Archive for April, 2013

Are you sitting down?

How many hours do you sit for each day? We spend more time sitting than doing anything else and it is detrimental to our health. It has long being known and publicised that we all need to do more physical activity but have you ever considered that the time you spend being sedentary has a greater impact on you health status? One in three New Zealander adults is overweight and one in four is obese. In children, one in five is overweight, and one in twelve obese. What is worse is that these statistics are growing, exponentially.

How many hours a week do you spend watching TV or at the computer, driving, and sitting at work? Too many is the answer for most of us. If you are spending 4 or more hours each week watching TV you are putting yourself at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers, hypertension, high cholesterol.. the list goes on. What we really need to do is get up! Stand and walk for as much of the day as you can, park further away from work, or don’t take the car at all! Go for a walk in your lunch break or after dinner, it’ll all help decrease your sedentary time and increase your physical activity levels.  School and high school children should be encouraged to walk or bike to school, take part in extracurricular activities and sports at school and play outside during their spare time, not sit watching TV or playing the computer.

Physical activity recommendations include 30mins of moderate intensity activity performed on five days of the week. This includes a brisk walk, cycling, aerobics, swimming or other aqua activities. Or you can do 20 minutes of vigorous activity. The more the better! And if you are overweight, 60 minutes of moderate exercise on five days per week is recommended. This can be accumulated in 10 minutes bouts during the day. Include lots of breaks during your sedentary time, this has been proven to help reduce your waist circumference, body mass index and trigylceride levels in your blood. The more you get up and be active, the better it is for you health, mowing the lawns, doing the garden and taking out the trash are all going to be better than sitting down for that time.  Sit less and stand more!

Philippa King is a physiotherapist at the Oamaru Physiotherapy clinic.  She is undertaking postgraduate study in Sports & Exercise Medicine and Acupuncture.   Philippa is actively involved with North Otago Rugby, providing physiotherapy services for the Heartland team.

Source:  Oamaru Physiotherapy Clinic written by Mike Stewart and Michelle Sintmaartensdyk


Headache or neck pain

Is Your Headache Really a Neck Ache?

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 Physiotherapy Can Help:

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

We Want Your Headache!

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.

Treatment:     Postural neck ache can usually easily be treated with some gentle mobilisations by a    physiotherapist and a stretching programme to prevent recurrence. Headaches are often caused by disorders of the neck or physical and emotional tension. 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. At Central City Physio the therapists have had special up-skilling to give them ‘the edge’ to take away your headache!


For all appointments call 04 499 3504.


Top Sports Injuries

Ankle Sprain

Normally caused by rolling your ankles.

Important to make sure it fully resolves as a lack of ankle movement can cause knee or foot problems.

Tip/      If you’re playing netball, soccer or any contact sport wear the correct shoes and make sure you have strong ankle, lower leg and foot muscles – if you do roll your ankle rehabilitation should strengthen these muscles.

Knee Ligament Injuries

Normally as a result of cutting or fast changes in direction – common in netball, basketball and soccer.

Tip/ Make sure you’re fit before the season starts – work on strength, endurance and flexibility.

Shoulder Injuries – the dreaded rotator cuff

Not just seen in sports injuries – our most common injury at the Clinic.  Just “overdoing it” can damage the cuff – the small muscles weren’t designed for hard work.

Tip/      Don’t suddenly play tennis/golf/squash or swim for a lot longer than you’re used to and don’t overdo the weights at the gym – your good posture and form is vital to help avoid these injuries.

Low Back Disorders

80 percent of the population suffer from low back pain in their lives – and 80 percent of those have recurring problems.  Often caused by poor posture or sports technique and muscle imbalances.

If you have a low back problem you should seek help to sort it out properly and get advice on how to prevent those all too common recurrences.

Neck Pain

A real ‘pain in the neck’.  Often caused by poor flexibility or sudden movements.


 For all appointments call 04 499 3504.


Are School Bags Hurting Our Kids?

School bags are getting heavier and our kid’s necks, shoulders and spines are bearing the brunt.

Secondary school students carry the heaviest loads at a time when their adolescent spines are developing and their muscular strength has not reached adequate levels of maturity.  Research shows that up to 77% of secondary school students report musculoskeletal symptoms in the neck, shoulders, upper and lower back.

Heavier school bags and longer carriage duration are thought to be contributing factors in the development of this pain.  Research in New Zealand has shown average bag weights at around 11-12% of body weight in secondary school students.  The accepted International guideline for this age group is a maximum of 10%.

The issue appears to be greatest at secondary school where students often do not have access to lockers.  These students carry the full load of a day’s books not only to and from school, but around school each day.  On sports days these bag weights increase or the students carry an extra bag contributing to the load.

Students carrying greater than 10% of their weight are certainly placing themselves at risk of developing pain.

Apart from the obvious need to reduce the weight of our bags to internationally acceptable standards (10% of body weight maximum) there are a number of other factors that we can influence to reduce the risk to our shoulders and spines.

School Lockers

Access to school lockers allows students to store heavier texts during the day and access them only when required.  This single factor can reduce bag weight considerably.

Bag Selection

Backpacks are the best option for school bags as they allow equal weight distribution over the shoulders and upper back.  They must be worn correctly on both shoulders to achieve this.  Tighten the adjustable shoulder straps to keep the weight against the spine and choose a bag that fits the students back.  Shape and depth is an important factor to keep the contents of the bag as close to the spine as possible.

Inclusion of a padded waist strap allows weight to be carried through the hips reducing shoulder and neck load.  All bag straps should be adjustable and shoulder straps need to be wide enough to distribute the weight.

Packing Backpacks

Heavier books and items need to be packed as closely to the spine as possible and preventing items moving during carriage will help to reduce the stress on the shoulders and back.

Addressing the problem associated with backpacks is an important factor in protecting our children’s spines for the future.

Mike Stewart is a Manipulative Physiotherapist at the Oamaru Physiotherapy Clinic.  He has post graduate qualifications in Manipulative Therapy and Sports Medicine and is a Registered Physiotherapy Acupuncturist.

He has toured as a Physiotherapist with the Maori All Blacks from 1996 to 2008.

Source:  Oamaru Physiotherapy Clinic written by Mike Stewart and Michelle Sintmaartensdyk

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