It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a research geek. Scientists everywhere are exploring the experience of pain and how we can alleviate it. So I thought I’d share some of the most recent findings about pain.
Some of these you might be able to apply in your daily life. Some you might like to share with your healthcare providers. And some are just interesting to know!
Men and women remember pain differently
Scientists have theorised for years that chronic pain is related to memories of earlier pain. One team has found that men remembered a previous painful experience quite clearly. This made them hypersensitive when they were returned to the location of that experience. On the other hand, women were less stressed about their experience.
The same researchers did the same experiment on mice, and ‘blocked’ the memories of male mice. When they ran the experiment with the blocked mice, they did not show signs of being stressed by the previous pain.
The brain cells that make pain unpleasant
If you step on a sharp object, your nerve cells in the brain tell you two things – there’s a piercing sensation in your foot, and that it’s not a nice feeling. But a team of scientists have discovered the brain cells that tell you all about that not-so-nice feeling – these brain cells are responsible for the negative emotions of pain.
In an experiment with mice, they were able to identify a group of neurons in the basolateral area of the amygdala (often called the fear centre of the brain). When the mice experienced pain, these neurons would fire.
But when this bundle of neurons was turned off, the mice didn’t experience the discomfort of pain. They were still able to feel and respond to sensations, but pain was no longer unpleasant for them.
Pain as a self-fulfilling prophecy
Have you ever flinched at something that you expect to hurt? The latest research suggests that you probably will feel pain, even if it doesn’t cause pain. Say what?
If you expect pain, your brain will respond to that pain. Researchers scanned the brain of people who were exposed to low heat and high, painful heat. The participants were shown cues to suggest whether the heat was going to be low or high. When the heat was applied, they rated their pain.
But what they didn’t realise was that the cues didn’t always correlate to the heat they received. When they expected high heat, brain regions around threat and fear were activated while they waited. When the heat was applied, there was more activity in the pain regions of the brain – even if it was a low heat.
This may be part of why chronic pain lasts long after the damage to tissue has healed.
Genes associated with chronic back pain discovered
Chronic back pain is actually the number one cause of years lived with disability world-wide. So scientists are looking at all of the factors that might contribute to it. Recently, researchers have uncovered three gene variations that are associated with chronic back pain.
The study looked at the genes of 158,000 people, including 29,000 that had chronic back pain. Then they looked for the genes that popped up for those with chronic back pain.
One gene variant, SOX5, is involved with development of the body in the womb. If it’s turned off, it causes defects in cartilage and bone formation. A second gene that was already associated with disc herniation was linked to chronic back pain. The third was a gene that plays a role in the development of the spinal cord.
This might not cure your chronic back pain, but it does help researchers to pinpoint the structures and processes involved. In the meantime, make sure you get yourself booked for a myotherapy session!
There were so many interesting research papers that I have pt 2 coming up next week! If you don’t want to miss out, make sure you’re following my Facebook page. There, I share tips, info and insights into chronic pain management and myotherapy.
A lot of people who don't have persistent pain don’t realise how much chronic pain sucks. Ongoing pain isn’t just about physical discomfort – it also affects your mental wellbeing, your social life and your long-term health. This is why I have such a strong focus on chronic pain management as a myotherapist.
But what can myotherapy do to help with chronic pain? I’m glad you asked! One of the things I love about myo is that it has so many tools, so there is always one that can suit your needs and tolerance. Here are the main ways I use myotherapy techniques to help you manage chronic pain.
It helps to manage acute flare-ups
When you have chronic pain, it’s common to have a flare-up of symptoms and/or pain levels. Sometimes it can be your nervous system increasing your sensitivity, and sometimes it’s a physical factor such as tight muscles that cause issues.
Either way, different techniques such as taping, massage and mobilisation can relieve the flare.
It can down-regulate the pain response
One of the main problems with chronic pain is that the body becomes more sensitive to pain messages sent by the nervous system. Sometimes the number of connections along nerves can be altered. Other times, there is a greater release of neurotransmitters, which makes the body super-sensitive to sensation.
