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Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play

Over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of babies diagnosed with the conditions: Plagiocephaly (mis-shapen head) and torticollois (crooked neck). One of the reasons associated with this is the reluctance of parents to place babies on their tummies. The SIDs campaign has worked wonderfully at educating parents about the risks of a babies sleeping on their tummies but unfortunately this is often mistaken to means never placing baby on their tummies.
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Prevention is better than a cure

Regular physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and central to the prevention, care and management of diabetes. Currently 70% of Australian adults and two thirds of Australian children are not getting sufficient amounts of exercise to maintain their health. This trend in physical inactivity is contributing to the increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes in our communities. Low levels of physical activity and physical fitness, along with poor nutrition, are major risk factors influencing development of type 2 diabetes.
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Revisiting your New Year's resolution

Just like that, we are nearly halfway through 2017. Did you set yourself a New Year’s resolution? Was it something along the lines of ‘I’m going to get fitter’ or ‘I’ll eat better’? The harsh reality is that more than half of us fail to meet our New Year’s resolutions. Often clients come in and say “I want to get fitter”. This may seem like a really simple goal, but in actual fact it is broad, complex and non-specific. What one person feels being ‘fit’ is may be something completely different to the next person. Whatever your perception is of fitness, the goal of ‘getting fitter’ often goes hand in hand with ‘eating better’.
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Step out in STEPtember

Did you know a healthy, active person should take 10,000 steps per day? That’s the equivalent of about eight kilometres or one hour of walking.

This month The Cerebral Palsy Alliance are holding Steptember. TheCerebral Palsy Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation that assists people with Cerebral Palsy and their families to lead a comfortable, independent and inclusive life. They also help fund research into better treatment options for people living with Cerebral Palsy.
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Incontinence: Managing your pelvic floor muscles

Mention the pelvic floor to most women and there is usually a little cringe, a smirk and a “my pelvic floor doesn’t exist anymore”. While most women have heard the importance of completing daily pelvic floor exercises just how many of us are confident we are performing them correctly? The pelvic floor muscle function is directly linked to continence. Research suggests one in three women will suffer from some form of incontinence. Those numbers may be considerably higher if we take into account the amount of women that never report the issue or seek help from health professionals.
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Physiotherapy: more than just a massage

When I tell people what I do for a living, I often get the response “physiotherapy, you must do a lot of massage”. It’s fair to say that I do perform massage in my profession, however this is often a small and sometimes non-existent adjunct to my overall treatment. In fact, physiotherapists have a wide range of skills and treatment options that aim to not just make you better, but rather work towards achieving your goals and living your life how you wish. 
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Nature often needs a little extra support

A topic that is often under-discussed is the issue of ill-fitting bras, especially for larger breasted women. For many Australian women an ill-fitting bra can be a source of pain, distress and embarrassment; the discomfort caused can stop these women being physically active, healthy and happy. Breast support can be a sensitive issue, especially for younger or larger breasted women, but it is important to understand it and get it right, as much pain and discomfort can easily be prevented. 
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Classes: find your fit

Group fitness classes are a great way to stay fit and healthy. They are a lot of fun and can be a nice way to meet people with similar interests and goals. There is a huge variety of classes so chances are there’s one that will suit you. There’s boxing, dance, spin classes, weight training, high intensity, yoga and Pilates. Just to name a few. Stepping into a new class for the first time can be daunting. Some classes may require unfamiliar equipment or unfamiliar terminology (did the instructor just say down dog? What on earth is that?). Often classes are done to music. Keeping up with the pace of the music as well as trying to get your head around strange new moves can all be scary.
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Shouldering the pain is sure not the answer

The shoulder anatomically is called the glenohumeral joint. This is where the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) attaches to the shoulder blade. It is a ball and socket join. The socket is very shallow, only encapsulating 30 per cent of the actual ball. This design makes the shoulder the most mobile joint in the body. Movement and stabilisation of the shoulder thus heavily relies on the surrounding musculature.
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The 'wear and tear' myth

After many years of treating injured tradies, I’ve noticed similarities between the language used when talking about machinery on the jobsite, and the body. “Something’s out of place,” “Just a bit of wear and tear.” These are common phrases a tradesman (or woman!) might use to describe their injury to me in the clinic. I’m not sure how this common comparison came about; perhaps through health professionals attempting to simplify matters, or through misrepresentation of the body and injuries in the media. Whatever the origins, two things are clear: firstly, this way of thinking is ingrained within the general population. Secondly, and most importantly, to think of the human body as a machine is not only not doing it justice, it is also completely inaccurate.
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Boning up on breaks

