Rehab & Allied Health – How we work together.

We have become known as a PT studio that offers rehab exercise programs, people come to us via referrals or from those seeking out a rehabilitation trainer. But on the flip side we often see new clients who come to us for Personal Training and we refer them to an Allied Health Practitioner which may come as a surprise to them as it is often before we even start training them!

When we started ALTA, JC had already taken courses in rehabilitation, one because he worked with athletes but also he had many clients who at times required rehabilitation after an operation or injury. And, in doing this he found it really rewarding to be able to help people with their discomfort, pain or restricted movement. Will & Jason have also studied in the areas of rehabilitation, we are so lucky to have a team who can support our clients. But key to us is injury prevention. That’s why we like to start with mobility warm-ups, safe training and always some stretching at the end of your sessions – as with any exercise there can be some risk.

So why is it so important for us to be working with Allied Health practitioners such as Physios, Osteo’s, Chiropractors, Rolfers, Remedial Massage, Acupuncturists and more? Because, we are not medical professionals and when we see something, or you tell us of an injury or pain or discomfort, it is our job to help determine if it’s something we can work with or if you need to see a professional. That’s why over the years we have worked with, and continue to work with, some wonderful doctors and practitioners who care about you as much as we do. How we work together is important, it can be a simple phone call, to a detailed report, to attending a workshop as JC has done in the past with a heart patient. We have, and are always willing to, liaise with your practitioner as importantly we gain a greater understanding of your issue. They will also guide us in what we can do to support you, or what not to do that may hinder your recovery.

Remember, your health and wellbeing are important to us, not just how you aim to become fitter, stronger or leaner, that’s a given, so anytime you see someone or need to be referred keep us in mind so we can support you from our end.

Mobility – Onwards & Upwards

Mobility is the ability to move between different social and societal settings. Or is it the ability of the body to move freely and easily? Today we are talking about the latter.  Not to be confused with flexibility, which is the ability to change, bend and compromise.  I am sure we all know a few people who may have mobility but no flexibility, but I digress.

We are after what specifically is mobility in an anatomical sense. Mobility within a joint is the degree to which the area where two bones articulate, allowing the joint to move before being restricted by the surrounding tissue such as tendons, muscle, and ligaments. Think of mobility as the range of uninhibited motion around the joint. Though ideally your body should move synergistically (say that 4 times quickly!).

Synergetics is the system of holistic thinking which R. Buckminster Fuller introduced as Synergy. That is, an interaction or cooperation giving rise to a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. The term synergy comes from the Greek word “συνεργία synergia from synergos, meaning “working together”.  A simple example of this is the first thing in the morning, we are all a bit stiff – no way you could touch your toes, but after a hot shower and a cup of coffee, your body starts to move a bit better and a bit more, the systems are waking up.

A specific example for me is the loaded back squat, which has been a bane for me for a few years now.  When squatting down to 90 degrees, I would feel pain in my right knee and lower back. A physical therapist could, and have measured, all my specific flexibility in each muscle and mobility in each joint (under passive unloaded movements). But why do I have pain in the right knee and right lower back when I do a loaded back squat?  My body is not in synergy.  Long story short and jumping forward many months, I have a lack of mobility in my upper thoracic (upper ribs, back) which under load will not allow my pelvis to move and in turn places a greater load on my knees, which stops stability muscles from working or completely turning off (sensory motor amnesia).

Gray Cook, creator of FMS Functional movement screening system, (who we use at ALTA) created the joint-by-joint basis to create the best movement patterns Viewing Cook’s approach from the bottom up we can see how joints can stack on top of each other, alternating from stability to mobility.  Feet are stable, ankles have mobility. Knees have stability, hips have mobility. Core is stable, thoracic has mobility, neck is stable.  And when we sit for long periods of time or have an injury this paradigm becomes flipped.  In my case, thoracic became stable instead of mobile.

Where to from here? To ensure you have proper mobility in your joints there is no one cure all exercises, the body is Synergetic”. It is a combination of exercises from massage, yoga, pilates. Specific mobility exercise for each joint, specific flexibility exercise for each muscle group as well as activation exercises (turning on sleepy muscles, the opposite of sensory motor amnesia).

