Haloumi, Blueberry and Watermelon Salad - Physio Direct NZ

Haloumi, Blueberry and Watermelon Salad

Ingredients:

200g Fresh Haloumi

¼ Seedless Watermelon

100g Fresh Blueberries

1 Handful of Fresh Mint Leaves

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Balsamic Glaze

  1. Place a frying pan on medium heat and add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Chop haloumi into thin slices and place on frying pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then turn. Haloumi pieces should be lightly browned and crispy on either side
  2. Cut watermelon into large slices, removing skin and seeds. Increase heat to high and add watermelon pieces to frying pan. Drizzle watermelon pieces with balsamic vinegar and cook either side for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, add blueberries to pan and cook until soft.
  3. Mix all cooked ingredients together gently in a large mixing bowl, drain excess liquid and allow to cool.

Garnish with mint and serve as a healthy side dish.

Olecranon Bursitis - Physio Direct NZ

Olecranon Bursitis

What is it?

Bursae are small sacs of fluid found throughout the body. These bursae produce synovial fluid and act to reduce friction between muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones as they move over each other. Bursae are located at strategic points, typically where there are higher points of stress. If a bursa is injured or irritated, it can become inflamed, painful, red and swollen and this condition is referred to as bursitis.

One bursa that is commonly affected is the olecranon bursa, which sits just over the hard bony process at the base of the elbow. Olecranon bursitis refers to inflammation of the bursa at this point and is a common condition, particularly in men between the ages of 30-60.

What causes it?

Olecranon bursitis has a few different causes including trauma, overuse and infection. A sharp blow to the elbow, through a fall or hit, might damage the bursa leading to bursitis. In other cases, the bursa can be infected by bacteria, which enter the body through a small skin tear. Bursitis can also develop slowly through friction of the nearby muscles that cause the bursa to become irritated and inflamed.

What are the symptoms?

The hallmark of this condition is a painful, red, swollen elbow. Typically pain is worst when resting on the tip of the elbow and/or with elbow movements, particularly when bending or straightening the elbow fully. The pain often lasts a few months and may not go away on its own. The pain may build up gradually, or come on suddenly, depending on the cause. Bursitis caused by infection (septic bursitis) may also be associated with general feelings of illness such as fatigue, fever and body aches.

What is the treatment?

As there are many different causes of this condition, accurate diagnosis is essential. Your physiotherapist is able to distinguish between olecranon bursitis and similar conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia. Septic bursitis will need to be treated by a medical professional who will determine the best course of action.

Bursitis is treated initially with a RICE protocol to reduce pain and swelling (Rest, ice, compression and elevation).  Mechanical causes of bursitis can require more in-depth identification of the factors that may have led to the development of this condition.

Common contributing factors are throwing technique, muscle tightness and/or weakness and training frequency. Your physiotherapist is able to address these factors plus provide taping support to unload the bursa along with manual therapy and an exercise program.

In most cases, conservative or non-surgical treatment is attempted as the first line of treatment. If this is unsuccessful, cortisone injections are often used to reduce pain and inflammation. In severe cases where the pain persists despite all other attempts at treatment, the bursa can be surgically removed in a procedure called a bursectomy. Once the pain has subsided your physiotherapist is also able to help prevent any further recurrence.

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. 

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.

Can Poor Balance Lead To Ankle Sprains? - Physio Direct NZ

Can Poor Balance Lead To Ankle Sprains?

Ankle sprains are one of the most common sporting injuries and most people have experienced one at least once in their lifetime. While they are common, this doesn’t lessen their negative impact. Surprisingly, having poor balance might be increasing your risk of ankle sprains. Here we discuss a few facts about balance and what you can do to reduce your risk of ankle injuries.

Are ankles particularly vulnerable to injuries related to poor balance?

