Maintaining Strength and Range of Motion in Your Elbow

Rear view of tennis player serving during a match.

Whether you’ve recently recovered from a shoulder injury, fracture, tennis elbow or just want to prevent future injuries, strengthening and range of motion exercises can help. By exercising each muscle and moving a joint through its full range of motion, you can keep it flexible, reduce pain and improve strength. Below are some exercises that can help you maintain balance and strength in your elbow.

Fist Clench

Weak grip strength is a common contributor to tennis elbow and elbow ligament injuries. Improving grip strength by building the muscles of the forearm can help improve the ability to perform daily activities. Fist clench exercises can be completed easily using a table and a towel.

  1. Sit at a table with your forearm resting on top.
  2. Hold a rolled up towel or small ball in your hand.
  3. Squeeze the towel or ball and hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Release and repeat 10 times. Switch and do the other arm.

Forearm Supination

Your supinator muscle in the forearm attaches to your elbow and is responsible for turning the palm upward. Elbow injuries often arise from movements involving this large muscle.

  1. Sit holding a 1kg dumbbell vertically with your elbow resting on your knee.
  2. Use the weight of the dumbbell to rotate your arm outward, turning the palm up.
  3. Rotate the hand back the other direction until your palm is facing downward.
  4. Repeat this action 20 times on each side.
  5. Try to isolate the movement to your lower arm, keeping your elbow and upper arm still.

Elbow Extension

To improve your ability to fully straighten your elbow, you must work on elbow extension range of motion exercises.

  1. Sit in a chair with your elbow straightened out all the way and resting on a table.
  2. Apply pressure to your forearm or wrist to add overpressure to the stretch
  3. Straighten your elbow out as far as possible and hold for five to 10 seconds.
  4. Release the stretch and allow your elbow to bend a bit.
  5. Repeat the exercise for 10 repetitions.
  6. You can also add to the stretch of your elbow extension by holding onto a 1kg weight.

Wrist Extension and Flexion

The wrist extensors are a group of small muscles responsible for bending the wrist. These muscles connect to the elbow and are often subject to overuse, particularly during racquet sports.

  1. Sit holding a 1kg dumbbell with your palm down and elbow resting on your knee.
  2. With your palm down, extend your wrist by curling it towards your body.
  3. Return to starting position and repeat 10 times on each side.
  4. Try to isolate the movement to the wrist, keeping the rest of your arm still.
  5. Do this exercise with your palm facing upwards to exercise your wrist flexors, which are small muscles that work opposite your wrist extensors.

Scapula Setting

The strength of your shoulder muscles also plays an essential role in preventing injury and providing overall strength and stability in your elbows. This exercise strengthens your upper back at your shoulder blade.

  1. Lie on your stomach with your arms by your sides.
  2. Place a pillow under your forehead for comfort, if required.
  3. Gently draw your shoulder blades together and down your back.
  4. Ease about halfway off from this position and hold for 10 seconds.
  5. Relax and repeat 10 times.

Physiotherapists in Melbourne

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of health services including physiotherapy, massage, clinical pilates, yoga, general health check-ups and more in multiple locations across central Melbourne. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our centrally based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

5 Steps to Maximise Your 1st Online Physiotherapy Consultation

Video consultation

With the rapid advancement of technology over the last five years, online video consultations (often referred to as telehealth) have become an excellent way of reaching remote, at risk or time poor individuals who need to get their healthcare on the go.

At Pinnacle Health Group we have been offering video consultations for clients for many years, using Skype and Zoom, and more recently things have changed fast.

Due to the COVID-19 global crisis, we have seen a huge uptake in video consultations for Physiotherapy. With clients wanting to stay physically active, pain free and mentally sharp, we have reviewed and updated our treatment protocols and staff training to optimise our service delivery.

With so many of our clients working from home, we have reinvested in the most up to date technology available, PhysiApp – download and check it out! This ensures your video consultation experience is world-class and frictionless when you book a consultation with us.

