How do I know if I have a disc herniation?

Between 60% and 80% of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Not all of these people will have a problem with their discs as the majority of back pain comes from muscle strains, which sounds simple but can still cause severe pain.

What is disc pain?

Our spine is made up of bones called vertebrae stacked on top of each other. Between each of these bones, we have discs that act like shock absorbers and help to maintain the stability of the spine. People with a disc problem are often told that they have a “slipped disc” However this is a poor choice of words as nothing has moved or slipped out of place as luckily for us, the discs are held in place tightly between the vertebrae.

Instead, the discs can bulge and the correct term to be used when this happens is a disc herniation or prolapse, depending on the severity. If the disc bulge irritates or puts pressure on the nerve roots in the lower back you will experience pain and/ or numbness along the affected nerve which can run down your leg.  Although this may sound (and feel) very serious it is most often not and responds well to a variety of treatments. 

How do I know if I have a disc herniation?

Common symptoms include lower back pain, pins and needles, numbness and pain in one leg or foot and/or muscle weakness. The pain is sometimes described as shooting or burning. Moving may cause sharp bouts of pain.

What treatment should I have?

Your GP will be able to prescribe you some pain relief if you feel you need it.
Going to see a physiotherapist is a great idea to get advice on what to do or not do. A physiotherapy assessment will include taking a detailed history of what may have brought the problem on and a physician exam. This will include getting you to move in certain ways, checking the nerve function and muscle strength and palpating the painful area. From your assessment, the physio will be able to tell you if they think the disc is involved. They will give you some treatment to help with your symptoms, prescribe exercises that can help you recover and give you advice on activity modifications to help you move better. They will then gradually build you back up to your previous level of activity.

Will I need a scan?


For most people scans are not needed. This is because the result of the scan is not likely to change the course of your treatment. However, if your problem does not resolve after a few months or symptoms are progressively getting worse you may be then referred for a scan.

What can I do to help the pain?

  • The most important thing you can do to help your pain is to try and keep moving. Gentle exercises and activity can help to ease the symptoms as it keeps the back moving and helps to deliver blood and nutrients into the area to aid recovery. 
  • If you usually undergo contact sport, impact exercise or weight lifting you will have to reduce this until the pain subsides to protect the back.
  • Try to avoid being in any positions or postures for a prolonged period, especially sitting. If you have a desk job ensure you have a good chair and desk set up and get up to move around regularly ideally every 20 minutes.
  • Over-the-counter pain relief or visit your GP if you feel you need something stronger

How long does it take to resolve?

Everybody is different and there is no straight answer to this question. However, typically your symptoms will start to reduce after 2-4 weeks and by 3-4 months you should be pain-free.

Is there anything I should be worried about?

In general no. Most low back pain caused by discs will resolve without any major intervention.
Very rarely a disc problem can cause a serious problem called cauda equina syndrome, which needs immediate medical attention. Keep the following  symptoms in the back of your mind:

  • If you experience any loss of control in your bowel or your bladder (either being unable to tell that you have voided or being unable to empty your bladder), 
  • numbness/ loss of sensation around your groin, inner thighs or buttocks
  • a loss of control of the movement in one or both legs

If you experience any of these then you need emergency medical attention and should go straight to A&E.


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Exercising in the gym after a long break - Cambridge Physiotherapy

The benefits of weight training

What is weight training?

People can use weight training for many outcomes but we will focus on some of the most common; to gain strength and increase muscle mass.

Strength or resistance training is a physical activity designed to improve muscular strength and fitness by exercising a specific muscle or muscle group against external resistance, which could be using your own body weight, bags of sand, kettlebells, barbells, free weights or weight machines. The basic principle is to apply a load and overload the muscle so it needs to adapt and get stronger.

Why should I do weight training?