I cover this a bit more in my pain matrix article, but non-painful sensations can block the danger messages. This means that pressure from a gentle massage or myofascial release stretching can help to reduce pain.
It can look at the root causes behind chronic pain
There are so many factors that can lead to chronic pain, and even more that can aggravate it. But as a myotherapist that focuses on chronic pain, it’s my job to be an investigator into your pain. Your treatment plan might include exercises and stretches that aim to correct any underlying causes of pain.
We’ll also have regular discussions about the lifestyle factors that might be contributing, and ways to modify them. And if I think one of your triggers is out of my zone, I’ll refer you to a trusted practitioner who also works with chronic pain.
It can reduce stress hormones
Want to hear something cool? The relaxation after a myotherapy session isn’t all in your head. Research has found that massage can reduce cortisol, your main stress hormone, by 31%.
As a bonus, it can also boost your levels of feel-good brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine. If that isn’t a good reason for regular myotherapy sessions, I don’t know what is!
It can release trigger points
Ever had a little knot feeling on a muscle, that when pressed, feels so sore but so good? That’s a trigger point. These taut bands are like a micro-spasm of a muscle (not a full muscle spasm like if your leg cramps in the night!) Trigger points can contribute to chronic pain, and they can certainly exacerbate it. Because trigger points tend to have referral patterns, they can also make you feel pain outside of the area that the actual trigger point is found.
As part of your myotherapy treatment, I can release any problematic trigger points around the area of pain. For example, if you have chronic headaches, I might look at the trigger points around your head, jaw and shoulders.
Tape can be used to stabilise joints if needed
If your chronic pain comes with any joint instability, taping is a great tool for managing it after you leave the session. By using either rigid or kinesiotape, depending on the issue, we can stabilise the problem joint or joints. That way, your painful area is supported and you’re less likely to make movements that aggravate the pain. The tape can also be used to help continuously guide and remind your joints of a better position to rest in which helps to take strain off certain areas.
Looking to manage your own chronic pain? Your no-pain, all-gain myotherapist is here to help. Head here to book your appointment today
Have you ever been diagnosed with bursitis? It’s one of the most common injuries I see in clients. But you don’t have to just put up with the pain – there are ways that myotherapy can help.
What is bursitis?
Simply put, bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa. Bursa are the soft fluid-filled cushion sacs that protect the bones, tendons and muscles around the joints. When they are functioning properly, they make it easy for tendons and muscles to move smoothly at the joint. When these fluid-y sacs become inflamed, they get swollen and enlarged, which can make movement difficult due to the physical space the bursa now takes up in the joint. The inflammation process also increases sensitivity in the area, giving you that familiar feeling of pain and aching in the joint.
You have over 150 bursa throughout your body, so that is more than 150 places bursitis can occur. That being said, the most common bursitis I see is in the shoulder and hip joints. Less common locations include the toes, knees and elbows.
What can cause bursitis?
There are a number of factors that can cause or lead to bursitis. The most common are injuries, repeated pressure and overuse of a joint. But there are some chronic conditions that can lead to bursitis such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even an infection that reaches the bursa.
What are the signs and symptoms of bursitis?
The most common symptoms you’ll come across are:
What is the medical treatment for bursitis?
Most of the time, doctors will refer you onto a musculoskeletal therapist such as a physiotherapist, osteopath or myotherapist (like me!)
In severe cases, they will do an injection of cortisone, an anti-inflammatory steroid, into the joint. Although this can make you feel better temporarily, it is a bit of a bandaid approach. If you don’t remove the cause of the bursitis, you’ll have to keep getting a giant needle into the joint – ouch! Cortisone injections aren’t a guaranteed fix, and can have a limited time of effect from very short term (days or weeks) to longer term relief (months or years). Some patients may not get any relief at all, even temporary. I always like to remind people who are considering the injection that my opinion is a biased one – I tend to only see the people who the cortisone shot hasn’t worked for, because if it works, they don’t need to come back for treatment for that same bursitis issue!
