Have you wondered if yoga might help you?
Yoga has become the "in thing" over the last few years, and you only have to do a quick search online to see everything from traditional styles of yoga, to beer yoga, chicken nugget yoga and goat yoga! (Not even kidding!)
But is yoga a good option if you have pain?
Here's a lot of reasons I like yoga as a pain-friendly exercise..
Low Impact Movements
Many yoga sequences are slow, gentle, low impact movements. There's no need for jumping, running, hopping, or other high energy movements that can put a lot of force through your joints. Moving in these slow, controlled ways can help keep your muscles and joints happy and healthy.
Improve Your Balance
Practicing yoga can challenge your balance, it can be a little tricky at first if you're not used to shifting your body weight or if your proprioception is a little out. But practice makes perfect, and by improving your balance you can reduce risks of things like trips, falls or rolling your ankles.
It Can Be A Full Body Work Out
Unless the class specifically is targeting a certain area, most of the time you'll get a pretty well balanced work out for your whole body. You'll also be doing stretching and strengthening moves without needing to push yourself too hard. Of course, there are many types of yoga classes, and some are designed to be much more physically challenging, so if you have pain choose a gentle class like a Slow Flow or Yin style, and talk to your yoga teacher about any limitation you have so they can keep an eye on you if they need to.
Exercise naturally produces amazing brain chemicals that help reduce our stress hormones. Combine that with mindful breathing, purposeful movement, and the calming environment and you have a very powerful stress buster!
So Many Choices!
There are just so many choices in where, when and how to practice. Yoga studios are abundant in Melbourne. But with the internet, YouTube and smart phones, you can also choose to practice at home, at the beach, in the park, literally anywhere with enough space to roll out a mat. Online classes also means that you can pick the length of class you can manage on the day, even if thats just 5 minutes per day.
Join A Community
By joining a class at a studio, you can meet people who are there for similar reasons. A lot of studios also offer memberships to make it affordable to go regularly, and run workshops or events.
Build Great Habits
By booking in for the same yoga class each week, you create a routine. Even one class a week makes a difference! Its your You Time, your time to move your body, push thoughts out of your head, breathe a little deeper, and know that you've nourished your body and brain.
You Can't Win At Yoga
There's no prizes or championships for yoga. No medals for being the most flexible. Winning isn't your purpose in yoga, you can just be exactly how you are on the day and move your body in a way that feels good. Some days you'll feel more or less mobile, but its all about you, not the person next to you.
Modify The Moves To Suit You
A lot of poses have different stages, and its unrealistic to expect to jump straight into the most advanced version of a pose. Speak to your teacher and they can modify poses to make it gentler and more comfortable for you. Taking a modified position that isn't painful is always better than forcing yourself into an advanced position that hurts.
Want to try yoga, but you're not sure where to start? If you're local to our Knoxfield clinic, then my favourite yoga studio near us is Hark Yoga on Burwood Hwy, Ferntree Gully. You can try an intro pass for $30 for 14 days of unlimited classes - personally I can highly recommend their Body & Mind classes, its a great combination of movement and meditation.
Hark Yoga also have a 21 Day Challenge starting on 2nd September, and we're contributing some Myotherapy gift certificates to the goodie bags!
If you've chosen to see a Myotherapist, theres a good chance that you've got a pain or injury that you're concerned about and you know that it needs more than just a bit of a massage.
There are some cases where follow-up may not be needed. But for the majority of pain conditions or injuries, the best long term pain relief comes from a series of treatments specifically designed for you by your Myotherapist.
Why do I want to see you for a follow-up treatment? Let me tell you all of the reasons!
Seeing how you responded to the treatment
This one is pretty self-explanatory. When you receive a myotherapy treatment, you might respond well, or you might not. A follow-up allows us to check in and see how you recovered, and how the original problem is going. This lets us know which treatment techniques to keep using because they were effective for you, or which ones to drop from your treatment plan.
Checking progress with at-home care and exercises
Most clients receive either suggestions for at-home care and modifications and/or exercises. During your follow-up appointment, we can check in and see how these changes went for you.
Found yourself struggling to do a particular exercise? We can prescribe an easier alternative until your strength or balance improves.
Forgot how to do one of your stretches, or not sure if you’re doing it right? This is our opportunity to review it for you.
Getting to the root cause of the original issue
For most people, one treatment isn’t going to fix the issue completely. In most cases, there is an underlying cause that needs to be looked into.
This is particularly important for those with chronic conditions and chronic pain. There are multiple contributing factors to chronic symptoms and pain.
