10 Minute Stretching

10 Minute Stretching

We asked Ashlea Crupi (Pilates Instructor) to share with us some of the stretches she gives her Pilates clients to do, and, what are the benefits of stretching?

Stretching has so many benefits, it relieves joint pain and stiffness, reduces muscle spasm, increases energy, reduces stress, increases range of motion, elongates and lengthens muscles, decompresses joints, improves posture, and enhances athletic performance to name a few.

With Ashlea’s help we have come up with a basic stretching program that can be performed in under 10 minutes.

This is a general program and remember that stretching should not hurt.

Should you feel pain instead of a gentle stretch, or if you have any injuries please stop and consult one of our team, we may be able to offer you an alternative or a more suitable stretch for your individual needs.

Each stretch is held for between 20-30 seconds.

Never bounce, hold your breath or stretch to the point of pain.


7 Tips Reduce Back Pain

7 Tips Reduce Back Pain

Reduce pain with good computer posture!

Ergonomics Video

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is concerned with human anatomical, anthropometric, physiological and biomechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity.  The relevant topics include working postures, materials handling, repetitive movements, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, workplace layout, safety and health.  .

The above video is a really good example of working postures when using a laptop.  Knowing that a number of not only adult patients but students are now using laptops on a daily basis I hope this little video link proves useful to help you avoid some pain.  If you have any specific questions, as always please don’t hesitate to speak with your treating Osteopath.

Poor Desk Posture? – Dr Stuart’s favourite corrective exercise.

Poor Desk Posture? – Dr Stuart’s favourite corrective exercise.

The Prone Cobra.

Many patients ask: 

“What exercises could I perform to assist or improve my posture?  We asked Dr Stuart Robbins (Osteopath) this question.

His Answer:

Whilst there are many, and that they usually need to be individualised to the patient’s specific needs, one of the more effective exercises I’ll often prescribe is The Prone Cobra.

I find the prone cobra, when performed in concert with a chest stretching routine, can have remarkable impact on improving patients posture.  Furthermore I personally perform this exercise for about 3 minutes in total every second day and have done for many years now.

It aims to reduce both thoracic kyphosis (rounded shoulders) and anterior (forward) head carriage, both of which I often see in patients suffering neck and shoulder tension and/or headaches.

The Prone Cobra when performed as I describe is not a stretch, but it is a strengthening exercise that focuses on postural muscles of the back and neck.  These postural muscles require endurance to cope with the demands of both gravity and occupational or recreational postural demands.  I find that it is especially relevant for many desk workers, students, breast-feeding mothers or even hands on fathers.

From the outset I want to say that performing this or any other exercise or routine aimed at improving your posture is almost a waste of time if you are still going to sit slumped at your desk.  For this reason I remind patients to address their ergonomics first; whilst I’m not going to go into ergonomics at length here I often refer patients to simple videos I feel tell the story on ergonomics quite well, I’ve included one here in the hope it also helps.


* Warning * If you have any specific concerns regarding your suitability to perform this or any other exercise please discuss it with your treating Osteopath in your next consultation.

1.  Gently squeeze your bottom to assist in stabilising your pelvis and low back.

2.  Slowly extend through your mid to upper back, lifting your head off the ground, keeping a neutral neck (keep your eyes down – you shouldn’t look around the room whilst performing this exercise and should have your nose approximately an iPhone width from the ground).

3.  Initially turn your palms towards the ground and then slowly away from yourself aiming your thumbs towards the sky.

Hold this final position for 5 – 30 seconds, you’ll likely feel muscles working between the shoulder blades and often at the back of your arms in your triceps.

Perform 3 – 6 times with 3-10 seconds break between sets.

* The frequency with which you’ll perform this exercise will depend upon the other demands of your life, but aiming for 6 x 30 seconds every couple of days will put you in good stead to cope with the demands of a desk based occupation.

4.  There are a number of variations and progressions with this exercise including changing the arm positions to represent letters – W’s, T’s, Y’s, L’s, and the use of resistance, all of which can be discussed with your treating practitioner.

Posterior Chain Bridging

Posterior Chain Bridging

Supine Hip Extensions (Bridging)

Supine Hip Extension Start Position

Supine Hip Extension Start Position

Supine Hip Extension End Position.

Supine Hip Extension End Position.








Pictured:  Dr Rebecca Rowe – (Osteopath / Pilates Instrutor)

What is one of the simplest exercises to develop your gluteal or bottom muscles?

The supine hip extension or bridge has got to be one of the most effective and simple exercises for developing the gluteal muscles.  Done well it can also provide improved tracking for the knees and lower limbs.  It can be done almost anywhere, and you don’t need any equipment.

