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General Fitness

Improve your athletic performance with Pilates

A body under repetitive strain

We all know that athletes push their bodies to meet their physical goals, whether it be running, swimming, cycling, competing in a triathlon or a marathon, lifting weights or playing competitive sport. These activities can place high demands on the body, particularly related to the frequency of training and competitive events. Such repetitive demands on the body can lead to imbalances in strength, flexibility and agility which can lead to poor movement patterns, causing loss of efficiency and injury.

Ideally, athletes should seek to achieve optimal biomechanics relevant to their sporting pursuits. This will assist in enhancing performance and limiting overuse injuries. In fact, 70-91% of triathlete injuries are caused by overdoing (1).

 

‘P’ for  – Precision, Performance,  Prevention …. Pilates!

How do we achieve optimal biomechanics? By strengthening and lengthening muscles, maintaining joint mobility, correcting muscular imbalances in the body, improving functional stability and body awareness.

And Pilates is the perfect fit for attaining all these outcomes.

The essence of Pilates is control of body position and awareness of precision in movement. Pilates exercises are designed to lengthen and stabilise major muscle groups and correct muscular imbalances in the body.

With regular Pilates, everyone (athlete or not) can experience improvements in their daily performance (sporting endeavours or daily tasks) and this helps to prevent future pain and injuries from developing.

The elusive ‘core’

We all know we need to improve our ‘core strength’ and ‘stability’ but what does this mean exactly? For athletes such as triathletes, this means a focus on functional dynamic stability. This is the ability of the body to hold itself in better alignment for longer, even under extreme fatigue, maintaining an appropriate posture, responsiveness and efficiency of movement (2).

Exercises such as swimming, cycling and running can place high repetitive loads and demands on areas of the body such as joints, ligaments and muscles. We can attempt to balance these loads by preparing and maintaining the body with Pilates. In fact, a ‘core’ or ‘stability’ regime such as Pilates has often been referred to as the desired ‘fourth discipline’ for triathletes to improve performance and avoid injury.

 

Pilates to improve your swimming performance

Although swimming is a great full-body exercise, frequent swimming or competing can often result in pain and injuries around the shoulder girdle.

The shoulder joint is innately mobile which allows a greater range of movement but can leave it vulnerable to injury. It is said that 90% of the forward propulsive power of a swim stroke comes from the upper extremities.  This continuous stroke repetition and generation of force places high demands on the shoulder joint, so optimal biomechanics and stability around the shoulder joint are required to avoid injury (3).

The body also needs to maintain alignment in a streamlined nature for optimal swimming biomechanics. Any deviation from this alignment may lead to fatigue and injury (4). For example, a swimmer who does not have adequate abdominal control and strength may show increased hip drop during the breaststroke sequence. This imbalance may consequently reduce the propulsion phase-out of the water, increasing the risk of straining muscles and joints of the neck, shoulder and back.

Regular practice of Pilates will help to improve the system of deep stabilising muscles that support and control joint motion. These muscles include the deep abdominals (transverse abdominis), pelvic floor muscles, deep muscles approximating the spine (multifidus) and deep hip rotators. Without this internal stability system, global muscle groups are required to work harder, which leads to the increased likeliness of fatigue and injury.

 

Cyclists need Pilates too

Similar to swimming, cycling also involves repetitive movement, which can particularly overload the hips, pelvis and spine. Pilates assists in strengthening the muscles that support the lumbar spine and helps athletes to reduce the amount of excessive movement at the pelvis – reducing shear tension through the lumbar spine.

Gluteal muscle strength and efficiency are also important for maintaining optimal knee alignment when cycling. This helps to reduce the incidence of knee pain and injuries.

Postural conditioning through Pilates is also of paramount importance for cyclists to ensure thoracic spine mobility and strength to assist in maintaining the forward postural position. Cyclists can often be known to develop neck and back pain from holding these positions for prolonged periods without appropriate conditioning.

What about runners?

Of each of these disciplines mentioned, running has the most impact on the joints, ligaments and muscles (1). For triathletes, it is also worth considering the fatigue factor involved, after completing the two previous disciplines of swimming and cycling in a triathlon. A focus on the deep stabilising system of muscles that support and control joints is therefore crucial to reduce the risk of injury and help to maintain running technique, stability and form.

The 6 ways Pilates will benefit your athletic performance

– Improved breath control
– Increased stability or ‘core strength’
– Better sense of balance
– Improved joint flexibility
– Prevention of injury
– Muscle Recovery

 

How can The Body Refinery help you?