The benefits of weight training to general health, injury prevention and recovery are massive.  Regular strength or resistance training is good for everyone of all ages and fitness levels for the following reasons:

  • Increase your strength. It is the best way to increase your strength. Being stronger makes day-to-day tasks easier and reduces your likelihood of injury or falling. Being stronger will make you better at any sporting activity or able to be active for longer durations.
  • It will increase your muscle mass. We naturally lose muscle mass as we age which can start around the age of 30. Losing muscle mass will make you weaker, reduce your stamina and interfere with physical activity.  A lot of people become fearful of building muscle mass as they do not want to be big and bulky. However, to achieve this bulky appearance it takes years of weight training and overload along with diet adaptations and dedication. Regular weight training to increase muscle mass will just leave you toned and feeling good about yourself.
  • Increases bone density: Like muscle mass, we also lose a percentage of bone density each year as we age. Resistance training creates a force on the bone and helps it stay strong, leaving you less likely to break a bone if you have an accident.
  • Improves your balance. Having stronger muscles and a better ability to use these muscles will improve your balance. Therefore you are less likely to fall in the first place.
  • It boosts metabolism and fat loss.  Your body demands a lot of energy usage when you are weight training therefore you burn more calories. Also,  when you have more muscle you burn more calories even at rest!
  • It can help with chronic disease management.  Strength training can also help ease symptoms in people with many chronic conditions, including neuromuscular disorders and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this may be as it helps fight off inflammation. It can also help improve glucose control in those with type 2 diabetes.
  • It can boost energy levels and improve your mood. All exercise boosts mood because it increases endorphins. There is also evidence that strength training can help you sleep better, and we all know a better night’s sleep can go a long way in keeping our mood up.

The great news is, that even if you are in your 90s+ you can still gain muscle and strength. Furthermore, strength training increases bone density reducing the risk of fractures, if you were to fall, in addition, it also improves your balance so you are less likely to fall in the first place. After all, prevention is better than cure.

How much should I do?

Just 30 minutes 2-3 times a week of high-intensity resistance training can improve functional performance and help with the benefits listed above.

To gain muscle and strength changes, you should try to use a load ( weight) that challenges you between 6 repetitions and 12 repetitions. You should be able to work between those ranges finding the exercises difficult and challenging but still able to maintain proper form and technique.

How can I get started with weight training?

  • Weight training is a brilliant form of exercise for you and your body. However, if it is done incorrectly you can easily injure yourself or create bad habits and movement patterns. It is harder to overcome bad/poor movement patterns than to take the time to learn them correctly, in the first place. So, finding yourself a good coach to teach you how to train and lift correctly is very important.
  • Start with bodyweight exercises, so you get used to the right movement patterns before you start using heavier weights. You can start these at home also so there is no need for all the gym equipment.
  • Slowly and gradually increase the load (weight) on your body so you give your muscles time to adapt and strengthen without too much overload.
  •  If you feel any  aches or pains that are different to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) please seek the advice of a physiotherapist

Here at Physiofit, a number of our physiotherapists are trained in strength and conditioning, therefore they will be able to give you guided advice and teach you the proper techniques in weight training. We have a fully equipt weights gym also so you will have all the equipment needed to start and develop your weight training.

If you want more information on strengthening and conditioning and how to implement it into your life, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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Women in gym picking up weights to exercise in sunrise

How to exercise without needing a physiotherapist

It might seem quite odd that we want to advise you on how to exercise and not have to come see us but as physiotherapists our main goal is to promote health and fitness. When you are injured and need to see a physiotherapist often you have to stop or reduce your normal exercises. Physician activity can help you lead a healthier and happier life therefore, we want you to be able to maintain your exercises as much as possible.


Benefits of exercises:

There are too many to mention! Exercise is almost like a miracle cure for many of the major health conditions of today’s world.

It can reduce your risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. It can lower the risk of death by 30%, as exercise makes us stronger and fitter we are able to keep going for longer. It can boost your self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy levels as well as reduce your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  If exercise was a pill we would all be begging to take it, but it’s free we just need to put the effort in…


How do I get started?

