bone-healthy lifestyle before the age of 20 can help a young person stock up, or ‘bank’, more bone and lower the risk of Osteoporosis developing when they are older.
Can I prevent Osteoporosis?
The overall risk of osteoporosis is influenced by age, gender and ethnicity. Some risk factors are classified as ‘non-modifiable’, meaning they can’t be changed; these are family history, previous fractures, menopause, certain medications and other medical diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. You can however lower your risk if you only have ‘modifiable’ factors which are things you can change, such as: smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, low body mass index, poor nutrition and insufficient exercise.
I already have Osteoporosis; how can I lower my risk of breaking a bone?
Strong bones, together with strong muscles, will help you enjoy an active, mobile and independent future. A first step is to ensure a bone-healthy lifestyle which includes diet, exercise and appropriate medication. Taking regular weight-bearing, muscle strengthening and proprioceptive exercise will significantly reduce your risk of falling or loosing balance making you less likely to break a bone.
I have some risk factors mentioned above, how do I check if I have Osteoporosis?
You can complete the IOF One-Minute Osteoporosis Risk Test here which will alert you to any risk factors you may have. If you are over the age of 50 years and you have one or more risk factors you should discuss these with your doctor and ask for assessment.
If your risk factors are ‘modifiable’ then book into see one of our health professionals today and write “OSTEOPOROSIS” to get advice on lifestyle changes and start an individually tailored exercise plan that we will be able to monitor and progress as your fitness level improves. Online bookings are available here.
Monday 16th October is World Spine Day. Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.
Through the generations we have seen patients that have had a variety of treatments from a variety of professions and most tend to suffer with recurring pain, whether it be 3 months later, 9 months later or 3 years after the original injury. Luckily, we are now in an age where the mechanics of back pain is understood to a much better level.
This year, the World Spine Day theme is “Your Back In Action”. The aim is to highlight the importance of physical activity and improving posture as part of good spinal health and prevention of injury.
One of the most commonly diagnosed conditions in the back is a ‘degenerative disc’ which people often describe to us as: "I've got arthritis of the spine" “my spine's collapsing” “my spine is buggered” “my spine is crumbling” which can make people feel helpless, so let’s unpick what it really means…
As we age, our discs (which sit between each bone in your spine) begin to dehydrate, losing height, elasticity, and flexibility. The result is a spine that can feel stiffer, less flexible and a bit sore with certain movements. While almost everyone will have some degree of degeneration into their later years, not everyone will experience symptoms.
Repetitive activities like bending on the waist to lift heavy objects and prolonged sitting also cause wear and tear of the discs and amplify the degenerative process, sometimes people can feel this pain and stiffness from as early as 30 years of age.
We now know that an MRI or X-ray cannot reliably predict the amount of pain a person will experience in their back. Scans with very similar amounts of degeneration can present differently person to person which can be a distressing and confusing experience so it is always best to seek a qualified health professionals advice and help explain the imaging to you.
Physiotherapy supports people to manage their pain by helping them understand their pathology and provide symptomatic treatment relevant to each individuals symptoms. Arguably the most important part of treating back injuries such as a degenerative disc is a holistic strengthening program. By training the trunk stabilizers and core muscles your spine will feel stronger and respond better when performing everyday activities as well as giving you the confidence to do things you haven’t dreamt of doing in years!
Knowledge is power – education on how the spine works is the key to improving the relationship with your back; get assessed, ask questions or download our e-book for even more information about back problems.
Happy World Spine Day 2017!
# 1 – DO NOT STOP MOVING
For the first 10-15 minutes after crossing the finish line you should stay on your feet and keep moving around, even if you have had to rescue your sore feet and thrown your trainers onto the grass, keep walking, keep moving. This will help prevent fainting or leg cramps which can occur when the bodies energy levels have been depleted.
# 2 – START STRETCHING
After 10-15 minutes of walking start to stretch gently, hold the stretches for around 45 seconds and take in this serene moment of triumph that you did it! Target all of the leg muscles and even spend some time stretching out your back and arms.
# 3 – DRINK
And we don’t mean alcohol here. Small regular sips of water are better absorbed than gulping down a whole bottle in one go and having it swishing around in your belly. Eat a small, well balanced snack involving carbohydrates and a little of protein and fats. If you have nothing to snack on post-race opt for a sports drink with electrolytes rather than water.
#4 – TAKE A BATH, A COLD ONE
Granted not everyone is a professional athlete with access to an ice bath (and even if we did have access the thought is quite off putting) however the 14 kilometre pounding of your feet on the pavement can cause micro damage (small undetectable tears) to your muscles resulting in swelling. The quickest way to get rid of this swelling is to put ice on it; so, either fill your bath tub with cold water and sit with your legs in it or take a long cold shower, trust us, it will help speed up your recovery!
# 5 – HAVE A WELL-DESERVED REST
Everyone is different when it comes to recovery depending on your age, fitness level, regular training regime and how hard you ran the race. To determine how much time you need, first and foremost, listen to your body.
Treat yourself to a massage in the first few days to help flush out the post-race swelling and toxins in your leg muscles - this will help get your legs feeling less heavy and back to normal.
