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Should I strap my wrists when I train?

Physio West | Physiotherapy, exercise therapy and massage services in Adelaide, South Australia.

 

Should I strap my wrists when I train? It’s a question that we hear a lot from patients visiting the clinic. It’s usually driven by a feeling of ‘weak’ or ‘sloppy’ wrists’ when lifting or exercising.

 

For a lot of people, the first point of call is to go out a buy/find something that will provide them with a sense of stability. A quick lick of sports tape or a standard wrist brace from the pharmacy might do the job. But, by doing this is the underlying issue being addressed?

 

For a lot of regular gym goers (or more fittingly for the moment… home exercisers) the purchase of these supports can be premature. In particular, for those who have no history of a wrist injury, instability, or pain; other methods should be given a chance to succeed first.

 

In this population that feeling of ‘sloppiness’ is likely attributable to a variety of factors – lack of wrist control/strength, lack of tissue capacity to deal with the task required, and/or a lack of familiarity or exposure to the troubling exercise.

 

Consequently, by strapping or bracing the wrists to help meet the demands of the exercise, it might mask the issue, rather than truly address it.

 

So how best can we address the issue? Next time your exercising and finding your wrists are struggling with certain exercises, give these ideas a go –

  • Change the weight of the exercise and see how this changes what you feel.
  • Consider your exercise routine, does it have any wrist specific exercises in it? If the answer is no, try adding some into the program and see what happens (if you need ideas, check out our IG page for some goodies).
  • What positions are the wrists in during the exercise? Change it up! For example, if your deadlifting try palms up, palms down, one palm up and one palm down, how does this change what you feel?
  • If it’s a new exercise that the wrists are struggling with, just try giving it some time. Don’t rush to change the exercise, trust that your wrists and body will adapt as the exercise becomes more familiar.

So what’s the answer to the question – Should I strap my wrists when I train?

 

For some, in particular, those with significant wrist injury histories or genuine instabilities, strapping and bracing might be the best way to go. But, for the many, including most of us gym-goers (and home exercisers) these supports are unnecessary, particularly as the first point of call.

 

If you need help with your wrist, we can help. Book an appointment below and let’s work together.

 


Do you have Elbow Pain?

Getting sick of or running out of series & movies to watch? 

As we are getting out more and have spare time to do the things that we have been putting off, we are putting new and sudden pressures on our bodies. 

The elbow is a common location of pain, due to this sharp increase in frequency & time on hobbies, gardening, computer use and home exercise. 

The tissues are unaccustomed to the new load or repetitive activity, such as gripping, on the muscle and tendons resulting in pain and loss of function. 

A condition known as Tennis Elbow (often not actually related to sport) is the most common source of elbow pain.  It affects 1-3% of the population, with those 35-50 years old most commonly being affected. 

Tennis Elbow is the outcome of tired and strained muscles, which are responsible for extending the wrist and fingers in the forearm, putting stress on their shared tendon. This shared tendon then attaches to the outer bone in the elbow.

This type of strain in the body will happen over time and with the same repetitive movement. Gradually, other things notices will be that the outer portion of the elbow becomes tender to touch or bump, the muscles of the forearm also become tender to touch as well as tight, you may then experience pain and weakness when grasping/gripping and/or twisting  with elbow movements. 

Golfer’s Elbow (also not often actually related to sport)  is much less common. However, it occurs with the same sharp and unaccustomed jump in load with arm movements. The muscles and tendon strained are responsible for flexing the fingers and wrist and attach to the inner bone in the elbow. Lifting heavy objects or a bag of shopping to simply carrying a heavy pate or opening a jar may cause pain at the elbow. 

To treat these conditions, your Physiotherapists will initially recommend reducing the frequency & load of the movement to a point that is tolerable. You will also have access to manual therapy techniques such as massage, taping, dry needling as well as handy tips, such as using a heat pack/wheat bag to decrease pain and tightness. You will then be guided through graded strengthening, which will build tolerance and resilience, creating health tissues which are able to adapt to the movement or task without pain. 

This process can be something that has the potential to be normally managed for up to 1-2 years so if you’re experiencing elbow discomfort start your management plan today!

For guidance through your pain and how to grade into movement/exercise/load please see us at PhysioWest or through our LivePhysio – Onine Physio Option! 

 

The Mythical Tale of Bursitis

My shoulder really hurts. It’s kind of hard to put a finger on it, but it aches from the tip of my shoulder down the outside of my upper arm.

It came on randomly about a month ago now, and is getting super annoying. 

Whenever I move my arm it grabs at me, and the worst is when I try to sleep, especially lying on that side. 

 

Sound familiar?

Gradual onset shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal cause for going to see your GP (1).

 

It can be really debilitating where the frustrations of pain, limited movement and poor sleep patterns weigh down on your quality of life – not fun at all. 

 

Surely there is some light at the end of the tunnel though? I’ve done some googling and it sounds like “Bursitis”?

Bursitis seems to be one of those words we all hear thrown around, but aren’t quite sure what it’s referring too… 

Bursa’s act as small shock absorbers or cushions around or body to reduce friction between tendon and bone. The catch is, when compressed or squished, they can get angry (this is the itis part of bursitis).

We can calm them down with ice, gentle exercises and avoiding those frustrating aggravators. Your GP may even suggest anti-inflammatories or an injection.

 

Sounds simple enough?

