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Tips for sticking to your new year workout routine

January 20, 2020 by  
Filed under W5 Physio News

Has this January seen you making a new year’s resolution to get fit? If so, you’re not alone…

A recent survey showed that the most common new year’s resolution for 2020 was to do more exercise. (And you can guarantee it’s been the most popular resolution made in previous years too.)

But would it surprise you to learn that despite being the most popular of new year’s resolutions, just 24% of people promising to do more exercise, actually stick to it? Although at W5Physio, we massively recommend exercise to our patients…we get it! We know starting a new exercise regime can be scary, it can seem like a chore and simply something you don’t have time for in your busy schedule.

That’s why we’ve pulled together our top tips for making exercise FUN! And perhaps more importantly, sustainable. Read on to learn how you can be one of the successful minority who actually who stick to their new year’s exercise resolution and reap the health benefits of getting fit this year.

The secret to success

The secret to success when it comes to exercise is to find an activity that you actually enjoy. A lot of people see their workout as something they just need to tick off their to-do list, either first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. It’s an errand, a duty, something they’d rather not do, but feel obliged to anyway.

Yet the NHS suggests everyone aged 19 to 64 should aim to be physically active every day. That includes two days of strength training and 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous, intensity activity a week. Sound impossible to stick to? Well, it really is tricky if you’re not enjoying the exercise regime you’ve chosen.

But, we’ve got good news for you…exercise can be fun!

Fitness that fits you

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to exercise. The best form of exercise for you, is one you enjoy the most and that fits into your lifestyle. To begin with, try not to worry about hitting your targets in regard to NHS recommendations. Start small, build your fitness and your confidence and once you’ve found the right routine for you, picking up the pace and volume shouldn’t be that hard.

Enjoying the exercise and feeling happy is much more effective than simply going through the motions of a workout because you feel forced into it. It’s well-known that exercise in any form releases endorphins (happy hormones) in the brain – the more you enjoy your workout, the more happy hormones will be released! As a result, you’ll want to exercise more.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to finding an exercise plan to suit you and your lifestyle, talk to one of our physios. All of W5’s physiotherapists have the qualifications and experience to help you discover the wide variety of exercise options available to you.

How to make exercise fun

Here are just a few of our suggestions of making the mundane feel more fun:

  • Want to start running? Find a ‘Couch to 5km’.

This running programme has become a bit of a phenomenon over the past few years. And it’s not difficult to see why. The thought of trudging down dark roads in the cold winter months doesn’t entice many people into taking up the sport. Instead, ‘Coach to 5km’ offer both online plans and apps for you to follow or in some areas, groups who meet to run together. The programmes work to build up your fitness and muscle strength gradually, preventing injuries and offering encouragement to participants. They can also offer advice on the right footwear and additional strength training to improve your running too.

  • Want to start weight training? Join a gym.

It may sound obvious but if you’re just starting out with weight training, the best and safest way to do it is to join a gym. Not only do you receive the advice needed through induction sessions and ongoing support, you get to meet a whole host of like-minded people who you can work out alongside too. Many gyms offer weight-based classes and often joining a class can be more fun and motivating that simply working out alone.

To help you stick to your weight training regime, it’s important to set achievable goals. Your physiotherapist of trainer can help with this and once you start seeing results, you’re sure to have the motivation to continue with your weight training for the long term.

Many gyms offer January membership offers, so now’s a great time to compare offers and find the right gym for you.

  • You want to learn a new sport. Join a club/team.

Many of us enjoy being competitive and that’s why competitive sports can add an extra element of excitement to our exercise. Sometimes, you become so enthralled in the game, you forget you’re even working out!

Take tennis for example. Lessons are a great place to starts and there are many affordable clubs across London that also offer all you need when it comes to finding the right equipment.

Also think rowing, football, rounders or bowls. Start with one lessons a week, and W5’s physios can provide you with some additional exercises that will build your strength and fitness so you’re increasing your activity lessons in no time at all.

  • Want to move to music? Join a class!

Many of us confess to loving music and there’s no doubt that exercising to your favourite tunes can be a great way to make your workout fly by!

From dance and yoga classes, to aqua aerobics, HIIT classes and spin, there’s an abundance of options on offer and bound to be a class not too far away from you.

Exercising in a group is proven to make people less likely to give up when it gets tough and the social C great health benefits too.

  • Want to work out at home? Download an app.

Let’s face it. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, it’s really hard to physically fit a workout into our day! When that’s the case, don’t use it as an excuse to not exercise. Instead, try working out at home.

Nowadays there are thousands of online workouts to choose from, as well as fitness apps and home DVDs. Plus, how many of us have an exercise bike or rowing machine which is currently buried under a pile of clothes? Come on, make this year your year for dusting it off and putting that exercise equipment to good use. You can even do it whilst dinner’s in the oven or the kids are doing their homework!

Remember, exercise in whatever form should be part of everyone’s lives, but it doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Physiotherapy doesn’t just focus on improving injuries and getting people back to doing what they were doing before their problem started. It helps complement your exercise routine and our physios really enjoy helping people be the healthiest they can. With that in mind, why not have us tailor an exercise programme to suit your lifestyle? Let us help you to stick to that most tricky of resolutions…to get fit in 2020!

