How to put the spring back in your step

Spring is just around the corner and that means a lot more outdoors time. However, if you suffer from knee pain, arthritis, low back pain or other aches and pains that keep you from being active, there are things you can easily do to become more active.

Change How You Sit
A lot of aches and pains relate to how we use our bodies in the day. Many back pain sufferers actually begin having back pain, because they sit too much. Here are some simple solutions to help you feel better:

  • Stand up and move around every 30 minutes, even for 1-2 minutes.
  • At work, vary your activities. Don’t sit for 4 hours in a row for example. Vary your activities so you can be walking, standing, sitting, squatting or other positions. The key is to mix up your positions and move throughout the day.
  • When you do work or play at a computer, make sure you have good posture. A good rule of thumb is that the top 1/3rd of the screen should be at eye level, your shoulders comfortably back and the keyboard / mouse a little lower than the height of your elbow.

Get active
Being active, doesn’t mean you have to go out and run a mile. Make it simple and something you enjoy, otherwise you won’t stick with it. Many studies show that to improve heart health and overall conditioning, you just need 30 minutes of walking a day. This can significantly make you healthier and stronger.

  • Start with an easy goal. If you tire after 10 minutes of walking, start with that, then slowly increase your time each day until you get to 20-30 minutes.
  • Make time for activity. In today’s busy world, if it doesn’t get planned, it won’t happen. Therefore, make a time where you can get out everyday or at least 3-4 days a week.
  • Do an activity you enjoy. For some, this is a group class and for others it is a sport. Whatever it is for you, !find local activities or just get out and walk.

Eat, Sleep, Drink
You are what you eat and do, so if you don’t feel well or are in pain, you can feel better rather quickly by simply eating well, drinking enough water and getting enough rest. This is different for everybody, but the bottom line is get enough vegetables and fruits in your diet, limit the intake of fried or processed foods and layoff the sugars. Did you know that a can of soda actually contains about 6 packets of sugar! It’s OK to treat yourself to goodies now and again, but make smart choices overall about what you eat.

Get enough rest! Sleep is the time your body needs to rebuild after using it all day. Instead of staying up late to watch TV or be on the computer, tape your favorite show and do something different before bed. More and more studies are showing that working on electronics before bed actually makes you sleep worse.

Drink enough water. Your body is almost 80% water, and you expel a lot through breathing and going to the bathroom. Make sure you replace this fluid. It is needed to make everything in your body run. Many common aches and pains, such as headaches, are attributed to being chronically dehydrated. You don’t have to be thirsty to be dehydrated. When you slurp down a soda, it quenches your thirst, but can actually make you lose water in your body.

Get help if you are in pain
If you suffer from low back pain, neck pain, headaches, joint pain or you aren’t happy with the way you feel, physical therapy can help. Our physical therapists have years of training in analyzing and treating pain with movement. Not only do we quickly relieve your pain, but we improve your strength, movement and ability to do the activities you love. We also teach you how to maintain your results and keep progressing toward your goals.

Where Your Pain Is Coming From

If you are suffering from aches or pains, here are some important questions that can help you determine the root cause of the problem:

How long have you had your pain?

For example, acute low back pain may be from a muscle strain. Chronic low back pain is typical of restricted joints, tight muscle tissue and weakened muscle strength.

How is the pain? Achy, sharp, tingling?

Achy pain is typically a problem with movement due to poor functioning of muscles and joints. Sharp pain can be a muscle spasm or even an impingement of a joint. Tingling sensations and pain can be irritation to a nerve either from compression or inflammation of that area.

Does the pain impact a specific area or does it spread over a wide area?

Wide-spread pain is typical of muscle strain, inflammation and weakness. People will experience this type of pain with prolonged standing, walking and other physical activities. This happens because the muscles cannot support the spine or hips and thus become strained. Specific pain to a part of the leg or arm could be nerve related. In either of these cases, it is important for you to seek out the right professional help.

Is the pain worse at a specific time of day?