Step 1 – Position:-  Laying on your back with a neutral curve in the lumbar spine, this is where you have a little bit of space between your low back and the ground.  You should be able to slip you hand between your low back and the ground.  Knees are bent with feet on the ground as in the above picture.  Note if the distance from you heels to your buttocks is greater then you will use more of your hamstring muscles.

Step 2 – The motion:- Gradually peel your bottom off the ground, vertebrae by vertebrae feel you low back peel off the ground also.  You want to aim for a point where your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line.  Watch for a tendency to allow the thighs to splay apart, this may happen if there is a muscular imbalance in the lower limbs.  If this is the case you may wish to fold a pillow or place a ball between your knees and gently squeeze it as you perform the exercise.  It may also help to feel a sense of lengthening though your knees as you rise to the top.

* Tempo: 2 seconds to rise | Pause 2 seconds at the top | 2 seconds to return your bottom to the ground.

* Aim for 3 Sets of between 10 to 30 repetitions.

* Please note that in the case of a disc and some other injuries to the low back you may be best to avoid the peeling or segmental movement of the lower back especially in the early stages of your rehabilitation.

** Please consult your Osteopath or Rehab Pilates instructor before conducting this exercise to review your suitability to perform it.

Rotator Cuff Rehabilitation – External Rotation Exercises.

Rotator Cuff Rehabilitation – External Rotation Exercises.

We asked Dr Alastair Tehan (Osteopath) what are some common exercises he prescribes when dealing with shoulder injuries?

He responded:

There are many exercises and it really depends on the type of shoulder injury the person has sustained, but lets say someone has sustained an injury that has created some instability of the shoulder.  The shoulder is a very complex joint that enables a very large range of motion, weakness of the shoulder muscles can often put undue stress on the shoulder capsule and ligaments.  I often find due to desk based occupations with poor posture that people are often weak in their external rotators, and I feel this may predispose them to injuries in throwing sports such as cricket.

Strengthening the external rotators of the rotator cuff can not only help rehabilitate from many shoulder injuries but may also help reduce the likelihood of many injuries in the first place.  The rotator cuff consists of four muscles;- Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, and Subscapularis muscles.  These muscles are endurance muscles and as such we often need to hold contractions, or perform repetitive actions with relatively light weights.  The risk of working with heavier weights is not only damaging to these muscles but often just sees these muscles being bypassed for larger muscles to perform an action.  With many of the rotator cuff exercises I’ll often start patients with about 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions, and build up to 5 sets of 25-30 repetitions.

towel squeeze

The towel Squeeze – Isometric Rotator Cuff Activation.


The towel squeeze:

This is an exercise I’ll often start my patients with, it requires no equipment or gym memberships and in itself can often alleviate a lot of their pain.

Often the first step is getting the patient used to an externally rotated position and then activating the rotator cuff muscles.  Placing a towel under the armpit, the patient will bend the elbow to 90 degrees and then turn the arm outwards with the palm facing forwards.

Be sure not to cheat and start to rotate your upper body, if you’re concerned this may be happening you may choose to put your back against the wall.  Once you’ve reached a comfortable externally rotated position gently drawing the elbow into you side and holding for about 10 seconds and repeat 3-6 times.



Dumbell External Rotations (Step 1)

Dumbell External Rotations (Step 1)

Dumbell External Rotation (Step 2)

Dumbell External Rotation (Step 2)







The Dumbell External Rotation exercise:

I’d like to stress that this exercise can also be done without purchasing equipment as I often get patient to perform it using a can of tomatoes or something to that effect.

A patient will lay on their side usually with a pillow under their head to assist with maintaining neutral alignment in their neck.  With their elbow of the top arm bent to 90 degrees they hold a weight often between 500 grams up to about 3kg.  Gently externally rotating at the shoulder and lifting the hand away from the ground.  Its really easy to feel if you are cheating with this one as when your body starts to rotate backwards you’ll feel like you want to roll onto your back.  Slowly lowering the weight again and repeating anywhere between 3-5 sets of 12 to 30 repetitions depending upon your current status.

Theraband External Rotations 

theraband external rotations start

Start Position









Theraband External Rotations

End Position









Theraband External Rotation exercise:

1. Secure Theraband to the door at approximately your own elbow height.  If you don’t have a door anchor you may wish to tie the theraband into a knot that you can close on the other side of the door.  Warning door handles can be dangerous.

2. Place a folded towel between your elbow and your torso on the side of the shoudler you are trying to strengthen, this will act as a feedback mechanism that will avoid cheating that can occur if you abduct or draw your elbow away from your side.

3. Bending the elbow to 90 degrees and grasping the theraband, stand side on to the door so that the Theraband is travelling across your upper abdomen.

4. Being mindful of your posture gently externally rotate / turn your upper arm out, once again avoiding rotation through the torso and avoiding any excessive wrist flexion or extension, try to keep the wrist neutral.