Get in touch with us today.

Common contact sports injuries

October 7, 2019 by  
Filed under W5 Physio News

In the midst of the Rugby World Cup, there seems no better time to discuss contact sports. 

Contact sports are some of the most exciting for spectators, offering a fast pace, twists, turns and lots of anticipation. For these reasons, it’s no surprise that contact sports, including rugby, football, hockey, boxing and martial arts are hugely popular amongst both participants and fans, but it’s probably no surprise either that because of their competitiveness, injuries are really common too. 

Here, we look at just a few of the most common contact sport related injuries we see in clinic, and how they can be avoided. 

  1. Muscle strains

Any sport can put stress on muscles but contact sports in particular demand a lot from them. From the speed needed to run from or attack your opponent, to the strength needed to tackle, scrum or pin down the opposition, our muscles are put to hard work, often without us even realising the vast extent of what they are allowing us to do.  

It’s no wonder then that quads, hamstrings and calf muscles are sometimes damaged, along with glutes, traps, delts and abs – all as a result of playing contact sports. 

2. Dislocations and fractures

Contact sports are high-speed and energetic, meaning that collisions and falls are common. Unfortunately, bad knocks can result in breaks or dislocations, with the latter being particularly common in sports like rugby due to hands-on tackling and scrums. Legs, arms and collar bones are some of the most popular breaks we see, whilst dislocations are prevalent in shoulders and knees. 

Whilst rest and time are often the best initial cure for fractures and dislocations, the good news is that physiotherapy can really speed up your rehabilitation following your injury and can help you to strengthen to prevent similar injuries happening again in the future. 

3. Sprains

Sprains, which are ligament damage (as opposed to strains which involve muscles or tendons), are often associated with contact sports and most commonly seen in ankles and knees. They occur most frequently due to twisting or sudden jerky movements, for instance, when changing direction to dodge an opponent. 

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) sprains are widespread amongst footballers, along with MCL (medial collateral ligament) sprains. Often these injuries take a little longer to heal than a strain and can cause swelling and bruising too. 

4. Other injuries – bruises, cuts, concussion

There are a number of additional injuries that can happen as a result of playing contact sports. Again, because of a tendency to collide with opponents or fall to the ground, bruises and lesions are commonplace, and when they occur to the head, there is also the added risk of concussion. Whilst physio probably isn’t the first port of call for these types of problems, they’re worth mentioning as they’re amongst the most common of all contact sports injuries


Here are our top tips for preparing your body to play contact sports. 

Practise makes perfect

If you’re playing a contact sport professionally, practise is part and parcel of your job. But even as an amateur sports person, you should ensure you attend regular training sessions to gain the required skills. Understanding your sport well, knowing the rules, techniques and best practice is a good way of increasing your chances of staying safe when playing competitively. 

Warm up

It’s obvious, but crucial. Never undertake any kind of exercise without firstly warming up. You’ll increase blood flow to your muscles and enhance flexibility meaning your body’s ready to be pushed a little and you’re less likely to experience an injury. 

Strength train

Adding some weight bearing exercises into your training routine will build help you to protect both joints and bones. If problems do occur, your recovery time will likely be decreased if you’ve previously undertaken regular strength training. Think about the muscles most commonly used in your chosen contact sport, or any areas in which your experience weakness, and focus on those first. Our physios can recommend the most suitable exercises for you/your chosen sport. 

Do some cardio

Adding some cardio into your training routine (like running, cycling, cross training or aerobics) makes muscles more efficient and means you’ll be able to perform for longer before tiring. 

Protect yourself

If you feel weakness in any part of your body, or have an old injury, don’t be afraid to wear supports on knees, wrists, ankles, etc. to help you to feel stronger or prevent further injury. For more aggressive contact sports, like boxing and rugby, consider wearing more heavy-duty protective equipment like head guards and gum shields, too. Our physios are happy to advise on the best supports and protective equipment for your individual needs and choice of sport. 

Cool down

Your cool down following training or a match is just as vital as your warm-up. Give your body chance to recover and include stretching to increase your flexibility. The more flexible you get, the less likely you are to experience injuries from the sudden twists and turns often required in contact sports. 

Whilst the odd injury may be to be expected if you’re regularly participating in contact sports, don’t let it put you off. The health and wellbeing benefits of taking part in competitive sports well outweigh the potential problems and through putting the correct preventative measures in place you can significantly reduce your chances of causing any damage. 

If problems do occur, remember W5’s physios have a wealth of experience in contact sport related injuries and are here to help. Get in touch today!

Lower back pain treatment & rehab

June 17, 2019 by  
Filed under W5 Physio News

As one of our previous recent articles explained, lower back pain is really common. Most often, this pain is caused by mechanical issues, but problems can also sometimes be non-mechanical, and can need further investigation by a medical professional to help with a diagnosis.  If you didn’t read our previous back pain blog, we suggest giving it a read first, here. 