Achy, stiff pain in the morning can be due to muscle and tissue stiffness. Severe radiating pain to the lower back, buttock and leg with bending in the morning is an indicator of a potential herniated disc. Wide-spread pain is typically related to the lack of flexibility and guarding in the spine. Whereas pain towards the end of the day after moving and activity is an indicator of spinal muscle weakness as the muscles fatigue during the day.

Do you have difficulty with prolonged sitting, standing or walking?

Pain with prolonged standing and walking is typical of muscle fatigue in the spine as well as the hip muscles. It is typical to complain of pain to the low back and buttocks as your muscles cannot tolerate the activity. Most people with low back pain have a lot of weakness with these muscles.

How we can help

The good news is that with the right physical therapy treatment, you can relieve your pain quickly and prevent it from returning. The fastest way to relieve your pain is to find the true source and treat it. Our physical therapists have years of medical training, specializing in muscles, joints and nerves, to determine where your pain is coming from. With specialized hands-on therapy we can relieve your pain, get you stronger and put you on the right path to return to your favorite activities.

How to Stop Suffering with Arthritis Pain

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. In fact over 65 million people in the US have osteoarthritis to some degree. Arthritis is characterized by progressive wearing away of the cartilage in a joint. This wear and tear over time leads to bone spurs, poor tissue strength, inflammation, pain, weakness of surrounding muscles and poor joint movement.

Symptoms of arthritis:

  • Pain with activities
  • Limited range of motion and stiffness
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Poor balance and walking abilities
  • Reports of on and off pain
  • Loss of function with normal tasks of cleaning, dressing, lifting groceries, working, etc.

What Can Be Done to Help Arthritis Pain?

A lot can be done to help arthritis pain and one of the main things to focus on is preventing the flareup from occurring in the first place. This begins with knowing a few key concepts that can lead you to a healthier and happier life by dealing with your osteoarthritis:

  • Protect your joints. For example, don’t lift heavy objects in one hand
  • Make sure you stretch often to keep proper joint motion
  • Do strengthening exercises to add muscle support to the affected joint
  • Drink plenty of water to hydrate your tissues
  • Avoid inflammatory foods such as fried foods, sugary foods, soda, enriched processed foods, etc.
  • Seek help before you start popping pain pills, our physical therapists can show you how to reduce your pain

Physical therapy is one of the ideal treatments for helping people with arthritis pain. Not only do we help to maximize your joint movement, but we improve your strength and show you what to do to maintain your joint health. For questions on how we can help you with your arthritis pain, call us today!

Feeling Stiff, Achy? Physical Therapy Helps

Our bodies are made to move and rely on a finely-tuned balance of proper posture, strength, coordination, chemical levels, blood pressure and more. When you don’t move on a consistent basis or experience changes to your health, you may start to feel stiff and achy, especially in the mornings. Poor health, injury, a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition are also often to blame for the constant nagging aches or pains you may be experiencing.

Why do I ache in the morning?

Your tissues get irritated in the day and build up a chronic layer of inflammation. This may be subtle enough where you don’t notice it too much at the end of the day. However, overnight the inflammation thickens and makes your tissues inelastic, while also irritating the affected area further. The result is aching stiff joints or muscles in the morning, until you get moving. Then the inflammation becomes more liquid like, allowing the tissues to move better, thus hurting less.

If this cycle continues to happen, a chronic deterioration of the tissues can happen, often leading to severe problems down the road. Therefore, it is important to address your constant aches and pains, before they become severe.

Here are some tips for relieving common aches and pains

  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. If not, your tissues can become drier, which slows down normal chemical processes in your body.
  • Get enough sleep. Too little sleep drastically affects the hormones in your body that are needed to maintain your delicate body chemistry. This can affect your muscles and other tissues normal functioning.
  • Exercise regularly. This makes your body more efficient at pumping blood around the body and removing normal metabolic wastes that are produced.
  • Improve your posture. If you sit at a desk or computer, get up every 30 minutes for a few seconds stretch. Move around and stand up to be straighter.
  • Eat bright colored fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables with bright colors often have a higher concentration of antioxidants and vitamins that assist the body in repairing itself and normal functions.
  • Get a physical therapy consultation. If you have aches and pains that aren’t going away, or if you have a recent or past injury that keeps you from doing the things you love to do, you need to seek out the advice of our expert physical therapists. Physical therapy can really help you quickly relieve aches and pains for the long-term.