Although the term “break a leg” is a lighthearted “good luck,” actually breaking a leg (or any other bone) is not much fun for anyone. Broken bones, or fractures, are usually the result of an unexpected incident such as a car accident, fall or sporting injury. The three most common bone fracture sites are the wrist, ankle and the hip. The six to eight week healing time often requires the affected area to be held in one position, usually with a cast. This can make everyday life difficult and stop us from doing the things that we love.
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Hydrotherapy:heated and happy, year-round

Now that the cooler months have started to set in, the last thing many of us would be considering is a quick dip in the pool. However hydrotherapy continues on regardless of the outside temperature because it is always nice in the water. Hydrotherapy pools are normally heated to around 30-35˚C to generate maximum benefits. Hydrotherapy is water based exercise normally supervised by a physiotherapist that takes place in a heated pool and can be used for a large number of conditions such as; chronic pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis like conditions, and as pre and post-surgical rehabilitation. Benefits of Hydrotherapy include: pain relief, strengthening of muscles, increased range of motion, improved balance and circulation.
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How to prevent the dreaded ACL injury

Three letters no-one wants to hear. ACL. It’s the injury no one wants, though it is all too common in many of the popular sports on the border. The recovery is typically lengthy, and surgery is usually an option, especially for young people, and those keen on returning to competitive sport. The injury is more common in women than men, with an estimated two to eight times increased risk of injury.
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Sore joints in winter? You're not alone

As we shiver through the colder months of the year, you may experience increased aching in your joints. There are a number of conditions which may cause pain, inflammation, swelling and stiffness in the hands with the most common type being osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cushioning between the joints becomes thinned and wears out. The increased loading on the bony joint surfaces results in structural changes to the bone surfaces. 
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Revisiting your New Year's resolution

Just like that, we are nearly halfway through 2017. Did you set yourself a New Year’s resolution? Was it something along the lines of ‘I’m going to get fitter’ or ‘I’ll eat better’? The harsh reality is that more than half of us fail to meet our New Year’s resolutions. Often clients come in and say “I want to get fitter”. This may seem like a really simple goal, but in actual fact it is broad, complex and non-specific. What one person feels being ‘fit’ is may be something completely different to the next person. Whatever your perception is of fitness, the goal of ‘getting fitter’ often goes hand in hand with ‘eating better’.
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Dealing with workplace injuries

Work is a very important part of our lives and an essential aspect of Australia’s economy and growth. It not only provides us with financial security but it also gives us meaning, purpose and a sense of fulfilment. It’s therefore important to keep as many people working as possible in whatever capacity they can manage. Current evidence suggests that when balanced with life, work is good for physical and mental health while long-term worklessness is detrimental. In fact, the rate of suicide in young men out of work for more than 6 months increases by 40 times.
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Men's Health- Something to talk about

June 12 to 18, was designated Men’s Health Week in Australia, and the theme for this year was “Healthy body, healthy mind: Keeping the balance.” The aim was to explore and educate on the lifestyle choices men and boys make which positively influence both their physical and psychological health.  With this emphasis on men’s health some of us may be thinking aren’t men ok? The answer in many cases is no.
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Why not feel younger?

With ageing comes experience and wisdom, but unfortunately this inevitable process also commonly comes with aches and pains. Things that were once easy, such as bending over to do up your shoe laces or twisting a lid off a jar, just aren’t a simple task anymore. Our bodies start to biologically age from our mid-twenties, very scary I know! That’s why once we get into our 30s and beyond we tend to feel stiffer, and our bodies can get sore and tired after a hard day’s work.
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How to prevent tennis injuries

Tennis is a great social game where friends and foes alike can battle it out on the courts through skill, decision-making and in some cases, a stroke of luck. It’s also a sport where injury can plague players in the long term making it not so enjoyable. The three major problems I often see are shoulder pain, elbow pain and knee pain.
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Back in the game

Once a concussion has been suspected there appears the immediate problem of returning to sport safely. This can be done systematically, allowing players and parents high levels of confidence that it is being done with minimal risk. Set protocols of blanket bans of one to four weeks out of the game can be both, restrictive for many that recover quickly, and dangerous for those who have not fully recovered. Processes need to be put in place where sports people are slowly exposed to demands of the sport as they recover.  Simultaneous monitoring of signs and symptoms and cognitive function alert those coordinating the return to sport of possible complications and prevent unnecessary risks being taken.
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Pleasure and pain in pushing to your peak

