We know that it’s good to move our bodies on a daily basis. But when we get injured, it’s a good excuse to chuck in the towel for a few weeks– right?
Wrong! Exercise or at least some type of movement is an important part of your recovery process. Although it might not be good to go for a run 2 hours after you break your ankle (ouch!), you do want to incorporate movement as your body heals.
Let’s look at why exercise is so beneficial, and how to include it safely.
What are some of the general benefits of exercise?
So first up – why do we want to exercise on a regular basis? I’m glad you asked! There are so many benefits to exercise for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Some of them include:
Exercise, injury and pain
The old-school approach to pain was all about rest and inactivity. But now we know that movement done correctly is one of the best things you can do for pain.
When it comes to pain and injury, research has shown that exercise can:
But there are also the indirect benefits. For example, exercise improves sleep, which is when your body does its best healing. If you’re not sleeping well, it will take you longer to heal. But if you use exercise to improve your sleep, it can boost your recovery.
How to exercise safely after an injury
Convinced that you need to move that body? Let’s go about this with safety in mind. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Start slow. After an injury, there are a lot of complex processes going on. So the last thing your body needs is for you to try and run a marathon while it’s still healing! Begin with gentle movements, and work your way up over a period of weeks until you’re back to your pre-injury levels.
Use your non-painful joints. If you have an injured upper body, use your lower body for exercising. If you’ve got an injured lower body, do some upper body exercises. Endorphins don’t stay in the one place – they are systemic. So if you’re moving non-sore parts, the endorphins will make their way around your body to the sore parts to help relieve the pain.
Get a proper rehab program prescribed. This might not be necessary if you’ve only rolled your ankle or stubbed your toe. But if you have had a significant injury or are in significant pain, it’s best to get help. As a myotherapist, I can prescribe rehab exercises that build your body’s strength back up, and adapt exercises that might be causing pain. Your exercises will change throughout our treatment plan - we start from light, easy exercises while the pain or injury is acute, and work up to more challenging exercises to rebuild strength when your body is ready for it.
Ready to book in a session? Head to the booking page here.
As a myotherapist, I see my fair share of weird and wonderful injuries. But one of the most common injuries that requires proper rehabilitation is a dislocated joint. So let’s look at all the things you need to know if you’ve dislocated a joint.
What is a dislocation?
A dislocation is the full displacement of a bone at the joint. So the bone is moved to somewhere outside of the joint it belongs to.
Dislocating a joint is incredibly painful for most people. But along with short-term severe pain, it can also predispose someone to chronic pain if not rehabilitated correctly.
Why do dislocations happen?
Generally, dislocations occur due to high-impact trauma to the joint – think car accidents, falls, fights or high-impact sports like football and rugby.
However, if you have a joint that is weakened or unstable, it could be caused by something with minimal force. This is commonly seen in people with hypermobile joints or a hypermobility condition.
Joint shape differences such as hip dysplasia or variations in the shape of shoulder bones can also increase risk of dislocation.
Joints that are at risk of dislocating
Pretty much any joint in the body can be dislocated if there’s enough force. But some have a greater risk of dislocation because of their location and/or their structure. They include:
Dislocation red flags to watch for
If you’ve experienced a dislocation, there are a few things to keep an eye on. These can often warrant medical attention.
The rehab process for dislocations
This can depend on the type of dislocation. The greater the damage to muscles, tendons or ligaments, the longer the process of rehabilitation.
For some people, recovery will take a few weeks, and they will regain their full strength. For others, they are starting with almost no function or stability. So for those people, it’s like learning how to use the joint from scratch.
A history of previous dislocation to the same joint can also mean a longer rehab, as you’ll be attempting to heal twice the damage (or more!) to regain full function.
What can a myotherapist do for dislocations?
So you’ve dislocated a joint, and you want to know what your friendly local myotherapist can do for you. Here’s what I can do to help you recover!
What I CANNOT do is help you relocate a joint that is still dislocated. Relocating dislocations is a medical procedure that is out of my scope as a practitioner.