Lower back pain will usually improve within a few weeks or months with some simple, temporary (or permanent, if necessary) lifestyle changes. Our physios will provide you with advice and a programme of exercises that will help to improve any reduced mobility and/or strength, and will use their knowledge and experience to make sure you have the right exercises and information to help improve your lower back pain and prevent reoccurrence. 


In the meantime, here are a few pointers that may help your back pain improve in the very acute stages or if you’re unable to get to a physio right away:  

  1. Don’t stop moving – moving is really important when you have pain because it keeps the muscles working. Try to keep moving as normal but if certain movements are too painful then try avoid them temporarily to allow the body not to get to oversensitive to the movement.
  2. Try some stretches – stretches and flexibility exercises can be very helpful when your movement is restricted or the muscles are very sensitive and tight.  At the end of this blog I’ll detail some stretches and exercises that may be helpful to improve your symptoms.
  3. Hot and cold treatment – this may help to reduce your pain and allow you to move better without pain. Your body may respond to one treatment or both, so give them both a try.
  4. Get professional help – if your symptoms are not improving, always seek a professional opinion. Usually, pain doesn’t mean permanent damage and a large percentage of back pain is in fact protective in nature. X-rays or MRIs are not always necessary – pain can be caused by many different structures that won’t present on a scan. But by getting a professional diagnosis, your physio or doctor will be able to advise on the best course of action to get you on the road to recovery.  
  5. Pain relief – use pain relief in the form of painkillers if prescribed, or as advised by your GP. 
  6. Stress relief – if life is very stressful and if you think it might be contributing to your pain, then it may be good to evaluate where you could make lifestyle changes and reduce stress levels.

Exercises and rehabilitation for Lower back pain:

It’s really useful to know what causes, affects or aggravates your lower back pain because this will guide your treatment. So, if your pain is aggravated by bending or sitting, it means that flexion-type activities should either be temporarily avoided or done differently to help reduce pain. Exercise could involve extension-based movements to help offload the painful structures. 

If leaning backward or rising from sitting type movement is the aggravating activity, then extension-based movements should be temporarily avoided or done differently to help reduce pain. 

Below are some safe exercises you can have a go at. Everyone’s pain is slightly different, so it’s worth trying one set of exercises first to see if they help. If they don’t, simply try a different set.

Lower back pain exercises that may help pain associated with bending/flexion. 

  1. MCKENZIE BACK EXTENSIONS:                                                                                                             
  • Lying on stomach, place hands in the press up position.
  • Slowly perform a press up lifting out the breast bone so as to achieve an even back extension.                                                                                                                                                    
  • Stop when the front of the pelvis starts to leave the floor.                                                                                     
  • Repeat 20-30 times up to 5 times per day if able and if relieving.                                                                                       
  • Progress by bringing the hands closer under the shoulders to start

Alternatively, this can be done in standing by pressing your hands on your lower bottom and supporting your weight as your lean back. Don’t hold the movement into pain.


  • Lying on your back with your knees bent, engage your deep abdominals. 
  • Roll the pelvis back and peel the spine up one segment at a time to rest on your shoulder blades; hold for up to 6-10 seconds using the bottom muscles
  • Gently peel back down, one segment at a time.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.
  • Be sure not to lift too high and arch your back into any pain. 

For pain aggravated by backward bending or leaning, try the following exercises: 

  1. KNEES TO CHEST:    
  • Bring both knees (one at a time) towards the chest and hold for 20 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times and do 2-3 times a day.
  • You may add a side-to-side roll to release the lower back

2. CAT

  • On all fours check your alignment and engage your deep abdominals
  • Gently curl the tailbone under and allow the rest of the spine to follow into a comfortable cat stretch position
  • Hold for a few seconds then slowly return to neutral, and gently to arch the other way into extension.
  • Repeat 20 times and do 2-3 times a day

Alternatively, these exercises can be helpful for both:

  1. LUMBAR ROTATIONS (KNEE ROLLS):                                                                 
  • Lie on your back with both knees bent up and connected together.  Arms are out to the side and the shoulder blades are anchored on the mat.
  • Engage the deep abdominals. Gently roll the knees to one side, allowing the head to roll in the opposite direction and return to middle.                                                                                       
  • Repeat to the other side.
  • Continue alternating 10-20 times in each direction and do 2-3 times a day.


  • On all fours, engage your abdominals. Then slowly sit back onto your heels.
  • Press your hands forwards to feel a stretch along the sides of your body and try get your bottom to touch your heels.  
  • Hold this for 3-5 seconds and then come out of the position and rock forwards a little while arching your back a little as shown in the picture below.
  • Repeat 20-30 times and 2-3 times a day if you can.

Here are some simple strengthening/activation exercises to start getting your back, gluteal and abdominal muscles working better:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent up.
  • The spine should be in neutral and the deep abdominals engaged.
  • Gently squeeze the buttock muscles and roll the pelvis to flatten the low back into the mat.
  • Hold the position for 2-3 seconds but don’t hold your breath, then return to neutral.   
  • Repeat 20 times slowly 1-3 times a day.

      2. LEG LIFTS

  • Align the body in neutral and engage your deep abdominals.
  • Without allowing the upper abs to tense or the pelvis to move, float one leg up to 90 degrees.
  • Repeat 8-10 each side.