So, you see mobility has many aspects. If you would like to learn more about mobility and how we integrate the synergetic’s of mobility in to the ALTA system, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The Benefits of Coffee

Everyone knows how much we love our coffee, an Almond Milk Latte certainly brings a smile to our faces each morning when consumed. But really what are the benefits?  Is coffee good for you?  Well, according to Paul Gow, the author of ‘Liver Better life’, he says YES!! Read on as we explain more, did you know that 1.4 billion cups of coffee are consumed everyday worldwide!  Interestingly, caffeine makes up only 1-2% of the weight of the actual coffee bean, this makes caffeine levels vary greatly. But more importantly, caffeine contains proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates and fibre, fats, minerals, acids and numerous polyphenols (micro nutrients from plants), all which have incredible health benefits when consumed in moderation- aka 2 cups a day!

The biggest beneficiary of moderate coffee consumption is in fact the Liver.  Caffeine reduces liver fat, inflammation and damage, “There is no medicine out there that your doctor can prescribe that benefits your liver like a cup of coffee” It is however also good for your heart, and despite what you may have heard, coffee does not increase your blood pressure, but it does reduce the risk of Diabetes.  But how does this cup of goodness help the liver and heart so much?  In a nut shell and on a very basic level, coffee reduces insulin.  Insulin drives many of the common diseases in the Western World, such as heart disease, respiratory disease and strokes to name a few.

So what are the negatives?  Caffeine can contribute to anxiety and disrupted sleep if consumed in high doses, Cyndi O’Meara in her book ‘Lab to Table” explains the addictive nature of caffeine, stating that when you feel like ‘you lack focus and are fatigued’ if you have not consumed coffee aka caffeine then you may be in fact be addicted! But like Paul Gow, she also mentions that if consumed in moderation, coffee won’t be harmful to your health.  As a side note, Caffeine base energy drinks are no good, this is usually due to the high sugar levels, the caffeine content is not an issue if they are consumed like everything, once again … moderation!

So to sum this all up, we are happy to report that Coffee is great!  It is a wonder drug when it comes to liver health, if you have good liver health it makes it better, if you don’t it makes it better.  And with beneficial effects against lung disease, heart disease, stroke diabetes and infections we can look forward to our morning coffee knowing we are looking after ourselves each day, sometimes twice!  If you would like to read more on the Benefits of Coffee, we have the Liver Better Life (Paul Gow) and Lab to Table (Cyndi O’Meara) in our ALTA Library which we are happy for you to borrow and have a read, or alternative have a chat to us!

ALTA Talks Episode 16 Talking with Erica Manning from It’s All about you Darling Pilates & Yoga

For the past 30 years, studio owner Erica Manning has been teaching movement and has made it her career to share and teach fun, effective and practical ways to move through Pilates and Yoga. Her teaching style focuses on precise techniques with a nurturing attitude, she is passionate about supporting people when they need it most, whilst still providing a challenging workout that helps people get results. Oh and did I mention she is my sister!

Does Inflammation cause Frozen Shoulder?

We all have had tight shoulders from time to time, but when your shoulder becomes painful and the movement is severely restricted, we have what is medically known as adhesive capsulitis, but more commonly known as Frozen Shoulder.

With Frozen Shoulder, it is common for the capsule and surrounding tissue to form fibrous scar tissue. With less lucubration from synovial fluid, movement generally becomes even more limited and painful.

Now there are number of theories why someone might develop Frozen Shoulder, such as genetics, age, bad luck (such as an accident), and some sports commonly tennis, cricket, golf and baseball.  What I was surprised to find is that Frozen Shoulder is very common in people who have Diabetes, Parkinson’s, Hypothyroidism, Chronic Hypoxia, and Dupuytren (the thickening of the tissues in the hand, causing the fingers to curl inwards.)

All symptoms seemed to have a common factor of chronic low-grade inflammation, but the two strongest established risk factors for developing Frozen Shoulder are Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.  The hypothesis argues that like Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, the inflammation and capsular fibrosis which is seen in Frozen Shoulder is precipitated by chronic low-grade inflammation, thus sympathetic dominance of autonomic balance, and neuro-immune activation which are out of balance.

In the book Inflammation Solution, Dr William Sears’s said, “Your body is not meant to experience a constant state of inflammation”. The term inflammation comes from the root word meaning ‘on fire’. “The root cause of inflammation is that your immune system is out of balance and confused”. Inflammation can be a good thing when your body is fighting infection, injury, or disease. If your body’s signals get crossed however, you can experience chronic, low-grade inflammations.

