How to Use a Foam Roller | Amazing Foam Roller Benefits

Healthfix Instagram Posts 37

Foam Rollers

What is a Foam Roller?  Foam rollers essential look like large noodles but they can quickly become your best friend. There are many types nowadays of all shapes and sizes. They get used to loosen up before a match or training session as well as serving as a great homework tool to do some physio or trainer prescribed home exercises around mobility and flexibility. When making your selection about which one to use I always recommend that you get one that is practical to fit in your home/ room / home gym (they can be quite large and bigger isn’t always better) and get one that feels comfortable and inviting to use – it shouldn’t be used as a tool of torture. You’ll see these commonly now in Pilates and physio studios as well as commercial gyms and sporting environment including institutes of sport.  ________________________________________________________________ What are Foam Rollers used for?  They work on releasing soft tissue, relieving muscle tightness and soreness and they can also be valuable in helping to break down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue after injury. They can stimulate blood flow and are really valuable in promoting neural down regulation (this is often why they can be sore to first get on but then this soreness eases with a lasting effect of relief of the symptoms that made you get on the roller).  Effectively, any intervention that we put the body through be it a strong sports massage, Chiro or Osteo manipulation, hot / cold pack, dry needling, etc needs to be analysed and accepted by the body. Jumping on foam roller puts a lot of pressure to the area where the brain may be holding some tense muscles or trying to protect it with a pain response. So as you consciously lie on the foam roller, the brain can start to accept that you don’t want those muscles so tense or so much protection of the area and it relaxes; and then you can feel relaxed. ________________________________________________________________ Things to be aware of:  – Make sure you understand and are confident with how you intend to use the foam roller. Our Physiotherapists, Exercise Physiologists and Personal Trainers can help a lot here.  – Don’t push through pain for too long. The whole point is to feel relief so if you’re still experiencing strong pain  after say 1 minute, take it easy on yourself and ease up. – Be aware of any “no pain no gain” or “go hard” on the foam roller commentary. Use your common sense and you’ll be fine. At the end of the day it’s a foam roller so it should never pose as a threat or tool of torture unless you’re trying to use it incorrectly or your body need a lighter intervention to start with.  __________________________________________________________________   A couple of common and popular Foam Roller exercises: The ITB (great for runners, field sports players and gym goers) Iliotibial band (ITB) is a band of fascia on the outside of your upper leg, when it is tight it can cause knee and hip pain.   – Lie side on with the affected side on the foam roller, rest your upper body through your forearm. With your unaffected leg, place over affected side and place the full surface of your foot on the ground. Start with the foam roller just above your knee and roll back and forth slowly for 30 seconds to just below your hip bone. For further pressure, place unaffected leg on top of affected side.    Foam Roller 1 _________________________________________________________________    The Quadricep (similar to above demographic plus people who kick in their sport like martial arts, kick boxing, football and AFL): Tight quadriceps can pull on your patella and cause some compressive pain at the front of your knee (most commonly).  – lie on your stomach with the roller placed under your thighs. Hold your body straight and rest your upper body through your forearms. Roll yourself back and forth slowly from just above your knee to just below your hip bone. For further pressure bend your knees.    Foam Roller 2 If you like these exercises and want some more or you want to get some advice on which foam roller would be best for you please do not hesitate to get in contact with us, we offer them in our clinics and the team are always happy to help!
New Year health goals | tennis

Kick-starting 2021 | Firing up your New Year health goals 

We’re all glad to bid 2020 a not-so-fond farewell. And while we can’t guarantee a *whole* new start for 2021, it is within our power to set achievable New Year health goals that will see us through the year – and beyond. Many people make the mistake of unrealistic expectations when it comes to their New Year resolutions. Buoyed by the idea of a brand spanking new year, and excited for what’s to come, vague immeasurable promises such as “lose weight”, “get fit” or, worse, “quit <bad habit/food type>” almost guarantees disappointment. This year, set yourself up for success by using the S.M.A.R.T. system. What’s that, exactly? Well, we’re glad you asked. Here’s how you can set achievable goals, and nail them. 

