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Mind the gap?  What’s more important: how much of your physio fee you can claim, or the quality of the healthcare?

Over the last few months, there has been a lot of discussion about the decision by all health funds to remove Pilates from their list of claimable health treatments, regardless of the qualification of the person taking the class. This will be effective from 1 April 2019.

The Australian Pilates Method Association (APMA) and Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) have each written statements using language that has caused division between some Pilates teachers and physiotherapists who teach Pilates.

Physiotherapy and Pilates are very complementary to one another, and many physiotherapists also undertake training to become Pilates teachers. As both a physiotherapist and a Pilates teacher, with memberships to both the APA and the Pilates Alliance Australasia (PAA), I am torn on how to react.


The more I thought about it, I realised that there were bigger issues in play:

  1. Opting for “extras” cover increases your premiums, so it makes sense to want to make the most of it when it comes to claiming on health services.  However, I believe that this can be counterproductive when one’s approach to their own health is predominantly guided by what reimbursements they will receive from their health fund.  Health is important. You physiotherapist / dentist / optometrist / naturopath should be visited when you feel it is required… not just until your extras cover runs out for the year. Seeking healthcare treatment as you require it not only helps to keep your body in top form, it can also helps to ensure that any issues are addressed before your health starts deteriorating.  For example, when you invest in good physiotherapy treatment, your reward will be reduced pain and improved movement, which will benefit how you feel everyday, as well as your performance in physical activity.  
  2. Australia was identified as having the most efficient universal health care system of all the OECD countries, but this efficiency has come at a cost – namely that there are tight fiscal controls over what health treatments are covered by (or can be claimed from) Medicare and our private health insurance system. Everything is measured against an economic standard, rather than a quality of life standard.  As a result, health care providers in Australia are under increasing pressure from large economic structures, such as insurance companies, to provide “efficiencies that meet a short-term measurable outcome” rather than long-term outcomes. 
  3. When someone attends a Pilates session in Australia, they should have confidence in the instructor who is teaching them.  At present, there are no regulations defining the standard of training and experience that someone must have before they can call themselves a Pilates instructor or teacher.  I believe that regardless of whether that teacher has previous training in physiotherapy, exercise physiology, dance, or has recently decided to ditch their office job to work as a Pilates instructor, there should be tighter industry regulations regarding what standards must be met before someone can call themselves a Pilates instructor or teacher. This will help ensure that Pilates is only taught by people who have sufficient experience in how to teach Pilates safely and in accordance with the method, as created by Joseph Pilates.  Many people are surprised when they find out that some “Pilates instructors” have merely undertaken a weekend course. To properly understand the Pilates method and teach it safely, I believe that someone should only be allowed to call themselves a Pilates teacher once they have attained a comprehensive certification or recognised diploma-level qualification, which is typically an 18 month course that incorporates over 270 hours of practical learning along with many hours or work experience and observation.

rehabilitation health

The removal of Pilates as a claimable item is another example of health funds reducing the benefits that their members receive for the premiums they pay.

It also led me to contemplate why anyone would want a large profit-driven company guiding how they manage their own health? I believe that as a society, we need to shift our views on health and illness-prevention, starting with a rethink on the ingrained idea of only seeking healthcare or treatments where we can get money back. Everyone loves a bargain, but our health is all we have, and I believe that many people fall into the mindset that if they are receiving treatment from a healthcare professional, it’s “the norm” to receive a reimbursement when they pay for the service.

I strongly believe that anyone seeking healthcare should base their decision on the quality of the care they are receiving, and not limit themselves to seeing only those providers who facilitate a reimbursement of part of their fee.  Some people become so focused on claiming from their health fund that – if it means paying no “gap” – they will choose to see a mediocre healthcare provider rather than their own preferred healthcare provider.  Quality matters! One good physiotherapy treatment can be more beneficial than ten mediocre ones (and that’s before even considering the damage that can be done from a substandard treatment).

I know the value of a good physiotherapy treatment because many years ago I (unfortunately, and thankfully only briefly) worked for a physiotherapy practice that was largely focused on how many clients could be squeezed in per hour, rather than the health outcomes of those clients. I’m glad to say that it drove me to create a business that puts client health as the highest priority. I have, and will continue to, sacrifice profit in order to provide the best client care, by hiring the best professionals* and by providing clients with true one-on-one physiotherapy appointments and limiting the size of Pilates classes, so that clients receive sufficient feedback from their teachers.

