Mobility, Flexibility, fitness, movement, health

The Pursuit of Flexibility

As the years go by, the pursuit of flexibility can be a wistful bygone goal. In reality we stiffen up a fair bit as time flies. So, what seemed to be regular flexible movement at one stage, now seems difficult to attain. Why do I groan all of a sudden when I’m standing up from a chair ???

Let’s be kind to ourselves here – mobility and flexibility are often impossible due to our lifestyle demands. Similarly, if we do find some free time, is stretching a priority? It seems so boring… Perhaps not?

Well, there is a lot more to flexibility than static muscle stretching…. A lot more!

And best of all, it can genuinely provide relief, positively affecting your mood.

 

Be kind to each other

Many components affect our flexibility including:

Joint Capsule
Muscle
Ligaments
Tendons
Nerves

I am going to focus on joint stiffness in the thoracic (mid) spine as this is a common presentation across office workers. It is also equally common in multiple sports including cycling, rowing, boxing, wrestling and hockey.  Here is why…

The thoracic spine is the area of our spine located between your neck and low back. Thoracic mobility is important for optimal movement. The mobility of spinal joints and their surrounding capsules adapt depending on the activities performed. Multiple sports require the athlete to move with their arms positioned in front of their body, this positional demands often result in the shoulders sitting forward and a round upper back consequently increasing the risk of developing stiffness in this area.

As the mobility of the thoracic spine affects the function of the shoulders, neck and low back, it is strongly recommended to spend time ensuring your thoracic mobility is being maintained. It is all about balance.

IMG_2129
The more time you spend sitting at your desk, or training, then the more time you need to invest in maintaining your mobility and flexibility. To prevent long-term changes the idea is to position your body in the opposite positions from what you train or work in. For most people this will involve mobilising your upper back in extension and in combined extension and rotation. In other words, straightening your spine.

Over the past years I have found the following thoracic mobility exercises to be highly effective in maintaining and restoring thoracic movement:

1.Thoracic extension on foam roller:

Stretches the pectoral muscles and forces extension in the upper back. Ensure your low back is flattened on the roller for most efficiency. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times. You can alter the position of your arms between 90 degrees and 120 degrees to bias different areas of your upper back. See image below.

IMG_3255 (1)

 

2. Segmental flexion and extension over the foam roller:

Place fingers on temples to promote thoracic extension. Position the foam roller horizontally and roll along your upper back. Stop at the segments which feel more uncomfortable and stiff. To bias the mobility at these segments, slowly extend over the roller towards the ground. Support your lower back whilst doing this by tucking your bum in. See pictures below as the athlete moves from thoracic flexion into segmental extension.

IMG_3256 IMG_3257

 

 

 

 

3. Bows and Arrows:

Position yourself in side-lying so that shoulders and hips are in line. Bend your knees so that your hips and knees are in line (this offloads your low back ensuring the movement is coming form your upper back). Outstretch both arms. Reach the top hand past the bottom hand and then pull backwards as though drawing the arrow on a bow. In this drawing back motion, aim to have the top shoulder facing up towards the ceiling. This is a slow and controlled movement and aim for 10 repetitions 2-3 times on each side. See the images below.

IMG_3258

IMG_3259

4. Shaking it all out:

Finally, if all else fails….Try loosely and gently relaxing your stomach, if you have ‘a belly’ (everybody does by the way) let it real and hang over your belt. Then gently allow some light  shaking through all the main joints, neck, shoulder, spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet. Just like the way Diego Maradona used to warm up for football games…..

 

 

Tag a friend if you feel this article is relevant to them, or that co-worker who constantly complain of upper back stiffness! If you have any further questions or queries regarding thoracic mobility or wish to purchase a foam roller contact us at Personal Health on 01 4964002 or email info@personalhealth.ie.

Polycystic, Ovarian, Cancer, Physio, Diet

Women’s Health – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Women’s Health

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a relatively common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work. It is a condition where a number of cysts develop around the edge of the ovaries (polycystic ovaries) in addition to one or more other symptoms.

 

PCOS Caoimhe2

 

SYMPTOMS

Irregular or absent periods
Excessive hair growth
Thinning of scalp hair
Acne
Difficulty maintaining a healthy body weight
Elevated testosterone levels
Fertility problems
Insulin resistance

Approximately one in five women has polycystic ovaries. In addition, approximately one in ten has PCOS to some degree.

Long term health concerns associated with PCOS include heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and diabetes. Being overweight, having high cholesterol or high blood pressure increases this risk. As a result, up to 60% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. 50-70% of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance.

 

PCOS Caoimhe1

PCOS cannot be cured but the symptoms can be managed through diet and lifestyle. Healthy eating and being active can improve your PCOS symptoms and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

In overweight women, the symptoms of PCOS can greatly improve by losing that excess weight. Furthermore, losing weight will reduce the amount of insulin your body needs to produce. As a result, your testosterone levels are reduced and your chance of ovulation improves. Many women with PCOS have difficulty with losing weight. This is where professional advice from a Dietitian will help. Gradual weight loss of 5-7% can restore ovulation, along with decreasing excessive hair growth and reducing acne.

