Coming soon – Physiotherapy Equipment Sales

Pic by Franklin Dattein

In response to many enquiries about equipment sales, and the difficulty of our patients sourcing equipment themselves from Brisbane, we are pleased to announce that we will soon be selling physiotherapy equipment from our website. We plan to start with TENS machines, leg weights, theratube, and back and posture braces, as well as exercise balls. Stay tuned for more details.


How hard should you exercise? Part 2: The Talk Test

How hard should you exercise?

It’s not as easy to answer as you think. What does ‘hard’ mean? What does ‘easy’ mean? These are all relative terms. One person might find doing twenty minutes of walking ‘hard’ while another might find climbing a mountain ‘hard’.

In part 1 we looked at heart rates as a way of measuring how ‘hard’ you should exercise.

Part 2 is much simpler. No maths or calculators required! It’s The Talk Test. Simply put when you finish your exercise you should still be able to talk without gasping or straining. That’s it. Simple 🙂

How hard should you exercise? Part 1: Maximum Heart Rate

So you want to exercise but are unsure just how hard you should push it? There are three ways. The first of these (and possibly most talked about) is Maximum Heart Rate.

Maximum Heart Rates (approximate) land and water

Age      Max     80%max                  60%max

20        200      160 (150 water)   120 (110 water)

30        190       152 (142 water)    114 (104 water)

40        180       144 (134 water)    108 (98 water)

50        170       136 (126 water)    102 (92 water)

60       160        128 (118 water)     96 (86 water)

70       150        120 (110 water)    90 (80 water)

80       140        112 (102 water)     84 (74 water)

Anything over 60% Max is considered Fat Burning exercise. For Fitness work, about 75%-80% Max HR is considered optimal.

60% MaxHR exercise – You can do this comfortably for 5-10 minutes at a time. You should feel that you are working at moderate pace (i.e. couldn’t go all day!) but not overdoing it (i.e. you can do this speed for most of your workout).

80%MaxHR exercise – This can usually only be done comfortably for about a minute at a time (i.e. should feel tired and can’t go any more after about a minute. You shouldn’t be exhausted! You should recover from ALL exercise within a minute and still be able to carry on a conversation.

Please Note: These are the Theoretical Maximum Values. This will vary if you are on certain medications, have a genetic condition, heart/respiratory problems etc. You should check with your doctor and/or physiotherapist to see what the desired HR for you is before attempting more vigorous exercise. It will also change with depth of pool/temperature etc.

The Maximum HR is less is water. This is because there is:

  1. Better heat dissipation in water
  2. Reduced gravity and load on body and heart, so improved return of blood to heart
  3. Water compresses body and aids blood vessels with blood transportation
  4. Increased pressure assists oxygen absorption in water.

There is a difference of 0-15 beats with HRs in water, so for these above maximum values you can take off about 10 for water exercise to get your water maximum (see number in brackets).

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article!

Hydrotherapy and your spine

Your spine is made up of 24 vertebrae, which are separated by ‘discs’, plus the fused vertebrae of the sacrum and the coccyx. The main jobs of your spine are to protect the spinal cord (which runs down through the middle of the spine), provide support and structure to the skeletal, and to provide flexibility so that you can bend over and turn around.
The spinal discs have a strong fibrous outer layer to give structure and support, while still allowing movement between the vertebrae, and a jelly like substance inside to absorb shock. Nerves from the spinal cord exist the spinal column at specific points.

Sometimes, the spaces between the vertebrae (the discs) become narrower and stiffer. This can result in pain (as the nerves have less space to move in, and the jelly-like substance absorbs less shock) and stiffness (because there is less flexibility in the vertebral joints).  

Hydrotherapy can help relieve these symptoms. As you float in the water, your ‘weightlessness’ helps to open up the spaces between your vertebrae, easing pressure on the nerves and loosening stiff joints. The warm water is also very good for improving circulation, and relaxing spasm in muscles around the spine. The water is a very effective place as well to re-train and strengthen the spinal muscles, particular the core muscles. This is often not possible to do due to load and pain out of the water.

There hasn’t been a lot of good quality research into hydrotherapy and low back pain, but I can tell you from countless numbers of patients I have treated with low back pain that it can be very effective.

In my experience hydrotherapy isn’t a cure-all for low back pain but it can be a very effective starting point where land exercise is difficult to manage. Hydrotherapy can also then be used as an ongoing back management tool along with other forms of treatment. You will still need to do exercise out of the water as well.

Contact us if you wish to investigate your spine or hydrotherapy further. We are here to help!

Ankle sprains

Ankle joints and feet are the link between your body and the ground. If the ankle twists as the foot hits the ground, particularly during a fall, this may cause a sprain. Physiotherapists provide advice and treatment to speed up healing and restore full performance.

What is Ankle Sprain? The ankle joint is made up of four bones. The shape of each bone helps to make the joint stable. Stability around the joint is increased by the ligaments, which are bands of strong connective tissue that prevent unwanted movement. When the ankle twists, the ligaments usually prevent the joint from moving too much. An ankle sprain occurs when one of the supporting ligaments is stretched too far or too quickly, causing the ligament’s fibres to tear and bleed into the surrounding tissues. This bleeding causes pain then swelling.