And I’m not alone. Many independently-owned physiotherapy, Pilates, and other healthcare practices put the health of their clients ahead of profits. That’s not to say that physiotherapists working in a health fund-owned or large conglomerate-owned practice don’t have their clients’ best interest at heart, but the operators of the business may have a different focus.

Neurological conditions fall prevention
Experience and qualifications/training are important considerations when selecting your healthcare provider. A Pilates session taken by a Pilates teacher with 18 months’ training is likely to be superior to a Pilates session with a Physiotherapist who has done a weekend course.

Practices that place profit ahead of client care, may seek to cut costs by appointing novice health professionals to positions where they have little or no input from a mentor or senior supervisor. It is my view that there is no substitute for experience, and that even the best graduates need proper supervision in order to deliver proper care to clients and develop into exceptional healthcare professionals. Another example of profit-maximisation at the expense of client care is intentionally double- (or even triple-) booking clients, so that a physiotherapist must juggle clients, usually by leaving them for extended periods of time while they attend to one, or two, other clients who had bookings to see the same physiotherapist at the same time.

Most people who have extras cover through their health fund feel like they should only use providers that are approved by their health fund, so that they can claim part of the cost of the treatment. They’ve paid the health fund premiums, so why not make the most of what they can claim back? However, is this focus on cost-saving the right approach when it comes to health? When you weigh up the expense of the (seemingly ever-increasing) premiums against the claimable amount, is it actually cost-effective for you have extras cover? Also consider the value of your time – do you need to travel further to your health fund’s preferred provider?  Is their quality of service as good as a provider you would (if you didn’t have extras cover) otherwise seek out, based on recommendations from friends/colleagues? And if the quality of service isn’t as good, do you, therefore, require more appointments to reach your desired outcome?

incontinence The Body Refinery New Farm

Personally, when it comes to my (and my family’s) health, I want to choose the healthcare practice, and the individual professional, who looks after my spine / teeth / eyes.  

Many of my clients have come to us after experiencing very substandard treatment from a “preferred providers”, which they only went to for the sake of saving $7-$12. Everyone loves saving money where they can, but when it comes to healthcare it’s often the case that “you get what you pay for”.

The prevalence of health fund-owned healthcare providers and the health funds’ preferred providers is concerning; I would hate to imagine a future where my children can only see a healthcare professional that is either owned by or influenced by a health fund because all the passionate, independently-owned operators have been absorbed by health funds or run out of business. There will always be devoted healthcare individuals, because these people are passionate about working hard and ongoing learning, in order to provide the best client outcomes. However, I hope that there will always be equally passionate owners/employers who will support their dedicated team in achieving these client outcomes by only offering 1-on-1, hands-on treatment, and by fostering an environment of ongoing learning through the attendance of courses and workshops.

Regarding the Pilates industry specifically, I think there should be a greater focus on regulation. There are so many people (physiotherapists and instructors) calling themselves Pilates teachers after completing a weekend course. Even if someone is an excellent physiotherapist, exercise physiologist, personal trainer, ballet dancer or yoga instructor, I do not believe that the completion of a weekend Pilates course makes them a Pilates teacher. A weekend is not long enough to learn and experience the basics of Pilates.

Comprehensive training is essential for someone to become a Pilates teacher who can teach in an effective and safe manner. I would love to see the PAA and APMA work with the APA to properly regulate the Pilates industry. This could help to: define what qualifications are needed to be a Pilates instructor; help the public to better understand the Pilates method; and reduce the numbers of client injuries caused by “weekend course instructors” who advertise themselves as Pilates teachers. By working together to regulate the Pilates industry, the physiotherapist and Pilates industry bodies can both benefit… and more importantly ensure that clients receive the best care.


*Reference to Pilates instruction as a profession refers to Pilates instructors who are comprehensively trained or diploma qualified.

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Written by Susan Cottrell

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Make use of your physio or instructor


How your physiotherapist or Pilates instructor can assist you to achieve your goal.


Movement is a skill

We often forget that movement is a skill and that we have ‘learned’ it. Along with internal focus, external feedback is an important component of how we learn. One of the primary roles of your physio or instructor is to provide feedback. Beyond the instruction of ‘what’ to do they can often provide valuable feedback on ‘how’ to do something. An experienced physio or instructor would have accumulated hundreds if not thousands of hours studying, teaching, practising and observing movement. Why not take advantage of it?


