Nov 112015

M.bridgesPregnancy –Safe –Exercises

PHOTOS of a pregnant Michelle Bridges doing crunches sends the wrong message to pregnant mums, physiotherapists warn.

This article was posted on showing these pictures from the November issue of New Idea

Beach A pregnant Michelle Bridges poses with fans at the Guinness World Record Largest Fit Ball Class on at Bondi. Picture: Dylan Robinson.Melissa Iaria AAP


Women’s health physiotherapist Vanea Atwood, said Bridges advocated many good things about fitness but admitted crunches while pregnant was concerning.

“It does have a huge effect. Michelle Bridges has a great following. She’s got some really positive, fantastic fitness things to offer women to empower them to become stronger and healthier,” she said.

“She’s advocating keeping fit during pregnancy, but doing isolation abdominal crunches is not the most appropriate exercise to keep firm during your pregnancy, not at all.”

Atwood said women should consult a Women’s Health Physio on how to best train their abdominals and to prepare for labour.

This time is one of the most important and physically challenging times in your whole life.

It is vital that you prepare and stay as healthy and as fit as possible during these 40 weeks! It is NOT enough to just modify your present fitness program.
WP_20141215_005 (2)Specific strengthening and stretching pregnancy exercises are vital, especially in today’s sedentary work environment to prepare for childbirth. 40 weeks to prepare…..average length of labour 12 hours…what do you need!

  • Strong thigh muscles to support the weight of the baby
  • Strength around the upper and lower back to support your changing shape
  • Hip mobility to help birth positions
  • Moveable sacrum to improve pelvic outlet
  • Strong deep stomach muscles to support the growing baby
  • Pelvic floor muscles that will support, and relax

Make an appointment today at our Northbridge practice If you would like to join in a pre-natal Pilates ‘Mums and Bumps” class. You can also see me at the Wynyard /city Sports Focus Physiotherapy or Northbridge Sports Focus Physiotherapy rooms for an assessment and advice on your levels of exercise.

For more information on a pregnancy ‘check- up’ – See more at:pregnancy check up

 Posted by at 11:18 pm
Apr 062015

20121110_214600000_iOSSo definitely half way through your pregnancy by now and wondering ;

  • about what exercises
  • preparing for labour
  • how to look after your back and posture and want to know what you should be doing for your pelvic floor muscles?

Come and see me for a 1 hour full assessment where we can determine your best exercise and care options going into your 3rd trimester. This is a great opportunity to ask me about any postural and pelvic floor concerns.

Whether you are a first time mum or a 2nd or 3rd time Vaginal or ‘C’ section mum you will benefit from an individualised assessment and specific exercise program for your needs. You may be able to continue your current exercises but with some modifications to ensure you don’t develop any postural, low back or pelvic girdle pain.

Make an appointment today at our Northbridge or  Wynyard clinic

If you would like to join in a pre-natal Pilates class, these are currently available at our Northbridge practise

For more information on pregnancy check out the ‘pre- natal ‘ page



 Posted by at 7:07 am
Jan 032014

abdominal cylinder







Confused about core strengthening exercises…

There  has been so much ‘Core” research and information about the deep abdominal muscles in the last 15 years, the word has become a ‘ household  name’.
In this diagram, we can see:

  • Breathing diaphragm at the top of the cylinder
  • Abdominal muscles forming the walls of the cylinder
  • Pelvic floor at the bottom of the cylinder
  • Deep back muscles behind, close to the spine

These four parts of the cylinder work together and depend on each other for optimal function. This is the ‘deep’ or ‘inner’ core that physios and fitness professionals talk about. This deep core needs to work at a constant low level to provide a co- ordinated level of lumbo – pelvic stability as you perform your every day tasks.

Then you have the ‘outer’ core muscles

outer core front

outer core  from the back









The outer core muscles are your ‘strength’  -power house. They need to be strong to maximise your ‘whole body’ power and agility. In sports, gym work, and general aerobic fitness  we often focus on specific muscle groups to improve strength ,speed and co- ordination.
We need to understand how these layers of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ core muscles work together to give us the ‘core strength and the co -ordination that we want !!!

