Running Tips For Beginners - Physio Direct NZ

Running Tips For Beginners

If you’ve just taken up running, you probably think that getting started is simple – you just run as far as you can and then run further the next time. Like most things, the reality is a little more complicated. Here are some running tips to make the most of your running program and avoid injury.

  • Don’t overdo it.

Rest is actually a big part of a training program. Your body needs time to recover and rebuild muscle. Not giving yourself adequate time to rest leads to greater risk of injury and you won’t improve as quickly as you might think. Aim to run three times a week.

  • Don’t forget strength training.

Even if you’re trying to improve endurance, surprisingly, increasing strength can make a big difference. Particularly if you focus on specific muscles that may be weaker on one side of the body. This is also an important part of injury prevention. Your physiotherapists can help you to identify any weak muscles and develop a strengthening program.

  • Your shoes and running surface matter.

Running on hard or uneven surfaces leads to a greater risk of injury than running on grass, which allows for a more natural distribution of forces through your foot. Having shoes that fit your foot properly and also provide necessary support is an essential part of your injury prevention plan.

  • Listen to your body.

As you improve and push your abilities forward there will be many aches and pains. Most will only last for a day or two and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is a normal if not annoying part of getting stronger. However, if pain feels more serious, lasts for more than 48 hours or is preventing you from running speak to a professional as soon as possible. Running injuries do happen and can take a while to resolve. Early treatment is the best option for good outcomes.

Speak to your physiotherapist for more practical tips on how to improve your running and prevent injuries.

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Common Running Injuries - Physio Direct NZ

Common Running Injuries

Running is a great way to stay in shape, manage stress and increase your overall wellbeing, however it’s not without it’s drawbacks. While being a low risk activity, there are a few injuries that commonly affect runners. As running is a repetitive impact activity, most running injuries develop slowly and can be difficult to treat. Here are three of the most common conditions faced by runners.

  1. Runner’s Knee:

Runners knee is a persistent pain on the inside of the knee caused by the dysfunctional movement of the kneecap during movement. The kneecap ideally sits in the centre of the knee and glides smoothly up and down as the knee bends and straightens, in a process described as tracking. If something causes the kneecap to track abnormally, the surface underneath can become worn, irritated and painful. The pain might be small to start with, however left untreated, runner’s knee can make running too painful to continue.

  1. Shin Splints:

Shin splints is a common condition characterised by a recurring pain at the inside of the shin. While the cause of this condition is not always clear, it is usually due to repeated stress where the calf muscles attach to the tibia (shin bone). Why this becomes painful is likely due to a combination of factors that can be identified by your physiotherapist to help you get back on track as soon as possible.

  1. Achilles Tendonitis:

The Achilles tendon is the thick tendon at the back of the ankle that attaches to the calf muscles. The amount of force that this tendon can absorb is impressive and is vital in providing the propulsive force needed for running. If the stresses placed on the tendon exceed its strength, the tendon begins to breakdown and become painful.


None of the information in this article is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.


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If you require professional advice or treatment, please see our range of treatment options, or book an appointment online. Physio Direct has many clinics located throughout New Zealand, with no GP referral required to make an appointment.

Cranberry & Mixed Seed Slice - Physio Direct NZ

Cranberry & Mixed Seed Slice


¼ cup honey

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup almond meal

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp almond butter

½ cup dried cranberries

¾ cup shelled pumpkin seeds.

2 tbsp poppy seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 150°c, line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
  2. Mix honey, vanilla essence, almond meal, salt and almond butter together until combined. Fold in the almonds, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds until mixed well.
  3. Place mixture in baking tray and press firmly into an even layer, packing as tightly as possible. Bake for 20-24 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature for at least an hour. Once cool, place slice into the refrigerator

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Tips For Preventing Workplace Injuries - Physio Direct NZ

Tips For Preventing Workplace Injuries

Why are workplace injuries so common?

When we’re at work, we often find ourselves doing the same task for hours on end. The more specialised our job is, the more likely this is to be true. The human body is designed to move and perform a variety of tasks, and is unaccustomed to repetitive behaviours.

