Mid-Back Stretch – Cat Stretch
- Lower into a squat with the hands on the thighs, back arched
- Contract your abdominal muscles. (Try to pull your belly button gently toward your spine.)
- Slowly round your back, pushing it up toward the ceiling.
- Allow your head to drop forward and curl your pelvis under.
- Hold for 10 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch in your back.
- Return to the starting position.
- Raise your head up and let your pelvis fall forward as your belly reaches down toward the floor.
- Hold the position for 5-10 seconds, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat about 5 to 10 times.
Lower Body Warm Up – Air Squats
Before heading off on a walk, run or other sporting activity, air squats are useful to warm the lower and upper body. It is also a useful morning stretch exercise that can be done before rushing out the door to work, or even whilst waiting at the bus stop.
1) Stand comfortably with your arms by your side and your legs shoulder width apart.
2) As you slowly bend your hips and knees to lower you buttocks toward the floor/ground, raise your arms to shoulder level. Keep your knees in line with your feet.
3) Allow your spine to be neutral as you squat with your chest lifted.
4) Once your thighs are level with the floor/ground, reverse the motion and return to standing with arms by your side.
5) Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Brain Training With Neurobics
What is Neurobics?
Neurobics is a new scientific term referring to the selection of tasks that stimulate the brain’s biochemistry. This stimulation has been shown to activate new pathways within and between neural tissue of brain centres. Brain circuits are thereby strengthened or maintained with specific mental exercises that provide mental challenges.
Promoting mental agility and flexibility in everyday life is now accepted as being vital in reducing age-related mental decline, along with lowering rates of Alzheimer’s disease.
Our brain needs to be nurtured and stimulated daily with a task that has a mental challenge added to our regular daily activities. The task you choose requires doing something a little different to what you habitually do each day. Therefore neurobics can be done anytime and anywhere in your day’s activities. These brain exercises allow you to be creative and you can use sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, proprioception, emotions and feelings. It does not matter whether you are at home, at work or at leisure.
Some examples to get you thinking are:
Select clothes to wear based on touch versus colour.
Write a short sentence or draw a picture using your other hand.
Brush your hair or teeth using your non-dominant hand.
Take up a new hobby that requires several senses and no routine thinking.
Change your usual walking path and mentally note differences that you see.
Travel to a different shop, market, pharmacy, butcher or bakery. Challenge yourself by selecting something different to what you would normally buy and learn about what you have chosen.
Cook a different food to what you would normally eat or select something different for breakfast or lunch. Use your senses in these new experiences.
Choose a different park to sit in, close your eyes and sense what is around you by listening, smelling and feeling the experience. Take that experience with you and recall it later in the day.
Arriving home at the front door with keys in hand, close your eyes and proceed to unlock the door and step inside.
As you can see these exercises are very different to doing a crossword, word puzzles or Sudoku, which have become routine mental activities for many people. Because of the routine nature of these logic puzzles there occurs less brain stimulation when compared with new creative tasks.
It’s time to take up the challenge and create brain training tasks that are fun and so good for you.
Is your baby visible and kissable when babywearing?
Slings are a great way to carry your baby – especially in the first 3 months when they love to have you close. It is really important to be aware that not all slings are safe as there have been instances where babies have suffocated. This may be because the baby was not yet old enough to move out of dangerous positions that can block their airways. You need to be able to see your baby’s face at all times and they need to be close enough to give them a smooch. They need to be worn tightly with their chin off their chest, and in an upright position.
Certain slings have been recently found to be unsafe so avoid choosing a sling that looks like a pouch or a bag as they can cover the baby’s face and increase the risk of suffocation. Always choose a sling that comes with detailed instructions on how to use it. Premature and low birth weight babies and those with respiratory problems are at an increased risk so check with your GP or paediatrician first if it is safe to carry them.
At Physiotherapy for Women our Physiotherapists are members of the Australian Physiotherapy Association. The Manduca baby carrier made from organic cotton has been endorsed by this association, because it is seen as an optimal carrier providing safety and security for babies.
Further reading on the Manduca baby carrier and its benefits and Healthy Hips Babywearing can be read by clicking on:
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a technique used to build an awareness of the present moment and of what our thoughts and body responses are without judgement. As busy women we are often presented with multiple tasks to just get through the day. It can be difficult to switch off the inner voice of all the things we need to accomplish. This constant state of “being on the go” can lead to chronic stress states where our body is tight, tense and achy, breathing is shallow, our digestion is poor and our immune and hormonal systems are out of balance. Mindfulness can help you relax and to calm bodily stress responses.
