Written by Sabrina Fu, Pilates Instructor

Most people who are unfamiliar with the Pilates method may think that the main benefits are simply improvements in posture and flexibility, but it goes far beyond that!

Whether you are looking to rehabilitate an injury, improve overall strength and mobility, or enhance athletic/sports performance, Pilates is an excellent exercise method to add to your lifestyle.

How Pilates Can Benefit You:

1. Strengthens your Mental & Body Awareness

Pilates is low-impact, yet highly effective for enhancing your mind-body connection, regardless of your fitness level. There is a strong emphasis on sufficient breathing and working the body as an integrated whole, which massively improves your coordination and musculoskeletal function. Ultimately, this prevents the risk of injury and thus promotes a better quality of life.

2. Improves Mobility and Flexibility

Wanting to feel less ‘stiff’ in the joints and more supple and mobile? Pilates engages your body through different planes of movement in a controlled and repetitive manner. This stretches and strengthens the deep muscles surrounding your joints, so that you are able to move your joints comfortably and confidently through a range of motion that they were designed for.

3. Core strengthening

Your core not only comprises the abdominal muscles, but also the diaphragm, deep postural muscles in the spine and pelvic floor. Challenging your core with a variety of movement patterns, along with the correct breathing technique, can help strengthen and stabilise your core and translate to everyday activity and/or athletic performance.

I’ve only named a few of the myriad benefits Pilates has on your overall well-being. So, the next best thing you can do now is to give it a go (with consistency and effort, of course) and experience the positive changes for yourself! Contact Auckland Physiotherapy to help you begin your journey into the world of Pilates.

By Anna Geraets, Physiotherapist, Pilates Instructor and Women's Health Specialist

Why get a WOF?

Well… How are you feeling? 

Whether you are currently pregnant, or you are in the process of recovering from childbirth, surely you are appreciating just how much your body can transform to meet the demands of growing a baby. This can shake the confidence of even the most body-aware women. What activities are safe? What is beneficial? What is just normal pregnancy discomfort and what can be eased with some clinical management?

The childbearing years are a journey through a period of what can feel like constant change for our bodies.

The pre and postnatal WOFs are designed for those who are really after information and feedback in a one-off session (though the WOF can lead on to further management if this is indicated). If there are specific concerns or questions, these will be addressed, and if further clinical management is indicated this can flow on in consecutive sessions.

The WOF session is really guided by what you need; what are your concerns, how are you going with exercise, what is your history with exercise, do you have any history of incontinence or perineal problems, and what are your goals? Though there is plenty to go through even if you don’t have a complete list of questions!

What you can expect from your pregnancy WOF:

What you can expect from your postnatal WOF:

NB: if you have had any perineal pain or trauma, it is more likely that you will need a postnatal women's health appointment, and possibly some follow up, where we will focus more on the perineum recovery and any concerns related to this.

We have loads of information on our women's health section of our website, including conditions specific to women's and pelvic health that we manage daily in our clinic, as well as an online shop for many products related to pregnancy, postpartum, and pelvic health.

Compiled by our Masters trained Physiotherapist Chris Smith. To book an appointment with Chris, or read his Meet the Team profile CLICK HERE


Foam rollers have grown in popularity over the last decade as a key piece of kit in gyms and home exercise settings. Their uses may vary from warm up prior to exercise, to for recovery afterwards, or simply to increase flexibility to aid in an exercise program. But what benefits do foam rollers provide us with and how might these be achieved in practice?

Research

A recent research review looking at the efficacy of foam rollers found they were better for some things that others (see here). For example, there may be a benefit in sprint performance following pre-foam rolling prior to sports activity. However, in recreational athletes, up to 62% of the population are likely to experience benefits in flexibility from pre-foam rolling as a warm-up prior to sport. Furthermore, this increased flexibility has been shown to be produced from as little as 30 seconds on a foam roller in the hamstring muscles. It has been suggested that these benefits may be due to increase in intramuscular temperature and blood flow. Also, foam rolling may stimulate pressure cells in our muscles which relay information to our brain to reduce pain sensation. This in turn may increase our stretch response to enable us to get a little more range in our downward dog!

When it comes to recovery, the main finding was that post-exercise foam rolling can help with reducing muscle pain sensation or soreness. This is important as muscle soreness has the potential to reduce performance in relation to sprinting, jumping and strength training. Therefore, if we can reduce soreness through foam rolling then this may provide some benefit to further athletic performance. However, this should not be used as an alternative to appropriate physical and mental rest, sleep and nutrition in your training to allow appropriate muscle and soft tissue recovery.

Application

Foam rollers can be likened to a form of self massage, providing some of the health benefits of manual therapy applied by a physiotherapist or massage therapist, although without that human connection and therapeutic relationship, which has a large role to play in positive outcomes. However, multiple lockdowns this year have left us working from home without the option of visiting our favorite therapists.Therefore, a foam roller provides a great self-management option during lockdown, holidays or when away on business and you can't see your therapist.

