We’re all about balance this August.
Now, we’d love for you to achieve work-life balance, eat a balanced diet, and balance your chequebook effortlessly (does anyone still have a chequebook?) but that’s not what we’re talking about. We are talking about your ability to maintain equilibrium and stability during various movements and in different positions so you can move gracefully through life and recover quickly if you do stumble. Why are Osteopaths such big believers in working on your balance? It’s because balance plays a crucial role in your overall well-being and musculoskeletal health, which is really our whole thing! So, if you’re ready to embrace stability and unlock a world of benefits, keep reading. But if you’ve got other aches or injuries that you’re more concerned about right now (maybe from a stumble you never recovered from…?) give us a call, our Osteopaths can help.
Did you know that balance skills can be improved with practice? Yep, the brain and body will respond to exercise, helping you to find your center of gravity and enhance your overall stability.
But before we dive into these exercises, let’s remember that achieving optimal musculoskeletal health is a holistic endeavour. It’s all about finding the right balance (pun intended!) in our bodies. Now, let’s get started with these awesome balance exercises!
Sit to Stands Without Using Arms to Push:
This exercise not only helps strengthen your leg muscles but also challenges your balance and coordination. Here’s how you can do it:
- Find a sturdy chair and sit on the edge.
- Place your feet hip-width apart, firmly planted on the ground.
- Cross your arms over your chest.
- Engage your core and, without relying on your arms for support, stand up slowly and smoothly.
- Pause for a moment at the top, ensuring that you feel stable.
- Then, lower yourself back down into a seated position with control.
- Aim to perform 8-10 repetitions for a few sets.
Remember, it’s normal to feel a bit wobbly at first, but with time and practice, you’ll notice an improvement in your balance and strength.
Standing on One Leg:
This classic exercise may seem simple, but it’s highly effective in challenging your balance and proprioception (your body’s sense of its position in space). Give it a try:
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
- Gently shift your weight onto one leg.
- Lift the other foot off the ground, bending your knee to a comfortable height.
- Find your balance and hold the position for 20-30 seconds.
- If needed, you can lightly rest your fingertips on a wall or countertop for support.
Repeat on the other leg. Aim to perform 3-5 repetitions on each leg.
As you progress, challenge yourself by closing your eyes or performing small movements, like swaying side to side, while maintaining your balance. This exercise engages your core, strengthens your ankles, and trains your body to maintain stability.
Heel to Toe Walking:
Get ready to test your coordination and balance with this exercise:
- Find a clear path or an open space.
- Begin by standing with your feet in a heel-to-toe position, one foot directly in front of the other.
- Take a step forward, placing your heel directly in front of the toes of the opposite foot.
- Continue walking in a straight line, maintaining the heel-to-toe alignment.
- Engage your core, keep your gaze forward, and take slow, deliberate steps.
- Aim to walk for about 10-20 steps.
If needed, start with shorter distances and gradually increase as you feel more confident.
Heel to toe walking challenges your balance, proprioception, and helps strengthen the muscles in your legs and feet. It’s like a tightrope act without the actual tightrope!
Remember, these exercises are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to balance training. Our Osteopaths can tailor a program just for you if you’d like to enhance your balance. Give us a call for help with this or anything else to do with your musculoskeletal health.
Keep up the great work and enjoy your balance-boosting exercises!
It’s World Osteoporosis Day this month (on October 20th) so let’s look at the benefits of exercise for bone health and osteoporosis.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a chronic condition that causes a person’s bones to become weak and brittle, making them susceptible to fracture from minor falls or injuries. While your bones naturally become weaker as you age, osteoporosis can speed this process up.
You may be at higher risk if you are over 70 years old, female, experienced early menopause, or have a family history of hip fractures. Lifestyle factors that increase your risk include being sedentary, not doing weight-bearing or resistance training, having a low body weight and low muscle mass, eating a diet poor in nutrients, or having a high alcohol intake.