How can a myotherapist help with bursitis?
Wanting to avoid the big needle into the joint or just prefer to manage your condition naturally? A myotherapist like myself can work on the acute pain and address the causes behind the bursitis. There are plenty of ways that the different techniques of myotherapy can help, including::
By working on the aggravating factors and finding ways to modify them, we can reduce the pain and inflammation over the long-term.
Is the pain of bursitis holding you back from the things you love to do? Book an appointment today and we’ll get you back on track to health
Happy New Year! I hope the end of 2018 has been restful and enjoyable.
2019 brings some changes in the clinic, some of which have been advertised in the treatment room for the last month or so, and some new exciting news!
Myotherapy Packages are now available!
Packages are a great way to prepay and save on your treatment plan. I'm offering solo and family packages:
My Myo Package - $425 (save $50) - includes 5 standard 50 minute treatments, to be used within 6 months from the purchase. This is the solo package, treatments can't be shared or transferred. This is ideal for managing a short term injury with a series of treatments over a few weeks, or for chronic condition management and a general "tune up" for preventative care.
Our Myo Package - $850 (save $100) - includes 10 standard 50 minute treatments, to be used within 6 months from the purchase. This package can be shared between a couple or a family, by nominating up to 4 people to share the sessions.
Want to set it up? Let me know when you're in the clinic and I'll run you through the full terms and conditions and show you how to book your package sessions online if you're not already using the online booking system.
Appointment Fee Changes
From January 1st 2019, appointment fees will be as follows:
Initial Consultations - 60 minutes $110, 40 minutes $85
Return Consultations - 30 minutes $75, 50 minutes $95, 60 minutes $110, 80 minutes $130
Need to book in for your next treatment? Book online, anytime.
A New Therapist!
Yes! I've decided to take on a new therapist in the new year! I haven't found somebody just yet, but soon I'll have either a new gentle myotherapist or remedial massage therapist starting. That means evening appointments available every day of the week, and Sunday appointments!
Watch this space or keep an eye on the Facebook page for more updates on this!
Private Health Rebates
Don't forget, most private health funds reset your annual limit today! If you ran out in 2018, chances are that you should be topped up and ready to go! Check with your health fund - the majority restart in January, a few restart in July, and there are one or two that restart on the anniversary of you joining with them.
I hope 2019 has started well for you, and looking forward to another year of helping people by doing what I love!
Everyone has experienced pain at one time or another. But pain is personal – each of us experiences pain differently. Some of us feel it very intensely, and others not so much. This is because pain depends not only on what happens to your body, but also how your brain responds to it. This is what is known as the Pain Matrix.
What is the Pain Matrix?
This matrix processes information from the nerves that tell us when we’re in danger or injured. It responds by increasing or decreasing our sensitivity to these messages. These changes – known as top-down regulation – control how intensely we feel pain.
The Pain Matrix involves different areas of the brain that control emotions, behaviour, movement, perception and thoughts. So it’s no surprise that when you’re in pain, all of these different factors can change.
How does the Pain Matrix work?
There are two main changes that the Pain Matrix can induce. Anti-nociception is a reduction in sensitivity to pain, whereas pro-nociception is an increase.
Anti-nociception uses the body’s natural painkillers – endorphins – to block the danger signal and decrease the pain response. Ever seen someone injure themselves in a dangerous situation, like in a car accident, but they can still move to safety without feeling pain? This is because a rush of endorphins temporarily blocks out the message of danger so they can get to safety.
On the other hand, pro-nociception is usually due to swelling and chemical changes in the nerve endings around an injury. Have you ever had a bad paper-cut? Your sensitivity is much higher around the cut, even if you’re not touching the injured part. Sometimes, even moving the other fingers can hurt.
