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

What does tape do and how long does it last?

There’s lots of different types of tape, ranging from the super rigid brown sports tape through to paper thin and colourful “K-tape”. The common idea is to try to make an area more stable, or at least to give the area a bit more feedback and control. We used to think that tape holds an area in place, but what we know now is that the real effect is with position sense; helping you know where your joints and muscle are sitting.

I’ve seen plenty of physiotherapists advise to leave tape on for a couple of days, but I wouldn’t recommend anything more than 6 hours. If you sweat into the tape then let it dry, it turns into a kind of smelly paper mache, and it will take a few layers of skin off when you try to remove it. If you’re repeatedly taping for more than a few days make sure you wash your skin in between, let it dry thoroughly and check for any irritation.

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

What is the best immediate response to an injury?

Is RICE still a thing?? Absolutely! If we remember from health class, RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate for 72 hours.

In most cases rest means relative rest, not completely stopping everything. Unless you’ve fractured, dislocated or otherwise seriously injured something, keeping on with gentle exercise will help settle early inflammation.

Ice is actually a topic which gets us arguing about whether it's appropriate or not. My simple rule of thumb is if the injury is hot (throbbing, red, swelling), then ice it down for 20 minutes. You can do this 2-3 times a day, but going over the top with ice for a week or more can actually slow your healing down. 

Compression should be flexible and comfortable, and shouldn’t be a super rigid brace or splint early on. There is a tendency for injuries to stiffen up quite quickly in the first week, and stopping gentle movement can make this much worse. Again, the obvious exception would be a fracture, dislocation or something else really serious.

Elevation is pretty self explanatory, and probably isn’t as important as the other things you’ll do. It's most useful for ankle and knee injuries, just keep your leg up while you’re icing it to help with draining out any swelling.

Then book in to see a physio and we can get a plan happening so you'll be back to doing what you love!

Shoulder Pain: When Should I Be Worried?

The shoulder is a pretty remarkable piece of kit; it’s by far the most flexible joint in our body, capable of loading up in an almost infinite combination of movements. It’s also the fastest; a good thrower can make it turn at an acceleration of 6000-7000 degrees per second! All this performance doesn’t come without a few issues though, and shoulder injuries are some of the most common reasons people come to our clinic.

The most common pattern we see is called rotator cuff related pain, sometimes also called bursitis, impingement, subacromial syndrome or any combination of those. This is generally from a big spike in how much you’ve been using your shoulder. Think push up challenges during the COVID lockdowns, heavy loads of laundry, or doing lots of throwing after time off over winter. It’s a soft tissue injury, irritation or damage to the big 4 muscles which rotate your shoulder, and the network of other tissues around them.

Most of the time, this is pretty simple to manage. Early on, basic range of motion, grip strength and gentle loading exercises help to keep things steady. This is also where you might consider some pain relief, heat packs and making sure you’re getting plenty of good quality sleep and food.

*Example movement exercises courtesy of Physiotec - the program we use to provide patients with their individualised exercise programs.

If you find that after 5-7 days of this, the pain is sticking around and you’re still a bit weak or stiff, a good physiotherapist can point you in the right direction with more specific exercises targeted at your specific issues. If this sounds like you, you shouldn’t be worried at all. These injuries can be a bit stubborn and take a few months to settle completely, but it’s rare for them to stick around beyond that.

More serious shoulder injuries can be spotted by pain levels, strength levels and by big, fast, high impact stories. Normal rotator cuff pain will settle with rest, basic pain relief and heat. If you find that isn’t that case and your pain is throbbing when you’re at rest or trying to sleep, it’s a good idea to get checked out. If you get really weak after your injury, with or without pain, then that can also be a sign of some more substantial soft tissue damage. It’s actually not uncommon for more serious rotator cuff injuries to be pretty much pain free early on. If you can’t lift your shoulder above rib height in the first 48 hours, and you can’t support the weight of your own arm, that’s another reason to come in ASAP for some more tests.

Lastly, if you got injured by something big, heavy and/or fast, then there’s a higher chance of something serious happening. This is particularly true if you felt the joint “pop” in or out, or if you felt something move in the joint. You don’t necessarily need surgery if this is the case, but catching big injuries early on gives us a much better chance of getting you a good outcome.

The bottom line is to keep moving, do your basic rest and pain relief early on, and if there’s anything stubborn or suspicious from what I’ve mentioned above, then come in for a check up.

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

How soon post injury should I see a physio?

Ideally ASAP! A bit like an issue with your car or house, the sooner we can get you doing the right things, the better chance we have of getting you back to normal sooner. Particularly when it comes to sport and exercise, we’ve got good research showing that the first 72 hours can make your recovery a lot faster or slower.

If it’s an injury or issue you’re really familiar with from previous experience, then you’ll already know the routine for the first week. In that situation I usually tell people to manage it how they’d manage a stomach bug; do what you know for the first 48 hours. If you’re not getting anywhere doing what you know, then check in with us.

If in doubt you can always book for a free 15min phone consult with one of our Physiotherapist!

Do foam rollers work?

Absolutely, there’s a reason that they are such a staple in so many different fitness environments. One big reason why massage, manipulation and other types of manual therapy get criticised is that you don’t want to build too much of a dependence on other people to manage your aches and niggles, so foam rollers allow you to take some of that power into your own hands.

Massage in some form or another has been used in sport and exercise at least as far back as the Roman gladiators, and for good reason. Self massage with foam rollers can be used to improve recovery times after workouts, to lengthen restricted muscles and even to copy the “cracking” or “pops” that you get to free up a stiff spine. Similar to other types of exercise kit, if you’re not already comfortable with foam rollers, make sure that you check in with a physiotherapist or good personal trainer to show you a few techniques before you bring them into your weekly routine.

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