  • Firstly, let us discuss the best form of exercise there is. This will be different for everyone as it has to be individual to you. The best form of exercise is something that you love doing as when you enjoy it, you are more likely to commit to making it a routine and continue it long-term. It doesn’t have to be what the magazines or celebrities say will get you in the best shape, we get benefits from all forms of exercise, so choose something you are likely to make a habit out of.
  • Make a plan: the exercise needs to be able to fit around your lifestyle so plan when you are going to be able to exercise. Put it in your diary so you feel more accountable
  • Be realistic. If you already have a busy work and family life, aiming to exercise every day is probably not very realistic. Start small, plan 1-2 sessions a week initially so that you know you will be able to achieve this. If in the future you are able to add more days in that’s great but start

How do I avoid injury when exercising?

  • Get advice: If you are starting a new form of exercise or returning to something you have done previously it’s best to get advice to ensure you are doing the correct technique. Prevention is better than cure. It’s easier to work on your technique and skills while still able to exercise rather than getting injured, having to stop and then start learning the skills.
  • Be patient: The biggest reason people get injured is because they try to do too much too quickly and their body doesn’t have time to adapt. Give your body time to adjust and build your exercise up slowly.
  • Change things up: Doing the exact same thing every time you exercise can overload the joints and muscles you are using. Our body needs to be used in a balanced way so try and add in a stretch session or try something new one week and then go back to what you love.
  • Get niggles sorted: if you have an old ache or pain that you have been ignoring, get it sorted, even if it currently doesn’t stop you from exercising. This little niggle could get worse over time or be the first sign of a weakness that could cause you a bigger injury in the future.
  • Rest and don’t rush back. There will be times during the year when you will have a break from exercise due to holidays or family events. Enjoy your break!  But remember not to try and make up for that time when you start exercising again. Have a slightly easier session when you return to get your body back into the swing of things.

How can Physiofit help?

Our end goal is that you do not need us anymore but we can be of some help to get you to that point. We can help you overcome any old injuries or niggles you have so you are 100% fit when embarking on your exercise regime. We can advise you on a good exercise program to start or return to exercises. We have physiotherapists who specialise in strength and conditioning who can teach you weight-lifting techniques and give you a tailored exercise program to work on. We also offer online physio-led pilates classes so that you can exercise at home around your schedule (contact us if you would like to receive a 7-day free trial).

Ultimately, we want you to be able to enjoy exercise that is going to enhance your life and help you feel happier and healthier without injuries.

Get in touch with us now


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Three great plyometric exercises for runners

Running is a very good form of exercise and is great for cardiovascular and mental health. Anyone can do it, regardless of age and all you need is a good pair of trainers. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it’s easy to increase your training too quickly, in other words, overdo things. Your cardiovascular system adapts much more rapidly to running than your musculoskeletal system, meaning that while you might feel able to run further and faster, you may be in danger of overloading your joints, muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons.         

Most running injuries are caused by overloading or increasing training programmes too quickly. So make sure you build up in a consistent way, increasing week by week by no more than 10% for any variable (time, distance or speed).   

For those of you already running regularly, a programme of plyometric exercises, like the ones I recommend below will help you to develop tensile strength in your muscles and tendons to support your joints and progress your running without injury.

Three great plyometric exercises for runners

Make sure that you are warmed up, well hydrated and do not attempt them (without advice from a physiotherapist) if you are recovering from an injury. These are quite taxing exercises and are aimed solely at experienced runners with good fitness, strength and conditioning.


Exercise 1: Drop off

Stand on a low step. Drop off with both feet and land as softly and silently as possible. If you don’t have a gym step or plyo box, you can use the bottom step of a staircase.

The purpose of this is to enable you to better absorb impact through your joints, which is essential for running and injury prevention.


Exercise 2: Hop, land and balance

Initially, on a flat surface, hop forwards onto one leg, control it with a quiet landing, hold in that position for two seconds and then, hop forwards onto the other leg and repeat.

This is good as it helps absorb the landing, helps with controlling to a stop and improves drive of distance which is important with pushing through harder inclines.