At The Body Refinery, we have a number of services and Health Professionals that can assist you in improving your athletic endeavours. These services include Physiotherapy, Exercise Physiology, Myotherapy, Remedial Massage and Pilates.

Our Pilates services are run by highly skilled and trained Pilates instructors who can tailor a program to suit your needs.

Our Physiotherapists also work with athletes in our Clinical Rehab classes – this service blends traditional Physiotherapy exercises with Pilates informed exercise to provide you with an individualised program to assist with your injuries and performance needs.

Or you may find our refined runner program is what you are after.

Please call our friendly reception team today on 3358 3915 to discuss how we can help you!

 

References

  1. Crowell, S., Davis, I (2011). Gait retraining to reduce lower extremity loading in runners. Clin Biomech.  9(3),pp. 78-83
  2. Ezechielli, M (2013). Muscle Strength of the Lumbar Spine in different sports. Technology And Health Care: Official Journal Of The European Society For Engineering And Medicine [Technol Health Care] 2013; Vol. 21 (4), pp. 379-86.
  3. Heinlein, S (2010).  Biomechanical Considerations in the Competitive Swimmer’s Shoulder. Sports Physical therapy. Vol. 2 (6), pp. 519-525
  4. Richardson, A., Jobe, F., Collins , H (1994). The shoulder in competitive swimming. American Journal Sports Medicine

Training flexibility in young dancers – why you shouldn’t stretch

Dance Pre-pointe assessment physiotherapy The Body Refinery Brisbane

Dancers sitting in the splits or effortlessly mounting their legs above their heads are quintessential images in the dance world. While many dancers are hypermobile, others are not and have to work hard to achieve the same range of movement. They resort to stretching every day to ‘increase their flexibility’ often to no avail. If this sounds like you, then you’re not alone. You may think that holding stretches passively lengthen your muscles, but this is not the case. In fact, research has shown that static stretching (i.e. holding a stretch) for longer than 60 seconds actually inhibits the muscle. If you take this inhibited muscle into a dance class you are more at risk of injury.

That’s why, at the Australian Ballet, you no longer see dancers stretching their calves. It is all thanks to Dr Sue Mayes, the Principal Physiotherapist at the Australian Ballet. Mayes educated the dancers on the importance of not stretching their calves and introduced single leg calf raises into their daily class. Over the past decade, they have seen a dramatic decline in ankle and calf injuries. As Mayes explains, when performing, dancers are not static and do not hold passive positions. Instead, they are dynamic, moving in and out of extreme ranges of movement. To have the capacity to move into these ranges with power and control requires strength. By taking a strength-based approach, Mayes and her team found they could improve flexibility and increase range of motion in a safe and effective way.

Dance Pre-pointe assessment physiotherapy The Body Refinery Brisbane

If you shouldn’t stretch, how should you warm-up?

Rather than sitting in a stretch, you should take the muscle through its range dynamically. For example, you could do a slow controlled leg swing. Other suggestions include:

  • Jogging around the studio to raise your body temperature and get the blood flowing
  • Releasing tight muscles with a ball or roller
  • Gentle activation exercises to ‘wake up’ the deep stabilising muscles such as the glutes

Dance Pre-pointe assessment physiotherapy The Body Refinery Brisbane

Should you abandon stretching altogether? 

It depends on the way you do it. If you are going to stretch, it should be dynamic and not held for longer than 30-40 seconds.

If you have been working hard on your range of movement and it’s not improving, it may be time to address the reasons why the movement is restricted. This is where physiotherapy can help.

Our physiotherapist, Courtney, understands the frustration of lacking flexibility. Unable to do the splits, she used to stretch every day, with little improvement. She now loves to apply her knowledge to help dancers achieve their own flexibility goals.

Courtney can undertake a thorough assessment to determine what may be limiting your flexibility, whether it be related to:

    • Muscle tightness
    • Muscle weakness

Joint or capsular restriction

  • Fascial or neural tension

 

Following this assessment, she can design a tailored program specifically for you to address these areas. Courtney offers as well pre-pointe assessment to all dancers.

 

To book an initial assessment with Courtney, contact our friendly reception staff on 3358 3915 or info@thebodyrefinery.com.au.

What Pilates/Fitness class should I be doing?

Pilates is an ideal movement therapy as it moves the spine in all directions, strengthens the core and enables the movement from a stable platform. At The Body Refinery, we are passionate about movement and teaching our clients to move well.