I would like to link you to this great article from Anna-Louise Bouvier, physiotherapist, founder of ‘physiocise’. This is one of her many ‘pearls of wisdom’ “Cutting+Edge+Core+Control+P1
If you want to learn more about core exercises for women make an appointment to see me.
I love to combine my women’s health skills with personally training/ prescribing ‘safe’ exercises for women.
At sports focus physiotherapy, we work on re- education of these inner core muscles with a co- ordinated breathing pattern, together with manual therapy, exercise programs and specific sport training drills for all ages and abilities.

 Posted by at 2:06 am
Oct 172013

This re- blog  Bladder Health, Water, and the Acid-Alkaline Balance
in  Be Fit & Well, Bladder, Healthy Bladder Tips, Myth Busting, Nutrition
is a great reminder…AND packed full of important information on bladder health.


Photo Credit:

Drink more water . . . I know, I know. Don’t we all know this? We do, but I think sometimes we lose sight of the why. After reading this little article and maybe doing some homework on your own, you’ll be drinking water from now on, for bladder health.

In Missy Lavender’s [2] book, You Go Girl, But Only When You Want To [3], we are asked why fluid management is important to bladder health. While most everyone knows that fluids are critical to all functions of the body, and the bladder is responsible for eliminating a great deal of those fluids, when hampered by bladder leakage one could think about hydration only as it pertains to how often one needs to pee.

In other words, you may think if you limit your fluid intake, you’ll need to use the bathroom less frequently. On a strictly input/output basis that would be true; however, your body will instead conserve fluids by decreasing what the kidney and bladder would normally eliminate. As a result, the amount of urine you expel is decreased, and it becomes more concentrated.

From You Go Girl: “Just as concentrated lemonade makes your mouth pucker, concentrated urine can make your bladder ‘pucker’ or contract.” Contraction creates that “gotta go” feeling, and then when you go, there’s not much there. And, like undissolved lemonade, your bladder is left with gritty crystals of waste. Conversely, staying hydrated with small amounts of water throughout the day, equaling about 6 – 8 glasses, is the perfect way to keep the concentration of wastes diluted, and your bladder relaxed and happy.

“Researchers estimate that 75% of Americans and half of the world’s population are chronically dehydrated . . . I am always astounded by the number of patients I see who drink only 1 or 2 cups of water a day, typically in the form of coffee. If you fall into this category, you’ll likely see tremendous health improvements simply by increasing your water consumption . . . Consider this: by increasing your water consumption to 5 cups per day (still inadequate) you’ll lower your risk of developing colon cancer by 45%, breast cancer by 79%, and bladder cancer by 50% . . . Some people have a really hard time accepting that something as simple as drinking more water is sufficient to make a difference to their health.”

A pioneer in understanding and communicating the relevance of the body’s acid-alkaline balance and the water we drink, Cook explains:

“A healthy human body maintains a proper acid-alkaline balance primarily by doing two things – [1] expelling excess acid through the detox organs [kidneys, bladder, skin], and [2] neutralizing acid with alkaline substances, such as calcium or magnesium stored in the body and derived from dietary sources.

“Typically your body tries to eliminate excess acid before it resorts to neutralizing the acid that’s left over. The kidneys are the front line soldiers in the body’s war on acid, expelling acid as quickly as possible in the form of urine.”

A note on acid: It’s not the acid you feel after eating big meals. It’s the chemical reaction to a particular food or drink or how it affects pH levels in the body. For instance, lemons are an acidic fruit, but they alkalize in the body – a good thing.

Here’s why you should know this: More than 30 degenerative and life-altering conditions and disease can be linked to a too acidic internal environment, including candidiasis, kidney disease, and osteoporosis. Cook’s book, The Ultimate pH Solution [5], includes complete lists and lots of science and good sense to help communicate the acid-alkaline message.

Contact me at  or call 9958 8986 and make an appointment to discuss your bladder health !!

