Elite Akademy shortlisted for 2016 Optus My Business Awards

Elite Akademy is in the running to take out one of Australia’s top industry awards. We have been shortlisted in the Health and Wellbeing Business of the Year category at the Optus My Business Awards 2016, hosted by My Business, Australia’s longest-running publication tailored to the small business community.

Our shortlisting recognises the entire Elite Akademy team’s passion for providing customers with the best possible physiotherapy care, and a preparedness to innovate and approach problems differently.

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The hidden keys to physical well being

The one big issue for achieving personal health and fitness goals is the one most commonly overlooked: having the right mindset.
It’s important that your mindset is working for you, not against you. Elite athletes know this well, but it applies to all of us.
Through working with and observing elite athletes over many years, I have found there are six key areas that improve mindset, leading to greater physical health and well-being:

1. Welcome obstacles & challenges

Do you see obstacles as an opportunity to increase your fortitude, or an excuse to give up?
All health and fitness regimes will encounter roadblocks. An injury or an illness may stop you for a time. The test is having the fortitude to ease back into your regime when you start feeling better.
Some challenges may require a change of routine – whether you are able to be flexible in these cases comes down to mindset again.
It’s worth remembering that every time you successfully overcome an obstacle, your mindset improves.

2. Embrace effort

A poor mindset may see you falling into the trap of thinking “there is no point to all this” or “it won’t make a difference” or “this is too hard” or “what did I get myself into?” It’s amazing how these negative thoughts can appear when the body requires an effort.
The key to maintaining effort is to keep chipping away. If your task seems overwhelming, b
reak it down into smaller, more achievable lots. Take one step at a time. Remind yourself of how good you will feel later if you make an effort now.

Gym man and woman push-up strength pushup

3. Use positive affirmations

Positive thinking has huge potential to improve mindset, but it’s easy to slip into a cycle of negative thinking unintentionally.
Many elite athletes have had great success using positive affirmations – these are sayings that prop you up and pep you up. For example, an athlete may say: “Each and every day I am a better athlete”.
Telling yourself a positive affirmation in the early morning, and again late in the evening, can be re
markably effective in getting you to think and feel positive – with tangible benefits for physical wellbeing. It could be something as simple as “I am better today than I was yesterday”.

4. Welcome criticism
In your journey toward a healthier and fitter lifestyle, you may come in for criticism – hopefully this is constructive and from someone you respect, such as a physio, personal trainer or exercise partner.
A negative mindset will see you brush it aside, dismiss it, and in some cases totally de-rail your program. A healthy mindset enables you to learn from it, take it on board and improve – you won’t see it as a personal attack and your ego won’t be bruised as a result.

5. Enjoy others’ success

We can either celebrate or feel threatened by others’ success. A healthy mindset will always appreciate and admire our peers’ achievements, and understand that it is no reflection on us. In fact, we can use it for inspiration.

6. Consider meditation

Meditation is a huge topic, and impossible to cover in a few sentences. But for mindset the right meditations can be hugely influential.
The only requirement is an open mind. But as everybody is different, some meditations will be more effective than others. People may be surprised how many elite athletes use meditation to achieve bigger and better things.

Positive change to mind & body takes less time than people think

The pathway to a healthy body and healthy mind requires less time than many people think – in fact it’s possible to create healthy habits in just three minutes a day.
People often equate healthy changes with a massive time commitment, but it’s not always the case.
Healthy physical routines and a strong mindset start with small, manageable timeframes. Research has shown that even taking a small amount of time to work on your mindset or exercise has a powerful effect. We know that certain practices like deep breathing have tangible benefits for well-being, even in small doses.

Likewise, research shows that working out for as little as three minutes at high intensity can have greater impact than longer forms of moderate exercise:

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology conducted a landmark study, demonstrating the benefits of short, high intensity training.

The ABC’s Catalyst program covered the topic last year, showing surprising results from short exercise routines.

The biggest barrier to good health is getting started – once you get over that hump, you can achieve anything.

