Comprehensive and specialised physiotherapy services

Shoulder Pain

My own experiences with shoulder rehab

Matt Stamatas – Physiotherapist

My passion for treating and helping people with shoulder pain comes from significant personal experience with shoulder pain and dysfunction.

In 2010 I experienced a significant loss in shoulder function, being unable to raise my right arm above my head at all. After a brief period of severe pain, I lost all strength in that shoulder and it stopped me participating in sport and going to the gym. After speaking to several other physios and a neurologist, I was at a loss as to what to do. Eventually, I decided to work on the movements I couldn’t do and trained them up in the gym. I started with no weight at all and very few movements, and eventually added weight and increased my repetitions. Over a period of 3 years I eventually regained all function in my right shoulder. I then went on to have a relatively successful rowing career so it worked a treat.

However, after I stopped rowing I experienced a similar problem in my left shoulder. Again, I had a period of severe pain and then loss of strength in the shoulder. I was extremely frustrated, but I knew what I had to do this time. I repeated the process again and trained it up with weights and by challenging myself to move in the ways I found most difficult. Eventually, two years later I can now lift more weights that I ever could prior to my injuries. Despite two set-backs, I continued to get stronger through the use of exercise and by challenging my body to move differently.

The point of this all is to highlight how exercise was the determining factor for my recovery. There was no hands-on magic that could be done to help what happened to my shoulders and there was no one else who could do the work for me.

The answer lay simply in commitment, movement and time.

Sometimes that can be hard to hear when you are hurting or can’t do the things you love, but the reality is that hard work will pay off if you commit yourself to it. My personal experience has made me want to help people experiencing any form of shoulder pain or dysfunction because I know the challenges it can present. I understand the frustration, I understand the pain, but if I can do it with my shoulders so can you.

If you want some assistance in creating a shoulder rehab program right for you, click the link below to book in with one of our Physiotherapists and let’s help regain your function and power!


Hip Strength

The Important Role of our Hips – ‘These Hips Don’t Lie

The Hip Joint is one of the most important joints in the body because of the vital role it plays in movement. Whether you’re an athlete wanting to improve technique & performance or a part of the general population who just want to move well, good hip strength & muscle patterning is integral.

There are 3 layers of muscles around the hip; the deep, intermediate, and superficial layers. 

The deep to intermediate muscles prevent excessive impact loading, i.e. from weight bearing activities such as running, and excessive shearing/translation/impingement of the hip, i.e. from the larger superficial muscles being used such as the gluteals, quadriceps & hamstrings.  Weakness and dysfunction can lead to joint damage & patterns of wear.

For athletes, dysfunction could mean that the order of activation from deep to superficial is not occurring. Or, muscles are not activating at all and the body has compensated by over activating muscles in other areas to achieve a certain action. 

Re-training patterns, strengthening or providing specific feedback to the right areas can be key in reaching sporting goals. This can be done through strengthening in sports specific exercises often combining sporting movements with gym-based exercises.

For the general population, a mixture of habits, creating any type of exercise routine and increasing movement in everyday life can improve strength and movement patterns.

Prolonged sitting is a big contributor to weakness and dysfunction in the hip. The muscles around the hip are either constantly in a lengthened position (gluteals) or contracted position (hip flexors) when seated for long periods of time.

Think about how long you sit throughout a day – at breakfast, to/from work, at work, dinner, watching television at night?

Think about how long you actually move or exercise in a day – 30-40 minutes out of a ~12hr day?

What can I do?

Firstly, try to reduce your sitting time – set reminders to get up every half an hour. What else can I do? Try performing some exercises at work! Try some squats/sit to stands at your desk to get those hip muscles activating, (if there’s room) get some glute bridges or ‘fire hydrants’ (work your way up to the advanced version) into your day or even incorporate a lunchtime walk, even for 10-15 minutes. Not only will this help to maintain balanced and functional muscles, research has shown this is great for the brain therefore work efficiency!

Secondly, Physiotherapy has a lot to offer in guiding and developing hip strength and stability. Physiotherapists can assess and treat dysfunctional muscles so they can start to build up in strength. As well as give guidance on the right hip exercises and progressions to reach your goals (and prevent dysfunction returning), whether with a sport or general hip strength and stability focus.

Book in with one of our therapists for a hip assessment, where they can collaborate with you to create a relevant treatment plan, and help you achieve all your functional goals!


Low Back Pain

My experience with Low Back Pain…

Firstly – Yes, physios get back pain too (unfortunately). And yes, it sucks just as much for us when it happens. So, I thought it would be good to share my own journey and some of the things I learned along the way when I was dealing with my Right Sided Low Back Pain.

