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Workplace Ergonomics and your working posture

Workplace Ergonomics 101 – Your working posture

With an increasing number of jobs requiring you to sit in front of a computer for long periods of the day, it is important to address your working posture to protect your spinal health.

Here are a few simple adjustments that you can make to your workstation to help improve and protect your spinal health. Start with: 

  1. Adjusting your seat height so that your forearms can rest comfortably on the desk with your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Support your lower spine with the lumbar support of the chair sitting in the curve of your lower back.
  3. Have the screen/monitor sitting at a suitable height to prevent pushing your chin forward or having to look down to see the screen. (At a minimum, the bottom of the screen should be at eye level or slightly above).
  4. Where possible, try to have documents resting on an angled stand rather than sitting on the desk. This will prevent hunching over to read.
  5. Remember to take short breaks throughout the day. Stand up and stretch, this will assist in managing any lower back pain.

These are just a few strategies to prevent postural issues or spinal pain, our physiotherapists can offer further advice specific to each individual’s needs.

We also offer workplace ergonomic assessments, where our therapists will come to your work and assess your workstation. For more information, or to make a booking, phone one of our friendly staff on 5495 3255.

Below is an example of correct work posture:

Workplace Ergonomics 101

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre - serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.
At Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre, we can help ease your back and pelvis pain during Pregnancy

Pelvis and low back pain in pregnancy

Lumbar spine and pelvic girdle pain commonly affects roughly 50% or pregnant women. The severity and intensity of the pain vary between individuals and has the potential to have a negative impact on activities of daily living.

Symptoms often start around the 20th to the 28th week, however individual cases may vary.

The pain can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Postural changes
  • Separation of the abdominal muscles
  • Increased stress on the lower back

During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin (see below) is released which allows the soft tissue structures (such as; ligament and tendons) to relax preparing the body for a pregnancy (childbearing). When this occurs, it can target all areas allowing instability around the joints, which can lead to pain. As your baby grows, you change the way you move and carry yourself, due to changes in your centre of gravity. Consequently, this can cause additional stress and strain to joints in the pelvis and back.

The growth and development of your baby stretches the rectus abdominis and may cause these muscles to separate. This separation may increase as your baby continues to grow.

To help reduce and manage your symptoms both during and after your pregnancy, see your physiotherapist at Caboolture physical therapy for individualised assessment, treatment and advice.

Relaxin is a hormone produced by the ovary and the placenta with important effects in the female reproductive system and during pregnancy. In preparation for childbirth, it relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre - serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.

Three stretches for the busy office worker

Sitting for long periods of time is often associated with a variety of chronic health conditions – which is bad news for us who work in an office. But there are ways to keep active and stay healthy, even when you’re sitting all day.

Move more often

Sitting itself and the posture you find yourself in isn’t as bad as simply being still for hours on end. An expression in physiotherapy is ‘the best posture is your next posture’. This means that, above all, movement is the best thing for your body and those in office jobs can find themselves becoming very still while focused on the next deadline.
Set a quiet alarm to remind you to move or change positions every 20 minutes. Getting up for phone calls and walking over to see colleagues when you have a question is a great way to break up your sitting time.

Reverse your posture

While not moving is definitely the worst aspect to prolonged sitting, the postures we often adopt while sitting can also be problematic. Sitting with a flattened lower back, hunched neck and slouched shoulders is the posture that requires the least energy to maintain and is often the one we sink into in a long day. A slouched posture can lead to shortened hamstring, hip flexor and pectoral muscles.

If you are spending large amounts of time sitting, it’s important to take time every day to adopt the opposite postures and keep your body flexible. 
This means moving into thoracic and lumbar extension, stretching your shoulders and extending your hips.

Here are a few stretches you can do every day while seated that will help to reverse your posture. Try to do these stretches every few hours during a working day.

1. Chest stretch

Sit forward, clasp your hands behind your back and lift your arms towards the ceiling. You should feel a stretch at the front of your chest. Look up slightly to increase the stretch. You should not feel any pain or tingling in your arms. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat.

2. Seated hamstring stretch

Perch on the edge of your seat and straighten one leg out in front of you. Lean forwards at your hips, keeping your back straight. You should feel a gentle stretch at the back of your thigh. If you feel the stretch behind your knee or into your calf, let your ankle relax, and let your foot drop towards the floor. Hold the stretch for 20 second then swap legs, repeat this stretch with each leg twice.

3. Chin Tuck

Sit up in your chair so your bottom is at the back of your seat and your lower back is supported. Relax your shoulders and gently tuck your chin in, imagine you are holding a soft ball under your chin and are slowly squashing it. You should feel a gentle stretch at the top of your neck. Hold for 20 seconds, release and repeat.

These stretches should not cause you pain. Speak to your physiotherapist for a customised stretching routine that you can implement into your day at the office or for more tips on how to perform these stretches to maximum effect. 

