Travel can teach us a lot. We see the way people in different cultures live. We see what affects our actions can have. But most importantly, we learn a lot about our own priorities and necessities. For me, travel has helped me realise what is most important to me and what I need, in order to be the best version of my self. On the flip side, it has also taught me what trivial things I can live without.
In our often busy day-to-day lives, it's easy to get caught up in trivial things and become overwhelmed by superficial things that aren’t important or necessary. Through my own experience with travel, I have learnt a lot about what is important to me and also what can wait, what I can take more of a relaxed approach to. The relationships I have with my friends and family is something that is very important to me, and something I cherish. Being both physically and mentally healthy is also very important to me. Nature, freedom and the open air are undeniably things that I can’t live without.
One thing that has always played a big part in my life (sometimes for the better, other times for the worse) is my obsession with exercise. Obsession or addiction, call it what you will, but exercise and fitness is something that has shaped my priorities in life and how I spend my “precious” time. Exercise has always been a way for me to deal with stress and anxiety. However, it has at times been a catalyst for my stress. If I was unable to fit in my routine gym session or long run due to work or other commitments, I would become irritable, unfocused, anxious and stressed. I felt that if I didn’t get a chance to fit in my regular exercise, my physical and mental health would suffer - and that was if I missed just one session in a week!
So now I've been traveling for almost 4 months and not once have I seen the inside of a gym. Sure I am still getting out for a run (once a week if I’m lucky) and doing some body weight training occasionally in teeny Airbnb room or camper van (surprisingly, slide doors offer a great place to do pull ups =D). But without my regular exercise, I am fine. My health is good, I’m more clear in my mind and most importantly I’m not stressing over missing out on my regular exercise. Ok, granted I am travelling, I don’t have the usual stresses of full-time work and living in “the real world”, but I like to think that even with normal every day life back home, the ability to be more flexible and less fixated with exercise, is a very achievable goal.
In summary, I'm not telling you to lock up the active wear and become couch potatoes. I'm telling you it's OK to miss that gym session, or that run that you had planned to do after work. Sometimes our mind and body need a break every now and again. Just like our mind needs a vacation in order to rejuvenate and function better, so does our body. Not only will you free up more time for more important things, or people in your life, but also when you do hit the gym or running track, you will be stronger, better prepared and more energised that ever.
Why did you want to become a Myotherapist?
I've been a Myotherapist for 8 years. Initially I studied at Endeavour College of Natural Health, where I completed my diploma of remedial massage and then went on to do an advanced diploma of Myotherapy at Melbourne Institute of Massage Therapy.
I studied Myotherapy because I was interested in massage, but I also wanted to know more about the medical aspect of the human body. I really wanted to treat conditions and help people with pain and injury. As I went through the course I learnt that many of the subjects were quite medical, which I really enjoyed. I was particularly interested in the pathology units, as well as the more hands on practical subjects. I've always been good with my hands and have a natural sense of touch. I believe that if you can feel what's going on in the body, you can often find a reason behind a person’s pain. And by using different techniques you can make changes to the body in a really positive way.
Before studying Myotherapy, I was working in marketing. When I left secondary school I had no idea what I wanted to do. My options were business, law or medicine. I thought I'd just do a business course and see how I'd find the corporate world. I only lasted a couple of years! After leaving the marketing sector, I wanted to get into psychology, which I am still thinking about down the track. Ideally I would like to incorporate both Myotherapy and Psychology into my practice.
What is Myotherapy?
Myotherapy is essentially a form of physical therapy, used to treat soft tissue (or muscle) aches and pain. Myotherapy can often be confused with remedial massage, however there is a distinct difference between the two. Myotherapists have a remedial massage skill set, with the additional dry needling component and further skills such as exercise prescription, nutrition, biomechanics and postural assessment. The dry needling component is perhaps the biggest difference. Dry needle therapy uses acupuncture needles to stimulate ‘trigger points or ‘knots’ in the muscle which can help relieve myofascial pain and can also help with tendon injuries. The needle is used as an alternative to finger pressure or massage.
Can you tell us about an experience with a past client that stands out for you?
