Articles in Category: Training and Performance

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.

Preventing Injuries

Written by Don Williams BSc, MChiro, ICSSD. on Monday, 04 April 2016. Posted in Training and Performance

Preventing Injuries

By Don Williams

B.Sc., M.Chiro., ICSSD., PG Dip. NMS Rehabilitation Cert DNS. Memb: FICS, CEA


Injuries among the general population are relatively common. In consideration of back pain alone, around 80% of society will suffer back pain at some point in their lives. If we look at the entire body, I would wager that no-one goes through their life without an injury of some sort.


Certainly athletes, from an injury perspective, are no different. It would be difficult to find an elite athlete that hasn’t had an injury at some point in their career. At any given athletic meet, it would be reasonable to assume that a large proportion of the competing athletes would be carrying an injury of some sort.


So, why does this happen?


Really, injuries are multifactorial.

In a perfect world, all athletes (and the greater population at large) would:

  • have a perfect diet;
  • have a great sleeping routine;
  • manage their stress exceedingly well;
  • limit (or hopefully completely eliminate) smoking, drinking and recreational drugs;
  • have great genetics;
  • ensure training load is optimised to ensure they are preparing for their target meets/events;
  • ensure motor patterns are perfect, and their technique is unquestionably perfect;
  • get regular massage/soft tissue work;
  • visit their chiropractor or physiotherapist regularly;
  • be completely on top of any other health issues/concerns with their GP to ensure they are performing perfectly all year round


Hands up everyone who can tick all those boxes!


At first glance there is an overwhelming list of things to consider; however, it need not be that intimidating or daunting.


Athletes need support and direction to have a successful career. Great athletes ensure they seek out, and take on board the best advice and resources to give them the support they need. Certainly, as a start point for young athletes, having great mentors who have been there and done that is a great place to start. Build your support network of professionals who can help you manage the elements which come together to give you a platform on which to base your performance and achievements.


Simple starting points are to develop routines which ensure you:

  • have adequate sleep and rest
  • utilise your support network to ensure that you have good advice in regards to your diet and training load (preferably from qualified dieticians/nutritionists and from technique and strength and conditioning coaches)
  • have regular massage/soft tissue work, from a “gun” masseur who has experience/expertise in working with athletes
  • keep your equipment/shoes/clothing in top condition


So now you have covered the basics but what about overuse injuries and trauma?


Analysis of great athletes who have had great sporting careers generally reveals natural ability and skill and low, or well managed injury levels.

I like to use the example of Roger Federer. He is such a fantastic athlete to watch. His technique is awesome; however, what is most fascinating to watch is his optimised movement mechanics. Whenever Roger hits a ball, he looks effortless and in control. If you start to analyse this from a technical perspective, we would call this optimised movement mechanics or optimal joint centration. His limbs and joints are in the optimal position when he strikes the ball and moves around the court.

Juxtapose this with early footage of Rafael Nadal. Certainly not taking anything away from Rafael, he is an incredible player; however, earlier in his career he was plagued with injuries and when you watch his body positioning and joint mechanics, they could be considered sub optimal.

If you contrast footage from early in his career and later in his career you will see differences. In the later footage, he looks more fluid while simultaneously his injury levels dropped. His movement mechanics has been addressed and improved.


This is one area that we see as a gold mine for athletes to address. Most athletes look for the big accident/crash/fall that caused their injury, and while this is often the case, most injuries occur as a result of more repetitive micro-trauma.  Suboptimal patterns, which when repeated over and over, slowly traumatise the tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons or bone) until something finally gives.

The big traumas are often hard to predict and usually more difficult to manage from an injury prevention perspective.


At Institute of Sports and Spines, we love communication from coaches in regards to issues, injuries and problems that are arising with their athletes. We can then assess the movement patterns the athlete is using, identify less than optimal biomechanics and then work with the athlete and coach to address these issues and develop a plan to get the athlete functioning optimally, which gives them the best possible chance of performing at their best.


