Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Pregnancy and Exercise

As I am about to go on maternity leave, I have chosen to remind my readers about the importance of exercise during pregnancy. Please also see the newsflash below.

Although you may feel very tired and uncomfortable during pregnancy, exercise – believe it or not – can help you to feel better, keeping you fit and strong and helping to manage your weight. By exercising during your pregnancy, you will also find it easier to regain your pre-pregnancy physical fitness. There are, however, some important points to be considered to ensure safe exercise for both you and your baby.

If you were participating in a regular exercise programme before falling pregnant, then you can generally continue with a similar programme for the first trimester. If you were not physically active on a regular basis before you became pregnant, then you need to start off very slowly and some guidance may be necessary. Either way, you must check with your doctor before starting an exercise programme, as each person is different and every pregnancy is unique!

During the first trimester, one can generally continue at a similar exercise level to what you were previously doing, although the intensity level may need to drop. Keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute! Abdominal exercises can be done as usual. Because you will probably feel more tired when you are pregnant, adjust your cardiovascular and weight training to a comfortable level.

During the second trimester, light weight exercises can still be done, although you should avoid lifting weights above your head, as this increases your already elevated blood pressure. Avoid abdominal crunches and exercises performed lying flat on your back. Prolonged time on your back causes your heavier uterus to put pressure on the vena cava, the vein that returns blood from your lower body back to your heart. This interference with blood flow can make you feel dizzy. Cardiovascular exercise should continue, although the intensity must be decreased according to how you feel. Don’t do any running, jogging or other activities that will impact on your joints. Walking, swimming and cycling are best. It is important to always remember to keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute. Stretching and breathing exercises can also be done. Always remember, depending on how quickly you’ve grown, do what is comfortable for you.

During the third trimester, you will start to feel much more uncomfortable and tired as the baby grows. Do what you can manage comfortably during this final stage. Cardiovascular exercises – walking, cycling, and swimming – can be continued, still keeping the heart rate below 140 beats per minute. Keep exercise sessions to a maximum of 30 minutes, as the increased blood flow associated with exercise can induce contractions if prolonged. Avoid heavy weights and movements that involve changing direction quickly. During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called relaxin, which causes the ligaments around your pelvic joint to become lax, allowing for more space for the baby to be born. Because all the joints become more lax, the risk of spraining a joint, such as the ankle, increases. Therefore, it is important to wear comfortable shoes at all times and avoid uneven surfaces that could cause falls.

Kegel exercises can be done to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which help to minimize bladder leaks, a common problem during and after pregnancy. These exercises are easy to perform and can be done anywhere and anytime.

Lower back pain is a common symptom experienced during pregnancy. Due to the development of your stomach in front, your centre of gravity shifts and it puts a lot of strain on the lower back. If your lower back muscles aren’t strong enough, you will struggle as your baby grows. A Biokineticist can provide appropriate exercises to strengthen these muscles and, therefore, manage this condition.

Tips to remember:
·         Keep your heart rate below 140bpm at all times.
·         If you feel out of breath, slow down.
·         Wear comfortable, loose clothing with proper shoes to support your ankles.
·         Exercise in the morning or evening when it is not too hot.
·         Avoid jerking movements.
·         Avoid lying on your back for too long.
·         Exercises sitting on a big ball are usually very comfortable, but avoid bouncing.
·         Listen to your body – it will tell you if you are doing too much!

Stop exercising if you experience any of the following:
·         Vaginal bleeding
·         Dizziness
·         Faintness
·         Shortness of breath
·         Contractions
·         Nausea
Speak to your doctor before exercising again.

As I have already said, each person is different and every pregnancy is unique, so it is important to consult your doctor before starting any exercise programme! If you are struggling to start or maintain an exercise programme during pregnancy, consult a Biokineticist to assist you with safe and appropriate exercises for you and your baby.


