Exercise was my last resort. I’ve heard this statement only a couple of times, but each time it makes my head spin. I have to ask what it is that makes people choose to undergo a surgical procedure, try multiple medications and every alternative therapy under the sun before resorting to exercise.
Is exercise hard work?
One option is that people sometimes view exercise as being hard work and prefer to take an “easier path” to deal with their issues. Essentially the hope is that someone else will fix them. You have a bad knee, get a surgeon to throw a new one in and you’ll be right to go. Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple. The months of rehab work (exercise) needed post-surgery will make you wish you just tried exercise to start with. Medications may help with many conditions, exercise may cure the condition or prevent its occurrence in the first place.
Exercise doesn’t have to be hard work. Sometimes the right exercise for a condition won’t even raise your breathing rate, heart rate or bring on a sweat. It’s not all about boot camps and working till you drop. It’s about finding the right exercise for you, for your needs and taking solace in the fact that it’s doing great things for you.
Lack of advice?
Could it be a lack of quality information from those we go to for advice? A series on low back pain by the global medical journal, The Lancet, mentions that most low back pain sufferers aren’t getting the most effective treatment and advice which is to stay active and to exercise (exercise appropriately is key!). Instead, advice given is often to rest, take pain killers, get spinal injections and surgery.
I am hopefully that times are changing and the importance of regular exercise is more at the forefront of people’s minds when thinking about how to best address injury and illness.
Own Your Health!
Your body is yours and your health is yours. Others can give you advice and point you in the right direction but in the end you need to do the work to reap the reward. I strongly believe that every person out there can benefit in some way from a well tailored exercise program.
In the end, exercise can be a free and easy way to make change to your health issues. All you need to do is grab it with both hands and don’t let go. Ultimately exercise should be your first stop on your journey to good health and well-being. Get some advice from a quality health professional and give exercise a red hot go before you move towards other options.
About the author
On the back of recent iNform blogs about the positive effects of spending time in the outdoors amongst our blue and green spaces, I thought it would be great to pass on some of my favourites so that you can explore Adelaide’s trails and beaches:
Green Places (Adelaide’s trails):
You’ll find the start of the boardwalk in Hallett Cove (or you can start at the other end in Seacliff), a 35 minute drive from Adelaide. The walk itself is a 10.2km return walk rated as a moderate hike. If you aren’t up to 10.2km, it’s very easy to walk as far as you wish and turn around.
It’s a scenic walk along the cliff-tops of Marino and has numerous valleys and resultant stairs to climb. There are also several little paths in the valleys that you can explore to take you to the rugged beaches. You can find plenty of birdlife and if you’re lucky and have a good eye, some ocean life may show itself also. At the Hallett Cove end there is also a great café for lunch and or a coffee after your walk.
A little further from Adelaide at a 75 minute drive, this little gem of a trail is one of the most scenic around. The rugged cliffs and coastline of Newland Head Conservation Park provides some amazing views. The trail itself is rated moderate and is 11.5km one way. Keep this in mind as you may need someone at the other end to pick you up if you choose to do the whole one way walk. Alternatively, you can walk just a part of it and turn around.
Just a whisper away from the CBD at a 15 minute drive, Chambers Gully is Waterfall Gully’s little brother. The trail to Mt Lofty is a 15km circuit, rated hard hike with steep sections so make sure you are prepared if you are doing the full loop. If you want more of a casual walk, the first few kilometres of Chambers Gully are less strenuous and very scenic. There’s lots of wildlife to be seen if you keep your eyes open.
Blue Places (Adelaide’s beaches):
I may be a bit biased about Port Noarlunga given I spent many days there growing up. But I’ll stand by my claims that it’s a top spot. It’s a 40 minute drive from Adelaide and has numerous activities available. You can hire snorkels and fins from Elite Dive Academy and go snorkeling out at the reef. There is a jetty that will lead you out to the reef which you can also walk on and explore at low tide. If you take a short walk over to the river you can hire kayaks from Easy Kayak Rentals and have a cruisy paddle down the river. For those wanting to hit the waves, South Port Beach sits at the south end of Port Noarlunga and can often have a nice wave rolling in. Need a board? Preece’s Surf shop can help you out.
A quaint little town on the coast about a 90 minute drive from Adelaide. Great spot on a nice day for some fishing, kayaking or just a swim. Don’t miss the walk around the bottom of the cliffs to explore a little more. There are some great other little beaches and places to explore if you are willing to have a look around.
Port Willunga is a quiet little town about a 50 minute drive from Adelaide. The beach itself sits in a bay and is a little protected from the elements. There is a lot of beach to spread out on and the cliffs that overlook the beach can be quite scenic. The Star Of Greece café sits at the top of the hill, named after an iron cargo ship that wrecked here in 1888. The wreck provides a great diving spot for keen divers. Snorkeling off the beach is also very accessible.