 Posted by at 12:42 am
Jul 072013


‘Secret Women’s Business’

This 2 hour workshop is available to all pregnant women from 34 weeks+
It is designed for the 1st time mum, but holds advice and practical tools for all mums to help you through your late pregnancy and early post  natal period. By understanding how you can ‘help ‘ your labour you can maximize safer pelvic floor outcomes and empower your delivery…..and recovery

  • Mind/body -visualisation / meditation
  • Exercises to help foetal positioning
  • Perineal massage
  • Birth positions
  • Early days post delivery
  • Breast feeding & engorgement
  • Diastasis Recti DRA   stomach muscle separation

This workshop has a practical component. Wear comfy clothes.
This is the information they don’t tell you;  exercises for labour, relaxation awareness for tight pelvic floor muscles, epino,  perineal / pelvic pain, perineal tears and managing them and much more…..
Check into Sports Focus Physio 9958 8986 to enrol for a workshop or book an individual women’s health appointment and I will tailor this information to your proposed birth plan

 Posted by at 2:34 am
May 112013

So you have finally decided to do something about your ‘down below issues’… and have either been told about a ‘Women’s health physio’ or your GP / Gynae has recommended you come and see me.
When you ring up and make an appointment please make sure the secretary/receptionist makes a 1 hour appointment. Sometimes if she is away from her desk …us lesser mortals (physios) will ‘do’ phone duty and we are really not good at it…and so 1 hour bookings can be booked in as an ‘initial consult’ (only 30 minutes).This is never enough time for a first time women’s health appointment unless I am assessing for Tummy separation and advice only.
So what happens in this appointment?
In a private room I will ask you lots of questions about your pelvic floor, exercise and related medical areas. This will probably be in ‘questionnaire’ form. I will then take a history and talk through the answers which you provided in the questionnaire.
From this history taking I will then do an internal pelvic (vaginal) examination to determine the extent of your problem.
I may also suggest that we use the ‘Peritron’ to determine a base line function of your pelvic floor muscles.
Following your examination I will make some recommendations on possible lifestyle changes, exercise changes and a specific pelvic floor programme to address your problem.
Some women have issues because their pelvic muscles are too active- tight and so their programme is directed more at pelvic muscle relaxation strategies.  Sometimes it is quite a complicated picture.
How can you know what is right for you……………………………………………….make that appointment today

Sports  Physio & pilates logo






 Posted by at 8:37 am
Apr 082013

working in 'Mums & Bubs

Take time to stop and breathe…

Becoming a new mum, especially with your 1st baby is an extremely new and fast learning experience. pre  natal education classes, for the birth, for your body, reading…checking out websites all about childbirth and parenting are all really useful ways of preparation to be a mum…
BUT now how do you find time to take care of yourself…You are now totally  involved in the on going 24 by 7 care of your baby.
I often hear my ‘mums’ say to each other and to me “I just don’t seem to have any time to do my hair let alone my pelvic floor exercises” So how can I, in one little, barely read blog inspire you to work from the inside and start doing those pelvic floor  exercises.
When you go to your mother’s group, why don’t you have a “2 minute exercise break“…yep start by talking about ..
“Have you done the exercises they gave you in hospital ?” and then …
“How about we try and do them now ..sitting here in this group”.. A bit novel!! Even the mums who had a C section will need to be able to contract their deep Abs and pelvic floor when lifting and handling baby. These exercises are also the pre- activation work for helping a stomach separation (DRA) and getting rid of your mummy tummy!!

  • Why not  come to my ‘Muscle Mums’ classes for mums and bubs – come as a group
  • Get your mother’s group to check out my website
  • Why not ask me to come and do an exercise session with your group ?
  • Come and seeme for an assessment and personal exercise programme


 Posted by at 12:58 am
Mar 052013

Are you or your partner planning a pregnancy or already pregnant?
This time is one of the most important and physically challenging times in your whole life. It is vital that you prepare and stay as healthy and fit as possible during these 40 weeks!
It is NOT enough to just modify your present fitness programme.
Specific strengthening and stretching  pregnancy exercises are vital, especially in today’s sedentary work environment to prepare for childbirth.
40 weeks to prepare…..average length of labour 12 hours…what do you need !
Strong thigh muscles to support the weight of the baby
Hip mobility to help birth positions
Moveable sacrum to improve pelvic outlet
Strong deep stomach muscles
Pelvic floor muscles that will support, and relax !

Squatting improves the mobility in the hips, strengthens the butt and legs, promotes a wider pelvic outlet and allows the pelvic muscles to stay strong but also relax and stretch…

Exercises to address side butt strength will help prevent the pregnancy waddle and pelvic instability.

Deep abdominal and pelvic floor exercises  – vital to support your growing baby and help in your 2nd stage of labour

Relaxation techniques together with specific breathing will teach you how to maximise the times when you can rest and focus on your body during your labour.
Make an appointment with me to discuss any concerns and modify your present exercise programme. I love this ‘personal training’ part of my job!
Come and do pre-natal Pilates classes.

