15 Feb Feb ’23 News: Striking a Healthy Balance
Swapping out the sedentary, finding the right bike fit, and maintaining healthy happy feet!
February marks the end of the holiday period and a serious return to routine for many. For most, the chance to have a bit of downtime during the festive period means we’re returning to routine with clarity, determination, and a bit more energy in the tank than what we finished the year with. While the new year’s motivation still lingers, it’s a great time to assess how you can best maintain the essential routine with the new goals you’ve set out for yourself in 2023. This month’s newsletter is all about merging good habits with your day-to-day responsibilities to help you maintain a healthy balance.
Are you Bike Fit?
Cycling is an incredibly beneficial way to keep fit and healthy, and as a sport that people of all ages can enjoy, it’s no surprise that we see more and more cyclists on the streets of Sydney every day.
The benefits range from the economic to the mental and of course the physical, including:
- Easy and low impact: unlike some other sports, cycling does not require high levels of physical skill. It’s also a lower impact choice than other forms of exercise, like running or tennis for example.
- An all-over muscle workout: cycling uses all the major muscle groups as you pedal.
- As intense as you want: from low intensity to a demanding physical workout, you’re in control when you’re in the saddle.
- It’s fun: (which isn’t always the case for exercise). It’s no secret that the more you enjoy something, the more you’re going to do it. Cycling is enjoyable on many levels; it goes hand in hand with the outdoors but can just as easily be set up inside on rainy days; you can cycle in a group or just by yourself; it can be competitive or leisurely and we’re fortunate enough to live in a city that has lots of options for cyclists.
- A strength, stamina, and balance trifecta: cycling increases strength, stamina, and balance while improving your aerobic fitness at the same time!
- Economic and Time-efficient: with the rising cost of living, finding cheaper ways to do things is always a win. Cycling can save you money on petrol and gym memberships; so it’s a win-win really.
Being “Bike Fit” isn’t just about being fit enough to do it. As a whole-body exercise, it is important to ensure you have the right kind of set-up to prevent injury and keep you in the saddle longer. Our bike fit assessments help you to get the most out of cycling by bringing together the specialised knowledge and skills of our physiotherapist, Angus Tadman, with the technical knowledge of bike fitting to provide a service designed to improve performance, increase comfort and reduce the risk of injury on your bike.
Whether you’re an experienced or beginner cyclist, Angus will help you to achieve the best bike fit for your body. For more information visit our website or phone (02) 9438 1782
Exercises for Foot Fitness
How often do you take the time to exercise your feet? We don’t mean going for a walk or completing a session at the gym, but really concentrating on the fitness of your feet.
Like most things, our feet are something we take for granted until they don’t perform the way we want them to.
Whether it’s plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, Morton’s Neuroma, or one of the other many things that can go wrong with our feet, the frustration of dealing with foot pain is no fun.
We’ve listed some commonly prescribed foot fitness exercises below, and in our latest blog post, that can help to stretch, strengthen and stabilise your feet, ankles, and calves:
- Plantar fascia stretch: Hold your toes on the affected side and stretch them toward your shin bone. You should feel a mild stretch across the bottom of your foot. Do this frequently particularly after sleeping or sitting for a long time.
- Intrinsic muscle strengthening: Put a towel down on the floor and then gather it up with your foot and toes.
- Calf Stretches: Lean against a wall with one leg in front of the other. Bend the front knee keeping the back leg straight to get a stretch through the back of the leg. Now bend the back knee also to get a different calf stretch.
- Point and Flex: Warm up for the day as you might for the ballet. Point and flex your feet several times, strengthening all the muscles of the feet and legs involved in dorsiflexion (bringing your foot up towards your body). The aim here is to improve your gait so that walking and other activities stop putting such excessive strain on your poor common plantar digital nerve.
If you’re finding that numbness and pain in your toes is persistent, we recommend that you make an appointment with us at the clinic.
Here’s to Happier, Healthier Feet!
The Education Quarter
How to get more incidental exercise into our days…
We all know the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. And many of us have taken note and even acted, cramming gym sessions and home workouts into our busy lives. These intentional exercise sessions are vital for your health. As physiotherapists, we advise you to keep doing them! But what if that’s not enough? You might have heard the alarming phrase “sitting is the new smoking”, coined by Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic. Being sedentary really is very, very bad for you. It is, it seems carcinogenic with a sedentary lifestyle linked to an increased risk of certain cancers according to a 2014 meta-analysis. (Please note that nobody is suggesting you take up smoking.)
The disappointing news is that a few gym sessions a week can’t offset those ten to fifteen hours a day of sitting at a desk, in a car, and finally, collapsing (possibly in front of yet another screen) at the end of the day that is daily life for so many office workers. The body needs to move fairly constantly for the lymphatic system to work well; keep our muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones strong; and keep our cardiovascular system ticking over.
It’s vital then, to incorporate movement into our daily lives not just our workouts.
How can we do this?
There are some obvious things like walking or cycling more in our commutes and taking the stairs rather than the lifts. And the physiotherapists at St Leonard’s Physiotherapy absolutely recommend you do this if your commute and body allow it. But just for fun here are a few ideas to increase the movement in your days without taking up more time…
- Race through your chores: Literally! Set a timer and see just how quickly you can get all the laundry put away, leaves raked up, or the house tidied up. (This is a great way to motivate children to help with the household chores by the way.) You’ll get a bit of cardiovascular exercise and get the house tidied faster!
- Dance around while getting ready in the morning: Rather than drag yourself through your morning routine put on some upbeat music and dance while you dress, salsa while applying sunscreen, tap dance while tooth-brushing, and foxtrot while finding your keys….. You might find you need less coffee to get your brain into gear in the morning if you add fun and movement to the routine. And again, you might actually save time. You can also dance through your chores if racing is not your thing.
- Play: You’re busy and probably exhausted (it’s the modern condition) so you probably want to fall onto the sofa and watch or read something at the end of a long day/week/month. But if you can muster the energy to play rather than be passively entertained, the movement and fund will reinvigorate you. A kick-about outside, a game of musical statues, or an improvised obstacle course could replace a family movie night. A home disco, romantic walk, or trying a new sport together could replace dinner and movie date nights. (And, yes – sex does count as exercise.) Playing Wii or X-box Connect style video games, beating your previous scores gets movement into your day and is at least as much fun as playing solitaire.
- Steal moments to move: Why not do a few calf raises while waiting for the lights to change at the pedestrian crossing or contract and release muscles while standing in a queue at the supermarket? Why not stand and walk on the spot whenever you’re on hold on the telephone? Those micro-moments of movement can add up to something meaningful for your health when you take advantage of them.
- Transform your veg-out time: After all that, you might still want to just veg out sometimes. And why not? You have earned it. Consider a stepper or exercise bike in front of the television for gentle continuous movement while you zone out. Or perhaps you could use that time to stretch gently.
Of course, you still need to keep your intentional exercise programme going. You need both incidental and deliberate exercise (whether that’s sports, dance or hitting the gym.) Our top tip as physiotherapists is to find forms of exercise that you love. What are your sneaky tricks to incorporate incidental exercise into your day? We’d love to hear about them at your next appointment at St Leonard’s Physiotherapy.