Take home message

A foam roller can be a great addition to your warm up routine. Only spend 30-60 seconds on each area and then perform a dynamic warm up and stretch routine after to increase flexibility and blood flow prior to exercise. There is no need to spend 10 minutes rolling an area. If you’re going to roll for recovery 2 x 45-60 seconds on each major muscle group to reduce muscle soreness as part of a cool down, which should include adequate physical and mental rest, sleep and nutrition.

If you don't yet have a foam roller as part of your exercise equipment visit our online store to see our range on offer.

Compiled by our Masters trained Physiotherapist Kirsten Rose. To book an appointment with Kirsten, or read her Meet the Team profile CLICK HERE

What is a Health Coach?

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. - WHO (1948)

Most people want to be healthy and well, but there is an enormous gap between those thoughts and the everyday reality of actually making it happen. Nearly all of us can probably identify with a time in our lives where we wanted to get healthier, be more active, lose weight, be less stressed, be happier….the list can be endless. Also most of us can probably reflect on how making the required changes was much harder than we might have initially thought it would be. We start off with a hiss and a roar, but then our motivation wanes, our old habits creep back in, and we give up on our new way of life. Sound familiar?

If your answer is yes, then don’t beat yourself up too much. Inside every one of us is the urge to stay with the status quo, resisting change or challenges outside of our comfort zone. There’s another part, deep inside, that whispers to us that maybe we could change, maybe we could actually achieve those health goals and live the healthy lifestyle we dream of. But change is hard so those whispers often don’t get the chance to grow louder. The reality is that most of us need to build new life skills in order to create a truly sustainable plan for our well-being. We need to learn to believe in our own ability to take charge of our health and to implement the necessary changes. Our day-to-day lives are full of small choices that could help us inch our way to the life we want to create, however, in the modern day world there appears to be an overwhelming amount of choice so often we don’t know which ones are right for us.

Health Coaching encompasses the sciences of positive psychology, behaviour change, nutrition, exercise science and lifestyle medicine with the dynamic art of relationships, teamwork and community. As a Health Coach, I am a behavior change specialist who supports you to make sustainable diet, lifestyle, and habit changes that will actually work for you.  I help you optimise your health and well-being by enhancing your resourcefulness, self-regulation, and self-motivation, so that you can successfully navigate the journey of change. 

Some common areas that clients wish to work on include:

If you think that Health Coaching could help you on your journey to better health and wellness then take advantage of the 30 minute free sample consultation. These are available in the clinic or online. 

Our Ask A Physio series is a collection of microblogs aimed at giving a basic understanding of some frequently asked questions. If you have an injury or are experiencing discomfort please book an assessment or contact reception for more information.


Is hot or cold best for sore muscles?

This is actually a topic of pretty intense debate, even after all of these years! We know that both heat and cold can provide good pain relief, so the difference really comes down to timing. In a fresh injury, I usually advise ice in the first 72 hours, as local of an area as possible, and for about 20 minutes three times a day. Beyond this, the research seems to say that going over the top with ice can actually slow down healing.

The side note here would be about ice baths for recovery, which come and go with other exercise trends. There’s no good evidence that ice baths speed up your recovery or make muscles work any better. They do however improve your perception of how well you’ve recovered after a big workout. The good old placebo effect maybe? If you’re going to give it a go, make sure to check in with your GP or physiotherapist first, and always have someone else around to help you.

After the first couple of days, I think heat makes more sense. It drives blood flow and nutrition to a healing area and can be really soothing, particularly for back pain. Heat can also make your soft tissues softer, potentially making moving and stretching a bit easier. Similar to the ice, I would recommend 20 minutes three times a day, just with a simple hot water bottle or wheat bag. One thing to be careful of here is that painful areas can sometimes lose their sense of hot and cold, so make sure that your skin doesn’t get irritated, and check the heat with an injured hand before you apply it.

Compiled by our Masters Physiotherapist Kirsten Rose. To book an appointment with Kirsten, or read her Meet the Team profile CLICK HERE


It’s Men’s Health month in September so we’re bringing you a series of blogs on Stress and how best you can mitigate the negatives (and also harness the benefits) to improve both your physical and mental health. Plus we’ll be bringing you some insights from the men in the Auckland Physiotherapy team as to how they deal with stress. 

So what does stress look like for you? We can probably all relate to the fact that how we experience stress is individual to each of us. Some people appear to thrive under pressure, others not so much. Sometimes we don’t even attribute our thoughts, feelings or physical symptoms to stress and put them down to something else. 

Potentially the most essential ingredient in learning to manage stress and overwhelm is to know yourself. We can call it self-knowledge or self-awareness or just plain old knowing me. But this is really our first step because if we can’t recognise the warning signs that things aren’t going so well, then it's that much more difficult to access those great coping tools that help you get back on track.

