Get your Biomechanics assessed early to avoid injuries

There is a difference between osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists. Physiotherapists’ background is often based upon rehabilitation and, in this sense, physiotherapists learn to assess the biomechanics of the joints of the body and then how that movement is coordinated in function. For this reason you see physiotherapists associated with professional sports teams.

Understanding the biomechanics of the body helps to identify the cause of an injury or, if an injury has already occurred, how to rehabilitate a person back to sport. A trainer’s role is to strengthen the body and, in this sense, they will look at how to control movements with specific strengthening exercises. The physiotherapist can complement the trainer by looking at the finer points of joint movement and by integrating other systems of the body, such as neurophysiology, pathology, and the cardiovascular system.

When training for the first time in the gym, or looking to achieve a goal, it helps to have your biomechanics assessed to aid in avoiding injury. An experienced physiotherapist and trainer can work together to protect from potential injuries which can occur if the body already has poor biomechanics. No two people are built the same, and therefore an assessment should be very bespoke. An example of poor biomechanics would be: a person who has a restriction in the ankle joint such that when they do squats, lunges or step-ups this causes a secondary movement in the knee, hip or back – and somewhere pain will start to occur. This is a very simplistic example of how to assess biomechanics, but it illustrates the importance of identifying these problem areas.

Biomechanical issues may not be a problem in the initial stages of training, where the number of repetitions or length of training is low. However, when training distances and intensities increase, these biomechanical issues will start to cause injuries. It is advised that you do not try to work through these injuries, but rather have them assessed, to allow your training to progress smoothly and with minimal chance of injury. The synergy of a physiotherapist and trainer working together is a formidable team in helping to prevent injury –and exists in many professional sporting environments.

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Personal Training Series: “Don’t care, get over the finish line”, can lead to injury

Some athletes are bloody minded and will do anything to win. Some clients only see the goal at the end but don’t think about the process of getting there. In physiotherapy I see many people who have trained incorrectly because they focus only on the event they are racing and not on how to train to get there.

Having a personal trainer and a physiotherapist work with you can vastly improve your chances of reaching your goal, with minimal to no injuries. The training process can be designed specifically for the goal and the exercises required to achieve the goal can be taught correctly.

When designing a training programme there are many variables to consider such as: exercise technique, timing of training, intensity of training, the environment of training, progressions of training, and even what is happening in an individual’s life. Having a team to work with you takes away the need to think. The professionals also have the experience and the knowledge to give you the best training advice.

When working with a physiotherapist and trainer you can contact them at any time. They can talk to you when you get injured, when you have questions about your training, and when you want to know what to do if you get injured. Having this team is like being a professional athlete, and provides the greatest chance of success.

I have seen amateur athletes start training, and progress doing extremely well without any help; then they reach a certain mileage in training and their body starts to break down.  At this point it is too late to change technique and training regime because the race is within a few weeks. Treatment is then about first aid care – doing everything possible to keep that person training despite the risk of increased injury, and the fact that the race is now in jeopardy. There are many emotions which accompany being in a position of unknown at race time. A person with injuries does not know how the body will react during the race; the target or goals in that race no longer apply; and all those weeks / months of training have been put at risk. To cross the finish line is often the goal after an injury has occurred. A plan then needs to be made to race the following year with correct training principles, guided by the personal trainer and physiotherapist.

It helps to get the right advice to train. Speak to your physiotherapist – who works closely with a personal trainer – to create a winning team.

Personal Training Series: Coaching your way to a healthy lifestyle

Health is an area in many people’s lives which is neglected. To live a healthy life requires taking action, as with other areas of your life, to get results. There is a wealth of information from professionals and websites offering the know-how to live a healthy life. So why are we not all healthy?

I have found – as with other areas of my life – that you need coaches. Coaches not only motivate you and keep you on track; they also provide you with the most recent information about living a healthy lifestyle. A coach can put a plan in place which is easy to follow, adaptable to your lifestyle, and is measurable over time.