Woman Stretching
Once you are up and going, there are other little things you can do to keep momentum, in the form of affirmations. Athletes are big on positive affirmations. They are usually simple phrases, such as “each and every day I am a better athlete”, which take no time at all to say.

Repeating these affirmations early in the morning and late at night is powerful, as that is when the mind is most receptive to these messages. It’s such a simple practice but athletes use them because they know the power it has on their mindset.

Change can be easier than you think. Once you get going progress happens quickly, even committing just a couple of minutes a day.

Elite Akademy

This is covered in greater depth in a book I have co-authored with LA-based life coach, Helene Finizio – Natural Healing – Quiet and Calm.

The book has a selection of meditation and exercise guides, recipes to nourish body and soul, tips for goal setting and success, and a 21-day roadmap for positive change. Natural Healing – Quiet & Calm helps people to make the choice to improve the quality of their health and life.

Natural Healing – Quiet & Calm is available on Amazon

Healthy posture , healthy mind? 5 tips for better posture

At Elite Akademy, somewhere around 80-90% of injuries we treat relate to incorrect posture. Every day I see people with bad backs and related injuries caused by poor posture. Sitting posture has become the most important, reflecting our more sedentary lifestyles.

While good posture’s physical benefits have long been understood – such as encouraging stronger backs and better breathing capacity, what if posture can also aid our mental health? Medical studies suggest a strong link that few people are aware of.

A San Francisco University
study found that adopting a more upright, healthy body posture can improve mood and energy levels. The study also found that a slouched or poor body posture can lead to “feelings of depression or decreased energy”.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School – takes it one step further. Her research shows that just adopting high power or low power poses for a period of two minutes has a measured hormonal effect.

Ms Cuddy’s research found that high power poses – good, strong posture – leads to higher testosterone, which is linked with higher confidence levels. High power poses also lower the “stress hormone”, cortisol

The opposite is also true: adopting low power posture leads to lower testosterone levels and higher cortisol. Ms Cuddy claims that only two minutes is enough to make you feel more assertive and confident.

There is no doubt that correcting poor posture is difficult, but it is possible. Consider the following five steps for improving posture:

1. Repetition: It takes approximately 3000 reps of straightening your spine (standing/sitting tall) for this to become automated by the brain. This is what we classify as motor learning. When motor learning occurs then a task becomes automated. For example, golfers try to automate their movements through practice; being a technical sport it takes about 10,000 reps (swings) to automate a golf swing. Standing tall and straightening your spine is not technical. Thus it only requires 3000 reps.
Using 3000 reps as a rule, it means if people do 200 reps per day they will achieve good posture in as little as 15 days.
So how do we achieve 200 reps per day?

2. Cues to remind you to “grow tall”: It’s easy to forget posture, so establish some cues:
Imagine a piece of string pulling you up from your head. We naturally elongate. You are NOT standing to attention. You are simply standing tall with your shoulders relaxed back not pulled back. Tie this cue into some of your daily rituals. For example, every time you check your phone, grow tall before you open the app. Studies have found people check their phone 60-80 times per day. So that means that in a little as 38-50 days people could change their posture. “Growing tall” while checking your inbox can account for another 30-50 reps per day.

3. Team up: Like with exercise, great results can be achieved by having allies on board. You may have a partner, family member, child, friend or colleague who also wants to work on their posture. Together, you can support and remind each other to stand or sit tall: every time you remind someone you remember too.

4. Use your regular walks: If there is a walk people do regularly (walking to the bus stop, train station, car park, coffee shop) then calculate the number of minutes taken to get there. People take approximately 100 steps every minute they walk. If you are conscious of “being tall” during a five minute walk, this would account for 500 reps meaning you can achieve good walking posture in as little as six days. On your walk you may use your reflection in shopfronts and mirrors as more cues.

5. Wearable devices as another cue: Wearable tech such as fitness trackers can become a reminder system. If it turns on/off randomly with movement then it becomes a cue. Using this method alone can help you achieve good posture in about 100 days.

