The following are 7 easy ways you can aid in your body's healing and recovery from injury,
or overall promotion of better health and wellness.
1. Drink More Water - Water protects body organs and tissues, lessens the burden on kidney and liver by assisting with waste removal, bolsters immunity, and helps lubricate joints. It also plays a major transport role, delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells that need it throughout the body. A simple formula to follow is drink 1/2 of your weight in ounces. For example, a 150-pound person should drink at least 75 ounces of water.
2. Sleep - Sleep deprivation and quality of sleep can lead to many serious physical and mental disorders, as well as delay the body's ability to heal. Research studies have shown that adults should get from 6-8 hours of quality sleep a night.
3. Exercise Routinely - Exercise can positively impact, and even prevent, many different disease states such as high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, pain and even depression? Energy levels are also higher in those who exercise regularly. You should perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day.
4. Be Positive - Your outlook on your health and wellness can have a major impact on healing and recovery time. Did you know if you have more stress, anxiety and negativity about your pain, you have an increased likelihood of having chronic pain? Having a positive outlook and visualizing healing, however, can help you heal faster and more completely.
5. Manage Stress - Your perception of stress and how to manage it can play a huge role in your health. Sometimes, negative stress can work against the body and impair the healing rate. Chronic disease states also thrive when people let stress run their lives. This leads to poor healing. You can control this response though. First, determine which stress is under your control and which is not. Then, try to modify the stressors that can be changed. For the stressful events or situations that cannot be changed, it helps to modify your perception of that stress. Understand that it's normal and okay. Stay calm and positive. There are several techniques to managing stress such as attitude toward stress: relaxation techniques, meditation, deep breathing, and stress education.
6. Remove Common Allergens - Removing the common allergens and decreasing your body's inflammation can fix this. The common foods to avoid are Wheat/ Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Sugar/Artificial Sugars, Peanuts, Soy, Corn, Fish, and Shellfish. Eliminating these foods can heal a leaky gut, decrease systemic inflammation and improve your ability to absorb nutrients. This will help you lose weight, improve your sleep and ultimately your energy, improve skin and
decrease chronic pain.
7. Add Nutrient Dense Foods to Your Diet - It's not the old food pyramid with grains, dairy and meat. It's simple. Eat nutrient dense foods. Nutrient Density is defined as the nutritional quality of the food divided by is caloric content. Fried foods and deserts usually have the lowest nutrient density. Nutrient dense foods that should be added include leafy greens (spinach and kale) and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (colors of the rainbow). These can allow your body to get the most nutrition per calorie in your diet.
Below is the educational handout that Modern PT has created for its patients.
A common misconception with exercise today involves “core strengthening”. Many people believe core exercises target the 6-pack abdominal muscles, so are constantly performing abdominal crunches. However, they do not realize there are layers of deeper muscles that assist in stabilizing the spine and controlling how each joint (vertebrae) move on the next. The larger, more superficial muscles do not provide this type of spinal control.
When healthy, there are specific muscles that automatically contract to protect your spine. If you have back pain, this normal pattern is disrupted, and the muscles either contract late or not at all. This lack of control puts more stress on structures in your spine, such as joints, discs, and nerves. Learning how to stabilize your “inner core” muscles can help control spine movement and reduce your pain, in addition to decreasing the sensitivity of your painful back. For those with a new onset of back pain, the inner core stability training can help to prevent further injury.
Once you have become proficient in utilizing the inner core muscles, you should be appropriate to advance to more flexibility and “outer core” training, which involves the more superficial muscles. It is still important that you first activate the inner core muscles when performing the more traditional core strengthening exercises, such as pilates and yoga. If these exercises are not done correctly, they can cause or increase back pain.
We have attached a copy of our patient handouts, which involve the education and instruction of how to activate particular muscles that stabilize the back.
Approximately 10 million sports-related injuries occur each year world wide. Stretching is a very common activity used for avoiding injuries. Can stretching really help in injury prevention? And
does it have any affect on athletic performance?
Little has been shown through research that stretching before or after activity provides any reduction in muscle soreness. It has actually been proven that being "too flexible" can allow someone to stretch without feeling pain. If this is the case and you cannot feel pain or discomfort, your body will not know when to stop pushing itself and can lead to injury. One study has revealed that athletes who are the least or most flexible are 2.5 times more likely to experience injury. Therefore, it is better to be moderately flexible.
A proper warm up has proven to be more beneficial than stretching for activity. The idea with a "warm up" is to increase body temperature, which increases the temperature of the muscles and allows the muscles to contract with greater force; thus, increasing power and strength. Slowing creating more movement in the muscles also helps to open blood vessels and allows blood to flow more freely throughout the body. This will reduce strain to the heart. With an increase in blood temperature, blood cells hold less oxygen, which allows the muscles to use more oxygen and increases endurance.