 

S is for Specific

In order for a goal to be effective, it needs to be specific. As with most things, the devil is in the detail: ask yourself what needs to be accomplished? What steps will need to be taken to achieve it? Who will I need to connect with to help? This is the first step to accomplishing your New Year health goals.  For the team at Healthfix, specifics are the building blocks of any health change. Where you and where you’re going can only ever be measured with the nitty-gritty, whether that’s mobility specific, or weight based, or getting you ready for your next ultramarathon. Thinking through these prompts will help set a highly-specific goal that not only lays out what you’re aiming for, but also gives any necessary context. Which leads us to…

 

M is for Measurable

“Specific” is a solid start, but it’s missing something – “specifically” (see what we did there?) it’s detail-orientated mate: numbers. Specific can’t be achieved without numbers. And you can’t count numbers without being specific. Numbers can sometimes be scary, but they can also be powerful. We believe it’s crucial to quantify any goal – it makes it that much easier to track progress and know when you’ve reached the finish line. Plus, beating the number makes things fun. 

 

A is for Achievable

Goals should be empowering — not high pedestals from which you eventually tumble. That’s why this letter of the acronym is dedicated to ensuring that your New Year health goal is achievable. Put simply, this is the point in the process when you (and we) take a reality check. Is the goal you’ve outlined so far actually reasonable? Is it something we could realistically accomplish? Honesty is the backbone of our health club, and we will consider and face any conditions or limitations that might impede your goal, together.

 

R is for Relevant

Nobody wants to set goals for the sake of setting them. There should be a real benefit attached to actually reaching that target, although in the case of health, there’s always a benefit. That said, this “R” should be relevant to you and your own health journey. Think about why the goal is actually important to you? What is its key benefit? Once we identify how it fits into your core beliefs, we can incorporate into your actual goal so that you and the team have a grasp on the larger picture.

 

T is for Timely

Goals can’t stretch into infinity – they need a deadline. That’s the important final piece of S.M.A.R.T. goals. It also underscores the other four goal pointers, and is an important piece of measuring success. We like to make sure we’re all on the same page about when a goal can and can’t be reached. Are you expecting to see results immediately? In a month? In five years? We feel strongly about finite therapy – your health journey shouldn’t be endless monthly physio appointments with no light at the end of the tunnel. Health goals, like any goals, should have realistic timelines included in them, so that everyone – you, your therapists, your trainer – stays on track. 
Shoulder pain

Focus on: shoulder pain | Top 5 tips for managing shoulder pain 

Shoulder pain is a common physical occurrence. Your shoulder is a complex, highly mobile structure made up of several components. When considering the shoulder you need to think about the collarbone connecting to your chest, the collarbone connecting to the shoulderblade or scapula, and finally the arm bone joining to the scapula. Strong tendons, ligaments and muscles support your shoulder and make it stable. In younger people, pain is more likely to be due to an accident or injury. However as you age natural changes occur to your shoulder joint and the rotator cuff tendon, similar to seeing wrinkles and grey hairs in the mirror. We also see pain more strongly associated with how one is using – or perhaps not using – their shoulder. Here are five easy tips to help manage shoulder pain and keep your joint strong.  

#1 Shoulder pain diagnosis

There are many causes of shoulder pain and not all of them are due to problems of the shoulder joints or associated structures. Accurate diagnosis is important. “Common pathology is frozen shoulder, impingent, tendinopathy and referral from the scapular or neck,” physiotherapist and Healthfix founder Sean Cooney. “To treat your pain effectively, it’s crucial to know what to treat.”

 

#2 Using full range

When experiencing shoulder pain, the protective muscles around the joint try to keep your arm by your side in an effort to restrict movement. Activating the muscles that move the shoulder through its full range (these are called the antagonist muscles) can significantly reduce your recovery time.

 

#3 Comfortable and progressive loading

Everyone’s progress is different. Make sure you don’t push yourself or your shoulder beyond what feels comfortable. That said, strength is built with progressive loading – that is, a little more weight and/or repetitions as is safe for your particular issue. “Monitor your pain one to two hours after exercise or the next morning to know if you’re loading correctly,” advises Sean. 

 

#4 Don’t go too far

Pain management is the first step to regaining strength in any part of the body. Sean recommends to first get comfortable with using your arms below shoulder height, gradually moving up to shoulder height before – no points for guessing – graduating to using your arms above your head. “This is a safe way to ensure you’re not going too far when regaining your full range of motion,” says Sean.

 

#5 Stretch. And stretch again.

“Stretching can serve as a great tester and reliever of pain, not to mention the best way to improve flexibility in the shoulder. A daily doorway stretch can help mitigate shoulder pain or find out if you’re lacking some essential range of motion. To do this, find yourself a clear doorway, stretch the arm overhead to grasp the door frame, then lean forward to create resistance. If you’re suffering from shoulder pain, our team of physiotherapists and exercise physiologists can help. Book an appointment online today.
Healthy Christmas

‘Tis the season | 12 ways to keep on top of your health goals

1. Eat a good breakfast

The easiest way to a healthy Christmas is to eat a good breakfast. Skip breakfast, and you may fill up on sugary snacks midmorning, or overindulge at that office lunch. So make sure you make your first meal of the day your most nutritionally balanced. Opt for sugar-free muesli, Greek yoghurt, smoothies or eggs to get your day off to the best start.  