The next question then is what we do at ALTA when we have a client presenting with a Frozen Shoulder and what does this have to do with low grade inflammation? While we are not doctors or classified as allied health, we do know that what we do, as part of an overall healthy lifestyle plan. If we do not have a referral already, we will refer out. We have a large reference network of Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Doctors, Nutritionists, Exercise Physiologist, that we can rely on for advice.  Once we have a diagnosis for your particular case, we can then create a plan for you and your needs.

Here at ALTA, we like to look at movement from the ground up.  Meaning how well do your feet move in relation to your ankles, how well do your ankles move in relation to your knees, how well do your knees move in relation to your hips, etc.  In creating a plan of attack, we may use many forms of exercise to help you on your quest to free up your shoulder. Which could be a gentle Feldenkrais Method to Pilates to even a hefty deadlift exercise.  There is no single ‘one size fits all’ treatment for Frozen Shoulder.  What may work for you may not work for another. In some instances we may stay completely away from the affected shoulder and work on you as a whole i.e. creating a stronger base of support, improving posture and thoracic mobility which can often improve the effected shoulder. As with any chronic issue the healing takes time.

Exercise, Health, Wellbeing and Planting your Veggie Patch

If you know us, you know we have 3 decent size veggie patches and we’ve spent a lot of time over winter turning over, weeding (lots!), mulching, growing mainly lettuce and herbs and now spring planting. And whenever I get out there, I’m glad I’m strong and have endurance because once I get started, I don’t like to stop until I’ve finished my ‘imagined’ task for the day.

I’m guessing you all have in some way planted a veggie patch at some time in your life, mine started helping dad in his, by force then, but now it’s my own choice and I gain great joy out of it. Growing a veggie patch can be as small as a pot of herbs or tomatoes on an apartment veranda, to one of the fabulous, raised patches (think corrugated iron or wood) in a small backyard, to ours which is 3 big beds as we have a decent size block, or even ones you have at your farm, if lucky enough to have one.

So, what is the exercise, health and wellbeing part to a veggie patch? There are so many and I’m going to stick to my top 3.

  1. Exercise – oh yes this is to me number 1. You squat, push, bend, walk, reach, lift, basically you can use all your major muscle groups. From glutes and quads to squat, hamstrings, core, back, as you bend (correctly is to hip hinge!) pushing soil around or pulling out veggies we are using our grip and all associated muscles to arm and shoulder muscles. It’s quite a workout and inevitably I’m feeling it the next day
  2. Health – I don’t think we can be classified organic vegetable patch growers however we probably are to the most degree, we only put in organic soil, sugar cane mulch and feed on our veggie patch. We never, ever use chemicals, we live with the pests which we actually don’t get that many of, we go snail hunting in the dark with our torches (yes we do!) and we weed by hand. And, importantly the health is also not just in the vegetables we pick, it is putting our hands in the soil with its microbes and when I wash my freshly cut veggies I do a quick once over (from our filtered water tap) and it’s the soil-based microbes that stay on my produce that today we commonly call probiotics and prebiotics. They help us to digest our raw ingredients and herbs and contribute to the thriving healthy balance of our own microbiome. There is a great article I read here which explains just one of the things that happens to our fruit and veg from our supermarkets which kills off these important microbes.
  3. Wellbeing – Ahh the joy of a good, hard day’s work and the joy that we get nearly every night from picking, making, and eating salads and herbs from our healthy veggie patch, with our children. Joy is one thing, and it is not out there obvious with a big grin on my face, it’s the inner thoughts, feelings, and satisfaction I get. The other is being out in nature, well it is only our backyard but over the years and particularly the last 2 of lockdowns, it has been our haven, we have fruit trees all now blooming with spring, the insect houses we have, the honey eater birds suckling nectar from trees around our neighbours houses and ours, the magpies pulling worms, green grass to lie on and all the sounds in the air. And, this year we have planted more bee friendly flowers, hoping we are contributing to their health and wellbeing. I can’t wait to see the sunflowers come up, maybe I’ll have a harvest of sunflower seeds to share!

So, this is my desire for you all reading this, get out in your garden this weekend, if you have a veggie patch started wonderful, if not start planning a spot in your garden or a pot and get busy. If you ever want advice there is tonnes of it out there but we are always up for a chat about veggie growing, we have failures and abundance and we never stop learning!