The Benefits of Stretching

As you age, your muscle tissue actually dries out a little, tightening. This causes a loss of range of motion in your joints and tissues. In addition to the loss of range of motion, it can really limit your active lifestyles and hinder day-to-day, normal motions. Tasks that used to be simple, such as dressing or squatting down to tie your shoes, now become extremely difficult. A regular stretching program helps lengthen your muscles and makes daily living activities much easier.

Everyone can learn to stretch, regardless of age or flexibility. Stretching should be a part of your daily routine, whether you exercise or not. It does not have to involve a huge amount of time, but stretching can end up giving you huge results!

Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect from a regular stretching program:

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased range of movement in the joints
  • Enhanced muscular coordination
  • Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
  • Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)

Stretching is a natural part of what we do on a daily basis. You might notice that if you have been sitting in a particular position for a long time, you stretch unconsciously. It feels good! In addition to that good feeling, a consistent stretching program will produce large gains in flexibility and joint movement. Be kind to your muscles and they will be kind to you!

How to achieve real relief from stress related headaches

Life’s demands create stress and although some stress may be good, too much can cause health problems. Most people equate stress with high blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke. But did you know headaches, dizziness, neck and shoulder pain can be stress-related too?

Chronic headaches, usually accompanied by extreme fatigue are almost always a sign of stress. People literally live on Tylenol and Ibuprofen for years because they constantly have a nagging headache, induced by muscle spasms from the high amount of stress in their life.

The Cause of Stress Related Headaches
Headaches can range from minor nagging pains, to full-blown migraines that knock you off your feet for a day or two. Any headache, whether tremendous pain or not, should be a warning sign you are under a lot of stress. Prolonged stress can result in muscle tension changes, making you feel stiff, achy and painful in the neck or shoulders.

Hormone production also changes with stress. Hormones also make muscles tense up, which can cause a loss of motion, pain and irritate nerves. One may feel pain in the shoulders, neck, upper back and even radiating out to the upper arms.

Most people who are under a great deal of stress complain about having neck and shoulder pain. The most intense pain usually lies directly in the back and upper sides of the neck. The pain then radiates into the shoulder area.

Real Relief
While massage helps to relieve some symptoms, physical therapy goes far beyond to evaluate and treat the root cause of your pain. Muscular tightness may have led to poor joint movement and weakness. Our expert treatments reduce pain with the added benefits of improved motion, posture correction and preventing the problem from reoccurring. Our expert physical therapists also train you in gentle therapeutic exercises to improve the physical changes from prolonged stress.

Regularly shedding your daily tensions through movement, physical therapy and physical activity can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do. Call us today to learn more about eliminating your pain and enjoying life to the fullest

Muscle Stretching for Relieving Neck and Back Pain

Many aches and pains in the neck and back stem from tight muscles. Stretching the tight muscles along the back of your neck, strengthening the muscles in the front of your neck and improving body posture in general, can help to release neck pain. Our experts in physical therapy can help you achieve all of this.

Improving your body posture can start by simply strengthening your abdominal muscles. These help to reduce a forward-head body posture and slumping shoulders that increase back pain and stress on the spine.

In addition to strengthening the abdominal region, strengthening of the pelvic muscles and lower back muscles bring stability to your spine. Furthermore, stretching the muscles of your chest and strengthening the muscles of the middle back can also help to quickly relieve neck pain by improving your posture.

Neck pain can sometimes be caused by tightness along one side of the neck, caused by holding a phone up to your ear or with looking at a screen off to one side. When the shoulder is elevated and the head is tilted, the result is a short upper trapezius (the muscle that extends from your shoulder to your neck) The upper trapezius lifts your shoulders to your ears. Special hands on physical therapy helps to gently stretch out the muscles, improving your motion and reducing your pain.

So before you start taking any medicine for chronic neck or back pain, you might want to analyze your body posture first and talk to your doctor about to physical therapy. Finding tension in your neck or limited range of motion in your spine might be the cause. By correcting it through proper physical therapy we provide you with a simple solution for your neck and back pain.