Unless you are participating in an activity or sport that requires greater range of motion and flexibility, such as gymnastics, figure skating, or snowboarding/skiing, stretching is less important. Over-stretching can cause the muscles to be less responsive and possibly weaken the muscle up to 30 minutes. It is actually more beneficial to physically "warm up" the body, which will improve the body's perform in terms of power, strength, and endurance.
Here is a great recipe for making your own gel pack to ice injuries at home. The gel packs are more beneficial than ice cubes in a bag, where it will easily conform to different regions of the body.
3 cups of water
1 cup of rubbing alcohol
1. Mix, then seal in a freezer bag, then encase in a second bag
2. Place in freezer
3. Note: The more alcohol you use, the softer the pack will be, making it more gentle on injuries than an ice pack
While healthy habits can be beneficial, too much of a good thing can also be harmful. In terms of exercise, if you over do it, you can cause yourself to burn out, hurt your performance, or possibly get yourself injured. The following are helpful tips that help you identify if you are overtraining:
1. Exercise leaves you exhausted instead of energized
2. You get sick easily (or it takes forever to get over a cold)
3. You have the blues
4. You are unable to sleep or can't get enough sleep
5. You have "heavy" legs
6. You have a short fuse
7. You're regularly sore for days at a time
If are exercising vigorously more than four times a week and you have any of these signs, it's advisable to cut back on the intensity, frequency and/or duration of your workouts. Swap an hour run for 30 minutes of easy yoga or trade that high-intensity boot camp for a long walk with your dog. While it might seem like you're taking time off from your fitness and weight-loss goals, you're actually doing the opposite: You're making yourself stronger by giving your body the rest that it's (subtly) asking for!
A common stretch to warm up or cool down from a workout is the hamstring stretch. However, this stretch is often done incorrectly where an individual will reach to touch their toes with the knee straight and the toes pulled up. This position causes a stretch of the sciatic nerve and you may notice a "burning" sensation in the back of your knee or lower leg. In order to isolate the hamstring muscle without pulling on the nerve, it is important that you maintain a slight bend in the knee with the foot relaxed or toes pointing downward. This should create a more local stretch in the muscle belly of the hamstring (mid section of the back of the thigh) without causing any sensation into the upper or lower leg. Below are pictures of the difference between a correct and incorrect stretch.
If you are not mentally ready to start exercising, it can be very difficult to stay consistent with your program. Here are some helpful tips that can help get your mind ready for exercise:
1. Set Realistic Expectations
Prior to starting a new workout, set a goal for youself. Are you wanting to achieve weight loss, toning, or
maintenance? Try to stick to one small physical goal, and keep a list of objectives. It is much easier to obtain goals that are more reasonable. Then, you may advance to more difficult objectives.
2. Find a Fitness Buddy
It has been shown that 8 out of 10 people possess the same healthy resolution to get in shape, so it should not be difficult to find a friend to work out with you. Studies show that when you work out with a fitness partner, you are more motivated to maintain your workout routine. Whether you are simply having fun together, or feeling more competitive and pushing yourself to the limit, having a friend by your side proves beneficial.
3. It Does Not Matter What You Do...
...just do something! It does not matter if you cannot afford an expesive gym membership. Exercise does not have to be formal. For example, run up/down your stairs 10 times, take your dog outside for a job, or even a quick jaunt around the neighborhood. Anything that makes your heart beat faster and your body use oxygen more rapidly is a form of cardiovascular exercise.
4. Eat Healthy
In order to become physically fit, working out is half the battle. You must eat a healthy diet to maintain a good
fitness program. If you can afford it, consult a dietician for nutritional advice. Remember, even though you may work out consistently, if you do not offer your body enough nourishment, all of your hard work will be for naught.
5. Have Fun!
You are not alone! There are millions of others who want to exercise on a regular basis, but find it difficult to
stay motivated or interested. So, do things that you enjoy. For example, yoga is a wonderful way to cleanse your mind and become fit at the same time. Or play basketball and forget that you are actually exercising.
Back and neck pain is a condition that many people experience at one point in their life. Spinal pain can be severe enough to cause pain radiating into the arms or legs due to irritation of the spinal nerve roots. There are many effective treatment options to help alleviate these symptoms, such as traction. The purpose of traction is to provide decompression to the discs, joints, and/or nerve roots in the spine. This unloading can alleviate pressure on the painful structures, which can then reduce pain, improve blood flow, and enhance healing.
