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 Director, Senior Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor Helen Dudley. To book an appointment with Helen, or read her Meet the Team profile CLICK HERE.


Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine at an inappropriate time or place. For a lot of us, incontinence can be an everyday occurrence that puts strain on our mental health and can limit our physical activities and enjoyment. This taboo problem is unfortunately all too common so if you do experience incontinence, whether it is a few drops every now and then to full bladder leakage, you’re not alone. In fact;
- 1 in 3 women have some degree of urinary incontinence
- In women 45-60 years old, this number increases to 50%
- 13% of men have urinary incontinence

As Physios, we obviously advocate the assessment and rehabilitation of incontinence issues with a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, especially as the research is so propelling as to the success of treatment. In fact, 70% of women with incontinence will get significant improvements with appropriate treatment.

In saying that, we also understand that it can be very debilitating to every day life so management is just as important to enable you to live well and do the things you love. In the past, this has meant using pads that are uncomfortable and not environmentally sound. That is why we were so excited and had to share this great new product with you.

Awwa is a great NZ female founded company that provides pee-proof pants for people of all shapes and sizes. They have a great ethos; making sustainable and climate positive products that are made of natural, organic and recycled fabrics. The pee-proof underwear wicks moisture away from the body and locks it into the centre layer, meaning you feel dry and smell fresh all day long.

Here is more information taken from their website:

How Does AWWA work for bladder leakage?

Our innovative hi tech layers have been developed especially to absord fluid but keep you dry and fresh.
1 - The top layer, sits closest to your skin and wicks moisture away fast and keeps you feeling dry.
2 - An antimicrobial layer that fights odours and bacteria
3 - A super absorbent layer that safely holds 18 ml of fluid (that you do NOT feel)
4 - Bottom layer, is a leak proof barrier

Do they smell?

Our high tech layers mean that all liquid and odour are locked in the middle layer so there’s no smell.

Do you feel wet wearing them?

Absolutely not!

How long can you wear incontinence underwear before changing them?

This comes down to what you’re comfortable with, but our underwear can hold up to 18ml so you should be able to wear one pair all day long.
They are great for periods too. ​​Our absorbent technology supports you through pregnancy and incontinence. Making us period proof, postpartum proof and pee proof with a range of absorbency levels and styles to suit you.

What AWWA styles do you recommend for incontinence?

We recommend the Eva brief, Cotton Brief or Skye High styles

AP have created a health solution company called The Health Collective. The collective consists of a group of trusted experts in the health and wellness field that have personally selected products that will assist our communities health and wellness.
We stock a wide range of select locally produced, ethically sourced, sustainable products to help you keep healthy, recover from injury, support you while you work and play, help you to sleep and relax and to support women during pregnancy, postpartum and beyond.

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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.

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.

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.


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 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 manipulation and is it enough to treat injuries?

Have you ever clicked your fingers or between your shoulder blades and felt some pressure release? That’s manipulation; in technical terms it's a quick thrust right at the end of where a joint can move. There’s a bit of debate about what the “click” actually is, but our best guess is that quickly changing the shape and space of a joint makes tiny gas bubbles “pop”.

It can be a really useful treatment technique in the right situation, particularly for stiff backs, but there are a few caveats. Manipulating a joint early on can make swelling and damage worse; imagine trying to click your fingers when you’ve just sprained one. The other important thing is that manipulation is only for relieving pain and stiffness, it doesn’t solve your issue, or put anything into place.

You often hear about people going to get their backs “clicked” every week, and after a couple of days the effect wears off. It’s a bit like taking a cough drop or a panadol, you still need to put some work in with a well set out home programme if you want a long term fix.

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


Why am I still in pain?

In a previous blog we explained why things hurt and how the bodies' pain system works. In this blog we will explain what persistent pain is, how common it is and why our pain systems sometimes still remain active when our injuries may have healed.

What is persistent pain?

As humans it makes sense to have a pain system as an alarm to warn us when we have injured our body. The pain signals us to change our behaviour and rest in order to allow our injuries to heal. Most soft tissues within the body including muscle, ligament, tendon and bone will heal in approximately 12 weeks, and therefore you would expect that as the injured tissue heals the corresponding pain signal we experience reduces in intensity to advise you to increase what you do without coming to further harm. The trouble is this doesn’t always happen!

Infact, up to 25% of people's pain still remains once the healing should have occured. Pain that does not settle in 3 months is termed chronic or persistent pain. To understand why this occurs we need to know a little more about our bodies pain systems. Electrical signals picked up in the injured tissue by pain cells (nociceptors) are passed into the spinal cord and then up to the brain for processing. Pain science has shown us that within the spinal cord and brain 2 types of sensitisation can occur which can amplify and prolong our pain experience.

These are called peripheral and central sensitisation. 

Sensitisation

Peripheral sensitisation means increased pain sensitivity to movement or pressure in the area where the injury occurred. The injured area becomes sensitive to movement and touch that would usually be non-painful. This is a normal response and helpful following an injury. However, the longer your nervous system produces pain, the better it gets at producing it. Your body learns pain! This process is called central sensitisation and occurs in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Think of a sensitive car alarm going off with a strong gust of wind. The gust of wind (movement) is not dangerous anymore, but the car alarm (brain) is too sensitive. This type of sensitisation can keep driving pain long after the initial tissue healing has occurred and can go on for months and even years.

Scientists think that both genes and environment play a role in explaining why some patients develop central sensitisation and persistent pain and some do not. It is likely that the way humans perceive and make sense of their pain experience may lead to persistent pain. Our pain centres are in our brain and the brain also processes our thoughts and feelings. Stress, worries, fears and beliefs about the pain may all lead to prolonged pain. The pain can also have a wider impact on our lifestyle, jobs, relationships and hobbies, all of which can create worry, depression and frustration. These feelings can actually keep the pain system sensitised in the brain. It is well known for persistent low back pain for example that low mood, anxiety and depression and worries of long-term disability are associated with developing persistent pain.

How do I know if I have central sensitisation?

Firstly, if your pain has gone on for more than 3 months it is likely that some degree of central sensitisation may be occurring. There are some other signs also. If pain becomes more widespread and if it can be affected by lifestyle stressors easily then you may have central sensitisation. Also, if you’ve become more sensitive to stimuli that impact the nervous system. These may include movement, exercise, noise or light.

How do we help with persistent pain?

When managing persistent pain everyone's individual situation is different and will require a tailored approach. As physiotherapists we need to look at things more broadly in addition to specifically at the original injured area. Through asking further questions about lifestyle such as sleep, stress, beliefs, fears and general health we are likely to be able to suggest techniques to help calm down the pain. Techniques such as graded exercise, sleep hygiene, relaxation, meditation and mindfulness are essential to promote a calm environment for the pain to settle.

In addition it is important for patients to have a basic understanding of how pain works because once you understand why your pain remains and how common it is it can instantly make it less scary, worrying and reduce anxiety around the issue. The more you understand, the more empowered you feel to manage the pain.

As physiotherapists with holistic knowledge of pain science, psychology and physical activity and lifestyle we are well placed to treat people with persistent pain, Therefore, if you’re struggling with a persistent pain problem come in to see me or a member of our team for an assessment to see how we can help you move forwards.

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.

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