Unfortunately, we can’t address all of those factors in just one session! That’s why follow-up appointments can make all the difference.
Helping you achieve long-term health goals
Do you dream of running your first marathon? Or maybe you want to do an obstacle course with your friends? Perhaps you just want to chase the kids around the park and not pay for it later?
Whatever your long-term goals are, we can work on them during a follow-up appointment.
Follow-up sessions can really pay off when it comes to long-term goals, even if you experience chronic pain. One of my long-term clients with a chronic pain condition recently achieved her goal of going back to full-time work. She also goes to F45 several days a week – talk about smashing goals!
Preventing future injuries
Unfortunately, once you’ve had one injury, you are more vulnerable to future injuries. But we can help to minimise the risk of this occurring through follow-up sessions.
During a follow-up, we can assess how strong and stable the surrounding muscles and joints are. Myotherapy treatments such as stretching, taping and exercises can all support the area while it heals and minimise the chance of future issues.
Ensuring that your injury or symptom doesn’t warrant further investigation
If you come in with some pretty impressive muscle tension or pain, it can be difficult to fully assess your situation. Your first session gives us a chance to release those muscles and reduce the pain.
But in some cases, tension and pain can be covering up a red flag sign or symptom. With a follow-up, we have the chance to investigate your concerns further. If we do see any red flags, we can immediately refer you to your GP or specialist to get it sorted.
Is it time for you to book your follow-up session? You can do that right here.
Anytime Fitness in Ferntree Gully are having a one day sale on Wednesday 21st August, and they've invited us along to talk to you about Myotherapy and how it can help with your training or recovering from an injury.
We'll be there from 5-7pm, and have some Myo vouchers to give away, as well as bringing some of the tools of the trade for you to see. Of course, Perry will be trying his best to get a work out in as well!
If you've been considering joining a gym, I can highly recommend Anytime Fitness. I go there myself and always find the place clean and neat, the staff are friendly and helpful, the personal trainers are happy to help you figure out how to use the equipment and they offer a selection of group classes that are free as part of your membership.
If you have pain, there’s a good chance you’ve used or been prescribed pain relievers. There is a lot of stigma around the use of pain relievers because of issues such as addiction or long-term health effects.
In my opinion, it’s ok to use pain relievers if you are experiencing pain, as long as its not the only pain relief strategy you're using - I like to see that you know why you have pain, and that you're making changes to any of the factors you can to reduce ongoing pain in conjunction with taking medication. Pain relievers can play an important part in injury recovery and pain management, particularly for those who experience chronic pain.
What are pain relievers, and what do they do?
Pain relievers are any form of medication that do exactly what the name says – relieve pain.
Different pain relievers work on different parts of the body to produce different pain-relieving effects. Some pain relievers such as ibuprofen stop damaged cells from producing inflammatory compounds, which can slow down the pain message. Others, like paracetamol, work directly on the brain to reduce how your brain perceives the danger signals.
You’ll often see pain relievers referred to as ‘pain-killers’. I avoid this term, because ‘painkiller’ implies that it totally and permanently eliminates your pain. But pain-relievers are a tool that reduce pain for a period of time. They can’t ‘fix’ your pain, but they can make you feel better for a little while, so you can continue to actively work on recovery through rehabilitation and treatment.
Pain relievers are part of your treatment plan
You can get all of the massage and myotherapy treatments, but sometimes, pain strikes when you aren’t able to book in a session. That is where pain relievers can come into play.
Often, pain relief is needed to allow you to get to sleep and stay asleep for at least a few hours. Sleep is when the body does its most healing, so good sleep is critical to long-term pain reduction. Research has also found that sleep deprivation can make you more sensitive to pain.
So if pain is keeping you awake, using pain relief may be the better option, rather than ‘toughing it out’ and lying awake.
The only thing I don’t recommend is relying on pain relievers as your only method of pain relief. Pain relievers by nature are temporary – they don’t fix the root cause.
Whether your pain is caused by physical damage, a sensitised nervous system, inflammation or something else, the only ‘fix’ is a plan that addresses the underlying issue. If you’ve experienced pain for longer than a week or two, it’s time to seek professional help.
If you’re using pain relievers long-term, speak to your GP
Pain relievers, like any other kind of medication, can have long-term health consequences and side effects. Even over the counter medications can be problematic long-term – that’s why they put oodles of warnings inside!
If you are needing to use pain relievers for more than a few weeks and it hasn’t been prescribed by your GP, make an appointment. They might be able to recommend a more effective prescription for your specific type of pain or offer you the safest option if you do require long term medication. At the very least, they know you are taking it and can monitor you, so they can spot any side effects in the early stages.
