Articles in Category: General Health

The Obesity Epidemic

on Wednesday, 15 June 2016. Posted in General Health, Training and Performance

The Obesity Epidemic

Daniel McDonald

B.ExSSci and M.ClinExPhys. Memb: ESSA, ASCA Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach

Level 2 Representative Coach (Cricket Australia)


The obesity epidemic has been a hotly debated topic in Australia over the last few decades. The statistics don’t lie and indicate that 65% of Australians of all ages are overweight, and 35% of these are obese. This is an alarming figure compared with just 20 years ago. The defence chief of the Australian army reveals that a study shows that one in seven Australian soldiers are too overweight for service in the field. Morbid obesity has recently been classed as a disability by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. This is due to the extreme movement limitations and orthopaedic concerns it places on people.


The greatest risk factors for obesity are physical inactivity and increased intake of energy dense foods (i.e. those high in fat and simple sugars). We live in a world that is based on convenience, making it difficult to be as active as we once were. One only has to look at the introduction of home delivery services and the ease of which we can access the world via technology to realise that reasons to get up and leave the couch are becoming less.


Obesity refers to an abnormal accumulation of body fat in proportion to size. In other words, an increased weight compared with height is indicative of a more obese individual. This relationship is known as the Body Mass Index or BMI. As a very general measure, BMI can categorise a person as either underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. However, the BMI scale is not the most reliable indicator of obesity as it fails to distinguish between the amounts of lean muscle mass and fat mass. For example, a very muscular athlete who isn’t very tall may be in the overweight or obese categories which suggest he’s at an increased risk of obesity related disease, which is inaccurate.


A more reliable indicator of being overweight or obese is measuring waist circumference. Research indicates that excess central fat mass around the stomach places us at an increased risk of obesity related diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease or heart failure, musculoskeletal aches and pains, breathlessness and some cancers. There are also psychological effects such as reduced self-esteem and self-efficacy, anxiety and depression.


A lot of people are driven to reducing their mass and looking better on the outside which raises the question of fatness versus fitness. Is it better to be overweight/obese and fit, or thin and unfit? Having good cardiovascular fitness lowers disease risk and has been shown to reduce all-cause mortality. Therefore, when undertaking a weight loss exercise program, the focus should be on increasing the body’s level of conditioning to reduce this disease risk.


Initially when undertaking a weight loss exercise program, our first goal is changing behaviour and engaging in regular exercise. When looking at the amount of weight loss over time, it is a reasonable expectation to lose 0.5-1kg per week over the first 6 months for obese individuals. It is important to aim for steady weight loss and be patient to prevent relapse. The overall aim is for adherence to physical activity long term to live a healthier and happier life both physically and mentally. Those who aim for rapid weight loss may have success in the short term; however these routines are not sustainable long term and are often accompanied by relapses. These routines are often accompanied with overtraining and restricted caloric intake which are often detrimental to health.


There are so many myths surrounding how much exercise is good for you, which type of exercise to do and the volume of exercise. An exercise physiologist can help assess you and get a good picture of your physical activity history, interests and goals and then prescribe an individualised exercise program for you. No individual is the same, we all have different capabilities, movement limitations and gym experience. Exercise physiologists have specialised knowledge in tailoring exercise to suit individuals with musculoskeletal limitations and any other medical conditions which you may have. Their knowledge of exercise is vast and they are aware of many different variations of exercises that will suit your gym experience. At Institute of Sports and Spines, all programs are conducted in a fully supported and motivational environment. We have a range of facilities and services to help you measure and understand your BMI, waist measurement, waist hip ration and body composition testing to give you an accurate measure of percentage body fat, lean muscle mass and give you a more accurate understanding of how much weight/fat you can safely lose. For more information on Exercise Physiology, or to book a consult for assessment or exercise programs please contact our clinic.

Tablet Neck

on Tuesday, 22 March 2016. Posted in General Health

Tablet Neck

By Jakob van Vlijmen

M Chiro, DC


Parents and Carers should pay close attention to their children’s posture. As a growing number of children are ending up in a chiropractors office due to neck complaints which are caused by low levels of exercise and bad posture whilst using a tablet or smartphone.