Benefits of exercise for osteoporosis
Exercise is beneficial if you have osteoporosis, because it can slow the rate of bone loss, strengthen your muscles, improve your balance to reduce your risk of falls, increase mobility, improve your mood and help to manage pain.
Regular physical activity throughout your life reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis in your later years. Regular activity combined with a healthy balanced diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, which puts less pressure on your bones and joints.
What type of exercise for osteoporosis?
There are three types of exercise you should incorporate into your routine: weight-bearing exercise, resistance training, and exercises to improve your balance.
Weight-bearing exercise is defined as aerobic activity conducted when you are on your feet with your bones supporting your weight, working against gravity. Examples of weight-bearing exercises:
- High impact: Jogging, jump rope/skipping, step aerobics, tennis, high knees, jump squats
- Moderate impact: stair climbing, hiking, dancing
- Low impact: stair step machines, low-impact aerobics
Resistance training makes your muscles work against a weight or force to build strength. These should be tailored to your ability and capacity with proper form to avoid injury. Examples of resistance training:
- Free weights (dumbbell and barbells)
- Resistance bands
- Body-weight resistance
- Weight training machines
Exercises to improve your balance and prevent falls:
- Tai Chi
- Standing on one leg
- Standing with your feet close together
- Walking backwards
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s important to exercise within your ability and seek supervision from a trained professional to ensure your exercise routine is safe for you and to reduce the risk of fractures.
Our Physiotherapist is an expert in movement and exercise. Book an appointment today to see how it can benefit your body and osteoporosis.
If you need help managing your symptoms and would like to find out how physio pilates could help, come and see us. Give us a call on (416) 546-4887 or email us at [email protected] to make an appointment.
- Healthy Bones Australia (2021). Exercise & Bone Health [Online]. Available at: https://healthybonesaustralia.org.au/your-bone-health/exercise-bone-health/ (Accessed 29 August 2022).
- Better Health Channel (2015). Osteoporosis and exercise. [Online]. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/osteoporosis-and-exercise (Accessed 29 August 2022).
- Health Direct (2020). [Online]. Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/osteoporosis (Accessed 29 August 2022).
Movement Snacks…are you getting enough?
As the pandemic approaches its first anniversary, many people have found themselves working from home for longer hours, at improvised workstations, tables, chairs, and even ironing boards (actually a good idea!). Often missing is the daily commute or walking somewhere for lunch or a coffee. As a result of this, tight and aching backs, necks, shoulders and hips are many of the common complaints we see at the clinic. While the mental and physical benefits of daily exercise are vast and very important so is regular movement throughout the day. A sedentary 8+ hour workday can lead to fatigue in overworking muscles and tightness and weakness in underworking muscles, and decreased circulation overall.
One way to think of incorporating movement into your day is movement snacks! We take time to fuel our bodies with nutritious food throughout the day, why not consider giving your body nutritious movement throughout the day as well. Nutritious movement should include movement for all areas of the body in all directional planes. Our bodies were built to move – to squat, push, pull, lift, twist, bend, and rotate. Just make sure you’re adding movement in a way that’s pain free and comfortable for your body.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate more movement throughout your day:
* Change your position hourly – if you have a portable computer, consider stacking some books or boxes on a table top, or better, yet get out that height adjustable ironing board to create a standing workstation. If your body allows, sit cross legged or kneeling on the floor with your computer on a stool.
* To provide more movement to your thoracic spine and shoulders, circle your arms overhead, rotate your torso, and add in some side bends.
* To provide more movement to your hips, knees and ankles, add some squats and lunges, rotate your hips or march in place.
* Climb the stairs in your home twice an hour.
* If you have a solid door frame, reach for it and hang from it for 5-10 seconds (if that’s too extreme, just stretch your arms overhead).
* Or…simply add movement you like and what feels good for your body, just do more of it, more often.
Written by: Jennifer Ingram
Christmas time is just around the corner, and that can mean only one thing… fun (at a covid level) and over indulgent.
