Die Another Day PART 1: Total Hip Replacement - Ivan's Story

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Die Another Day PART 1: Total Hip Replacement - Ivan's Story

Forty-nine year old Physio Remedies’ total hip replacement (THR) patient Ivan describes how his knowledge of the modern day advances in hip replacement technology, famous sportsmen and women that had undergone THR surgery and the first class physiotherapy and referral advice he received from Sarah Lawson and Nick Smith of Physio Remedies enabled him to make the decision to have surgery early and start realising the benefits of doing so – PART 1, diagnosis.

Introduction to Ivan

Every athlete, sportsman or woman dies twice: once when they take their last breath and once when they hang up their jersey or so the popular adage goes. No matter the level of competition or ability, once that part of someone's life ends it creates an unfillable void and an insatiable desire to play again. No real death is experienced obviously, but a major part of that person's life vanishes. This popular phrase played through my head on repeat as I sat in my orthopaedic surgeon, Professor Fares Haddad’s, office in dejected terror and disbelief in September 2016 trying to let his words sink in.

“I am afraid it’s bone on bone, there is no cartilage left. You are going to need a new hip. It is a simple as that” he said. “I am only forty-seven years old” I thought! But that was that. The camera, or in this case, an x-ray, never lies. This is the story of my journey from that day, now more than two years ago, to a happy place today. A place where my old life has returned. Not only am I hundred percent pain free but I am back to the same activity levels and lifestyle pre-operation.

A Life of Sport

I am a sportsman and waterman. That’s who I am. That’s what I do. At school I played every sport under the sun. County hockey, football, rugby, cricket, golf, squash, badminton, tennis, rackets, but real tennis was my passion. I was a British junior national champion in all junior age groups and I played for GB in the 1988 Bathurst Cup (the Real Tennis equivalent of the Ryder Cup). My first sailing experience was at fourteen months old in my father’s Swallow keel day boat. This led on to a lifetime of dinghy sailing, windsurfing from twelve years old, kitesurfing, water skiing, wake boarding, surfing, stand up paddling (SUP) and yacht racing. I have kite surfed and windsurfed in most of the best locations there are worldwide and I ski and snowboard in the winter. And I run. Nothing dramatically spectacular but I run. Cross country at school, ticked off the marathon sub-four hour on the to-do list and I have run my fair share of half marathons. In the last ten years, I have taken up triathlons. Add swimming and cycling to the list. You get the picture.

Physio Remedies Referral (Hint: get the best advice you can afford)

The pain started gradually at first. It was autumn 2015, three years ago. A post run deep sharp pain in my pelvis after I got up from my desk at work left me hobbling for a couple of minutes. This progressed from post sport discomfort to pain on a daily basis. I had to stop running. I developed a limp. Pushing down on the clutch pedal in slow traffic hurt. By April 2016 I was in real trouble. A walking holiday in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco proved to be a struggle. Despite ongoing release and mobilisation work from Nick Smith, Physio Remedies’ Senior Physiotherapist, the symptoms were getting worse not better.

After a tennis match in September 2016 I was not able to walk back home from a local restaurant without the supporting shoulders of my girlfriend and her mother. Not a good moment, believe me! I remember walking two minutes from a tube station to a work event and standing there, champagne glass and canapé holder in hand, grimacing at the shooting pain in my left hip.

Sarah Lawson, Senior Physiotherapist and Physio Remedies’ founding Director, was brilliant at recommending who I should be referred to see from her London network of top orthopaedic surgeons. She considered who would be the best match for my situation, taking into account many factors such as my age, the suspected pathology of my hip injury, my sporting needs and the specialisms of the surgeon. She recommended I should go and see Professor Fares Haddad who has a worldwide reputation for treating sports related knee and hip injuries.

Following on from my consultation with Professor Haddad he wrote to me with his diagnosis. I had hoped, like an idiot that it was not structural, maybe a lower back ligament or tendon issue? But there it was in black and white. I read his letter, ‘he (me) is now bone on bone on the left-hand side (hip), he will need to manage the symptoms but will end up with arthroplasty surgery (a total hip replacement)’.

Words by Ivan. Ivan runs an IT professional services company, Snell Consultancy, and he can be contacted at www.ivansnell.com.

If you’re experiencing hip pain call us on 02030 12 12 22 to book an appointment with one of our hip specialists: Alex Manos or Paul Martin.

Next month – Part 2 - Making the decision.

Are you sitting comfortably on your bike?

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Are you sitting on your bike comfortably?

If you are not sitting comfortably on your bike, at best, you will not be able perform to your best ability, at worst, you can cause damage to yourself. So here are some useful tips from our Sports Massage Therapist and keen cyclist, Emily Chong, to get you settled on your saddle.

Buying a bike

Regardless of colours or brand, if a bike doesn’t fit, it’s no use to you. Each brand and each bike model has a different geometry, so a bike of the same size but different brand can fit completely differently. Bike size in general is denoted by seat tube length. While this is indicative of the bike size, if the top tube is too long, then you won’t be able to reach the handle bar. A seat post can go up and down by 20-40cm, handle bar reach can only be adjusted by switching to a shorter or a longer stem or adjusting its angle, and this can only be increased or decreased by a few cm. So if shop just asks how tall you are and hands you a bike, politely decline and escape immediately. Everyone has a different leg to torso length ratio, you could have a short torso / long legs or vice versa, narrower shoulders or smaller hands. You should always get measured first before buying a bike new or second hand. If the bike shop doesn’t measure at least all of these - torso length, arm length, inside leg length, shoulder width, hip flexion, don’t bother buying from them.

You can also DIY by downloading a bikefit app such as Size My Bike where you can input all the above measurements and generate a recommended geometry, you can then find a bike (by comparing its geometry) that most matches it and get a bikefitter to fine tune the fit.

There are places where they can measure you and build a bike to your specifics from prestigious makes such as Condor to the budget conscious Planet X. A bike that fits will 100% be faster than one that doesn’t, regardless of how high its spec it is.

 Worst and best riding positions.

Worst and best riding positions.

Saddle sores

These are broadly two kinds of causes to this “pain in the butt” - friction and pressure. Most likely, pain is caused by both. Here is how to deal with it.

Pressure

If the pain feels like there’s too much pressure in a small area such as seat bones to the rear, or the soft tissue in the middle or in the general undercarriage area, then we need to first look at how hard you are pushing your pedals vs how much weight is on the saddle. To relieve the pressure, you’ll need to either increase the upward force by pedalling harder, go up a gear or reduce the downward force by lessening the weight on the saddle. If you are carrying a backpack for commuting, you could use a rack and panniers instead and you can also look at spreading your body weight between the handle bar and the saddle by leaning forward a little more.

Friction

If you are getting saddle sores that look like pimples, these are caused by follicle irritation or inflammation. Wearing bike specific shorts with pads (called chamois) will help as it covers the seams and provides a smoother surface. Bike shorts are supposed to be worn without any underwear (thus eliminating seams that would cause chafing) and with chamois cream (cream like lubricant) along the crease of your legs / bikini line and along the contact points between your bottom and the saddle. Any waxing and shaving will definitely increase the chance of follicles irritation, so it’s best to just trim hair to no shorter than 3cm should you feel the need to. For women, if the friction is felt in the middle soft tissue, try switching to a saddle with a centre cutout (see below), bike shorts that are not too heavily padded in the middle and apply “bedroom lubricant” to the inner tissue (regular chamois cream is not meant for internal use).


 Saddle with a centre cut out

Saddle with a centre cut out

You could also try saddles with a split nose design which are becoming increasingly popular. These saddles are meant to be perched on with your seat bone therefore there is no body contact anything further in front. To be in this position, more weight will need to be through the upper body - which means these saddles are more suitable for Time Trial or tri bikes or racing bikes with handle bars much lower than the saddle.

Asymmetrical saddle sore

If you can see a pattern that only one side is affected, assuming your bike setup is symmetrical, then we’ll need a closer look to your range of movement and biomechanics. Issues such as limited back rotation, restricted knee bend and commonly tight hip flexors from prolonged sitting at your desk can contribute to your bike discomfort. It would be best to get checked out by a physio and focus on strength and conditioning.

Adaptive measures on the bike

If you have a condition that creates a permanent biomechanics impediment, for example a knee surgery that has limited how much you can bend one knee, then there are companies who can make adaptive changes to your bike from shortening your crank, to adding a swing crank to your pedal, all the way to a custom recumbent bike.

Not sitting comfortably?

If you’re not sitting comfortably on your bike, you can book a session with Emily, who is also a L3 bike mechanic, by calling us on 02030 12 12 22.

Happy riding!