Looking after our Mental Health

This lockdown has been hard, what we’re seeing is that even people who are normally upbeat, are feeling the effects more intensively and as much as we try to remain positive how long can we stay upbeat for? I use gratitude to bring me back to my usual positive, resilient place but I’ll be honest I have had some bad days – one where I didn’t get out of bed ALL day! JC who has handled lockdowns really well has found this one tough and he had a morning he stayed late in bed, this is someone whose alarm goes off at 5am most mornings and he literally bounds out on the first ring of his alarm.  This is something that struck me, in light of our #ALTAkindness month…We need to be kind to ourselves, be kind to our mental health, acknowledge it and when you feel low or just in a slump and maybe, some of these things will help you if you feel this same.

  1. Be grateful – this is my Number 1 go to! Sometimes I write it down mostly not, I say it in my head, to JC, my family and frankly anyone who might listen! Sometimes it is hard to come up with one thing, let alone more but I only have to look around me to give me inspiration, for example as I write this, the sun is on my back, I’m in my garden with some horse poop rejuvenating my plants which was delivered by a lovely client, what more could I want right this second!
  2. Food – what we consume – eat healthy – is it good for me or bad for me? If you ask this question to yourself and you say ‘yes to good’ then you’re doing the right thing by your body – did you know that gut-brain axis is linked to mental health – this is a whole other topic for another day. Eat well, eat healthy, keep hydrated and stay away from as much processed foods and take away as you can.
  3. Move every day – every day we need to move, some light and easy, some a work out, lift heavy stuff, work up a heart rate, sweat a little, get online (yes we are doing zoom!) or walk with a friend.
  4. Get out in nature and the sunshine – We need Vitamin D and spring is here! It can be as simple as sitting on your deck, lying on the grass at home or in a park, get your hands in the dirt. Did you know that exposure to some soilborne bacteria (mycobacterium vaccae) can reduce stress responses and anxiety levels as well as affect immune status? I’ve just been weeding my veggie patch!
  5. Turn commercial television off – often! Look to something more positive, doom and gloom is only a small space for me as I’d rather look for something to resolve and work on so the future is brighter.
  6. Have regular check-ups with your chosen health professional – I keep up with regular blood checks and my doctor will always ask about my mental health. I also regularly see a Chiropractor and JC will see Osteo/Physio/Remedial Massage therapists to ensure our bodies are well maintained.
  7. Lastly, yes be kind to others – this is so rewarding, every day I am thinking and acting on doing something kind, whether that be simply a smile or nice words, this is worth every bit of effort I put in.

Walnuts How Good Are They?

They originated in the Mediterranean region and Central Asia and have been part of the human diet for thousands of years. They are rich in omega-3 fats and contain higher amounts of antioxidants than many other foods and are known as a superfood. Now I always thought ‘superfoods’ were something more exotic like ‘the debatable’ wheat grass or pomegranates. Walnuts to me, have been around forever, when we were kids they were fun but a pain to open with the nutcracker but as I learn more about foods, I realise that something I thought was a bit boring, a staple and messy is yet again another example of a wonderful food.

Some of the amazing things about walnuts are;

  • They support immunity and help in lowering the risk of cancer. I have never heard of ellagic acid but it is in rich supply in walnuts. Dr Kristi Funk, a well respected breast cancer surgeon, who has make it her job to prevent breast cancer and Dr William Li (Brain health expert) has stated that ellagic acid (also found in berries) has the power to block carcinogenic action, uncover cancer cells so the immune system can eliminate them.
  • They contain 65% of good fats, 15% protein and very low carbs much of which are fibre.
  • They contain vitamins and minerals such as copper, folic acid, phosphrous, Vitamin B6, Manganese & Vitamin E.
  • They are good for brain health as they contain a significantly high concentration of brain-healthy fat called DHA a type of Omega3 Fatty Acids. Walnuts also contain a number of other neuroprotective compounds, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, and antioxidants, they may support brain health, cognition, and memory.
  • They may increase Longevity due to being high in antioxidants. A study called Predimed, completed in Spain, looked at 7,400 healthy people who are at risk for heart disease. And what they actually found is that eating about one tablespoon of nuts (about 7 walnuts) each day, reduced mortality by 39% compared to people that didn’t eat any nuts.
  • They support detoxification. 3 ways walnuts support our bodies wondrous detoxification pathways are, with the amino acid arginine in walnuts assists the liver to detox ammonia, high glutathione, omega 3 good fats support natural liver cleansing, and lastly Vitamin E can help improve liver health and consequently enhance your body’s detoxifying capabilities.

I love walnuts in salads and we posted onto our website a Beetroot and Walnut Salad some time ago so click here to check it out.

