The Top 5 Benefits of Meditation

It’s too easy to lose contact with your inner self while you constantly negotiate your busy, stressful life to try and get everything done.

It seems counterintuitive, but slowing down to just sit and breathe for a while can actually make you more productive and happier, and the benefits of meditation don’t stop there.

It’s been shown that regular meditation changes the way your brain and body react to stress, making you more self-aware, calmer, and able to take setbacks and even chronic pain in your stride.

This Is Your Brain On Meditation

When you practice meditation you can reduce stress and inflammation in the body that can cause illness and disease.

This is one of the major reasons why people start a meditation routine.

It can be hard to get started, and to find the time to meditate, but it’s free and you can do it almost anywhere. Even meditating for a few minutes a day can improve your stress and anxiety levels.

Making You A Nicer Person

It’s not that you’re not a nice person, but sometimes you’re at your wit’s end with everything you have to deal with in a single day, and being kind all the time is just too hard.

When you meditate you become calmer, and you not only reconnect with yourself, you increase your empathy and make better connections with others.

Meditation makes you able to read the facial expressions and body language of others, and you become kinder and more understanding.

Most of us want to be better, kinder people but when we have an opportunity to show kindness we often push the thought away and don’t act on it. A regular meditation practice will make you more likely to act on your kind thoughts, and the world needs more of that.

Better Sleep

Who wouldn’t want to sleep better and wake up refreshed and eager to start the day?

Insomnia and other sleep disorders affect a large percentage of the population and many take prescription medication in an effort to get that much needed good night’s sleep.

Meditation can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, all without taking any harmful drugs.

Longer Attention Span

In order to meditate effectively you need to focus your attention on your breathing, clear your mind and stop your thoughts from wandering.

This helps increase your attention span and think more clearly, with better memory retention.

Better Overall Health

A calm and happy person is more likely to enjoy better health, be less susceptible to addictions, age better with less chance of age-related brain conditions, have lower blood pressure, less systemic inflammation, and the list goes on.

Combined, these health benefits could ensure you live a long and happy life.

Helping You Reap the Benefits of Meditation

Pinnacle Health Group believes that healthier workplaces create healthier people, and we want to inspire change in every workplace.

We provide state-of-the-art health clinics, corporate health services, and property wellbeing initiatives to meet the demands of a progressive, modern lifestyle.

Call us on (03) 9600 3590 or contact us online for enquiries about our health and wellbeing services, or make a booking at one of our locations in Victoria or NSW.

Quick Tips for Marathon Training

1 – Look Down

Test out the shoes and socks that you plan on wearing on race day. If the shoes aren’t your regular training shoes, wear them on at least one 12-15 km run at marathon pace. This test run will determine whether you’re likely to develop blisters or get sore feet–before it’s too late. If the shoes bother you on this run, get yourself another pair.
 

2 – Don’t get greedy 

Try to stick to your training plan in the weeks leading up to the race. You’re not cramming for a test so running more KM’s than you’re used to late in your training can hinder your performance rather than help it. 
 

3 – Taper

During your final week you should feel like you’re storing up energy, physically and mentally. Keep runs short, try to get good sleep and keep stress at bay. Get work projects under control, decline late night invitations and try to avoid long flights if possible. You should arrive on the start line feeling fresh and ready to smash your goals! 
 
The Melbourne Marathon is only a couple of weeks away. If you have any questions, niggles or need some more personalised advice get in touch today!

5 things I learnt from suffering back pain as a teen (and how that inspired me become a chiropractor)

 

By Chiropractor Luka Fantela

 

During my late teenage years, when my ego was at its peak, I foolishly decided to push my bodies physical abilities beyond what I had prepared it for. Let me tell you it was a recipe for disaster, I was performing a complex movement, with poor technique, using a load beyond my capacity and I was far from focused on the task.

The end result? I was fortunate enough to experience a bilateral stress fracture in my lower back, that from the initial onset, I knew something was not quite right.

At the time if you had told me I’d say you’re kidding, but looking back in hindsight, this personal experience was truly a blessing in disguise.

Although I hadn’t known it, this event would shape my pathway to becoming a Chiropractor fuelled with purpose and passion to help those suffering with a spine-related injury and pain.