Words by Emily Chong.

Injury of the month: Returning to exercise following an injury

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Injury of the month: Returning to exercise following an injury

Keeping active and mobile is important after injury but needs to be done safely to prevent flare-ups and re-injury. The most common complaint that patients come to see our Spinal Specialist Physio Shari for is lower back pain. When lower back pain is acute, and the pain is constant and triggers twinges of pain with movement in all directions, then it is best to rest from the gym, however walking is still encouraged in most cases. When this acute pain settles down then slowly returning to training can be really important in your recovery. There are some tips below from Shari to help you return to exercise.

1. Exercise should never trigger pain in your back

  • If you feel a twinge/sharp pain whilst exercising then stop that particular exercise

  • There are 3 main reasons why the exercise might be causing pain:

a) it’s not the right exercise for your back at the stage of your recovery

b) your core and stabilising muscles are not engaged properly

c) your posture/alignment isn’t quite right particularly in your lower back

2. Usually low impact exercise is best to start with

  • for cardio swimming or cycling are usually good

  • remember to start gently and gradually build up the level you were at pre-injury

3. Slow, controlled movements during exercise is recommended

  • When you perform slower, controlled movements this encourages the activation of your deeper stabilising muscles which will protect your back

4. Avoid High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) initially

  • Form can be compromised during HIIT type exercises

  • Quick, sudden, unguarded movements can often cause twinges of pain and muscle spasm following injury when you are first recovering

5. Try to exercise in frequent shorter bursts rather than doing longer sessions

  • During longer exercise sessions your body is more likely to fatigue when first recovering from injury, which could compromise your form

6. Stay positive, it’s common to have set-backs

  • When exercising remember to allow your body some recovery time

  • Don’t let muscle pain (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, DOMs) and stiffness following exercise de-motivate you, just let your muscles recover, usually a couple of days will do, and then try again.

7. Stretching is important

  • Everyone should stretch, but it is even more important when you are recovering from an injury as your muscles and joints will be tight and “guarding” your injured area

  • Gently mobilise your joints and muscles before and after exercise as well as daily

  • Stretches should never be painful on your injured area

8. Warm-up and cool-down

  • This is even more important when recovering from injury as your body will be stiffer than usual

9. If in doubt, see a health professional for guidance

  • We can help to recommend and show you the best stretches and mobilisation exercises for your body and injury

  • We can also identify areas of weakness in your body, and prescribe you with the best strength exercises for you and your injury

If you’re injured we can help you get back on your feet and back to exercise - call us on 02030 12 12 22 to book an appointment.

Words by Shari Randall.

Injury Of The Month: Football Injuries

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Injury Of The Month: Football Injuries

The football season is now well and truly under way both at professional and also amateur level so we've asked our physiotherapist Alex Manos, who specialises in the lower limb and hip & groin and used to be the First Team Physio for Crystal Palace FC, to give us the guided tour of common football injuries and how to avoid them:

Football Injuries

Having worked in professional football for most of my career, the injuries I see there are no different to the injuries seen at the local football pitch on a Sunday morning. So here is some information on common injures seen and advice on how to ensure the best possible recovery and reduce the risk of re injury.


Preparation

Even at amateur or weekend warrior level, it is still important to prepare as well as possible. A good level of prior conditioning, both strength and cardiovascular fitness wise, will reduce the risk of injury. Working on lower limb strength and stability and also increasing running endurance by using running drills or alternative forms of cardiovascular fitness such as the bike or circuit training will improve both performance and reduce the risk of injury.


Fitness for football


Football is a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic fitness as it can involve both short and long bursts of activity. If you are thinking of improving your fitness levels for football, training should replicate this. For example, you could do interval running session sessions on the treadmill or outside running.

For longer type runs, box to box runs are good where you run from the front edge 18 yd box to 18yd box and then very lightly jog to the goal line, turn and start the run again on the edge of the box. These would be at about 70-80%, 3-4 sets of 6-8 runs with a rest of 2-3 minutes in between sets is good.

For shorter drills then cone work which incorporates shuttle type runs or change of direction drills can be done. As the speed and intensity is higher, ensure a longer rest between runs and sets so you can work at maximum speed.

Circuits or what is commonly known as HIT (high intensity training) is a great way to work the entire body from a strength point of view and also gain cardiovascular benefits to give you a better engine during matches.

Focusing on lower limb stability exercises such lunges and squats will also help with fitness, power, speed and reducing injury risk.. A lot of force goes through the legs so having strong, balanced legs with good ability to safely change direction will help prevent injuries.


Common injuries

Muscular injuries are common as people often reach maximal sprint pace for prolonged distances and as there is kicking involved, it is an additional risk factor. Joint sprains in particular to the ankle and knee are also prevalent. Here are three common injuries:

 
  1. Hamstring tears – the hamstring is made up of three muscles at the back of the thigh. Hamstring injuries are very common in football. They typically occur when players are sprinting and when the hamstring is changing its function from shortening to lengthening. Players will report feeling a tearing or maybe even a popping sensation in the back of the thigh. This will lead to pain, reduced mobility and in moderate and severe cases there may be bruising and swelling.

    These injuries need rehabilitation and won't just get better with rest. The muscle needs to be adequately strengthened for a safe return to sport. Mild strains can take as little as two weeks whereas severe tears could take up to three months if not more. Once you have had a hamstring tear the risk of re-injury is higher so it’s crucial to do the appropriate work to reduce the risk. A physio can help direct your rehab and ensure all the boxes are ticked. This would be a combination of flexibility and strength work and also then implementing some specific running drills.

  2. Groin pain – groin pain is a very complex area but is very common in football. The complexity arises from the fact that there are many possible sources of groin pain in athletes and footballers. The hip joint, the pelvis, the lumbar spine, the muscles around the hip and groin and also the abdominal area can all be a source of injury and symptoms. Quite often there is also more than one pathology, or if not then the original injury can lead to other imbalances which then give rise to a secondary problem.

    One of the most common misdiagnoses is one of repeated ‘groin strains’ as muscular injuries. Quite often these strains are not actually muscular and the pain originates from the hip joint. An accurate diagnosis is key to providing the right type of treatment to this area and with a thorough subjective history and detailed physical examination, a physiotherapist will be able to determine the problem areas. There may be times where physiotherapy alone is not enough and further intervention such as an injection or surgery may be required but the first thing to do is be properly assessed and referred on for further investigations or opinions if needed. Some groin injuries can become chronic and very difficult to get back from so the sooner they are dealt with the better.

  3. Knee sprains – the knee is vulnerable to injury in football due to the nature of repetitive twisting and turning and contact. Two of the injuries which are seen are Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Medial Collateral Ligament injuries (ACL and MCL respectively). Both injuries can be a result of contact or non contact mechanism but will involve the knee being twisted beyond its normal range which causes ligament damage. ACL injuires usually require surgery whereas MCL injuries (unless very severe) are more often rehabilitated without surgery.

    The recovery following ACL reconstruction is a minimum of six months but typically will be 9-12 months. Minor MCL injuries can recover in six weeks and more severe tears can take three to six months. These injuries require lots of rehabilitation to build the strength back around the knee and other joints. The ligaments provide stability to the knee so any disruption to this weakens the knee and it’s crucial to regain maximum strength and stability before returning to sport. A physiotherapist will guide you through the appropriate stages in rehab to try and return to your previous level of activity.

If you have picked up an injury related to football or want some advice on any of the above or anything else please feel free to call us on 02030 121222 to book in with one of our physiotherapists.

Words by Alex Manos.

Take your running in a different direction: Visually Impaired Guiding

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Keen to do take your running in a different direction or to make a difference? Our NoviceRunnerNik has a story for you:

 

Take your running in a different direction: Visually Impaired Guiding

Run Leading

I’ve been a qualified England Athletics Run Leader (Leader in Running Fitness) for a few years. My running club put me through the course. One of our coaches plans and organises routes but the leaders are there to lead the route, manage the group, risk assess and make route changes if needed (e.g. when you find a tree has just fallen across the road you were supposed to be running up!) and keep everyone safe and happy. I lead a run with the club each week, usually, but not always, from the back of the group, encouraging the slower runners and making sure no one is left behind. Learning to enjoy running and other physical activity in my late 30s has been a complete revelation and life changer and I’m keen to inspire others to get outside and move.