One instructor vs. a variety of instructors

As a general rule, we recommend finding somebody that you connect with and have some consistency initially. The benefit is it allows a relationship to develop. The instructor will get a better idea of your body, movement and tendencies. You will get a deeper understanding of their teaching style and process. This helps reduce confusion while learning the foundations.

Once you have established a foundation (focusing on the principles) go experience other instructors and be open to their different perspectives and experience their different styles. You may find another favourite!

Pilates Principles


Group versus private sessions

Group settings are more economical and provide some social interaction. Private sessions allow for individual attention throughout the entire session.

Through our experience, nothing works well for ‘everybody’. In a group setting, we instruct for what works for ‘most’ people. We will try to make corrections for the individual as much as possible but by the nature of the class environment, our attention has to be divided. If you are finding you need a bit more attention a private session is a great option.


Some great times to consider working one-on-one with your physio or Pilates instructor would be:

– Pain*
– New to Pilates
– Specific goals
– Performance & technique

* The presence of pain especially if increased during Pilates needs to be discussed with your physio or pilates instructor.

At The Body Refinery, our physiotherapists or Pilates instructors are here to ‘guide’ you and help with technique. It is important that you combine the external feedback with your internal experience to get the most out of your Pilates. The more you understand your body, the more likely you will be able to apply this knowledge to activities and goals beyond the Pilates setting.


Some key ways to make good use of your physio or Pilates instructor:

– Find an instructor you connect with and have some consistency initially
– Listen to their feedback and apply it to your inward experience
– Private or small group sessions are available if more individual attention is required
– If you have a question ask!

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What you should know before starting Pilates

starting pilates

Starting Pilates or any new form of exercise can be daunting at the best of times, you’re not sure what you should bring, how early to arrive and all the rest. So to put your mind at ease here is a list of things you should know before attending your first Pilates class.


  • Wear fitted/comfortable clothing – For an instructor, it is hard to see the body and it’s movement if you are wearing baggy or restricting clothes. It can also be a safety issue as loose clothing can get caught in the equipment. Keep in mind that your legs can also be in precarious positions so you probably don’t want everything on show! It is good to be conscious of these things when choosing the clothing you wear to a Pilates class.


  • Wear socks – Socks are a must in a Pilates class, particularly in the equipment classes. This is for hygiene purposes, even though the equipment is wiped down regularly.


  • Arrive early – It is common courtesy to arrive a few minutes early so the class is not disrupted if you arrive late. If you are new to the studio you will be asked to fill out a new client form so please arrive early enough in order to do this with plenty of time to spare!


  • Hygiene – I know it seems like a no-brainer but some people perspire more than others so if you are one of those people you might like to bring a towel with you and some deodorant. Towels are not compulsory but if you would prefer to bring one you are more than welcome.


If you have any problems in the class please let the instructor know. At The Body Refinery, we are here to give the best Pilates experience possible so if we can make it better we would love to know! Please also keep in mind that we have clients who are at all different levels so don’t be discouraged if you see other people doing difficult exercises and you are on the basics.

Pilates is a practice and it takes some time to get to those harder exercises but it is exciting knowing that you can potentially work up to those intermediate and advanced exercises in time. Pilates is never boring and always a challenge!

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Join our Pilates Studio in New Farm and focus on your health and mind-body connection. Create your profile or book a class now!

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Is Bridge to Brisbane your next goal?

Bridge to Brisbane

Have you been bitten by the running bug?

About to run the Bridge to Brisbane or training for a marathon? Or do you just love running for your regular dose of cardio? Whatever your goals are… you’re a runner!

Simply put, running involves a repetitive series of movements that often leads to muscle imbalances, namely overdeveloped hip flexors and weak gluteal muscles and hamstrings. Running is also high impact and can cause a lot of stress on your ankle, knee and hip joints. Injuries to these joints are common in those who run regularly and/or long distances, and covering more kilometres generally leads to more injuries.

When you take on a new challenge, like your first Bridge to Brisbane, you need to ensure that your training regime incorporates exercises that compliment running, and which build strength in the right muscles. Take a look at any online marathon training program and you can be sure it will include regular core stability and strength training.


The Runity program is the answer!