  • Perform your squat by leaning forwards with your hands and upper body and folding back(sitting back) at the hip joint, not the spine. The spine should stay in its neutral position.
  • Ensure the kneecaps stay in line with the hips and second toe. Return to the start position pressing through the heels to activate the inside quadriceps and buttock muscles.
  • Repeat 10-12 times slowly and up to 3 times a day to start. Then you can slowly increase the repetitions and do more at once to fatigue the muscles more.
  • If this is too hard then first add a chair to sit down on to help with support or if it feels too painful then don’t perform this exercise.

Remember that these exercises are simply guidelines. If you experience more pain while trying them, stop immediately and consult with your GP, or book an appointment at our clinic.  We’ll happily advise on treatment options. 

Causes of shoulder pain

June 3, 2019 by  
Filed under W5 Physio News

Mobility over stability

The upper limbs are crucial. They help us to explore the world, allowing us to reach, pull ourselves up, push open doors and save ourselves if we fall. Without even thinking about it we use our upper limbs to carry out hundreds of different tasks each day. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that a lack of shoulder stability is a common issue.  

To explain the shoulder in a little more depth, it’s a complex system comprising three joints and three bones: the humerus (upper arm bone), the clavicle (collarbone), and the scapular (shoulder blade). The size of the humeral head (the bulbus bit of the bone at the top) is approximately the size of an orange and the surface it articulates on is the size of a 50 pence piece. So how does the large humeral head (the orange bit) refrain from slipping off or falling out from the small 50p-sized joint surface?  

Well, firstly, there’s a really cleverly designed rim known as the labrum. The labrum increases the surface area of 50p and two muscles (and a group of muscles collectively referred to as the rotator cuff) hold it in place. Additionally, a membranous cover (called the joint capsule) which surrounds the 50p also helps to hold everything in place. As well as this there are liquid filled sacks called bursa which aim to reduce friction between the muscle tendons and the bones. A miraculous combination of all of the above working together results in the shoulder being quite an extraordinary apparatus!

Causes of shoulder pain

With so many different components working simultaneously to make our shoulders function, it’s understandable that problems can occur. Linked to the anatomy described above, some of the most common difficulties include:

1. The rotator cuff tendons can be overloaded and become problematic (they can swell, thicken and eventually degenerate). This problem is referred to as “tendinopathy”.

2. The rotator cuff can tear, often due to acute overload. This doesn’t always mean lifting a heavy weight but can happen with things like gardening or putting flat-pack furniture up with the wrong tools. 

3. The bursa (those fluid filled sacks that reduce friction between the tendons and the bone) can become inflamed due to an occurrence such as a fall. 

4. The joint capsule (the cover round it) can become inflamed and contract causing what is known as a “frozen shoulder”. A frozen shoulder goes through a number of stages of pain and stiffness before eventually resolving and the condition is much more prevalent in women than in men. It’s seen most frequently in females above the age of 40 and although there are a few theories for this, the medical world is yet to agree on exactly why this is the case. 

5. A break, fracture or dislocation to the bones/joints. Skiing season means we see a lot of impact fractures (referred to as Hillsachs lesions) to the humeral head due to patients falling onto the shoulder, elbow or an outstretched arm. If you’ve taken a fall onto hard ground whilst skiing or playing another sport and your shoulder pain continues, get it checked by your GP or physiotherapist. An X-ray may be necessary to rule out a Hillsachs lesion.

Less frequent problems include:

6. Arthritis in the joints. Arthritis can occur in the main joint between the humerus and acromion, the acromioclavicular joint or the sternocalvicular joint. What a mouthful! Best to get checked out for an accurate diagnosis on this one! 

7. Referred pain from the neck. This is most commonly seen in patients who have problems with organs, such as liver disease or duodenal (small intestine) which can cause right shoulder pain. Slightly less commonly experienced is referred pain under the right shoulder blade which is the result of gallbladder or gallstone issues.

8. The big C. Cancerous tumours can cause shoulder pain, but again, thankfully, these are extremely rare.  

As you can see there are a number of structural and functional problems than can cause shoulder pain. Shoulders are complex, so don’t be tempted to self-diagnose. It’s important that to arrange a thorough examination with a GP or physiotherapist. At W5Physio, we will ask you lots of the right questions, plan a physical examination and recommend any further investigation such as ultrasound imaging, X-rays, MRI or CT scans. If in doubt, come and get checked out! 

Why hydration is so important to our health

June 1, 2019 by  
Filed under W5 Physio News

We all know that water is essential for any living thing. Humans, animals, plants and trees all need to stay hydrated in order to survive.

The NHS recommends that adults drink between six and eight glasses of water daily. Two-thirds of the human body Is made up of water, so it’s important we’re keeping topped up, and especially so if we’re active.

Athletes can lose between six and ten per cent of their body weight when taking part in professional sports, and that’s just from perspiring. But even if we’re not all the next Usain Bolt, if you’re carrying out any form of exercise, it’s best practice to replace any fluid lost – and that’s in addition to the NHS’s recommended daily intake.

