Keeping that New Year commitment to looking after yourself
The most beneficial thing you can do for yourself is engage in a daily movement routine. I say movement, because sometimes ‘exercise routine’ can conjure up thoughts of needing to ‘smash’ oneself by engaging in some sort of gruelling, physical activity where no pain, no gain is the mantra. This does have a place, but most people don’t need to do that to become mobile, happy and healthy.
Typically, if you are on ‘the comeback,’ or even starting from a pretty good base and looking to maintain, I always advised a regular mechanical check over to make sure all the moving parts are moving to their optimal. We look out for restricted areas that need to be released to allow you to return to activity and assess the functional capacity of the tissue to screen for injury risk and ultimately to prevent from injury in the first place.
If you have not regularly exercised in a while and you are starting back, remember slow and steady – build up! You have as much time as you need. There is no point going hard in January only to have to rest up in February and March….then struggle to get the motivation to start up again in April, which gets put off until May!
Along with appropriately warming up, cooling down, stretching and rolling, you can reduce your risk of injury, improve your recovery and performance by regularly attending a yoga class that is right for you and getting some regular massage treatment, especially in the early days…just like the professionals do.
Exercise that focuses on awareness and control of your movement, such as Clinical Pilates, is a necessary part of your regime along with adequate recovery and preparation. Clinical Pilates is one of the best movement regimes to help you understand and become aware of how you move, to re-learn movement that may be ‘out of sync’ and need improving and to strengthen your muscles and joints at angles just not achievable with ‘regular’ training.
It is important to move beyond ‘re-training’ and to work with someone like an Exercise Physiologist, to take what you have learnt about your movement through pilates and apply it to movement tasks of everyday living. It is important to start to replicate usual movement and challenge with load so that you become stronger to perform your ‘tasks of daily living’ – It’s like training for a sport. You break the game or activity into ‘drills’ and practice until your capacity to perform them improves and feels natural…….most people, with recurring or chronic pain, simply need to do something like this, but really, to do this properly, you need help and coaching from a group of experts. Preferably experts who work closely with each other and know who is the best person to be working with at any given time.
Finally through out, it is important to maintain nutrition. A great place to start is with hydration and electrolytes, where Water and Magnesium are the main ‘go to’s’. These will help to keep your energy up, reduce training soreness and maintain your muscle health and suppleness. A great deal of injury prevention and recovery can be achieved with diet and strategic supplementation.
Dr Giulian Di Venuto is principal Osteopath and Director of MOVE Osteopathy and is available for Osteopathic consultations at both Brisbane City and New Farm Clinic. Move Osteopathy also offers, Remedial Massage, Myotherapy and consultations with our Exercise Physiologists, personalised exercise programs in our own rehabilitations gyms and clinical pilates.
Health benefits of water
Water makes up about 60 precent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. Lack of water can lead to dehydration, even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.
How much water do you need?
The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 litres) of total beverages a day, for women it is about 9 cups (2.2 litres) of total beverages a day.
Factors that influence water needs
You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on
- Exercise or how active you are,
- Climate you live in, (hot, cold, altitude, humid, dry etc)
- Health status (fevers, vomiting, diarrhoea, heart, kidney or liver problems)
- Pregnant or breast-feeding.
Other sources of water
What you eat can provide a significant portion of your fluid needs (about 20 percent of total water intake for average person). Eg fruits and vegetables. Other drinks such as milk and juice are composed mostly of water, but beware of caffeinated and sugar loaded beverages
Osteopath Dr Sam Nevis
“It is easy to adapt to the dry heat in country Victoria (where I grew up); wear sunscreen, stay in the shade, exercise early or later on that day. I have been living in Brisbane for a little over a month now and I am learning ways to cope with Queensland’s humidity. Otherwise I have found myself hot, lethargic and ‘headachy’.
I enjoy being active before and after work and believe it is important to have a work – lifestyle balance that you enjoy. For me this consists of going to the gym, swimming and football training. For me to be consistent with this routine in a new climate, I have had to be proactive in keeping a high energy level and to avoid dehydration.
Early signs of dehydration include increased thirst, nausea, dry mouth, headache as well as darker yellow urine. This can then lead to light headedness, cramps and disorientation for moderate to severe signs that the body is dehydrated.