The Runity Running Program is a unique running technique training program developed to help people get back to running pain-free and achieve their running goals. Running is one of the most natural forms of movement for humans, however, many runners struggle with injuries that inhibit their ability to perform.

The physiotherapists at The Body Refinery work with the latest scientific knowledge and technology. Surrounded by a community of runners and movement professionals, they continually deepen their knowledge and understanding of running biomechanics.

The Runity Program involves a video analysis of your running technique and an exercise-based rehabilitation program to improve your running technique, cadence and tempo. You will learn about the running fundamentals in order to improve your technique, which will make you run more efficiently and biomechanically safer.


Pilates can help too!

Pilates offers a massive repertoire of exercises that focus on pelvic stability, movement control and motor awareness. Since all of the major muscles of running attach to the pelvis, it makes sense that having a stable (pelvis) core will optimise the efficiency and power output of these muscles and lead to better performance.

Moreover, performing Pilates exercises in standing and running positions facilitates maximal carryover to your running stride. Learning how your body should look and feel in standing position, and during movement, is the first step to improving your running technique and enhancing your performance.

For the runner, Pilates has the added benefits of improving balance, and optimising hamstring and calf length, thus enhancing foot and ankle stability.

The Pilates exercises that are most appropriate for you will largely depend on what you are trying to achieve, so appropriate exercises can be selected to: help manage/rehabilitate an existing running injury and/or to improve performance.


So if you are preparing for the Bridge to Brisbane, or a similar event (Gold Coast Marathon) , and you want to get to that start line in peak condition (and injury free), Pilates can help you get there!

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Join The Body Refinery and let Pilates help you reach your goals!

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Pilates for Men… and for Everyone!

men pilates

Pilates was created by a cigar smoking, whiskey drinking, boxer, acrobat, and gymnast named Joseph Pilates, who created his exercise program, first and foremost, for men. Watching old footage of Joseph Pilates teaching high energy mat classes to large groups of men outdoors in a field, it is clear that the men in the class were getting a strong workout.

Joseph started his Contrology method (as it was originally called) with mat-based exercises.  However, during his internment in England during World War I, he further developed his method, attaching springs to the beds of the bedridden, to rehabilitate them. The object of his exercises was to return the injured men to their full function.


Pilates for Athletes

Joseph Pilates originally trained athletes, boxers, wrestlers, skiers, gymnasts, and circus performers. It wasn’t until choreographer, George Balanchine, and dancer, Martha Graham, caught onto his method, that dancers started to seek out his studio, and embrace the Pilates method. This is perhaps when the gender shift in the method started to occur, hence the misconceptions that Pilates is primarily best suited to women or dancers. It is reported that Joseph Pilates did not like to train dancers and he would send them to his wife, Clara.

More men are now starting to discover the Pilates method and its benefits for their own distinct goals. Male clients at The Body Refinery studio often seek to improve their balance, flexibility, coordination and posture, increase their core strength, address low back pain and muscular imbalances, as well as for improving fitness and muscle tone, and to rehabilitate from injury.

Many male athletes have turned to Pilates to give them a competitive edge and strengthen their game. Just some of the golfers who have made Pilates integral to their physical conditioning are Tiger Woods, Rocco Mediate, and Phil Mickelson. Here in Australia, some AFL teams have invested in Pilates equipment to incorporate the method into their training.


Pilates to improve everyday life

Apart from improving sporting performance, Pilates compliments everyday movement and activity, whether it be sitting behind a desk, climbing stairs, carrying groceries, or lifting children. It heightens coordination and improves balance, flexibility, and posture. It is an intelligent workout that can sharpen your focus and increase your ability to concentrate.

It re-educates the body on how to move efficiently, initiating from the “powerhouse” muscles (at the centre of the body), and develop core strength in the deep muscles of the back in order to stabilize and protect the back.

Pilates is for everyone: men, women, teens and children, seniors, athletes, the injured, the sedentary and the deconditioned, the flexible and the inflexible, the coordinated and the uncoordinated.

For any men out there with a misconception that Pilates isn’t for them, or for those who are intrigued by Pilates but have been hesitant to try it for one reason or another, there’s no better time than now to improve your body, your performance and your mind…  give Pilates a try and explore the benefits it will provide to you.

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Book your initial appointment in our New Farm studio by contacting us on info@thebodyrefinery.com.au or 07 3358 3915.