If you come to the clinic with a dislocated joint, I’ll send you straight over to the Angliss for medical attention! So do yourself a favour and skip the myotherapy session until your joint has been relocated by a medical professional.
Are you recovering from a dislocation injury? Head on over to my booking page, so we can start strengthening your injured joint and get you back to living life!
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.
Everyone knows someone who is a bit of a klutz. But often, there is a reason behind someone being naturally clumsy. It all comes down to what we call proprioception.
What is proprioception?
To put it simply, proprioception is a fancy way of describing where your brain perceives your body to be in space. If you have good proprioception, your brain knows that your arms and legs are where they are.
But if you have issues with proprioception, your brain might think that you’re a little more to the left or right of where you actually are. This is where it’s common for people to do things like walk into doorframes, stub their toe or miss a step.
Some people can be born with a reduced sense of proprioception, particularly if they have neurological conditions such as autism. Others may have proprioceptive issues because of hypermobile joints. Sometimes, proprioception of a particular body part can be reduced through injury, such as a dislocation.
What are signs of proprioception issues?
There are some common signs of proprioception issues, including:
It can also come with other signs, depending on the cause. Proprioceptive issues will come with sensory signs in people with autism. Hypermobile people will often experience more injuries such as rolled ankles because they have more flexible joints than most people.
Have you ever noticed that if you have an injury, you will be more likely to bump that injured limb or area? Thats because that area is where the misinformation is coming from - for example, I cut my finger a few weeks back, and managed to bump it on something on at least 3 different occasions that day! My general awareness of that finger was raised, but my ability to hone in on the location-specific proprioception was decreased due to injury.
How can I fix my proprioception?
The good news is, you can work on your proprioception and reduce the clumsiness. Proprioception is influenced by information from your nervous system and your balance. Here are some ways to retrain your brain and increase body awareness.
Move your body
A lot of people will avoid exercise because they think they are clumsy. But the more that you move your body, the more chances your brain gets to correct itself. So don’t avoid exercise – just stick to gentler options while you retrain your brain.
Retrain your balance
There are specific exercises that can challenge proprioception and retrain the brain. Stability and balance exercises are the most effective. These start with very simple and supported movements, then increase in difficulty as your proprioception adapts. For example, you might stand on one leg with your eyes open. Once you can do that easily, movements of your raised leg can be included which will challenge your balance. If that becomes easy, you can try it with your eyes closed, or add a wobble cushion or balance board.
Exercises will need to be tailored to your specific proprioceptive needs. As you can see from the example above, there are many stages of these exercises that progress to harder and more challenging movements as your proprioception enhances.
Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together
Have you heard this phrase before? The brain loves short cuts, so movements, actions, thoughts and sensations that are often felt together can become neurally linked. We can use this to our advantage by using exercises and movements in a way that can "rewire" the proprioception of a joint so it relearns its movement or activation patterns.
Using tape can help to retrain your proprioception in conjunction with stability exercises. It helps to indicate where the body part is because the tape is slightly stretched on your skin for a number of days - your brain gets a consistent signal from the sensation receptors on the skin saying "Hey! Here I am!".
Taping can also help with holding the joint or body part where it should be, preventing issues such as hunching or rolling of the shoulders. It’s best to get taping done by a qualified practitioner who can tape you correctly. This is why I offer taping sessions for my clients who need re-taping between appointments.
Do you want to work on retraining your brain and increasing your proprioception? I can put together a personalised management plan to help. Book in an appointment today to get started.
The human body is a confusing thing! Some things that don’t seem that concerning to you might be a warning sign for your practitioner. It can be difficult to tell what just needs a heat pack or a cup of tea, what needs a practitioner and what needs an emergency room visit!
What is meant by the term "red flag"? Its a sign or symptom that can indicate the possibility of a serious medical condition that may be dangerous if left unchecked.
So today I will discuss some of the most common red flag signs and symptoms I see as a myotherapist. If you are experiencing these types of symptoms, its always safest to check in with your GP first.
This might seem a little obvious. But sudden, severe pain is always a red flag, even if you think you know the cause. If it causes nausea, vomiting or loss of consciousness, you need to seek medical attention, stat.