Bonus locations for the travelers out there:
If you like to travel, Innes National park is a wonderful place to visit. There is lots of historical walks, shipwrecks, surf breaks and protected bays to explore. You could easily spend a week there doing walks every day and not get bored.
This is literally a hidden beach. When driving into Stokes Bay you are greeted with a rocky bay and a boat ramp. If you care to find a park and do a little searching, there is a narrow path/cave that makes its way through and under rocks, opening up to a pristine white sand beach. There is a protected wading/swimming area for the little ones and if the conditions are right there can be a fantastic little left hand beach break for the keen surfer.
These really are just a handful of quality outdoor environments the Adelaide region has to offer. When it comes down to it, if you are outdoors and moving and enjoying it, then you are in a great place. If you want to find more great trails WalkingSA has a great database of trails throughout the state.
If you want to explore Adelaide’s trails and beaches more but feel you can’t due to injury or fitness levels. Come in and see us. We can get you on track (or in the water) in no time.
About the Author
Walking is easy right?
We learn to do it from around the first birthday mark and continue to work on it through our younger years until it becomes an action that we really think very little about. In this time we are building a base level of strength and function. When we want to go somewhere we just get up and our legs somehow get us from point A to point B. For the most part this serves us well and we can deal with the stresses placed on the body.
What happens when we choose to get out and be a little more adventurous?
Walking hills = Increased demand + increased need for strength
Let’s look at a popular local walk – Waterfall Gully up to My Lofty summit. The walk itself is fairly short, 2km to the top and a total of 475 metres of elevation gain.
Now let’s hypothesise that you weigh 65 kilos and are carrying a couple of litres of water, a snack and a camera. You need a camera to capture the waterfalls, abundant wildlife or the children/grandchildren running ahead. So you’ll have maybe a total of an extra five kilos (maybe 20 kilos if the grandchild gets tired and you have to carry them). So now you have 70 kilograms or more and you’re asking your body to haul you 475 meters into the sky, whilst covering 2 km of distance.
That’s a fairly big increase in stress that the body now has to deal with. What should you do now? Read on.
Add some strength training sessions to your week
Our bodies adapt to the stresses we place upon it and they do this quite efficiently. If you add increased load a few times per week (strength training) our bodies will adapt to these stresses and will become stronger and more able to cope with higher levels of stress. This results in a few things:-
- You will have a lower risk of injury
- A higher enjoyment rate during your walks
- You may even be able to keep up with the little ones.
Additionally, you also have the ability to test yourself more in some longer or more challenging walks. All in all, you will be more resilient and capable than before.
If you are unsure how to build strength, seek advice
Strength training can be beneficial to your health and well-being in many ways, if done incorrectly it can also potentially cause injury. If you are not experienced in strength training I would strongly advise you to seek professional advice and ensure you are both doing exercises correctly and that you have exercises prescribed that suit your specific needs.
In part 1 of this blog we looked at some possible issues surrounding surfing with restrictions in movement through the upper back and shoulders. This blog will take you through some exercises that can get your surfing injury free.
Now I will address how you can do a few simple assessments at home as well as give a couple of simple exercises to help get things moving better.
First, let’s assess poor posture and lack of movement.
Lets start looking at the first and second postures in figure 1. If we look at the basic posture here, the shoulders are rolled forwards and the upper back is in a slightly curved position.
Get a friend to have a look at you from side on. If this is your natural posture you may want to look at getting some expert advice on how you can improve your mobility and posture in this area. The exercises shown later will also help.
Figure 2a, 2b, & 2c
Figure 2(a,b & c) shows a simple exercise to assess your range of thoracic extension.
Stand naturally with feet shoulder width apart. Hold a broomstick with your hands a little wider than shoulder width (Fig 2a) and with straight arms bring the broomstick overhead (Fig 2b). If you need to extend through your lower back to get your hands directly overhead, then you may lack good movement through your upper back and shoulders.
Now for some basic exercises to help get things moving.
Figure 3(a &b) shows an upper back rotational exercise.
3a shows the start position, 3b represents the end position. The key here is that you keep your hips vertical so that the movement occurs through your upper spine rather than your lower spine.
Don’t force the movement, just go to the limit of range and breath and relax into the stretch. This exercise will help to free up the upper back allowing a better range of rotation as well as assisting extension movements.
Figure 4 Is a very simple upper back extension exercise using a rolled up towel.
You simply lie back over the rolled towel and relax. Gradually move the towel to different areas on the upper back to work on the whole area. This is simply a very gentle way to help promote extension through the upper spine.
This is just a snapshot of some possible ways you can aid your surfing performance. Through improving movement and posture, your paddling efficiency, strength and endurance will improve. You will also get a benefit in being able to get to your feet faster and more easily as well as being more balanced once you are on the wave. If you are continually getting injured or feel you aren’t getting the most out of your body, it may be a good idea to get some professional advice.