 

VI Guiding

In February this year I attended an England Athletics Sight Loss Awareness Course & Guide Running Workshop where we learned how to support more visually impaired (VI) people in running.  We learned that visual impairment covers a huge spectrum of sight issues, from mild to totally blind, and that you won’t insult a visually impaired person if you say ‘See you next week’. We practised running blindfold with a guide which is frightening when you go from full vision to no vision, even when you’re tethered to a guide. I learned that telling someone to turn 90 degrees to the left doesn’t help much when you can’t see how much you’re turning! We learned that a guiding partnership is very unique and you have to, to a large extent, work it out as you go. And finally we learned that the hardest thing about guiding is finding visually impaired people who want to run!

 

Finding VI Runners

I set up a Facebook Group to help connect local VI Guides with VI runners and wannabe runners and anyone else interested. We’ve had some success, pairing a guide from the course with a VI runner who was in desperate need of a training partner and guide for the London Marathon.  I’ve talked to various signposting and support organisations to try and get us known about.

 

A VI Runner Finds me!

But no VI Guiding joy for me until August when I had an email via Run Together’s Find a Guide website, where I’m listed as a Licenced VI Guide. Sam emailed to see if I would guide her at the Eden Project parkrun when she was visiting the area on her holidays. I was so pleased to be asked but explained that I had yet to actually guide anyone and I’ve only run that course once. Whilst Sam was fine with this, the Run Director of the parkrun preferred that Sam used one of the course’s VI guides who was very experienced on this fast, popular and narrow course. To avoid possible pile ups Sam went with their suggestion but very kindly offered to meet me in Truro to take me out for my first VI Guiding experience.

 

And we go for a run!

I met with Sam, her husband Matt and her lovely Guide Dog Lizzie at the start of the route my club uses for its Walk Run group as although it’s not without its hazards, it provides varying but easy surfaces to run on and is partly away from traffic.

 

 Lizzie the Guide Dog was very friendly!

Lizzie the Guide Dog was very friendly!

 Talking with my hands - not all that helpful!

Talking with my hands - not all that helpful!

Sam and I were both a bit nervous – it was quite a lot like a blind date! Sam had previously been a sighted runner before her vision began to fail and she’s been a VI runner for a year or so. She ran the London Marathon this year with her brother guiding her, so is very experienced. We talked about how much she can see, how she likes to be guided, what I need to tell her about and how, which side of the guide she runs on, how to use the tether and so on. We donned our Run Together High Vis bibs with’ Blind Runner’ and ‘Guide Runner’ on them and then we were off. I watched the route surface all the time and to let Sam know of surface changes, variations in surface height (‘high knees Sam’ then ‘back to normal Sam’) and changes in direction (much used by the Chuckle Brothers but ‘to me’ and ‘to you’ or ‘away from me’ worked much better for us both than left or right!) just before they happen.

 

 Running and chatting.

Running and chatting.

The Reality of VI Guiding

Sam and I confessed that we are terrible chatters – I do love a good chinwag when I run socially as it passes the time and helps with the tedium of long runs – but  as a guide you have to remember to keep feeding  back the useful information and instructions, so you often have to interrupt the conversation.

As a guide you have to do all the thinking and basic decision making for the both of you. Although I had a simple route lined up, I had to think about where we were going, when we should stop to let a car pass. And guiding is exhausting! Sam said to me that guides need to be fitter than their running partners as so much energy goes into the guiding part of the run and she wasn’t wrong. We ran 2.75 miles at a slower pace than I’d run on my own and I felt like I’d raced a 10k!  I’m in awe of VI Runners and their guides running marathons and offroad trails. Just incredible.

I really enjoyed running with Sam – she was so friendly and helpful and gave me a great first guiding experience, which I’ll always be grateful for.

 

 Running and smiling!

Running and smiling!

 Obligatory post-run selfie!

Obligatory post-run selfie!

Get Volunteering!

Sam told me that in her home county of Essex there’s only one guide, so he’s in huge demand. I suggested she moves to Cornwall where she could have a different guide every day of the week!

If you’re looking to take your running, or other activity, in a different direction consider volunteering to help others do the things you like to do. From parkrun to run leading to VI guiding, there are all sorts of opportunities out there.

 

Words by Nicola Bathe, images by Colin Bathe.

Managing your physio rehab programme whilst on holiday

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Managing your physio rehab programme whilst on holiday

Managing your physiotherapy rehab programme whilst on holiday can feel like a chore. Our physio Paul Martin has blogged about a few simple ideas to help get through your time away and stay in control of the reason you visited a physio before you left.

 

1) Travel can be hard work

One of the key elements in a successful rehab programme is managing the amount of load a sore area is subjected to. Too much will likely make things worse. Bear in mind that loading you body might well involve packing, lugging suitacases around and it is remarkable how much walking is involved in getting around an airport. Use whatever trolleys are available to you at the airport to make things easier. If you are on a flight, make sure you are getting up and moving around regularly in the cabin, if you are driving it is helpful to schedule in breaks to get out and move around (especially if staying still for prolonged periods makes things worse).

 

2) Get into a routine early

'It's easy! I'll be away for two weeks, very little to do, I can do all these exercises every day, no problem'. By day three you're wondering where all this time has gone. As with rehab programmes at home, getting into a routine early on will dedicate some time to moving things forward, plus there's the double whammy of not being at your desk for a large portion of the day. Find the gym or some space to get your exercises done when you've settled in and do a few to get going. It's easier to start these routines on day one so the sooner you start, the more likely you are to leave your holiday feeling better than when you arrived.

 

3) Manage your load

Most problems will tend to be made worse by doing more than you are able to do or something you've not done much of before. Whilst that canoe race might seem like a fun idea, if it's been 15 years since you last paddled and your neck and shoulder were sore before your holiday started, then you might expect some kick back after the event. Similarly whilst that 10k trail is begging you to run on it, if you've only just been managing 3k whilst getting over your sore ankle then it will likely be sore when you get to the end and that could knock the rest of your holiday back. By all means build it up sensibly whilst you are there and make sure you recover well but too much too soon will likely cause discomfort.

 

4) Have a good time!

It is a holiday after all! Don't deny yourself some fun but be sensible with what you are able to do. Saying no to something a little wild on day two can be the difference between three to four days of discomfort and feeling a fair bit better on day three.


If you do come back from your holiday injured or in pain, call us on 02030 12 12 22 to book at appointment. 

 

Words by Paul Martin.

Injury of the month: Tennis Injuries and how to avoid them

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Injury of the month: Tennis Injuries and how to avoid them

Has Wimbledon fortnight inspired you to pick up a racquet? Read our Physio Alex's advice on equipment, fitness and avoiding the most common tennis injuries:

 

Equipment 

It's vitally important that the racket you use is set up correctly for you. This means ensuring the grip size is appropriate, the weight and style of the racket suits your level and style of play and perhaps, most importantly, the string settings are correct.

Even small adjustments can make a big difference to your game and prevent injuries, mainly to the wrist and elbow and also help overcome existing injuries. It's well worth going to a specialised tennis shop for advice on this. 

 

Fitness for tennis

Tennis is mainly an aerobic sport in that it is made up of short bursts of energy with rest but repeated often. If you are thinking of improving your fitness levels for tennis, training should replicate this. For example, you could do interval sessions on the bike (as opposed to pedalling continuously for 20 minutes or so). Mixing shorter intense bursts (15 secs up to even 1 minute) with rest would be more beneficial. You could also do the same on treadmills or outside running - short sprint type interval training rather than long moderately paced runs.

Circuits or what is commonly known as HIT (High Intensity Training) is a great way to work the entire body from a strength pint of view and also gaining cardiovascular benefits to give you a better engine during long matches!

Focusing on lower limb stability exercises, with lunges being one of the best exercises is really important in being strong on court and allow for sharp, multidirectional changes of direction. A lot of force goes through the legs so having strong, balanced legs with good ability to safely change direction will help prevent injuries. 

 

Common injuries 

Unlike sports like football or rugby which are played on bigger pitches, tennis is contained to smaller areas so muscular injuries are less common as people don't often reach maximal sprint pace for prolonged distances. So, tennis places more load on the joints and tendons than other sports due to the quick short change of direction and also the fact that it's mainly played on hard surfaces. Here are four common tennis injuries. 

Lower back pain - it's quite common for tennis players to suffer with painful lower backs. Serving in particular places high loads on the lower back and can compress the joints. The combined forces of quick extension and then rapid rotation and flexion can stress the joints. To try and prevent this it helps to have good mobility in your hips and lumbar spine together with a strong core. Focusing on core exercises which incorporate rotation, almost mimicking certain phases of the serve can really help reduce the risk of injury.

Shoulder injures - rotator cuff strains/pain. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles which surround the shoulder joint to provide stability and strength to the shoulder. It's by nature not a very stable joint as it is so mobile so when it is placed through high loads during ground strokes and more so in serving, it can lead to strains and/or inflammation of these structures. Working on the control and stability of these muscles by doing overall shoulder strength training but in particular lots of lighter rotational work will help prevent injuries. 