Here are some of the key insights I learnt along the way:

A little reassurance can go a long way —

  • I still recall the moment when I sat in my first consult with a specialist, where I was told “you have the spine of an 80-year old man”, or when I asked what can be done which was met with “there’s nothing that can be done but pain management and hope it heals in time”.
  • These were some powerful words that a easily influenced and impressionable teenager took straight on board. Leaving me feeling helpless and having little control over my situation.
  • On the other hand, 8-months following the injury where I consulted a therapist, the first and only to offer me an empathetic ear and some reassurance. I can still remember the feeling of that insurmountable feeling and enormous weight on my shoulders finally beginning to feel lighter.

You’re not your x-ray, MRI or CT report —

  • My initial experience with specialists and therapists seemed to revolve around specific findings on my imaging, which with the traumatic nature of my injury is understandable. Although each professional seemed to point out a different structural cause from the last.
  • As time passed from weeks to months, the relevance of these findings diminished from a tissue healing perspective but was still the focus among therapists.
  • Looking back now, It wasn’t until I began to understand the other influences, such as my bio-mechanics, my beliefs and understanding of my injury and the lifestyles factors that could all be contributing to my pain experience was I able to make any real improvement.

Know that dinosaurs still exist —

  • Understand that some professionals are still stuck in the traditional biomedical model, where they can be overly focused on specific anatomical and structural findings as the source of an individual’s pain.
  • We know better now, we know pain is such a multi-dimensional experience, an experience that can be influenced by a plethora of variables from the way we move to the way we understand our condition.
  • Pain doesn’t always equal damage, especially as your condition persists for longer and longer. Pain is often an alarm system or a heightened level of sensitivity in response to a perceived threat. It’s up to you to show your nervous system it’s safe & okay through exposure, the way you think and managing other stresses in your life.

Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion —

  • While I’m not suggesting doctor shopping around to find some professional who promises to ‘fix’ you. What I am suggesting is don’t feel obliged to exclusively see a single therapist, especially if you don’t think you’re aligned with your management plan.
  • Feel free to get a second or even a third opinion on something, because you might just come across a different perspective that might resonate with you.

Your spine is more robust that you give it credit for —

  • When you think about it, from the day you began to walk to the end of your life, your spine is required to carry the load of your upper body for your entire life. This is no little feat and it’s quite impressive.
  • Give your spine a bit more credit – It’s a strong, robust and resilient structure bearing the weight of your body day in and day out. I think it can handle some bending here and there.

Thank you for reading.

3 reasons why you should add strength training to your running program

By Chiropractor Luka Fantela

 

Back in the day, if you wanted to become a better runner you would simply run, and then run some more!

While this can be a useful strategy to some extent…

More and more, we now see recreational runners all the way to elite-level runners incorporating strength training into their weekly training routine and the outcomes have been impressive.

So here’s why you should be adding strength training into your training schedule…

Improved Running Economy —

  • Defined as the the oxygen uptake required at a given sub-maximal running velocity (1). In other words, the better your running economy (RE), the less oxygen you need to maintain your running pace.
  • In recent studies, both strength and resistance training have been shown to be effective means at improving RE in all levels of runners (1,2) So yes, even the weekend warrior can supplement their running with some resistance exercise and reap the rewards.
  • The great thing is, these demonstrated benefits don’t require months to years to attain but only several weeks before these changes can be achieved (3,4).

Improved Running Performance —

  • Typically defined by the parameters of VO2 max, maximal anaerobic running velocity & power generation, which habe all been shown to significantly improve in conjuction with a sound strength training program.
  • In a few recent studies, direct improvements have been shown not only in short to intermediate distances but longer distances as well (eg 1,500m to 10,000m) (2,4,5).
  • Once again, these changes in running performance were achieved in as little as two to three strength training sessions per week (6).

Reduction in Running-related Injuries —

  • Although it’s difficult to determine the injury risk in running due to so many potential variables at play. What we can do is take the data we have from common running injuries involving the knee, Achilles, shin and hip and consider the similarities among them, with one of the most prominent being reductions in strength.
  • Also, if we consider the main interventions in the management of running-related injuries, exercises focused on building strength, endurance and power has been highly considered first-line and recommended treatment (7,8,9,10).
  • We know running places considerable loads through our body, with the foot and ankle requiring to withstand loads of 6-8x our body-weight at a jogging pace (11). In order to improve our bodies ability to handle these loads we need to ensure we have sufficient capacity in the muscles attenuating the loads. What better way to do this then with a resistance training routine tailored to your running requirements?