Changes in the brain = changes in the pain
Despite what we used to believe, the brain can continually change its form and function as a form of adaptation. These changes are known as Neuroplasticity. Nerve pathways can physical alter by increasing or reducing the number of connections. Or they can alter the release of neurotransmitters – more stimulating neurotransmitters means more nerve activity, which can increase the sensitivity of the system.
When it comes to chronic pain conditions, the central nervous system is reorganised. This can include damage to nerves, leading to abnormal connections between them. Pain is more likely to occur than not, as pro-nociception increases and anti-nociception is impaired. This can lead to exaggerated responses to pain including pain caused by non-painful experiences - this is known as allodynia, and can be a common symptom in conditions like Fibromyalgia.
Long term inflammation can lead to a heightened sensitivity of the nervous system. In the presence of inflammation the amount of nerve stimulation needed to send the signal decreases and the nerve firing rate increases. With so many danger messages coming in when there is inflammation present, the nervous system starts to respond on high alert by using its protective mechanism - pain!
Controlling the pain
There is no one size fits all approach to controlling pain, but theres increasing evidence that changes to pain intensity can be influenced by more than just the incoming messages from our tissue - it can also be influenced by our perceptions of danger and safety. This is likely due to the pain matrixes involvement in areas of the brain that deal with emotions, behaviours and thoughts. Pain experts Dr Lorimer Moseley and Dr David Butler of the NOI Group have published a fantastic book called Explain Pain that describes DIMs and SIMs - that is, Danger In Me (DIMs) and Safety In Me (SIMs). They say that any credible indication of danger can increase your perception of pain, and likewise a credible indication of safety can decrease the pain. We'll dive deeper into this research in future blogs.
The Gate Control Theory involves a more physical approach to pain control.
Have you ever bumped into something, then rubbed the area to make it hurt less? The Gate Control Theory is that non-painful sensations such as pressure can block or override the danger messages and reduce pain. The nerves that tell us about pressure are faster and more effective than those that tell us about danger. This might be part of why something like a good massage session helps with pain. Massage is also a great way to stimulate some feel-good endorphins, which promotes anti-nociception to reduce painful sensations!
If you’re looking to minimise your pain, a combination of massage, exercise therapy and other myotherapy treatments can help. Have a look at my online booking calendar to book in for an appointment.
Headaches can vary from mildly dull and annoying to intensely sharp or throbbing. They can creep in slowly, or seem to appear out of nowhere. For some people they can last for a very short time, and others get headaches that just don't seem to quit.
No matter what the cause of your headache, these simple tips are a great first step to help you to feel a little bit better.
Suss out the origin
First up, you want to figure out why you have a headache. Have you spent too long at the computer without moving over the last few days? Have you been under a lot of stress? Have you lifted or carried something heavier than you're used to? Are you dehydrated? Or could it be hormone related?
Having an idea of why you have a headache can help you figure out if you need help from your Myotherapist for muscle related pains, or if you need to make some changes to your routine like drinking more water or finding ways to reduce stress.
Check in with your muscles
Most headaches have some kind of muscular involvement, whether it’s directly causing the headache or is a side effect of the pain. The good news is that you can figure out if your muscles are involved.
Have a feel along your neck and shoulders for any trigger points – spots that are tender and a bit painful to touch. Strong trigger points can send referred pain to other muscles, too. These are signs that your muscles are feeling tense, maybe from more physical activity than you're used to, or from staying in one position for a long time. Sometimes even your arms can have trigger points, so have a feel around your upper arm, particularly along the tricep area on the back of your arm.
Have you been clenching your teeth? Feel around your face and jaw to check if there are any super-tender areas. You might also find a tight band around your temples. Headaches can be an early sign of TMJ dysfunction, so make sure you see your friendly myotherapist quick-smart if you are getting headaches caused by clenching or grinding.
Are you getting sick?
Another common cause of headache is sinus pain. Try gently pressing between your eyebrows and on either side of your nose, right below the eyes. If this area is tender, you might have a case of sinusitis coming on, and you'll probably have other symptoms like a runny or blocked nose and a fever.