Tennis elbow - or as its known clinically as Lateral Epicondylalgia is not exclusive to tennis but is prevalent, especially amongst amateur or club players. As stated above, equipment is key and so is technique on shots. The forearm muscles which moves the wrist and elbow are small and not particularly strong. They are prone to being overstretched whilst under stress (particularly on backhand). Having good technique and also good strength in the wrist and shoulder can reduce the load on these delicate muscles. 

Patellar tendon/achilles tendon pain - as mentioned above, due to the start / stop nature of the sport, these joints and associated tendons take quite a beating! As with trying to prevent most tendon injuries around the body, keeping strong and conditioned in the bigger muscle groups will protect the joints and tendons. If you think of the joints as the area which will take the most force during movements, and the muscle system as the braking mechanism for this, the stronger and more efficient those brakes are to slow down the forces, the less load will be placed on those tendons and joints.

If you have tendon pain already during tennis its important to seek professional advice. Patients often come to us with several months' history of tendon pain as it can be painful but often can be 'played through', and it's true, often with the correct advice and exercises you can continue to play but it needs to be properly assessed first. 

 

If you think you may have an injury related to tennis or want some advice on any of the above or anything else please feel fee to contact us or book in with one of our physiotherapists. Enjoy the tennis season and the strawberries and cream (but not too much cream!...)

 

Words by Alex Manos.

Open Water Swimming Tips

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Open Water Swimming Tips

Now the triathlon and Open Water Season is in full swing, if you’re feeling slightly anxious, here are a few tips from our Sports Massage Therapist and dedicated open water swimmer, Emily Chong, to help your training and competing:

 

Practice, practice, practice!

  • Find some open water to train in before your event and get used to lower visibility and the natural environment. 
  • Practice in your wetsuit. Wear your goggles under the swim cap, or better yet wear two caps and have the goggles sandwiched in between (less chance of them getting knocked off).

 

Starting in a race

  • If it is a deep water start, get yourself horizontal, gently kick your legs and scull with your arms out stretched. When the horn goes, you’re in the right position to take a few strong kicks and pull forward.
  • If you prefer not to be in the crowd, go to the side and swim wide of the turning buoys.

 

Swimming in a wetsuit

  • When swimming in a wetsuit, relax your elbows so you’re not fighting the neoprene, straight arm recovery is absolutely suitable for open water. 
  • Focus on engaging your gluteus muscles (clench your bottom!) keeping your legs together and make sure your core is long and engaged. Imagine doing a plank and you should feel your legs rubbing at thigh, calves and toes just touching.
  • Use body rotation to lengthen your stroke, entering your hands in 10 o’clock and 2’ o’clock position. This helps engage your back muscles to swim. Imagine doing a pull up - it’s almost impossible with our hands together, but with your hands slightly wider than shoulders, you will have much more power to pull yourself up.
  • When you get into the water, splash your face and the back of your neck. Put your face in and slowly exhale. If you have a tendency to panic, take some time to do this until you feel your heart rate has calmed down. 

 

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Sighting

  • While waiting to start, look at the course and find something in the landscape that lines up with the buoy markers to sight for. Something like a hill or a tall colourful building so it would only take one glimpse to see (buoys may seem big, but once you are horizontal amongst splashing swimmers, they can be hard to spot). 
  • Think crocodile eyes, try not to lift your head too much or your legs will sink, making swimming harder. Find a pattern to suit your breathing / sighting. 

 

Plan B

  • If you feel your chest is too tight / your goggles get knocked off / you are cramping, roll on to your back, take some deep breaths, readjust yourself, once you feel ready, roll back to your front and carry on.  If necessary, hold one arm in the air, the safety kayak will come to your rescue.

 

Finishing

  • As you approach the pontoon, speed up your kick a little to activate your legs and to get blood flowing. Take it easy going from swimming position to standing up position, you may feel a little dizzy due to blood going from the top half of your body down to your legs. 
  • Undo neck velcro on your wetsuit and pull the cord to open the zip. Grab the neck opening and pull your arm out of the wetsuit. If your wetsuit gets stuck at your wrist, loop it around your knee and use it to pull it out. If you already have your cap and goggles in your hands, great! they can stay inside the wetsuit sleeve till after the race. 
  • Pull down wetsuit from the waist, side step and stand on your wetsuit several times to get your feet out. 

Done! now go and enjoy your ride and run (or post race celebration). 

 

How to put on a wetsuit

  1. Use a glide stick or other thick lubrication (Rock Rub is my favourite) and generously rub it over your forearms, calves, quads and hamstrings and around your neck.
  2. Put some cotton gloves on to avoid nicking your wetsuit with fingernails. If possible always grab the inside material to pull rather than the smooth outer side of the neoprene)
  3. Turn the bottom half of your wetsuit inside out.
  4. Keep your socks on (or put each foot into a plastic bag), and put your feet into the leg holes and roll up the legs. (Remember the zip should be at the back!)
  5. Pull the wetsuit up to your waist. 
  6. Ideally, find someone who can grab the wetsuit from behind and pull it up as though they were going to give you a “wedgy”. Otherwise, do that yourself, keep pulling up until the crotch area is more than snug. 
  7. Put one arm in, pull it up to your shoulder, then put the other arm in. 
  8. Ideally, get someone to “shoehorn” you in from behind. They should put their hands on the back of your shoulder / upper arm and pull the wetsuit back to create more space in the chest. 
  9. If there is nobody to help you, bend the elbow, grab the crease and ease more material towards your shoulder until the zip is fairly close together at the back.
  10. Once both arms are shoehorned in, the back zip should be quite close together without having to pinch your shoulder blades together (if not, you will probably struggle to breathe). Now you can zip it up. 
  11. If it feels like it’s restricting your neck, bend forward, grab the crease and ease more material towards your chest.
  12. Make sure the zip is in “up” position, loop the cord over the neck velcro and stick the end of the cord in it, so you know where to find it when you need to take it off. (Remember to take your socks off!) 
 
 

Call us on 02030 12 12 22 to book an appointment if you have any injuries or niggles or if you'd like a pre- or post-race sports massage.

Words and images by Emily Chong.

 

It's National Walking Month - let's get walking!

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It's National Walking Month - let's get walking!

May is National Walking Month!

Walking is one of the best exercises you can do - it's low impact, requires little kit, almost anyone can do it and you can do it almost anywhere.

Walking can burn around 80-100 calories per mile and it's a great way to stay active and improve your fitness. Exercise and being in the great outdoors are good for your mental health too.

Fitting in walking:

If you don’t move much, now’s a good time to start moving more and walking is the perfect entry level exercise. So let's get walking:

  • Walk during your lunch hour: spend 20+ minutes of your lunch hour away from your desk – get outside for a walk in the fresh air, explore the environment around your place of work.
  • Take the stairs up and down instead of the lift, walk up and down escalators instead of standing still, take the long route around your office building.
  • Park your car further away from your destination and walk the last bit.
  • Get up half an hour earlier and go for a walk before work.
  • Use a fitness tracker with a step counter, or a step counter app on your phone to track your daily steps. Pick a target number, start with 10,000 steps per day, and work towards getting your steps in each day.  Increase your target as you walk more.
  • parkrun! Walkers are very welcome at all parkruns all around the UK and the world. Register on the parkrun website, print off your barcode and turn up to your local event. They are FREE  timed 5km (3.1 mile) events and they happen every Saturday at 9am. If you’re even the tiniest bit competitive, the fact that you receive a time for each event should encourage you to turn up regularly and beat your personal best time and perhaps your friend's too. parkrun can be addictive and it might even encourage you to run a little…

The Long Distance Walker:

If you walk regularly how about walking further?

Physio Remedies’ team member Nik (AKA NoviceRunnerNik) is off to Northumberland to walk all 97 miles of St Oswald’s Way next month over six days.

Here are her 10 top tips for A Good Long Distance Walk:

  1. If you’re goal driven, sign up for a long distance event to train for – the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) runs many walking events around the UK and holds details of other events too.
  2. Wear well-fitting shoes/boots and decent walking socks – get your walking boots fitted by trained fitters – I highly recommend Cotswold Outdoor (I always buy my boots and waterproofs here. I promise I’m not on commission!).
  3. Use walking poles to ease pressure on knees, especially on downhill paths
  4. Good kit to have: comfortable rucksack, good waterproof jacket, hat, sunglasses, hydration bladder (easier to drink from than a water bottle, less chance of becoming dehydrated), small first aid kit including Compeed for any blisters, sun block, spare walking socks.
  5. Train sensibly – start on short walks and build up your distance gradually.
  6. Be prepared for your walks – plan your route, take a paper map in case of phone/GPS failure. Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. Take snacks, water, lunch, icecream money and warm clothing in case the weather changes. Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
  7. Stay hydrated and fuelled throughout your walk. You’ll enjoy it so much more if you’re feeling on top form.
  8. Rest every hour or so and at the tops of inclines for a few minutes to 'admire the view'.
  9. If you feel any pressure hotspots on your feet, investigate and apply a Compeed patch, before it turns into a blister.
  10. Enjoy being in the great outdoors!