At work we also find ourselves faced with time constraints and tasks that need to be completed immediately. This can lead to lazy postures, lifting objects that are too heavy, or in a way that is rushed and unnecessary risk taking, just to get the job done.

Many injuries occur as a result of simple tasks done repeatedly over the course of several hours. Often these issues begin slowly and take many months to resolve. Here are a few tips to keep yourself pain free in the workplace.


When lifting:

Assess the risk. Do you need to ask for help or use an assistive device?

Use your legs to power the movement. Your legs are the strongest part of your body.

Never bend and twist. This is terrible for your back and a significant trigger for injuries. Instead, lift and step to turn before putting the object down.

When moving trolleys:

Push rather than pull. This is a much more efficient movement.

Try to push at waist height and keep forces as close to your body as possible.

When doing desk based activities:

Try not to use the same side of your body all the time. Practise using both left and right hands for taking phone calls and mouse work.

Be aware of your posture. Good posture isn’t about having a completely rigid and upright spine. It’s about being able to let your spine sit comfortably in its natural curves and be able to move in and out of this easily.

Stretch to counteract positions you find yourself in for long periods.

Have your workplace set up assessed and corrected by a professional.


None of the information in this newsletter is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.

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Why Is Good Posture So Important? - Physio Direct NZ

Why Is Good Posture So Important?

Health care professionals seem to constantly be talking about posture. While many people take away the message that they should “stand up straighter” the truth about what good posture is and why you should aim to have it is a little more complicated.

One of the reasons why posture is so important is that the body has an ideal alignment for almost every joint that provides the most stability and efficiency for movement in that position.

This is particularly true for the spine, which has a large number of joints that work together to provide movement, stability and support for the body. The spine must also provide a stable base for the shoulder and head. When the spine is in its optimum position, this also allows for free movement of the nerves that supply the trunk, arms and legs.

While the human body is highly adaptable and will continue to function when a posture is not “ideal”, a lot of energy is wasted and undue stress is placed on the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the body. Over time this can cause pain, tightness and loss of flexibility.

While being able to find these optimum postures is important, it is also important to simply keep moving and not be stuck in the same position for long periods. No matter how ‘ideal’ a posture is, when joints are held in the same position for too long, this can be troublesome.

Working with a great base posture combined with regular movement and stretches can have a surprising impact on your overall wellbeing. Having good posture has been linked to higher self-esteem, improved concentration, and even better lung function.


Speak to your physiotherapist for practical tips on how to improve your posture throughout the day.

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Chickpea, Chorizo and Tomato Salad - Physio Direct NZ

Chickpea, Chorizo and Tomato Salad

2 cups mixed leaf lettuce
400g chickpeas
12 cherry tomatoes
500g sliced chorizo
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Sauté tomatoes in a frying pan on medium heat with a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar until tomatoes begin to soften. Set aside to cool.
2. Wipe frying pan and place back on heat. Place chorizo on pan and fry until slightly brown and crispy.
3. Mix all ingredients in a large salad bowl and dress with remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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Easy Tomato and Bacon Quiche - Physio Direct NZ

Easy Tomato and Bacon Quiche


3/4 cup plain flour

50g butter, melted

2 cups milk

1 onion, sliced

½ cup cheese, grated

6 bacon strips, sliced and lightly pan fried

2 tomatoes, sliced

2 sheets of puff pastry


Serves 2.

  1. Preheat oven to 180d c. Grease a quiche dish and line evenly with puff pastry sheets.
  2. Whisk butter, flour, eggs and milk together and pour into dish.
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients together and spoon into egg mixture.
  4. Bake for 1 hour

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Finding Time for Incidental Exercise - Physio Direct NZ

Finding Time for Incidental Exercise

What is Incidental Exercise?

The difference between an office job and a labouring job is quite obvious: the office worker sits in a cubicle for 8 hours per day while the labourer is constantly moving, walking up and down ladders or stairs, and carrying heavy loads. The labourer is performing what is known as “incidental exercise”: exercise that occurs just because he is moving. Incidental exercise typically is unplanned exercise that occurs during your normal daily routine.