The best part of competing in an event is that last push to get over the finish line. Even as I finished my sixth Nail Can Hill run last year with a distinct urge to vomit, I felt the euphoria of knowing I’d pushed myself to my limit. Whether you are competing in that distance for the first time, a seasoned runner wanting to get a PB or just wanting to participate for the enjoyment, a longer event like the upcoming Nail Can Hill Run on May 7 can challenge in many different ways.
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Concussion in sport must be taken seriously

The topic of concussion in sport has certainly caused a great deal of discussion in recent years and provoked extensive debate.  On one hand it has been portrayed as a most serious condition that requires extreme caution with catastrophic consequences.  While alternatively there still exist attitudes of contempt where the condition is oversimplified and concerns are merely dismissed as over-reactions. 
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Training the lungs for asthma-free exercise

Asthma is a chronic disorder of the lungs and airways, characterised by wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. These symptoms are caused by increased sensitivity of the airway to stimuli or ‘triggers’. Common triggers include allergens (dust, pollen), chest infections, emotional factors (stress, heavy laughter), smoke (cigarette or fire), and perhaps most relevant to this time of year, cold/dry air and exercise. The severity of the condition can range from mild, occasional symptoms, to constant and severe. In most cases, the symptoms resolve quickly, either on their own or with the use of inhaled medication.
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Rehab your way back to health

If you have an elective surgery planned, such as a hip or knee joint replacement, you are probably already familiar with the idea of rehabilitation. You will spend the months after your surgery working on gaining strength and movement, working towards returning to work or activities you enjoy. Rehab is an essential part of your recovery, but did you know that there is a lot you could be doing BEFORE your surgery that could help you maximise your outcomes?
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Staying vocal about neck injuries in sport

A much lesser known type of injury that can occur in sport, in particular contact sports is injury to the larynx or voice box.   With the winter sports season set to kick off, physiotherapy clinics in the region gear up for the typical influx of ankle, knee and hamstring injuries. There has been plenty of preseason preparation that players can undertake to minimise these typical musculoskeletal injuries. Once injuries occur, timely assessment and treatment of injuries hopefully assist players back onto the field as soon as possible.
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Umpires need to be just as fit as players

When people think about the start of the football season, they often think about the players and the preparation they need to give their brains and bodies for the games to come. We respect the skills, physicality, teamwork and the decision-making these players need to have under pressure. But we often forget the other group of people who work hard for these same attributes to give the sporting public the fair and fun game we know so well.
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Keeping girls in sport the name of the game

With the recent excitement surrounding women in high level AFL, soccer, cricket and the national netball league, our nation appears to be captivated by women in sport. So it would appear that more females are playing sport, but sadly, this is not the case. By the age of 13, 50% of girls have dropped out of sport. The Australian Federal Government has recently launched an initiative focusing on sport as a preventative physical and mental health measure.
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Benefit of Prevention

As the weather and preseason starts to heat up, many of us are looking forward to cool changes and starting winter competitions. But as participants look ahead to the season coming one thing that often gets overlooked is the benefit of prevention. Simple exercises and regimes employed now are able prevent injuries later into the season.
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Pilates is terrific exercise

As a physiotherapist if there was an exercise class that I feel everyone could benefit from I would say Pilates. The Pilates concept was developed in the early 1900s by Joseph Pilates. He believed that injuries were caused by imbalances in the body and poor patterns of movement. He observed that when a person had weakness or pain, they overcompensated and overdeveloped another area to achieve a certain movement. This in turn, can result in further pain and injury. Pilates is an excellent way of strengthening, increasing spinal mobility, stretching and improving general function and wellbeing by concentrating on correct movement patterns.
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Muscle hypertrophy, building you up a size!

“Hypertrophy” is my favourite word. Hypertrophy is the enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in size of its cells. Muscle hypertrophy is the growth and increase in size of muscle cells. We know that skeletal muscles are important to move our bodies, but did you know that they also keep us in static positions when we are not moving and contribute to nutrition and wellbeing by storing and utilizing energy sources.
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Come on, try triathlon!

Have you ever considered participating in a triathlon? Well, the Albury Wodonga Triathlon Club have commenced their 2016-17 calendar; many people are in training mode, and you could be too! Triathlon is a fantastic sport. There are three different sports involved; swimming, cycling and running, which means you are not stressing one body system for a long period of time. Many people who get involved in triathlons tend to come from a heavy running background. Road running especially can put a lot of load through your joints, hence why you can tend to develop aches and pains. Triathlon training can be a lot of fun due to the variation. You will find that you are putting in more “training” hours, but those training hours aren’t as taxing on the body, as the swim and ride are both low impact sports. It is a great way to develop fitness.
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Cool off burning goals