The type and quantity of carbohydrate can influence insulin resistance. The Glycaemic index is a ranking system which shows how quickly your blood glucose rises after eating carbohydrate foods. Low GI diets and increasing physical activity can be useful to reduce the symptoms of PCOS due to improving insulin levels.

PCOS Caoimhe 3

How can Personal Health help you to improve your symptoms of PCOS?

In conclusion, our team of Dietitian’s and Chartered Physiotherapists can assist and help you by;

  • identifying your specific nutritional needs
  • providing dietary and lifestyle advice tailored to you
  • helping you to lose weight, if you are in the overweight category, through diet and exercise
  • providing dietary advice if you are planning a pregnancy
  • developing tailored resources such as recipes, meal plans, shopping lists to help you to achieve your goals
  • and finally, providing encouragement and motivation in a supportive, non-judgemental environment

PCOS Caoimhe4

To find out more:

Phone: 01 4964002

Email: info@personalhealth.ie

www.personalhealth.ie

Pregnancy, Constipation, Diet, Physiotherapy

Constipation is a Common Problem During Pregnancy…

Constipation is a Common Problem During Pregnancy

 

mkblog7

This may be due to:

  • Your pregnancy producing an increase in the hormone progesterone, which relaxes smooth muscles throughout the body, including the digestive tract. This means that food passes through the intestines more slowly.
  • Your expanding uterus, takes up valuable space normally occupied by your bowel, which may also add to congestion.
  • Also the iron-containing prenatal vitamins you’re taking may also contribute – but stopping them is a bad idea, for you and your baby.

8 Tips To Try To Ease The Problem…

  1. Pelvic Floor Relaxation

mkblog6

  • Inadequate pelvic floor relaxation and release with bowel emptying is one of the major causes of constipation.
  • During bowel emptying the pelvic floor muscles provide a firm platform of support.
  • Regular pelvic floor exercises are essential to improve pelvic floor support. (See page on pelvic floor exercises)
  • Pelvic Floor relaxation is promoted by bulging the low abdomen forward with relaxed deep breathing.

 

2. Ideal Toilet Techniques:

 

mkblog5

 

  • When you first feel the urge to empty your bowels, do so at the earliest convenient time.
  • Allow sufficient time to empty you bowel, try not to rush.
  • Sometimes the simple action of taking 5-6 deep breaths can help relax the pelvic floor and facilitate bowel opening.
  • If you find that after 2 or 3 minutes of relaxed breathing and sitting on the toilet that your bowels do not open then get up and return to your daily activities and return to the toilet when you feel the next urge.
  • Sitting on the toilet for long periods without an urge can increase the likelihood of straining the pelvic floor.

 

3.    Ideal Position For Bowel Movement

mkblog4

  • Sit on the toilet seat, never hover above the seat.
  • Place a small stool under your feet to mimic a squat position.
  • If you are out and about and you have no stool lift your heel off the ground. The key is that you want your knees higher than your hips.
  • Lean forward at your hips with a straight back.
  • Place your elbows on your knees.
  • Make your waist wide and bulge your abdominals out as this opens up the pelvic floor.
  • Push down and back into your back passage.
  • Breath out or make a noise as you push out.
  • Don’t push too hard. (Scale of 1-10, push at 5-7).
  • This technique relaxes and opens the anal sphincter to allow the bowel movement to pass.
  • Lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles when finished.

 

  4.Exercise:

mkblog3

  • Regular exercise helps to stimulate bowel movements.
  • Low impact exercise such as pre/post natal Pilates, walking and cycling is ideal.
  • Be mindful of avoiding exercises with the potential to overload and strain the pelvic floor.

 

 5.Diet

If your stool is too hard, it will be very difficult to pass!

MKblog2

       Good stool consistency requires:

  • Adequate Fibre intake (30grams/day), don’t make the mistake of consuming too much fibre as this can overload the system.
  • Gradually introduce whole-grain foods.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (raw or lightly cooked preferably with skin left on), dried fruits.
  • Greens (broccoli, spinach, green beans, cabbage).
  • Small Regular meals: Big meals can overtax your digestive tract. Try eating six mini-meals a day rather than three large ones.

 

 6.Fluids 

MK BLog1

  • Eight full glasses of fluids (water, vegetable or fruit juice, broth etc.) each day.
  • Warm liquids such as, hot water and lemon

 

      7.Supplement

  • Ask your GP about adding high-powered fiber to your diet, such as wheat-bran or psyllium.

 

       8.Probiotic acidophilus

  • Found in yogurts that contain active cultures — stimulate the intestinal bacteria to break down food better, aiding the digestive tract in its efforts to keep things moving.

 

How can Personal Health Help Mums to be?

