Setting Goals for 2023.

Setting Goals for 2023.

New Year, New You!?

It is almost that time of year where we like to reflect on the year that has been and start to look towards the new year.

If you are the type of person who likes to set new years resolutions, let us help you to create some goals that will stick.

Here are some helpful tips to get you on the right track for 2023.

  1. Set a goal that motivates you. For you to stay on track with your goal it must be something that means something to you. Pick something that is important to you. You are allowed to be a little selfish with this.
  2. Put your goals in writing. Write them down somewhere you will see often, try sticking them to your desk at work or your mirror at home, to prompt you and remind you often on what you are working towards.
  3. Make your goal realistic. We would all like to achieve amazing things but let’s start small. Perhaps this year’s goal can be a steppingstone to your next greatest feat.
  4. Set short term and long-term goals. this will help you stagger your progress and stay on track. These goals might roll into one huge achievement, starting small and accumulating success will do wonders for your confidence.
  5. Stick to it. You can do this, and if you want it bad enough you will succeed!

Another great tool to use is the SMART goals acronym.

S- Specific: it is important to set goals that outline exactly what you want to achieve. A bad example is “be a better runner”, a better example is “I will run 10km by my next birthday”.

M- Measurable: how can you measure your progress; it is important to be able to quantify your goal, so you know if you are on track. An example of this is to increase the number of kilometers I run by one kilometer each 3 weeks to reach my 10km goal, by my birthday in August.

A-Actionable: (or Achievable) when you write the goal down, start the sentence with an action word (verb). An example of this is “Run 2x per week” as opposed to “try to run more often”.

R- Realistic: can your goal be achieved, or is it going to leave you disappointed? It is good to stretch yourself, but it is also important to make it something you can achieve with a bit of hard work.

T- Time-Bound: to make goals more real, it is important to put an end date on them. Giving yourself a deadline will put a little pressure on you to stay on track.

Have a go at using these tools to set your goals for 2023.

Best of luck, and happy new year!

Hitting the hiking trails??

Hitting the hiking trails??

Now that winter is behind us, I am sure everyone is more eager to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Have you been thinking about getting back to some of your favorite hiking tracks or maybe set yourself some new running goals for spring. Well, there are some things you should consider before jumping up and getting into things.

Getting prepared!

If you have been more sedentary over winter or your schedule hasn’t allowed, you to be as active it is important to have a think about anything that may restrict you getting back out there.

There may be some underlying niggles that you haven’t thought of for a while. Prior to getting started think about your history of injuries and addressing ongoing problems before they impact on your function or get worse.

It is important to get a second opinion if you feel like you aren’t improving or need some advice. Working with one of our physios or podiatrists to assess any ongoing aches and pain, looking at your form and function or giving you some stretches/exercise to target those weaknesses.

Think about any specific braces or supports that you may need or feel more confident with. This may include ankle or knee supports.

If you have an old pair of sneakers, think about getting them updated and also making sure they are appropriate for the terrain. (Hiking – sturdy boots with good ankle support, thicker tread. Long distance running – cushioned footwear with good arch support).

If you are having ongoing foot/ankle/leg pain it would be worth getting a podiatry opinion and possible orthotic fitting.

New Zealand Hiking

Pace yourself!

It is important to ease back into things – depending on what you’ve been up to over winter you may need to start with lighter activity and progressively build your strength and endurance.

Start with smaller goals to then build up from. If you need to lower your pace then gradually progress things like your speed, intervals, distance, terrain.

Make sure to give yourself rest periods in between activity. It is important that your body recover from intense exercise.

Plan ahead!

Before you get going you should give yourself the best opportunity to succeed. This means not only preparing your gear but also your body. Thinking about fueling your body with nutritious food and hydration that will help you get through those longer journeys. Make sure you are well rested and giving enough time between when you were last active. You may want to include an active warm up/stretching before hand to get your muscles engaging. Check out and plan your route too, click here to find some good walking tracks to suit your level of fitness and experience.

Bring a pack!

There may be some things that you bring with you on longer hikes or runs. This important to keep you fuelled through this activity like more water or food. In case of an injury occurring while you are out it is important you have some way of contacting someone for help. You should also think about having some basic first aid supplies and possibly pain relief depending on the length of your hike/run.

Have fun hitting the hiking and running trails this spring.

Can you get a tennis elbow if you don’t play tennis?!

Can you get a tennis elbow if you don’t play tennis?!

“Tennis elbow” is the term used to describe pain located on the outside of the elbow joint. The pain originates from an irritation of the tendon attachment of the wrist and finger muscles.

Who gets a tennis elbow?

Anyone can get a tennis elbow! However, most commonly, they occur in 30-50 year old’s or those with jobs that involve repetitive movements of the wrist or elbow.

How do I know if I’ve got a tennis elbow?