#6 – CELEBRATE!
Now give yourselves a HUGE pat on the back, you made it!
The term whiplash is most often associated with an injury resulting from a car accident.
What you might not realise though, is the term covers a range of different injuries. Like in a car crash the injuries come from a jolt, where the head or neck was moving forward and then was forced backwards.
This force causes injuries to the muscles, ligaments and joints of the neck and spine - or it might not cause an injury at all.
Whiplash differs in severity from person to person. There might be no sign of bruising or swelling immediately after the injury, it can take between 12 and 14 hours for anything to become apparent. It often feels worse the day after and normally continues to feel worse with each day.
Car collisions are the most common cause of whiplash, but other causes include contact sports, such as rugby or boxing, horse-riding, direct impact of a large object on the head, or a fall which causes the head to suddenly jolt backwards.
Physiotherapists can perform an assessment of the head and neck and discuss your symptoms to come up with the best treatment for you. From this, they will be able to tell the grade of your whiplash, which areas are affected and the best treatment to relieve pain and speed up healing.
Different treatment methods for whiplash and whiplash associated disorders might include:
As we come in to Diabetes Awareness Week in Australia, we want to stress the importance of exercise in living with this condition.
Diabetes isn’t just managed with the amount of sugar you eat or don’t eat: other lifestyle habits can make a huge impact on your health.
For those of you who don’t know what it’s about, diabetes is when a person’s body cannot cope with the levels of glucose in the blood.
Our bodies are meant to convert glucose (sugars we get from food) in to energy. With diabetics, the hormone required for this - insulin - is not produced, or is not produced in sufficient amounts.
This doesn’t just mean no sweets or chocolate. Glucose is in bread, fruit, milk, legumes and some vegetables.
There are three types of diabetes:
Type 1: The immune system destroys the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. There is no prevention and it is not affected by lifestyle.
Type 2: The body becomes resistant and loses the ability to produce insulin over time. It is more associated with lifestyle factors and can also be genetic.
Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women, where there are higher than normal glucose levels during the early stages of pregnancy: this goes away after the baby is born.
All forms of diabetes are increasing.
Evidence shows exercise helps with living with diabetes in a number of ways.
It actually helps insulin to work better, meaning you should be able to manage your glucose levels better.
It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, lowers your blood pressure, reduces risk of heart disease and reduces stress.
Before anyone jogs off to the gym, it’s worth noting that each body can work differently with diabetes. Other conditions associated with diabetes might mean you need to take a different approach as someone else. A health check is advised and a chat to our Exercise Physiologist to discuss an exercise programme.
Intensity can vary depending on your personal experience. It could range from weight training and water aerobics to gardening or walking.
You should be aiming for about 30 minutes of exercise a day, more like 45 to 60 minutes if you need to lose weight.
Diabetics can often have an issue with ulcers on their feet. Diabetes Australia recommends checking your feet before and after exercise and avoiding activities like running, which put added stress on your feet.
Other tips include taking extra carbohydrates before, during and after exercise to avoid hypoglycaemia. You should always monitor your glucose levels before you exercise to assess what you need.
It may also be necessary to adjust insulin levels, but this should be discussed with your doctor.
Our EP Isabella has started an exercise class once a week dedicated to those with diabetes, aimed at making sure you know how you can live an active lifestyle that helps you manage your condition.
You can book here now.
Sports injuries can be anything from tennis elbow or a strain, to fractured bones or dislocations.
They can be from any sport: tennis, golf, basketball, football, athletics… And they can be gained at any level.
While athletes and people who play sports more are more likely to get an injury, you don’t need to be an elite athlete to get a sports injury.
What causes sports injuries?
Sports injuries can be from overuse and overtraining: runner’s knee or tennis elbow is from pushing your body to its limit.
They can also occur from undertraining, or poor training practices. Not stretching or having a good enough warm up can lead to many injuries because the body isn’t prepared for the exercise.
With proper injury management, rehabilitation and advice from your physiotherapist, you will be able to return to sports as soon as possible.
Treating the injury depends on how severe it is and what part of the body is affected. Treatment would aim to relieve your pain quicker, reduce the formation of scar tissue, get you back in to work or sport quickly and improve your performance.
Treatment techniques would include:
How do exercises help?
It might feel like exercise caused the problem, and it might feel like exercise is the last thing you want to do with the injury! But, it helps!
Muscles can become tight during periods of inactivity after an injury. Stretching helps loosen those muscles, improving your range of motion.
Range of motion exercise can help improve or maintain your joint range of motion. By doing these exercises whenever possible, you can prevent your joints and muscles from becoming stiff. They may also be combined with strengthening exercises once you have improved strength.
Being inactive can also weaken your muscles. Strengthening them is important to achieve independence in movement. These exercises can help you maintain strength of your uninjured muscles as well as your weakened muscles.
Your body will not be at the same level as before you injured yourself. Supervised exercises mean you won’t push yourself further than your body can go, avoiding any further injuries or worsening the current one.