Exercise 3: Drop, bound and balance 

Start on a step. Drop off onto one foot and then bound forward and land and balance on the other foot. Repeat all three exercises a maximum of 3 – 5 times (3 sets) with at least 72 hours of rest before attempting them again.

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


PhysioFit Team

Women stretching to develop healthy habits

How to develop healthier movement habits for the long term


We all know that sitting for long periods can lead to muscular aches and pains, particularly around the neck and shoulders.

However, it’s one thing to know that sitting for long periods isn’t ideal but it can be a real challenge to remember to move when you’re absorbed in work or have deadlines.

Apps or timing software which vibrate at intervals to remind you to move are sometimes helpful but I really only recommend them for short-term use and for very specific clinical reasons.

For example, if one of my patients has a painful condition which is easily stirred up by a particular activity like typing, then timing software, preset to limit the time spent typing continuously, can help the painful area calm down and become less sensitive.

Using a timer in this way can be effective in the early stages of treatment but in my experience, it’s not sustainable in the longer term because. like hitting the snooze button in the morning, it’s easy to turn of the reminder.

So, if you want to make a habit of moving more regularly during your working day for the long term, I recommend the ‘habit stacking method’ developed by behaviourist BJ Fogg.

What is habit stacking and how to do it

Habit stacking is a way of helping you form new habits by building them into your existing routines. Put simply, if you’re trying to build a new habit, pair it with a current habit and it’s more likely to stick.

It’s simple but extremely effective because it taps into the strong connections you already have with patterns of behaviour which have been strengthened over years of repetition.

So if the habit you would like to develop is to move more regularly during your working day then an example of habit stacking might look something like this:

After I check my emails (current habit), I will stand up (new habit).

Once the new habit has become part of your routine, you can stack another habit next to this one and create a domino effect of habits, one by one.

For example, after I check my emails, I will stand up. After I stand up, I will write a to-do list. After I write my to-do list, I will take a quick walk. And so on.

Habit stacking tips from your physio

  • Be realistic – don’t plan to add in a new habit at a time of day when something else is likely to take priority like the school run or a regular morning meeting
  • If your new habit is something you want to do daily, don’t stack it on top of a current habit that only happens once a week.
  • Be very specific about your new habit so you have very clear instructions. For example, after I put the kettle on, I will jog on the spot continuously until it turns off.


I hope this helps, please get in touch if you need any more guidance with your habit stacking!


The Physiofit Team.

Plyometric's guide for rehab and training


After a knee or lower limb injury or operation, your physiotherapy rehabilitation programme will be heavily influenced by the things you want to be able to get back to doing. If your goals include running or playing a sport where you have to land and push off through your legs, change direction rapidly with control or generate explosive force in your legs, then plyometric exercises will be a vital component of your rehab and return to sport.

What are plyometric exercises?

Plyometric exercises are essentially ‘jump training’, requiring muscles to generate maximum force in repeated short cycles. Many uninjured athletes include plyometric exercises as part of their training to boost their performance but as a physiotherapist, I often recommend plyometric drills to my patients towards the end of their rehab programme. It can help with restoring the balance, strength, power and reaction speed that they’ll need for their particular sport and also helps prevent future injuries.

Plyometric training occurs right at the end stage of rehab as the exercise drills themselves are complex and require skilled coordination to be performed safely and effectively. You also need to have built up sufficient strength and landing control to safely absorb the force that plyometrics generate. So the intensity of any plyometric training programme needs to be built gradually and should only be performed when you are completely pain-free and have excellent strength and control around your ankles, knees and hips.

It’s not just about jumping up and down. The type and intensity of the plyometric drills prescribed will also be different for different sports and influenced by the athlete’s own body mass. So this kind of information is all taken into account when planning a programme. A skilled sports specialist will be able to introduce the right exercises at the right time for you and help you to build up the exercise intensity safely in a way which helps you to meet your goals.

To give you an idea of what a plyometric exercise programme might include here are some examples:

Box jumps jumping up onto a box or step or down from a box or step.