Aside from checking in with your local physios at Active Health, you could try the following to see if a tennis elbow may be contributing to your elbow pain;

  • Position an object weighing 1-5kg in front of you at roughly waist level (ie; frying pan of food, house brick, dumbbell)
  • With your arm fully out straight in front of you, and your palm facing the ground, try to pick the object up and lift it to shoulder height

If this elicits your familiar elbow pain, you may have a tennis elbow!

What do I do if I’ve got a tennis elbow??

  1. Don’t panic! In 90% of cases, the symptomatic tennis elbow can be settled with NONoperative treatment. This means you shouldn’t need surgery!
  2. Tendons need to be loaded to adapt and get better, otherwise they may remain in their painful state. Some exercises are often a good way to achieve this! Catch up with one of our physios to make sure you are given an appropriate exercise plan that is individualized to you and what your elbow needs to get better.
  3. Trial some self-management of the pain with any selection of the following;
    • Modifying activities that hurt your elbow to prevent aggravation the pain
    • Trial some basic pain relief as per packet instructions
    • Wear a brace or sleeve if you have one

Extra for Experts:

  • Unfortunately, this won’t be a problem that will disappear overnight. However, with an accurate diagnosis and appropriate intervention, there should be improvements to observe in your day-to-day function.
  • The sooner you can “nip it in the bud”, the better! From what we know of tendon aggravations like tennis elbow, it is much easier to reverse the pain if it has only been present for a short period of time. This means the Kiwi “she’ll be right!” will not do in this case. Get onto it early!!

If you have any questions, or you are concerned about your current elbow or arm pain and want to get it sorted, get in touch with us here at Active Health and we will sort you out.

Otherwise, full steam ahead!!

David Lalor, NZRPT

Tweaked your lower back?

Tweaked your lower back?

Back pain is something most of us have experienced. It can occur during exercise, from repetitive lifting, or sudden awkward movements. The most common cause of lower back pain is a strain or sprain of the ligaments in the spine. The lower back is especially vulnerable to injury as it carries the weight of the upper body and is involved in twisting, bending movements.

There are two common types of lower back injury.

One of them is a lumbar sprain. The lumbar spine is the name of the 5 vertebrae of the lower back leading down into the top of the pelvis. A lumbar sprain occurs when the tough tissues know as ligaments surrounding and joining the bones get overstretched or even torn.

The other common injury is a muscle strain. This is usually known as a pulled muscle and refers to when the muscles are overstretched or overused and start to tear.

Both types of injury have very similar symptoms and require very similar treatment. When the ligaments of muscles are stretched or torn in any injury, it can cause inflammation. The inflammation is a natural response to injury. It is when blood rushes to the injured area to help repair and restore the injured tissue. Other symptoms can include stiffness, pain that worsens with movements, soreness to touch the area, or difficulty standing or moving.

If you find yourself with a lower back injury…

  • Get yourself an ice pack. Put ice on the lower back for up to 20 minutes every 6-8 hours.
    It may feel good to lay flat on the floor to help the muscles in your back surrounding the injury to relax.
  • Book into see a physiotherapist to help you release any tight back muscles and get you moving again. Click for Christchurch, Rangiora or Hamilton.
  • Sleeping with pillows under your knees a good way to release the muscles while you rest overnight.
  • Once you can move, it is good to stay mobile. This will help improve your injury, making sure you keep your spine in a neutral position while doing any bending movements.

Once you are feeling more mobile and your pain is improving it is a good idea to start stretching.

Two stretches to try;

  • Knees to chest. Lying on your back, bring your knees up towards your chest and give them a hug with your arms. Gently pull your knees close to your body, ensuring that when you stretch you aren’t increasing your pain. This can be done with one leg at a time of you are particularly stiff.
  • Cat Stretch. On all fours, bring your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Tuck your belly button up towards your spine. Tuck your chin and arch your spine. Imagine you are trying to create space in between each vertebra and lengthen the muscles in your back.

When your back pain is manageable you should work on strengthening your core and back muscles. Any movement is great for blood flow which will help reduce any muscle stiffness. Talk to your physio to help create a core strengthening program to reduce the risk of re-injury and keep you active for life!

Ankle Sprains and Netball

Ankle Sprains and Netball

No one ever seems surprised when you say you sprained your ankle at Netball!!

A 2021 study(1) reported that at least 4 out of 5 netballers will go on to sustain an ankle sprain or injury. Over half of players report going on to have recurrent ankle sprain. Furthermore 90% of players report ongoing feelings of ankle instability.

What is concerning is that it is common for people to consider an ankle sprain as a simple injury and often do not seek treatment. It is most common for players to return to playing the following week without any specific care. Without appropriate rehab after an ankle sprain its no wonder people go on to have further ankle sprains and suffer from ongoing limitations.
But there are proven ways to help reduce your ankle injury and re-injury risk.

Injured your ankle? – Find a Physio!

Find a physio that regularly sees Netball players (like our very own Amanda Foster).