In today’s society, there is an increasing percentage of people with disease associated with sedentary lifestyle. The good news is that including incidental exercise into normal daily life can help reduce the risk of developing disease.

Here are a few ideas…

  • If you live within 5km of your workplace, walk or cycle to work.
  • If you drive, park 1km or more away from work and walk.
  • At every opportunity take the stairs, instead of the elevator.
  • Walk your kids home from school and have quality chats together.
  • Have a short indoor exercise routine that you do every time you wait for the kettle to boil.


If you work in an office…

  • Take all phone calls standing up.
  • Swap your chair for a fitball.
  • Walk to your colleague’s office instead of calling them, or ask to speak while you leave the building for coffee runs or lunch-time walks.

At home…

  • Put on some music and be more active while cleaning, gardening or hanging out the washing.
  • Make your daily family time active: play a game out back or go for a ride through the park.

It’s important to note that incidental exercise does not replace that hour at the gym or of sport. However, incidental exercise will make the benefits of that hour last longer and help you feel better through the day.

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Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome) - Physio Direct NZ

Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

Runners’ knee is a common disorder characterized by pain at the front of the knee during activities that require frequent and repetitive bending of the knee. The knee joint is composed of the thigh bone, (femur) and leg bone (tibia) and a small floating bone at the front, commonly known as the kneecap (patella). The interaction between these bones allows for smooth movement of the knee as it bends and straightens.

During movement, the kneecap sits in a groove at the front of the knee and acts as a mechanical see-saw. This protects the knee joint and improves the efficiency of the muscles working to move it.

If the kneecap does not move within its groove normally. This can cause irritation and pain of the underlying tissues, creating what is known as patello-femoral pain syndrome.

What causes it?

The quadriceps muscle straightens the knee and is made up of 4 individual muscles, all of which share a common attachment to the kneecap. The quadriceps work together as a group, with some pulling to the left and others to the right as they straighten the knee. If one side of the quadriceps is over or underdeveloped compared to the rest of the group, their pull on the patella changes. This causes the patella to move out of place as it pulled along in its groove. Over time this can damage the bony surfaces underneath the kneecap, causing irritation and pain.

How can physiotherapy help?

After examination your physiotherapist can determine the cause of the pain. They may perform some muscle releases and advise you of specific stretches to perform. If there is a strength imbalance, you will be given specific exercises aimed at strengthening the appropriate muscle to reducing any imbalance.

Muscular imbalance at the hips or lower back, or poor biomechanics of the lower limb and foot can contribute to the dysfunction in the quadriceps muscle and is an important part of any successful treatment. Your physiotherapist may suggest you change your footwear or add an orthotic to your shoe to improve the support of your foot and lower limb. This may be a permanent or temporary change.

Other strategies your physiotherapist may try include patella strapping, dry needling, or trigger point therapy. Surgery is considered a last resort following a period of physiotherapy management.

None of the information in this newsletter is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.

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If you require professional advice or treatment, please see our range of treatment options, or book an appointment online. Physio Direct has many clinics located throughout New Zealand, with no GP referral required to make an appointment.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate - Physio Direct NZ

Peppermint Hot Chocolate


4 tsp raw cocoa powder

3 tsp honey

2 peppermint tea bags

2 cups milk or substitute (soy/almond milk)

Sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon

Optional: Marshmallows



  1. Slowly heat milk over medium heat. Do not bring to boil as this will burn the milk and change the taste. Add peppermint teabags to the pan while heating and stir regularly.
  2. Add cocoa powder and honey. When milk is ready to drink remove from heat.
  3. Froth the heated milk either by using a whisk, mixer or plunger.
  4. Pour the hot chocolate into mugs, sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon on top and enjoy.

Serves 2

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Plantar Fasciitis - Physio Direct NZ

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain at the rear of the foot. The plantar fascia is a fibrous tissue that originates on the heel bone and inserts into the toes, helping to provide stability and support to the arches of the foot.