Lateral jumps – side-to-side bounding or jumping from one leg to another

Squat jumps Lowering your body into a squat and jumping into the air, landing softly.


It’s worth saying that plyometric exercises aren’t restricted to the lower body either. It’s all about engineering your body to better create explosive power, so boxers, for example, spend a lot of time using upper body plyometric exercises like clap press-ups. This is why it’s so important that a plyometric programme is bespoke for you, your body mass and your sport (or other goals).

A carefully planned programme of plyometric exercises will help you to return to your sport safely and run faster, jump higher and kick further, all with greater control.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions at all!

The Physiofit Team.

pregnant women exercising holding blue weights

Can I exercise during pregnancy?


There is still so much confusion and anxiety surrounding exercise and physical activity during pregnancy.  Here at Physiofit, we are huge advocates of women exercising during pregnancy. 

Here are some of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy:

  • Maintains blood pressure (reduces the risk of gestational hypertension)
  • Improves strength, energy levels and blood sugar levels (reduces the risk of gestational diabetes) 
  • Helps to maintain a normal BMI
  • Reduces the chances of constipation 
  • Gets you ready for labour, reduces the chances of instrumental delivery, and improves your postnatal recovery
  • Improves sleep, relaxation, self-esteem and confidence. 

All these benefits make for a great case for everyone to exercise during pregnancy. However, occasionally women have complications in pregnancy and are advised by their midwife, doctor or consultant that they should not. If you have been advised not to exercise please make sure to listen to that advice to ensure your and your baby's health is maintained.

How much exercise should I do?

According to the most recent guidelines, pregnant women should accumulate at least 150 min of moderate-intensity physical activity each week to achieve clinically meaningful reductions in pregnancy complications. Consider splitting the 150 minutes into 30-minute sessions over 5 days. It makes it sound much easier to manage!  

Physical activity does not only mean exercise, it can include housework, walking up the stairs, gardening or other activities that involve movement. 

Moderate-intensity physical activity means any activity that makes you breathe faster and increases your heart rate whilst still being able to hold a full conversation in broken sentences. If you are exercising at a hard intensity, you can only say one or two words. 


What type of exercises can I do?

You should do something that you enjoy as this will make it easier to make part of your routine. You can do most types of exercises during pregnancy including running, pilates, weights, yoga and swimming. If you exercised before you became pregnant, you can continue doing the same exercise now. The aim should be to keep your current level of fitness rather than trying to increase fitness.



  • If you have been running regularly pre-pregnancy and you have a low-risk pregnancy: it is safe to continue during your pregnancy at moderate intensity. 
  • If you have not run before and you have a low-risk pregnancy: do it gradually – we usually advise the couch to a 5k program.
  • The further you get into your second and third trimesters you may have to reduce your distance and/or slow your speed, make sure you feel comfortable at all times. if you start to feel uncomfortable it’s time to switch to low-impact exercise such as walking/ cycling 
  •  If you notice any pelvic floor issues, faecal or urinary leakage, heaviness, or pain in the back or pelvis then you should stop running and seek some professional advice,  our women's health physiotherapist here at Physiofit will be able to help you. 

 Strength or resistance training:

  • Is highly recommended – weights/body weight/resistance bands. 
  • Start light if you have not lifted it before
  • Should include daily pelvic floor exercises – to reduce the chances of pelvic floor dysfunction. 

Pilates or yoga:

  • You can continue in a generic class for the first trimester but it's best to switch to a class specific for pregnancy from the second trimester.  We run a pre and post-natal pilates class at Physiofit that will target all the important components of a pregnancy.
  • Avoid: holding your breath; doming/bulging of your tummy


  • A great way to take some load off the pelvis.
  • Avoid breaststroke if any pelvic pain

Is there anything I should avoid?

Whether you should avoid any type of exercise, depends on your general health, your pregnancy and your story, discuss with your midwife if you are concerned. 

In general, you should stay away from sports with a high risk of falling such as horse riding, off-road cycling, and contact sports (e.g. football or kickboxing). Also, hot yoga and sports in extreme heat, are considered unsuitable. 