If you don't have a regular GP, come and meet Dr Wajib Dib at Together Medical on Ferntree Gully Rd in Knoxfield. Our treatment room is inside the Together Medical practice, and Dr Dib is a fully Bulk Billed GP with an interest in musculoskeletal health.
You can also ask for advice on medications from the Pharmacist at Knoxfield Pharmacy. We have a staircase with direct access into the pharmacy from our clinic reception.
Massage and myotherapy can play a supportive role in the healing journey if you’re experiencing chronic pain. At Simple Wellness Myotherapy, chronic pain is our passion. To book in an appointment, head to our booking page here.
Did you hate the stairs at our old clinic on Burwood Highway?
We did too!
So we moved into a brand new clinic that has an easy ramp access, and its only a few minutes away from the old location.
At the new clinic, you can completely avoid all stairs by using the mobility lift and ramp. The lift is easy to use, one button sends you up to the ramp, and one sends you back down to the ground. Keep holding the button to get the gate to unlatch.
You'll find our new clinic in with Together Medical Family Practice, at Level 1, 1571 Ferntree Gully Rd, Knoxfield.
Theres plenty of free parking. Its best to park on Otway Street, behind the strip of shops. You'll see the little playground and tennis court. From there, head up the ramp and straight into the clinic!
Signage is coming soon, but for now just look for the Together Medical sign. The friendly receptionists at Together Medical are there almost all of our clinic hours to greet you.
Want to come check out the new clinic for yourself? Book a time to see us soon!
When you experience chronic pain, you just want to feel better. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix
for chronic pain – it can take time and effort. But there are lifestyle tweaks you can include in your
everyday life that can help with pain.
Some of these can alleviate pain, and some can help you to cope better with the pain. Since every
person is unique, some might work better for one person than another. So start with one, give it a
good go for a few weeks, and see how you go!
Try out meditation & mindfulness
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out! Meditation and mindfulness does not have to be sitting
cross-legged on the floor, chanting. It does not mean you need to ‘stop thinking’ or ‘clear your mind
of any thoughts ever’.
Meditation and mindfulness is more about being aware that your thoughts are just one part of you.
It allows you to tune into your body and senses, and most meditations use long, slow and deliberate breathing patterns. We know that taking time to focus on breathing and calming thoughts can help to slow down a really active nervous system. When it comes to meditations that are designed for
pain, they don’t stop pain, but they do help you to recognise where the pain is coming from and
what it might mean.
The research suggests that it’s worth giving meditation a go. A meta-analysis of 38 controlled trials found that meditation helps to reduce pain, improve symptoms of depression and increase the
overall quality of life.
Most apps and meditation websites have guided meditations for pain, anxiety, stress, or all of the
above. Our favourite nutritionist (who has a condition that can cause chronic pain) Sam is a big fan of the pain (#14) and stress (#31) meditations over at Meditation Oasis.
Introduce gentle movement
It can be tempting to avoid movement when you’re in pain. But gentle movement that doesn’t cause
severe discomfort or pain can be incredibly therapeutic.
The research shows that exercise can increase your pain tolerance and decrease your perception of
pain. It can relieve pain and improve quality of life in those who have chronic pain of some kind.
To start moving again:
Start slow. Begin with gentle movement, and work your way up over a period of weeks or months.
Use non-painful joints and muscles. Endorphins are systemic, so if your pain is in your back, moving
your arms or legs will still help to relieve that pain.
Get yourself a paced rehab program. Working with a practitioner is best for this, as we can monitor
your progress, adjust movements that are too painful or difficult, and cheer you on as you achieve
Seek social support
Feeling supported doesn’t just make you feel better mentally and emotionally – it can influence your
experience of pain. Countless research papers from the 1970s up until today have highlighted how
important it is for people with chronic pain to have social support.
The care of friends and family can make a big difference. Partners can play an important role in helping you to feel supported, too.
You don't even need to talk to people about your pain if you don't want to, but talking to people about anything can be helpful - even if its small talk about news, weather, music, films.
It can be tempting to push through and struggle, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t like to
bother or burden others. But asking for help or even just a chat with someone you trust can make all
Consider joining an interest group, like a coffee club, social group or walking group.
Spend time with pets
This is by far my favourite tip, as I’m a certified crazy cat lady! But it’s also backed by some science as
well. When you play with a pet, your body releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin can
increase your pain threshold, drop your stress and anxiety levels and reduce inflammation. It can
also decrease blood pressure and heart rate by activating your ‘rest and digest’ mode.