It’s Just Like A Normal Consultation

Just like a normal consultation, you can expect a discussion about your goals for wellbeing, specific questions relating to your area of concern, and the best way to treat your present concern or condition.

For example, a Physiotherapy consultation normally begins with questions about the injury or area of concern. Then the experienced Physiotherapist will know which questions to ask to ascertain a diagnosis, prognosis and then treatment pathway that will most likely include rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation will include follow up with the client with a tailored exercise programme, using the PhysiApp app. You will also be given evidence based self mobilising, stretching and self release technique advice, with the Physiotherapist ensuring correct technique before the session ends.

To optimise your experience and based on the last three weeks of video consults, here are our top steps you can take to maximise the benefit of your first online video consultation with our experienced team.

1. Check Your Tech

A video consultation is an exciting experience for both the Physiotherapist and client. To connect so seamlessly and in the comfort of your home is often reported as a real time saver for clients.

The only thing that can potentially add friction to your experience is the dreaded technological issue.

The video consultation can be done via a PC, laptop, mobile or tablet – you choose your own adventure here – but we ask that you ensure a few things:

The camera and sound is enabled on your device

You connect to Wi-Fi

Your battery is charged

I know these points are obvious but we would hate for your appointment to be interrupted by a bad signal or a vintage device!

2. Space To Move

We love to get you moving and grooving, and our advice for the video consultation is simple: get yourself comfortable in your home.

A study, spare room, nook or lounge room is a perfect space for your consultation.

To begin the consultation, you will be sitting in front of the device and talking with the Physiotherapist.

Once the session progresses into assessment, it is likely that you will be asked to move into standing or lying to do some movement tests and analysis!

3. Dress Active

If you have a back or lower limb issue, we ask that you are comfortable enough in your dress, pants or shorts to bend your hips and knees without ruining your clothes. If you are unsure – always wear some leggings or shorts – this will save you time and make the assessment more accurate and effective. An example of a movement test would be the Physiotherapist watching you do a squat.

If you have a shoulder, upper body or neck issue, we will most likely need to look at your shoulder movement, past ninety degrees and over your head. Ideally wearing a t-shirt or some loose clothing will allow the Physiotherapist to see what is really going on. An example of a shoulder test would be asking you to do a push up against the wall.

Dress for activity!

4. Bring Your Tools

Most of our clients will have purchased some mobility or strength tools over the years. Here is a list of some common pieces of equipment that we would love you to bring.

Theraband (stretchy coloured bands – great for strength, stretch)

Foam roller

Swiss-ball (aka fit-ball)

Dumbbells

Kettle bells

All of these tools, small or large, can be so beneficial when it comes to the treatment planning stage of your consultation.

When used correctly, the Physiotherapist can ensure you get the most value out of your initial purchase. This will speed up progress to your desired outcome, whether that be to run five kilometres pain free or to be able to lift your children up for a cuddle.

5. Write Some Questions

Sometimes when we visit health professionals we have so many questions before the appointment, and then we walk out and forget to ask the important stuff! It happens all the time and we encourage you to ask us as many questions as you need. Some of our most dedicated clients actually write a list of questions on a piece of paper. We welcome this and accept follow up phone calls or emails for questions.

Here are some great sample questions we encourage you to ask:

How long do you expect this issue to go on for?

What should I be doing to help this issue over the next 1-2 weeks?

Do you recommend I see any other health professionals to help my issue?

What do you think is the main cause of my issue?

Video consultations are easily accessible and perfect for time poor individuals who want to take control of their issues.

Ensuring you get the most value out of your experience and working collaboratively with your Physiotherapist is the best mindset going into your first video consultation.

Online Video Consultation – Physiotherapists In Melbourne

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of online video consultations including physiotherapy, podiatry, psychology, dietetics, and ergonomics. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our centrally based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

Sports Nutrition: Eating Your Way Out Of A Sports Injury

Man eating energy bar at gym after a workout

When you’re injured playing sports, one aspect of your recovery that you shouldn’t overlook is nutrition. Athletes may think it is a good idea to cut back on their caloric intake due to decreased levels of activity. However, your body’s natural processes kick into a higher gear when injured.