Our ankles have to support our entire body weight when standing on one foot. To provide us with agility as well as stability, our ankles have the ability to move from side to side as well as back and forwards. There is a complicated process constantly operating to keep your foot in the correct position while supporting all this weight. This is particularly true with quick changes of direction, activities done on tiptoes, jumping and landing. If the ankle rolls excessively inwards or outwards, the ligaments on the side of the ankle can be damaged and torn, resulting in sprains. Balance is an important part of keeping the ankle in the correct alignment and not twisting too far to either side during challenging activities.

A study of high school basketball players by Timothy McGuine et al. in 2010 showed that students with poor balance were up to seven times more likely to sprain their ankle than students with good balance. Other studies have shown that balance training is an effective way of preventing falls in elderly populations.

One leg can have better balance than the other.

Most of us favour one side of our body for all activities. This is more obvious in the upper body, with most of us identifying as either left or right handed. The same is also true for our lower body, with each of us favouring one leg over the other for balance activities. This can mean that one leg has better balance and strength than the other, leaving the other leg more vulnerable to injury.

Reduced balance can mean your body has to work harder to perform activities, with muscles activating in a less coordinated way. Improving your balance can also improve your body’s efficiency of movement, which can, in turn, improve your overall performance without actually improving your muscle strength.

Balance can be trained rapidly.

Balance is one of the most overlooked dimensions of physical health however, the good news is that it can be improved relatively quickly. Do a quick check to see if you can stand on each leg for two minutes with your eyes closed. If this is difficult you might find that improving your balance is a great next step in your training program.

Your physiotherapist is able to identify any deficits in your balance is and is able to develop a training program for you to improve your balance. Come and see us for an appointment to see how we can help.

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.

Broccolini, Blueberry and Parmesan Salad - Physio Direct NZ

Broccolini, Blueberry and Parmesan Salad

1 Bunch of Fresh Broccolini

100gm Whole Almonds

1 Tbsp. Plain Hummus

100gms Fresh Blueberries

50gms Parmesan Shaved

1 Clove of Garlic

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. White Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Salt and Pepper

1.         Place a frying pan on medium heat and add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and one clove of crushed garlic. Add almonds, either whole or sliced and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add broccolini and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning regularly. Finally add blueberries and cover pan, cook for a further 2 minutes then remove from heat.

2.         Whisk together remaining olive oil, lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to create a dressing.  Cover broccolini with dressing and move to a serving plate, add parmesan flakes.

Garnish with hummus and serve as a healthy side dish.

Fibromyalgia - Physio Direct NZ

Fibromyalgia

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterised by widespread pain throughout the body along with fatigue, memory problems, sleep and mood disorders. Sufferers of fibromyalgia often spend years trying to find a diagnosis that fits their many symptoms and fluctuate between periods of having high energy and ‘crashes’ of fatigue and pain. In severe cases, fibromyalgia can cause significant lifestyle disruptions, including reduced activity, unemployment and depression.

The underlying mechanism that creates the symptoms of fibromyalgia has been shown to be increased pain amplification by the central nervous system and reduced activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Essentially this means that small pain signals in the body are processed as large pain signals by the central nervous system.

What causes it?

Fibromyalgia is a complicated condition that is poorly understood. This can be very frustrating for sufferers, who often find themselves being shuffled between health practitioners looking for answers and long term relief. While the pain generally feels muscular, usually little to no muscular damage or injury can be found on physical assessment. The symptoms can also mimic those of an infectious illness, or other chronic diseases. Often a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is reached after other diseases and causes have been ruled out.

The cause of fibromyalgia is as yet unknown, it was thought that the depression and reduced activity that are often associated with fibromyalgia could be causative, however it has been show that these are symptoms of fibromyalgia rather than causes. Other significant signs of fibromyalgia are a lack of REM sleep in sufferers and a positive result of more than 11 out of 18 muscular trigger points.

What is the treatment?

