7 Simple Things to Help With Healing

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.

 

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Benefits of Traction for Spinal Pain

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.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

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.

 

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Proper Jump/Landing Technique

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.

Incorrect Form
Correct Form

Posture Tips

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.

Here are ergonomic tips for sitting at your desk and computer at work:
 
1) Always sit back in your chair with your back supported.

2) Have computer monitor at eye level.

3) Place mouse and keyboard low so that your forearms can remain on the armrests.

4) Scoot your seat close to your desk to avoid slouching forward.

5) Have seat height at a level where feet are flat on the floor.

Recovering From an Injured Rotator Cuff

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.

 

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Squat and Lifting Form

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.   

 

Here are tips to in order to perform a squat with appropriate trunk control and posture:

1) Start with feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed straight forward.
 
2) While slowly bending at the knees and hips, stick the buttocks out as you would when you sit down in a chair.
 
3) Back should stay straight (neutral position), and your chest will naturally move forward as the buttocks move back.
 
4) Knees should stay behind the toes (if knees are coming past the toes, stick the buttocks out further).
 
5) Knees should remain shoulder width apart, and should not "cave in".
 
6) Keep your weight through your heels.
 
7) Remember to contract the abdominals throughout the motion.
 
On the right is an example on how to properly perform a squat, and below are incorrect/correct examples of how to properly squat to lift or pick up objects.
Incorrect Lifting Technique
Correct Lifting Technique
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