Wednesday, 31 January 2018


I would like to welcome Tandy Fourie to my practice.
Tandy is a registered biokineticist and she will be practicing at:
44 First Avenue
Dunvegan, Edenvale
Tel: 011 454 5800

Thursday, 14 December 2017

A Happy, Healthy and Active Festive Season

I would like to thank all my loyal readers for your continued support throughout the year. I hope you have gained some useful insight from the topics covered during the past year.

I wish you a joyous festive season and a prosperous new year. May 2018 be a happy and healthy year for you all.

Remember to keep active during the festive season! Walk, swim, play, laugh and have fun! J


Thursday, 26 October 2017

The Importance of Stretching

We always hear how important it is to stretch, but many of us don’t fully understand why it is so necessary. Here are a few basics on stretching and why it is important.

Stretching is necessary to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury. There are various stretching techniques that can be used to improve flexibility, two of which I will discuss here.

The most common stretching technique is static stretching. This is when a muscle is taken to the end of its range (slight discomfort) and held for about 15-30 seconds while the muscle is completely relaxed. Static stretching is most effective post exercise to reduce muscle pain and stiffness.

The second technique is dynamic stretching which involves the individual moving his/her own leg through its full range of motion. As the muscle warms up, the individual will be able to swing the limb further and further through its range, never taking it more than the point of slight discomfort. Dynamic stretching is most commonly used prior to strenuous exercise to increase joint mobility and thus decrease the risk of injury.

Various other techniques exist, including ballistic stretching, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) and active-isolated stretching; however, these techniques are more complicated and usually require the assistance of a therapist, such as a biokineticist or physiotherapist.

Stretching should be done pre and post exercise, as part of a warm up and cool down. Stretching before exercise assists in reducing the risk of injury, while stretching after exercise helps maintain increased flexibility of muscles and helps to reduce muscular pain and stiffness following exercise. Remember: never stretch a cold muscle; rather do a gentle warm up such as a walk or light jog and then stretch before starting any strenuous exercise.

When stretching, one should feel slight discomfort, not pain. Overstretching a muscle beyond its limits can cause damage to the tissue. The range of movement at a joint, or this point of slight discomfort, will increase as flexibility improves with regular stretching. Every person and every joint is unique and flexibility will vary depending on the joint, activity levels and types of activities performed on a regular basis, so only stretch as far as YOU can.

Stretching provides a great form of relaxation and stress relief as well. People of all ages and activity levels need to stretch to reduce the risk of injury, maintain joint mobility and keep the body moving with ease and minimal pain. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Addressing Multiple Injuries

Because biokinetics involves looking at the entire body and the way in which it moves, biokineticists are able to assess and rehabilitate more than one injury at a time. Often two injuries may even be linked and it is then useful to rehabilitate them together anyway. This is one of the main differences between biokinetics and physiotherapy, a common question among the general public.

Physiotherapists treat symptoms, providing immediate relief by use of massage, heat, cold and various other techniques. Biokineticists look at the entire body to establish what is causing the problem in the first place, such as imbalances in muscle strength and flexibility. Appropriate exercises are then prescribed to try and correct these imbalances so that hopefully the injury does not keep recurring. It is, therefore, a slower process and changes are often only noticed after six weeks of regular rehabilitative exercise. However, it is hopefully a long-term solution.

It is for this reason that biokineticists can rehabilitate multiple injuries at the same time and, often, it is easier to do so. For example, one may have tendinitis in the ankle and also complain of knee pain in the opposite leg. There is a very good chance that the knee pain is as a result of overcompensation for the pain in the opposite ankle. Or, one might experience pain in the knee of the same leg as the ankle, again due to compensation. If there is a sore or weak point somewhere in the body, chances are very good that somewhere else, something will be compensating for that weakness, which may lead to further pain or injury.

This is also why it is so important to complete a rehabilitation programme. Until the injury is completely rehabilitated, meaning there is no longer an imbalance in muscle strength or flexibility, the injury may recur or other problems may arise due to compensation.

So, biokinetics may be a long process, but if you follow the programme you are given properly and to the end, it can be very successful and you may be tackling two birds with one stone. The knowledge you will gain regarding body awareness and technique will also stand you in good stead for the future in terms of your physical functioning.