A body that’s busy with recovery consumes more energy than a body at rest. Eating the right foods will ensure a speedy recovery and return to sporting ability, by fuelling your body’s healing process. It’s just as important as other methods such as rest, ice and stretching when recovering from injury.

Why Food is So Important for Recovering Athletes

From a metabolic standpoint, muscle is expensive real estate. It takes a large amount of energy to maintain this valuable tissue that requires a lot of work to build up in the first place. If you cut too many calories, muscle is one of the first things you’ll lose. It’s better for most athletes to retain their muscle mass, at the risk of putting on some weight by maintaining high caloric intake, when they are injured and resting.

Getting plenty of nutritious food is especially important if you have a lower-body injury that imposes crutches. Using crutches can quickly wear you out and your energy expenditure is much higher than if you’re walking. Getting enough food is essential for the extra work getting around on crutches demands.

What Kind of Foods You Should Eat

While recovering from an injury, you should eat a balanced diet with an emphasis on vegetables and fruit. The dietary habits embraced by athletes during competition and training are also beneficial during injury recovery. The same principles of healthy eating apply. One beneficial adjustment you can make is to reduce carbohydrate intake and increase the amount of healthy proteins and fats you consume.

Athletes tend to eat a lot of carbs, which is great for high-intensity activities as the body rapidly burns carbs to supply energy. When you’re injured, you don’t need quite as many carbs. Instead, you should eat plenty of fish, chicken and lean beef while cutting back on bread, pasta and potatoes. You should also eat sources of healthy fats such as avocado, eggs and nuts.

Hydration is Essential

We all know how important hydration is for intense exercise, but it’s also important for injury recovery. Ensure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, just like you would if you were healthy and active as you normally would be. Maintaining hydration levels is a crucial component to overall general health as well as resting and recovering.

What About Supplements?

Large doses of vitamins and minerals don’t necessarily do much to speed up the body’s healing process. Overnight quick fixes don’t exist. Instead, you must focus on providing the body with the building blocks it needs through a healthy diet and an appropriate calorie intake to support the healing process. Anti-inflammatories should also be avoided as they can deter healing.

Need Nutritional Advice in Melbourne?

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of services including nutritional therapy, massage, clinical Pilates, yoga and more in multiple locations in Melbourne. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our centrally based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

Can You Get Tennis Elbow From Not Playing Tennis?

Man holds a painful elbow

Most people who suffer from tennis elbow didn’t get the condition from playing tennis. This injury of overuse can be caused by a wide range of activities, from climbing and doing handstands to typing at a computer and lifting light objects. It’s a common injury that often heals with minor treatment and rest but can occasionally develop to become a chronic condition.

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

Known to health professionals as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is caused by inflammation where tendons attach to muscles responsible for raising your wrist. Activities like tennis, lifting objects or typing creates micro-tearing where the tendon attaches to the bone. When you grip with your hand or bend your wrist back, the muscles on the back of your forearm contract. These contracting muscles pull on the tendon outside of the elbow.

Repetitive activity or a sudden massive contraction can strain this tendon, leading to inflammation and pain. Since these muscles are often used for daily activities, they come under regular stress and strain, eventually becoming tight and placing a constant pull on the elbow, which makes it difficult to heal.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Sharp pain directly on the outside of the elbow during activity
  • Aching in the forearm or outside of the elbow at rest
  • Pain when raising your wrist backward against resistance
  • Tenderness on the outside of the elbow when you press against the bone
  • Weak grip
  • Everyday activities such as picking up your coffee cup, typing and using a mouse or wringing out a towel may be painful and unmanageable. Over time, these symptoms can worsen.

Why Does Tennis Elbow Get Worse?

Over time, your body’s inability to deal with the initial inflammation results in the production of different cells. Instead of inflammatory cells, the body produces fibroblasts, which cause the collagen to lose strength. After that, it becomes more fragile and can be easily injured.

