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Back pain, Core strengthening, Health, physical therapy, physiotherapy

Beating Low Back Pain – Must know Physiotherapy Exercises

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Don’t put up with low back pain and Sciatica. Below are the best and safest exercises to treat your low back pain yourself.

With 80% of the population experiencing low back pain in their lifetimes, and 84% of those having a recurrence within the same year, this is a huge problem, but a problem that can be helped… alot! As with most other pain and injury, treatment and exercises combined lead to optimal results, so below are five exercises for you

As with most other pain and injury, treatment and exercises combined lead to optimal results, so below are five of the best exercises for you to rehabilitate your low back pain at home.

1. Bridge, level one:

Start by lying on your back on the floor or bed with your knees bent. Squeeze your buttocks together and lift buttocks off the floor until your body is aligned. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower down. Repeat 10 times twice.

Brideg - up

Bridge level 2:

For the next level up if the above is too easy, keep one leg straight out in the air and perform with one leg. 10 reps each side, 2 sets.

For the next level up if the above is too easy, keep one leg straight out in the air and perform with one leg. 10 reps each side, 2 sets.

SL bridge 1SL bridge 2

2. Glute sling stretch:

Our favorite stretch!

glut and Lat stretch - Hip flexibilityglut and Lat stretch - Hip flexibilityglut and Lat stretch - Hip flexibility

Start on your hands and knees then bring one knee between your hands. stretch the other leg out behind you and across to the other side. Now slowly walk out over your knee with your hands until you feel a good stretch.

Hold for 1 minute each side.

Tip – If that is too much of a stretch then go down onto your elbows first.

3. Bird-dog: 

Instructions: In four point kneeling slowly raise one arm and leg on opposite sides, making sure to keep your back straight (imagine your dinner is sitting on your hips – it is all about control). Lower down in a controlled manner and repeat, 10 times each side twice.

Beginners: Start by raising one leg only.

birddog 2birddog 1

4: Hip flexor stretch: This is important to unload the Low back and pelvis:

hip flex 1hip flex 2

Tip: to get a good stretch “tuck your bum in” or draw the bones at the front of your pelvis up towards the roof. You should feel it in the front of your hip or top of your thigh.

Hold for 1minute.

5: McGill Curlup

Place your hands down on the floor underneath the natural arch in your lower back (Don’t flatten your back.) Only lift your head and shoulders off the ground – unlike crunches, there should be no movement of your lumbar spine. Your hands are there to make sure your back is not curling off your hands or crushing them.

Once you have good spine control then you can take your hands onto your thighs and slide them to the top of your knees to do the curl-up. It doesn’t feel like you are going far but with repetition, it can get your abs firing well.

Begin with 20 at a time, and build up.

mcgill curl up

The key to all of these exercises is to maintain control and don’t rush them.  Do these exercises twice daily for 6weeks and notice the difference (but don’t stop there!)

Also check out our Lower Back Rehab Guide

And if you want more and harder exercises to strengthen up your low back: Get into some QL strengthening!

Please Share, like and comment to let me know how you go.

diet, Healthy Eating

What to eat – The Healthy Food Guide

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Eating healthy is a crucial part of having a strong and injury free body. It can also change your life. Really – it lowers risk of heart disease, decreases depression, increases energy, decreases muscle tension, boosts the immune system and much, much more. In today’s post I want to bring together all the best nutritional and healthy eating guidelines to give you a clear and simple healthy food guide that will change the way you eat.

HEalthy eating for a active life and heart diseaseHere is a quick list to show why YOU should be eating healthy:

  • Decreases Cardiovascular disease risk (Leading cause of death in America)
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Increases energy
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Decreases cholesterol
  • Normalise glucose levels
  • Decrease weight

In order to give you the best, evidence based, up to date information I have combined recommendations from some of the top food guidelines around the world, including:

  • Harvard University’s healthy eating pyramid
  • Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
  • The US Department of Agriculture’s healthy eating guidelines
  • Diet and Lifestyle recommendations form the American heart association
  • And more

Yes there a lot of guidelines out here, constantly throwing information and recommendations at you. Which is why it’s important to consolidate these and show you what they all have in common – because what all the recommendations have in common is the basis to eating healthy and having a great nutritional intake.

Your health eating guidelines:

It’s a lifestyle, not a diet

1. Vegetables

The amount of vegetables you should be eating (all the guides and recommendations were unanimous!) is 2.5 cups per day. The thing to keep in mid with this is that you should eat a variety of vegetables – different colors, shapes and flavors to get the best nutritional uptake. For example:

  • Dark green, leafy veges
  • Legumes (lentils, beans etc)
  • Starchy veges
  • Orange and red veges


2. Fruit

The amount of fruit recommended is 2-3 cups, and again you want a variety of colors here as well to really get all the antioxidants, vitamins and plenty of other goodies.


healthy eating plater - guide to eat better healthy3. Grains

You should be consuming is 6-8 oz (170-230 gm). The key to this though is that at least half of these need to be whole grains. Whole grains are better for you as they have a high glycemic index – this means that they take longer to break down, so that they are slowly releasing the fuel into your body with means less highs and lows and more steady energy.