We are fortunate enough to be able to provide our clients with a full and complete range of Pilates-based and fitness services for anyone on their movement journey. This means that at The Body Refinery we can meet the goals of anyone wanting to move for a healthy, fit and fulfilling life. But which Pilates/fitness class is for you?

 

Fitness Classes

These classes (described below) are run by experienced Pilates instructors and meet the general goals of Pilates – moving the spine in all directions and giving an all-over workout but not specific to address individual goals. These classes are great for someone wanting to add in a few more sessions to their routine or just add Pilates to an existing training to increase their body awareness and stability. The best choice for people who just want to move and work hard.

Enjoy unlimited access to these classes with our Totally Refined and Fitness memberships

 

Mat classes 

Held on the floor on a mat everybody doing the same thing at the same time.  There will be some modification made for people but individualised goals are not done in these classes. Mat classes are probably the hardest of all session as there is not supportive equipment and it is performed against gravity.

Enjoy unlimited access to these classes with our Totally Refined and Fitness memberships

 

Pilates Reformer Fitness New Farm The Body Refinery

 

Reformer classes 

Essentially the same as the Mat classes but taken on a reformer. Everyone is doing the same exercise at the same time. There will be some modification available but exercises are not individualised. However, what is really good about these classes is the reformer! Reformers have springs and pulleys that make it easier than the mat as the reformer makes a supportive environment but it also allows the ability to work with resistance for those who would like even more challenge.

Enjoy unlimited access to these classes with our Totally Refined and Fitness memberships

 

Refined Barre

Our Refined Barre classes incorporate elements of dance, ballet and Pilates to create a fun-filled workout that strengthens and lengthens the body, improves balance and flexibility while increasing your heart rate.

Note:Don’t stress you don’t need to have any dance, ballet or Pilates experience! Refined Barre is more of a fitness class that focuses on continuous functional movement to help keep you feeling fit, happy and alive, all in a fun and safe setting. No tutus required!

Enjoy unlimited access to these classes with our Totally Refined and Fitness memberships

 

 

Studio Pilates

Instructed by a diploma level qualified instructor (meaning they have done full certification in both mat and equipment and their course is recognized by the professional bodies of Pilates in Australia the PAA and the APMA). These classes are great if you are wanting to really take their movement to the next level.
In these classes, you will use all the equipment in the studio: reformer, trapeze, wunda chair, barrels and mat, to address specific goals. These goals may be based on a past injury, sporting performance, injury prevention or general wellness. Our Studio Pilates classes are really tailored to a specific body and its limitations. To commence these classes an initial consultation with a physiotherapist is required so that goals can be set and a program planned for you.

Enjoy unlimited access to these classes with our Totally Refined membership

 

Strength and Conditioning

If you are injury-free and would like to challenge yourself, our new Strength and Conditioning Classes⁠ are a great way to increase your strength and fitness levels.⁠ ⁠These sessions are the perfect way to do semi-private classes in a gym setting environment with an Exercise Physiologist or Personal Trainer.⁠

Enjoy unlimited access to these classes with our Totally Refined membership

Exercise Physiology exercises and sports conditioning New Farm

Yoga

Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit. Mindful practise cultivates deeper awareness (externally and internally) leading to a greater appreciation of each moment both on and off the mat. Our Yoga classes are the perfect way to start and end your day – join a class and see the benefits for yourself!

Enjoy unlimited access to these classes with our Totally Refined and Fitness memberships

 

TRX

Our TRX classes are a complete full-body workout. The TRX System, also known as Total Resistance exercises, refers to a specialized form of suspension training that utilizes equipment developed by former U.S. Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick. Tighten your core and target every muscle in your body with these classes! Experience this fitness phenomenon with high-energy today.

Enjoy unlimited access to these classes with our Totally Refined and Fitness memberships

 

TRX classes new farm The Body Refinery

 

Clinical Rehab

Instructed by a physiotherapist these classes are for those people who have a “condition” that needs to be monitored by a Physiotherapist to ensure their condition is properly managed. People in clinical pilates classes should be there at the recommendation of their physiotherapist. Clinical Rehab classes will move at a slower pace and Physiotherapists may use some of their manual skills in a class in conjunction with the exercises. Essentially this is a shared treatment session. Clinical Pilates classes should not be a long-term class but rather a stepping stone into studio classes where movement can really be progressed.