2. Get out of the house

Make the holidays a family affair and plan outdoor activities where everyone is involved, like a long walk after a particularly heavy meal for example. Exercise doesn’t need to be at a gym – use summer to change up your regular exercise, like a beach run instead of hitting the treadmill.  

3. Prioritise your workouts in the morning

While everyone’s having a lie-in, get your workout over and done with – getting your heart rate up and working your muscles will help metabolise all that excess festive “spirit” later in the day. And can indulge when everyone else remarks, “Oh, come on! It’s Christmas…  

4. Celebrate the seasonal flavours

Unlike our northern hemisphere friends, an Australian Christmas falls in the midst of our summer, when a smorgasbord of fresh seasonal produce is available to all. Add to that our love of Asian cuisine, and its inherently lighter dishes, and you have a recipe for a healthy Christmas lunch that doesn’t include potatoes three ways and stuffing.  

5. Swap out the sweets

Instead of turning to the traditional mince pies, chocolates and fudge, opt for fruit skewers, frozen mango bars and icy poles as the treats in which you indulge. Perfect for a hot Australian Christmas Day.  

6. Engage Your Brain

While it’s tempting to zonk out in front of the TV after a big meal, keep your mind active by playing games like Trivial Pursuit or Charades. It’s a great way of getting everyone together, and exercises your grey matter. If you aren’t a ‘game’ person, engage your mind by setting up any new gadgets, such as Playstations, iPads, mobile phones or laptops.  

7. Do something active every day

Set aside at least 20 minutes a day for some kind of fitness training – it doesn’t matter if it’s a brisk walk, yoga, a jog, Pilates or enthusiastic karaoke dancing, as long as it gets your heart rate up and moves those muscles.  

8. Find a workout buddy

If you can find a supportive workout buddy, that’ll help a lot – you can help keep each other on track so you don’t fall off the health wagon in December.  

9. Drink less alcohol, more water

Christmas in an Australian summer means dehydration is a real danger, especially if you’ve been hitting the booze. Reward your backyard game of cricket with a glass of water rather than a cold beer for a more healthy Christmas.  

10. Keep regular sleep patterns

Good health requires consistent, high-quality sleep, but this can sometimes be a challenge because of the new stresses that Christmas-time brings. Add in the hot weather and it can be tricky to get the sleep you need. Try and stay on top of your sleep patterns so you don’t ‘crash and burn’ from fatigue.  

11. Use common sense at the Christmas table

When it comes to eating over this Christmas, eat smart: choose more turkey, salad, vegetables and fruit, and less ham, cake, pudding and chips. Give soft drinks a firm no and keep your portion sizes under control.   

12. Keep stress to a minimum

‘Tis the season to be jolly’ but jolly is the last thing many of us feel with overspending, cooking, cleaning, endless ‘to do’ lists and visitors we could do without. Try to keep a sense of humour and proportion. Is it really the end of the world if the carrots are overcooked or if the table setting isn’t perfect? Remember, Christmas (and Aunt Ethel’s disapproving glare) is just one day out of 365. We can help you have a healthy Christmas and stay fit over this crazy period, and beyond, with a tailored program designed to get you at your best. Contact us today.
Relieving back pain

Focus on: back pain | Help relieve a sore back with these lifestyle tips

Back pain and posture

Poor posture can make back pain worse, especially if you sit for long periods. Be conscious of your posture: sit upright, with your shoulders relaxed and your body supported against the back of your chair. Try putting a pillow or a rolled towel between your lower back and your seat, and keep your feet flat on the floor. If you suffer from back pain, it might be a good idea to invest in an ergonomic chair.

Stay active

It may feel counterintuitive, but bed rest or staying still is one of the worst things you can do for a sore back. It’s important to move, no matter how slowly. Gentle exercise has been found to be one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain quickly. Don’t rest for more than a day or two. Swimming, walking and yoga are all great ways to get moving again. 

Stretch it out

Studies show that yoga can help alleviate neck and back pain. Regularly stretching the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the spine is an important element of all back exercise programs.  Stretching can reduce tension in muscles supporting the spine; tension in these muscles can worsen pain from any number of back pain conditions. It also helps improve range of motion and overall mobility.