A survey carried out by the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) showed that out of the 2000 British adults who took part, 17% didn’t drink any water at all during the average day. Only 8% consumed 1.5 litres (approx. 7.5 glasses), whilst just 6% drank two litres.

Men, it seems, are less hydrated than women, with 20% of men who were surveyed claiming they drink no water at all in comparison to 13% of females.

Yet the health benefits of good hydration are widely publicised. Water doesn’t damage teeth like hot or sugary drinks can, it’s calorie-free and is cheap! When it comes to taking care of our joints, water ensures that they are lubricated and cushioned and drinking a good amount of water also provides protection for tissues and the spinal cord. Good hydration has been proven to regulate body temperature and maximise physical performance whilst improving strength, power and endurance.

Research has further shown that it boosts energy and activates metabolism, and taking on water after a massage can reduce soreness as well. Some studies even claim that drinking water can help you to lose weight.

So, what are you waiting for? Water has many more benefits than simply quenching your thirst. And with a number of fitness and wellbeing apps now available that will remind you to drink, it’s easier than ever to reach your hydration goals. Keep a jug on your desk, or a water bottle in your bag. And see what a difference H20 will make to your health and performance.


For more advice on reaching your health and fitness goals why not make an appointment with one of our experienced physios? Or read another of our blogs. 













Top tips for exercising in heat

May 23, 2019 by  
Filed under W5 Physio News

It’s easy to feel more motivated to exercise throughout the summer months. Waking up to light mornings and sunshine can encourage even the most unenthusiastic of us to get up and out and take better care of our bodies. Perhaps you’re after a more toned physique for your annual beach holiday or are on a health kick having upped your intake of delicious summer fruits, smoothies and salads. Maybe you’re simply enjoying feeling the warm air on your skin and are using exercise as a reason for spending more time outdoors. 

Whatever your motive for summer exercising, our advice is ‘go for it’! Tailored exercise is key to a healthy body and for aiding rehab following injury. However, it should always be remembered that there are increased risks to exercising in hot conditions – here are a few of our considerations for staying safe during your summer exercise routine. 

  1. Protect yourself from the sun – it’s a basic one, but extremely important. If you’re walking, running, rowing or cycling on a hot sunny day, make sure you’re protecting yourself adequately. A hat or bandana will guard your head from the intensity of the sun and high-factor sun cream will protect your skin from harmful rays. Simply choosing an exercise route that is shaded will really help too.
  • Stay hydrated – if you’re planning on exercising on a sunny day, up your water intake in preparation. Think about taking water with you during your workout too. You can learn more about the importance of hydration in our blog. 
  • The time of day – midday sun is a no-no for any kind of outdoor summer exercise and should be avoided where possible. In fact, dodging the entire middle section of the day altogether and opting for a morning or evening workout is by far the safest option during the hottest summer months, or whilst abroad. 
  • Adapt your workout – if temperatures are soaring, it may just be worth skipping your outdoor running or cycling routine temporarily and replacing it with a session at an indoor gym or class. Plenty of public gyms are fully air conditioned and offer a much more comfortable environment in which to run, cycle and lift weights. Alternatively, swapping your run for a more low-intensity yoga class may be a safe option for a day or two. 
  • Make sure you’ve eaten – whilst it’s important to take on enough calories ahead of exercising at any time of the year, it’s particularly crucial if you’re training in hot conditions. Working out in the heat burns extra calories and fat, but this does put extra strain on the body. ‘Fuel up’ well in advance of your exercise session to avoid burn out and even collapse.
  • Dress appropriately – breathable sportswear is best for summer exercising. Wear loose fitting tops and shorts and avoid clingy leggings or tops when in the sun. Remember your feet will swell slightly in the heat so make sure your trainers fit well for optimal comfort. 
  • Listen to your body – pushing yourself too hard in the heat can cause serious illness. Always look out for anything that doesn’t feel quite right and make sure you’re familiar with the symptoms of heatstroke, which include; 
  • Excessive thirst
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Headache
  • Cramps or muscle weakness
  • Rapid, racing heartbeat
  • Lack of sweating despite feeling hot
  • Prepare – key to exercising in the summer months is a little fore-thought. Take the steps listed above to ensure you’re hydrated, have eaten properly, have planned your route, or even adapted your routine slightly. Make sure you have the right clothing, have protected your head and skin and know the signs of heat-related illness should they occur. Finally, prepare by checking the weather forecast before you head out. 

Regular exercise is key to maintaining a strong and healthy body and is something we actively encourage all of our clients to do at W5Physio. As we’ve identified above, the heat canadd complications to your workout, but that doesn’t mean it should be avoided completely. Simply being aware of how to exercise safely when it’s hot is fundamental…so go on, get out there and enjoy! Jogging in the wind and rain again will be here before we know it! 

If you’d like more advice on exercising, strengthening or recovering from an injury safely, contact us – one of our friendly, experienced physios will be happy to help.

The truth about back pain

May 2, 2019 by  
Filed under W5 Physio News

What a pain!

Back pain is without doubt one of the most common problems we see in our physiotherapy clinic. Statistics claim that up to 80% of us will experience back pain at some time in our lives. For some of us, back pain is sporadic, whilst for others, it’s more persistent. But whatever the frequency and cause of your back pain there are lots of things that can be done to treat it.