Takeaways

  • Adding in 2-3 resistance training sessions into your running can improve running economy, running performance and make you more injury resilient
  • The benefits associated with resistance training can be seen in just weeks
  • Apply this now by adding in some exercises into your training routine, focusing on key muscles involved in running such as: calf complex, hamstrings, quadriceps and hip stabilisers to improve physical capacity.

Thanks for reading.

Want to find out more about how strength training can optimise your running? Please feel free to reach out to me below:

E: luka@pinnaclehealthgroup.com.au

  1. Balsalobre-Fernandez C et al. (2016) Effects of strength training on running economy in highly trained runners: a systematic review with meta-analysis of controllled trials. J Strength Cond Rest, 30(8):2361-8
  2. Yamamoto LM et al. (2018) The effects of resistance training on endurance distance running performance among highly trained runners: a systematic review. J Strength Cond Res; 22(6):2036-44
  3. Denadai BS et al. (2017) Explosive training and heavy weight training are effective for improving running economy in endurance athletes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med, 47(3):545-554
  4. Alcaraz-Ilbanez M & Rodriquez-Perez M (2018) Effects of resistance training on performance in previously trained endurance runners: a systematic review. J Sports Sci, 36(6):613-629
  5. Beattie K et al. (2014) The effects of strength training on performance in endurance athletes. Sports Med, 44(6):845-65
  6. Blagrove RC et al. (2018) Effects of strength training on the physiological determiants of middle- and long-distance running performance: a systematic review. Sports Med, 48(5):1117-1149
  7. Zouita S et al. (2016) Strength training reduces injury rate in elite young soccer players during one season. J Strength Cond Res, 30(5): 1295-307
  8. Santos TR et al. (2015) Effectiveness of hip muscle strengthening in patellofemoral pain syndrome patients: a systematic review. Braz J Phys Ther, 19(3):167-76
  9. Esculier JF et al (2018) Predictors of clinical success in runners with patellofemoral pain: secondary analyses of a randomized clinical trial. J Sci Med Sports, 21(8): 777-782
  10. Van der Vlist AC et al. (2019) Clinical risk factors for achilles tendinopathy: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med
  11. Dorn DW et al. (2012) Muscular strategy shift in human running: dependence of running speed on hip and ankle muscle performance. J. Exp. Biol. 215, 1944-1956

Suffering From Lower Back Pain? These 3 Tips Will Help You Manage

By Chiropractor Luka Fantela

Suffering from low back pain? Here are 3 tips to help you manage lower back pain.

Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most troublesome and common workplace disorders, with this burden being recognised worldwide¹ ². The majority of low back pain is non-specific in origin, meaning it is uncommon for these problems to be caused by any specific underlying condition such as infection, arthritis, fracture or cancer². As a Chiropractor, I frequently get to assess, diagnose and manage clients troubled by this burdensome condition.

In this article, I’ll be highlighting three important tips for managing your next episode of LBP. 

1.Understanding is Key 

It’s important for me to highlight once again that the majority of LBP is rarely attributed to a specific reason. Instead, try becoming aware of other factors in your life that can possibly be amplifying and intensifying your pain, such as aggravating movements and postures, excessive muscle tension, long-term stress, heightened anxiety and many others that may be contributing and possibly intensifying your pain experience³.

2.Getting Back to Life 

It’s essential to remain active and keep moving on a daily basis while keeping within your tolerance, which will increase gradually. Physical movement is simple, effective and a potent pain relieving strategy that you have at your exposure. When taking the first steps after an episode of LBP, it’s always a good idea to slowly and gradually get back to the activities that matter most to you, whether that be running, playing golf or even being active with the kids. Start with what you can manage at this very moment, no matter how big or small it may be.

3.Harness the Power of Exercise

I have to admit I am a little bias but research tends to agree with me on this one, resistance or strength exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on pain levels in people dealing with low back pain. Strength exercise, commonly performed in a gym environment but don’t let that discourage you as it can also be performed at home or outdoors. Strength exercise offers a plethora of additional health benefits from improved bone density, improving muscular strength and decreasing overuse-type injuries. So if you haven’t tried it before, it comes strongly recommended by myself!

I hope you found these tips helpful. If you find yourself struggling with the management of your low back pain, come find myself or one of our efficient therapists at Pinnacle Health Group Docklands to help you along your road to recovery.