General tips for exercising during pregnancy: 

  • Keep hydrated and wear a supportive bra. 
  • Avoid overheating. 
  • Listen to your body, and take it easier on days you are feeling tired or increased nausea.
  • Avoid exercise on your back, especially after 20 weeks 
  • Take it slow when moving from different positions such as lying to standing especially if you experience light-headedness.
  • Seek medical advice if you suffer from excessive shortness of breath that does not resolve with rest, severe chest pain, regular and painful uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding, persistent loss of fluid from the vagina or persistent dizziness or faintness that does not resolve with rest.  Pain in the lower back and pelvis or any signs of pelvic floor dysfunction. 

Further information:

If you want any personalised advice or specialised exercises or pilates program for you during your pregnancy our physiotherapists here at Physiofit are well equipped to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 01223914140 or email us on


What is Pelvic Girdle Pain?


What is Pelvic Girdle Pain? 

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) affects one in five pregnant women. If you have PGP you may be experiencing pain or uncomfortable symptoms at the front of your pelvis over the pubic bone, across one or both sides of your lower back and sacroiliac joints. It can also radiate around the hips and inner thighs or the area between your vagina and anus (perineum).

You may find the pain to be constant, episodic or intermittent. The pain you feel can affect your mobility and quality of life.

Why do I have PGP?

During pregnancy, your body weight increases, and 60% of the weight is above the pelvis. As the pregnancy progresses your centre of gravity shifts forwards due to the growing bump which will automatically change your posture. Alongside this, there are huge hormonal changes that cause the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments to become looser to prepare your body for birth. All of these changes increase the stress and pressure on your pelvis and can lead to PGP. Some women accommodate all these changes well, others find it leads to strain and pain. PGP is normally related to a lack of stability in the pelvic girdle joints, caused by the loosening of the pelvic ligaments and the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles

What can I do if I have PGP?

The good news is that PGP can be managed, particularly if it is diagnosed and treated earlier. 

Some general tips to help manage PGP are:



  • Listen to your body. Try to remain as active as possible within your comfort limits but avoid activities that make the pain worse.
  • Rest or change position more frequently. Avoid sitting or standing in one spot for over 30 minutes at a time.
  • Maintain good posture: sanding tall with your bump and bottom tucked in a little. 
  • Ask for and accept help from others, involving partners, family and friends where possible.
  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between the legs. Turn over with your knees together and squeeze your buttocks. 
  • Sit down to do things that you would normally stand for e.g. getting dressed and undressed; ironing.
  • Go upstairs one step at a time with the less painful leg first. Go downstairs leading with the most painful leg.
  • Wear supportive comfortable shoes. 



  • Standing on one leg to put on trousers or tights, sit down instead.
  • Movements that involve separation of your legs such as getting in/out of bed; getting in/out of a car  (squeeze knees together instead); if swimming avoid breaststroke; consider alternative positions for sexual intercourse (e.g. lying on your side or kneeling on all fours).
  • Asymmetrical positions of the pelvis e.g. avoid twisting movements and sitting cross-legged.
  • Sitting on the floor or in low chairs. 
  • Avoid lifting a toddler (especially on one hip) heavy weights or shopping.
  • Carrying anything in only one hand.
  • Using your feet to move objects on the floor.

What can I do if I still have pain after trying the tips above?

It is important that if your pain does not become manageable with general advice you are referred to a physiotherapist. Here at Physiofit, our Women's health physiotherapists specialise in treating people with PGP. The sooner PGP is identified and managed the greater the chance of improving your symptoms and making you more comfortable.

A physiotherapy assessment will include a careful examination of your pelvis, back and hip joints and the muscle around them, looking at how well the joints move and whether the muscles are strong enough to support your pelvis and spine. We can offer a range of treatment options and advice options that are specific to you and will fit into your lifestyle.