It’s that time of year again, where we commit ourselves to a New Year’s resolution. For many of us, these goals are orientated around fitness and health. You may have noticed with previous New Year’s resolutions that the first couple of weeks are easy as your motivation levels are high and you want to lose the festive kilos. We often go into the year with plenty of energy and sometimes we can overdo it. Injury and the effects of the heat can make us fall into our old habits and our goals get put on the back burner until the next year. 
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The Sheer Fun of Sport

Recently the Australian Sports Commission have found that there is a large drop off in participation rates in sport after the age of 11.  Other reports have suggested that teenage girls are likely to remove themselves from competitive sports three to four years earlier than their male peers.  There are many concerns in this area, particularly with the rising levels of childhood obesity and teenage mental health deterioration, that team sport environments have the potential to assist in a positive direction.  There are also countless values that can be taught by sporting and team environments.
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The Reason for Preseason

It seems as if we only just finished the Winter sports season and many teams of various sporting codes are back in the swing of preseason training.  Preseason is a time where we see a lot of cross training or alternative methods used to try and give athletes a winning edge and increase the level of interest over the period that is otherwise monotonous and mundane as the competition seems a little far off in the distance.  It is also a time where we occasionally see some weird and wonderful techniques that have been adopted form other programs that have the potential for injury.
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Building Physically Resilient Adults

When I was a kid I used to leave home in the morning and play with the kids in the street all day. We didn’t come home until the street lights lit up and Mum didn’t care where we were as long as we weren’t late for dinner.  We used to climb trees, play cricket on the road and ride our bikes without helmets.  We used to…. Sound familiar?  I think at any point in time you will hear adults make comment on the younger generation and the things that they do today that they did not do when they were kids.
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Food as Medicine

The drive to achieve greater sporting performance has challenged traditional views of pre and post-performance nutrition. In the past, particularly endurance events such as marathons and multisport events, were preceded with night before pasta parties to boost carbohydrates in the body to be used as readily available energy fuel.  This traditional view has been challenged with modern day view of using our fat stores as energy fuel.  This requires people to eat foods higher in fats and oils, and use this as our energy store as they are likely to be longer lasting.  Of course, like any food source, in simple terms, if our calories in exceeds the calories that are expended, weight gain is the net result.
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Take the Guess Work out of your Christmas!

The final weeks leading up to Christmas sees us saturated with advertising of a host of toys and products to attract parents and families who are in the final stages of trying to decide what to get loved ones for Christmas. The decision is always difficult as many toys can be little more than a gimmick and therefore destined to spend more time in the toy box than being played with.  Most parents also grapple with the philosophical dilemma of trying to purchase a product of value and positive influence rather than one that may tend to promote negative or anti-social behaviour.
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Get the Balance Right and Stand Up for Summer

Just when we thought the beautiful weather was here to stay, the rain comes back! With less than 2 weeks until summer, it’s time to start thinking about your new summer activity. The long hot days give us the perfect opportunity to get outdoors after work and have a crack at new ways to move. This summer, I’ll be getting out on the Hume Weir and trying out the ancient activity of stand-up paddle boarding.
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Movember

Throughout the month of November, every year for the past 13 years, thousands of men across Australia have flaunted the moustache to support the Movember Foundation. The Movember Foundation encourages men to take control of their health and look after themselves, and raises money to fund vital independent research addressing some of the biggest health issues faced by Australian men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide.
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New Injury Challenge

Our thirst for instant gratification, fuelled by social media and social pressure, continues to grow. We seem far less patient and more demanding in our busy lives to pack more in and receive information and stimulation at the press of a button.  This view of the world has extended into how we watch and participate in sport.
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Its Worth the Weight

  The weather is warming up and the days are getting longer. Summer is fast approaching and your motivation is making a comeback. If you’re contemplating getting back into shape, make weight training your new best friend! Lifting weights, in conjunction with regular cardiovascular exercise, will not only help you to sculpt and tone, but can also positively affect risk factors associated with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. However, there are a few things you should consider before hitting the weights room.
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Checks & Exercise can Reduce Cancer Risk

Thinking Pink this month and soothing sore feet after the Cancer Council, Relay for Life weekend, helps us reflect on one of the most prevalent forms of cancer to affect our community: Breast Cancer. Getting to know your breasts, whether you are male or female, is an important monthly routine that should be instilled in our teens.