Your physio can help straight away – there is no need to wait. In the early stages remember “PRICED” Protect – Rest – Ice – Compress – Elevate and Diagnosis!

Your Physio will work out what is going on in your ankle and then work with you to get you back to Netball safely. They will teach you how to jump and land well. They will also provide simple but very effective rehab exercises to help reduce your risk of having a repeat ankle sprain.

Be Netball Smart!

Injury prevention programs such as ACC & Netball New Zealand’s Netball Smart programme reduce ankle sprains (and all other injuries). These have other great benefits such as improving your performance and fundamental netball skills. For the best results, do these netball specific exercises 3-4 times per week.

Netball Smart have just released their new resource called “Smart Ankle” – Check it out for other tips and tricks here

Wear Netball Specific Shoes

Netball shoes are designed for netball! They are durable, constructed for the rigours of the game. The shoes have excellent grip and have a more rounded edge on the sole of the shoe which helps you react better to sideways movements. If you can only afford one sports shoe your netball shoe can be used for running and other activities.

Tape or Brace your ankles

This is especially important if you have had an ankle injury in the past. Those ankle ligaments after injury are stretched and are less effective at restricting your ankle movement. This can make your ankle more vulnerable to injury. Taping or bracing your ankle will help limit the extremes of movement to reduce your risk of re-injury.

Tape vs Brace

This comes down to personal preference – there is currently no research to suggest one is better than the other. If you’re not sure, talk to your physiotherapist. Your physio can teach you how to tape your ankles effectively or help you decide if an ankle brace might be right for you.

If you haven’t sprained your ankles before there is no need to tape or brace – just keep working on your standing balance, practicing your landings and do the Netball Smart warm up regularly.

Ankles are the most common injury in Netball – but they don’t have to be for you!
Make sure you seek the advice of your physio, practice your movement skill with the Netball Smart dynamic warm up, learn to tape or invest in a brace and get yourself some netball shoes!

Written by Amanda Foster MHPrac, BHSc (Physio)
Director/Physiotherapist Active Health Waikato
Previous NZA, WBOP Magic, NZ Secondary Schools, WBOP NNL and Netball NZ Pathway Physiotherapist.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Not sure who to see about Carpal tunnel syndrome? Wondering if a Physio can help with carpal tunnel. This blog will introduce you to three things you need to know:

Do you have any of the following:

1. Wrist or forearm pain?
2. Pins and needles and/or numbness in your hand or fingers?
3. Weakness when gripping or lifting heavy things?
4. Or is any of the above bothering your sleep at night?

You may be experiencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and the following blog may interest you.

The body is made up of many nerves that pass electrical signals to allow for movement and sensation. These nerves function similar to a road or motorway, passing their signals (the “cars”) between the brain and the rest of the body, and back again. Structurally, these resemble pieces of string that travel from the spinal cord out to the fingers and toes. These “pieces of string” must be able to stretch and move to adapt to different positions of the body to allow them to conduct signals effectively.

When the ability of a nerve to move becomes restricted in any way, a “neuropathy” may occur. The word neuropathy is derived from “neuro”, meaning nerve, and “pathy”, meaning suffering or disease. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common “neuropathies” and occurs where the median nerve, one of the main nerves in the arm, becomes irritated through the “carpal tunnel”, or bones of the wrist. For example, if the median nerve is not able to move its best through the carpal tunnel, this can bring on pain and nerve-related symptoms.

When faulty median nerve movement is suspected, the scientific literature supports exercises that can improve nerve movement as a treatment for peripheral neuropathy.
In essence, it is supported that enabling a nerve to move better near joints like the wrist may help to ease symptoms of nerve pain, for example with carpal tunnel syndrome.

The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome research:

A recent Ultrasound study carried out by one of our Physiotherapists, David, out of Auckland University of Technology (AUT), with Associate Professor Richard Ellis (AUT), aimed to investigate the best way to encourage movement for the median nerve. This is one of the main nerves in the upper arm, and that in question during Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

The research showed that nerve movement exercises called “sliders” allowed the greatest movement of the median nerve to occur. This was found in a variety of different arm positions and looked at different locations for the median nerve at the wrist and further into the forearm.
Importantly, these slider exercises also place the median nerve under the least “strain” (defined as relative length change), which is favourable when dealing with neuropathy such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

What that means for you:

  • If you have been struggling with the above symptoms of nerve-related pain, and believe you have carpal tunnel syndrome; organize an appointment with one of our physiotherapists so they can work with you and advise the best treatment options.
  • Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome may include nerve movement exercises, such as those studied in this research project. Your physiotherapist can show you how to include some nerve exercises into your daily life to improve your symptoms.
  • The research in this blog did not look at how often these exercises should be done. It is likely that maintaining regular activity and whole-body exercises, is key to improving your nerve function and helping you feel better.

Come and see us at Active Health. Let’s get you back on the right track!

Author: David Lalor – Physiotherapist at Active Health Waikato