Following a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, patients primary strategy is to understand and manage their symptoms. This can involve pacing activities and balancing exercise so as to reduce ‘crashes’ and unhelpful pain cycles that lead to frustration. Identifying activities, employment and a routine that don’t exacerbate symptoms can have a significant impact on quality of life for someone with fibromyalgia.

Having psychological support can also be very important to help patients deal with the emotional distress of a complex chronic condition that has no outward physical signs.

Treatments that have been shown to help reduce symptoms are TENS (electrical stimulation) which produces an endorphin response and can reduce pain. Certain medications may be helpful when prescribed by a doctor. Education and understanding of this condition can have the largest impact for sufferers, helping them to manage and maintain some control over their symptoms. Physiotherapists can have a large role in education and helping patients find a routine and activity level that helps them manage their condition as best as possible.

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. 

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.

Four Surprising Causes Of Neck Pain - Physio Direct NZ

Four Surprising Causes Of Neck Pain

If you are experiencing regular neck pain that just won’t go away, it’s possible that parts of your daily routine are contributing without you realising. Here are a few common everyday activities that might be making your neck pain worse.

1. Your sleeping position

It’s easy to underestimate the impact your sleeping position has. However, spending hours in one position will undoubtedly have an effect on your body. In fact, poor sleeping posture is commonly among causes of neck pain. Pillows that are too high or too flat can mean your cervical joints are sitting at the end of their range in too much flexion or extension. Similarly, sleeping on your stomach often means your thoracic spine is locked into extension and your neck is fully rotated. In simpler terms, this means your joints are under more stress than necessary. Ideal sleeping posture allows your spine to maintain it’s natural curves.

2. Your daily commute

Many of us make sure our work stations are ergonomically set up to reduce stress and strain throughout the day. Few of us take the same consideration when it comes to driving. In fact, the set up of your car can be just as important as your work-desk, particularly if you are driving more than 30 minutes everyday. The correct setup in your car can mean you use less effort to drive and turn your head less often to check traffic.

Ensuring that your steering wheel, seat and mirrors are set up correctly could make a difference to your posture and even perhaps reduce neck pain and headaches. If you find that driving is still affecting your pain after making these changes, try catching public transport or riding a bike on alternative days.

 3. Your downtime

Many of us unwind by watching TV or our laptops at the end of the day. Your position during this time can be something you give little thought to however, looking up to view a screen mounted on a wall or looking down at a small screen or laptop can put pressure on the upper structures of the neck. Take a few minutes to consider what posture you’re sitting in before settling down to binge watch a series and see if you can either lower the height of your screen or raise it slightly so your neck can be in a more neutral position.

4. Your exercise routine

Any activity that requires sustained positions or repetitive neck movements can contribute to neck pain. Cyclists can be stuck in neck extension while looking ahead and breast stroke swimmers can also have excess neck extension. Freestyle swimmers with reduced thoracic or neck rotation can have difficulty achieving rotation when breathing which can cause pain and discomfort over time.

Your physiotherapist is able to identify any daily habits or activities that might be causes of neck pain. Come and see us for an appointment to see how we can help.

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.

Shoulder Labral Tears - Physio Direct NZ

Shoulder Labral Tears

What are labral tears?

A ring of flexible, fibrous connective tissue, known as the glenohumeral labrum, surrounds the shoulder joint. This labrum increases the stability of the shoulder while allowing for the required flexibility of one of the bodies’ most sophisticated joints. One well-known muscle of the arm, the biceps, has an attachment directly into the labrum and is a common site of injury. A tear of the labrum can occur in many locations, however the most common is at the point where the biceps tendon attaches to the labrum. Usually, this tear follows a typical pattern and is referred to as a superior labrum tear, anterior to posterior (SLAP tear).

What causes it?

SLAP/labral tears can be caused by trauma such as a fall onto an outstretched hand or a dislocated shoulder. Tears can also develop over time with repeated throwing actions or overhead activities as the labrum is weakened and eventually injured. Traumatic tears are more likely to be symptomatic than tears that develop slowly.