Night Time Pain That Wakes You Up
Pain that wakes you up, stops you from falling asleep, or doesn't ease with rest is an indicator that something is not right. It can be associated with infection, inflammation, abdominal aortic aneurysm and cancer.
Sudden Changes In Bladder/Bowel Control
In myotherapy terms, this is a very serious red flag. Although there can be more benign reasons for a change in bladder or bowel control, it could be a sign of serious nerve or spinal damage. Seek out your GP asap.
Dizziness & Fainting Spells
There can be may reasons why you experience dizziness and fainting. Some can be as simple as low blood pressure. But some can be a warning sign of something nastier. If you lose consciousness completely, then you need to seek immediate medical attention. For dizzy spells, book in to see your GP for a general checkup.
Burning Soles Of Feet
It seems like the least significant of the listed red flags. But this one can be just as serious. Burning soles can be a sign of nerve dysfunction in the legs, spine or feet. But it can also be a warning sign for deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot that occurs in a vein. If DVT is not treated, it can be fatal. So don’t hesitate to get a medical check-up straight away.
Lower-Mid Back Pain Plus Altered Urination
This might seem like an unusual combination of symptoms. But it can involve serious kidney involvement – from a kidney infection to kidney disease and even kidney failure. If your lower-mid back pain is still lingering after a treatment, its worth considering that it may be kidney related. If in doubt, get some tests done to check your kidney function, its always better to check it out than leave it to progress!
Chest Pain & Shortness Of Breath
It’s not just the dramatic heart-clutching Hollywood-style chest pain that is a red flag. Any unexpected chest pain is a concern, whether it feels obviously muscular or deeper into the chest. Difficulty breathing can also be a major concern – after all, we need enough oxygen to function! For mild cases, you can seek your GP’s attention immediately. But if in doubt, call 000 – better to be safe than sorry.
We all get headaches from time to time. But severe headaches can be a sign of issues including hormone imbalances, nerve dysfunction or even brain tumours. The more severe the headache, the sooner you should seek medical attention. Even if you are used to having migraines, it is still a red flag to get suddenly what feels like the worst headache you will ever experience. Feeling confused, running a fever, vomiting and numbness associated with a headache means you need to seek help immediately.
Sudden Changes In Vision
Seeing is a pretty important part of surviving in today’s world. But if there are sudden changes to your vision such as blurriness, double vision or loss of vision (even temporarily), it can mean that something is impairing the function of your eyes or your brain. Look out for co-existing symptoms along with vision changes - like headache, dizziness, or nausea.
If you are experiencing any changes in vision, please do not drive anywhere, even to seek medical help. Order an Uber or a cab, ask a friend for a lift, or if all else fails, call an ambulance or book a home visit with a GP.
Muscle weakness when you have worked out or numbness when you’ve been sitting on your foot is one thing. But if you experience unexpected weakness, numbness or inability to move any body part, it’s a massive red flag. This shows that your nerves are not functioning properly or your nervous system isn’t getting the message.
If any area of your body feels numb, this is a sign of nerve involvement. Numb can mean different things to different people, but usually people describe it to me as being like pins and needles, a bit tingly, feeling "different" or a true numbness of complete loss of feeling. The most common areas to have this numbness is in the arms and legs, and usually it starts at the fingers and toes. This is a kind of red flag that your myotherapist may be able to help you out with, although you may still need to see your GP or your Chiropractor if any scans are required or if structural treatment is needed.
If you experience any of these symptoms, your first stop should be your GP. If you come in to see me and we can't clear these red flag symptoms, I might not be able to treat you. But once you’ve got the all-clear, I’m happy to help with any musculoskeletal symptoms. To book in a session, head here.
There are many different issues that can cause pain around the jaw and face. In fact, between 5-12% of people experience some kind of dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). But the good news is, TMJ pain doesn’t have to stick around.
What causes jaw pain?
There are many factors that can contribute to pain in the jaw and around the TMJ joint. This can include:
Your jaw pain could be caused by one or more factors, depending on your situation.