Warning: walnuts are among the eight most allergic foods. Symptoms of a walnut allergy are typically severe and can include allergic shock (anaphylaxis), which can be fatal without treatment. Individuals with a walnut allergy need to avoid these nuts completely.

ALTA Talks Episode 15 Talking with Nicholas Barbousas from OLOS Health

We talked with Nick Barbousas, he is a a Soft Tissue Therapist and the owner of OLOS Health, who provides a unique and supportive process that systematically works to uncover and treat muscular and postural imbalances that can hinder our ability to move with ease – relieving pain and discomfort. With over 27 years of experience Nick has an amazing wealth of knowledge about the human body and we learnt about Rolfing and so much more.

Why have Olive Oil Everyday?

For starters, it is the cornerstone of healthy diets renowned for enhancing longevity, such as the Mediterranean diet, and is a staple among those on paleo, keto, and Atkins diets because it’s a delicious, zero-carb food packed with healthy fats that makes almost any meal more flavourful and deeply satisfying.

Olive oil has also been hailed as a superfood by Harvard Medical School, acclaimed by the Mayo Clinic, lauded by the Yale School of Public Health, and recommended by scores of leading MDs for its numerous health benefits.

Scientific studies have confirmed what many of us in the health and wellness space have known for years…

  • Olive oil lowers bad cholesterol and cuts your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • It may help protect you against cancer, especially cancer of the breast, prostate, and colon.
  • Olive oil also lowers blood pressure and reduces your risk of diabetes.
  • It can be a godsend for arthritis sufferers because it can reduce inflammation and ease joint pain without side effects.
  • If you want to avoid osteoporosis, olive oil should be a must in your diet because it enables the calcium in your food to be better absorbed into your bones.
  • It is also loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols that help regulate your immune system, protect your body against disease, give you more energy, balance your hormones, improve your skin, and lower inflammation throughout your body.
And it tastes great, that is if you are consuming real, high-quality, unadulterated olive oil. To learn what I mean by this, keep reading these top mistakes to avoid when purchasing olive oil…
Mistake #1: Buying Stale Olive Oil Off the Supermarket Shelf 
If you want to enjoy olive oil at its peak flavour and nutritional potency, remember: The fresher, the better. Olive oil, unlike wine, does not get better with age. Olives, after all, are fruit. Just like orange juice, olive oil tastes so much better fresh-squeezed –Locally produced is better in general and to use when fresher (longer Use by Date). In Australia we are lucky to have so many quality brands such as Every Bit Organic, Cobram Estate, Mount Zero and more.

Mistake #2: Unknowingly Buying Fake Olive Oil
The Wall Street Journal has reported, “American grocery stores are awash in cheap, fake ‘extra virgins.’” In an explosive exposé, 60 Minutes has cautioned that you face a “sea of fakes” when you shop for olive oil in stores. And you know what we likely to be no different here in Australia. And with fake Olive Oil there will be chemical derivatives and other inferior ingredients that do nothing for our health.

Mistake #3: Thinking That All Olive Oils Taste Alike 
If you’ve always bought your olive oil in a supermarket, odds are you’ve not quite experienced the extraordinary diversity of flavours that await you among the finest artisanal olive oils. You see, ordinary mass-market olive oils sell in such huge volume that likely they combine inferior olives from many large “factory farms” and different growing regions, with little regard for flavour compatibility. This typically results in a dull, lifeless flavour profile.

Mistake #4: All Olive Oils are the same (not talking about brands)

Premium extra virgin olive oil – is the finest with the lowest acidity and best used in uncooked dishes to appreciate flavour, colour and aroma

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – can vary in colour from pale yellow to green, low acidity is best to used uncooked
  • Virgin Olive Oil – slightly higher acidity generally though good to cook with
  • Pure Olive Oil – lower quality and is processed and refined using heat, chemicals or filtration (so I used butter, avocado oil or coconut oil instead) so are best for cooking
  • Light Olive Oil – not light in calories it is lighter in colour and flavour – can be used in baking because doesn’t have much flavour – again I’d just use butter!
  • So, where can you find such oils? Well you know us, I check every label because whilst I’ll buy Australian & Organic at my local Organic Store, I always like to check plus we only buy EVOO as I’d rather cook with other oils/fats like Avocado, Coconut or Butter/Ghee.


Sources: From Ben Greenfield Blog 20/7/21 & Liver Better Life by Dr Paul Gow