I have found that drinking water consistently during the day from first thing in the mornings, at lunchtime and evenings, before I feel the need to helps prevent the early signs of dehydration. Having a drink bottle sitting next to me on the desk reminds me to drink throughout the day.
I have learnt the more active I want to be the more water I need to drink.”
7 tips to keep you drinking enough water
- Set a specific goal for the day.
- Invest in a water bottle that you’ll actually use — and keep it close.
- use an app to track progress
- infuse your water with fruit or herbs
- put drinking water into daily routines that you already have. or set specific hours of the day when your bottle should be emptied and refilled
- using straws can make you drink more apparently!
- hydrate with water based foods – soups, juices smoothies but beware caffeinated and sugary drinks
Want to read more?
What happens when you increase your water intake?
Check out this article and photos of a woman who staretd drinking 3 litres of water a day and see the dramatic changes! read
Need to re-hydrate after exercise?
Did you miss our article we posted on the best fluid to rehydrate after exercise? You’ll be surprised! read
Meditation is really becoming far more mainstream and the practice may seem more accessible as high profile businessmen, politicians, medical practitioners, highly successful public figures and athletes discuss in the media their daily practice of meditation…….. and why wouldn’t they be including meditation in their daily routines??? Studies showing the benefits of meditation just keep on mounting up and are hard to ignore. The support of meditation from the scientific world that shows that meditation practice can lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, literally rewire key parts of your brain associated with stress and well-being is making more and more people interested in making meditation part of their daily life.
If you’re one of those people who “just can’t meditate,” you may want to give it another go. A video from ASAP Science, a YouTube channel lists some pretty solid benefits of the practice.
“During meditation, brain scans see increased activity in regions directly correlated with decreased anxiety and depression, along with increased pain tolerance,” the clip explains. “The Default Mode Network, in particular, is activated when one’s mind is at rest and not focusing on the outside world, and has been found to improve memory, self-awareness and goal-setting.”
Those who practice meditation also have higher levels of alpha waves, “which have been shown to reduce feelings of negative mood, tension, sadness and anger,” according to the video.
In fact, a 2011 brain imaging study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that even very brief instruction in mindfulness meditation (four x 20-minute sessions) was effective in relieving pain by reducing the brain’s emotional response to painful stimuli
Another benefit? Meditation can also improve sleep. At the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, researchers, citing their work, argued that meditation can help with insomnia. “Results of the study show that teaching deep relaxation techniques during the daytime can help improve sleep at night,” said Ramadevi Gourineni, M.D., director of the insomnia program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Our own Osteopath Dr Nick Ritter practices daily meditation and is seeing the benefits in patients who have incorporated it into their daily lives
“Something that I have been really into for a while is meditation, as a self practice. Since being over here in Australia, I’ve started to incorporate meditation into my patients management plans as stress and anxiety comes up a lot as a significant factor during initial case history. I’ve noticed that a few patients with chronic disorders, especially chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are gaining a lot of benefit from including daily meditation. As there is a significant somato-emotional component with these particular disorders, I’m finding that their practice of mindfulness along with the breathing focus is helping to reduce their pain perception and also lifting their overall mood when they come in for treatment. A few patients have mentioned that through meditation, they now have s sense of hope with managing with their particular disorder.”
How to get some meditation into your busy daily life?!
Setting aside a specific time everyday, taking a class or joining a course…. Or if you haven’t done meditation before and none of that appeals maybe you can catch some meditation during a flight or commute on a busy day by adding an app to your phone– check some of these apps out!
Dr Giulian Di Venuto – Osteopath
My number one tip is to maintain your body through exercise, stretches and an osteopathic tune-up or maintenance treatment.
Changes in posture are of concern to Osteopaths because postural deviation can produce excessive stress on the musculoskeletal system.
I often describe optimal posture as the position, arrangement or alignment of the skeleton that requires the least amount of muscular energy to hold it upright and to account for the constant downward pull of gravity.
Deviations of the skeleton, of only millimeters, changes all the angles. It’s like the leaning tower of Pisa…everyone knows as soon a they see it that it does not look right and that at any moment gravity will win!