There are many forms of traction, with the most common being mechanical traction (as seen in the picture). This type of traction can be provided at a health care facility, such as a physical
therapy clinic. Your physical therapist may also perform a manual form of traction to the spine, which can provide similar benefits of pain relief. Another option is a home traction unit, which is
more convenient for those who cannot attend physical therapy on a consistent basis. These devices can
potentially be obtained at your physical therapy clinic, or purchased in stores.
Remember, it is important to consult with your primary care physician and/or physical therapist before beginning any traction to determine if you are an ideal candidate for this form of treatment.
It's estimated that as many as 75% of us will have some form of back or neck pain at some point in our lifetime. The good news is that most of us will recover without the need for surgery.
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is one cause of back and neck pain. The term disease sounds daunting, however DDD is a result of the natural aging
process of the spine. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a type of spinal arthritis.
The spine is made up of 33 vertebrae. Between each of these vertebrae is a rubbery piece of cartilage called an
"intervertebral disc." Imagine the disc as a tire, with gelatin filling the hole in the tire. The tire is called the "annulus," and the gelatin is called the "nucleus." When we're young (under 30 years of age), the disc is made mostly of gelatin. As we age, and sometimes with injury or excessive wear and tear, we start to lose some of that gelatin, and the volume of the disc decreases, resulting in less space between the vertebrae. The disc becomes flatter and less flexible, leaving less space between each set of vertebrae. Sometimes bone spurs form in response to this degeneration of the disc, making the spine stiff. When the rough surfaces of the vertebral joints rub together, pain and inflammation may result. Nerves may become irritated or compressed.
Disc degeneration might occur throughout several regions of the spine, or it might be limited to one disc.
When it's part of the natural aging process, the degeneration does not always lead to pain. For some people, however, it can cause a great deal of pain and disability.
You are more likely to develop DDD if you: 1) smoke, 2) are obese, 3) do heavy physical work, and 4) don't get very much exercise.
A common mechanism of leg injuries for young athletes can be due to improper landing when jumping. The most frequent error includes collapsing at the knees upon landing, known as valgus. This has been shown as an important predictor of non-contact ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury risk in the knee. Female athletes are more commonly predisposed to this type of injury, as opposed to males. Ankle injuries can often occur with improper landing. This is often due to pronation (or collapsing) at the feet upon landing.
Some common dysfunctions that result in improper landing can be poor core control or weakness in the hip stabilizers (gluteus medius muscle). Here are specific reminders to keep in mind to help prevent injury when jumping and landing:
1) Contract the trunk stabilizers by gently pulling the belly button up and in towards the shoulder blades.
2) Keep the hips behind your feet.
3) Do not let your knees fall ahead of your toes or cave in towards each other.
4) Keep feet shoulder width apart to maintain good base of support for balance.
5) Land softly on the balls of the feet to help absorb the force of the landing.
Posture is an important aspect of our overall health. Incorrect posture can lead to several issues, such as back/neck pain, headaches, increased stress, muscle spasms, and joint stiffness. Below are tips for proper posture:
1) Avoid forward head: perform a small chin tuck by making yourself taller from the back of the head to activate muscles that stabilize your neck.
2) Do not shrug your shoulders: keep the shoulders relaxed, slightly down and back to give the upper back more stability.
3) Think chest up: this will assist with preventing the shoulders from slouching forward.
4) Belly button in: gently attempt to pull the belly button up and in towards your shoulder blades, which helps to activate your inner core stabilizing muscles.
5) C Curve in low back: pull your vertebra (bones) in the low back forwards to create a small curve in the lumbar spine (imagine a cable cord pulling your belly button forward).
6) Knees slightly bent and facing forward: avoid "locking" the knees straight, and do not let them cave in together.
7) Feet shoulder width apart: this will help create balance and a solid base of support throughout the body.
Rotator cuff injuries are a very common shoulder problem that can be caused by a number of factors, and affects people of all ages. The rotator cuff is actually made up of 4 muscles and their associated tendons. The purpose of the 'cuff' is to allow for stability of the shoulder throughout its range of motion, making it a very complex and crucially important set of muscles for a lot of physical activity.
The linked article below provides education on the proper treatment strategies for rotator cuff injuries. It also
discusses the importance and benefits of physical therapy, which can help reduce pain, while also increasing strength and range of motion.
The article also gives goes specific exercises to help with increasing rotator cuff strength and scapular stability.
It also provides information on what exercises to avoid. It's important to consult with your physician or physical therapist concerning what exercises are appropriate for you to perform on your own.
Here at Modern PT, we treat a lot of patients with low back pain. Commonly, this type of injury can be caused from poor body mechanics with bending or lifting. The squat is a safe way to bend and lift items. Proper form with the squat is essential for protecting the low back from injury as well as allowing healing following an injury.