When should I stretch?

Clients often ask: When should I stretch? The answer has a number of factors. It is more effective when you are warm. You need to decide which times you can fit into your schedule or routine. How can you combine the two so that it becomes a habit?

In an ideal world, I feel that you will get the best results when you are warm. The muscle fibres are more elastic, stretchy and respond more easily when they are warm. That can be after you have been active and you’ve got blood flowing through your muscles e.g. after some exercise. Another way is to be in a warm environment. This could be inside: a hydrotherapy pool or a very warm room. Hot yoga is an example of using heat to make your stretching easier. If you like to do it outdoors, I generally encourage you to have an extra layer of clothing on. This keeps the heat trapped around your muscles.

After more vigorous exercise like running you are warm. If you are breathing heavily, I take tips from my old football coach. Take the time to cool down gradually. Your body will thank you for it, especially the next day. Keep moving; jogging to start with then walking. The aim is to keep moving the legs so that the blood flows through the muscles of the body. This brings oxygen to them which then helps breakdown and get rid of lactic acid. Be as upright as you can. Get your tracksuit on if you can. This keeps the warmth around your muscles and allows you do give yourself a thorough stretch session.

Some days you might not get the opportunity to exercise or work out. If you want to stretch without having done any exercise, it can be done. You need to be mindful and gentle. This means taking the time to listen in and feel the stretch carefully. This can help avoid tearing muscle fibres and injuring yourself. There is a degree to which very gentle stretching can be a warm up. In the past, when I did Aikido and (less so with) Judo, we wore very thick uniforms. They were warm too. We would stretch to warm up. One of the tips I learnt was to use your breath to help your stretching. You get into your stretch position, bring it on to the point where you can feel the stretch (it should not be painful). Once there, you take a deep breath in. Then as you let the breath out, you do two things: you consciously relax the muscle that you are try to stretch and you move to increase the pull of the stretch.

To make it easy to fit in, I suggest tying it into something that you do regularly. Most commonly, I say base it around the meal times. That way you can have a least three separate occasions. An additional time is just before you go to bed. This has two benefits. The first is that it can help you relax and wind down in preparation for sleep and the second is that it can help make your muscles and joints feel looser when you get out of bed,

If you have any questions regarding stretching, I am happy to assist. Very often, I can help stretching more effective for you by making your muscles looser and more elastic so that it is even easier to do your stretches. You can call me on 03 9888 6877 or for more information visit the website www.fong.com.au

By |2017-10-23T20:03:47+11:00August 24th, 2016|Maintenance|Comments Off on When should I stretch?

Sciatica

Do you have it?

Most people who have this condition complain of pain that goes down the back of their thigh with or without lower back pain.

Classically, people think the worst. They think they have a disc problem. But that is not always the case.

There are a myriad of possibilities because there are so many structures in a confined space. These include lumbar facet joints, the sacro-iliac joints, iliolumbar ligaments, various deep muscles and nerves in the vicinity of the lower back and hips to name a few. Determining which tissue is affected tends to be an art.

What I do

You can tell a lot by the exact location of the pain and/or accompanying pins and needles and numbness. There are other details help to work out what is happening. These include which points are tender to touch, where the pain radiates to, which movements make it worse and better. What effects do medications like pain killers and anti-inflammatories have? What does heat or ice do to the pain?

Answers to these questions, assessing your posture, watching how you move, probing for tender or hard spots and testing movements in various directions are essential. All help in narrowing down the possibilities to a short list of diagnoses. From there I can develop and monitor your individualized treatment program.

My approach is very subtle. Clients have often commented that “didn’t feel much going on and the time, but the next day they certainly knew they’d been worked on. I use a combination of gentle muscle tension release with pressure tailored to your pain threshold and what your muscles need. Very often clients have muscle tension that has gradually and imperceptibly increased over time. You try and stretch the muscle, but it just doesn’t seem to give or respond. My work involves releasing the tension, so that you can do your own stretching once more.

Very often if muscle spasm has occurred it has reduced the amount of movement across the span of the joint which it runs and acts. The joint can become stiff. I work to move the joint for you. Literally stimulating the production of lubricant for you. This can be done by rocking and stretching in ways that you can’t quite do or manipulating your joints in directions that you can’t perform yourself.