Plantar fasciitis is the breakdown of the tissues of the plantar fascia, usually in the area that attaches to the heel. The cells within the tissue become disarrayed, changing the direction of pull and weakening the tendon, which can eventually lead to micro-tearing of the fascia.


Plantar Fasciitis is characterised by gradual onset of pain at the base of the heel. The pain may be worse in the morning and eases throughout the day. Aggravating activities include standing, being inactive; stretching the foot, and the area will be painful to touch. In the early stages, activities such as running or dancing may ease the pain and only be painful afterwards, however as the condition develops further, pain may also be felt during exercise.


This condition usually develops slowly over time. Sudden heel pain following a traumatic incident is not usually classified as plantar fasciitis. Poor foot biomechanics, such as over pronation or supination (a kind of twisting movement within the foot) during walking or running places stress through the tendon. If this continues over time, the tendon begins to break down, causing pain.

Common activities that contribute to plantar fasciitis include walking with inappropriate or unsupportive footwear, running, and dancing. Other factors that may contribute to plantar fasciitis are lower limb muscle tightness, leg length discrepancy or muscle imbalance.


There are various strategies your physio can use to assist with pain relief of the foot. Following a thorough examination of the lower limbs, your physio will decide if you require specific muscle stretching or strengthening. Often there will be a biomechanical abnormality in the gluteal or calf muscles that require attention. Once an exercise program is underway, strapping or orthotics, may be used to support the painful tissue. Generally, a stretching routine for the bottom of the foot will be prescribed, and tissue release using a golf or tennis ball may be added to the exercise regime.

Most practitioners agree that physiotherapy management and relative rest are best for plantar fasciitis, however, some people may need further treatment such as corticosteroid injections or surgery if physiotherapy is not effective in relieving the symptoms.

None of the information in this newsletter is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.

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Things to Avoid When You Have Back Pain - Physio Direct NZ

Things to Avoid When You Have Back Pain

Back pain is such a common experience that it is estimated up to 80% of adults will have at least one severe episode of back pain in their lifetime. 

For many people, the pain quickly resolves and things go back to normal. However the first time this happens to you it can be scary, particularly as very severe pain can occur suddenly and without warning. Statistics, however, are on your side. Most of the time, acute low back pain resolves without consequence and doesn’t recur. If you happen to be in the middle of an episode, here are a few tips to help you get through.

  1. Avoid heavy lifting

While this may seem obvious, there are a few people who will always try to push through the pain. The expression “no pain, no gain” is in many cases outdated and if your work requires heavy lifting, it is more than reasonable to take a few days off.

  1. Avoid too much rest.

On the other hand, lying in bed all day is bad for you as well. If you have severe back pain, gentle movement under the advice of a physiotherapist is much better for you than complete rest.

  1. Avoid long car or plane trips

If possible, now is the time to avoid long distance travel. If you absolutely must travel, speak to your physiotherapist about how to manage your pain during the trip.

  1. Avoid listening to horror stories

There are always stories about pain that never went away, requiring surgery, which only made it worse. While worst case scenarios do happen, being fearful is a negative factor in a healthy recovery. That terrible story is probably not going to happen to you and hearing these stories is only going to impact your recovery negatively.

  1. Avoid delaying treatment

While your pain may go away on its own, it is important to have a professional assess your condition to screen for any serious injuries and advise you on how to best manage your pain while you are getting better. They can also help you recover as quickly as possible.

  1. Don’t expect a miracle cure

Back pain is complicated, and a single treatment that works for everyone does not exist. It is important to follow the directions of your therapist and work with them to set reasonable and realistic goals for your recovery.

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Mushroom and Walnut Burgers - Physio Direct NZ

Mushroom and Walnut Burgers


500g mushrooms, chopped

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

150g cooked chickpeas

40g walnuts, crushed in food processor

25g basil leaves, chopped.