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5 tips to improve your sleep!

Australia is in a sleep deprivation epidemic. But, you can give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep with these helpful tips.

Research indicates that 33-44% of adults sleep either poorly or for an insufficient length of time on most nights. Not getting enough sleep means you start the new day fatigued, irritable and with other side effects of sleep deprivation. It is now common knowledge that getting a good night’s sleep is an essential basis of good health, with benefits including decreased risk of heart disease; improved ability to lose unwanted weight; improved memory, and many more benefits.


Here are 5 tips help improve your sleep:


1. Avoid caffeine after midday

It is well understood that caffeine is a stimulant that stimulates various systems within the body. Research suggests that caffeine can stay in your system for 8-14 hours. If you suffer from poor sleep, avoiding caffeine after midday may improve your sleep quality. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, green tea, some soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate. Herbal teas and a snacks such as nuts can be good substitutes for an afternoon coffee.


2. Go to bed by 10pm

Ancient medicine practices such a Chinese medicine and Ayurveda suggest that the optimal time for the human body to sleep is from 10pm to 6am. In fact, recent research confirms that hormonal fluctuations throughout the day support sleep at this time. The sleep hormone, Melatonin, peaks between 11pm and 1am and you don’t want to miss that or suppress it by being awake. The body has a natural rhythm, which is driven by daylight, so sleep cycles are important. This means that sticking to them will improve your health.

 improve your sleep

3. Avoid back-lit electronic devices

TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets emit a sleep-disrupting light. If you have problems sleeping, aim to switch off these devices 1 hour before bed.


4. Take up meditation

Daily meditation has been proven to reduce stress and research indicates it can have a positive effect on improving sleep, especially for those with sleep issues. Just 10 minutes a day is all your body may need. There are many guided meditation courses available that can be helpful to get you started.


5. Create a relaxing, luxurious, sleep environment

Create a sleep-friendly environment, clutter-free and tidy to create a little piece of luxury in your home. A place that feels relaxing will improve sleep and decrease anxiety. Diffusing lavender, or other oils such as vetiver, may also aid in sleep.

Combining all of these tips will give you the best chance of improving your sleep patterns, and experiencing the associated benefits.

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Hip pain – Pilates can help you

hip pain

Hip pain is very common and can result from numerous different causes. Hip pain tends to occur commonly in two distinct age groups: the young (from 0 to 15 years); and the older population (>45 years of age). ‘Hip’ pain is usually located in the groin, upper thigh or buttock, but may also be somatically referred from the lumbar spine.


The most common causes of hip pain in adults are:

  • Osteoarthritis of the hip (>50 years)
  • Lower back problems
  • Fracture of the femoral neck
  • Traumatic muscular strains and bursitis or tendinitis (sport-active adults)
  • Infection – septic arthritis, osteomyelitis
  • Malignancy


In children and adolescents, the common conditions leading to hip pain are:

  • Congenital dislocation of the hip
  • Perthes’ disease: (4-8 years) necrosis (tissue destruction) of the femoral head due to lack of blood supply.
  • Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE)


A recent study estimated that nearly 25% of the population will develop symptomatic hip arthritis before the age of 85. Risk factors for the development of arthritis are now well established and include femoral acetabular impingement, labral tearing, developmental dysplasia and slipped capital femoral epiphysis. As our understanding of hip pathology evolves, the focus is shifting to early identification and treatment to prevent or slow the progression of hip conditions.

The challenge for general practitioners and physiotherapists alike is to elucidate whether an individual’s hip symptoms originate from intra-articular disorders or from the surrounding extra-articular soft tissues and to target treatment accordingly. Optimal patient care is best achieved with a multidisciplinary approach involving education on lifestyle factors (diet, activity modification), medications, and physiotherapy.

hip pain

How can we help with your hip pain?

The Body Refinery’s physiotherapists are skilled in the assessment and treatment of hip conditions. We understand that the successful management of hip pathology requires thorough examination of the hip joint, as well as adjacent joints, including the sacroiliac joint and lumbar spine. Additionally, our physiotherapists undertake a thorough biomechanical analysis of the affected lower limb to determine any underlying issues that may be predisposing the individual to their hip problem.