Symptoms of jaw pain
If you have dysfunction in the TMJ, pain is an obvious symptom. But there are other symptoms caused by jaw issues to keep an eye out for, including:
You could also experience symptoms that come with generalised pain, such as nausea, lack of appetite, irritability and fatigue.
Assessing jaw pain
If you’re experiencing jaw pain, your best bet is to see your friendly local myotherapist (that’s me!). There are a number of things I will do to assess the pain. We’ll look at:
There will also be some palpation, or feeling, of the jaw. This will tell me whether one side is tighter compared to the other, which may be maintaining your jaws dysfunctional patterns.
What can be done to ease jaw pain
To get to the bottom of the TMJ issues, you’ll need to see a practitioner for assessment and treatment. But if you need some immediate release for your jaw pain, you can try this self-release technique.
Start with your fingertips pointing upwards on the base of the jaw. Press your fingertips down firmly (but not painfully!). You might feel a hard sensation - that is the tightened muscle. In one long, slow movement, roll your fingertips up the jawline, over the cheek and cheekbones, along the temples and up to the hairline. Do this slowly and deeply, taking 1-2 minutes from jaw to hairline. Open and close your jaw wide like you’re yawning. Then repeat the process 1-2 times.
In myotherapy, treatment of jaw pain may include mobilisation, myofascial release, trigger point work and intra-oral release. Intra-oral release is an internal treatment – I’ll get gloved up, and then use my finger or thumb to release the tight muscles of the jaw from inside the mouth. This can be painful – I’ve had it done to me as well! - but it is effective for the majority of clients with TMJ pain.
In my own TMJ treatment experience, I was having extreme tightness and pressure build up in the joints of my jaw. When I opened my mouth my jaw swung noticeably towards the left. When it got bad, it was a struggle to eat things like nut bars or anything that requires a lot of chewing. It took time, but between seeing my own Myotherapist and doing the self care exercises he gave me, I've mostly corrected the dysfunction and its very rarely painful anymore.
If you’re ready to release your TMJ tension, book yourself in for a session today.
Us Aussies love our sports! Keeping active is an essential part of living a healthy, happy life. But whether you love your extreme sports or just enjoy a spot of golf on the weekend, you have a risk of getting injured.
What injuries can occur during sports?
Pretty much every injury you can imagine can happen, depending on the sport you’re involved in. Every single bone, joint, muscle, ligament and tendon that can be injured WILL be injured by someone at some point!
Some of the more common injuries you might come across include:
Just because your sport is “low impact” doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. Any time we move our bodies, there is a small chance of injury. It’s part of life! But the good news is, injuring yourself doesn’t mean you have to suffer through unnecessary pain.
Myotherapy can help with injury recovery
Because myotherapy is all about ‘muscle therapy’, it is fantastic for helping you recover from an acute injury. Here are some of the ways that it might be able to help with your sports injury:
It can help to drain excess fluid and swelling – when we massage and mobilise an area, it increases the lymphatic drainage from the area. That lymphatic drainage is what can help to pull excess fluid away from an injury, which aids with recovery.
It can loosen the muscles around an injured joint – when we are injured, our muscles can tighten up to protect us from further pain. Unfortunately, that’s not so helpful when it comes to recovery. It can keep a weakened joint out of place, and it can strain other muscles that have to compensate.
Working the muscles with myotherapy techniques will loosen them, allowing the joint and other muscles to return to a neutral position.
Taping can help with swelling, pain and proprioception – it’s great to get some bodywork done. But taping can keep working on the injury days after you’ve left the table. Different taping techniques can be applied to reduce swelling and stabilise the injured area.
The most important thing about sports injuries
If you have injured something, remember this: the quicker you get it seen to, the quicker it will heal. If left untreated, you may end up with a chronic injury. And believe me, chronic pain is not something you want to get familiar with.
Once you’re recovered, you can head on back to your beloved sport! But that’s not where it ends – as we’ll discuss next week, myotherapy can be a great supportive treatment for prevention of injury as well.
Been injured while at your favourite sport? It’s best to get it looked after asap. Book in an appointment today, and we’ll get you back into the swing of things quickly.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.