1.Blanchette et al. (2016). Effectiveness and economic evaluation of chiropractic care for the treatment of low back pain; a systematic review of pragmatic studies. PLOS 

2.Chou et al. (2018). The global spine care initiative; applying evidence-based guidelines on the non-invasive management of back and neck pain to low and middle-income communities. Euro Spi J 

3.Bunzli et al. (2016). Patient perspectives on participation in cognitive functional therapy for chronic low back pain. Physical Therapy; 96:9 

4.Loras et al. (2015). Medical exercise therapy for treating musculoskeletal pain: a narrative review of results from randomized controlled trials with a theoretical perspective. Physiother Res Int; 20(3): 182-90 

5.Searle et al. (2015). Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Clinical Rehabilitation; 29:12, 1155-1167

WHAT IS CHIROPRACTIC & HOW CAN IT HELP ME?

By Chiropractor Luka Fantela

I thought I’d take a moment to discuss a common question I receive, and that is what is Chiropractic & how can it help me? The easiest way for me to answer this is to give you my very own approach as a Chiropractor and to provide you with some insight into how I help clients treat and manage their musculoskeletal conditions, ultimately getting them back to the activities that matter most to them.

What do Chiropractors do?

Chiropractors are professionals who diagnose conditions of the musculoskeletal system, along with overseeing the conservative treatment and management of clients. However, we are a little more renown for the conservative care of pelvic and spinal-related conditions. Chiropractors are qualified and trained to manage a variety of soft tissue, bone and joint conditions through non-pharmacological and non-surgical interventions.

How can a Chiropractor help you? 

As a Chiropractor, I take a holistic approach to patient care, where I might find myself using an array of manual therapies or ‘hands-on’ approaches, this may be in the form of manipulations, mobilisation or other soft tissue therapies to improve short-term pain and disability 1,2

I’m also a strong advocate for active care, where I might prescribe a tailored progressive rehabilitation and exercise plan to get you moving freely while building mental and physical resilience. In collaboration with you, we would then work towards developing a management plan that works for you and your unique lifestyle, to do our best to decrease the likelihood of a re-occurrence down-the-road.

I hope this provides a bit of insight into what Chiropractic is and more importantly, how it can help you get back to living your fullest life. 

1. Bussieres et al. (2018). Spinal manipulative therapy and other conservative treatments for low back pain; a guideline from the Canadian chiropractic guideline initiative. J Manip Phys Thera 

2. Randoll et al. (2017). The mechanism of back pain relief by spinal manipulation relies on decreased temporal summation of pain. Neuroscience 

National Foot Health Week 2018

By Senior Podiatrist Michael Johnston

A staggering 48% of Australians have experienced heel or arch pain in the last 12 months but 56% of us don’t know what a Podiatrist does. 
Podiatrists are specialists in the foot and lower limb so can treat foot, ankle, knee and hip pain. 
Here are some of the most common issues we manage;

  • Heel pain – Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles injuries
  • Shin Splints
  • Ankle injuries
  • Knee Pain
  • Bunions
  • Ingrown and fungal infection of toenails
  • Corns, callus and verrucas

And here are some of the things we can do to fix you;

  • Custom orthotics
  • Shock wave therapy
  • Strapping
  • Dry Needling
  • Surgery 
  • Gait re-training
  • Footwear advice

As part of Foot Health Week we are offering 15 minute Walking/Running assessments with video analysis at our Melbourne clinics for the rest of October.

Why Everyday is an R U OK Day

R U Ok day is more than just about suicide prevention. It is about taking the time out to find out how our family and friends are doing, taking the time to connect with one another and reflect on our well-being. Well-being of not just others, but also ourselves.

But how do we go about doing it? Is there a right way? Are we saying the right things?

  • You: The first thing to ask yourself is whether you are ready to hear “No” as an answer to that question. Are you willing and in the right mindset to be there unconditionally for that person? It is ok if you don’t think you are the right person or might not have the coping skills to manage it. Like we hear on airplanes, it is important to put on your own mask before helping someone else. Maybe we can find someone else in our network to check in or find a suitable time to be there for them. Sometimes, simply knowing you are there for them helps.
  • Asking the question: This is the easier part- being genuine in asking them how they are doing and what has been happening is enough. Mentioning any changes you might have noticed in them can prompt them to share more than a superficial “I’m good”.
  • Listen: Just be a non-judgemental ear. It is not about solving their problem or telling them “It’s normal” (unless they ask for it). Let them talk about their feelings, no matter how irrational it may sound to you. That is their truth and the validation that someone can listen without judging is sometimes all we need.
  • Help: We are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. Sometimes asking them the person if they have been through something similar and reminding them of how they got through it, reminds them of their strengths. Encourage them to seek help and reduce stigma of professional help through examples of personal experience.
  • Continued care: Continuing to help them through the recovery process and continuing to check up on them reminds people of their support network. It reminds them that they don’t have to do it alone.