Take some time to recall the last time you felt overwhelmed or stressed. Perhaps it was within your family, your job (or lack of one), paying bills, on the road…How did you know you were stressed?

Once we can identify some of the signs or symptoms of stress and overwhelm we can take this one step further. The diagram below shows that these things are all interlinked. They feed off one another.

For example, a negative thought about yourself (“what if I can’t cope with this…”) can quickly lead to a surge in anxiety (mood/emotion) which can increase your heart rate and breathing (physical symptoms/biology) and cause you to avoid the situation (behaviour) you were worried about, resulting in you never getting the opportunity to realise that you can in fact manage it.

Very often, stress and overwhelm can feel like a profound mess or intense phenomenon. In fact, sometimes, we don’t even identify the phenomenon we’re experiencing as part of the stress family. Do we ever stop and contemplate how we respond to stress or do we just keep ploughing through?

The skill of being able to ‘step outside of yourself’, to observe your reactions and actions, enables you to take steps to promote good health.

Over the next few days, see if you can reflect on your experiences of stress in these terms – thoughts, emotions, behaviours, and physical symptoms. 

Our Ask A Physio series is a collection of microblogs aimed at giving a basic understanding of some frequently asked questions. If you have an injury or are experiencing discomfort please book an assessment or contact reception for more information.


Will back pain be forever?

80% of the adult population will experience back pain this year, and for the vast majority, it will be no more serious than a cold. Even though the first few hours and days can be really uncomfortable, most people are pain-free within 2-4 weeks and will have no lasting issues.

As with all health issues, there is a small risk of back pain sticking around for more than 3 months. We can’t predict this perfectly, but we know that people who have a really distressing injury or other health issues can be at higher risk. Again, a bit like a cold, flu or stomach bug. We know that getting good advice and pain relief early on can take this risk right down, so if you’re worried then a simple checkup goes a long way.

All is not lost if people do end up with long term issues. I like to use the analogy of my own experiences with asthma, or even something like allergies. If I look after myself, take medication at the right times and recognise my triggers, I never really get any symptoms. The same is true of people with long term back pain, it really comes down to being an expert on your own issue, and having good people around you.

Our Ask A Physio series is a collection of microblogs aimed at giving a basic understanding of some frequently asked questions. If you have an injury or are experiencing discomfort please book an assessment or contact reception for more information.


Why are shoes important for lower limb issues?

It’s not just with leg and lower limb issues! We spend more time in our shoes than any other piece of clothing, and they can have the same impact on us that tyres have on our cars. A sudden change or wearing out of footwear is a really common reason or contributing factor to what we see in the clinic.

When in doubt, go for a shoe which is neutral, supportive, and comfortable. All of our current research says that the flash measuring devices and pressure plates aren’t as good as your own idea of comfort. Another good tip is to check out the wear on the tread of your shoes, again a bit like tyres. If the tread is starting to sit flush with the rest of the shoe, chances are the innards aren’t looking too good, and it’s time for a new pair!

Our Ask A Physio series is a collection of microblogs aimed at giving a basic understanding of some frequently asked questions. If you have an injury or are experiencing discomfort please book an assessment or contact reception for more information.


Pain Medication: Importance of still feeling pain?

The first thing to recognise here is that pain isn’t just a physical thing, it's also an emotional and psychological response to keep us safe from harm. It’s really trying to change our behaviour when something is wrong, with the goal of giving us a better chance of staying or getting well. So completely wiping out pain with tons of pain relief is counterproductive, and taking lots of medication early and often can cause side effects.

The flip side to this is that we know a really strong and untreated early pain experience is also counterproductive. It makes it hard to get things moving and makes the pain more likely to stick around for longer. I use two quick questions to get an idea of how well someone has their pain under control. “Are you coping?”, “Are you able to sleep a full night despite the pain?”. If the answer is no for either, check in with your GP or pharmacist for some help.

Our Ask A Physio series is a collection of microblogs aimed at giving a basic understanding of some frequently asked questions. If you have an injury or are experiencing discomfort please book an assessment or contact reception for more information.


Why do we collect soo much health history & background?

We always used to hear at university that a good history is 90% of making a good diagnosis, and we really put this to the test with our online appointments over the COVID lockdowns! Of course, it is true, and even some of the things you might think are small talk (where do you work, do you have kids, what are your hobbies) give us tons of information about picking and solving your issue. We even got some interesting research over the lockdowns, showing that taking away our physical tests made a tiny if any difference in how accurate we were.

Generally, by the time we’re done taking a history we like to have narrowed things down to 2 or 3 likely suspects, which means that we don’t have to use every physical test under the sun on your sore body! That’s also why we like to run long initial appointments, a good history will often take 15 minutes or more, and a good history makes for an easy and accurate diagnosis.

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