Examples of whole grains (eat most):

  • Whole wheat
  • Brown rice, wild rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Oats/oatmeal

Examples of grains with a high glycemic index (use sparingly):

  • White rice
  • White bread
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes


4. Milk

You should be drinking 2-3 cups of milk or equivalent  per day. All of the guidelines were agreeing on this except the Harvard healthy eating pyramid. This is because of a few reasons:

  • Concern over the amount of saturated fat and calories in milk. A good way to get around this is to drink fat-free or low-fat milk – this is something that really should have caught on by now but still only 10% of all milk consumed by americans is fat-free (national health and nutrition survey 2001-02)
  • Due to the prevalence of lactose intolerance: Absolutely if you are lactose intolerant then a few things you can do: Eat more of other foods that are full of calcium (the best option), consume milk with other foods and not on an empty stomach and take calcium and vitamin D supplements.
  • Increased levels of unneeded hormones in some milk: Be carefull what milk you buy as increased levels of hormones have been associated with increased cancer risks. It is worth splashing out a little extra and buying hormone free or organic milk.


5. Meat, nuts and beans

You should be eating around 6 oz (170grams) of lean meat per day and 2-3 oz of nuts, seeds and beans per day.

Lean meats that you should be consuming is:

  • Fish, poultry and lean beef and pork

Quick note: Do not deep fry your food if you can help it! Especially fish as this changes the good fats and nutrients in it. Try to grill, bake or broil it.


6. Oils

The amount of oils you should be consuming does vary a lot in all the research. The most common amount (and a good middle ground) is 6 teaspoons (27grams) per day.

For oil you should be using liquid vegetable oils (or products made form this) so that there is less Trans fatty acids.


7. Treats

These are normally called Discretionary calories. They’re calories from outside the recommended food groups. From things like; added sugar, sweets, alcohol, solid fat etc.

This is limited to 135 calories (4 teaspoons).


8. Alcohol

If you consume alcohol, do it in moderation, the recommended amount is one drink per week.


9. Total calorie intake

The average person should consume and use 2000 calories per day but this really does vary depending on the your activity levels, sex and age.

Check out this table for a good guide:

calorie intake daily recommended

Source: My Pyramid, USDA


Body Composition is dependent on lifestyle changes, not memorizing lists, instructions or diets

Here is a handy list of tips to sum that up – easy to print out and put on the fridge!

Tips to improve your nutrition, health and general well-being:

  • Eat fish (especially oily fish) at least twice a week.
  • Consume a diet full of vegetables and fruit.
  • Choose whole grain and whole fiber foods
  • Prepare and eat smaller portions
  • Choose leans meats and veg alternatives
  • Drink fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Minimise added sugars (so no to soft drinks and energy drinks to make an awesome difference!)
  • Use vegetable oils instead of solid fats.
  • Know your caloric needs to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Grill, bake or broil your meat.
  • Follow this healthy food guide when eating out as well!


healthy eating guide - nutrition and food pyramidsConclusion:

It is important to make these changes gradually to your lifestyle to make changes THAT LAST. If you make wholesale changes where you start eating completely differently, this will for one; shock your body, and two; it will not last.

The more you take from this healthy food guide and make changes to your nutrition – the better off you will be in the long-term, and I know it is corny to say but it really will add years to your life.

We all need to make changes that will last, because life isn’t a fad and you only live once!


Please like and share with all your friends, they will thank you for it.


Scientific paper for more in-depth reading.



Health, neck pain

Headaches and Neck Pain – Self trigger pointing to abolish Knots

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In this post I will tell you how to get relief and get rid of headaches and annoying knot sin your neck yourself! A fantastic tool that everyone needs to know – Don’t rely on drugs, medication and heat packs – treat yourself!

First of all, I would like to say that I really believe that there is such a thing as good pain! Some of my patients may disagree with this at the time of treatment of course but if not immediately, then the day after, you will feel markedly better. A lot of this “Good pain”  is felt during trigger point release and deep massage, when the tissue is released, it feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulder at times and relieves a lot of pain – namely Headaches and niggly Neck Pain!

Another way to look at this is a little bit of pain for a whole lot of gain!

I am going to run through a couple of techniques that you can utilise YOURSELF along with strengthening exercises to beat headaches and neck pain. These can be performed yourself or you can get someone else to do them for you:


Starting position – I find that prone lying (on your back) is best as this way it is easier to relax and you aren’t using all the muscles to hold you up. You can also give it a go in sitting or another position you find comfortable.

Motion – using the hand on the same side as you want to massage, bring you hand back and place your three middle fingers on the back of your neck right below your skull. This gives you a good idea of the area you need to be massaging. Now simply using these fingers or just the index and middle gently begin massaging into the muscle using circulatory motions and remembering to keep good contact on the skin. The idea with this is to find the muscle that feels harder, tighter or knotty and work into this to warm it up, stretch it out and increase blood flow.

 If someone else is performing the massage on youlielye on your back with your head supported on a pillow, have this awesome person sit behind your head and place their hands under the upper portion of your neck on each side.

 Trigger point release: I have listed this technique second as it is best to do after light massage when the muscle is warmed up.

In the same position as described above, use your index and middle finger to find the trigger points in your sub-occipital muscles. You will find these at the back of your neck in the at the base of your skull. A trigger point as described in Beating Headaches is basically a point in a tight muscle which is especially hard and sore to touch and often refers pain up into your head.

 When one of these points is found you need to apply pressure to the point with your index finger supported by your middle finger. Apply pressure so that there is mild pain (it needs to be bearable – if you are too aggressive the muscle will bunch up more). Maintain this pressure until the pain begins to subside and at this point you need to more pressure, without taking your fingers off. This increase in pressure should be performed 2-3 times and then the pressure can be taken off. It can take ten seconds to over a minute for the pain to start easing and the muscle to relax so you need to hang in there!

Tip – give the muscle a gentle rub after this to make it feel more normal.

Next – move on to another trigger point if there are any more on the same or other side.


Note: Trigger point release can at times cause aching and an increase in pain/ headaches but improvements will show the day after.

For further information see: Beating Headaches and HeadacheProofMe

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