Physiotherapy aimed initially at improving hip pain and flexibility can be expertly progressed to exercise therapy. This with a strong focus on optimising lower limb biomechanics, thereby reducing the risk of re-injury and encouraging a return to work, sport and activities of daily living.

Essentially exercise therapy should be individualized and patient-centred, taking into account factors such as patient age, mobility, co-morbidities and preferences. An assessment of specific impairments such as strength, the range of motion, aerobic fitness and balance are needed to determine the most appropriate exercise regime.


Pilates can help you

At The Body Refinery, once any manual therapy has been carried out to aid hip mobility and/or reduce painful impingements, our physiotherapists use a progressive, individualised treatment program to correct any aberrant movement patterns, instability or poor mechanics that overload the hip or adjacent areas. Clinical Pilates is an excellent form of exercise for hip rehabilitation.  Pilates is a progressive form of exercise that can be individualised and progressed to suit the individual’s rehabilitation needs. Pilates focuses on the alignment and function of the lower limb. As a collection of exercises, it also allows the body to be trained functionally.


The Body Refinery’s physiotherapists are also trained Clinical Pilates instructors, making The Body Refinery Pilates studio the ultimate environment to take clients from acute pain back, through to function, and into performance.

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Book an appointment with a physiotherapist today on 07 3358 3915 or info@thebodyrefinery.com.au

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One sneeze too many?

incontinence The Body Refinery New Farm

Recently, actress Kate Winslet was being interviewed on the Graham Norton show. She was talking about how having babies had affected her and specifically her ability to remain continent when sneezing. “I can’t jump on trampolines anymore, I wet myself,” Winslet, 42, said on the show. “It’s awful, especially if you’re wearing a skirt.”

The mother of three attributes her incontinence to childbirth. “When you’ve had a few children you know, it’s just what happens,” she says. “It’s amazing, two sneezes, I’m fine. Three, it’s game over.”


So, is childbirth responsible?

While many people think that incontinence is a condition that only affects the elderly, it can affect men and women of all ages. Urinary incontinence, and in particular Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI), is a significant health problem which can have a considerable impact on an individual’s quality of life.

SUI is defined as the involuntary loss of urine on effort or physical exertion, such as sneezing or coughing. Current evidence indicates that stress incontinence affects 4% to 14% of younger women and 12% to 35% of older women, with a peak incidence in midlife around the time of menopause.

Many women with urinary incontinence do not seek help for their condition. Some women have SUI of a mild nature and do not feel that treatment of the condition is warranted; others are embarrassed to speak with a healthcare provider about their condition or fear that treatment will require surgery.


incontinence The Body Refinery New Farm

What if we told you that simple Physiotherapy can help?

Whilst the cause of SUI is often multifactorial and may involve muscle, nerve or sphincter issues… research provides overwhelming support that pelvic floor physiotherapy is effective at reducing SUI. Furthermore, there is widespread recommendation that pelvic floor muscle training should be included in first-line management programmes for women with stress, urge or mixed urinary incontinence.

So if you, like Kate, experience symptoms from ‘’one sneeze too many”, there is help available! The Body Refinery offers women’s health physiotherapy, which involves assessment by specifically-trained, female Women’s Health Physiotherapists, who can then help with the management of stress urinary incontinence.

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Book an appointment with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist today on 07 3358 3915 or at info@thebodyrefinery.com.au

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EASTER 2018 Timetable

easter timetable the body Refinery

Reformer Classes and Remedial Massage available on Easter Monday Public Holiday


Balance out that Easter chocolate! We are opening 3 Express Reformer classes on Monday 2 April 2018:

  • 7:00 am – 7:45 am
  • 7:45 am – 8:30 am
  • 8:30 am – 9:15 am

Also available on Easter Monday 2 April: Treat yourself to a Remedial Massage from 9am.

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Please note that with the exception of the 3 Express Reformer classes and Remedial Massage appointments, the rest of the studio will be closed for the Easter long weekend: Friday 30 March to Monday 2 April.

We will return to the usual timetable from Tuesday 3 April. We hope your break will be full of relaxation, love and chocolate eggs!

Space is limited. To secure your place, please book through The Body Refinery app or contact our friendly admin team on 07 3358 3915 or info@thebodyrefinery.com.au (by 5pm Thursday 29 March).