Low Back Pain (LBP), for whatever reason, can be really scary when it happens. Even for me, someone who knows alot about it, it’s still a worrisome time. I remember beating myself up for being overly worried, particularly in the face of everything that I have learned and know about LBP. But I eventually came to the realisation that the worry, the fear, the concern; it’s all a part of the natural process of a pain experience. Why should it be any different for me?

I decided to dig a bit deeper (like I do with all my patients, again why should I be any different?) and found that my concern and anxiety around what I was feeling stemmed from my inability, at the time, to participate in the things I enjoyed. I had just started running (as many of us did when covid hit), and loved going to the gym 3-4x per week before covid. My back, and ofcourse covid, was limiting my ability to partake in the things I loved. And it was clearly affecting my pain, and particularly my outlook. So what did I do? I stepped back and looked at everything as a whole and tried to formulate a good plan. 

First, I wanted to understand my pain. I thought I might’ve irritated some of the tissues in my lower back, but this is almost impossible to discern accurately, and something I could manage with some good advice to keep moving within my limits, and modify any aggravating activities to give it a chance to settle. I had to trust my body would take care of me (this is easier said that done when you’re in pain).

Next, I acknowledged and addressed how ‘what I was feeling’, irrespective of just my pain, was affecting my overall pain experience. I was frustrated and upset that I couldn’t do what I enjoyed, and this was causing stress and doubt which was contributing to my negative outlook. We know that the psychological and emotional components of a pain directly influence the overall experience, just as much as my possible ‘angry back tissues’. So I addressed them – instead of running I walked, instead of ‘gyming’ I ‘home gymmed’ and worked around and slowly back into my more uncomfortable lifts. I made sure I stuck to my stress management strategies which for me is guided meditation and structured exercise. I feel these strategies had the biggest impact in reducing my overall pain experience in the early days and were imperative to building my confidence back up post-injury.

With time, things began to settle and I was able to get back to what I loved (when the gyms finally reopened!). 

So what did I learn?- back pain sucks!…. But! It’s usually pretty short lived, and if you take the time to address all the factors of your pain experience, we can have a much less ‘sucky’ time while experiencing it. It’s not the be all and end all, and we all experience it in our own way, so we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over the concern and worry that comes with it, it’s normal. But, you want to make sure you are confident to deal with these things by yourself, and if not, that’s where we can help out. It’s our job to coach you through your own experience, and help you get back to doing what you love!

~ Luke Lopian, Physiotherapist

Weight Training

Does Weight Training Stunt Growth?

It is a widely held belief that weight training can stunt growth when performed by children and adolescents. In fact, no study has ever shown that lifting weights inhibits growth and numerous studies have concluded that resistance training is relatively safe for growing bodies.

 

This common misconception is often surfaced by the belief that lifting weights damages the growth plates in young people. However, what many don’t realise is that sport itself subjects children to far greater forces than you’ll find in a weights room. Think about the impacts that running, jumping and tackling have on the bones and joints of our body.. then ask yourself why we won’t let little Johnny pick up a light dumbbell?

 

Research suggests that resistance training, when performed appropriately and with good technique, provides a number of benefits for children. These include improved strength, power and builds more resilient bodies with even stronger bones and joints. Strength training also helps reduce the risk of fractures and prevents sport-related injuries.

 

It is recommended by the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association that children are at least 6 years old before undertaking resistance training, provided that they have the maturity to follow instructions and understand the dangers at hand. It’s important to begin weight training under the guidance of a professional to learn correct lifting techniques and program appropriately to your ability.

 

If you’re interested in developing a structured weights program for your child, come in and speak with the team at PhysioWest!


Reflections – Pain

Rehab and flare ups,

2 steps forward, no steps back?

It is a common occurrence that throughout a process to recover from an injury, you can get a flare up of pain. You can be doing so well, right on track to achieving your goals, and then something triggers your pain once more, and it can feel like you’re back to where you started from.

All of that exercise for nothing, right? Well, not quite!

Rarely is the path to recovery a straight line, there will usually be a bump in the road to complicate things. It might be that you did one too many dead lifts that day, run that extra kilometre instead of taking it easy, or maybe it’s something not so obvious such as poor sleep from the previous night or an overly stressful week at work. Due to the nature of pain, there may be many different contributing factors that can result in a flare up. When they occur, it can be a good time to reflect on what might be impacting it, what you might be able to modify to help get yourself through the flare up, and how you might avoid another one in the future!

Don’t lose hope! Just because the plan you set didn’t play out exactly as you would have hoped, you shouldn’t throw in the towel just yet. Flare ups are temporary, and will settle quickly. Then you can get right back on the horse where you left off.

When you have a solid plan to achieve your rehab goals, you can only succeed, or learn. Flare ups are never a failure.

Do you want help managing your flare ups?  We would love to help. Click below to make a time and let’s work together to get you back on track with your rehab goals.