If you have a cold or infection, its always best for both of us if you wait til you've recovered from the contagious phase of the infection before you come in to see me. Check in with your pharmacist for a recommendation for something that can help with your cold/flu or infection symptoms - clearing the infection can often clear the headache!
Something I can vouch for personally is Salt Therapy to speed up the time it takes for a sinus infection to clear. The salt helps with inflammation in the nose and lungs, as well as breaking up the congestion and making it easier to clear the sinuses which hugely relieves the pressure. Natalie at Salts of the Earth in Boronia takes care of me when I feel a sinus infection or cold coming on.
Have a good stretch
Remember those muscles from the last tip? They are the ones we want to stretch out gently.
Roll your neck up and down, then side to side, breathing into any tight or sore spots. My little bonus tip here is to sit on your hand or hold the base of your chair so that you can really isolate the stretch into your neck and shoulders - when you're super tight, sometimes what should be a neck stretch becomes the whole upper body moving at once! Locking down your shoulder by sitting on your hand will help you feel a much more satisfying stretch into your neck!
Open and close your jaw slowly, stretching out the muscles and releasing tension. Using your fingertips to massage over your jaw while you open and close can also feel really relieving!
Reach your arms back behind your body for a stretch that targets the front of your shoulders, then roll down slowly as if you were trying to touch your toes for a nice back stretch - it doesn't really matter if you can or can't actually get to your toes, its more the stretching action here that counts. You can even bend at the knees if you feel too much strain in your hamstrings and the back of your legs.
Drink some water!
Most of us don’t drink enough water – myself included. But dehydration can cause headaches, and make them worse even when it’s not a direct cause. If you feel a headache rolling in, drink 1-2 cups of water. It can’t hurt, so why not give it a try?
Is stress playing into your headaches?
What does your down time routine look like? If its a bit neglected, try to find some time for things that you enjoy that can help reduce stress. For some people, that could be exercise or meditation - which are both fantastic for getting your brain to release some lovely happy hormones and neurotransmitters! But it might also be reading, gardening, seeing a friend, going out for a meal, playing a game.
Remember – headaches and migraines are two different things!
A super-bad headache does suck, but it feels different to a migraine. I’ll be sharing more on migraines in the future, but there are a few telltale signs. It’s probably not a migraine unless you experience at least a few of these:
If you have a headache that is being caused or worsened by tight muscles, I’m here to help. A Myotherapy treatment for headaches will look at your head, jaw, neck and shoulders, and could include some feel-good remedial massage to release tight muscles, as well as other approaches like cupping, needling or mobilisations to reduce pain and improve your movement. Book in a short session today, and we’ll have you feeling better shortly.
An aching hip can throw off your whole day. You might have slept on a funny angle, or it might be an old injury flaring up. Whatever the cause, hip pain can leave you limping and uncomfortable throughout the day.
Any hip pain that lasts more than a couple of days needs to be assessed by a qualified myotherapist. But if you can’t get in for a massage and myotherapy treatment straight away, here are some tips to ease your sore hips.
Gentle exercise and movement
Even when you’re sore, even a little bit of movement is often a good idea. By moving your body, you can encourage blood flow to repair any damage and improve mobility.
But when it comes to a sore hip, moving without pain can be tricky. That’s why I recommend non-weight bearing exercise in a pool or lying down. Start gently by circling your leg and hip within a range that isn’t too painful. This can improve the mobility of the hip and decrease the pain sensitivity.
As a myotherapist, I can not only assess and treat your pain. I can also recommend specific exercises and movements to rehabilitate the joint.
Another gentle form of movement is yin yoga. Unlike other forms of yoga, yin is very slow and involves more gentle, restful postures. Yin yoga uses different props so that you can hold poses within a comfortable range of movement for your body.
If your hip pain is quite strong right now, you may find a class to be too much until after you've had some treatment. But if your pain is a recurring issue then a regular yoga class as a way to manage your pain and prevent flare ups is a fantastic option.
