Gardening and back pain

It has been a long, cold, wet winter, but it’s not long now until spring.  I’m starting to think about my garden, which fortunately has needed very little attention this winter but it won’t be long until I start to get my vege patch ready and I’m sure there will be plenty of weeding to do as the days get warmer, sunnier and probably still wet!,

With all the digging, bending, lifting, pulling, shovelling to come, it is a good time to remind ourselves of some basic back care. I look after my back when gardening by just following a few simple rules:

  1. Task variation

Mix it up.  Don’t get stuck doing one job for hours on end.  Ideally change your jobs every half an hour and have regular breaks, even if it’s just to grab a drink of water or use the toilet.

  1. Stretch it out

If you have been doing lots of bending, make sure you take the opportunity to arch backwards, if you’ve been doing a lot of reaching up high and leaning backwards, then lie on your back on the ground and hug your knees in towards your chest

  1. Work those legs

Give your back a break from all the bending and bend your knees instead to reach the ground

  1. Core

Engage those deep tummy muscles to help support your back, especially when you’re bending, lifting and tugging on those pesky weeds!  And to further protect your back make sure your keep that armful of weeds or potting mix in nice and close to your body


And don’t forget, if you do get in trouble, you’re friendly physios are always happy to get you back on track!


Does physiotherapy help with headaches?

In some cases yes – if your headaches are due to a problem in the top 3 vertebrae of your neck or if there is a problem with the neck muscles or your posture.

How can you tell?

Generally if your headaches are related to your neck you will also be experiencing neck pain and/or stiffness or muscle tension in the neck.

Your posture may also be affected.

Why does the neck cause the headache?

The muscle and joints of the neck can refer pain into the head a bit like back pain can cause leg pain.

What can you do to help yourself?

Make sure you keep good posture when you are sitting, standing and working. Aim to change your position regularly.

Warm heat can help ease muscle tension as well as gentle neck stretches.

What can physiotherapists do to treat neck pain?

Physiotherapists first assess to see if the neck could be a contributor to the headache and then assess what structures are causing the pain. The physiotherapist can then discuss what treatment would work the best. Treatment could include

  • postural exercises
  • strengthening exercises
  • massage
  • mobilisation
  • manipulation
  • acupuncture.

Developmental dysplasia of the hips

DDH, or ‘clicky hips’ as most people know it as, is a structural abnormality in the development of baby’s hip. Some babies are born with the defect which can be picked up at a hip check. However some, like Lily, get missed initially and don’t get picked up till later in their lives. Often it is picked up when children start to walk, and parents notice that the child has a limp or the child walks later in life than expected.

Luckily, sort of, I had concerns with Lily’s ability to jump in her jolly jumper and thought her legs were a different length when she was 4 months old. We were sent for an ultrasound at the hospital, and was told her left leg was permanently dislocated and therefore her hip hadn’t formed properly.

When Lily was 6 months old, she went into a spica cast – a cast from her nipples to her ankles. But, Lily quickly adapted and hasn’t minded being restricted. She is now 10 months and coming to the end of her spica journey. Lily’s hip has formed well and the specialist has said Lily shouldn’t need any further treatment. But she will be followed up until her adolescence. This is relatively minor compared to other children who have had numerous surgeries and casts. Also, if children are older when the deformity gets picked up, the children can be more upset as they can’t crawl, stand, or walk anymore.

Signs and risk factors for DDH include family history of DDH, first born, female, breech birth, leg length discrepancy, and uneven skinfolds on the legs or buttocks. If you have any concerns, make sure you talk to your plunket nurse or GP. If the deformity is picked up soon enough, the treatment is far easier on the child (and parents).IMG_1195

Physio for western southland

Lucy is the lucky physiotherapist who gets to travel through the beautiful Southland countryside out to Tuatapere twice a week, and once per fortnight on a Tuesday morning through to Ohai.

We have regular clinics in the Western Southland area to serve the farming and industry community and we are located in the medical centre in Tuatapere and Ohai. As we are situated in the medical centre, we are able to work in close contact with the medical staff to provide a holistic approach to health care.

The weather is usually kind to us and very rarely do we not make it out to Tuatapere.

Our usual hours in Tuatapere are 9.00-4.30 Tuesday and Thursday, and 9.30am onwards every second Tuesday in Ohai.

If you need any physiotherapy treatment or advice you can make an appointment through Accelerate Physiotherapy on 03 2186583 or by contacting Tuatapere Medical Centre on 03 2266123



At this time of year with all the stress that is surrounding us, we can easily get caught up in it. As the tension builds our shoulders start to migrate towards our ears, we develop tightness and pain in our shoulders as well as our neck, our breathing gets faster and we feel our shoulders heaving as we breathe. It is also important to take some time each day to stop and wind down.  Let your mind relax, let your shoulders relax and let that breath move down into the bottom of your lungs.

Occasionally you can get caught up in a cycle of stress and poor breathing and find it difficult to break this cycle.  You might find that you start to feel all sorts of worrying symptoms. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Chest pain
  • physical tension
  • blurred vision
  • feeling confused
  • faster, deeper breathing
  • short of breath
  • tight feelings in your chest
  • bloated feeling in stomach
  • tingling fingers
  • unable to breathe deeply
  • stiff fingers or arms
  • tight feelings around the mouth
  • cold hands or feet
  • racing heart
  • feelings of anxiety

These symptoms can all be linked to a poor breathing pattern.  If you are having any of these symptoms it is especially important to take the time to relax and correct your breathing pattern.