 

As with everything, prevention is better than cure. Issues with feet can affect knees and backs too. If you have any concerns about your walking, our Foot & Ankle specialists can check you out and offer advice on footwear and foot support. Call us on 02030 12 12 22 to make an appointment.

 

Words and image by Nik Bathe (AKA NoviceRunnerNik).

 

Paul Martin's Winter Paralympics Roundup

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Paul Martin's Winter Paralympics Roundup

Physio Remedies' Physiotherapist and Director Paul Martin is also Technical Lead Physio for Paralympic Sport with English Institute of Sport and he's just back from the Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang.

Paul's written up his Roundup of The 2018 Winter Paralympics for your reading pleasure:

 

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Brrrrh, snow!

Every Games is different in one way or another. Although there are some standard consistencies across the board (the general cosmopolitan feel of so many people from so many nations in one place, the obsession about the food hall, athlete performances and their repercussions both good and bad) each Games has a number of unique touches that mean attendees will have very specific memories that in a moment can return them to a very specific place and time.

There were many of these with PyeongChang but I think one of the most obvious this time, which may sound a little silly given the 'Winter' part of the Winter Games, was the snow. PyeongChang is the coldest place in the world on its line of latitude (it is south of The Azores, Madrid and Athens to name but three places), is at a very modest altitude of 700m and has an average snowfall of 15cm per year. An interesting idea to hold a Winter Games here, although as many people that attended the Games in Sochi would tell you, it doesn't need to be wintry to host a Winter Games. The 2022 edition will be in held that traditional alpine resort Beijing, after all!

On arrival, the local area had received 50cm of snow overnight rending the vast majority of the village treacherous to move through. The local solution was to bring in a lot of diggers and trucks to scoop the snow away. A fine idea until one considers how these vehicles might get into the required area in the first place! The temperatures were unusually cold for the area as well, initially ranging between -15 and -6 but wind chill taking it a lot lower than that. These conditions made for some spectacular views and wonderful pictures, but athletes in wheelchairs trying to push themselves around a snow-covered village had somewhat larger problems to deal with.

The cycle of temperatures that eventually crept above freezing meant that areas of the Village became skid-pans and it took a while to get enough salt out to manage the problem. Once the majority of it had been cleared however, 30 cm fell over another couple of days. Fortunately much of this had been sorted by the time the Opening Ceremony started and while there was still a lot of snow around, most areas were easily navigable with care. Within six days of the Games starting, we had temperatures of 15 degrees - t-shirt and shorts weather - and quite the temperature swing. Then it snowed again....

 

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Compact

The entire feel of the Winter Games was a lot more compact than a summer event. Smaller Village, smaller team and fewer medal events, however the drive from the athletes and the support offered by the British Paralympic Association remained as high as ever. The role of the BPA in this context is to create an environment where the athletes and coaches can focus solely on performance. The attention to detail required to deliver this is phenomenal and the entire organisation goes into overdrive, whether that is delivery within the Village to the team, engaging with commercial sponsors and dignitaries, organising media opportunities (quite a challenge given the small number of media there and the nine hour time difference to the UK), providing exposure of the environment to the next group of potential Paralympians (the Paralympic Inspiration Programme, or PIP, that allows some access to selected athletes so they can understand what they can expect at Games time which was managed with assistance from the Help For Heroes charity) to the day-to-day planning of logistics around athlete/coach/practitioner movement between different venues, planning of the bump-out (which started around Day 3 of 9 when it felt like we'd only just got in!) and doing as much as possible so that the everyday stresses were removed as much as possible from the people that mattered. The 'behind the scenes' work is vast and hard, however there is much more of a blue print for the type and style of what is required and it now becomes a challenge of how to fit what we need into the spaces we are provided with by the local organising committee. 

 

Medals!

Competition was, as always, exciting and, fortunately, successful. UK Sport had set Paralympics GB a medal target of between 6-12 with an overall target of 7 medals. No previous GB Winter Paralympic team had achieved this and it was a reflection of the investment they had made into the Winter sports. Things got off to a shaky start when the opening run of one of our top medal prospects in the downhill event (Menna Fitzpatrick and her guide Jen Kehoe) ended in less than 30 seconds when Menna fell. Step up Millie Knight and her guide Brett Wild who posted a phenomenal time to lead the field. A crash in PyeongChang the previous year at the test event had resulted in some confidence problems (detailed in this piece), however in training it was becoming clear that the pre-crash Millie was starting to return. Her time was bested by Henrieta Farkasova from Slovakia who had dominated the Visually Impaired event throughout the season and would go on to win gold in 4 of the 5 events. Her sole silver was on the very last day when she was beaten to Slalom Gold by Menna and Jen.

As for the rest of the 17-strong squad, the Curlers had an event they might like to forget, however good early wins against Paralympic Champions Canada and World Champions Norway showed there is still enough talent to trouble the best in the world. The gold was won by China who look like they could dominate this event for some time to come. Although the final was a tight affair, it seems that they are taking this event seriously ahead of a home Games in 4 years.

 

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Elsewhere on the slopes, the snowboarders found conditions not especially to their liking and although some strong top 10 finishes were welcome, a couple may have been a little disappointed not to podium after some of the successes they have had on the World Cup circuit. The standing alpine skiers pretty much hit par for what they were expected to achieve and left happy with their finishes. In the Nordic events, the most punishing in the Winter programme, and possibly across the entire Paralympic landscape, Scott Meenagh performed very creditably, especially that he has only been involved for 18 months. He is relishing the challenge the sport offers him and is constantly looking at means of progressing his performance. Six hard endurance events in nine days in very changeable conditions propelling yourself with arms only is a gruelling programme but in every event he left everything on the course. Watch this space.

So it was left to the Visually Impaired ladies to scoop all of the medals required. 2 silvers and a bronze for Millie and Brett, a gold, 2 silvers and a bronze for Menna and Jen. Our only previous gold medallist Kelly Gallagher competed, however her performances were hampered following a couple of falls and injuries, however Kelly is not one for giving anything less than 100% and she knows she did everything she could have done to give her best performance. Menna and Jen's win in the Women's slalom coupled with Millie and Brett's bronze meant that the target of 7 was reached in the very last alpine event - plenty of relief all round!

 

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Paul took some great photos - you can see them all here!

 
 

Words and images by Paul Martin.

NoviceRunnerNik: Supporting Your London Marathon Runner

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NoviceRunnerNik:  Supporting Your London Marathon Runner

You might not be a marathon runner yourself, you might not even be a runner but in a moment of madness you might have offered to cheer on your favourite marathon runner in the marathon to end all marathons, the Virgin Money London Marathon.

Of course, other marathons do exist and the following blog post is also applicable to pretty much all marathons.

Years ago, possibly even before she took up running, our NoviceRunnerNik promised her husband that in the unlikely event he was ever successful in gaining a place in the London Marathon ballot, she’d be on the course to support him on his way around. Last year, after five years of rejections, he finally got a place, the same year in which his sister also got a place via the ballot on her first attempt!

So here are NoviceRunnerNik’s top 10 tips for supporting your London Marathon runner:

1.       Choose your runner carefully. If you fancy a fun stroll around London, stopping for a couple of pints, a wander in the park, a tasty lunch, whilst popping up on the course now and then to wave at your hero  then make sure your runner’s target finish time is around 6 – 7 hours. Don’t make my mistake of thinking I could do all of that whilst supporting a runner targeting 3 hours 30 mins. You just won’t have time to do much except rush about on public transport and cheer a lot.

2.       Plan your cheering carefully in advance and tell your runner where they should expect to see you so that they can look out for you. There are lots of online guides available which will tell you distances and times for various finishing target times. Don’t be over ambitious on number of cheering spots. Public transport, road closures and the sheer number of people out and about mean that getting around is slow. I only had a vague plan so my husband missed me on all three occasions he ran past me (although other runners from our running club did spot me and my signs so I wonder if my husband can actually recognise me in a crowd!).

 
 Fancy dress hats for spectating might well be a good idea - easy for your runner to spot you!