I love Ananda Yoga in Belgrave. You’ll often find me at Kerry’s Yin Yoga classes on Tuesday and Sunday morning. Kerry is the absolute best! Her classes are all about moving in a way that feels good and a lot of her classes use things like spiky massage balls to help you release tight muscles yourself. You can check out their website here.
Creams and gels can provide temporary relief of pain, even for deep pains that come with a sore hip. There are plenty of good options on the market. My favourites are:
Every injury is different. But many people find that using heat for muscular pain brings more relief – and is more comfortable – than ice.
So chuck on a heat pack if you have one, or pick one up at the clinic. Or jump into a hot shower and do some gentle stretches, moving your body slowly through any ‘good pain’ spots.
If you can, slide into a nice warm bath with a book and a cup of tea. As a bonus, add some Epsom salts – they are incredibly relaxing and are a source of muscle-relaxing magnesium.
Which suggestion you take does depend on the injury and your pain levels. If your hip is aching, tight and generally sore, you could probably use any of these, or all of them! But if your hip pain is sharp and significantly reducing your mobility, your best bet is to use topical treatments, and book in to see a practitioner, stat.
Has your hip pain been getting you down? I offer sessions throughout the week, including evenings and Saturdays, so that you don’t have to suffer through the pain. To book in an appointment, click here.
Many people are already seeing a manual therapist such as a myotherapist or a chiropractor. But what you might not know is that you can see both! There are several benefits that come with seeing both a myotherapist and a chiropractor as part of your health strategy.
Myotherapy Vs Chiropractic – What’s The Difference?
The main difference between myotherapy and chiropractic is their focus. Myotherapy focuses on muscle health, although it does include some supportive work for the joints. On the other hand, chiropractic has a strong focus on the spine and its impact on the whole nervous system, as well as treating other joints throughout the body.
How Myotherapy And Chiropractic Can Work Together
Chiropractors can adjust structural issues
As a myotherapist, I am your go-to for muscle issues. And while myotherapy can include mobilising joints, sometimes it’s not enough to address a structural issue. Manipulating joints is a specialised skill and is out of a myotherapist’s scope of practice.
That’s where a trusted chiropractor comes in. If your myotherapist thinks there is a structural issue that needs to be addressed, teaming up with a chiropractor can get you sorted.
Soft tissue work can extend the results of an adjustment
Maybe you’re already seeing a chiropractor regularly. Adjustments from your chiropractor can be great at the time. But many people feel like they slip back into the same uncomfortable position in no time.
This is where working with a myotherapist can extend those results. We can have a look at any muscles that are encouraging your problematic positioning and help rebalance them. This can lead to longer-lasting results from your chiropractic sessions.
Myotherapy can make it easier for your chiropractor to effectively adjust you
If you have very tight muscles and connective tissue surrounding your spinal joints, it can sometimes be difficult to get those areas adjusted. By seeing me directly before an adjustment, a lot of my patients find their chiropractic treatment is more effective and less uncomfortable. Its definitely a satisfying feeling getting an adjustment that moves easily without feeling like muscle tension is stopping you getting the full benefit of your chiropractic session.
Adjustments and home exercise can work together
Another reason to combine myotherapy with your chiropractic care plan is including corrective exercises for the muscles. As a myotherapist, I can prescribe a personalised exercise plan that can strengthen a weak muscle, correct muscular imbalances and relieve pain over the long-term.
Why is this a great approach? It means that instead of just treating the problem, you can work towards healing it.
A combination can do wonders for spinal issues
People who have spinal issues such as nerve impingement get more bang for their buck by working with a myotherapist and chiropractor. Myotherapy can reduce pain levels and muscle sensitivity using techniques such as massage therapy, cupping and muscle energy techniques. On the other hand, chiropractic can help with repositioning the vertebrae, which can reduce compression on the impinged nerve.