 Posted by at 10:16 pm
Jan 152013

DRAWhat a great way to start the new year…bulging tummies!
During your pregnancy you may develop stretching and separation of the middle part of your tummy muscles.  This ‘linea alba’  holds together the outermost rectus abdominius muscles (six pack), internal and external obliques, and the fascia of the transverse abdominus.  You can do exercises during your pregnancy and ‘lifestyle ‘changes to minimise this.  It doesn’t happen to everybody.
How to tell: and what to do if you have a DRA (diastasis):

Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent.  Place your hand flat on your belly, fingers pointing towards your toes.  Fingers should be flat on your belly.  Check in three places– belly button, two inches above belly button, and also below.  To check; you press your fingers down as you lift your head.  Shoulders stay down.  If you feel a space that you can press at least one to two finger into then that is a diastasis.  The wider this space, the worse the diastasis.  It may bulge or even pulse as the underlying tissue is very thin.  A diastasis can be caused by pregnancy/childbirth, but also by doing too many stomach-strengthening exercises (sit- ups / crunches) without also strengthening the deep transverse abdominal muscle that supports your internal organs and growing baby. Men can also get DRA

You may need a support belt.

What NOT to do if you have a DRA :
Don’t do Pilates mat classes or DVD’s at home. You may do a specialized studio Pilates programme where you are working 1:1 or in a very small group .  Get your belly assessed by a Women’s Health Physio  first and she will help you with a safe exercise programme.
Don’t brace and bear down or strain…this will increase the pressure inside your tummy and in the effort to hold your tummy in strongly you will be putting  too much pressure on your pelvic floor.
Most of the Pilates mat class exercises that you can do at your local gym or at a ‘boot camp’  will not only not help your mummy tummy, they may make it worse, or even create a diastasis where there was none before.   When your diastasis starts to heal, you can do certain exercises which are designed to help your DRA, but not crunches or sit- ups..Make sure your Women’s Health Physio talks to your Personal trainer or Pilates teacher… This is how we spread the word….
    DRA from the front

What TO do: When doing these exercises make sure you can feel your Pelvic floor lift
Do belly breathing.  When you breathe, feel your lower belly expand, and when you exhale, let your lower tummy come all the way back. Do not forcefully push your upper abdomen out while doing belly breathing.
Do Practice perfect posture as much as possible.  Squat or bend at the knees to lift things or babies.
Carry your baby as close as possible and try to maintain good posture when you do!!!  When breastfeeding, don’t slouch to get breast to baby.  Prop baby higher with pillows, or lie down next to baby to feed.
Do abdominal work:
Deep tummy (Transverse abdominal muscle) is the start, together with pelvic floor lift. A range of side lying ,kneeling on hands and knees ,sitting and standing exercises can be taught with this deep bracing support.
Seated Tupler Technique While breastfeeding, remember good supported posture pillow(s) under baby, bring him/her up to you, rather than bringing your breast down to them,
Place your hands on your tummy, one above the belly button, one below. Take a belly breath and expand tummy to floor one. (Floor 1 is all the way out, floor 5 feels like your tummy is touching your spine), Hold for 30 counts but count out loud so you know you’re still breathing. Then pull your tummy back even further for a little squeeze, and count as you do 5 of these squeezes, and release make sure you relax. Feel your side waist drawing in too. Do 5 sets of these every day and don’t forget your pelvic floor lift first…and breathing….

Courtesy of
Check yourself and then check with your Women’s Health Physio to get the right exercise level,reps and sets..get to it!

 Posted by at 4:14 am
Dec 202012




Physiotherapists in Australia may use a diagnostic Ultrasound machine to look at your deep core muscles. This is referred to as ‘Real Time Ultrasound’ (RTUS).   Some Women’s Health Physiotherapists (that includes me) may use the RTUS on your second or third visit to help you visualise your pelvic floor muscles (PFM).  We use this as a biofeedback tool to help you co- ordinate the contraction inside your pelvis with what is happening on the screen.

If you right click on the link below it will take you to You tube and you will see me demonstrating how your core muscles can be seen.

Introduction to real time ultrasound

At Sports focus physiotherapy many of our physiotherapists are trained to use RTUS and do so in the rehab of patients recovering from a low back pain.

 Posted by at 10:56 am