 

If you have any questions about which of our class is appropriate for you then don’t hesitate to contact us and we can give you further information – 3358 38915 or email us at info@thebodyrefinery.com.au

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Hashimoto’s Disease, Hypothyroidism and Exercise

Hypothyroidism

Four years after the birth of my second child I was eventually diagnosed with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Disease. It was a long journey to get the diagnosis, as although I felt very unwell, I was regularly advised that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. So, I just presumed all my symptoms were related to being a busy mum who ran a business.

The symptoms I was experiencing were:

  • Lethargy / Fatigue
  • Weight gain and fluid retention
  • Depression / Low mood
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Breathlessness
  • Dry skin
  • Poor concentration
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Decreased libido
  • Menstrual changes

Other symptoms that people with Hashimoto’s Disease experience are:

  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Thinning of hair and eyebrows
  • Constipation
  • Enlarged thyroid (Goitre)
  • Decreased fertility

 

Hashimoto’s Disease is now considered the most common Autoimmune diseases and affects the thyroid gland (Beynon, & Pinneri, 2016). It usually causes hypothyroid symptoms, however, it is possible for Hashimoto symptoms to swing between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Hypothyroidism (underactive Thyroid) is more common in women than men, with estimates that 10 times more women than men are affected. Hypothyroidism is typically gradually progressive, with symptoms increasing as thyroid function deteriorates.

Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, occurs if the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, causing every function in the body to speed up.

For me, the medication made a huge difference, but being a physiotherapist, I wanted to know more about my condition and what else I could do – especially in the areas of exercise and movement.

Exercise has been shown to be effective in improving thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. Studies have shown that medium-intensity aerobic exercise (classified as 70% of a person’s maximum heart rate) produced the best results for improving TSH.  However, if exercise is too intense, too lengthy or too frequent, there may not be enough time for the body to restore normal levels of thyroid hormones T3 and T4.

Correlation between physical activity and signs of autoimmune flare-ups varies from one person to another.

For me, the perfect exercise turned out to be Pilates – I could work hard enough to get the intensity I required to support and stimulate TSH levels, without producing the negative reactions associated with over-exercising.  The other addition I made to my exercise routine was to start training with an Exercise Physiologist for my weights training and cardiovascular workouts. My EP was able to monitor me and understood the pathophysiology of Hashimoto’s Disease (I highly recommend Natalie Soldatenko at The Body Refinery).

 

Ten years on, I am feeling the best I have ever felt – I feel like I am 20 again. My advice to women experiencing any of the symptoms listed earlier, is to get your thyroid tested, and if a thyroid issue is identified, see an endocrinologist and start to exercise appropriately by training with someone who has the training to properly understand autoimmune conditions.

 

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Written by Susan Cottrell, Physiotherapist and Director of The Body Refinery

How should I set up my desk?

sitting

With so many of us working from home at the moment you may be thinking “how am I meant to set up my desk?”  Here is a short guide with some tips to help you work from home comfortably.

The first thing to remember is there is not just one right way to sit at a desk and it may look slightly different depending on your work demands and your body.  It is important to remember that even the best posture is not going to be completely comfortable eight hours a day.  Our bodies are just not designed to sit for that long!  Your posture should be comfortable and natural for you.

sitting

 

Seat

First of all, sit with your feet flat on the floor and your chair height so that your hips are just above your knees. A good seat that is adjustable and has some lumbar support will serve you well. If your seat does not have any low back support an easy solution is to fold up a towel and place it behind your low back. You should be sitting with a slight tilt backwards at around 100-120 degrees, rather than directly upright.

 

Desk

The desk should be at a level where your elbows are by your side and forearms can rest on the desk around 90 degrees.  Make sure that the things you use regularly, like the keyboard and mouse, are within reach while sitting and you are not stretching to reach them repeatedly throughout the day.

 

Screen

Screen height is one of the key things that can make a big difference to the neck and upper back strain.  If you imagine your screen is divided into thirds: top, middle, and bottom.  When sitting comfortably, your eyes should fall at the line dividing the top and middle thirds of the screen. This is usually where laptops fail.  If you are trying to work with a laptop, consider purchasing a separate keyboard so that you are able to raise the screen.

 

It is important to stand and move often.  As a general rule getting up every hour to stretch, move and reset will help keep your body feeling good.