Most parents are unaware that sitting behind a tablet for a few hours a day with bad posture can lead to back pain, neck pain and even headaches. Recent figures indicate that up to 40% of 8 to 18 year olds suffer with back and neck pain. The biggest causes are the smartphone and tablet as the amount of hours that we spend looking down has increased at an alarming rate.


Children tend to slouch in front of the tablet or smartphone and end up spending most of their time in a compromising position for their spine. They should bring the tablet or smartphone up to eye height so they are looking straight ahead towards it. Unfortunately the opposite occurs and children bow their heads down instead. This has a tremendous impact on the muscles in the neck. An average head weighs 5 kilograms but if it is positioned towards the chest, the load on the muscles increase dramatically rising from 5 to 27 kilograms instead. As a consequence some children only feel pain in their necks while others may have radiating pain to their head, arms or back. 


You might argue that children have been sitting at a desk for decades in school learning how to read and write and this is true. The reason why it is so much worse nowadays, than back then, is because children exercise far less now. This can lead to early wear and tear or even a deformed spine.


Additionally, parents aren't getting enough guidance with regard to what is healthy for babies and children. Babies spend a lot of time in their car seats and not enough on their tummies. Toddlers spend hours on end behind the television. And at school, not enough focus is put on proper posture. All of this is having a detrimental effect on children’s spinal health.


In Europe, programs are being developed to help inform children on what is proper posture especially as the use of digital teaching products is on the rise. Australia should follow suit as children today are growing up in a world filled with gadgets and it’s important they learn to use those in a manner that is responsible and healthy.


Prevention is better than a cure

Chiropractic care can help tremendously to improve your children’s spinal health, however as prevention is better than a cure, here are some tips to help you keep your child healthy and pain free:

  • Do not sit behind a tablet for more than 30 minutes straight
  • Use the table stand or raise the smartphone up to eye height
  • Get children to exercise at least an hour per day


If you are worried about your children’s spinal health, speak to your chiropractor today to find out what you can do.

What is an Exercise Physiologist?

on Monday, 07 March 2016. Posted in General Health

What is an Exercise Physiologist?

Institute of Sports and Spines has an ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist on the team. 


An exercise physiologist is a health professional who specialises in engaging patients in exercise to help them live a healthier lifestyle and to treat, manage or prevent a wide range of medical conditions using exercise as the modality. They are vastly different from personal trainers. Exercise physiologists have extensive knowledge of the human body, and the mental and physical benefits it has on it. Persona trainers are only able to train “healthy population” clients with no known medical conditions. On the contrary, exercise physiologists can work with “high risk” patients with one or multiple medical conditions that may have some impact on their ability to exercise.


There is thorough evidence to suggest the benefits of exercise for people with musculoskeletal pain, obesity, osteoporosis, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, arthritis, cancer and more. An exercise physiologist will sit down with you to provide an individually tailored exercise intervention in a fully supported and guided environment.


Patient education about exercise, their condition and self-management are priorities for an exercise physiologist. This enables the patient to learn how to live healthier without being as impacted by their medical condition. They will collaborate closely with other health professionals including physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, dieticians and GPs in order to get optimal care for their patients’.


Exercise physiology is recognised worldwide as an allied health profession and is highly reputable. All exercise physiologists in Australia are registered with Exercise and Sport Sciences Australia (ESSA) who provide the latest up to date research in the field so that exercise physiologists are using the best evidence available in their treatment.


Emily will be available and offering a range of services including;


Tailored training programs for;

  • Weight loss – exercise programs specifically tailored to weight loss and long term maintenance of a healthy weight
  • General fitness – increase strength or aerobic fitness for a healthier lifestyle
  • Targeted/sport specific training – strength and power development for your sport as well as injury prevention programs. Offered in blocks of 6 weeks.
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Diabetes and Osteoporosis management – exercise program targeted at managing these medical conditions in a fully supported and guided environment
  • Musculoskeletal rehabilitation – long term management of shoulder, low back and knee pain


Performance testing;

  • Body composition (percentage body fat, lean muscle mass etc) –
  • VO2 max - Get a good, reliable predictor of your aerobic fitness whether you’re a weekend warrior or involved in competitive sport
  • Max power – for sprint athletes, get an indicator of your maximum power output
  • Blood lactate testing – designed for athletes wanting to obtain specific training zones to implement into their training for performance enhancement