Run Forest Run

I can't count the number of times I have heard 'Run Forrest Run' when I've been out on my daily run. I always have a little chuckle as I love not only the physical health benefits running brings but also the positive effect on my mental health. We all experience stress daily but excessive stress can manifest itself into mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. With October 11 being Headspace day, an initiative of the National Mental Health Foundation it's a great time to explore the physical impact of mental health issues and how we can harness physical activity as part of a management plan.
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October is Walk to School Month

When I started school in the 1970s one of the most exciting things about it was walking to school with my older sister. Rain hail or shine we walked the 1.5 km to school. I loved the frosty mornings when you could jump on frozen puddles to crack the ice and the slow walk home with friends planning whose house we would go play at.
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Professional Advice is Vital for Full Recovery

My Melbourne marathon bib arrived yesterday and with a sigh I put it aside knowing that this year I will be a DNS (did not start). Small in the scheme of things, missing out on competing in a planned competition or missing an important event due to injury is frustrating.   Having my dominant hand out of action for 2 months now has made me reflect as a physio on the importance of good advice, physical and emotional support and careful planning for managing a prolonged injury and rehabilitation.
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Measure your Steps at the Henty Field Days

It’s time to start humming the Henty Field Day song. Henty is a wonderful celebration of the Australian Agriculture and Farming industry, where innovation and inspiration is on display. The famous tune, immediately brings a couple of important health reminders to mind, ensuring you have a great visit.
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Women’s Health Week

With Jean Hailes women’s health week this week, now is the opportunity for women all over Australia to start talking about health. We as women are notoriously good talkers, however when it comes to health, many of us don’t take the time to find out credible information to many of our burning questions. Jean Hailes women’s health week aims to get rid of the elephant in the room and shed some light on our health.
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A WEEK OF SUNSHINE

It’s that time of the year when we can leave our winter blues behind us. The beautiful spring sunshine is embracing us more often and the days are lasting longer; it’s the perfect opportunity to start getting your exercise regime back on track. If that isn’t enough motivation itself, the 11th to 18th of September is Sunshine Week, a week of promoting physical activity and raising funds for the newest health service on the border… the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre.
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Fed Hill Winners 2016

The team at Healthfocus is once again very excited to be a sponsor of the Fed Hill Challenge. Being held on Sunday 4 September at 9am, this event has something for everyone in the community. Having both 5 and 10km distances and the 2km Primary school event, it caters for the serious and not so serious runners and walkers alike.
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Finals time

It is that exciting time of year again for those involved in winter sports, finals time! As we get to the end of the regular season those in the top spots of the ladder are starting to prepare for finals. Finals time is always special. It is different to the regular season. The intensity increases as does the emotion surrounding the games. All of these factors and more can affect decision making both on and off the field at this time of year.
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Tradies' Month

Looking after your tools of trade

To any tradesman their tools of trade are their most valuable asset.  Any first year apprentice is taught to look after their tools “look after your tools and they’ll look after you”.  It is one of the most valuable lessons taught from the very first day on the job.
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Dry needling

Dry needling as a technique which uses fine gauge and often pain-free needles to stimulate the body’s own natural mechanisms for pain relief. It involves combining detailed knowledge of anatomy and careful palpation skills to locate myofascial trigger points throughout the body and gently inserting single use needles directly into the ‘knot’ or ‘trigger point’. This causes the knot to relax and pain relieving chemicals, produced naturally in the body, to flood the area.
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Core Training

Dude, Where’s My Core?

The importance of core training for athletes

What do you think of when you’re asked about “core exercises”? Sit-ups? Planks? Mountain Climbers? Are these good examples of exercises to strengthen the core muscles?
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Winter Vitamin D

It’s a miserable 10 degrees outside and the office heater keeps us nice and cozy in the break room, but did you know that for those of us living on the Border, during winter we need at least 30-40 minutes of midday sun exposure to our hands and forearms so our bodies can top up their vitamin D stores for healthy bones and muscles. This June and July, Cancer Council NSW and Arthritis and Osteoporosis NSW are encouraging indoor workers to “Take Time for a Vitamin D Break”.
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The importance of keeping active, even over winter!

At this time of year, I often see an increase in injuries resulting from physical inactivity. It’s cold and dark outside, and it’s not as easy to find the time (or motivation) to use our bodies the same way we do in the warmer months. I frequently get clients presenting with seemingly unexplained discomfort like back pain or knee stiffness, and after some questioning often discover that frequency of regular activity (walking or bike riding for example) has been recently reduced.
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Lymphoedema Awareness

Does sitting too long cause your legs to swell at the ankles? Have you found the recent prolonged heat has increased the circumference of your ankles or are your shirt sleeves feeling tighter than usual? Do you have a history of trauma or surgery to your arm, leg or abdomen.  Have you noticed a progressive feeling of heaviness in your arms or legs? Have you experienced surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer related illness?