Q and A with Kate Roberts from Physiocise

Got an injury? Don't know whether to keep it moving, stay still, stretch it, ice it, or just go back to bed forever? You're in the right place. We chatted to Kate Roberts from Physiocise and got the lowdown on pesky pain. 

What are some ways that people can prevent injuries?

One of the most important and easiest ways to prevent injuries is to make sure you maintain good posture throughout your day. Whether you are sitting at your desk at work, driving your kids around to activities, walking your dog or playing sport, good posture is fundamental to injury prevention. If you have good posture, your core muscles are much more likely to do their job properly, which is to keep you both stable and strong.

If you find yourself in one position for a long time such as when you are using your computer or standing up for a long period of time, try changing positions or moving around a little to give your muscles a rest.

It is also really important to warm up when you exercise. Whether you play a sport such as tennis or golf or you like to walk with your friends or jog with your dog, a gentle warm up beforehand has been shown to be very effective in preventing injuries. When you have finished exercising is the perfect time to do some stretching to ease out muscles that have worked hard and to help correct your alignment for the rest of the day.

What should you do if you have an injury or chronic pain?

The first thing you should do if you have an acute injury is to ice the area and rest a little. Sometimes a compression bandage and elevation can also be important such as when you sprain your ankle. You should also try to move as normally as possible. Several years ago people with back pain were told to go to bed but now we know that you should keep moving gently and as normally as you can. Chronic pain can be confusing- When you have pain you often just want curl up in bed when in fact you should keep moving and doing your usual daily activities. It is also usually a good idea to speak with your physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor to make sure you are looking after your injury properly. Sometimes your doctor can also help with medication. Some injuries respond well to panadol, some to anti-inflammatories and sometimes you need something a little stronger.

What are some of the factors that increase your risk of injury?

Recent research has shown us that people who sit for more than 8 hours a day are at a significant risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as low back pain, hip and groin pain or neck/shoulder pain. This is a great reason to get up and get moving during the day!

Older people and young children are the group who are most at risk of sustaining acute injuries and people who play high levels of sport are twice as likely to sustain acute injuries as people who don’t exercise at all. Poor postural habits are a huge contributor to acute, overuse and chronic injuries. If you slouch at your desk all day or you slop onto one leg when you are standing you are more likely to develop pain. These postural habits then carry over to the exercise that you do or the sport that you play and leave you more likely to develop pain. Women are also more prone to some injuries such as ACL tears and tendinopathies because of our body shape and our hormones. This is another reason why developing and maintaining good posture is so important. At Physiocise we see a lot of female clients and we know that a weak pelvic floor or a post baby pelvic floor is closely associated with low back and pelvic pain. It is essential to retrain your pelvic floor if it is not as fantastic as it should be to keep your back safe when you exercise.There is also a lot or research now linking the mind to the body. We know that you are more likely to develop pain if you are stressed, not sleeping well or just feeling unhappy a lot of the time. These are things we can all address in our daily lives to decrease our risk of developing pain. Getting out there to do some exercise is one of the most powerful tools you have for stress relief and improving your sleep.

To exercise or not to exercise - should you stop moving when you’re injured?

When you have an acute injury such as an ankle sprain or a torn muscle, or an overuse injury such as a tendinopathy, you need to rest the area for a while and take it easy for a few days. You need to move as normally as you can and let your body heal. Then you can ease yourself back into exercise and build back up to your usual level of exercise. Your physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor will probably prescribe specific exercises for you to do to ensure your injury heals correctly and will advise you on how long you need to rest for as well as guide you back into your usual level of exercise. Some minor injuries require only a few days rest and you can jump straight back into exercise. When it comes to chronic pain, research tells us you need to keep moving and keep exercising as much as you can. So once you have checked in with your health practitioner, don’t stop moving. 

Exercise and moving well is the key to a happy and healthy body!

About Kate Roberts

Kate graduated from University of Sydney, later completing her Masters in Sports Physio. She has worked with Physiocise since 2002 but has also been the Team Physiotherapist for the NSW Rhythmic Gymnastics and has written and lectured extensively in this area for the APA.

As a long term classical dancer herself, she had great insight and interest in dance injuries. As well as working with the Australian Ballet she was instrumental in founding the Dance Network of Sports Physiotherapy Australia. She is brilliant with lumbopelvic pain and has a keen interest in thoracic and neck problems (recently completing a year long course post graduate course with renowned Canadian Therapist Dr Linda Joy Lee). She is also passionate about exploring the role the brain takes in changing pain. Her skill is walking in the shoes of her patients and guiding them along the path to wellness.

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