We all tend to indulge and consume probably a few too many calories over the Christmas period. It seems to be ingrained in society that it’s the done thing. Now, as health professionals we are all about promoting just that… Health. We are all for a little indulging every now and then, but over Christmas it can be easy to overdo it and then lie around like sloths all day watching re-runs on TV. One of the beautiful things about being an osteopath is being able to make a difference to our patient’s lives in many different ways. As well as all of the hands-on stuff we do with you, we also give advice on lifestyle, diet and nutrition, relaxation and exercise. So, if you don’t want to see the waistband expand too much over the festive period, we suggest countering the odd indulgent episode with an awesome workout to ensure you stay flexible, strong and that little bit healthier this December and January.
What follows are some quick-fire workouts to fit in around your busy Xmas schedule, to really get the heart rate up and the waistline down.
Your exercises are as follows:
- Step ups: Find a sturdy bench, chair or step and put one foot onto it. Step up and drive your opposite knee up towards your chest into the air. Return down to the starting position and repeat. Stay on the same leg until all repetitions have been completed, and then switch sides.
- Sumo squats: Stand with your feet and knees wide with toes pointing out on a slight diagonal.. Squat down until your knees reach a bend of 90 degrees, tracking in the direction of your toes. Return to the start position and repeat.
- One leg L-sits: Sit upright with your legs out straight in front of you. Put your hands on the ground next to your hips and raise your body off the ground. Holding that position, raise one leg off the ground about the height of your shoe or foot. Slowly lower and repeat. Stay on the same leg until all repetitions have been completed and then switch sides.
Cycle these exercises completing each for 10 reps, 8 reps, 6 reps, 4 reps and 2 reps. Rest for one minute between each set.
Your exercises are as follows:
- Mountain climbers: Assume a plank position on your hands (like you’re about to do a push-up). Keeping your arms straight and upper body as still as possible, bring one knee in towards your chest without raising your hips into the air. Return to the start position and repeat, alternating between legs for each rep. Try to keep your form while speeding this movement up, and keep a solid rhythm going to really get the cardio aspect of this exercise going. Perform for 30 seconds.
- Skipping: Using a skipping rope, continuously skip for 45 seconds. If the rope hits your legs or you have to stop and restart, this is fine. Keep going until the 45 seconds are up. Knee issues? Choose a low-impact version by doing knee lifts or side steps.
- Get-ups: Lie on your back and get yourself to standing position any way you can. Lie back down and repeat. Complete 60 seconds of these.
Rest between exercises for 15 seconds, but ensure you move straight on to the next exercise as soon as the 15 seconds are up. Try to complete three sets.
- Run or jog around the block or a small local park at least twice
- Run up and down a set of stairs five times
- Go for a long walk to cool off
If you cannot run or jog, try cycling instead. Cycle around the block five times though! You can also walk up and down the stairs ten times if running is an issue.
Hold a plank for 2-5 minutes. You may rest whenever you need to, but ensure you complete the full time set. Set a timer on your phone!
To adopt the plank position, get on the floor face down. Grasp your hands together and push up, elbows shoulder-width apart, so you are resting on your forearms. Raise up onto your toes and lift your whole body up into the air. Keep your legs and body in a straight line from head to heels and avoid pushing your bottom up into the air (see photo).
That’s a total of four workouts for you to try. A good way to start is to perform a workout on one day, then aim to perform your next workout after one or two rest days. Eventually you will be able to perform them closer together, but rest days allow time for the body to repair and recuperate.
If you are unsure about any of the exercises above, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Enjoy your healthy Christmas everyone! And remember, call us on 416-546-4887 today to arrange your pre-Christmas appointment, and we can tailor a program just for you!
Introduction to Running
Strength & Conditioning for Runners
Warmup and Cool-down for Runners
Over the last three weeks, the Tour De France has been running. The Tour consists of 21-day stages over a 23-day period, and the riders will cover around 3,500 kilometres (2,200 mi). While not all of us are elite athletes, there has certainly been an increase in cyclist on the road with the nice weather.