In today’s world, you can approach many different types of professionals to get this help, but I have found that it works best if just one person takes overriding responsibility for you achieving your results. Generally the coach who can help you is the one who lives the life they teach. In health there is a holistic approach and there is a Western medical approach, and I think a combination of the two is needed. The areas that may be included in assessment of your health are: your medical history; your lifestyle habits; your physical training habits; and your mental approach.

I am a physiotherapist and I work closely with personal trainers developing healthy lifestyles for clients. I am able to draw on the help of medical professionals, such as doctors and surgeons, and also holistic professionals, such as Pilates instructors, homeopaths and counsellors. Personal trainers have a wealth of skills which they can use with their clients including lifestyle coaching, physical training, nutrition and exercise goal setting.

This series of blogs is designed to give my perspective, as a physiotherapist and someone who lives a healthy lifestyle, on how you can avoid injury when working with a trainer. The blogs are separated into common scenarios I see as a physiotherapist in my clinic. The aim is to assess those clients we see and to learn more about injury prevention when working with a personal trainer.

In the following weeks there will be 20 blogs which will give a comprehensive outline of how you can work best with a personal trainer and a physiotherapist. Please call or contact us via email with any questions you may have about these blogs.

Personal Training Series: Ignoring pain

The human body has a pain sensing system. This system is designed to preserve the body and prevent long term damage. In training the body responds to stimuli and training pain needs to be overcome. However, there is a limit, and it is important to understand for your own body what that limit is.

I saw a documentary on television where a young boy had no pain sensing system. He would go to school and ask his friends to punch him in the stomach; he pretended he was superman because he felt no pain. One day his parents noticed bruising and swelling around his legs and abdomen, and took him to hospital. The doctors discovered he had severe internal haemorrhaging from being punched too much. This young boy’s lack of a pain sensing system could have led to his death.

Another documentary showed scientists trying to reproduce the pain sensing system in the body because it is so important for preserving life. With all the technology and advances in science today they were unable to replicate the system. It is highly complex and adapts to its changing environment. We need it to learn what not to do, what we can do, and what is dangerous.

In training, if we ignore pain completely then injuries often occur. It is important to put in perspective what you are doing, the experience you’ve had in training, and what you think your body can do – you must have realistic limitations as to how much pain you will withstand.

Be sensible and listen to your body. Focus on gradual increase in loading in training, and be happy with steady progress in your training goals. Aim long term rather than short term. Keep in touch with your physiotherapist and trainer to guide you through this process and avoid injury.

It is not much fun being injured and in the long run ignoring pain from an injury will make your training time longer. Get your body assessed by a physiotherapist and work with a personal trainer to prevent injury and to enjoy your training.

Personal Training Series: Pitfalls of leaving injuries too long

In physiotherapy I see many sports injuries. Often I will see injuries which have been present for several weeks, months or even years. Clients tell me they were never told by their doctors or specialists to see a physiotherapist and that they decided to leave time for the injury to heal by itself. By the time they come to physiotherapy the injuries have set in to the body; the central nervous system has adapted to the pain and now can prolong pain. The musculoskeletal system  has weakened or become tight, or moves incorrectly.

If you get injured call your physiotherapist to get advice straight away. Why wait? If you can’t see the physiotherapist, the physiotherapist can advise you over the phone what to do for your acute injury. It is in the phase just after inflammation that training can be very effective. Training in this time allows the body to adapt to load in a positive manner. The body becomes stronger, stiffer and moves correctly.

Starting treatment when an injury has been present for weeks, months or years will take longer. The amount of input the client has to put in outside of the physiotherapy clinic is also increased. What you are trying to do is to tell the body a new way of moving and being, and it takes time for the body to adapt to this new stimulus. The stimulus has to be applied frequently and regularly. Sometimes 100% resolution of the injury is unrealistic; in some cases it is more realistic to teach a person how to manage their pain rather than cure the pain completely.

It is obvious that it is important to treat acute injuries immediately and to seek medical care. Being proactive at the start avoids a tedious recovery time, which is likely to be the case if treatment is sought much later.