When appropriate I prescribe and get you to try exercises that you can do at home and on follow up visits I recheck how you are doing them. It takes time to learn and finesse new motor skills.

In many cases, Sciatica can be relieved over a six to eight week period. The course of the treatment changing over the period based upon your rate of recovery. You will be able to sit, stand, walk and sleep more comfortably again.

 

By |2017-10-23T20:04:18+11:00March 4th, 2016|Leg Pain, Sports Injuries|Comments Off on Sciatica

ITB – Ilio Tibial Band

You know that you have a problem when

  • You have knee pain or ache.
  • You have pain on the side of your hip or thigh.
  • The pain seems to come on suddenly for no apparent reason.
  • It seems to have been coming and going for aa long time.

What I do

  • I like to hear what you have been up to prior to the injury becoming an issue.
  • Run various movement tests.
  • Feel the muscle tension above and below the area. This includes:
    • The side of the thigh
    • The front, back and inside of the thigh
    • The knee
    • The hip
    • The back
    • The ankle
  • Once it is confirmed that you are indeed suffering an ITB problem, very often my work involves loosening the ITB and its various attachment points. This includes the muscle on the front of the thigh including the Vastus Lateralis (a part of the quadriceps group), the biceps femoris (a part of the hamstring group), the tensor fascia lata and the gluteus medius muscle. The last two are way up towards the side of your hip.
  • I tend to work with the muscles. Getting a feel for the amount of pressure that is bearable, but not so much as to back you feel like we are having a wrestling match. It is like I am working with empathy for how the muscles are responding. To me this is the most rapid way to affect the muscles. The aim being to achieve the best release of tension with least amounts of side effects. E.g. the least amount of soreness the following day, so that you can carry on as best you can.
  • Usually, it is only after you have received work to these muscles that they have enough “give” or elasticity to be able to respond to your own stretches.
    What you will feel and be able to do.
  • As the pressure around the knee is released you’ll be able to:
    • Walk and run again without pain.
    • Squat more comfortably
    • Lie in bed with less knee and hip ache.

ITB issues don’t always cause pain in the area where the muscle tension is. More often than not it emerges as a type of knee pain. If you are having doubts about the cause of your knee pain, please get in contact to get the ball rolling again.

By |2017-10-23T20:04:50+11:00February 19th, 2016|Knee Pain, Sports Injuries|Comments Off on ITB – Ilio Tibial Band

Rotator Cuff Problems

You know that you are having this problem when:

  • You can’t lift your hand and arm out to the side and above your head.
  • It hurts when you lie on your shoulder in bed.
  • You get pain and restriction reaching behind you trying to get something on the back seat of the car.
  • It hurts when you try to comb your hair or to do up your bra.

What I do to help this sort of problem:

  • I start by determining which muscles are involved, how long you have had it and whether it is inflamed.
  • Once we reduce the inflammation, I can proceed to work on the tightened muscles.
  • The rotator cuff is a set of muscles starting from your shoulder blade and attaching at various sites around the top of the arm bone. They form a sort of cup around the ball of the arm bone. They sit at the top bottom front back and sides of the arm bone.
  • I look at how you are moving your shoulder and this informs me as to which muscles are affected.
  • In addition to the rotator cuff muscles there are larger muscles that may be affected, especially if you’ve had the injury for a while. They can hold your shoulder in a protective posture. They may also need remedial work. So as to bring them back to their normal tension and position.
  • Usually with rotator cuff problems, there is micro damage to some of the muscles and /or their tendons. My treatment involves very gentle pressure to release tension in the muscles. This encourages blood flow into the area of damage. As a result the hardened trigger points (tender or non-tender spots) within the muscle are softened. I can then stretch the muscle and the normal movement is possible again.
  • I aim to work very subtly so that you don’t feel overwhelmed with pain the following day. This means you can continue to move which facilitates your recovery.

What are the benefits?