 

If you would any further advice on setting up your desk at home, our team are here to guide you.  This information is quite general and a more detailed assessment by an Osteopath or Physiotherapist can help individualise the set-up. We are available for 1-on-1 appointments or take advantage of our Telehealth option, which should allow us to view your set-up and help tailor it to your needs.

More Tips on Improving Your Posture at Home in this Q&A With the Experts on Porch.com.

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Written by Osteopath Natalie Anderson

Should I use a registered or unregistered NDIS service provider?

What’s the difference between registered and unregistered NDIS service providers?

Why would a service provider choose not to be registered with the NDIA?

What does engaging an unregistered service provider mean for an NDIS participant?

 

The Body Refinery works with many NDIS clients but is an unregistered service provider. The National Disability Insurance Scheme encourages service providers to register, however, this process takes a considerable amount of time, money and effort on behalf of the service provider. For this reason, there are many service providers who choose not to register. This effectively labels them as ‘unregistered service providers’.

One of the benefits of opting to be Plan-Managed or Self-Managed over Agency-Managed (i.e. by the NDIA), is access to both registered and unregistered service providers.

The word ‘unregistered’ can make some people feel uneasy, however, the term is misunderstood, and as a result, some participants miss out on the opportunity to work with a vast number of professional service providers who can help them achieve their NDIS goals.

movement

Put simply:

  • a registered service provider is an entity that has registered its services and has been approved by the NDIA as a service provider.
  • an unregistered service provider has not completed this approval process, though can still offer a valid service to participants.

One key difference is that only registered providers can claim their invoices directly with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, whereas an unregistered provider will send invoices to you or your Plan Manager for payment. Participants who use the services of unregistered providers will need to manually claim funds back from the NDIS through their NDIS portal, or you can engage a Plan Manager to do this for you.

It’s important to remember that just because a service provider chooses to remain unregistered with the NDIS doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t use their services. Unregistered service providers can offer NDIS participants essential and highly-skilled services that can assist the participant in reaching their goals. These services are still covered by the NDIS, though you may need to pay a gap if the price of the services doesn’t fall within the NDIS price guide.

There is minimal risk in engaging an unregistered service provider, with many of these service providers using their skills and dedication to improve the lives of people living with a disability.

Unregistered NDIS providers are not audited for adherence to the requirements of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Commission, however, physiotherapists and other health professionals already adhere to the requirements of their own professional industry body, the standards expected by their employer/practice and generally pride themselves on providing excellent patient care.

 

The Body Refinery offers a range of services that are covered under the NDIS, and the relevant team members are experienced in writing the care plans required for the NDIS.  We have existing relationships with many Plan Management companies to ensure that participants receive the highest quality of care.

If you’d like to see how we can ensure you are living your fullest life with the benefits of the NDIS, call our friendly admin team, who can arrange for you to speak directly with one of our physiotherapists, osteopaths, or exercise physiologists.

NDIS – National Disability Insurance Scheme
NDIA – National Disability Insurance Agency

5 Things to Remember when Returning to Running

Running – when you’re fit enough to run, to really run, it feels amazing and simple – just you, your running shoes and the ability to go wherever your legs can take you.

Running is different things to different people: a moment of mindfulness and awareness of yourself; a sacred, quiet time at the start or end of the day; a time to think; to compete; or to socialise.

Running can be a truly life-affirming exercise. However, it’s rare for people to uphold a consistent running routine throughout life, and our time on the pavements, trails, roads can wax and wane, ebb and flow. So if you’ve been more ebb than flow with running, here are 5 things to remember when returning to running, to ensure you don’t end up with a running-related injury just when it’s getting good again.

 

  • Our bodies like building up to load gradually. Too much too soon increases the risk of injury.

Incidence and prevalence of running injury in long-distance runners are high, ranging from 20 – 80% of runners. The predominant site of these injuries is the knee (7-50%), with other lower and upper leg injuries being next most prevalent.

Evidence indicates that long weekly training distances and a history of previous injury are risk factors for injury. Our bones and tissues will adapt to the loads under which they are placed, however, they need time to make these adaptations. Getting the right balance of training load while building tissue load capacity is key in mitigating running injuries, thus gradually increasing your running distance will help to minimise the risk of injury to your body, particularly your knees.

 

  • Be fit to run

The fitter we are, the better we can run. The overall load experienced by your body can be significantly reduced through: good running form; a relatively quick cadence; and less ground contact time. This can be achieved by having: cardiovascular fitness to maintain good form; leg speed; and enough strength and recoil in our tissues to minimise ground contact time. Building up to this slowly will make all the difference.