How do I develop mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be developed through being aware of the present moment. You may do this through deep breathing, carrying out a mental scan of your body and letting go of tension, being aware of your thoughts or through mindful movement tasks. It is important to do this in a non-judgemental way and to be kind to yourself. Realise the stress responses in our body are normal. The increased heart rate, muscular tension, quick breathing and high mental alertness or anxiety (the “flight or fight” response) are designed for dangerous situations where we need to escape or fight. In today’s society stress is present frequently or often constantly and we do not usually need to fight or flight, so we have no release of this stress response. Recognising this stress response and not labelling it as good or bad but just a normal bodily reaction can help, getting stressed about being stressed is not helpful! The next step is to perform some mindfulness tasks or movements and to use thought processes that help us let go of the tension and to cope with and release our bodies stress response. Recognising that time to relax and using mindfulness is an important part of your day is valuable for better health. Many women lead such busy lives that they think relaxation is too difficult to fit in or find it too boring. Mindfulness may feel difficult or boring in the beginning but it gets easier with practice and your body and mind will thank you for it if you persist. Sometimes you need the help of a professional in mindfulness and/or meditation to get you on your way.
What can mindfulness be used for?
Mindfulness can be used with our treatments at Physiotherapy for Women to manage pain and to ease tension. You may also notice it will help with depression, anxiety, digestion and other chronic illnesses.
How does it work?
Evidence is showing that with regular mindfulness our nervous system changes. The “flight or fight” response is decreased and the “rest and digest” state is increased allowing for better bodily repair and for the mind to quieten (helpful to get to sleep!). Also the parts of the brain responsible for emotional balance, fear responses, homeostasis (body regulation) and empathy make positive changes on MRI. The hormonal system in the brain are also better balanced which helps you improve your health related behaviours. During your consultation our physiotherapists can help with your breathing patterns and encourage mindfulness behaviour for you at home to enhance your healing process.
RIGID AND KINESIOLOGY TAPING
Taping is often chosen by our physiotherapists in the rehabilitation of many soft tissue injuries and movement dysfunctions.
General benefits of taping are:
- Provide support to soft tissues/joints/muscles
- Control joint instability
- Unload painful structures (muscle, tendon, ligament)
- Ease overworked muscles
- Assist pain management
- Develop posture awareness and body awareness
- Promote functional recovery
- Stimulate proprioceptive feedback
- Improve movement and performance in sport and daily activity
There are different types of tape which can be divided into two categories. These are rigid tape or kinesiology tape.
What are the Benefits of Rigid Taping?
The type of tape required for rigid taping is a non-elastic tape. The rigid taping technique is used to restrict movement by providing very firm support. In the acute stage of healing, support of ligament sprains, muscle strains, joint instability and inflammation is beneficial with this form of taping. The firm taping allows for very controlled movement of the joint, soft tissue, trunk, pelvis or limb. When muscles are overworked, in pain and very tight, rigid taping can assist the muscles to rest and become less painful.
One example of joint instability and painful muscles in pregnancy that is commonly seen at Physiotherapy for Women is pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain. A specific rigid taping approach of the pelvis and sacroiliac joints can enable pregnant women to improve their walking by decreasing limping and pain.
Acute low back pain presenting with inflammation and trigger point tight spinal muscles will often benefit from rigid taping for 2-3 days.
A pre-taping underwrap can be beneficial when skin is hypersensitive to the adhesive on the rigid tape.
What are the Benefits of Kinesiology Taping?
In kinesiology taping a thin, elasticised tape is used for many musculoskeletal injuries and physical dysfunctions that frequently present to a women’s health physiotherapy practice.
The elastic properties of the tape on the skin promotes a bunching up action on the soft tissues immediately beneath the skin. This microscopic tissue lifting action can stimulate both lymphatic flow and blood flow, thereby reducing swelling, bruising and pain.
Kinesiology taping still provides support of injured tissues, but a certain amount of joint or muscle movement is allowed for. The amount of tension and direction of pull on the tissues is determined by the Physiotherapist.
A common presentation that benefits from kinesiology taping is correction of poor shoulder and shoulder blade posture, often seen with shoulder rotator cuff injury. The taping stimulates awareness by improving shoulder and shoulder blade movement in functional or sporting activities.
Knee pain when walking can often be helped with a directional tape that enhances patellar/knee cap tracking and supports knee structures.
Kinesiology tape can become wet in a shower or when swimming. This tape can be left on for 3 to 5 days.
How is the type of tape and taping approach chosen?
Our Physiotherapists complete taping courses for both Rigid Taping and Kinesiology Taping.
The Physiotherapist will choose the appropriate tape and taping technique based on their assessment of your presenting condition and the treatment goals and plan that are determined to be important for your rehabilitation.
If there is uncertainty as to whether your skin may be sensitive to a specific tape, small trial tape patches can be done. Your reaction to any of the tapes can then be determined over a 24-48 hour period.
We are often teaching our clients how to do a specific taping themselves, or when necessary a family member is instructed on how to do the taping on you.