Fancy dress hats for spectating might well be a good idea - easy for your runner to spot you!

 

3.       Make a sign or two to hold up to cheer everyone on. You could go with encouraging signs such ‘Run Well Mr B’ or ‘You can do it!’ but I’d also have at least one sarcastic one to hand ‘Smile – you paid to do this!’ for deployment in the last few painful miles.

4.       Make meet up arrangements beforehand. The sheer number of people in the finish area means that mobile phone signal is patchy to non-existent at times, particularly after the 4 hour finishers come in. The finish area has letters of the alphabet on poles – arrange to meet your runner by a certain letter – avoid the most popular surname letters to avoid the big crowds.

5.       If you’re a runner, go to the London Marathon Expo. Your runner will have to register at the Expo on the Friday or the Saturday before the marathon, unless they’ve got a friend who’ll do it for them. The Expo is worth a look around with some great talks, interesting demos, more running kit than you could possibly ever want and lots of freebies and samples. If you have any sense you’ll leave your credit card at home, or you’ll arrive back with A Little Miss Chatterbox running vest, a Love Hearts running vest and some beetroot energy bars. None of which you actually need. True story.

6.       Don’t attempt to go to the start line with your runner. The course starts well away from the finish line and most runners seem to need to depart their accommodation at the crack of dawn to join the massive loo queues early. Have a lie in and then get to around Mile 5 or just after, before the Elite runners come through as it’s really exciting to watch them and then the whole crowd surge through.

7.       Be prepared. Take waterproofs / SPF 30 depending on the weather forecast, snacks, drinks, a good sense of humour and wear running shoes (a top tip from our very own Paul Martin who advises that people will chat to you if you look like you might be a runner!) or other comfortable shoes.

8.       If you see a useable loo, use it. You don’t know when you’ll next come across one!

9.       Enjoy a fab day out. Enjoy the cheering, the banter, the fancy dress spotting.  My personal favourite last year was a man running barefoot, dressed as Jesus, carrying a 2 metre high cross! Do stop for that pint but do keep an eye on the clock. I was still sinking my one and only pint of the day (overpriced and in a plastic glass) near Mile 24 when I realised that my husband had probably just finished. He had – just ahead of his target time - in 3 hours 27 mins 27 seconds! I still beat him to our meet up point as he spent quite a bit of time having his blisters attended to by the medics.

10.   Be patient, getting home is slow. Don’t forget that your marathon runner has just run 26.2 miles, not to mention all of that walking to the start and from the finish. They will be slow. But they will be wearing a very large London Marathon medal - I don’t know why they make them so heavy, seems a bit unfair! -  and a beaming smile! People will offer them seats on the Underground. Strangers will ask you what your runner’s finishing time was and you’ll proudly tell them down to the second.  Enjoy the reflected glory!

 

 He did it!

He did it!

 

Words and images by NoviceRunnerNik.

Injury of the month: Musicians' Injuries

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Injury of the month: Musicians' Injuries


Physio Remedies' Physio Stuart Mailer has worked with world famous bands from the UK and the USA and been on tour with them, so we asked him to talk about injuries suffered by musicians and how to prevent and treat them.

For many musicians injuries can be hugely debilitating and, like any professional athlete, this can cause significant problems when performing.

Musicians can suffer from a range of injuries depending on their instrument of choice. For example, a violinist may suffer from a rotator cuff impingement or cervical pain. A bass player may suffer from elbow dysfunctions or injuries. Even being highly skilled and trained does not mean that the musician is void of injury.

Injuries can occur from trauma or overuse such as increased volume of loading/playing or changing instrument. For example the different action of a guitar or fret width or even changing the seating position on the piano can affect tissue loading .

Drummers go through constantly high loads when performing. For example, in a 60 min performance there may be 5,000 impacts on the bass peddle, their heart rate may be sitting at 75%  or averaging at 140-160bpm - similar to having a long run. This is same as many elite athletes experience. Further to this there is also a high amount of load on their lower back, neck and forearms.

It is not uncommon for drummers to suffer from low back problems such as discogenic injuries or cervical problems. These can be treated and managed well by adapting sitting position or technique and drum kit set up. Also undergoing specific exercises and injury prevention prehab can help reduce the likelihood of injury.

If you play an instrument and suffer from injury it is certainly advisable you see a Physiotherapist to assess and check your biomechanics and playing position to help in assisting your recovery or intervention.

If you'd like an appointment with Stuart or any of our other Physios, please call us on 020 30 12 12 22.

 

Words by Stuart Mailer.

Injury of the month: marathon injuries

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Injury of the month: marathon injuries

With the London Marathon* approaching fast it’s a critical time for participants as they increase their running distances preparing for the gruelling 26.2 miles ahead.  It’s a time when niggles may well turn into more significant injuries so it is key to be aware of some of the common injuries; how to spot them and what to do to try to avoid them progressing and ensure you get to the starting line but more importantly the finishing line!

Here are two of the main injuries we see related to marathon training:

Shin Splints

Shin splints is a bit of an umbrella and non-specific term which refers to pain in and around the shin. There are two main areas which cause problems.

Anterior shin pain located in the muscles at the front of the shin occurs when there is excess load in these muscles and they can become inflamed, as can the fascia (the surrounding tissue around the muscle).  Typically this will be painful when pointing the toes and ankle up and during running, to the point where it can cause you to stop.

The other area is on the inside of the shin, MTSS (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome). Again the muscles and the fascia become overloaded and inflamed and here the can affect the bone as well. The tension from the soft tissue can place load on the bone which then becomes inflamed and in more severe cases can lead to stress fractures.

Resting pain, pain at night and significant pain to touch the shin may indicate a more severe injury. Poor biomechanics, inappropriate footwear, tight calf muscles, poor stability and excessive training loads are contributing factors.

ITB friction syndrome / runner's knee

Although not exclusive to runners, the above pathology is seen mainly in runners and in particular longer distance runners.  The actual cause of the pain itself is still uncertain but the consensus is that there it is from excessive friction between the tendon on the outside of the knee (Iliotibial Band tendon) and the structures underneath it attaching to the outside of the knee. 

The friction is mainly caused at about 30 degrees of knee flexion which is the approximate angle the foot hits the floor when running.  The pain is very well located to the outside of the knee, can be sharp and stabbing like.  The pain often comes on after a specific time or distance of running and can be severe enough to cause you to stop. As it becomes more intense, it may even be painful to bend the knee and not just be painful with running. 

Again, contributing factors can be, weak gluteal muscles, tight thigh and anterior hip muscles, poor running biomechanics, and inappropriate increase in training loads.

Treatment

For both of the above injuries it is important to get an early diagnosis as this will help prevent the injury from worsening. The quicker earlier intervention is implemented the better the chance that the injury can be managed for the rest of the training until race day.

A physiotherapist will be able to assess the injury and assess what the contributing factors are by having a detailed assessment of the body, the way it moves and also look at external factors such as training methods.

With not long to go, it may well be a case of reducing the training and substituting some runs with some rest and gym sessions to work on problem areas. Marathon runners often over train the running aspect and neglect the strength and gym work which is crucial to maintaining good biomechanics and reducing the load on sensitive structures.

As well as correcting any imbalances with hands on treatment, a physio will put together a rehab plan with exercises and self help advice to ensure all areas are covered.

As always, prevention is better than cure so if you'd like us to check out any issues or if you'd like a pre-marathon sports massage, call us on  02030 12 12 22 to make an appointment.

* Other spring marathons are available.

Words by Alex Manos.

Paul Martin's Low Down on the Winter Paralympics

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Paul Martin's Low Down on the Winter Paralympics

 

In his other life Physio Remedies' Physiotherapist and Director Paul Martin is Technical Lead Physio for Paralympic Sport with English Institute of Sport. Once again he's been working with ParalympicsGB athletes to get them ready for the Winter Paralympics and will shortly be heading to PyeongChang to support the team during the Games.

We asked Paul to give us the lowdown and his 'ones to watch' of the Winter Paralympics:


Preparations:
 

As the Winter Olympics draws to an end, preparations start for the Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang to start with the opening ceremony on 9th March. As part of the handover process, some of the Paralympics GB delegation will be in the Village for the final 2 days of the Olympics to start planning how we will use the space and to ensure our space is prepared for the arrival of the athletes, some of whom will enter the Village on the first day of opening on 3rd March.

 

New Kit:

Now it's a case of packing the essentials and making sure the final preparations for the team are set. The official kit arrived in early January (which gave ample time to get rid of some of the Christmas bulk that made it look just a little too tight!) and as might be expected for a winter games, it is a lot bulkier and warmer than the summer games kit. It is essentially what you have seen the Team GB athletes wearing with the Paralympics 'face on' lion rather than the Team GB lion in profile. This means there is much less space for packing and given the Opening and Closing Ceremonies wear (provided by Asos, it is very warm and very bulky!), extra kit space will be at a premium.