What is your posture like at your desk?

posture tips the body refinery

It is very common to find people with back and neck problems that are related to their work setting and posture. As physiotherapists, we seek to understand the underlying factors that are responsible for each patient’s ailment. For this reason, we always ask our clients: “What makes the pain worse?” The most common answer we hear is “When I sit at my desk at work”.

Obviously, avoiding sitting at a desk isn’t usually a viable option, however, we can teach you some strategies for working at a desk that will minimise the likeliness of further injury or pain. It may sound strange that just sitting can cause injury, but that’s exactly what can result from poor static posture when sitting at the desk!

There are many reasons for this: Firstly, the human body is not designed to be seated in a chair for 8 hours a day. Stress, poor workstation ergonomics, and bad posture are the main cause of this sort of injury or pain. To remedy these, it is important to position your arms, legs and spine in the appropriate alignment, to distribute the appropriate load on your joints and muscles. Doing so avoids excessive overactivity or overstrain.


Here are 5 tips for a good posture in order to prevent ergonomic injuries:


1. Find your natural posture

  • Move your chair away from your desk and sit down comfortably. For most people, it would look a lot like sitting in a car. Your feet are on the floor in front of you; your hands are in your lap, and your shoulders relax as you lean back just a bit.
  • This is called your “natural posture.” In it, your vertebrae are stacked, your entire back moves as you breathe, and your pelvis is positioned so that your spine is stacked properly.
  • Memorise this natural posture.

posture desk tips the body refinery

2. Keyboard and mouse placement

  • Building around the natural posture, the keyboard and mouse should be positioned in a way that keeps your elbows to your sides, and your arms at or below a 90-degree angle. This way, the muscle load is reduced and you’re not straining.
  • Position your keyboard 1 to 2 inches above your thighs. For most people, that probably means employing a pull-out keyboard tray. Alternatively, you can lower your desk, but the keyboard tray is a preferred method. Here’s why…
  • Tilt. The keyboard should ideally be positioned with a negative tilt — down and away from you so that your arms and hand follow the downward slope of your thighs. That being said, you should never use the kickstand that is incorporated underneath most keyboards.
  • Position. Ideally, your keyboard and mouse should be shoulder-distance apart and as level as possible.


3. Position your screen(s)

  • Distance. If your screen is too far away, you’ll start doing something called ‘turtling’, or craning your neck, and you’ll find yourself extending your neck to see it.
  • To find the right screen position, sit back and extend your arm. The tips of your middle finger should land on your screen. That’s the spot.
  • If you have two monitors, set them up side by side (no gap), and place the secondary monitor off-centre. Those who use both monitors equally should centre them both. Now, sit back and extend your arm and pan in an arch. As you pan your arm, your fingertip should almost always touch the monitors. Use the same logic when placing other items, like a document holder or a phone.
  • Height. To adjust the height: close your eyes. When you open them, your eyes should land on the address bar. If not, lower or raise the monitors using the built-in option, with risers, or with other items (as long as the monitor is safe and stable).


4. Adjust your chair

Your chair is your best ergonomic friend. It supports your back, bottom, and posture. Here are some things to look for in a good chair:

  • Shape. Think back to your natural posture. With your tailbone sticking out just a bit, and your vertebrae in their slight curve, the lumbar portion of your spine points in toward your belly. To help you sustain this posture, find a chair that offers good lumbar support.
  • Length. When you sit down, there should be a little space between the edge of the chair and the back of your knees, about the size of your fist. Depending on the chair, you might be able to adjust the seat depth accordingly.
  • Height. When you sit, your feet should be on the floor (not dangling) in front of you, and your thighs should be slightly below your hips. Shorter people may need to use a footrest, while extra-tall people may need to adjust the height of the desk.
  • If you ever find yourself tucking your feet behind you, sitting on one leg, or in another irregular position, your chair needs to be adjusted.


5. Move every hour (minimum)

  • Take a break at least once an hour to walk around the office or stretch. If it helps, set an hourly alarm as a reminder.
  • No matter how ergonomic your workstation is, stretching your body is the only thing that can combat the health issues that arise from prolonged sitting.


If you have any questions or concerns about any pain or discomfort you are experiencing, do not hesitate and consult one of our physiotherapists. With Pilates, we can improve the endurance and strength of the postural muscles, so that sitting in the appropriate posture is eventually something that comes naturally.

We have also developed an online 4-week Low Back Pain Pilates program. Take your Physiotherapist with you!

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