If you are having trouble getting back on top of things and you would like some extra help, come in and see Lena, our certified BradCliff practitioner for breathing pattern disorders.

PINC Next Steps

A new programme that will begin in July at Accelerate Physiotherapy is the PINC Next Steps. This is a group exercise programme for women who have finished their main cancer treatment and want to take the ‘next steps’ on their road to recovery. The programme runs for one hour per week for ten weeks, and is specifically designed to help women affected by breast cancer. Next Steps combines Pilates, Yoga, and cardiovascular exercises plus some relaxation which will help rebuild strength, flexibility, and stamina following cancer treatments. PINC physiotherapist, Alana Malcolm, will run the class on her return from maternity leave. As an added incentive, the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation will fund the first programme for ten eligible women. Accelerate Physiotherapy is the only Physio clinic in the Southland area who provide specific care for cancer survivors. If you are interested, head to for more information, and to register.

Pilates Equipment Classes

Once a week we run a 1 hour Pilates Equipment Class. This is limited to 4 people per class to provide heaps of one on one attention! The class has been running for the past 3 terms and is an alternative to the mat classes we already run. Participants need to have had some Pilates experience before going into the class preferably attending a level 1 or above mat class. Pilates equipment used for the class includes Pilates reformer, Trapeze Table and Exochair. The equipment uses springs to provide muscle resistance and develop core strength and flexibility. Exercises can be tailored for individual needs and work on specific areas that the participant would like to target.


Mid winter Xmas Do

So it was time to let our hair down and hit the town and get to know our new staff members a bit more.

We started the evening with a trip to 10 pin bowling. The evening started off well with a few gutter balls and the occasional strike, which may or may not have been a fluke. Coming up to the half way mark everyone was on a pretty even score with Lucy and Alana starting to inch ahead. As the fun continued, and a few more gutter balls were bowled, a unanimous decision was made to put the “bumper bars” out on both lanes to improve everyone’s scores a little. At the end of the game there was a good spread of scores with Lucy winning with a score of 97, Alana coming a close second with 88 and Jan scoring 81. Sequoia, Judy, Andrea, Lena and Lindsay followed up on the leader board.

We followed up the game with a lovely meal at the Lonestar, where we all proceeded to eat, drink and laugh the night away. We had the presentation for the bowling where Lindsay was awarded the “not so booby” prize of a nice bottle of Shiraz.

Overall a great night was had by all, and we are looking forward to the next shin-dig in August.



It was wedding fever in the practice over the month of March. Lucy was the first to experience the exciting high of becoming a “Mrs”. On Saturday the 1st of March the day dawned slightly windy and overcast, but luckily for Lucy and Nathan, it came out clear for their wedding at Anderson’s Park. Lucy pulled up in a vintage 1931 Nash 8 and then quickly drove away again, much to the hilarity of the guests. Nathan did not look phased though. Lucy walked down the aisle to Ellie Goulding’s ‘How long will I love you’ and wore a strapless gown with bright pink shoes. There were many laughs (and tears) during the ceremony. Being traction engine fanatics, Lucy and Nathan had some of their photos taken at Robin McDonald’s house with trucks and tractors. They also had photos at Anderson’s Park and Peg’s Cottage. Following this, they managed to have a fabulous dinner and dance at the Otatara Community Centre. Lucy and Nathan have planned a honeymoon to Australia later on during the year.

Alana married Matt the following week on the 8th of March at Mount Soho Winery in Queenstown. Their fun-filled day started with photos at Peter Alexander PJ shop, then Fergburger and luging down the Queenstown hill. Alana wore a single strap, backless gown while her bridesmaids wore mis-matched dusky pink dresses. The groom wore batman shoes, which matched ‘his’ side of the cake. Again there were a few laughs during the ceremony and some tears (namely her dad’s). Alana and Matt combined their OE last year as their honeymoon. Now they are looking forward to their next adventure of becoming parents.

Introducing our new staff physios

Lena Bekhuis: Lena has 12 years’ experience as a physiotherapist. She has recently joined us from a practice in Dunedin. Lena is working part-time at Accelerate Physiotherapy, as well as being a clinical educator for 4th year physio students from Otago University, at the hospital. She is a credentialled McKenzie therapist, which means she has had extra training in back and neck care. Lena is a registered acupuncturist and has also completed training in the Bradcliff method which helps with breathing disorders and other respiratory issues. Outside of work, Lena is kept busy with her 2 children Isaac and Toby.

Sequoia Cooper: Sequoia is a recent graduate from Otago University. She is a born and bred Southlander, who grew up in rural Southland chasing sheep. Being a competitive cyclist who has represented New Zealand at an international level, she is able to draw on her sporting experience for treating elite athletes. She has also had a lot of sideline involvement in the local premier rugby competition and physio-ed for Southland representative rugby teams.For the keen cyclist out there, Sequoia is able to do bike fits and setups. She has recently gained her level 1 Pilates certificate and she enjoys working with local Southland people. Staff Photo (2)