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre - serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.
Physiotherapy tips for a better sleep

Physiotherapy tips for a more comfortable sleep

For most of us, the hours we spend sleeping are simply a time for rest and recovery. However, you might be surprised to learn that your sleeping position can have a significant impact on your body, particularly if you already have an injury. When you consider that we spend approximately 40% of our lives in bed, it becomes less surprising.

Ideally, your body should be held in a position of minimal stress while sleeping. This means that all your joints and muscles are resting in a neutral position. Over time, joints that are held in more extreme positions may put pressure on the surrounding structures and this may lead to a feeling of stiffness in the morning.

Back Pain

For sufferers of back pain, finding a comfortable position at night can be difficult. Ideally, the natural curves of the spine should be maintained and supported throughout the night. The correct mattress will support your lower back without making you feel as though you have been sleeping on concrete all night. A mattress that is too soft might feel comfortable to begin with, but over time will let you sink too much, meaning the curve of the lower spine will be lost. Waking up with a stiff spine could be a sign that you are using the wrong mattress.

For many people, sleeping on their side keeps their spine in a more natural alignment than on their back. If you sleep on your back, placing a pillow under your knees can help to maintain your lumbar spinal curve throughout the night.

Neck Pain

While you may be attached to your pillow, it could be the cause of unnecessary neck pain for you. The neck is often the most vulnerable part of our body when our sleeping setup is not ideal. Side sleepers may let their neck fall excessively to the side with a pillow that is too low or have their neck elevated too much by having their pillows too high.
The importance of having a supportive pillow that supports your neck while sleeping cannot be overstated. If you find yourself putting your arm under your pillow while you sleep, it is likely that your pillow is too low. Having your shoulder in this position overnight can put unnecessary stress on the structures in the shoulder joint and should be avoided if possible.

Sleeping on your stomach with your head turned to the side can be the cause of many issues and if this is your preferred sleeping position, it could be worth chatting to your physiotherapist about strategies improve your sleeping posture.

Hip Pain

Side sleepers often spend their nights with one leg crossed over their body. This can place extra pressure on the structures on the side of the hip, such as tendons and bursa and can impact the health of these tissues as compression can reduce the blood flow to the area. If the mattress is too firm then the hip on the underside of the body may also be compressed under your bodyweight.

Placing a pillow under your knee while sleeping on your side can help to maintain a neutral alignment of your hip. This can also help to keep your lower back in a more neutral position during the night.

Speak to your physiotherapist for more advice on how to improve your sleeping posture and find out if your sleeping setup is right for you.

 

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre - serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.
Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

What Are Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

One of the primary roles of the spine is to protect the spinal cord. This means that the spine needs to be strong while maintaining the flexibility required for a movable trunk. While the spine is very sturdy, spinal injuries do occur. Health professionals often use terms to describe and classify injuries of the body, two of these terms that you may have heard are Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis.

What are they?

Spondylolysis refers to a stress fracture of the pars interarticularis of the vertebra. This is the part of the vertebra that connects the body of the vertebra with the rest of the vertebra that surrounds the spinal cord. A separation of this fracture where the body of the vertebra is displaced forwards or backwards is called a spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolisthesis is a progression of spondylolysis and is given grades to classify its severity. Both spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis commonly affect the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae, found at the base of the lower back.

What are the causes?

Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis can be a result of trauma with the spine being moved forcefully into extension, particularly in younger people. Certain sports such as gymnastics, football and weightlifting require repetitive backward movements of the spine and this can eventually lead to a stress fracture of the pars interarticularis. Growth spurts in teens have also been known to be responsible for the development of these conditions.

In older adults, common causes of spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis are degenerative changes in the spine due to aging, osteoporosis, infection or even a tumour. Some people have a genetic vulnerability in this area of their spine making them more susceptible to developing spondylolysis and then spondylolisthesis.

What are the symptoms?

Many people with spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis may be asymptomatic, which means they perform their normal activities without experiencing any symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, common complaints are pain and tightness, much like a muscle strain, spreading across the lower back. This pain may be eased by bending forwards and aggravated by walking, running or leaning backwards.

In more progressive cases of spondylolisthesis, the shift of the vertebral body can cause narrowing of the spinal canal that can lead to nerve compression. This may cause hamstring tightness and even numbness and weakness of the lower limbs, affecting gait and daily activities.

How can physiotherapy help?

Your physiotherapist will work closely with you and any relevant medical professionals to determine exactly what is needed for your particular condition. Severe instability in the spine may require stabilization surgery, however this is rare and in most cases, symptoms of spondylolisthesis can be improved with regular physiotherapy management.

Physiotherapy that focuses on strengthening and improving the flexibility of both the lower back and the abdominal muscles has been shown to have positive effects on both pain and function for those with symptomatic spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis.

Speak to one of our physiotherapists for more information regarding your individual condition. The information in this article is not a replacement for medical advice.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre - serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.