I have always said, Osteopathy is like Engineering for the human body. We assess the body like an engineer would address a damaged building and figure out why the injured area is failing and causing pain. We address the foundations and fix the cracks. This is often why we will recommend that people get regular maintenance care and treatment and advice specific to them, their body and their lifestyle.
Dr Ashleigh Maggary – Osteopath
My number 1 posture tip is the – Rolled towel thoracic spine stretch
This stretch is great for correcting forward head carriage and rounded shoulder posture, and encourages relaxation after slumping at the computer desk for prolonged periods of time.
Roll up a medium sized towel, and lie over the towel as it’s placed from the base of your neck to the mid back. Keep a flat pillow under your head (to avoid over extending your neck) and your knees bent (if necessary, to avoid low back strain). This stretch encourages stretch to the muscles which shorten during prolonged desk posture (pectoral and anterior neck muscles) and provides slack to those normally strained (trapezius and rhomboid muscles).
Spend 15 minutes in this position, focusing on deep breathing and allowing the body to relax into position. To increase stretch lie with arms outstretched. You should notice the stretch will ease and become more comfortable. Discontinue if any pain occurs.
Dr Grant Sinclair – Osteopath
I see tight or stiff upper back and neck and shoulder area as a large contributor to poor posture.
I find this stretch to be my ‘go to’ stretch for anyone with upper back or tightness across the neck or shoulders.
Most people can do it at the desk driving car (at stop lights of course) or in between activities.
The Eagle Arms stretch
How to do it
1) Cross your left elbow under your right and twist your forearms so your palms come together in the centre of your body
2) Bring your forearms away from your face
3) Try to lift your elbow to your shoulder height
4) Hold for 30-60 seconds right and left
Dr Hilton Blauensteiner – Osteopath
A lot of people because of sedentary work posture can experience lower back pain.
Here is an exercise to decompress lower back that I use myself, it’s great for easing the muscle tension caused by sedentary work and can be done easily in bed at night before going to sleep.
Instructions: Lie comfortably on back with legs straight and try to stretch by pointing one leg away from the head (towards the foot). Start by doing the stretch lightly a few times alternating between left and right legs. Next try holding the stretch quite firmly for a few seconds. [A variation to this position is to have the hips and knees bent with the feet flat on the bed/floor and then pushing the pelvis towards the foot on the same side.] If done correctly, this will have the effect of stretching the region right at the base of the lumbar spine, which is where the stretch should be felt. It is also where most low back pain originates. Compare left and right sides and try to stretch until both sides feel like they can stretch the same amount. As with all stretches, starting slowly and gently is a good idea to minimise causing further strain or aggravation.
Dr Jed Pullen – Osteopath
My postural tip:
The mouse often causes many problems affecting your wrist to your neck. Make sure your mouse is as close to the front of the desk, sitting directly next to your keyboard, with your shoulder relaxed and elbow by your side. This minimises stresses place on muscles and joints of the arm, shoulder and neck. The mouse often starts to move forward over the day, along with your posture, so take note to readadjust every half an hour.
Dr Bridget Vinning – Osteopath
I have listed a few different stretches/exercises because I find them really beneficial and addressing the posture problems I see most commonly.
- Foam roller chest stretch. Lying with a foam roller or rolled up towel vertically down the spine, place arms out by side on the ground. You should feel a stretch in the front of your chest, your pectoral (chest) muscles. Hold this position for 3-5 mins daily.
- Cat/camel stretch. On all 4’s with hands underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips, arch your back into the air, tucking your chin and tail bone under. Then lower your back towards the ground, looking up towards the wall in-front of you and with your bottom in the air. Hold each position for 3-5 seconds, repeat 10 times each day.
- Chin tucks/ posterior cervical muscle stretch. This can be done, lying down, sitting or standing. Nod your head forward whilst tucking your chin in towards the back of your neck. You should feel a stretch at the base of your skull and down the back of your neck. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times during the day.
Dr Vincent Cahill – Osteopath
There is two hints or things I get people to focus on
1. Shoulders don’t look good as earrings. I think when people are stressed or anxious or even really absorbed in things they tend to walk around or sit with elevated shoulders loading the traps and neck.
2. Concentrate on lifting your sternum at the computer. By lifting your sternum your shoulders will drop and your head will come back form the screen as well.