Once the physiotherapist has seen you through the acute phase of your injury, he can work with a personal trainer to design a training programme which is appropriate for your goals. The exercises given to you may have to be adapted for the injury, and these can be changed as the injury heals. Having a personal trainer watch you during the training process ensures that you do not do anything wrong, and risk reinjuring the body part.

The physiotherapist will know when your body is ready to train at full intensity again. The close relationship between the trainer and the physiotherapist is beneficial because the professionals know each other, talk the same language and can progress you through your training at the appropriate times. If you have physiotherapy questions, do contact us as http://www.physical-edge.com.

Personal Training Series: Putting the patient at risk

A patient came to me from training one on one with a trainer. She’d achieved many of her training goals in the gym, and therefore decided she wanted a new challenge. She asked the trainer to set a new challenge; and so the trainer decided to make her an Olympic weight lifter. This client was 5 foot tall, of medium build, and had never done heavy weight training before. The trainer gave her a deadlift to do, and in the process she felt a sudden sharp pain in her lower back and dropped the weights. She was in agony, could not sleep and noticed the pain whenever she was sitting for prolonged periods of time. On assessment she had significantly damaged ligaments around her sacro-iliac joint and it was now hypermobile. The treatment for this condition required regular physiotherapy, Pilates, and a modification of her training.

The above story is an example of an inexperienced trainer pushing the client beyond what should be expected of him / her (in this case a 5 foot tall medium built woman). The client has stopped going to that trainer and now requires more low level exercise training, rather than high level training such as running and weight training – which is what she originally desired.

When a physiotherapist and a trainer work closely together this situation can be avoided. The physiotherapist and trainer will assess whether an exercise programme is appropriate to give to the client, then find an alternative training method or set a different and more realistic goal if necessary. The client benefits from avoiding injury, continuing training, and having constant surveillance of how his / her progress is going. This is an example of why a physiotherapist and a personal trainer working together with a client makes a great team.

Personal Training series: Setting goals too high

The danger of training can often be setting goals too high. It is very easy to decide that training with a trainer is the start of a whole new change of life. In some ways it is, but in other ways the goals that are set with the trainer need to be realistic for your body type and athletic ability. Of course, you can gradually build up to bigger and bigger goals, but at the start it helps to set achievable goals and test how your body adapts.

I have noticed that when clients come in with an injury they may suddenly decide to compete or race, where before the injury they had no desire to train. There is something about getting treatment or starting training which triggers within people a desire immediately to take part in races. I have had clients who injure their knees and yet suddenly want to do a marathon; this is a great example of setting goals which at the time are unrealistic. A more appropriate strategy may be to recover from the injury, build up strength, start looking at running technique, and slowly build the distance you run eg 10km, 15km, 21km and then a marathon.

I had another client who wanted to run a half marathon 3 months after giving birth; she reported pain in her body and required treatment which stopped her from training. 9 months down the track she completed the half marathon, and retrospectively acknowledged that she initially started training too early; she now knows  that her body needed the time to heal from the birth of her child before it was ready to withstand the impact of running and training. Her half marathon was a great success; she enjoyed the day and did not get injured. If you are going to do a half marathon for the first time, you want it to be an enjoyable experience. If she had done the race 3 months after giving birth, it would have been a painful experience and probably put her off running forever.

Having a physiotherapist and trainer work together can help you assess the current state of your body, and then help you set a plan to develop your strength, endurance and power. They can also look at your technique before helping you to set an appropriate goal. Having a trainer is hugely beneficial in overseeing your progression, and the physiotherapist can see how your body is improving and give you guidance as to how quickly training can progress. The physiotherapist also has the advantage of understanding medical conditions and the impact this will have on training.

Working progressively towards a goal often requires a change in a client’s mind-set. Patience is not everyone’s natural tendency; however if someone wants to achieve a goal there will be an element of patience required. If the goal is inappropriate – since the client does not want to wait to go through the training process – then a new goal needs to be set. At the end of the day the client will fail if the goal is set too high, and this reduces motivation for training in the future.

When a client sets goals or has ambitions which are too high we call these fantasies. Physiotherapist and trainer can put goals into perspective, set realistic targets, and make the process enjoyable