What are the symptoms?

As mentioned, SLAP tears can occur suddenly, through trauma or develop slowly through repeated stress. Often if the injury develops over time, patients can be unaware they have sustained a tear and the injury doesn’t have a significant impact on their pain or function. Preexisting SLAP tears can however, place more tension on the long head of biceps tendon, leading to overuse disorders as a secondary complication.

When the tear occurs through a sudden action or trauma, symptoms can be more marked. Sufferers often notice pain deep in the shoulder joint with overhead shoulder movements, a feeling of weakness, loss of power and/or accuracy with throwing activities. Some people may notice a popping or clicking sensation and occasionally the shoulder may give way. In severe tears, the shoulder might feel unstable and even be at increased risk of dislocation.

How can physiotherapy help?

Your physiotherapist is able to help diagnose a suspected SLAP tear and send you for further imaging if needed. SLAP tears are often graded by severity from I to IV as a way to guide treatment. Physiotherapy is usually recommended as a trial for all tears before considering surgical repair and in many cases can effectively help patients return to their previous activities, symptom-free. 

If physiotherapy is unsuccessful, surgical repair with a full rehabilitation program is recommended. Surgery will usually either repair the tear or reattach the biceps tendon to the humerus (tenodesis). Following surgery, a period of rest in a sling is required before rehabilitation can begin.

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. 

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.

Some Surprising Facts About Posture - Physio Direct NZ

Some Surprising Facts About Posture

Your posture is one of the first things other people notice about you and can affect so much more in your life than just spinal health. Healthy posture has been linked to better respiratory health and has even been shown to affect your confidence. In this article, we explore a few other surprising facts about posture.

Ideal posture doesn’t mean having a straight back.

Many people think having good posture means standing as straight as possible with your shoulders pulled back. This is actually a relatively unnatural posture and requires a lot of energy to maintain. Ideal posture, where the spine rests in it’s most comfortable and strongest position, is where the neck has a gentle curve backwards, the thoracic is curved gently forwards and the lower back curves back again. These curves create an elongated ‘S’ shape and can be seen when viewing a person from side on.

There are four common postural patterns other than ‘ideal posture’.

For those who don’t have ideal posture, four common variations are seen. These are:

  • kyphosis (excessive curve of the thoracic region)
  • lordosis (excessive curve of the lower back)
  • flat back (loss of the normal spinal curves)
  • sway back (where the pelvis is pushed in front of your centre of gravity and the upper body leans back to compensate).

Each of these postures is often accompanied by a typical pattern of joint and muscle stiffness that can lead to pain and injury. Your physiotherapist is able to assess your posture and identify any ways this may be contributing to your pain. They can also help you to change your posture with strategies to increase spinal mobility and strength.

Regular movement is just as important as your posture.

While ideal posture has been shown to reduce the amount of stress and tension found in the spinal muscles, holding yourself rigidly in one position is also not healthy. Ideally, our spines will be flexible and able to move through their full range without pain or stiffness. Regular movement is the key to healthy joints, including the spine. If you finding yourself sitting or standing for long periods, try to find time to stretch as well as working on your posture.

Personality type has been linked to postural patterns.

A study by S. Guimond and others in 2014 showed a surprising link between personality type and posture. They found that extroverted personalities were much more likely have an ‘ideal posture’ or excessive spinal curves than introverted personalities and introverted personalities were more likely to have ‘flat’ or ‘sway back’ postures. However, they were unable to determine if personality influenced posture or vice versa. There may have also been a hidden third factor, such as pain.

Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury or issue. 

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.