Cycling can be a great form of exercise. We get a great cardiovascular workout and it helps improve the strength of the leg muscles. There are, however, many common injuries that can occur when we start to ride or with high volume riding without the correct recovery methods.
Some of the most common sites of pain in cyclists are the neck, shoulder, knee, lower back and sacroiliac joints (SIJs). There are many reasons in which a person might be experiencing pain. It could be related to a new hobby, a predisposing injury, muscle tightness, or it could even be the set-up of your bike. Just like a work desk, our bike set up can be incredibly important to ergonomics, decrease injury, aid in decreasing pain and keep you riding for a longer period of time.
Getting the correct set up on your bike will depend on what kind of bike you have, how tall you are, shoulder reach, as well as what feels comfortable.
Here are a couple of quick tests you can do:
To check your seat height get onto your bike with one leg straight and place the heel of your foot on the pedal at the lowest point, which should make your leg straight. If this does occur then your saddle should be at the correct height for you.
To find the best saddle position, you should sit on the bike with the pedal at 3 o’clock. Place your foot with the joint of the toes on the pedal spindle. In the perfect scenario an imagery perpendicular line should run from your knee-cap through the spindle of the pedal. If the line runs behind the spindle, then the saddle needs to be pushed forward. If the line runs in front of the spindle then the saddle needs to be pushed backwards.
There are a lot of measurements and angles to take into consideration when setting up your bike with an ergonomics assessment. My best advice is that if you are experiencing any pain before, during or after riding your bike, it might be worth a visit to your local bike shop or your local specialized practitioner and ask for an ergonomic bike set up. This will allow to can for longer with the correct posture and decrease your chances of dealing with some of the getting some of the common cyclist pain.
If you would like more information on ergonomic set ups on bikes. Please ask us for a bike set up hand out.
Written by Brendan Ashman
Did you know that Brendan recently did a certification course for bike fitting and setup. For more information please ask Brendan at [email protected] or call (416) 546 4887
As Osteopaths we can see many different types of injuries around this time of year, some which can be avoided with some good advice whether you are a gym junkie, athlete, weekend warrior or just like to be out in the sunshine, so here are my top 10 tips to stay injury free this summer.
- Don’t Go Too Hard Too Fast
So, you have decided to use this warmer weather to your advantage and start getting back into your workout routine. That’s awesome! Your fitness journey is underway. But remember don’t go too hard to fast, in my opinion this is one of the worst things you can do. Going to hard too fast increases your risk for injury, whether it is running flat out, running a distance you haven’t done for a long time, or lifting the same amount of weight you did before after having time off. Make sure that you ease yourself into your training session and let your body adapt to the training routine.
- Don’t Over Train
If you are training for the first time or getting back to training, make sure you are giving your body enough time to recover. Overtraining can increase your risk of injuries such as tendinopathies or muscle tears. I would recommend at least one days break in between your training sessions if you are new to a particular type of activity to allow adequate time for your body to recover. If you are someone that has been training throughout the winter and feel that your body is already use to the routine. Then I would suggest doing a smaller run/ walk the day after a large run/walk that way you are still training, but not pushing the body to the limit.
- Poor Technique
As osteopath we are trained in identifying muscle weakness and will be able to tweak your technique to help you stay pain free and increase your performance. If your technique is off, your body will compensate whether it be your knees, back or shoulders. This does not just apply to weight lifting technique at the gym. It could be applied to poor gait or running form, improper golf or tennis technique, and even poor curling technique.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you are unsure on how to use a bit of equipment in the gym or unsure whether you should walk up hills, but the best thing you can do is ask for help or ask questions. If at the gym and you are unsure about how to perform a specific movement or how to use a machine, ask a gym staff member. This will help you decrease your risk of injury and help improve your training.
As Osteopaths we are here to help you, educate and ultimately get you pain free. If you are having trouble walking up hills or something specific is causing you pain, let us know. Your goals are our goals to help you achieve!
- Jumping straight into it!