Unfortunately, this is where we often encounter a couple of hurdles. Much like a throat lozenge to ease a sore throat, you may calm down your shoulder, but have you got to the bottom of the story?

In the case of Bursitis, it is most commonly a secondary issue, where a sneaky primary diagnosis has been simmering away over time. This explains that random gradual onset we’ve racked our brains on looking for a point it all started.

Poor posture, reduced shoulder control or routine overload can all add up over-time, contributing to the simmering pot. Working backwards to figure out which ingredients matter is the key.

We are super passionate about digging deep to not only ease your shoulder symptoms, but more importantly, to identify their root cause and nail them through education and healthy movement.

 

If you think you have Bursitis, let’s work out what may be the driver and stop it in its tracks. Sing out if we can help you!

 

Brox et.al (2010), Non-traumatic shoulder pain, Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen 2010, Nov 4; 130 (21)

Everything you need to know about the Thoracic Spine!

The Thoracic Spine is made up of 12 vertebrae or segments in the middle of the spine. It is the connector between the lumbar spine (lower back) and the cervical spine (neck). It also connects with the ribs which attach to your shoulder blades! 

Dysfunction or stiffness in the thoracic can be responsible for:

  • Pain between the shoulders
  • Upper back stiffness or the feeling of being stuck in a rounded posture
  • Headaches 
  • Limited arm range of motion 
  • Radiating pain around your side or through the chest 
  • Limited ability to take a deep breathe 

Posture plays a big role in contributing to dysfunction in the Thoracic. Especially now, as many people are working from home, in non-ergonomic set ups, and spending longer amounts of time in sedentary activities with poor postures (binging movies/tv shows, gaming, reading). A simple and easy way to reduce the likelihood of developing dysfunction is increasing & maintaining good mobility in the thoracic spine. 

Here are some great exercises which can easily be done at home, contact us if you need help finding helpful equipment!

 

Cat Camel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start on your hands and knees with your back in a neutral position.

Arch your back, lifting your head up and pushing your tail bone out, making a dish with your spine.

Hold this position for about 2 seconds.

Next, bend your back up by tucking your head and tail bone in and pulling your belly button in towards your spine, making a curve through your back.

Hold this position, and then repeat.

 

Thread the Needle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start on your hands and knees with your back in a neutral position.

Take one hand off the floor and reach in and through the space between your other/opposite arm and leg.

Allow your body and head to follow, moving your shoulder down towards the floor as your hand reaches through.

You should feel a stretch down your side, your shoulder blade and neck. Hold this position, and then return to the starting position.

Reach your arm out to the other side, and then up towards the ceiling.
Follow the movement of your hand with your head, twisting in the other direction to look up towards the ceiling.

Hold this position, and then repeat the sequence.

 

Arm Opening

Lie on your side with your head resting on a small cushion.

Bend both legs at a 45 degree angle to the hips, keeping them together and straighten your arms out in front of your body with one arm on top of the other.

INHALE: raise your top arm up towards the ceiling, followed by your head and upper body

EXHALE: continue rotating the spine, as you lower your straight arm further down

INHALE: bring your arm back, reaching to the ceiling

EXHALE: lower your arm down to the starting position

Allow your head to follow the movement of your arm.

Hold the stretch and engage your abdominals as you bring your arm back over and down to the starting position.

 

Crook Lie with a Heat Pack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat a wheat bag or heat pack in the microwave as per instructions.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You can rest your head on a small cushion for comfort.

Place the wheat bag or heat bag length ways along your thoracic spine or the centre of your upper/middle back.

You can place a towel in between you and the wheat bag or heat pack to reduce the danger of a burn or skin irritation.

Lay flat on this and open the arms in a ‘T’ position and relax here for 10-15 minutes. Focus on deep relaxed breathing. 

 

Thoracic Extension on a Foam Roll/Towel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place a cylindrical foam roll across the floor.

Lie back with the foam roll running across the level of your spine that you would like to stretch.

Wrap your hands around the back of your head to support the weight.

Ensure you do not pull your head forward, keep it in line with the rest of your spine.

Inhale, then as you exhale allow your body to relax backward over the foam roll.

Hold this position in a stretch, continuing to focus on your breathing.

Maintain this position for roughly 10 breaths.

Reposition the foam roll to the next segment you wish to stretch.

If you do not have a foam roll or it is too hard, try a thick rolled up towel. 

 

Thoracic Rolling using a Foam Ball, Spikey Ball or Lacrosse Ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling backward on a spherical Foam Ball (generally 6”), a Spikey Ball or Lacrosse Ball are also great options to incorporate in your daily routine.

Using the Foam Ball, this can be done lying on the ground rolling backward along the thoracic or centre of your upper/middle back. Much like the cylindrical foam roll you can also hold at the level of your spine that you would like to stretch.

The Foam Ball can also be used like the Spikey Ball and Lacrosse Ball against a wall.

Place the ball at the same level of spinal stiffness or muscle tightness in the Thoracic or upper/middle back.

Manoeuvre the ball against the wall by pressing your body weight into the ball along your stiff or tight tissue. You may find a particularly tender spot which you may like to hold the ball on for a few minutes before continuing on.  

 

If these techniques don’t ease your discomfort, or, if your symptoms persist, please book an appointment with your Physiotherapist.  Your Physiotherapist can perform some manual therapies or guide you in some targeted home exercises using therabands or weights. 

 Alternatively, check out our LivePhysio – Online Physio option!