 

Competition Events:

There are 6 competition events in the Winter Paralympics with a total of 80 medals at stake; Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Cross Country Skiing, Para-Ice Hockey (formerly known as Sledge Hockey), Snowboarding and Wheelchair Curling. Paralympics GB has athletes competing in Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Cross Country, Snowboarding and Wheelchair Curling and the medal target from UK Sport is 7 medals (in a range of 6-12). This is quite a challenging total and within the first 3-4 days there should be a good idea of whether we will hit our target as many of our best events are early in the Games.

 

Ones to Watch:

Many of these will come in the Alpine Skiing where GB athletes have perfromed well so far this year and are improving. Kelly Gallagher will be defending her Super G (visual impairment) gold medal from Sochi with guide Gary Smith. They will be pushed across all their events by Millie Knight (with guide Brett Wild) who competed in Sochi as a 15 year old and Menna Fitzpatrick (with guide Jen Kehoe) who have won 10 medals in 10 World Cup events this season. James Whitely and Chris Lloyd will be competing in the standing classification in the Men's events.

For the first time in 20 years we have an athlete competing in Biathlon and Cross Country. THis is a new sport for Scott Meenagh who transferred from rowing and in 14 months is starting to make his mark iin both disciplines. The former Royal Engineer has been improving through the season and any top 10 finish would represent an excellent Games for him in his 8 events.

Snowboarding makes it's debut in Pyeongchang with events in Banked Slalom and Snowboard Cross. Owen Pick, Ben Moore and James Barnes-Miller will be flying the flag and with a couple of podium finishes for them already this year, and in a sport that can be unpredicatable at the best of times, anything is possible!

Finally, the GB Curlers won Bronze in Sochi and Aileen Nelson and her experienced team will be looking to better that. They have beaten everyone on the circuit at one point or another this season so hopes are good.

Enjoy the show!

 

Words by Paul Martin.

Injury of the month: lower back pain

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Lower Back Pain

Research studies show that over 80% of our population experiences lower back pain in their lifetime. In some people this can also be persistent or recurrent lower back pain.

 

What is lower back pain?

Lower back pain is pain is pain anywhere from the bottom of the rib cage to the buttock creases. Sometimes people with lower back pain may also feel pain in their legs and feet.

 

What causes the pain?

There can several structures contributing to lower back pain and these include the spinal joints, discs, nerves and the connective tissue such as the tendons/muscles and ligaments.

 

Why does it occur?

This depends on whether the lower back pain is a new episode, exacerbation, acute pain or persistent pain.

A diagnosis should always be established by your health professional, as causes can sometimes include infection, fracture, inflammatory conditions, malignancy or other systemic illnesses of the body.

However most commonly the cause will be related to sedentary lifestyles or incorrect training technique and posture.

 

How can physiotherapy help?

Your physiotherapist is specially trained to help diagnose your lower back and work with you to formulate the best treatment management plan for your recovery. Often this include hands on treatments such as mobilisations, massage, postural assessment, education on prevention and self-management at home and at work as well as prescribed exercises to assist you with pain reduction, increased mobility and strength.

If you'd like an appointment with either of our Spinal Specialists, Kara Mulvein and Shari Randall, please call us on 02030 12 12 22.

 

Words by Shari Randall.

 

 

Nick Smith's Guide to Ski and Snowboard Injuries and How to Avoid Them

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Nick Smith, Shoulder Specialist Physio: Having assessed and treated two significant shoulder injuries this month that both required surgery - one from snow boarding and the other skiing - I thought I would  explain some of the the common snow boarding and skiing  related injuries and how they can affect you.


Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries occur when falling awkwardly. The rotator cuff muscles are most commonly injured, resulting in pain, loss of shoulder movement and power. Low grade injuries can be treated successfully with physiotherapy. More significant injuries may require a shoulder specialist referral and imaging, and then physiotherapy. Other structures often injured include the shoulder cartilage, bursa, tendons and chest muscles. Be aware of significant bruising to upper arm and chest muscles and changes in muscle contours.
 

Shoulder Joint Dislocation

Shoulder joint dislocation generally occurs when falling and your arm is away from your body. Acromioclavicular (joint on the top of your shoulder) separation occurs with direct impact to the top of your shoulder. Pain, joint deformity, loss of shoulder movement and swelling usually result. Depending on your age and grade of injury, research indicates physiotherapy is your best choice of treatment.


Bone Fractures

Bone fractures to upper arm, shoulder joint, clavicle (collar bone) and shoulder blade occur with impact injuries either with your arm away from your body, onto your elbow, or direct trauma to the shoulder joint. Be aware of pain, joint deformity, loss of movement.


Wrist injuries

Snow boarders have a significant increased risk of injury to the wrist, hand or thumb. These injuries occur due to falling on an outstretched hand (FOOSH) and trying to break your fall. Wrist guards can be worn to help protect and limit the damage.

Injured?

If you sustain any of the above injuries get them checked out, most low grade injuries respond with physiotherapy!

 

How to be safe(r) when skiing/snowboarding: 

  1. Do not over estimate your own ability/fitness - Altitude can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, headache and nausea within the first 48 hours. Drink more water, avoid salty foods, eat high carb foods e.g. pasta, fruit, vegetables. 
  2. Consider the terrain and snow conditions - If you are in a white out or flat light, slow down and use your poles by keeping them in contact with the ground, stay relaxed, look out for markers on the piste, use the correct goggles and keep them clean.  When conditions remain excellent, remember that the risk of avalanche remains high in most places this season.
  3. Check your equipment - every day before you ski or snowboard and have any faulty equipment repaired or replaced before you hit the slopes.
  4. Avoid excessive alcohol - it's obvious, but before you order that last vin chaud, consider whether it could be your undoing on your ski back from the bar to your chalet.

 

If you'd like an appointment to see one of our physios, please give us a call on 02030 12 12 22.

 

Words by Nick Smith.

Injury of the month: Headaches

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Is Your Headache Really a Neck Ache?

Headaches are often caused by disorders of the neck or physical and emotional tension. For many people, headaches start as pain or tension at the top of the neck. As the pain worsens, it may spread to the back of the head, the temples, forehead or behind the eyes. This happens because the nerves in the upper part of your neck are connected to the nerves in your head and face. A disorder of the upper neck or muscles can cause referred pain to your head. 

 

Does this sound like you?

  • Pain radiates from the back to the front of your head?
  • Headache with dizziness or light-headedness?
  • Headache brought on or worsened by neck movement of staying in the same position for a long time?
  • Headache which always feels worse on the same side of your head?
  • Headache eased by pressure to the back of your skull?
  • Headache which persists after your doctor has checked for other causes?

 

How We Can Help:

Postural neck ache can usually easily be treated with some gentle mobilisations by a   physiotherapist and a stretching programme to prevent recurrence.

Physiotherapists can successfully treat headaches originating from the neck or soft tissues and show you how to prevent the pain from occurring. Even if you think your headache doesn’t come from your neck we can often help to reduce the intensity.

  1. Mobilisation                                            
  2. Manipulation                                     
  3. Massage                                             
  4. Relaxation therapy
  5. Functional and rehabilitative exercise
  6. Encouraging normal activity
  7. Postural assessment, correction and advice
  8. Muscle activation and re-education

Your physiotherapist can also offer you self-help advice on ways to correct the cause of headaches, such as practical ergonomic tips for work and in the home; adjusting furniture, relaxation, sleeping positions, posture and exercise.

 

If you'd like an appointment with either of our Spinal Specialists, Kara Mulvein and Caroline Ephgrave, please call us on 02030 12 12 22 or send an email to info@physioremedies.com .

 

Words by Kara Mulvein.

 

 

Fraser Cartmell: How Does Racing as a Professional Athlete Work?

Somebody racing as a full time professional triathlete is quite clearly not common amongst the general population, and so from time to time I am asked by those who are curious enough, to explain "how does that work?" when I mention what it is that I do with my time.

Ultimately there are a number of different pathways towards professional triathlon racing - nothing is set in stone, which makes for exciting opportunities at different points in life for people, depending on their own circumstances and lifestyle choices.

 

The Traditional Route

For me, I suppose it was a more traditional route - at least here in the UK anyway - which began as a junior athlete who was finishing school and embarking on my university studies. Representation for GBR at championships events across the world came my way through the National Federation 'system', which in turn supported me to simultaneously combine my University degree with many hours of swim, bike and run training. Ultimately I wasn't good enough at this format of 'draft - legal' or Olympic distance ITU racing to reach major events as a senior athlete and the Federation support (financial / medical / logistical) fell away.