Exercise:

  • Medically Led Fitness 30 Min Classes-Modified by our Physiotherapists for pregnancy
  • Pre Natal Pilates & Yoga classes led by Chartered physiotherapists and Midwives: see here for schedules and prices:

http://personalhealth.ie/clinical-pathways/medically-led-fitness/

 

Dietary Choices:

 

Book an appointment with our Consultant Dietitian:

Caoimhe McDonald(MINDI)

 

 

Call us to find out more.

Phone: 01 496 4002

Email: info@personalhealth.ie

Website: www.persoanlhealth.ie

Physio, Golf, Tennis, Physiotherapy, Fitness, Exercise

Tennis Elbow, Golfers Elbow or both – the dreaded Country club!!

Tennis Elbow, Golfers Elbow or both – the dreaded Country club!! 

country club

 

I’m regularly asked about both Golfers & Tennis elbow in the clinic. Generally they are a large portion of the non-contact elbow injuries that patients develop. Commonly, it’s a term that people have heard of but are not quite sure what it actually is! Golf or tennis may not be on your list of hobbies to be struck down!

A tennis elbow is an irritation of the tendon on the outside or lateral part of the elbow whilst a golfer’s elbow is an irritation of the tendon on the inside or medial part of the elbow.

If you are unlucky enough to develop both, you become a member of the “Country Club!”

 

Golfers-vs-Tennis-Elbow

 

Basically, the majority of the muscles in our forearms anchor to either the inside or outside of the elbow via a shared tendon. When we overload these tendons from things such as hitting 200 golf balls off a rubber mat or deciding to tackle painting the house in one swoop, we can cause a painful episode in these tendons.

It’s a very common problem. I always like to take people through the anatomy of the issue. Understanding is the key to settling this problem down. We are fortunate to have some state  of the art anatomy tools to facilitate this in the Personal Health clinic.

 

image_Blue_elbow-pain

 

Acute or Long-Standing Issue

The next question is whether it is an acute flare up or a long standing grumbling issue? This largely dictates the management and treatment. Conservative management with appropriate exercise, soft tissue work and de-loading of the tendon resolve this issue in the majority of cases. Surgery and injections are thankfully relatively rare.

 

 

 

Call us to find out more.

Phone: 01 496 4002

Email: info@personalhealth.ie

Website: www.persoanlhealth.ie

Ronan Fallon Physiotherapist Dublin 6

Muscle Strains and Timeframes – ‘When will I recover?’

Muscle strains and injuries are usually caused by a shearing effect such as a contact injury or a strain. The muscle fibres and their surrounding tiny blood vessels rupture hence the pain.
The healing process for the human body is incredible – the repair cycle kicks in within hours.

It is a complicated physiological process but in a nutshell you’re looking at a cycle of 21 days until your muscle is getting close to where it used to be prior to injury. Due to this process, it is very important to be patient and listen to your body.

 

The Trap 
The classic trap is that you begin to feel ok and pain free by day 7-10 and think “I’m good to train again tonight”. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for a re-injury and starting the whole process all over again.

 

Management 
Therefore, correct management of muscle strains and injuries is very important to prevent re-injury and chronic repetitive problems. In these cases the majority of clients just need a helping hand to guide the process from acute management through to a short rehabilitation/strengthening  programme.

 

Return 

The key component for the majority of clients is getting back to regular routines, sporting/exercise etc. in a responsible and time efficient manner.

 

 

IMG_2960

 

How can Personal Health make the difference for you….?

Use Our App!

  • Our Personal Health App uses rehabilitation videos filmed in line with best practice in e-learning
  • no more guesswork around your technique
  • your doctor/physio can prescribe from a library of over 1000 exercises ranging from basic to dynamic agility based rehabilitation
  • track your progress with interactive rating scales & charts
  • facilitates regular contact with your doctor/physio as we distance monitor your progress

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this

Ronan Fallon, Director of Physiotherapy

Andrew Dunne Managing Director Personal Health

The Orchestra & The Human Body

Dublin_Philharmonic_Orchestra_performing_Tchaikovsky's_Symphony_No_4_in_Charlotte,_North_Carolina

If you’re over 35…..Listen to your body instead of looking at it so much. All your vital internal instruments will thank you – you might even start to sound like a nice melody!

From the time you are born to around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow larger and stronger. But at some point in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia. Nothing overly serious, but to summarise, it’s to do with nerve cells, brain signalling and hormonal changes.

We’ve all been down this road at some point….

  • Going for a run (too much too soon until it hurts)
  • Buying a new bike that gathers dust in the shed
  • Trying ‘High Intensity’ exercise
  • Abstaining from any of the good stuff in life

The truth is we have difficulty maintaining an ideally healthy lifestyle because of various factors (as above) and external stressors, such as job demands, cost of living and just being beautifully flawed!

But our health matters…..It’s frustratingly complex.

Personal Health

So what do we suggest at Personal Health?

  • Consult with our Medical team about your lifestyle choices
  • Exercise for 30 minutes with our Physiotherapists
  • Make small practical changes to your diet, with the help of our dieticians
  • Learn how to make behavioural changes to your sleep
  • Outsource your health concerns to an expert medical team