1 heaped teaspoon ground flaxseed

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

ground pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 230c. Scatter mushrooms over two baking trays and bake for about 30 mins. Set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Mix ground flaxseed with enough water to cover and set aside and allow to thicken.
  3. Sauté onions over medium heat until soft, add garlic and cook for about 15 minutes. Add to mushrooms along with walnuts, thickened flaxseed and chopped basil. Briefly mix together in a food processor.
  4. Return mixture to bowl and add salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into four large patties and wrap each in glad wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  5. When ready to cook, heat a thin layer of oil over medium heat in a heavy frying pan and cook burgers until brown.

Serve as you like, recommended with pita bread, bean sprouts, roasted red peppers and salad.

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Shoulder Dislocations - Physio Direct NZ

Shoulder Dislocations

The shoulder is an amazing joint with incredible flexibility. It doesn’t attach directly to the spine, like the hip joint; instead, it is held to the body through a complicated system of musculature and indirectly by the collarbone (clavicle) to the front of the rib cage. Many other joints in the body are extremely stable, thanks to the structure of the bones and ligaments surrounding them. However, the shoulder has so much movement that some stability is sacrificed. It is for this reason that shoulder dislocations are a relatively common occurrence.

What is a dislocation and how does it happen?

As the name suggests, a dislocated shoulder is where the head of the upper arm is moved out of its normal anatomical position to sit outside of the shoulder socket joint.

Some people have more flexible joints than others and will unfortunately have joints that slip out of position easily without much cause. Other people might never have a dislocated shoulder except for a traumatic injury that forces it out of position. The shoulder can dislocate in many different directions, the most common being anterior. This occurs when the arm is raised and forced backwards in a ‘stop sign’ position, which can occur in many situations.

What to do if this happens

The first time a shoulder dislocates is usually the most serious. If the shoulder doesn’t just go back in by itself (spontaneous relocation), then someone will need to help to put it back in. This needs to be done by a professional as they must be able to assess what type of dislocation has occurred, and often an X-ray needs to be taken before the relocation happens.

A small fracture can actually occur as the shoulder is being put into place, which is why it is so important to have a professional perform the procedure.

How can physiotherapy help?

Following dislocation, your physiotherapist can advise on how to allow the best healing for the shoulder. It is important to keep the shoulder protected for a period to allow any damaged structures to heal as well as they can.

After this, a muscle-strengthening and stabilization program can begin. This is aimed at helping the muscles around the shoulder to provide further stability and prevent future dislocations.

The information in this newsletter is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for assessment of your individual condition.

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How To Beat Workout Soreness - Physio Direct NZ

How To Beat Workout Soreness

Most of us are familiar with the post-exercise soreness that comes after a particularly strenuous exercise session. This pain, which is usually accompanied by stiffness and weakness, is often referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This is abbreviated to DOMS.

It is unclear exactly what the purpose of this pain is, as it is most intense 24-48 hours following an intense exercise session. However, we do know that muscles experiencing DOMS show signs of microtears throughout the tissues and the effects are worse following eccentric (controlled extension) exercises more than other types.


While DOMS is not indicative of any serious injury and has no lasting side effects, it can be very uncomfortable and is problematic for anyone who needs to perform again quickly. This might apply to an athlete in a tournament stretching over a few days.

A person suffering from DOMS may also be at a higher risk of injury if they continue to play sport at their usual level. Understandably, many people are interested in how to avoid or reduce the effects of DOMS.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence on how to reduce DOMS. However, high-quality research is limited and there is certainly no quick fix to this problem.

When it comes to avoiding DOMS, both a warm up before exercise and a cool down afterwards are important. Many experts also recommend using a foam roller on affected muscles following exercise. And while many people, particularly long-distance athletes are fond of using anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain after exercise, the evidence shows that its effectiveness is limited and perhaps not worth the side effects of using the medication regularly.

Other Advice

Other advice includes gentle exercise, such as 20 minutes on a stationary bike, and mild stretching. Massage is not generally recommended, although some people may find it helpful. Staying hydrated during sports is always important, and keeping your fluid intake adequate while experiencing soreness afterwards can also help.  If you are particularly brave, ice baths have recently been shown to have mild benefits in pain reduction.

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