Every time the collagen breaks down, more scar tissue gets formed in the tendon. Eventually, the tendon becomes thickened from extra scar tissue and no longer functions properly. At this point, pain can persist even in the absence of activity. You’ll also find it increasingly difficult to grip or lift things. This can severely undermine your quality of life, especially if tennis elbow is affecting both your arms.

Treatment and Prevention

Tennis elbow can initially be treated with rest, ice and mild pain killers with success. If pain persists after 6 to 12 weeks, you may need to see a physiotherapist who can help treat the issue with exercises to stretch and strengthen the affected muscles. Other treatments may include wearing a brace or strap to reduce stress on the area.

Your physiotherapist may also suggest different ways to do certain tasks to reduce the strain on your arm. If the pain is severe and doesn’t improve, a doctor might suggest corticosteroid injections for short term relief or platelet-rich plasma injections. In rare cases, surgery may be an option if other treatments don’t work over several months.

Physiotherapists in Melbourne

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of health services including physiotherapy, massage, clinical Pilates, yoga, general health check-ups and more in multiple locations in Melbourne. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our centrally based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

Shoulder Injury? Chances Are You Have A Shoulder Impingement

Swimmer holding sore shoulder before getting into the water

Do you feel a sudden pain in your shoulder when you lift your arm overhead or backwards? You may have a shoulder impingement injury. Other symptoms include a minor but constant ache in your arm, a pain that extends from the front of your shoulder to the side of your arm, and general shoulder or arm weakness. Shoulder impingement is one of the most common shoulder injuries and is typically caused by overuse of the shoulder.

What happens is that your rotator cuff tendons become intermittently trapped and compressed during shoulder movements. As the bone repeatedly makes an impact with the rotator cuff tendon or bursa (a sac filled with lubricating fluid) in a repetitive way, it can cause inflammation, swelling and painful movements for the shoulder.

Common Causes of a Shoulder Impingement Injury

Shoulder impingement injuries can be caused by:

  • Sports that feature heavy use of shoulders like swimming, tennis and basketball
  • Poor posture (sitting with rounded shoulders)
  • An accident, such as a fall
  • Overloading of the area with heavy lifting
  • Tight anterior chest wall muscles
  • Wear and tear with age
  • Other activities that lead to overuse of the shoulder in an elevated position like painting or installing curtains and blinds.

A persistent shoulder impingement injury may cause shoulder bursitis or a structural injury to your rotator cuff tendons (rotator cuff tendinopathy of rotator cuff tear).

How to Treat a Shoulder Impingement Injury

Treatment options for a shoulder impingement injury will vary depending on the severity of the injury and the cause of it. Your health professional will ask about any previous injuries you may have had, as well as sporting and exercise habits. They’ll also do a series of motion tests with your shoulder, to check for any unusual movement. This will also help rule out other conditions, such as a pinched nerve.

Treatment can include:

  • Massage
  • Physiotherapy
  • Exercises
  • Surgery (in very rare cases)
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Simply avoiding repetitive overhead tasks and lifting away from the body

Rest is very important for treating shoulder impingements, especially if it is related to sports. This includes avoiding strenuous exercise or movements that worsen the pain, as well as intermittently placing an ice pack on the area.

Shoulder Impingement Recovery

Every shoulder impingement injury is different and recovery times will vary. In some cases, one treatment session of massage may resolve the issue. Other times, it can take weeks or even months of physiotherapy. Your recovery and rehabilitation will be determined by several factors, which will become clearer after a physiotherapist’s clinical assessments.

The average time of recovery is around three to six months. More severe cases can take as long as a year to fully heal. Most people with a shoulder impingement injury can return to doing their normal activities within two to four weeks. You’ll have to avoid activities that are strenuous for the shoulder like tennis, swimming and basketball until you are fully recovered.

Visit Us for Physiotherapy and Massage in Melbourne

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of services including physiotherapy, massage, clinical Pilates, yoga and more in multiple locations in Melbourne. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our centrally based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.