Beetroot Brownie Slice - Physio Direct NZ

Beetroot Brownie Slice

250g Beetroot, peeled and cut into cubes

6 Medjool dates (pitted)

3 Eggs

¾ cup Cacoa Powder

1 cup Almond Meal

¼ cup melted Coconut Oil

¾ cup Maple Syrup

 ¼ cup nut milk (coconut or almond)

pinch of sea salt

1 tsp. Vanilla Bean Powder

1 tsp. gluten-free baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, Lightly grease and line your brownie tray with baking paper. Place the beetroot into a saucepan with cold water and bring to the boil Simmer for 20-25 minutes until tender. Soak the dates in enough boiling water to cover them until softened (about 10 mins), then drain water.
  2. Tip the cooked beetroot into a sieve, drain off any excess liquid, then put into a high-speed food processor with softened dates until smooth.
  3. Then add the cacao powder, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup and blend to combine. Then add almond meal, nut milk, baking powder, vanilla, baking soda and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour your mixture into the prepared tray and bake for 25-30 minutes until firm and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
  5. Set aside to cool. Cut into 12 pieces and enjoy.

Best stored in the fridge to enjoy when needed.

Mushroom & Lentil Veggie Burgers - Physio Direct NZ

Mushroom & Lentil Veggie Burgers

1 cup Green or Brown Lentils

1 ½ cups Water

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

300g Fresh Mushrooms

1 cup of Sweet Potato

4 cloves of Garlic, minced

1 cup of Rocket

2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

2 Tbsp. Plain Flour

½ tsp. Smoked Paprika

Salt and Pepper

  1. Boil water in a medium saucepan and add lentils. Simmer while covered for 30 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat and strain excess water away. Peel sweet potatoes and chop into small pieces.
  2. Coat a large frying pan with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and cook mushrooms, sweet potato and garlic on medium heat for 6-8 minutes, while stirring frequently.  Cook until sweet potato is soft and remove from heat and allow to cool. Blend the sweet potato mixture, paprika, rocket, salt and pepper and soy sauce in a food processor for one minute. Then gently mix these ingredients with the cooked lentils.
  3. Shape mixture into four round patties and coat each side lightly with plain flour. Add 1 Tbsp. of Olive Oil to a frying pan, cook patties on medium heat for ten minutes, turning once.

Makes four patties, serve in burger buns or with a side salad.

Four Surprising Reasons Why Your Pain Is Not Improving - Physio Direct NZ

Four Surprising Reasons Why Your Pain Is Not Improving

Most tissues in the body have healed completely in six to 12 weeks following an injury, however, many people have severe pain that lasts much longer than this. We know that the intensity of the pain you feel is not always associated with a similar amount of damage. In some cases, there can be a severe amount of pain with almost no detectable damage. With this in mind, we explore some reasons why your pain might not be getting better, long after the tissues have healed.

You’re afraid of the pain.

Pain can mean many different things, for some of us pain can affect our ability to work or can be a symptom of a serious disease. What you believe about your pain can either amplify or reduce the symptoms you experience. If you feel that every time you experience pain you are causing more damage, you will naturally pay more attention to this and your nervous system will amplify the signals in an attempt to keep you safe.

If you understand the cause of your pain and know that while there is discomfort, you are not in danger of causing more damage, often the pain will feel less severe. This is one of the benefits of seeing a physiotherapist after your injury as they can help you to understand your pain, giving you more control over your recovery.

You started moving differently after the injury. 

Immediately after an injury, it’s natural to change the way you move to avoid painful movements. After a while, these changed movement patterns can become maladaptive and actually begin to cause pain and discomfort on their own due to the altered stress patterns placed on your body.

Correcting these adaptive movement patterns can often go a long way in reducing pain after an injury. You might not have noticed these changes and might need a physiotherapist to identify and help you to return to your usual movement pattern.

You have lost muscle strength since the injury.

While a certain amount of rest following an injury is always helpful, if we stop moving altogether, our muscles can lose strength. This can mean that our posture changes, we fatigue easier during our usual activities and that we are more susceptible to further injury. Less movement also means we actually focus on the pain more when it does happen. Physiotherapists are able to advise you on the right types and amounts of excercise for you in the period following your injury.