 

running

 

  • Cross-training – cardiovascular fitness, hip, core, and leg strength and stability is where it’s at.

Including other cardiovascular fitness routines in your training will help you get fitter quicker without overloading your body with running. Consider incorporating swimming, cycling, spin, and/or Tabata/HIIT classes between runs to help increase cardiovascular fitness.

Strengthening is preventative because it helps your tissues adapt to load. Running-focused strength routines are usually based on exercises around the lower leg, thigh and hip, pelvis and core to support the hip, knee and lower limbs. Exercise physiology sessions, Studio Pilates and group classes such as Barre, Reformer, Mat and TRX can be fantastic additions to your cross-training.

(Read our Hip, Core and Lower Leg Strength for Endurance Runners blog for more tips!)

 

  • Our bodies need rest

When you’re starting out or getting back into running, allow a rest day between each active day.

Without rest, you cannot recover, and without recovery, improvement may slow and you may become susceptible to injury. It’s okay to incorporate stretching, mobilising and light yoga on your recovery days – just make sure you’re taking it easy.

As your body adapts and strengthens you can start to change up your training and rest schedule to incorporate more running and exercise. Your exercise physiologist or physiotherapist can provide invaluable advice in planning your training and rest schedule.

Other great additions to your training regime are regular myotherapy or remedial massage sessions, which help maintain good tissue quality and joint range of motion. Once every 2-4 weeks is recommended, depending on your running load.

 

  • Good shoes are important

It is worth investing in a pair of shoes that effectively support your feet and lower limbs. If you’re a runner from way back, you’ve probably already found a brand or style that you know and love. If you’re not sure, seek advice from your physio or a specialist running shoe retailer. Ensure you replace your shoes when they are worn – a general rule of thumb is at around 500 + kilometres or approximately every 6 months if you’re running frequently.

If you would like assistance to improve your running form or training schedule, have any running-related discomfort that requires attention, or would like to be guided through exercises in a personalised class, call the friendly admin team at The Body Refinery.

Our Refined Runner program may be just the thing for you.  Our team includes diploma-qualified Pilates Instructors, Physiotherapists, and Exercise Physiologist, and an Osteopath who enjoy helping runners achieve their goals, pain-free and in good form. Additionally, our hands-on Myotherapist and Remedial Massage Therapists are here to help keep you in top form.

 

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Hip, Core and Lower Leg strength for Endurance Runners

Cross and strength training for running can help make you a more robust, stronger and efficient runner, thus reducing your risk of injury, making running easier and potentially benefiting your race pace.

If you look at the biomechanics of running, not only is it an integrated, full-body activity, it is also a series of single-leg movements. Thus, we need to have an adequate amount of single-leg balance, strength and mobility at the ankle, knee and hip, along with the slings and systems involved with upper body and pelvis rotation, counter-rotation, supporting the weight of the upper body and absorption of energy.

Here are 12 simple exercises you can incorporate into your easy run or cross-training days. Once you’ve mastered these and you’re looking for more variations and progressions, contact us at The Body Refinery to book in for a refined runner session and get the most out of your training time!

The goal is to get to 1 minute per exercise, completed with good form. Complete the exercises in chronological order from 1 – 12 – this is one set. You’re aiming to build up to 3 sets over time.

Start out on the ground – here we will wake our brain and body up to each other, you will increase your muscle and body position awareness in these supported exercises, ready to increase the challenge and integrate more movements further along in this exercise sequence.

  • Supine bridges – focusing on gluteus maximus and hamstrings with some pelvic control from abdominals, progress to adding a single leg march.

  • Side leg raises – focusing on pelvic stability and gluteus medius – our main pelvic stability muscle. Add a bottom leg lift for more core and inner thigh challenge

  • Single leg stretch – a little bit of ab love while you’re controlling hip extension and flexion

  • Thoracic mobility + spine extensor strength – FR mobilisation & dart/scare crow

  • Side plank – an amazing exercise working on neck, shoulder, oblique, side hip + inner thigh and ankle strength. Add a twist to increase the oblique challenge and a top leg lift to really fire up those hip stabilisers.

  • Plank – another amazing exercise integrating neck, shoulder, abdominal and quad strength + toe mobility. Add alternating leg raises or shoulder taps or both

  • Clamshell push up

Now let’s bring this party up off the ground and integrate.