It is critical to understand that while technique varies considerably from sport to sport. Optimal movement mechanics do not. Any sport or movement pattern can be broken down to the component parts, hence identifying the requirements of the body to produce that movement pattern in an optimised pattern.


Injuries still can and do happen, and when they do, reassessing and re-optimising the patterns in the rehabilitation program are equally important.


From my perspective, optimising movement mechanics and technique early in an athlete’s career should be paramount. This increases the potential for a long and successful career while minimising the likelihood of injuries.

The Knee

Written by Don Williams BSc, MChiro, ICSSD. on Thursday, 15 October 2015. Posted in General Health, Sporting Injuries, Training and Performance, Chiropractic

The Knee

By Don Williams

B.Sc., M.Chiro., ICSSD., PG Dip. NMS Rehabilitation Cert DNS. Memb: FICS, CEA


Knee pain and dysfunction is a common presenting complaint to our team here at the clinic.

On a daily basis we see a wide range of knee injuries ranging from overload injuries to developmental disorders and from trauma to serious pathology. Generally, knee conditions can be grouped into a these categories. This article aims to clarify and describe some of these issues and strategies to deal with them.


The Knee is an important link in our biomechanical chain for all of our standing activities. Injuries to the knee will affect our ability to stand, walk, run, ride and even sit and work. When you have suffered a severe knee injury you start to realise just how vital they are for our sport, recreation and normal daily activities.




Traumatic Injuries

Any time there has been an impact, fall, major twist or other traumatic event. Pathology including ruptures, tears and fractures should be eliminated.


Ligament Ruptures (ACL, PCL, Collaterals)

ACL or Anterior cruciate ligament ruptures are probably the most well-known and are particularly prevalent in ball sports, although they can occur in a range of circumstances. The ACL prevents the lower leg (tibia) from sliding forward in regards to the upper leg (femur). Complete ruptures require graft stabilisation, partial tears can be conservatively managed with rest and rehabilitation exercises. Some theories suggest that if the person is not young, then a complete rupture does not need to be repaired, however, it appears to us that there is a higher prevalence of knee replacements and marked degenerative changes in the ruptured side compared to the normal side. We are fans of having a graft and effective rehab.

The PCL (posterior cruciate) prevents backwards movement of tibia and is less frequently injured, and usually in combination with the ACL and/or Collaterals.

Collateral ligaments prevent side to side movement of the knee. They will sometimes be repaired and once again, full ruptures are more often in combination with ACL and or PCL ruptures.


Meniscal Injuries

Often called cartilage injuries. The meniscii are little “C” and “J” shaped rings of cartilage, wedge shaped that help locate the knee for effective movement. The inner 1/3 is poorly vascularised and tears can cause a “flap”, which gets caught. These may require debridement (arthroscopic clean up) to remove the flap and stop the catching and jamming. The outer 1-3 to 2/3 does have blood supply and sometimes tears in this area will heal. Conservative management is certainly worth trialling and if not successful progression on to surgery to “stitch up” the tear can be indicated.



Articular Cartilage injuries

The articular cartilage is the smooth hyaline cartilage that covers the ends of the bones and allows the knee to glide smoothly through its movements. Injuries to the articular cartilage are less common and are usually traumatic. They are very difficult problems to manage and often don’t recover well. Optimising joint mechanics can be helpful. Different surgical interventions are aimed at trying to grow new cartilage, transplant cartilage and remove jagged edges with varying success.


Degenerative changes

Frequent presenting complaints. In severe cases knee replacement surgery will have a profound impact on the mobility and ability to enjoy life. In less severe cases, addressing footwear, improving mechanics around the knee and hip can be very helpful.

Research does not support the theory that running specifically speeds up degeneration of the knee. We are big fans of optimising gait mechanics in runners and wearing appropriate footwear. Really, the more active we keep people, generally the better they do.


degenerative change knee



Knee fractures, whilst not being very common, do occur and there are a range of different types of fractures. Mostly they require a period of immobilisation and the use of crutches. Some cases will require surgery. We do see these at times but regularly refer on for orthopaedic assessment and management in the early stages, then reconnect again after the fracture has healed for rehabilitation.