I had a client who was experiencing severe headaches, and they'd been taking headache medication almost every night for 20 years. After going through a routine postural and biomechanical assessment, I soon realised there was more than just muscular factors at play. At first, I focused on treating the neck, which was very tight and tender to touch. This treatment plan helped initially, however the headaches began to come back. The client then started talking about their childhood and mentioned some interesting and helpful information. As a child, his older brother would come up behind him and grab him around the neck. While there was clearly tension on a muscular level, the main underlying issue was the psychological trauma that was bringing him into this physical pain. Once we brought this to his attention, we were able to work on both the emotional and physical anomalies that were causing the headaches. Identifying and working through the root cause allows the body to overcome a particular pain or condition indefinitely.
Childhood traumas will play a part in the body and how you move through the world. When I’m working with a new patient, that's what I'm focusing on first. I find that as I get to know my patients better, we can talk about some of the underlying factors contributing to pain. Often if the client isn’t mentally relaxed and ready for the treatment, the muscle tissues can feel like a spring and it will not let me manipulate the tissue. That’s why it’s so important to address both the mental and physical state of the patient. As I've built up experience over my years of practice I've developed an understanding of tissue texture and how there's interplay between the mind and the body.
It's all moving parts.
Steph is available for bookings at Realign Myotherapy on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
0433 820 194
When we book in to see a physical therapist, we all know our specific reason why. There is usually something we want to fix – a pain syndrome, a restriction in movement, a stiff back or that nagging chronic headache that just won’t go away. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But have you ever thought about the many ways you can help relieve the distress of painful symptoms, after you leave the treatment room? Or how you can prevent them from recurring? Well, there are enormous positive affects that ongoing self-maintenance can have if implemented along side your physical therapy treatments, and I’m going to share my tips with you…
Corrective Exercises & Stretching –
This is not a gimmick, if you are advised to complete corrective exercises, you must do this in order to increase your ability to get better. Corrective exercises are used to strengthen and retrain muscles that are causing imbalance or instability in an area of the body. Listen to your therapist (they’re on your side, I promise) and stick to your treatment plan in order to get better results.
One of the most important and easiest things that you can do to improve your health is MOVE!! Australia’s Physical Activity Guidelines recommends adults are to accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1¼ to 2½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, each week. And to do muscle strength work on at least 2 days per week. It sounds like a lot, but every bit counts, so take the stairs, get off one train stop earlier, and smash out 20 squats after you read this.
We know the saying ‘you are what you eat’? Well it is mostly true. If we fill our bodies with inflammatory foods, our body will become inflamed. If we skip a meal and don’t replenish our energy stores with nutrient rich foods, we don’t have energy. Starting to make sense? It is very important to eat highly nutritious foods that YOU can digest well and help YOU feel the best you can. Supplements are also important if you’re not getting enough nutrients from food. Certain vitamins like Vitamin D12 and C, Calcium aid in muscle recovery, and certain minerals like magnesium and zinc help to relax the muscles and enrich their energy stores. It is recommended you seek assistance from a nutritionist before making any big changes to your diet.
Not only is it essential following a treatment, hydration is important on a day-to-day basis to keep you feeling your best. Drinking enough water can help regulate body temperature, assist muscles and joints to work better, keep skin supple, cleanse your body of toxins, and in the longer term, help prevent cardiovascular disease.
We all know that horrible feeling of sleep deprivation – achy joints, feelings of fatigue and fogginess, decreased motivation and energy, and the inability to perform at your best. To allow your body time to naturally heal and replenish it’s energy stores, it is recommended we get 7-9 hours of sleep EVERY night.
Stress Relief –
Stress, both mental and physical can inhibit our body’s natural ability to heal its self. Whether it is a weekly yoga session, a 10-minute daily mindfulness practice, or simply immersing yourself in something creative (cooking, gardening, drawing…), it is essential we find ways to de-stress and unwind on a daily basis.
So whilst seeing your preferred therapist for your tune up treatment is great, it is also important to introduce some positive changes to your lifestyle and everyday routine. Whether it is a focus on getting stronger for better posture, changing your diet to reduce inflammation, or even taking some time for meditation to relieve built up stress, we can all add a few things here and there to ensure we get the absolute most out of our therapeutic treatments, and most importantly, keep our bodies and mind feeling good.