With the increasing trend in functional fitness classes and high intensity training gyms like F45. Plyometric exercises have become increasingly common for people to do. While I am a fan of F45, promoting a community feel with short bursts of continual intense exercise, it can lead to some problems. If you have never done plyometric exercises such as box jumps, this can cause a few problems. Plyometric training requires a combination of strength, power and control. It is important to gradually build up all of these factors. So take your time with your training and build yourself up to the jumps, this way you’ll avoid injury.
- Training Through an Injury
No pain, No gain. This is not always true. If you are getting intense sharp pain when you train, then this is your bodies way of telling you that something is wrong and that something is not 100%. You could potentially already have an injury or your body is about to get an injury. One of our Osteopaths would be happy to help out with your injury with a combination of motion testing, treatment, education on the injury and active rehabilitation.
- Forgetting to Warm Up
Warms up should be active and specific for the kind of training you are going to do. What does that mean? Well, warm up should be movement based in which primes your muscles for the activity you are going to be doing. Roughly about 10minutes should be spent on activating the area in which you are about to work on. One of the ways in which you might like to try is using a resistance band on the targeted area that you intend to use. Our Osteopaths can make specific warm up for you, and the type of training you are doing, so don’t be afraid to ask!
- Avoiding a Cool Down
After training the last thing we want to do, is hang around the gym or the running track to cool down. However, cooling down is important and part of our recovery phase. Sometimes our body can be stiff and sore after training so try using a foam roller or performing some stretches for the muscles that you have just used in your training session.
While restricting calories is common with people that are trying to lose weight, it is important to fuel your body with nutritious foods and the right amount of food for your daily activities. If you are unsure about how much food or the type of foods you should be eating, I would suggest consulting with a Dietician or Naturopath.
- Lack of Sleep
Sleep helps our body heal from the activities we have done and also the injuries that we have. If you are not sleeping well or long enough then there is a chance that your muscles may not be recovering to their full capacity.
Written by Brendan Ashman
FOAM ROLLING FOR MYOFASCIAL RELEASE
The foam roller can be a great tool, especially for runners who cover a lot of kilometres per week. This simple tool acts as a deep-tissue massage, working out kinks in over used muscles. It is especially effective to release myofascia, such as the iliotibial band or ITB. If all runners would spend just 10 minutes with a foam roller a few times a week, they would restore the structural integrity necessary for optimal performance.
There are many causes that can lead to a problem in the body’s kinetic chain, such as work, stress, gravity and pattern overload. The more you run, the more you’ll experience pattern overload. It can place a lot of stress on the body’s systems. Any dysfunction in movement as a result of myofascial tightness, can ultimately lead to an altered gait, tissue trauma, loss of range and eventually injury.
To massage the ITB, lie on the foam roller on the side. Start at the hip and work your way down to the knee and then back up to the hip. Repeat the process and stop at tender points to allow a release. You can use your arms to control how much body weight you put down on the foam roller.
FOAM ROLLER FOR STRENGTH
Balancing on a foam roller requires your body to recruit more muscles, especially in your core, to perform the move. Here are some simple exercises that you can do at home. Try doing these exercises two to three times a week to build total body strength that will help improve performance and guard against injury.
Works abdominals, glutes, back & shoulders
To do: Place your palms shoulder width apart on the foam roller. Keep your elbows slightly flexed, your back straight, and your neck neutral. Stabilise the foam roller in this position, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
Works chest, triceps, abdominals, glutes
To do: Start in foam-roller plank. Lower your chest toward the roller, keeping your elbows in. Lift your right leg up, then lower it. Repeat the push-up, then lift the left leg. Alternate for three sets of eight to 12 reps.
Works quadriceps, glutes, abdominals
To do: Stand with a foam roller between your midback and a wall and your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly squat down toward the floor until the foam roller reaches your shoulder blades. Stand and repeat eight to 12 times for three sets.
Works glutes, hamstrings, quads, abdominals
To do: Lie on your back, heels on a foam roller. Raise your hips up toward the ceiling, then extend your right leg. Bring your right leg down and hips back to ground. Do three sets of eight to 12 on each leg.