Overload injuries

There are a range of overload injuries which occur around the knee. These can be simple injuries of the calf, hamstring and quad muscles which in turn effect the mechanics of the knee, causing pain and dysfunction. Additionally, we will see issues develop as a result of dysfunction in the ankles or hips. Poor footwear choices and foot mechanical issues will overload the knee leading to problems. Weakness in the gluteal muscles and poor hip mechanics will also cause problems. Differentiating what the deficiency is and how to address this is the important point.


Patellofemoral/patella tracking syndromes

These issues present usually with pain behind the knee cap or near the new cap. Usually the issues are with the patella tracking laterally or too far to the outside of the knee. This causes increase pressure on the “groove” that the knee cap runs in causing pain in the back of the knee cap or in the groove itself.  More often worse with flat footed people or people who drive their knees together in squat and lunge exercises. These are usually simply managed and if addressed relatively early will normally settle relatively quickly with homework.



There are little fat pad with sit on top of the patella, above and below the patella and on the medial (inside of the knee) a couple of centimetres down from the joint.  Direct impact or trauma can cause these to become inflamed or irritated, although they more frequently become sore from overload from poor mechanics or movement patterns of the lower limbs. Early management may include ice and anti-inflammatory regimes, although a long term outcome is usually best achieved by addressing the weaknesses and dysfunction which cause the problem.


Developmental disorders

These conditions may be regards as histological disorders. The usual onset for these conditions is in the early teenage years and often coincide with growth spurts. Essentially the insertion point of the tendon on the bone starts to pull away and becomes inflamed and painful. In rare cases they can completely snap off. They are more commonly associated with explosive sports (sprinting, jumping, and kicking) and are usually conservatively managed. They can recur over a number of years, although good compliance with homework makes them quite manageable.

 Osgood Schlatters occurs where the patella tendon inserts on the tibial tuberosity (on the upper shin bone) whereas Sinding Larsen Johansson disease occurs at the bottom of the patella (knee cap).

We usually incorporate activity modification in a flare up with management of the inflammatory process. Then incorporating stretching and strengthening exercises to improve the mechanics and flexibility to manage the presentation and prevent future flare ups.



There are a number of pathologies of the knee ranging from low force fractures through to malignancies (tumours) and other weird and wacky complaints. Developing complaints for no apparent reason may be a serious problem but it may be an overload issue, so certainly don’t panic until it has been assessed and identified.


When we assess new knee injuries are first point is to eliminate major pathology then address the issue if it falls within our scope of practice


Management of Knee Injuries

The management of all of these injuries can vary but the principles remain the same; effectively assess the injury and the causative factors, identify the problem, protect the knee from further injury, treat the problem, progress the knee back to normal function.


Inappropriate footwear is certainly a common contributing factor. Generally speaking, flat/ low arch feet need stability and control in footwear, high arch/rigid feet need cushioning. Less commonly we see feet that require complex combinations of cushioning and support. These unusual foot types are not normally well managed by the shoe chain stores.


Poor mechanics in running gait and exercises (squats, deadlifts, leg press etc) can also be a big factor. It is not easy to simply describe how to do these activities appropriately. However, if you have issues and want them assessed, book an appointment with Don Williams or Martin Cooper and they will be happy to assess your movement patterns and show you how to improve any deficits.


At Institute of Sports and Spines we pride ourselves on doing comprehensive assessment of presenting complaints, using advanced imaging, such as MRI to confirm and identify the problem and then develop effective strategies to address the issue. At times this requires referral to orthopaedic surgeons for complex cases. If surgery is required we are well equipped you help you work through the problem and progress back to normal.


With almost all knee injuries Rehabilitation exercises are usually an important factor in achieving a good outcome, whether an overload or mechanical issue caused the issue or whether a traumatic injury caused weakness in the controlling muscles, addressing these deficiencies will improve your long term result.


We also offer a range of treatment modalities from Acupuncture and Massage to Chiropractic to help you through the symptomatic phase.