  • Full squat, hands against a wall – working on upper back mobility and hip mobility with leg and hip strengthening
  • Walking lunges – focusses on building single leg glute and quad strengthening.

  • Dragon squat – mobility and stability! Involving hip, ankle, toes.

  • Discobolus – single-leg hip stability, balance and strength coming at you

  • Double leg hopping on the spot w leg hike – lower leg tissue recoil + hip & knee mobility and strength

 

Want a super quick session? No problems, go from number 8 – 12.

If you are looking for further support and guidance or prefer the motivation of training in a group, The Body Refinery is here to help. Our team of dedicated movement professionals deliver over 160+ group fitness and Pilates classes and many more individual and group studio Pilates, exercise physiology and clinical rehab sessions per week, in addition to having specialised running programs on offer.

We have you covered! Contact The Body Refinery today to find out how we can help.

Exercise improves immunity

We know there are many health benefits to leading an active lifestyle – one very important health benefit is that exercise enhances immune competency, particularly in older adults who are at greater risk of infection.

Exercise has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of communicable diseases such as viral infections in addition to chronic diseases and non-communicable diseases such as cancer and chronic inflammatory disorders. Studies show improved immune surveillance to bacterial and viral antigens following bouts of exercise, in addition to the reduction/delay of ageing effects on the immune system through regular physical activity. This is great news for us at a time when we are looking for proactive ways to boost our immunity.

pilates

Scientists have discovered that the behaviour of almost all immune cell populations in the bloodstream is altered in some way after exercise. In fact, contemporary evidence emphasises that the immune system is in a heightened state of surveillance and regulation, particularly at about 1-2 hours after exercise. It appears that a specialised and systemic response occurs with mobilisation of immune cells to peripheral tissues, specifically in large numbers at mucosal surfaces such as the gut and lungs. It is thought that these immune cells identify and eradicate other cells infected with pathogens or those that have become damaged or malignant, along with the stimulation of immune cell production in the bone marrow.

Regular exercise is also championed as a means of enhancing the immune system’s competency in older adults, particularly those aged over 60 years. Studies show that people engaging in regular, moderate to vigorous exercise of at least 20 minutes, three or more times per week have a greater immunity response compared with those who do not exercise.

Additionally, there is scientific support for exercise as immunotherapy for cancer following observation of anti-tumour behaviour of immune cells after exercise.

So, make sure you keep moving regularly to improve your immunity, and if you’re when you feel the time is right, schedule in some exercise with our team of health and movement professionals at The Body Refinery. We have a range of options available to you, including online classes, 1-on-1 exercise physiology sessions, 1-on-1 physio-led clinical rehabilitation sessions, and small group clinical rehab classes that are taken by a physiotherapist. There is no better way to commit to your self-care and boost immunological health at the same time.

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 Written by Sarah Holloway, Myotherapist and Pilates Instructor

NETFLIX Neck

Your posture during screen time

Have you heard of the chin poke posture or forward head posture, or text neck? As their name suggests it is the position we find ourselves forming when we’re deep into a solid Netflix binge, IG scroll session or when we’ve been concentrating hard at work or study. It looks like chin poking out, and hunched shoulders, arms out in front on a keyboard or holding or devices.

No judgement friends, only care.

If this is you (let’s be honest, it’s all of us right?!) this blog is here to help.

Here are a few ways you can minimise getting a sore neck and shoulders, along with some remedies if you’ve already gone too hard with screen time and need some smoothing out.

 

Why does it hurt and what’s the problem with being in this posture?

 

So glad you asked.

Technically forward head posture means your skull is leaning forward a few to several centimetres in front of the midline of your body – your ears are not lining up with your shoulders. You can test this by standing against a wall: does your butt, upper back and back of the headline up nice and easily on the wall? If not…forward head posture.

Gravity plays a huge role in how the body changes from prolonged postures. In this case, because the head isn’t stacked nicely on top, the weight of your head increases load through your neck and upper back joints and tissues, for every couple of centimetres your head is forward, there is approximately an additional 4.5kg of weight placed through these areas, potentially leading to stiffness and dysfunction, including headaches and soreness in the neck and upper back.

Additionally, lengthening and weakness occur to the ‘core’ muscles at the front of the neck, the postural muscles through the upper back, between the shoulder blades and at the back of the shoulders. While shortening and tightness affect other muscle, including at the base of your head and chest muscles. This can create dysfunction and discomfort in addition to reducing the strength and endurance to hold your head and upper back upright.