What Should I Do After a Sprain? In the first 24 to 72 hours after injury, use the R.I.C.E. method:

  • Rest: Take it easy, but move within your limit of pain.
  • Ice: Apply ice for 15 minutes every 2 hours. This helps control pain and bleeding.
  • Compression: Firmly bandage the entire ankle, foot and lower leg. This reduces swelling.
  • Elevation: Have your ankle and leg well supported, higher than the level of your heart. This reduces bleeding and swelling. If there is still swelling and pain after 24 hours, visit your local physiotherapist or doctor.

Your chances of a full recovery will also be helped if you avoid the H.A.R.M. factors in the first 48 hours.

  • Heat: Increases swelling and bleeding.
  • Alcohol: Increases swelling and bleeding.
  • Running or exercise: Aggravates the injury.
  • Massage: Increases swelling and bleeding.

Sleep Apnoea

In private practice I have seen a lot of people that come in for a treatment on another area, and tell me they feel tired, lack energy and have trouble losing weight. It often turns out that they are suffering from sleep apnoea and don’t even know it! Read the following article to find out more.


Sleep apnoea means your breathing stops while you sleep.  It’s estimated that about 5% of Australians suffer from a sleep disorder called sleep apnoea. While sleeping, the muscles of the throat relax to the point of blocking the airway above the voice box. Breathing stops, for between a few seconds and up to one minute, until the brain registers the lack of breathing (or a drop in oxygen levels) and sends a small wake-up call. The sleeper rouses slightly, typically snorts and gasps, then drifts back to sleep almost immediately. In most cases, the person suffering from sleep apnoea doesn’t even realise they are waking up. This pattern can repeat itself hundreds of times over every night, leaving the person dogged by sleepiness and fatigue.

Degrees of severity

The full name for this condition is obstructive sleep apnoea. Another rare form, called central sleep apnoea, is caused by a disruption to the nerve messages sent between the brain and the body. The severity of sleep apnoea depends on how often the breathing is interrupted. The following averages can be used as a guide:

  • · Normal – less than five interruptions an hour.
    · Borderline – 5 to 15 interruptions an hour.
    · Mild sleep apnoea – between 15 and 30 interruptions an hour.
    · Moderate sleep apnoea – between 30 and 50 interruptions an hour.
    · Severe sleep apnoea – over 50 interruptions an hour.

Other symptoms of sleep apnoea

  • People with significant sleep apnoea have an increased risk of motor vehicle accident and may have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In the over 30s age group, the disorder is about three times more common in men than women. Some of the associated symptoms include:
    · Day time sleepiness, fatigue and tiredness
    · Waking up tired/dry throat in morning.
    · Poor concentration
    · Irritability and mood changes
    · Impotence and reduced sex drive is sometimes reported.

Causes of sleep apnoea

  • Obesity is one of the most common causes of sleep apnoea. A loss of around five to 10 kilograms is often enough to dramatically reduce the severity of the disorder. Other contributing factors include:
    · Alcohol, especially in the evening, which relaxes the throat muscles and hampers the brain’s reaction to sleep disordered breathing.
    · Certain illnesses, like reduced thyroid hormone or the presence of a very large goitre.
    · Large tonsils.
    · Medications, such as sleeping tablets and sedatives.
    · Nasal congestion.

Treatment options

Treatment for sleep apnoea relies on changes to lifestyle, including losing weight and cutting down on alcohol. Any contributing medical condition, such as low production of thyroid hormone, needs to be corrected. One treatment available is a mask worn at night that keeps the back of the throat open by forcing air through the nose. This is called ‘nasal continuous positive airway pressure’. However, many people with sleep apnoea find the mask not helpful or difficult to tolerate.

Another treatment is the use of a mouthguard which, when properly made, is effective for sleep apnoea up to 30 interruptions of breathing per hour. Mouthguards are also used in severe sleep apnoea if the person cannot tolerate the mask. They work by holding the jaw in a forced forward position.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Sleep disorder clinic.

Things to rememeber

  • Sleep apnoea occurs when the muscles of the throat collapse during sleep, blocking off the airway above the voice box.
  • Around one in four men over the age of 30 have some degree of sleep apnoea.
  • Treatment includes weight loss and cutting back on alcohol.
  • Presence of daytime sleepiness may distinguish simple snorers from sleep apnoea, but a sleep study will confirm either way.

If in doubt whether you have sleep apnoea, talk to your doctor! A lot of people have sleep apnoea and don’t know it. It can literally be life-changing when properly treated!

History of hydrotherapy

archimedesDid you know that hydrotherapy has been used to treat muscle and joint conditions for thousands of years?

Records from ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece all show the use of warm water to alleviate painful conditions. The Egyptians used to bathe with essential oils and flowers and the Romans are famous for their intricately designed system of public baths, the remains of which still exist in Bath in England. The Greeks called spas asclepias, from Aesculepius, the god of medicine. Hippocrates (known as the ‘father of modern medicine) promoted restoring balance to the body to remedy illness, and supported hydrotherapy as part of this rebalancing. Systems of medical hydrotherapy began to be used towards the end of the eighteenth century.

Hot springs exist all over the world and people still travel to these sites to make use of the healing qualities. Combining treatments in water with ‘thermotherapy’ (using warm or cold water) is a standard practice of modern hydrotherapy techniques. Cold water stimulates the body, constricting blood vessels and shunting blood to the internal organs. Warm water is relaxing, dilating blood vessels and helping to eliminate toxins from the body.

‘Aquatic physiotherapy’ is practised by a qualified physiotherapist and involves specific physiotherapy techniques to address medical conditions and these are done in the water.