The best part is that you don’t even have to own a pet – you can borrow a friend’s! And the benefits
go both ways. When you cuddle a furry friend, they also feel happier and healthier.
Work with practitioners who empower you
A good team can make a huge difference for someone who experiences chronic pain. It’s important to work with qualified practitioners who understand how complex pain is. But it’s also best to work with practitioners who want to give you the tools to recover from that pain.
We can’t ‘fix’ you, but we can empower you with the facts about pain, the latest research findings,
and the best quality care possible.
Want to work with a myotherapist/remedial massage therapist who fits that bill? Book in an
appointment with a Simple Wellness practitioner here.
Most people think of painful, deep pressure and extreme stretching when they think of Thai massage. But is that really what its meant to be?
I'm currently in Thailand doing a Traditional Thai Massage course, and I want to share some of what I've learnt with you!
My teacher, Achang Rin, says there are two main traditional styles of Thai Massage: Royal Style and General Style.
Royal Style is what I'll be learning this week. Its the relaxing full body sequence designed with the King (or person of importance!) in mind. Its less intense, and more "polite" - meaning the therapist doesn't get too up close and personal with the client. This style works well for people who don't have a highly physically demanding lifestyle, who need to relax and be gently stretched. Royal Style uses thumb and palm pressure, and gentle stretches.
General Style becomes a bit stronger, because its designed for the every day worker, traditionally people like farmers, builders, and other people with heavy labour-intensive jobs. General Style can also feel a bit more "in your face" - this is where the treatment can start using elbows, knees, feet, and strong stretches. The therapist might even use their body weight, so it can be common for them to climb on top of the client!
A thai massage can take anywhere from 90-120 minutes, and covers the whole body. The client starts off laying on their back, then moves to each side, then laying on their front, and finishes in a seated position.
I asked Achang Rin if Traditional Thai Massage is really supposed to hurt?
She told me no, the purpose of the massage isn't to inflict pain!
Why does Thai Massage have a reputation for being a really painful style?
Achang Rin explained that in Thailand, many therapists don't complete official massage training. Many of the salons offering massage in Thailand have an in-house training program, where therapists get taught the techniques by one of the other practitioners. She said that often the line of people being trained by untrained people can be quite long, so what is being offered as "Traditional Thai Massage" is really a chinese-whispers version of a Thai Massage.
Combine that with the expectations from tourists that the massage will be fairly intense as well as the people who specifically ask for it to be super firm, and the end result can become very different from the treatment you'd get from a properly qualified Thai Massage Therapist.
Traditional Thai Massage is done on a floor mat, so while we won't be offering Thai Style treatment in our Ferntree Gully clinic, there are some stretches and techniques that we can adapt to suit a treatment being done on a massage table.
I'll be back from Thailand and back in the clinic from June 24, book a time to come and see me and we'll see if any of these Thai Massage skills can be modified and used in your treatment!
Do you love your heat pack? Me too!
There are plenty of reasons to keep your heat pack close by, and not just because we're entering winter!
Heat treatment is great for muscle pain - its cheap, effective, and drug-free! Have you ever wondered why heating your sore muscles helps them so much?
Some pains are categorised as ischaemic pain - that means that the tissue has a reduction of oxygen supply which is needed for normal cell activity. This tends to happen if we're in positions that compress or over stretch areas for a long time - like sitting at a desk for a few hours without getting up to move around. Heating an area increases the local blood flow, which means the blood vessels widen to get more fresh, oxygenated blood into your muscles and joints.
What kind of pain should you use heat for?
Many kinds of non-inflammatory pains will respond really nicely to heat, including things like cramping and spasming, stiffness and persistent tight or pulling muscles.
Heat packs are easy to use for neck, shoulder, lower back or hip pain.
If you have a lot of painful areas, a warm bath can be another great way of getting heat into your muscles - why not add some Epsom salts for the added magnesium benefits for sore, tight muscles!
When should you not use heat?
Avoid heating up any fresh injuries, especially if you have open wounds or if the injury has become infected. These kinds of injuries will be in the inflammatory stage of healing - you'll be able to tell because the area may be swollen, red and hot, and most likely it'll be much more sensitive than usual!
Of course, you do need to be careful with heat packs or hot water bottles to make sure you don't burn yourself. Always wrap your heat pack or hot water bottle in a something like a pillow case, thin blanket or a towel so you don't have the hot surface directly on your skin. Using heat for too long might give you heat rash, so I usually suggest about 20 minutes at a time.