Bonus point: creating a treatment plan at Balanced Life Health Care
If you see me and a chiropractor from Balanced Life Health Care, you’re in luck! As we work together, we are able to discuss your management and progress. This allows us to continue with a cohesive plan that covers all of your musculoskeletal needs.
So there’s no need to play Chinese whispers between therapists at different clinics – we’re your one stop shop for healthy muscles and joints.
Ready to bring myotherapy and chiropractic on board? To book in a myotherapy session, head to my booking page. To add a chiropractic appointment, phone Balanced Life Health Care on 03 8719 7373.
Many people know what it’s like to have a loose joint. Maybe you even considered yourself ‘double jointed’ when you were in primary school. But hypermobility is something that can be benign, or it can be a serious concern in some cases. So let’s look at hypermobility and how you can support a loose joint naturally.
What is hypermobility?
Hypermobility is when a joint has a greater range of movement than usual. This can be caused by a handful of factors, including:
Is hypermobility a bad thing?
Not always. Some people can actually train their joints to become hypermobile over time – think people who do gymnastics or calisthenics. This isn’t a problem, as long as the joint isn’t damaged and the muscles are strong enough to prevent the joint from slipping out.
There are also people that have one or more hypermobile joints, but don’t have any problems as a direct result. This is generally described as benign hypermobility.
But it can be problematic for some people. Sometimes, it’s a short-term problem – like if you dislocate a shoulder during football. This will mean you need to nurse the joint back to normal mobility to prevent further injury.
Sometimes, hypermobility is part of a bigger concern. There are conditions that present with hypermobile joints, including most forms of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome. Sometimes, hypermobile joints that become problematic are the first clue that there is an underlying issue.
Tips to support a hypermobile body part
If you have some hypermobility and it’s not causing you any issues, you might be just fine. But if your joint is causing you pain, is unstable or affecting your life in any way, here are some tips to support it back to health.
Keep exercising within your limitations
The body thrives off movement, and it boosts blood flow throughout, which is needed for healing. If you have an injured body part, do any kind of exercise that doesn’t cause pain or discomfort. For example, if your shoulder is the issue, go for a daily walk still. If it’s an ankle, keep doing upper body work at the gym that doesn’t require standing.
Remember, if you’re not sure how to exercise safely due to injury, the best course of action is to consult a myotherapist who can assess the situation for you.
Use taping and other tools to increase proprioception
One issue that is common with hypermobile joints is a loss of proprioception. Proprioception is where your brain thinks your joint is. If you lose proprioception, your body can start to think that the correct position for your joint is partially dislocated, or subluxed.
A good tool to use to increase proprioception is taping. By taping a joint, you can stabilise the joint when it is very unstable. Once the joint improves, kinesiotape can help to increase your awareness, or proprioception, of the joint.
In the clinic, I offer both rigid and kinesio taping services. In fact, return clients can book in a follow-up taping session, so we can re-tape a loose joint until it regains stability. To book a taping session, contact me directly.
If your joint is particularly loose, you can also consider tools like splints, supports or orthotics to help with proprioception. These are most useful for highly unstable joints, or for times when you can’t focus solely on where a joint is. Not sure which tool is best for you? Ask your friendly myotherapist.
Be cautious with stretching and yoga
Stretching and yoga can have oodles of benefits. But if a joint is already stretched out of place, the wrong stretches or yoga poses can exacerbate the situation. Just because you can move into an extreme stretch doesn't always mean you should - often the safest option is to stop short of your absolute maximum stretch, because here you'll have the most control over your movement. Control at our very end range of movement can be difficult, and if your joints are prone to dislocation and instability due to loose or unreliable ligaments then ideally you should be aiming for a stretch where you can still keep excellent muscle control over the joint. If you’re not sure what is safe to do, have a chat to your practitioner or yoga teacher.
Work with a hypermobile-literate myotherapist
If your body is sore, a massage therapist can relieve some pain. But if you want to get the injury rehabilitated, you want to work with a myotherapist who is familiar with hypermobility.