If you have any questions at all or you would like to discuss your condition, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 01223 914140 or e-mail us on


Pregnant women doing pilates

How to protect your core during pregnancy


What happens to my core muscles during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your posture changes and the weight increases as the baby grows. The enlarging uterus causes the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to stretch, and your diaphragm has less space to move. This may cause the two bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen to separate. These stretched muscles struggle to work efficiently and therefore your usual day-to-day activities, such as lifting, getting out of bed, going to the toilet, and even coughing or sneezing which all increase intra-abdominal pressure can become much harder and increase the strain on these muscles.

As a result, your chances of low back pain or pelvic floor dysfunction may increase 

How can I protect my core?

You can help reduce the chances of these things happening by exercising your core during and after pregnancy and by trying to manage the intra-abdominal pressure created by your day-to-day activities. 

Here are some of the tips you can do to protect your core:

  • Lifting: Over the past years we have been told that we should always lift something with a wide base of support, squat and keep the spine in neutral, not bending or arching our back. Recent research suggests that bending from the spine when lifting will not necessarily damage your back. But when we are talking about lifting heavy loads, without forgetting all the changes that are occurring in your body throughout pregnancy, and with a sudden increase of intra-abdominal pressure, we need to be more mindful of the technique.  So, when lifting heavy loads, we encourage you to bend your knees and hips, and head, keep your back straight, inhale through your nose and then gently engage your core and glutes as you exhale through your mouth look straight and lift at the same time. 
  • Getting out of bed: As your bump gets bigger it can be beneficial to roll onto your side, send your legs off the bed, and as you breathe out, engage your core and use your arms to push yourself up. 
  •  Pregnancy pilates: Pilates focuses on core stability, strength and improving your posture and balance. These exercises strengthen the deep postural muscles of the abdomen and the spine, making them an excellent way to cope with your body's changes.
  • Use the knack: this is a useful technique and an exercise that involves squeezing and lifting your pelvic floor muscles just before you cough, sneeze or blow your nose. This can help you control bladder leaks, protect against prolapse and reduce the sensation of heaviness when you increase the intra-abdominal pressure. It can definitely make a difference, mainly if you are symptomatic!
  • Avoiding constipation and straining: Being constipated is the worst thing you can do to your pelvic floor whether you are pregnant or not.

How does constipation affect my core?

Your pelvic floor muscle strength is important for both bowel and bladder control. repetitive straining from constipation can lead to a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, excessive stress on pelvic organs and nerves, as well as bladder dysfunction and recurring accidental bowel leakage.

What can I do if I am constipated?

  • Eating healthily and regularly; avoid skipping meals as it can lead to irregular bowel habits. A simple diet with healthy amounts of fibre, aiming for 20-30 grams per day is recommended: a variety of fruit and vegetables (spinach, asparagus, carrot, celery, pears, apples, grapes, oranges, strawberries, figs), chia seeds, linseeds. Aim to drink at least 1.5 litres of fluids per day; or 3L if breastfeeding.
  • Exercise regularly. Keeping active can improve bowel habits in some people. Try to exercise 20-30min per day, fresh air, outdoor activities, walking the dog or gardening can help you.
  • Make sure to have good toilet habits. Most people respond well to a regular habit. About 20-30min after a meal is the most likely time for the bowel to work because of the gastrocolic reflex, which is triggered when food reaches the stomach. Make sure you don’t ignore the urge when you need to go!
  • Always take your time: Get comfortable, and don’t rush yourself!
  • Use a footstool. Getting your knees higher than your hips puts your body in a better position for going to the toilet. Lean forward and rest your elbows on your thighs.
  • Avoid straining. When you strain you brace your tummy muscles, hold your breath and you don’t relax your pelvic floor muscles. Instead, take a slow breath in relaxing your tummy, then breathe out through your mouth as if blowing out a birthday candle. You should feel your tummy muscles gently tighten and your back passage open and relax.
  • If you are still struggling to open your bowels even after trying all these techniques, speak to your GP who may discuss the use of laxatives with you.


If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact us at 01223 914140 or email

massage for stress relief

Physio tips to reduce stress and improve wellbeing


What is stress?