As Ellen Degeneres says, Be kind to one another!

 

 

Do you want to exercise pain free?

By Podiatrist Michael Johnston

A lot of people just accept that something hurts, that’s life and there’s nothing they can do about it. Whether you put it down to old age, wear and tear, carrying too much weight, it doesn’t matter because it’s probably not true!

Pain is protective output from the brain to keep up safe, IT IS NOT NORMAL and for most people it should not stop you from doing the things you love, the things that make you happy or reaching your personal goals.

Our clients exercise for numerous reasons; some do it for the competition, some to get time out of their busy lives for their own mental health and some do it for the ones they love, whether that means coaching their kids footy team or walking their dog.

What we love to do at Pinnacle is work collaboratively to change the way you think about pain and get you back on track as soon as possible.

This is important for a few reasons;

  • The longer you leave pain, the harder it’s going to be to get rid of it. Your nervous system is an ever evolving network and when it is kept in a constant state of sensitivity, it can affect your bodies other systems causing stress, mood swings, digestion issues, sleep deprivation and possibly triggering mental health issues
  • Pain breeds pain. This is a consequence of a basic neural process called Potentiation, which means the more often the brain uses a certain neural pathway, the easier it becomes to activate that pathway again. This is the same process by which we learn habits or develop skills. In this context it means that the more times we feel a certain pain, the less stimulus is required to trigger that pain.
  • Exercise is a vital part of pain management. Back pain is a classic example. People who stop exercising their back because of pain become ‘de-conditioned’, weakening the scaffold of supporting muscles and ligaments, which in turn makes the back pain worse. Exercise boosts your immune system and your body’s natural pain killers called ‘endorphins’: This not only helps to ease pain but also makes a person feel better, just like the ‘high’ runners describe after jogging. Exercise is also very effective for treating stress, depression, chronic fatigue and a whole host of pain-related problems.

Pain is whole person experience, it affects a person’s general health, ability to work, income, travel, relationships, all aspects of life. That’s why we need the help of a team of health care professionals to treat the ‘big picture’ of someone’s pain experience.

At Pinnacle we have an experienced team of Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Dietitians, Psychologists, Massage/Myotherapists ready to help you return to pain free activity!

You can book an appointment at one of our Melbourne or Sydney clinics using the link above or check out some of other blogs here.

How to avoid bad health advice online!

By Podiatrist Michael Johnston

 

These days, when we have any sort of injury or medical malady the first thing most of us (myself included) will do is Google the symptoms to find out what’s going on and what to do about it.

More and more, we see patients who have been trying outlandish home remedies in search of a miracle cure for their injury, wasting valuable time while waiting in vain for improvement in their pain.

Here are some quick tips for filtering out the nonsense online;

1 – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

There is no such thing as a cure-all or an ancient secret remedy the doctors don’t want you to know about. Anything that promises to cure any ailment instantly should be approached VERY carefully. Even the most successful treatments in medical history won’t work for everyone and even less need only one treatment or application.

2 – Consider where the advice is coming from.

If I, as a Podiatrist, started selling miracle dental treatments, you would be quite right to be skeptical. Seek out articles and advice from reputable specialists in their field, not the Facebook comments section.

3 – Anecdotes are not evidence

Everything we, as health professionals, do is evidence based meaning that is has been tested and studied so that we know that it works. Your auntie’s cousin’s hairdresser who duct taped an onion to her foot and cured her heel pain does not refute decades of research into best practice.

4 – Don’t wait too long for things to improve.

By all means, give minor injuries a day or two to settle, however, the only way to get a proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan is to see someone in person who knows what they’re doing. Countless times I have seen patients who have wrongly self-diagnosed and been trying to manage the wrong injury, often making things worse in the process.

Here at Pinnacle, we have experienced Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Massage/Myotherapists, Dietitians and Psychologists working together to help you reach your wellness goals.

Check out our other blogs or book online at www.pinnaclehealthgroup.com.au