  • As a result of treatment you can:
    • Move your shoulder again without hesitation.
    • Sleep more comfortably; especially on your side without being woken up
    • Reduce or avoid prolonged anti-inflammatory medication.
    • Do your normal daily activities like:
      • Combing your hair
      • Doing up your bra
      • Reaching into the back seat of your car
      • Putting the clothes on the line

Why wait any more for it to heal by itself?

By |2017-10-27T13:04:02+11:00February 14th, 2016|Shoulder Pain|Comments Off on Rotator Cuff Problems

Getting your body ready for your holidays

Many people, especially those who are involved with School or University think of the school holidays as the time to take a break. They’ll be here soon. In fact: two months. If you want to be physically ready to go on holidays, it’s time to get things into shape.

Interestingly, this year, there has been a lot of Australians heading overseas. I have been helping a lot more people in the preparation for travels overseas for the Northern Hemisphere’s summer like the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland and cycling through the South of France. In addition, there were client preparing for the ski season and driving through the outback in Australia and New Zealand.

fong_ostepath_holiday_prep3

Sometimes, people leave it to the last week or two before they depart. Unfortunately, this may mean that they are still recovering while they are away. Miracles do happen, but there are no guarantees. So, if you are having queries about muscle or joint problems, please get in contact now to make recovery before your holidays more likely.

By |2017-10-27T13:03:20+11:00October 23rd, 2015|Back Pain, Pain Treatment|Comments Off on Getting your body ready for your holidays

Heel spurs or Plantar Fasciitis

Heel Spurs often present as an ongoing dull ache affecting the area underneath the foot, close to the heel. It is usually worse in the mornings and can be seen on an xray.

I learnt how to alleviate the pain caused by this condition from my ballroom dance partner. She had passed it on from a physical therapist she knew who had used the techniques while treating runners.

Like so many things, the problem may not only be a local one, but has causes that are coming from other areas through mechanical connections.

Often the condition has been developing for some time, but with patience it can be alleviated and managed more effectively.

Geoffrey Fong

Principal Treatment Physician

 

By |2017-10-23T20:07:08+11:00June 13th, 2015|Heel Spurs, Plantar Fasciitis|Comments Off on Heel spurs or Plantar Fasciitis

Why you should ask an Osteopath to help reduce your pain

Sometimes you have a pain that has gone on for a little longer than you’d like. You’ve given it your own treatment: RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) stretching etc, but it doesn’t seem to have gone. That’s where an Osteopath can help. There is an element of science and what seems to be magic. Science utilizes the processes of logic. We combine experience and intuition to provide help.

There’s no doubt that you could massage yourself, but it can be a bit like the trick where you pat your head and rub circles on your tummy. The kind of skills you need to play a drum kit. You need to be able to relax the muscle concerned while another set of muscles do the work. Alternatively, you can have an Osteopath do it while you relax.

After an injury or spasm there is a degree of inflammation. This makes the area sore or painful. With time the inflammation often resolves and the pain seems to substantially subside. However, a muscle stiffness for whatever reason can remain. An Osteopath can help to work you through this and take you that extra distance to fully recover from the injury. Sometimes the muscles just don’t seem to release with stretching and that’s where an osteopath can identify and work on those intransigent muscle tensions.

There is a degree to which we are working with prevention. Helping to avoid things progressing and spreading from an initial localized injury site to joints close by i.e. a regional or later global issue. We call these compensatory changes. Sometimes pain is a problem that can become crippling. An Osteopath can help you on your turn around and come back campaign!

Want to know more? Ask how we can help.

Call on 9888 6877 or go to www.fong.com.au

By |2017-10-27T13:04:34+11:00May 31st, 2014|Geoffrey Fong, Osteopathy|Comments Off on Why you should ask an Osteopath to help reduce your pain

Head Check?

Whenever you are on the street, whether as a pedestrian or as an operator of a vehicle, the ability to do a head check is very important to your safety. Head check is a term used particularly in the motorcycle rider training to describe the action of turning your head and looking over your shoulder to check to see if someone is in your blind spot. A similar manoeuvre is important for any one operating a vehicle on the road. In particular it is important before changing lanes. With a move to higher density housing and greater use of street parking there is so much more of a need to be able to know what is going on all around you. So, if you have a stiff neck the risk of an incident is increased.