With myotherapy, we can not only give immediate relief using massage and other treatment techniques, but also put together a personalised treatment plan. A hypermobility management plan will include targeted strength and proprioception exercises. By rebuilding the muscles and teaching your joint where it should sit, you can get back on track.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with many people who have hypermobility – both short-term and chronic. So whether you have a loose joint post-injury or a condition like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I’m happy to help. Click here to book in an appointment.
Nobody likes to feel sore and achey all the time. If you experience chronic pain, it can contribute to many other conditions and sabotage your mental health. But if you’re looking for natural ways to relieve pain, the first place to look to is your diet. My good friend and incredible Nutritionist, Sam Gemmell, has taken the time to write this guest blog to explain more.
Fatty fish are a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are naturally anti-inflammatory. Most studies that have been published focus on omega-3 supplements. But there are small studies that support consuming it as part of the diet as well. One showed that consuming fatty fish 4 times per week can reduce inflammatory compounds in the body.
3-4 serves of oily fish per week is a good number to aim for. If you prefer plant-based sources, include walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds daily to reap the benefits.
Looking for a healthy source of fat to include in your diet? High quality olive oil has properties that may help to reduce joint-related symptoms. One animal study showed that extra-virgin olive oil reduced joint swelling, slowed the destruction of cartilage and reduced inflammation.
But don’t worry – the benefits are for people as well! One study showed that people who consume olive oil are less likely to have rheumatoid arthritis.
Olive oil can be drizzled over salads, or used to sauté ingredients. But it's not great for deep frying - deep frying isn't good for you anyway!
Berries are the best fruit ever, at least in my opinion! They are chock-full of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation naturally.
One study showed that people who ate at least two servings of strawberries per week were 14% less likely to have elevated inflammatory markers. Researchers also suggest that blueberries and strawberries may offer protection against arthritis.
Want to up your berry intake? Chuck them in your smoothies, porridge, salads or just straight into your mouth.
Spice things up in the kitchen! Pretty much any herb or spice will have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But if we’re going to play favourites, turmeric and ginger are bestfor sore joints and arthritis.
There are many research studies that show supplementing with turmeric can be beneficial for arthritis. But adding it into your diet can still help as well! Turmeric is not well absorbed, so the best consume it is with a source of good fats and some black pepper. Research into turmeric and ginger has shown that both have anti-arthritic effects.
How to use them? It’s simple – sprinkle your favourites spices everywhere! Turmeric and ginger can be added to sweet and savoury dishes.
Tart cherry juice
Tart cherries are packed full of antioxidants that can support your joint health. One study looking at osteoarthritis showed that consuming 475ml of tart cherry juice daily significantly reduced symptoms and inflammation. Tart cherry juice can also reduce inflammatory markers.
But the benefits don't stop there. Tart cherry juice is also a natural source of melatonin, which is needed for deep, restful sleep. If you’re not getting quality sleep, your body can’t repair damage effectively, which can exacerbate pain.
Ready to get into tart cherry juice? Make sure you choose an unsweetened variety. Otherwise, a lot of the benefits will be cancelled out by excess sugar.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my coffee. But green tea is king when it comes to caffeine-containing beverages if you’re in pain.
Green tea contains a potent antioxidant known as ECGC. ECGC has been shown to reduce inflammatory cytokines in research. And although trials are in the early stages, the research also suggests that it could be beneficial in reducing inflammation in osteoarthritis.
I often recommend that coffee drinkers alternate between coffee and green tea – so if you drink 4 cups of coffee per day, try 2 cups of coffee and 2 cups of green tea. But if you're not big on caffeine, even one cup a day can offer health benefits.
Sam is a nutritionist, health writer and wellness speaker based in Melbourne. She loves to spread knowledge about food as medicine, and is passionate about personalised nutrition. You can find out more on her website.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully. She has a special interest in chronic pain conditions, like fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, and more.