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 Blog & Latest News

 

 

How is technology really affecting you? 

 

Smartphones and other electronic devices are contributing to an increased incidence of pain associated with musculoskeletal injuries. This statistic makes sense when you think about it. Maintaining a prolonged static posture, usually with our neck flexed and shoulders slumped, is troublesome enough. But couple this with our lack of exercise and movement when using said electronic device, and it’s a recipe for problems.

Next time you’re waiting for an appointment, or on the train, or simply walking around Melbourne’s streets, take note of how many people are looking down at their mobiles. Computer screens are an issue too, with desk jobs a leading cause of neck and back pain, as well as headaches. But adults aren’t the only ones at risk. Children and teenagers who spend too much time using their iPads or playing video games can experience musculoskeletal issues too. In fact, at their age the spine is still developing, so they could be setting themselves up for a lifetime of back problems.

So what can you do to avoid the curse of electronic devices? The simple answer is to move more and spend less time looking down at our screens, it’s pretty basic. However, given this technology is always within reach, it’s unrealistic to think we can avoid screen time altogether. Here’s a few basic tips that might help though:

1.    Set yourself a limit on how much you use your phone or iPad. Restrict your usage to a certain number of minutes per day or impose a 30-minute break after 5-10 minutes of consecutive use. Your devices have inbuilt features to help you out, while there’s plenty of Apps available to help you curb your use.

2.    If you’re an office worker or work from home and sitting at a desk is unavoidable, ensure your desk, chair and computer set up is appropriate for your body. This is crucial, as poor desk positioning can create unnecessary strains on our bodies, and we only realise once it’s too late. Also schedule regular breaks (maybe on each hour) to move around and stretch out your neck, back and shoulders. All you need is a few minutes and you can set a reminder on your computer!

3.    Visit an osteopath if you suffer pain, poor posture, headaches or tension that might be associated excessive use of screens and other computer technology. The Osteopaths at Inner Balance Health Clinics in Mill Park are experienced at looking at back and neck pain, and other postural issues. Our osteopaths use a range of techniques and offer exercise advice aimed at reducing muscular tension, improving joint mobility and decreasing pain.

   

How exercise can help your lower back pain!

  

 

 

As an Osteopath I get asked countless times about how to do certain exercises. I see loads of people come in complaining of injuring themselves while exercising.

It’s when I ask them to show me how they’re doing the exercise I can clearly see their technique is incorrect and that’s probably why the injury has occurred. So many people think that because they have been doing the exercises for a long time and haven’t previously had an injury that their technique isn’t the issue. I’m sorry to say that’s just not the truth in so many cases.

The two main exercises I find seem to really cause injuries and issues for patients are deadlifts and squats. So today I thought I’d share my suggestions on improving your technique and hopefully minimise injuries.

 

Check out our Guide to Crossfit Here - Crossfit and Osteo

Deadlifts

If you look like you’ve got a hump in your back when deadlifting, you are going to get lower back pain at some point.  If you continue lifting like that, you will almost certainly experience some of the extremely painful episodes may not be just as simple as a strain or sprain.

Lifting with poor technique and like this or with is an easy ticket do doing some much greater damage.

The Don’ts when Deadlifting:

  • Don’t round your low back when lifting in a deadlift
  • Don’t’ overextend your back when at top of deadlift or lowering to the floor
  • Don’t jerk during the movements when either straightening or bending movements
  • Don’t go too heavy when starting off.  Be sure to get your technique right before you increase your weights
  • Don’t lift the weight off the ground with bent elbows.  You should have your elbows locked and straight.
  • Don’t have your hips too high or too low.  You should aim to have your shoulder-blades over bar and bar over the mid-foot.  This helps put your hips into the right position.

On the other hand, if you deadlift like the image on the right, you are much less likely to suffer from a low back injury.

 

The Do’s when Deadlifting:
The key to correctly doing a deadlift is to:

  • Really pay attention to keeping your back straight throughout the exercise.
  • Pull your belly in tight to activate your spinal stabilisers.
  • Activate your gluteal region and keep the weight as close to your body as possible.
  • Keep the weights close to your body helps to not increase the length of the lever.
  • Keep your head up and shoulder blades back

Follow this technique advice and your lower back should be pain-free.

Squats

Tip #1:  Know what kind of squats you’re doing and do it right!

That’s right there are different types of squats.

 

For back squat, you’re either doing high bar squats or low bar squats.

 

On the high bar back squat, the bar is placed on top of your upper back or traps, almost the bump that you can feel at the base of the neck. If you are using this variation, your body needs to be more upright during the movement.

If you try to sit back too much, the bar gets further away from your centre of gravity. As a result, your low back takes the strain as it has to extend to make up the shortfalls, vice-versa, if you are leaning too far forward, the leverage on the lower back loads the very lowest joints in your lower back, and similar to the deadlift, can result in some serious pain and damage.

On the low bar back squat, the bar is lower on your back and it placed in the middle of your scapula (shoulder blade) and it sits on your rear deltoids or the big muscle that covers your actual shoulder.