Why does my back hurt?

Mechanical issues

Let’s start with the good news – back problems are only occasionally serious business and for most of us back discomfort stems from spinal soft tissues, or sometimes the bones or joints.

Nowadays, it’s common for people to hunch over desks, constantly scroll through phones and tablets, or sit in cars for long periods of time, and many cases of back pain are purely the result of poor posture. Let’s face it, we live in a fast-paced world where remembering to sit and hold ourselves correctly is often the last thing on our minds.

Stress is another modern-day yet common cause of back pain. Did you know that simply feeling tense or run down can play havoc with your back?

For others, back problems occur because of moving or lifting awkwardly, or can be the result of a sprain or strain.

All of the above examples are of what we call ‘mechanical’ back pain and cover the majority of back problems that we’ll see at W5Physio. It’s important to remember that mechanical difficulties will normally start to get better within a few weeks. And physiotherapy can definitely help in your recovery.

Other conditions

Of course, non-mechanical causes of back pain sometimes occur too. Non-mechanical problems often present with other symptoms such as stiffness, numbness, tingling or weakness.

They include sciatica – nerve irritation that causes pain to radiate in the lower back, buttocks and down the leg into the feet; spondylolisthesis (easy for you to say!) which is the result of a bone in the spine slipping out of position; a prolapsed (slipped) disc, where spinal cartilage presses on a nerve; or ankylosing spondylitis which is basically the swelling of joints in the spine.

Again, all of these conditions will benefit from physio and visiting your doctor or one of our physiotherapy professionals (who are used to seeing these kinds of problems daily) can diagnose you properly and advise of the best course of action.

Infrequently, back pain is the result of something more serious. An infection, cancer, broken bone or cauda equina syndrome (severe compression of nerves in the lower back) are all examples, but they’re extremely rare. Again, visit us for an accurate diagnosis if you’re concerned.

Tips for treating your back pain

As we’ve identified above, there are many reasons why you could be experiencing soreness in your back. And that’s why it’s important to have a professional identify the exact underlying cause.

Generally, though, there is some ‘rule of thumb’ when it comes to alleviating your back pain. Here are our top tips:

  • Don’t stop moving

Even if pain seems to be worse on moving, aim to continue with your normal activities, where possible. Steadily and gradually increase your activity and try not to fear twisting or bending. Studies have shown that people who remain active are likely to recover more quickly.

  • Try some stretches

Trying some gentle stretches can take the edge off your pain and loosen tight muscles. Our physios can provide you with a programme of stretches to do in the comfort of your own home. Stretching even when you don’t have pain is a great way to prevent future back problems occurring.

  • Hot and cold treatment

Some people find that heat, such as a warm bath or hot water bottle helps their back pain. Others find that putting something cold on it (like an ice pack), is better – never put ice directly onto the skin though! Our physios can advise on whether hot or cold treatment, or a combination of both, is best for your specific condition, so give us a call.

  • Get professional help

Backs can be tricky things! And with so many diagnoses, it’s safest to get a professional opinion to ensure you’re taking the right steps to aid your recovery. Seek advice from a physiotherapist or your GP.


If you’re experiencing acute or chronic back pain, make an appointment with us today. Our physiotherapists have a wealth of experience in physiotherapy, acupuncture and pilates.

Our tailored treatment plans have great success rates and we’ll not only help to get you back on the road to recovery but prevent future back problems too.




Strength training for running

May 2, 2019 by  
Filed under W5 Physio News

Running appears to be more popular than ever. With an influx in local running clubs opening and park runs being organised, it’s attracting individuals of all ages and fitness levels. People are starting to push themselves more and more, setting goals from just the occasional 5km to training for half marathons, full marathons and obstacle courses.

Despite this increase in popularity in the sport, many runners are surprised to hear that running alone is not enough to improve performance and to push their bodies to the next level. People can be put off by the mention of strength training as it can be associated with bulking up – something that runners generally want to avoid, along with the aching or stiff muscles that can follow.

However, for runners, strength training doesn’t have to mean bulking up. Training should be centred on strength as opposed to muscle gain, and because of the miles put into running, any increases in muscle mass are relatively low.

Benefits of strength training for runners

In reality, there are many benefits of strength training for runners. The main three accomplishments are:

  1. Preventing injuries by strengthening muscles and connective tissue
  2. Increasing running speed by improving neuromuscular coordination and power
  3. Improving running economy by encouraging coordination and stride efficiency

In an interview with The Guardian, Mo Farah explained that squatting 200lb and doing core work had made a significant difference to his running. A study in 2008, carried out by Storen et al, looked at runners that performed heavy squats three times a week, alongside runners who performed only their normal distance training. The findings showed that runners doing the squats improved their running economy and time-to-exhaustion at maximum aerobic speed without any change in their body weight.

Strength training further makes your body more efficient at converting metabolic waste into energy, decreasing  recovery time following long runs. Regular strength training can also help to correct muscle imbalances and weaknesses that are common in modern life, especially for runners who take up the sport as adults and spend their non-running hours at a desk.