– Kusal Goonewardena, Elite Athlete Sports Physiotherapist & Founder

Five Steps to Prepare Your Sports Medicine Team for a Major Tournament

For major sports tournaments the sports medicine team have to be as prepared as the athletes competing in them.
There are 5 major steps to help you achieve success for your athletes and team you represent.

Step 1
Work out what the teams goal is. Our sports med team goal was “Help Melbourne University win the Australian University Games”.
Whatever decisions we had to make guided us towards our goal. This helped filter out unnecessary work.
It’s important to keep the goal clear, concise and to the point. And most importantly EVERY member in the sports med team should know the goal verbatim.

Step 2
Create a plan of action to achieve your goal.
We created seminars for all of our athletes to help them prepare for the games. What to expect, how to prevent injury and what exercises were most important were some of the things we covered.
We then provided assessments for our athletes who were competing – personalised analysis of each athlete (their bio-mechanical strengths and weaknesses were recorded and made them aware of ways they could improve this).
We then looked at all the teams that were representing Melbourne University and divided up the teams amongst the sports medicine staff.
Each member was in charge of their own precinct.
To deliver success our plan was simple: 1. Be Remarkable 2. Go the extra mile.

Step 3
Put together the best team who can deliver steps 1 and 2.
Important characteristics for your team: they have to be the BEST at what they do. They need to be talented. And if they don’t have the experience yet then they need to have a POSITIVE and ENTHUSIASTIC attitude to learn, work and deliver success alongside their senior sports med staff.

Step 4
Execute your plan.
Day by day before and during the games, keep on track with your overall goal, weekly goals (before the games) and daily goals (during the games)
Review your targets and keep the team accountable. Speaking to everyone  individually and reviewing their role/goals improves accountability. The key here is that other team members can help out, if one team member is falling behind/finding their work load too much or have too many injuries to cover etc.
Once again ‘1. Be Remarkable 2. Go the extra mile.’

Step 5
Enjoy the process. Enjoy the journey. Work hard but enjoy every single moment you are out there. Your athletes are doing their very best and you will help them achieve higher accolades because you are being the best that you can be. Don’t leave anything in the tank…Push yourself, enjoy the moment and celebrate every little win along the way. Whatever happens you have done your very best for your athletes. And that’s all that matters.

Kusal Goonewardena, Elite Athlete Sports Physiotherapist, has been the head of sports medicine at the University of Melbourne since 2008. Melbourne University have finished in the top four best sports universities in Australia every single year. This year Melbourne University won the national championship again, winning back to back in 2012 and 2013. He was in charge of 7 sports medicine staff who helped 440 athletes achieve their best.

Be a Better Practitioner and Be Objective

To get the best results a practitioner must measure what they want to improve in/for their athlete. Being objective means that you measure what YOU see, what YOU feel, and what YOUR tests have shown.

Measure what YOU see, YOU feel, and what YOUR tests have shown.

There are many practitioners who use a ‘pain scale’ but ultimately this only provides for an objective measure on a subjective question. Confusing? To simplify it, the pain score was determined by your athlete. NOT you. You may get a score but this is something your athlete provided you.

So how do we make this more objective? How about we determine what objective ‘tests’ cannot be done due to the pain. The following are good suggestions:

1. Can walk only 250 metres before having to stop for 5 min before being able to walk again.
2. Can sleep for 2 hours and have to wakeup and walk 4 min before being able to sleep again.
3. Symmetrical running gait at 50% running speed for 5 min. Asymmetrical running pattern at 75% running speed for 1 min.

All the tests above can be re-produced, re-assessed, re-measured.

If you can be objective then you are providing your athlete with a TRUE blueprint of what your assessment, analysis and diagnosis of their problem is.

Your objectivity then leads you to provide them with a higher level of care. Why?
When they ask you, “How am I doing doc?” You can confidently answer, “You are doing well because 1. your test ‘A’ has improved by 20% 2. your test ‘B’ has improved by 60% and this means that overall you have improved by an average of 40%”

Therefore being objective enlightens your athletes, makes you a better clinician and creates a pathway that helps them understand your treatment. This leads to trust, which leads to an increase in care and this leads to better results.