Patient education on these exercises and on self-care is also really important. That way, you can go home and know exactly what you’re doing to help your muscles and avoid future problems.
If you've had a sports injury and want to get back on track, our physiotherapists will be more than happy to assist. Click here for online booking.
This week is Exercise Right week, a week highlighting the importance of knowing what exercise is right for you, and who to speak to for help.
With yesterday also being the Cancer Council’s annual Australian Morning Tea to raise money and awareness of cancer, we thought we'd explain how we can help with your exercise needs if you are suffering from cancer.
The vital funding towards research and treatment for this horrendous disease means that we know how important exercise can be for cancer sufferers.
How does exercise help?
Exercising during chemotherapy has been shown to reduce the fatigue and nausea usually experienced throughout the treatment. It also helps boost the immune system, which is really important for making sure you stay as well as you can.
An exercise program, like the one we now offer here at Wolli Creek Physiotherapy, can mean improved muscle mass, physical function and physical activity levels. It has also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression.
The side effects caused by treatment can make exercising difficult, even if you exercised regularly before. This does mean the amount or intensity of your exercise will vary depending on how you feel: But even a little bit of exercise is recommended.
Where to start…
Recommended exercises can depend on the type of cancer and your side effects, so it is always best to speak to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist before you begin. Our Exercise Physiologist is always happy to answer any questions or conduct an initial screening.
You should also get the all-clear from your practitioner before you begin any exercise.
What precautions should I take?
If you are undergoing chemotherapy, or have a lower white blood cell count, you need to be mindful of infections. This does mean avoiding public places, like gyms.
Low bone density can be a side effect of treatment, so it might be best to avoid any high impact exercises.
Start slowly, and build yourself up: managing your fatigue is really important and will take some time to get used to.
What types of exercise might I do?
Aerobic exercises – These will help movement without becoming out of breath and will decrease the side effects of anti-cancer therapy
Strengthening exercises – To maintain and restore your muscles and physical function
Flexibility – Stretching the muscles to help any restriction from treatment such as radiation, steroids or surgery
Resistance – To work on physical function and improve bone density
Where can I go?
At Wolli Creek Physiotherapy we have just started an Active Recovery for Cancer class with our Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Isabella.
For more information you can call us on 0295679452
To join the class, or for a one-on-one with Isabella, click here to book.
Wrist pain can occur as a result of everyday use of your arm. If you work at computers you might find you struggle with wrist problems, simply due to the strain from typing or controlling the mouse.
The wrist and hand together allow you to perform a number of highly-skilled and precise tasks. Injury to either of these can mean being unable to do simple things, like picking up a sock, or turning the pages of a book.
But wrist pain or injury is common and can usually be diagnosed and treated by a physiotherapist.
Some of the common causes of wrist pain are:
The type of injury needs to be diagnosed for the correct treatment to be provided.
For some, a malleable substance called therapeutic putty can be worked in specific exercises to improve muscle control.
There are also therapy balls, which can be used to relieve stiffness in the wrist. Also, hand and grip strength can be worked through resistance training.
For wrist fractures, it is vital that full functionality is restored after treatment. The first step is to place the wrist in to a cast and then arrange regular appointments with the physiotherapist to follow a regime of exercises.
Cold therapy is used to reduce swelling, and a wrist support is worn to reduce the risk of further injury.
Your physiotherapist may use hands-on techniques such as:
With accurate assessment and early treatment, most wrist pain responds quickly to physiotherapy.
If you need to speak to a physiotherapist about your wrist pain or injury, you can book an appointment here.
Sprained ankles are the most common type of sporting injury and they are not all the same!
Research suggests ankle injuries account for 15 – 20% of all sports injuries and are also the most re-occurring injury.
If you think you’re safe because you don’t take part in any sports – don’t stop reading now. It is an injury that occurs in everyday activities.
A thorough examination from a physio can diagnose a sprained ankle and rule out the possibility of associated damage, such as a fracture.
Sprains are graded as follows:
Slight stretching and damage to the fibres of the ligaments
Partial tearing of the ligament
Complete tearing of the ligament
With ligament damage in ankle sprains, there may also be associated damage to tendons, joint capsules, the bones, the cartilages, the nerves, or other soft tissues.
A severely sprained ankle may result in complete or almost complete rupture of the ligaments and could be associated with dislocations and fractures of the ankle bones.
So it’s best to get checked as soon as possible!
The severity of the sprain is important to establish, as this will indicate a time frame of when the injured person can return to sport or normal activity. Based on the diagnosis the physiotherapist will come up with a treatment and rehabilitation plan.
Treatment could include:
Without proper treatment for an ankle sprain, there can be long-term negative effects such as chronic instability, decreased range of motion, and pain.
Studies show up to 80% of people who sprain their ankle will re-sprain it. This is normally due to inadequate rehabilitation, so it's definitely best to get that treatment and advice on how to go in the future.
You can book online to see one of our physios here.
At Wolli Creek Physiotherapy & Pilates, you’ll be looked after by highly experienced and passionate young physiotherapists with a range of specialist skills and qualifications. We treat and heal all injuries and pain problems, for all kinds of people.