How and when to strength train

Ideally, you should strength train three times a week, but even just once per week is better than nothing. Strength training is meant to help your running, not detract from it, so incorporate it into your regular run training routine. You can do strength and submaximal run sessions on the same day providing you leave a six hour window between sessions.

And importantly, always ensure you have rest days. It’s essential to give your body time to recover and to ensure you’re stretching effectively.

Below, we’ve included some strength training exercises for runners. They target upper body, lower body and core. If you have specific imbalances or recurrent injuries it’s best to arrange a full assessment with a professional. We can help with this kind of assessment at W5Physio and will design a tailored programme for you – get in touch with us here.


1. Single leg squat


2. Romanian single dead lift

3. Single leg bridge


4. Squats with weight


5. Lateral band walk

6. Side plank


7. Plank


8. Bird dogs with tucks


9. Burpees


10. Push ups


11. Bent over rows


12. Rotational shoulder press

These exercises target upper body, core and lower body. Choose a few in each area to create a full body workout or simply concentrate on one area at a time. For best results add them to your easy or cross training days. And remember if you’d like further advice, contact us – we’re here to help!



How to prevent the most common running injuries

March 13, 2019 by  
Filed under W5 Physio News

There’s no denying that running is a great way to keep fit. It can help you to lose weight, lower cholesterol, increase lung function, boost immunity and relieve stress. Running has become an increasingly popular sport with many people now challenging themselves to organised 5k and 10k events, and half and full marathons.

However, running does come with risks, and if not done correctly can cause a whole host of injuries to knees, ankles and hips, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Even regular runners with great technique and habits can find themselves faced with occasional aches and pains related to their exercise or training routine.

At W5Physio, we see a whole host of running-related problems in our clinic, so here, we’re going to share with you our top tips for preventing some of the  most commonly seen injuries.

The golden rules

There are some golden rules of injury prevention that seem to work for most people, most of the time. There’s no guarantee they’ll  prevent you from ever getting hurt, but if you incorporate these principles into your running, you will be more likely to enjoy a long and healthy running life.

  1. Avoid doing too much, too soon and too fast. This is the number one cause of running injuries. The body needs time to adapt to increases in mileage or speed. Muscles and joints need recovery time so that they can handle greater demands. If you rush that process, you could break down rather than build up.
  2. Build your weekly mileage by no more than ten per cent per week. So, if you run 5km the first week, run 5.5km the second, about 6km the third week, and so on. Use the ten per cent rule as a guideline, but even that might still be too aggressive an increase, so be sure to work at your own pace.
  3. Listen to your body. Most running injuries don’t come out of nowhere. Usually there will have been warning signs – soreness, aches and persistent pain.
  4. Buy good trainers. There’s no single best shoe for every runner – your goal is to find the one that offers the best support and fit for your anatomy and biomechanics. Try visiting a specialist running store – the staff there will watch you walk or run, and help you find the best shoe for you.
  5. Take some time after each workout to write down notes about what you did and how you felt. For instance, you may notice that your knees ache when you run on consecutive days but you feel great when you rest in between running days. Look for patterns. This will help you identify any weaknesses and the best routine for you.
  6. Experts agree that most runners can draw benefit from cross-training activities (swimming, cycling, rowing) and core strengthening to help improve muscle balance and stay injury free.
  7. Respect your limits. They’re determined by genetics, anatomy, biomechanics, age, level of fitness, history of injury, gender, lifestyle and many other factors that are out of your control.
  8. Increasing your stride rate has been linked to a lower rate of injuries. Ideally, aim to take 170 to 180 steps per minute.

Warming up is key

Hitting the road after you’ve just spent eight hours sitting at a desk can be a shock to the system, so it’s smart to do a dynamic warm-up before you launch into a workout. A dynamic warm-up prepares your body for the demands of running by increasing body temperature, improving range of motion and increasing blood flow to the big muscles you’ll rely on most while running – your glutes, quads and hamstrings. Exercises we’d recommend in your warm-up are the following:

  1. Warrior lunge

This warms up the core muscles and promotes hip mobility and achilles tendon flexibility.

Lift your arms above your head. Step your left foot forward into a lunge, making sure your knee doesn’t extend forward past your foot/toes. Step back to start, bringing arms down. Switch legs. Do eight to ten reps on each leg.

  1. Lateral squat

Lateral squats will activate the glutes and adductor muscles. Stand with your feet wide apart and shift to the left as you lower down into a squat, bending your left knee. Touch your right hand to your left foot. Return to standing, then switch sides. Do ten reps in each direction.

  1. Toy soldier

This exercise warms up the glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

Without bending your knee, step forward and kick your right leg out and up to waist level while extending your left arm, as if to touch your toes. Release and swap legs. Do ten reps each side.

  1. Star touch

This Improves hamstrings and glute flexibility. Stand with feet wide apart, toes pointing forward. Keeping the legs straight, reach your left hand across the body and try to touch your right toe. Return to the centre. Repeat on the other side. Do eight to ten reps on each side.

Our physios have a wealth of experience in running-related injuries, and many of them are keen runners themselves. Get in touch for advice on developing a safe running routine, or if you’re experiencing any pain or injury that you think may be related to running, be sure to contact us to make an appointment. We look forward to helping you back to fitness as quickly as possible.