The pain has affected your lifestyle.

When pain affects your ability to sleep, work and even concentrate, it’s not surprising that this can have a negative affect on your overall wellbeing and mental health. This can create a negative cycle of anxitey and depression that perpetuates and increases the experience of pain. If your pain is really getting you down, speaking to a mental health professional can actually be a valuable part of your physical recovery. 

Runner’s Knee                       (PFJ Syndrome) - Physio Direct NZ

Runner’s Knee (PFJ Syndrome)

What is it?

Our knees are complex hinge joints, designed to provide stability from side to side and smooth movement forwards and back as you walk, kick and run. The patella, or kneecap, is a small bone embedded in the tendon of the quadriceps muscle that protects the knee and also provides extra leverage to the quadriceps, amplifying their strength. The patella moves up and down in a groove at the front of the knee as the knee bends and straightens. Usually this movement is smooth, with little friction, however, if something causes the patella to move in a dysfunctional way, the soft tissue between the kneecap and the knee can become irritated, causing pain in a typical pattern. This condition is often referred to as ‘runner’s knee’, PFJ Syndrome or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).

What causes it?

The patella usually sits in a balanced position in the shallow groove at the front of the knee and moves easily without friction. The patella is attached to the quadriceps muscle at the top and connected to the lower leg via the patella tendon at the bottom. When the quadriceps contracts, this pulls on the patella and acts to straighten the knee. If one side of the quadriceps is stronger or tighter than the other, it can cause the kneecap to pull to one side and over time become irritated.

There can be many factors that cause a muscle imbalance or weakness on one side of the quadriceps. In most people, the outer aspect of the quadriceps tends to be stronger and tighter than the inner muscle.

Certain postures and leg positions require the outer muscles to work harder and the inside muscles to become less active. Lack of arch support in your feet or simply a physical abnormality of the knee can also place stress on the movement of the patella.

What are the symptoms?

This condition is characterized by pain felt on the inside or behind of the patella with activities that require repetitive bending of the knee. There may be a sensation of crepitus, clicking or grinding and some people report that their knee suddenly gives way. The pain is commonly felt when running, going up and down stairs or when doing squats and is relieved with rest. The pain may start as a small niggle and gradually become worse over time.

How can physiotherapy help?

The first step in effective treatment is to exclude any other conditions and have a physiotherapist confirm the diagnosis. Your physiotherapist is able to determine which factors are contributing to this condition, which could include poor posture, a lack of arch support in your feet or poor running technique.

Once these factors have been identified, you will be provided with a specific treatment program to best approach your condition. Runner’s knee usually responds quite well to biomechanical analysis and correction of any muscular weakness and imbalance. Having the correct shoes and orthotics can also make a huge difference. There are some short-term treatments, such as patella taping, dry needling, trigger point therapy and ultrasound, which may help alleviate symptoms quickly and keep you active while you address the other factors contributing to your pain.

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. 

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.

Coconut and Date Bliss Balls - Physio Direct NZ

Coconut and Date Bliss Balls

¼ cup Coconut Flakes

1 cup Raw Almonds

¼ tsp. Vanilla Paste

5 Medjool Dates, pitted

½ tsp. Cinnamon

1 Tbsp. Water

1 Tbsp. Honey

1 tsp. Salt

  1. Soak dates in a bowl of hot water ahead of time for at least an hour.
  2. Combine almonds, coconut, cinnamon and salt into a food processor and blend until small crumbs appear.
  3. Remove dates from water and add to the food processor along with the rest of the ingredients and blend for two more minutes.
  4. When ingredients are mixed thoroughly, roll into balls and refrigerate to set.  Cover in coconut flakes if desired.
Do You Really Need To Stretch? - Physio Direct NZ

Do You Really Need To Stretch?