Start with about 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions, and build up to 5 sets of 25-30 repetitions.

Using a Theraband and a door anchor is a great portable way in which to train the muscles of the rotator cuff and shoulder.  I often find I give this to people who need to travel a lot.  The beauty about Theraband is not just its portability but I find it a little better than dumbbells as it is very easy for the patient to increase or decrease the load. Patients simply hold the band with more or less tension, or even doubling it over for more resistance.  A door anchor is a worthy investment as it prevents injuries that can sometimes occur if a door handle is used and is not securely attached to the door.

At our clinic we sell 2 meters of theraband for about $10 and Door anchors are about $15.

** Please note whilst this article includes some general information, shoulder injuries are quite complex and a thorough diagnosis is always necessary before determining the exercises that are the best course of action.  If you have a shoulder injury and are seeking information, the best thing to do is book with one of our Osteopaths for a more tailored exercise regime.






5 Steps to Reduce stress in your body.

5 Steps to Reduce stress in your body.

Dr Eliska Axford (Osteopath) is presenting on women’s health, stress and Osteopathy as part of our women’s health and wealth seminars.  In her lecture she discusses the physical manifestations of stress within the body and she gets quite technical regarding hormones such as cortisol.  We asked Eliska to provide us with some tips to help reduce stress within the body.

Eliska’s 5 tips to reduce stress in your body:

1.     Relaxing: When you’re driving, and you stop at a set of lights, drop your elbows and relax your shoulders.

2.     Time-Out: Take breaks from your workstation regularly, I suggest every 30-45 minutes to reduce the chance of falling back into “slouchy spine”. Take a walk to the water fountain, around the office or to the bathroom to get your blood pumping again.

3.     Breathing: Take 3 deep belly breaths, counting to 5 on the way in and 5 on the way out.
(See below for a description of a belly breath and why it may help reduce your stress)

4.     Replenishing: ensure you drink 2L of water per day – but don’t fill up a big drink bottle, you’ll tend to drink more if you have a small 200ml cup on your desk and try to drink one glass every hour, it only takes a few gulps.

5.     Stretching: particularly for those areas of the body that are compressed or under tension, two of my favourite ones are a lateral neck stretch and a pec stretch, both of which I find people benefit from doing intermittently throughout the day especially if they are using computers, electronic tablets or phones a lot.     

Stretch 1. Lateral Neck Stretch:

stretch neck

This is a general neck stretch that is often suitable when you’ve been at the desk on the computer.

Aim: It targets the scalene and your upper trapezius muscles where many people experience tension.

Caution: If you have a specific injury you should consult your Osteopath before attempting any stretches or exercises.

Step 1 – Gently sitting on your hand, keeping your shoulders down and level.

Step 2 – Laterally bend your head to the right.

Step 3 – Take the left side of your head in your right hand. Gently draw your head and neck to the right. Hold 20-30 seconds and gently return to the centre. Repeat for other side.

Stretch 2 – Chest Stretch.

stretch chest

This is a general chest stretch that will stretch the pectoral muscles and aims to encourage an upright posture (helps to avoid the slouchy posture).  If you are a regular mouse user, you may choose to spend a little more time doing this stretch on the side you use your mouse on.

Caution: If you have a history of shoulder dislocation or instability this may not be suitable for you, please consult your Osteopath for clarification.

Step 1 – Standing near the edge of a wall or in a door way bend your elbow to 90 degrees and place your palm and forearm against the edge of the wall as in the picture above.

Step 2 – Place the same leg forward as the arm you are stretching.  Gently moving forward you should start to feel a stretch in the chest area.

– If you experience any pain in the shoulder joint with this stretch, stop immediately and consult your Osteopath.
– Lightly contracting your abdomen can reduce the torsional or rotational forces into you mid and lower back.

Belly Breathing:

belly breathing

To perform a belly breath you may find it beneficial to place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly.

Using the hand on the chest area you can monitor and try not to move the chest whilst performing these breaths.

The idea with a belly breathing is to use your diaphragm muscle under your rib cage and to avoid using the scalene muscles in your neck.  The scalene muscles are often over worked and can contribute to neck tension.

At times of emotional stress and meeting deadlines we often find ourselves at a desk performing any number of tasks. When you are seated at a desk especially after a big meal or when you are pregnant your diaphragm may be compressed and thus you often revert to using those scalene muscles in the neck again to assist with respiration.  Just performing this simple task can often see people experience a reduction in neck tension and thus they will often cope better with a whole range of stress issues.

If you have any further questions regarding Eliska’s tips to reduce stress or feel you may benefit a consultation with Eliska please don’t hesitate to contact our receptionist to arrange an appointment.  Ph. (03) 9431 5773 or info@gatewayosteo.com.au