Further to this, other muscles can compensate for those that are weakened but can end up overactive, often becoming the cause of headaches and discomfort between the shoulder blades. Our ability to breathe properly and deeply is reduced, thus there can be reduced oxygen in our system and muscles – we can feel de-energised and achy around our fatigued postural muscles. The jaw alignment is not ideal in head forward posture, potentially leading to tightness and dysfunction. And upper body alignment in this posture can affect shoulder range and function.

 

How to avoid this

 

Take regular reset and movement breaks. If you can commit to this for a couple of weeks, you will increase your body awareness, improve postural strength, improve mobility and reduce tension. And you will be likely to continue this behaviour as it will become a habit.

Here are some stretch suggestions:

5-10 second Reset breaks regularly – do a quick body scan

  • Sitting up from the sit bones, even pressure through both sides of your seat, spine upright in a neutral position- hopefully supported by a good chair, both feet on the ground, head sitting on top of shoulders. Shoulders relaxed, neck long and relaxed.
  • Take a few deep, slow breaths in through the nose, down into the abdomen, expanding outwards into the lower ribs and up into the chest. Then slowly breathe out fully, pausing for a moment before the next breath.

Movement breaks

Mobility – Increase blood flow around the joints and tissues and improve the movement of the spine to make sitting upright easier.

 

In your seat:

  • T-spine extension – Sitting up tall in your chair, extend back over the backrest, breathe in and exhale to return. Do several, they feel good!

  • Mermaid – take your left hand out to the side, inhale, exhale as you curve your upper back in a C shape to open the ribs, reaching your arm overhead. Do at least 6 repetitions on each side.

  • Bow and arrow – reaching arms in front, shoulder width and height reach one arm forward rotating your spine with it as you pull the other arm back like a bow and arrow, you’re aiming to rotate your upper body while keeping the hips square. Do at least 6 repetitions on each side.

  • Shoulder rolls – get the blood flowing around your shoulder muscles by circling the shoulders forward 6 times and back 6 times.

Postural Strengthening

This will help you find a good posture with ease and have the endurance to maintain it. It will also allow to decrease the aching pain around your neck, shoulders and upper back.

  • Cervical retractions – sitting up tall, draw the head back w a gentle chin tuck as if you were trying to get a double chin. Hold for a few seconds. You can progress this to standing against a wall and retracting your head to press the back of it against the wall for a few seconds. Or coming into 4 point kneeling and adopting the same retracted position through the head and neck and holding against gravity for several seconds before relaxing. Repeat 10 times

  • Bruggers- sitting tall, take your arms in an A shape, Extend the arms back behind you, Rotate the crook of the elbow to face out, thumbs back and palms out. Squeeze in between the shoulder blades and hold for 30 sec to 1 min, 3-4 times, increasing a little more in time or sets as the weeks go on.

  • Theraband rows – if you have a resistance band, tie it around something steady and about at navel level or higher. Hold the ends and pull the elbows back like you’re rowing. 15 – 20 reps.

  • Dart – laying on the ground face down, arms along your side, extend your upper back, lifting your chest and upper ribs off the ground. Roll the shoulders back to open the chest, lift the arms off the ground and squeeze them up to the ceiling as you pull the shoulder blades together, hold for a few moments and lower. Repeat 5-6 times.

 

Stretching

Decrease tightness and tension in shortened muscles.

  • Hip flexor stretch – Stand in a lunge position and as you drop your back knee toward the ground, tuck your bottom under and press the hips forward at the same time.

  • Pectoralis major and minor stretch – Stand side on to a wall or door frame, place your forearm vertically on the wall or door frame with your elbow slightly above the shoulder, step forward with the body until you feel a stretch in your chest. Also in the door frame, slide your arm vertically up the wall until your elbow is higher than your head and walk forward until you get a comfortable, but deep stretch in the chest

  • Upper cervical stretch – Tuck your chin in and tip your nose toward your chest, you can add some gentle assistance with your hand to deepen the stretch.

 

Further help is available at The Body Refinery

At The Body Refinery, we have a great team of movement and health professionals to help you further. Our physios are trained in headache assessment and treatment. You can book in for a massage to reduce tension and stiffness and restore muscle function and movement. And you can boost your strength, stability and mobility with our varied movement options – work out at home with our live virtual classes or your own membership to The Body Refinery Online. Come in for greater attention to your form and a tailored movement session with our Exercise Physiologist, Pilates Instructor or in a physio run clinical rehab session.