As an Osteopath, I see many people who have been affected in this way and have helped by restoring and when necessary maintaining people’s optimal range of movement. Patients can have such conditions for a number of reasons. Some have only had the condition briefly e.g. they slept badly and woke up with it while others may have had an injury from the past e.g. whiplash or sporting injury.

In terms of driving a car, it could be argued that with the correct set up of your mirrors you should be able to cover all your rear vision. There is a method that I re-visited a few years ago and I have a link to it here:

Changing your mirrors:
http://www.wikihow.com/Set-Rearview-Mirrors-to-Eliminate-Blind-Spots

However, just to be on the safe side, I always do a headcheck and utilize as much peripheral vision as possible before changing lanes while driving or riding.

In a similar vein reversing the car quickly becomes an issue not only as a result of a stiff neck, but sometimes a stiff mid or lower back. Some of these issues seem to have been addressed with reverse parking cameras and sensors in modern cars. However, it’s almost human nature to want to have a look around to see if there is any danger.

In many occupations, we are in doors more often than not and we can almost become detached from the weather condtions out side. Having ridden two wheels of various forms, I know that it is important to wear the correct gear to suit the conditions. Things like turtle furs and neck tubes are a great way to keep a layer of warmth around your neck. Apart from these outdoor pursuits, I often advise patients to utilize these and/or scarves to maintain heat around their neck after treatment in order to get the best results. Unless of course it is a very hot day.

So, if you are having any difficulty seeing everything around you when you walk, ride, drive or fly, you may well benefit from Osteopathic treatment.

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By |2017-10-23T20:08:59+11:00December 14th, 2010|Neck Pain, Sports Injuries|Comments Off on Head Check?

Welcome to Geoffrey Fong’s Blog – Why Osteopathy?

Hello.

After practising Osteopathy for what seems to be a lifetime, well perhaps a generation (18 years) and the maturation of the internet and website development, I bring to you the Geoffrey Fong Osteopathic Services website.

New technology is a very useful tool.

Prior to this I had gradually been implementing the use of email appointment scheduling as a sort of back up for both myself and my patients to curtail transcription errors. It has proved very helpful. Occasionally there can be a hiccup when someone’s iCal switches over to Hawaii time.

My road to Osteopathy may have begun before I was born.

My grandfather had been one of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners practising in Melbourne and country Victoria in the early 1900s. The philosophy and influences were passed down via osmosis.  I am a curious person and like to know how and why things happen. Mechanisms including that of the human body are fascinating.

When things are running smoothly, poetry in motion is a wonder to behold. When things are thrown out of kilter, it is time for the mechanic to have a look. In terms of the human body, the reason may not be clear, but clues come in many forms.

My journey as an Osteopath has its roots in my study of ergonomics during a Bachelor of mechanical engineering course.

One of the facets of Osteopathy that drew me to the field was the ability to look at a person’s posture and movements and to be able to tell what sort of injury the person was suffering. (In some cases, the person may have felt things were not quite right, only to be queried as to whether there was really anything wrong at all.)

It seemed like magic: a blend of science and art.

In 1987 I enrolled in the 5 year BAppSci  program at what was Phillip Institute of Technology, later to become RMIT University.  It was one of the first time’s that such a course would be conducted at a government institution. Things had begun to change for the Osteopathic profession.

At the beginning of a course, 5 years seems like a long time, but in no time at all we were half way and before we knew it, it was over.

At the beginning, a graduate pines for experience.

In a blink, I had progressed 5, 10 , 15 years down the road. I travelled to the USA to visit the places where Osteopathy began and thrives today; Kirksville Missouri and other Universities, hospital and clinics. It was fascinating.

Later, I was fortunate enough to work in the clinic of the British School of Osteopathy in London and then in Hong Kong .

After my travels, I returned to my favourite, beautiful home town, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

By |2017-10-27T12:00:03+11:00October 4th, 2010|Geoffrey Fong, Osteopathy|Comments Off on Welcome to Geoffrey Fong’s Blog – Why Osteopathy?