Strengthen your core

Strong back and abdominal muscles can help heal most types of back pain, especially the most common form of back pain caused by soft tissue injury or back muscle strain. Back and abdominal muscles, referred to as core muscles, tend to weaken with age unless specifically exercised. The abdominal muscles and back muscles provide the strength to keep the body upright and for movement. When these core muscles are in poor condition, additional stress is applied to the spine as it supports the body, and back injury or back pain is more likely. Exercises that strengthen these core muscles should be a part of a balanced back/abdominal exercise program. Pilates is great for core strengthening.

Lose the luggage

Carrying an overstuffed handbag or heavy backpack slung over one shoulder can force your spine into a rotated position and cause an asymmetrical posture. It makes the muscles on one side of your back work much harder to maintain balance, which puts you at greater risk of back pain and injury. Backpack wearers, use both straps – distributing weight evenly helps to protect against back strain.

Stress less (or at least try to)

Work, home life and everyday worries – these days, there’s more than a few of them – can leave you stressed. Add that to the frustration of back pain, and it’s not uncommon to feel tense. Which in turn can make pain feel worse, and diminish motivation to stay active – which again, doesn’t help your mood. It’s a vicious cycle. Positive thinking, and relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises can help. 

Start physiotherapy

Physiotherapists can teach you how to sit, stand, and move in a way that keeps your spine in proper alignment and alleviates strain on your back. They’re also experts in specialised exercises that strengthen the core muscles that support your back. A strong core is one of the best ways to prevent more back pain in the future. Studies show that when you increase your strength, flexibility, and endurance, back pain decreases — but it takes time. The Healthfix team benefits from being led by our director Sean Cooney, who studied Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney and is completing his Masters in Sports Physiotherapy at LaTrobe University. He’s also worked extensively as a personal trainer . Sean’s approach blends both performance and injury management. Book in to see how he and the team can help with your back pain.
Weight loss tips - Our top 5 food and fitness tips

Our top 5 tips on weight loss | Food and fitness

1. Keep a food diary

Regularity and planning is key to successful weight loss. Try to map out your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the week. “To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail,” says Accredited Practising Dietitian Melissa Juergens. You may find it helpful to make a weekly shopping list – it has been proven that shopping once per week will cost you less as well. Eating at regular times during the day helps fire up your metabolism, and reduces the temptation to snack assisting with weight loss.  

2. Control your portions

Further to planning your meals is portion control. One way to effectively do this is to use smaller plates, allowing you to gradually get used to eating smaller portions without going hungry. Chewing your food more is another way to help your brain catch up to your stomach: it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it’s full. The average person chews each mouthful 3-5 times, when really you should aim for 20-30 times per mouthful  so chewing your food will enable you to recognise fullness signals. Key is to eat slowly, and stop eating before you feel full will help with weight loss.  

3. Up your fibre for weight loss

Fruit and veg are your powerhouse fibre sources. Foods containing lots of fibre can help keep you feeling full, which is perfect for losing weight. You’ll find them in plant-based foods such as oats, wholegrain bread, brown rice and pasta, and beans, peas and lentils, and obviously fruit and veg. The latter also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals that support your immune system and gut health.   

4. Don’t ban foods

Do not ban any foods from your weight loss plan, especially the ones you like. Banning foods will only make you crave them more. There’s no reason you cannot enjoy the occasional treat as long as the majority of what you eat is filled with nutrient dense food.  

5. Be active

Being more active is key to supporting a healthy mind and healthy body and can help with losing weight – and keeping it off. As well as providing lots of health benefits, exercise can help burn off the excess calories you cannot lose through diet alone. Weight training will have a more long-term weight-loss effect as muscle growth burns more energy than cardio, however beyond this debate, the most important thing is to find an activity you enjoy and are able to fit into your routine.  

6. Drink plenty of water 

Try to drink 2-3 litres water per day. People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger, and you can end up consuming extra calories when a glass of water is really what you need.   

7. Cut down on alcohol

A standard glass of wine can contain as many calories as a piece of chocolate. Alcohol is calorie dense, with little nutritional value – why it’s sometimes referred to as “empty calories”. Your liver also has a special affinity for ethanol, an alcohol derivative. It turns almost all of it into energy aka calories, and when your body gets too much energy from alcohol, it starts to shunt the extra energy into the synthesis of storage products like fats. Over time, drinking too much can easily contribute to weight gain.   We can help you get back on the road to a fighting fit you and help with your weight loss goals – ask us how.