On this variation, you need to lean forward more. This variation will take the stress off your low back.


(High bar back squats in the picture on the left with the bar placed on top of your traps. Low bar back squats on the right, bar placed lower on the upper back.)
If you’re doing high bar and you’re leaning forward too much, it will harmfully strain your back when using heavy weights.
If you’re doing low bar squats and going too low, your lower back will round excessively and that can cause back pain as well. You just need to break parallel on the low bar squats to reach proper depth. You can go lower on the high bar squat.

 

Tip #2: Keep your low back tight
Whatever variations you are doing, make sure that the lower back is tight during the squat. Men often have a harder time doing this. Do a back extension and hold it at the very top to get a feel of how you’re supposed to be and keep that tight.

 

Tip #3 Brace your abdominal muscles
Using your abs will keep your back from overextending. Take a big breath and hold it for the entire rep and brace your abs like you are about to get a punch in the gut. This same style of breathing should also be used for other heavy lifts. You ca increase this a little more by actively trying to pull your belly button in at the same time as if you are really trying to fit into a tight pair of pants.

If you are recovering from an injury here are some easy steps to get you back to the gym and exercising again.

 

1.   Rest.

This doesn’t mean go sit on your couch for a week without doing anything.

We want to retain as normal function as possible whilst promoting pain-free movement patterns. The more we can normally move without pain, especially in the lower back with bending and twisting, the more the body is able to drain the area and stop things from ‘Locking up’.

 

2.    See a good Osteopath, acupuncturist, or massage therapist.
It is important to have the region and area that is causing you pain properly assessed and diagnosed so that you have an informed idea of what the injury is as well as how long, and what you need to do to improve it and treat both the injury, but how to prevent it occurring again.

 

3.    Foam Roller.
If you don’t have access to any care and you’re completely on your own then your first step is to get extremely familiar with your foam roller.

Roll back and forth over the painful areas, slowly and carefully for 5-10 minutes or until you start to feel a decrease in the discomfort.
This helps knead the muscle out and stretch the fibres slightly whilst improving blood flow and drainage from the area.

4.    Ice/Heat.

This is where it becomes quite difficult.
Ice and heat have very different mechanisms in how they can help the body. Ice typically is great as it decreases the inflammation in the area, and also has some analgesic effects, however in saying this, it also decreases blood flow and drainage.
Heat, on the other hand, improves blood flow and can help in loosening off the muscles of the region also, however, because inflammation is hot, a wheat back or heat therapy may increase symptoms. If the body can tolerate it, 5 minutes of ice followed by 5 minutes wait with nothing then 5-10 minutes of heat gives you the best of both worlds of helping with the pain but helping keep things loose.
Of course, if one particularly aggravates the pain, then don’t use that one again.

 

My Big fat disclaimer:
Please note that the information provided in this blog is general in nature.  Everyone has different needs and requirements which are why it is so important to seek professional advice from a registered trainer or health practitioner.

I hope that you find this information and tips on improving your technique helpful and informative.  For your information, I have also published an ebook on the Cross fitters guide to Osteopathy which will hopefully help answer some questions you might have about Osteopathy and its role in Crossfit. Until next time.  Stay safe and train smart.

 

Is poor posture hurting your neck?

 
 

Neck and upper back pain account for one of the most common reasons people visit osteopaths or massage therapists. Our lifestyles make this region susceptible to pain, usually as a result of stress and increased workload in combination with a poor posture.

For most of us, we rarely stop to think about how the position we spend each day affects us. For example, sitting all day at a desk, driving long hours, washing dishes or cooking, looking down at our mobile phones or computers, whatever it may be – these can all contribute to neck and upper back pain when we do them too often.

In many ways, the modern lifestyle many of us have evolved with is to blame. Our ancestors did not need to sit for such long hours to make a living and they did not have iPhones and tablets taking their attention away from what’s going on around them, at eye level.

However, in spite of the culprit that is our daily life, there are steps we can take to reduce our chances of suffering neck or back pain.

See an osteopath or massage therapist
The cause of neck or upper back pain often relates to tight muscles that are simply overworked as a result of poor posture. Seeing one of Inner Balance Health Clinic’s osteopaths can alleviate tension in your neck and back and can provide relief from pain. After a thorough examination to determine the cause of your pain, an osteopath may use a range of techniques such as massage, joint mobilisation and muscle energy techniques to improve muscle tension, increase movement and improve joint alignment.

Change your desk set up
This can make a big difference to your posture and associated neck or back pain. A few important things to note in your desk position is to have your computer screen at eye level and the keyboard at a height so your arms are resting in a relaxed position, slightly greater than 90 degrees. Sit evenly on your bottom, with both feet on the floor and your thighs at the same level or slightly lower than your hips. An Inner Balance osteopath can provide further advice on desk set up.

Improve your posture
Again, an osteopath can offer advice and provide treatments and exercises to assist with enhancing posture. But simply checking in with yourself on a more regular basis to scrutinise the position of your back and shoulders is a good way to correct a stooped neck and back.