Dr Kellie Rawlings – Osteopath
My tips are regular exercise, stretching and tune-ups and being aware of the little things that can make a really big difference such as
– limiting screen time (phones/ipads etc) especially on weekends.
– being aware of your posture when lifting and bending and doing everyday tasks like lifting kids, groceries washing etc
– good footwear if you intend to be standing or walking for a while – high heels can look great but they are a nightmare for your posture.
– Don’t think it won’t catch up with you and you can get away with no exercise or wearing high heels every day, bending and lifting badly or simply not looking after yourself…… you will definitely pay the price!!
Dr Kieran Schulz – Osteopath
Would have something very inspired to say if he was not doing his posture the world of good by taking a well eared holiday, resting and relaxing……. Which we all should do more often!
“Lack of time” is the most common excuse in exercise avoidance(1). I’m not sure how that works since we all have 24 hours in a day; an average of 8 hours and 31 minutes are spent in bed and an average of 8 are spent at work, potentially leaving 7.5 hours for food, exercise, chores and “life”. But instead of pointing out these numbers and telling you to bite the bullet and make exercise a priority in your daily schedule, I thought I’d help you out and give you three time-savvy exercise ideas to help you get active this summer without sacrificing your 7.5 hours of “life” time…
Your day IS an exercise session.
Little spurts of activity built into your pre-existing schedule create a surprising daily workout without sacrificing precious time. Get more creative than just taking the stairs; how many squats would you do in a day if you did two every time you picked your kids’ stuff off the floor? Calf raises while you brush your teeth, pushups while you wait for your toast to pop, a few lunges while you wait for the coffee machine to spew out your skinny latte, a set of crunches while you’re on the phone to your mother, 10 minutes of yoga while the baby is sleeping. Try jogging to the train station in the morning instead of taking the bus, or holding a plank for the length of an infomercial while watching TV. This type of exercise won’t break a sweat, won’t feel like a massive endeavor, and won’t waste time, but if you accumulate your efforts throughout the day, you’ll have an ongoing bootcamp-worthy workout keeping you in shape.
You DON’T have to commit 2 hours to a workout, in fact you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas. There is a massive body of research suggesting that ‘high intensity low volume’ sessions are super effective at improving fitness(2). I call them “power sets”. The idea is to work really REALLY HARD for a short period of time instead of moderately for two hours. Follow these 3 simple rules to build your own personalized “power set”
- Keep it short! 10-20 minutes is all you need… and all you CAN do if you’re working at the right intensity.
- Work harder! You’ll only be pushing it for a few minutes so don’t be afraid to go hard. Rest is only allowed at the end of the set, thus keeping your heart rate high and your muscles pumping.
- Choose functional, multi-muscle exercises and rotate through the muscle groups (legs, then arms, then abs, then back). This maximizes your efforts and keeps you from fatiguing early.
My Tuesday morning power set looks like this –
15 jumping squats, 20 tricep dips, 30 sit-ups with torso rotations, 25 push-ups with hip extension, 40 bicycle kicks. Rest for 90 seconds and repeat 4 times. Follow it with a protein filled breakfast and you’re ready for your shower 30 minutes after your alarm went off.
Socialize with Exercise
Coffee with a mate, friendly catch ups, first dates, second dates, sixty-seventh dates; these are all perfect excuses to socialize and exercise simultaneously. A twenty minute walk and a fresh squeezed juice is a much healthier option than a full fat latte and double choc mud cake when your sister is in town. Or how about swapping your Friday afternoon drinks for a game of doubles tennis? Try taking your joggers along to your kids’ soccer practice and catching up on the weeks’ gossip while you and your friends get active. Instead of a fancy dinner for your 7th anniversary go ice-skating! Look through this month’s schedule and ask yourself which meetings you could turn into sneaky exercise sessions.
It’s easy to incorporate a couple of these tips into your everyday life, and once you add your weekly yoga session and Monday night touch football comp (insert your preferred activities!), you end up feeling great and looking fit with enough spare time to enjoy all the benefits!
- Berger, B. G., Pargman, D., & Weinberg, R. S. (2002). Foundations of Exercise, Psychology. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.
- Jenkins, D. G., Laursen, P. B. (2002). The Scientific Basis for High Intensity Interval Training, Sports Med; 32 (1): 53-73.