We all know what emotional/psychological stress is as we have all probably felt it to some degree in our life. Stress is a feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with the mental or emotional pressure we are under.  But we can also have physical stress. Physical stress is the amount of load you put your muscles, tendons and ligaments through as you move and undertake your daily tasks and leisure activities. 

How much stress can I  handle?

We all have a certain capacity for stress, both emotionally and physically. This capacity will vary from individual to individual and is personal to you. There is also a very complex link between both types of stress and increasing one can affect the other. Also, remember that stress isn’t all bad,  it can help us be motivated and strive to do better. In fact, the correct manipulation and amount of stress are what help you progress or recover. But getting the balance right is key.

How does stress relate to injury?

Physically: When you get injured, this is usually because you have exceeded your physical ability to handle load or stress. This could be doing more repetitions of a certain weight, running a bit further, doing a slightly more difficult movement, spending longer in one position or lifting a heavier weight. Essentially, you have done more than the tissues in your body can handle and now they hurt or are damaged. Emotionally; When we have increased mental stress our bodies release certain hormones (adrenaline and cortisol).  These can be beneficial in short-term stressful situations to make us react better but if the stress continues for a prolonged period and these hormones are continuously released it can be harmful to your health.

Interlinked: If we are mentally stressed our physical capacity (the load we can safely manage before injury) is reduced therefore we can get injured easier than if we were in a relaxed state. 

How does stress affect my recovery?

Increased levels of stress hormones can affect  recovery in the following ways :

  • The immune system is depressed: which can reduce our ability to control inflammation which in turn can reduce our healing times.
  • Reduced sleep. The increased hormones during stressful times have a negative effect on our sleep, and we need sleep for our bodies to repair and recover.
  • Increased pain sensation: When we are stressed we feel more pain because of the increased level of cortisol and poor control of inflammation.
  • Being stressed makes our muscles tense up,  bringing us into a poor posture and reducing the time our muscles have to relax and recover.

How can physio help with my stress?

One of the most important aspects of physiotherapy is helping patients with stress management both physically and emotionally. This is because stress has an impact on the recovery time of an injury and also the likelihood of people getting injured/ re-injured. 

Physiotherapy can help in a number of ways:

  • We will give you advice and reassurance regarding your injury which will hopefully put your mind at ease giving you a recovery path for your problem so you know what is in store. 
  • We are able to give you a step-by-step individual rehabilitation programme to ensure that we gradually build your physical stress up without overloading the injured area.
  • We will give you advice on load management for the future to ensure you will not overload your physical stress again, preventing re-injury.
  • We can give you some tips for emotional stress relief that are individual to your situation which will improve your recovery and well-being.

Here are some tips to aid your management of stress.

  • Make sleep a priority.  Improved sleep quality and quantity help to reduce stress hormones - for ways to help improve your sleep please take a look at our blog on sleep 
  • Healthy Diet. Improving the quality of your food. Poor food quality can stress the digestive system. Reducing sugar can help balance the body's hormone system so we can deal with stress easier.
  • Lose fat. If you are carrying extra fat tissue it can negatively affect the hormones within your body. It also creates more physical stress on your structures just as tendons, ligaments and muscles. 
  • Exercise routinely. There is extensive research that suggests that both strength and cardiovascular exercise will reduce the chronic stress hormones your body produces. Exercises will also help you to lose body fat and improve your sleep and mood. 
  • Get a massage. When we have stressed our muscles become tense. A deep tissue massage can help relieve muscle tension and give you some time to relax.
  • Take a break. plan some real downtime into your day to give your mind time off from stress. this could be Meditation, deep breathing, listening to music, going for a walk or doing Pilates
  • Write your thoughts down register and recognise your own feelings and create a plan to manage them.
  • Talk to someone: If things are bothering you, talking about them can help lower your stress. You can talk to family members, friends, or a therapist

If you require help with managing your physical stress loads through well-structured training and rehabilitation or deep tissue massage please do not hesitate to contact us on 01223 914140 or  e-mail us at,

The Physiofit Team