Self Help and Seasonal Advice

Does Your Back Hurt?

Low back pain is extremely common and will affect up to 85% of the population at some time in their lives. The vast majority of episodes improve over a three month period but nearly 50% of sufferers will have at least one recurrent episode.

Low back pain has a wide variety of causes, from picking up a heavy bag incorrectly to spending too long in one position. Feeling very anxious or stressed can make your pain worse. It is rarely due to a serious health problem but this is something our experienced physiotherapists are trained to identify at your initial assessment.

Physiotherapy is an effective way of treating low back pain. If you see a physiotherapist quickly this can not only speed up recovery but also help to prevent the problem happening again.

Our physiotherapists will assess you to identify the reason for your back pain and look at ways to help prevent further problems.

We offer a range of treatments that have proven to be effective with back pain. These include manual (hands on) treatments and acupuncture. We will also advise you on appropriate exercise and pain relief.

There are many things you can do to help yourself. Carrying on with your usual work and activities, as much as possible, can help your back pain. Research shows that lower back pain can return if it is ignored. Changes to lifestyle, such as being more active and improving your posture are also important.

Advice For Activities


Are you training for a running event and concerned about on-going aches and pains? A new runner keen to avoid injuries?

Running can be a great form of exercise for getting fitter, weight loss or even stress management but it also carries a high risk of injury.

Most commonly affected areas are the knees, hips, ankles and lower back.

Injuries are often preventable and treatable. Simple tips such as getting the correct running shoes, sensible training regime (preferably involving some core strength work) can help to keep you on the road.

If you have any existing pains (other than the expected muscular ones!), it's always best to address them sooner rather than later.

At Ann McLaughlin's Physiotherapy practice, we will assess you, give you a diagnosis and treat your symptoms, as well as prescribing the necessary exercises to aid your recovery.


Football is a sport characterised by intermittent exercise with short bouts of intense activity alternated by longer periods of low level, moderate intensity exercise.

Different playing positions have different physical requirements e.g. a midfielder usually requires more stamina than a striker, a goalkeeper requires expert reflexes and anticipation skills, so these differences should be focussed on as part of an appropriate preparation.

Good core strength and balance reactions are key requirements in all positions and as such should be incorporated into a training regime.

As with all sports, an appropriate warm up should be used pre-match including dynamic, football-specific movements and post-match a cool-down performed which includes components such as a jog or jog-walk regime and some static stretching.


Rugby is a power and endurance sport that demands high levels of strength, power, endurance, speed and agility from its players.

The physical requirements for the front five forwards are quite different from those for the half-backs; similarly the back row forwards’ needs vary considerably from those of the wings. For example, the front five players require greater power and endurance than the back row players who will make more frequent sprints throughout a game and therefore require higher levels of speed and speed endurance.

Therefore proper preparations to play should involve identifying the requirements of the position to be played and then focussing on developing these from a good general base of strength, stability, mobility and endurance.

Soft tissue injuries are common in rugby and should be managed immediately with a PRICED regime i.e. Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Diagnosis as required from a medical professional.


There are definite benefits to health to be had from gardening. But what about the risk of backache which can follow such a burst of exercise?

All the bending, pulling up of weeds and pushing wheelbarrows is an excellent form of exercise. It strengthens muscles, and helps to keep joints mobile and supple. A little light digging could help to retain strong bones in later life as well.

Pushing a lightly loaded wheelbarrow can also help to maintain bone strength especially for those over 50. It is not a good idea to push a very heavy barrow as this action can be dangerous so keep the load light!

As Physiotherapists, we can predict the type of injuries that occur in the different seasons and in spring and early summer, gardeners rush out when the sun shines and indulge in too much heavy garden work resulting in back strain, shoulder stiffness and aching knees so: start gently and as the weeks roll by, you will find that your exercise levels will increase without any of the aches and pains. So good luck and enjoy your gardens.


It is extremely import to arrive early at the golf course – too many people do not give themselves enough time to warm up and prepare for their round.

The best way to prepare the body for golf is with continuous dynamic stretches.  The dynamic stretches prepare the neuromuscular skeletal systems for the golf swing more effectively than static stretching.

Begin warming up on the putting green, putting is 43% of golf and it is also the slowest and smoothest of all the golf strokes.  You will be starting your round with a smooth and deliberate tempo and you will be prepared for the speed of the greens.

Then move on to chipping around the greens.  After this move to the practice range and begin your full swing warm up with short wedge shots.  Use a small tee for all your practice shots on the range, this helps you connect with the ball crisply.  Beginning with wedge shots helps you start your routine with a smooth tempo and rhythm.

Take your time and don’t hit too many balls too quickly. Stop and step back after every shot.  Go through your whole routine each time. When you are out on the course and under pressure, it is easier to cope if you can replay a routine you have gone through hundreds of times.

Then begin working from your short irons up to the long irons and then your woods.

Make each swing rhythmical and swing with complete balance control.

Your last few swings should be with the club you intend to use on the first tee.


Cricket is a deceptively demanding sport, requiring players to be on their feet for long periods with periodic fast sprints when batting, bowling and fielding, with various dynamic movements involved, such as throwing, turning quickly and jumping.

Therefore, an appropriate programme to prepare for best performance and prevention of injury should include:

  • speed and agility work
  • strength and power training, including core stability
  • endurance fitness
  • flexibility work
  • cricket specific training


Always warm up and cool down before and after you play.

Warm up with tennis specific dynamic stretches that mimic the movements you will use during your game.

Do not use static stretches directly before you play as these temporarily desensitise your muscles and will adversely affect your performance.

Warm up by jogging around the court then do some dynamic stretches i.e. arm circling, leg swinging, shadow swinging with your racquet using good footwork and full swings to gently stretch your muscles.

Cool down after your game by jogging around the court slowing to a walk. Then perform static stretches holding the stretch for 20 – 30 seconds.  Static stretching lengthens the muscles you shorten during play preventing later soreness and promoting flexibility.