 

The Non-Drafting Route

However, I still loved the sport and was keen to explore the concept of 'non drafting' or Ironman racing. This would mean braving the world of racing without the outside the 'support bubble' I had been fortunate to receive, but equally it would give me the freedom to choose whatever type of race I might want to do, rather than what I "had" to do as previously determined by the Federation and their qualifying criteria.

 

National Lottery Funding

These are two different pathways to racing, but both allow triathletes to race professionally and earn a living. In the UK athletes are very fortunate to access the much lauded National Lottery Funding and the associated support structures. However you have to be exceptionally good to reach this level, and of course to stay there year on year is no easy task either. When this funding disappears athletes can understandably struggle with how to move on and can at times be lost to sport at an elite/professional level because they simply can't continue to make ends meet.

 

Sponsorship

Nonetheless, racing the 'non drafting' Ironman circuit of events - as I have done for many years now - can provide all sorts of new opportunities to work with a host of different potential sponsors. These could either be brands from within the industry providing equipment sponsorship, or indeed non-endemic companies you have some association with (perhaps locally) who in turn can hopefully provide the financial support that was lost from the aforementioned Federation.

Essentially the long term goals of reaching the pinnacle of your event will remain. Previously that may have been the World ITU championships or even the Olympic Games, and now it has become Ironman Hawaii, for example. The only real difference is who you are representing when you get there. It will either be a national federation or likewise a group of personal sponsors who share your goals and agree to support your journey in whatever way they can.

If you're interested in sponsoring Fraser, just pop an email to us at info@physioremedies.com and we'll put you in touch with him.

 

 

Client News: Toby Swims The Channel

Physio Remedies client Toby Davis planned to swim The English Channel at the end of July in aid of The Cystic Fibrosis Trust but the weather wasn't playing ball during his window. However, he did eventually get the call to swim and his Channel Swim Report follows.


Finally, I'm off!

After a frustrating two week wait for the weather, at 11pm on Monday 7th August I finally lowered myself off the boat and walked up Shakespeare Beach (just around the corner from Dover Harbour) to clear the water feeling calm and relaxed, reminding myself to enjoy what might well be a once in a lifetime experience. Then the klaxon sounded to signal the start of my 21 mile channel swim from England to France and we were off - I dived in and swam out to my boat SUVA's spotlight in the water, which I would use as a marker over the next 6 hours of darkness.

Ready for the off!

The first few hours

That first few minutes were exhilarating but I managed to control the adrenaline and settle into a decent rhythm fairly quickly. I fed every hour and my first feed was very quick - a quick roll onto my back, down the carb drink and confirm to my crew that I felt good, then off again. About 15 seconds, which was the plan. Over the whole swim it turned out my longest feed was 40 seconds and average time about 20 secs which I was very pleased with. 

After the first feed the next 2.5 hours flew by and I knew it was going well. Swimming in the dark was fun, it gave me the opportunity to solely focus on getting my stroke right and making sure I was enjoying the swim as planned. 

Hour 4

Around hour 4 it started to feel a bit more of an effort and, when I stopped for a feed I realised why - suddenly where before I had been floating on my back next to the boat, now when I did that I had to kick furiously just to stay alongside. That brought home just how strong the tide I was swimming in was, and ended any over optimistic thoughts in my head about the possibility of making it across in a super quick time.

Around this time I also got some jellyfish stings to my back, legs, shoulder and most interestingly across my mouth and nose - I didn't really mind these actually, they were a bit like an extra strong stinging nettle and helped jolt me out of any autopilot swimming. 

Sunrise

Around 5:30am we were treated to the most amazing sunrise which brought the darkness section of my swim to a dramatic end. To witness that from sea level in the middle of the channel was truly spectacular.

I am a very dark shadow in the foreground in this one but quite rightly the sunrise takes centre stage!

Hour 11

I swam steadily and pretty comfortably until the 11th hour when my crew told me they needed a big push in terms of effort. So I sprinted at 100% for an hour, which felt like forever. The fascinating thing was that, despite having swum for 10 hours already, every time my brain told me I needed to slow down I could override it and just kick harder.

Unfortunately the spring tide turned out to be too strong for me to fight across it and hit land at Cap Gris Nez, which tends to be the fastest place to end a crossing. So I found myself being swept up the coast by a strong turned tide, which meant the sprinting had to continue as I tried to fight far enough through it to hit land.

Hour 13

Around hour 13 I got frustrated as France had seemingly disappeared from view (it was actually hiding behind the boat on my right as I got swept north past the Cap) and I asked for a marker to give me an idea of how close I was. Neil my pilot told me I was deep into French inshore waters, and shortly after that the coast came into view again seemingly within touching distance.

Despite being no more than a couple of kilometres out, I spent another 2 hours pushing across the tide to get in - that time actually went quite quickly as I knew that I would get in eventually and that it was just a matter of time. I had to stop myself celebrating in my head though as I knew lots of swimmers still failed to hit the shore from that close. But finally I got close enough to see the houses and beach on the shoreline and knew I was swimming into Wissant. 

Me sprinting against the ferry

The final 20 minutes!

The last 20 mins were pretty special, just making the most of the experience and thinking about all of the people who had supported me through the months and months of training. It got slightly emotional. I could walk up the last 50 metres and had a great time running and jumping through the waves to stand clear of the water for the klaxon to sound the end of the swim after a total of 15 hours 04 minutes! 

Channel Swimmer!

It felt incredible to have finished the swim and even better that physically I still felt pretty good. I could easily lift my arms above my head and hold up my 4 month old in celebration once we got back to Dover, which I think is a good result!

The team - Neil the pilot, Toby the co-pilot, Kate, me, Alice and Tony the official observer

I was back in the water (with pain free shoulders) within 2 days which was a huge bonus and a ringing endorsement for Ray Gibbs' coaching and the technique work he has done with me, as well as the excellent physio I had received in advance of the swim from Sarah Lawson at Physio Remedies.

Now to relax a bit and work on my future swim bucket list with a cold drink in hand!


Toby's Channel Swim has raised over £10,000 to date. If you're as impressed as we are at Toby's feat, you can donate to The Cystic Fibrosis Trust via his Just Giving page.

 

Words and images by Toby Davis.

Injury of the month: hip & groin pain

‘It’s jungle country down there, mate.’ These were the words of a hip surgeon relative of a physio friend of mine when referring to an area of the body known as the femoral triangle. The rationale for this comment was variabilities in local anatomy from person to person can make it very difficult to consistently predict the location of sensitive structures between individuals. The challenge with a lot of hip and groin pain is that there are a lot of structures that can refer symptoms to the area which can lead to subsequent overload of inhibited structures.

 Image source -  Health Appointments

Image source - Health Appointments

Within any injury or pain system, whilst there may be a single causative factor or structure it is often the case that there will be an element of affect across muscle and tendons, joints, the nervous system and some connective tissue. Within the groin, there are many muscles, both big and small that affect the hip joint and many nerves and blood vessels that pass through the area to supply the lower limb. Keeping these muscles in balance is part of the approach, however it is often not as straightforward as that.

Tight Hip Flexors?

An often-reported problem for people with groin pain is that they have tight hip flexors. This is all well and good, however it doesn’t explain either why they are tight or what to do about it beyond stretching. Whilst tightness in the front of the hip can be common in groin pain, there might be good reason why this is an overriding finding in that they are often overloaded. One of the major hip flexors (psoas major) originates from the front of the lumbar spine.

Image source: Health Appointments

 

Weak Hip Flexors?

With poor abdominal control, they are in a good place to offer some stability to the front of the lumbar spine. Often addressing abdominal muscle control and timing is enough to offload these muscles. However, during my time working with elite athletes, we found many of the sprinters would complain of groin pain which we attributed to these mystical tight hip flexors, so we worked on the gluteals and hamstrings which we found were often inhibited. Our problems didn’t get any better until someone suggested that perhaps the hip flexors were weak and needed some strength work alongside appropriate abdominal work. After starting this approach our groin pain reports dropped significantly.

Solution: Restore Control

Much like the shoulder (another interface between limb and torso), the hip and groin areas are complex areas that are links between areas requiring controlled stability and movement. Restoring control of the trunk and effective timing of abdominal musculature can allow pain related to overloaded structures to settle and start to regain balance within this area.

Paul is our hip & groin specialist - if you'd like to book an appointment with him please call us on 02030 12 12 22 or email us on info@physioremedies.com.

Words by Paul Martin.