Stretching has long played an important role in the world of sport and fitness, with many athletes stretching religiously before and after exercise in hopes of preventing injuries.

Lately, this practice has been called into question with many people wondering if stretching really makes a difference to athletic performance. The answer, like most things, is not black and white, as we explore a little in this article.

A brief introduction to stretching

Stretching is a type of movement that increases flexibility by lengthening muscle fibres to the end of their range. Stretching before and after exercise has been thought to reduce the risk of injury, improve athletic performance and reduce muscle soreness after exercise.

The two most common types of stretching are static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is when you lengthen your muscle and then hold that position for a period of time.

Dynamic stretching uses movement and momentum of the body to stretch muscles to their end range, without holding the stretch at the end.

What does the research say?

Some research has suggested that static stretching before an activity can actually reduce power, strength and performance. However, these reductions were shown to be minimal and not noticed at all if the stretches were held for less than 45 seconds.  It has also been found that stretching does improve flexibility but only for a short period of time. A few minutes after stretching, your joints move further, and with less resistance, so you may have improved flexibility immediately after stretching.

Why stretch at all?

One thing that is undeniable is that stretching feels great, with many people feeling more relaxed and reporting a rush of endorphins after a good stretching session. It is also difficult to test the long-term effects of stretching specific muscles showing abnormal tightness. A long-term static stretching routine will improve your overall flexibility, and this is thought to help prevent injuries, although the evidence is inconclusive.

If you’re an athlete, the decision to stretch or not can be a personal one. A warm-up prior to intense exercise that includes some form of dynamic stretching is generally recommended for reducing injury risk, but of course is no guarantee. Strength and balance training may have a far greater impact on reducing injuries in the long term.

Your physiotherapist is able to guide you on the best stretching advice for your individual activity and they may be able to identify some areas where improving your flexibility will help to reduce injuries and improve performance.

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. 

Five Reasons To See A Physiotherapist After An Injury - Physio Direct NZ

Five Reasons To See A Physiotherapist After An Injury

There is no doubt that the human body can be very resilient. Short of regenerating new limbs, our bodies are capable of recovering from large amounts of damage, including broken bones. With this in mind, many people are happy to let nature take it’s course, thinking that seeing a physiotherapist after an injury will only act to speed up already healing tissues.

The speed of recovery, however, is only one measure of healing and despite our bodies’ incredible capacity for repair; injury repair can be less than straightforward. Here are a few things about injury healing you may not have been aware of.

1. Scar Tissue is more likely to form without treatment.

Scar tissue can cause ongoing pain and stiffness in skin, muscles and ligaments. Physiotherapy can prevent excessive scarring from forming through advice regarding movement, massage and other hands-on treatment.

2. Your ability to sense the position of your body, known as proprioception, is often damaged after an injury and can be retrained.

Impaired proprioception is a major factor in re-injury. If you’ve ever heard someone say “my knee/ankle/shoulder still doesn’t feel 100%” then this could be why. The good news is that with a specific exercise program, proprioception can be improved and recovered.

3. Once healing has finished, your body may not be exactly the same as before.

Following an injury, ligaments may be lax, joints may be stiffer and muscles are almost always weaker. While the pain may be gone, there might still be factors that need to be addressed to prevent more complicated issues in the future.

4. You may have picked up some bad habits while waiting for the injury to heal.

While in pain, we often change the way we do things, this can lead to the development of poor movement patterns and muscle imbalances. Even though the pain has gone, these new patterns can remain and create further problems down the road.

5. Injuries don’t always heal completely.

On rare occasions, injuries may not be able to heal completely on their own. The most serious example of this is a fracture that cannot heal if the bone is not kept still enough. Other factors that may prevent an injury from healing include poor circulation, diabetes, insufficient care of the injury and poor nutrition.

Your physiotherapist can assess your injury and develop a treatment plan that will both restore you to the best possible function and prevent further injuries. 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. 

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.