What is atraumatic shoulder instability?

February 25, 2019 by  
Filed under W5 Physio News

Whilst most shoulder dislocations are a result of trauma (an injury), some people also experience episodes of instability without having injured themselves. As physios, its important for us to work out why such instability has occurred. Here we explain a bit more about Atraumatic shoulder instability.

Basically atraumatic instability is instability of the shoulder i.e. dislocation, without a trauma. Done.

Well, not quite…

The majority of people who suffer from this will have a combination of underlying laxity in the ligaments and the joint capsule, and reduced muscle strength and control. Causes can vary from repetitive movements that create some micro trauma to the joint capsule, for example, in sports where there is a lot of throwing or overhead activity or where the joint is forced into extreme rotation, like gymnastics. This kind of activity loosens the capsular restraints.

Other causes can be our genetics, our development or some studies have even shown some psychological causes are possible.

Who is affected?

This condition is primarily seen in the younger person – those under the age of 25. As mentioned, there will be no clear history of injury but there may have been something slight that started it all off. A person may be higher on the hypermobility scale, there may be a history of subluxations or dislocations.  In someone suffering with atraumatic instability, we’d expect to see evidence of pain, particularly at the front of the shoulder and there may be fear around moving or performing tasks with the shoulder.

What can we do about it?

There are some cases that will need to be referred into a specialist shoulder unit, and some that will need surgery. However, once abnormal muscle patterning has developed, amongst other life stresses, surgery can sometimes result in a poorer outcome. But should that be the case, your physio and shoulder doctor will discuss the options with you.

The good news is, a large number of people will be able to recover and manage with physiotherapy and rehabilitation and this should be the first port of call. Having a good, structured rehabilitation programme, which factors in all muscle function, pain and any psychological factors such as fear and anxiety about moving the shoulder (1) is key. Then being consistent with your rehab is vital as some studies suggest that it takes a high level of compliance and commitment to achieve results…and most of these studies took place over 12-24 weeks, so it takes a long time and is not easy (2, 3, 4).

There are many different routes for rehabilitation to follow and many different exercises that can be done. It will depend on individual assessment as to where the focus may be. This will usually involve working on the muscles that control the scapula (shoulder blade), the muscles that act on the humerus (upper arm) and the muscles that control the shoulder joint itself.

The below are just a few examples of the sort of thing you might be doing at each stage.

Stage 1:

In this stage we are trying to reduce pain, fear and avoidance of movement and any associated anxieties which are common place and natural emotional reactions to shoulder instability. It is important in this stage to find a ‘safe zone’ which is a range where you feel comfortable to move the arm, so that we can begin to get some activation of the muscles.

To encourage this, a good place to start is with what we call ‘closed chain exercises’ where we can get some load through the arm but on a stable surface. This allows us to work on joint stability, proprioception and some co-contraction of the muscles. In this stage I would also start to introduce some isometric (static) contractions of the rotator cuff.

Here, we are not as worried about hitting specific sets and reps but working from 30-60 secs for 3-4 times is a good place to start with the focus on building confidence.

Here are some examples of the kinds of exercises we would generally recommend during Stage 1 of recovery:

1. 4 point kneeling weight shift – watch the video here.

2. 4 point Progression – watch the video here.

3.  Isometric External Rotation – watch the video here. 

Stage 2:

In Stage 2, we are aiming to introduce some weighted movement to start to build some strength and endurance. It’s best to work with pain, effort and fatigue when defining sets and reps which means work to fatigue with what you can manage. This will normally equate 3-4 sets of 12-20 repetitions as we look to build control and stability.

Here are some examples of Stage 2 exercises:

1. Side lying external rotation – watch the video here.

2. Prone external rotation – watch the video here.

3. Prone Horizontal abduction – watch the video here.

Stage 3:

During Stage 3, we’re looking to put different movements together and tap into the rest of the body’s kinetic chain.

Examples may include the following:

1. Flexion with external rotation – watch the video here.

2. Lunge with resistance – watch the video here.

3. Ball rotations – watch the video here.

Stage 4:

In Stage 4, we want to add some dynamic movement, working some of what we call our ‘stretch shortening cycles’ as you start to progress back to your normal activities and/or sport.

1. Throwing and catching – watch the video here.

2. Drop and catch – watch the video here.


The general rule should be that if there is positive progress at 12 weeks, a patient should persist with the rehab programme for another 3-6 months. If at 12 weeks no progress has been made then it is probably time to explore other options.

Here’s our summary:

  1. Physio is first line of management for atraumatic instability. It’s a long process and it’s hard work. Be consistent and stick with it. You will get there.
  2. The entire process needs to be a joint decision-making process with you, your shoulder consultant and your physio.
  3. If you’re not improving, then referral on to a shoulder consultant will be necessary. Some people will need a direct referral depending on certain criteria (as discussed above).
  4. Build confidence, stability, control and then add the fun stuff.

If you’re struggling with shoulder pain, get in touch for an appointment with one of our skilled and experienced physiotherapists. We look forward to seeing you soon!


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