Heat on its own is more for symptom relief than for resolving the underlying issue. If you have an injury or feel that you have a lot of long term tension built up in the muscles, book a treatment with your local Myotherapist.
I'm very excited to welcome our new Myotherapist, Emily Wells, to the Simple Wellness Myotherapy team!
Emily is a Myotherapist and Remedial Massage Therapist, and she'll be joining us 3 days a week starting at the end of May!
You'll find Emily in the clinic on Wednesday mornings from 9am-2pm; on Thursdays for the majority of the day between 9am-7pm, and alternating mornings/afternoons on Saturdays.
Her official first day is Wednesday May 29th, and we couldn't be happier to have her onboard!
Want to book a time to have a treatment with Emily? You can already jump onto the booking page and get an appointment with her!
Most people have some idea about acupuncture, even if they don't know exactly how it works. But many aren’t sure about the difference between acupuncture needling and dry needling. This is a question that comes up all the time during myotherapy sessions! So let’s look at the key similarities and differences.
First, let’s look at the common ground between the two forms of treatment.
Both use needles as the tool of treatment. These needles can come in various lengths and thicknesses depending on what they are used for. Needles should always be sterilised and single-use.
Qualified practitioners have to be trained extensively in how to correctly needle a client. Learning where, when and how to use a needle on a human body is a bit intimidating, but it is essential for safety reasons. Whether you get acupuncture from a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner or dry needling from your Myotherapist, you can rest easy knowing there has been months or even years spent on training.
However, dry needling courses can also be offered as short weekend courses for practitioners like remedial massage therapists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, etc. If I'm honest, I don't think these courses are long enough, in depth enough, and with enough assessment and examination of each participant. Acupuncturists and Myotherapists train for a long period of time, need to pass both written and practical exams, and complete student clinic treatments under supervision to build their needling competency.
Now we get to the differences between the two forms of treatment.
Why it’s done & what it treats
Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practice, with thousands of years of use. It is used as one treatment form to bring the body back into balance according to TCM treatment protocols, the most familiar of these being the system of meridians, or energy points throughout the body.
Acupuncture can be used to balance hormones, optimise digestion, reduce stress and treat a lot of conditions, including musculoskeletal issues.
I'm always very honest with people when I say that I don’t understand the theory or application well because I’m not a trained acupuncturist, and I refer any more specific acupuncture questions to Amanda Cox-Edwards at Upwey Acupuncture.
Dry needling is a modern physical therapy. It is used to correct imbalances in musculoskeletal health. The goal is to release tension in a muscle, returning it to its natural, neutral tone. Dry needling is used specifically for muscle and joint complaints, as a comparison to acupuncture which has more system wide applications.
Where it is used
Acupuncture can be used directly over an area of concern. But it can also be used distally – that is, a distant point on the body that is related to the area of concern according to the meridians. Certain points on the bodies surface relate to other areas, including internally. Of course, your acupuncturist won't needle directly into your kidneys to treat a kidney issue or into your intestines to treat a digestive issue, they will use the TCM protocols to stimulate points throughout the muscles and skin of your body that relate to the kidneys or digestive system.
On the other hand, dry needling is used directly on the affected muscles. We find the muscle that is tight, spasming or needs to be released, and then locate the spots of most tension within that muscle and that becomes our needling target zone.
How the needle is used
The final major difference is how the needle itself is used as a tool. In acupuncture, the practitioner will insert the needle in the specific spot and depth and generally leave it to do its job while the client relaxes. This can be for up to 45 minutes, depending on what they are treating.
Dry needling is not left alone. Instead, the practitioner will often try to stimulate the muscle fibres by moving the needle, helping to release the tension. The most commonly used stimulation techniques include an up-down motion to repeatedly hit the target within the muscle; a twisting action to wind and release the tissue; and in-out motions on an angle to release broader areas of tension. Some therapists take an aggressive approach to dry needling, and it can be uncomfortable or even painful to receive needling from this type of therapist. By now, you probably know that I'm your gentle Myotherapist, so in typical gentle fashion I use very slow, deliberate stimulation techniques where needed. I also like to let my needles rest then re-stimulate it a few minutes later, rather than continuous stimulation.
Dry needling is just one tool out of a big, broad toolbox that Myotherapists have to use. Scared of needles? We have plenty of other ways to gently encourage your muscles to relax and release without needing to use needles on you.
Does dry needling sound like something you want to try? The good news is that myotherapists have extensive and ongoing training in dry needling. So book yourself in a session to try it today.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.