Try this stretch…

  • In a comfortable sitting position on the floor in a chair, sit tall
  • Gently lean your head to one side, until you feel a gentle stretch
  • Gently stretch your hand towards the floor
  • You should feel the stretch comfortably on the side of your neck
  • Hold the stretch for 15 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side multiple times a day

If you have any questions on performing this stretch correctly, please contact us, or your physician first. If you find yourself in pain, aching, injured or unable to move like you want to, simply give us a call. Our expert physical therapists provide a comprehensive evaluation to find the root cause of your problem, then put together a complete plan that works to get you moving, pain-free again. Call us today to learn more!

How to treat arthritis pain

When it comes to relieving your arthritis aches and pains, you may have more options than you realize. There is a lot you can do to reduce your aches and pains from arthritis while gaining more mobility and function. Arthritis pain and inflammation is what we help our patients day in and day out with. If you want to know how to relieve and reduce the pain of arthritis, try physical therapy first. Patients often experience pain from arthritis because of stiff joints, muscles and other tissues. In addition, muscles become weak, therefore not supporting the arthritic joints. Our customized treatments promote muscle strength, improve range of motion, increase mobility and ease pain. In addition, coupling your physical therapy with the following can help you live life to the fullest and get you back to doing the things you love:

1. Education and self-management
When your physical therapy is over, your therapist will have equipped you with the knowledge and exercises you need to continue progressing on your own.

2. Weight loss
Maintaining your recommended weight or losing weight if you are overweight can lessen your pain by reducing stress on your affected joints. Weight loss specifically helps ease pressure on weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees.

3. Footwear and insoles
If arthritis affects the knee, special footwear and insoles can reduce pain and improve walking.

4. Knee braces
For osteoarthritis with knee instability, a knee brace can reduce pain. In addition, it improves stability and reduces the risk of falling.

5. Heat and cold
Many people find the heat of a warm bath, heat pack or paraffin bath eases arthritis pain. Others find relief in cold packs. Still others prefer alternating the two. Learn more about what can work best for you by talking to our physical therapists.

6. Exercise
Exercise has been proven to help reduce arthritis pain while increasing strength and function. Knowing the right kind of exercises to do is the key. Talking with our physical therapists will point you in the right direction.

If arthritis pain is preventing you from doing all the activities that you love, we can develop a customized treatment plan to reduce your pain and improve your mobility. Call us today to get started!

Why Low Back Pain May Not Go Away

Low back pain is one of the most common aches and pains that causes people to see their physical therapist. Low back pain comes in different levels, from a simple achy, stiff back in the morning, to a severe and debilitating condition. By receiving treatment sooner, you can lessen the long-term damage that may result in your spine.

What causes low back pain? Typically, there are 4 main factors at work here:

  1. Poor spinal and abdominal muscle support
  2. Poor posture and alignment of the spine
  3. Limited movement of the spinal joints
  4. Lack of proper coordination of the spinal muscles

In order for your spine to be healthy and to work properly, you need to have strength, flexibility and coordination. While medications and injections can help to relieve the inflammation caused by a malfunctioning spine, they don’t fix the root cause of the problem.

Physical therapy is the ideal solution to improve spinal strength, coordination and flexibility. Best of all, once your spine is working better, we teach you how to maintain your spinal health so you don’t have to continue to suffer with low back pain. Call us today to discover how we can help you relieve your back pain and get back to doing the activities you love.

What You Eat Can Make You Hurt More

If you are suffering with aches and pains, whether it be low back pain or even headaches, what you eat can make the pain worse. When it comes to aches and pains, we generally don’t think of our food causing us more pain, but it can. When you have pain in your body, it is typically from localized inflammation due to an injury or overuse. This inflammation can be made worse by what you eat.

Here are some foods to limit or avoid if you are in pain or aching:

  • Caffeine- Caffeine in colas and coffee can actually change your pH balance in your body. making you more acidic. This can change your body’s natural chemical processes, increasing your inflammation.
  • Sugar- Increased insulin levels dramatically increase your sensitivity to pain. Even watch fresh fruit juices.
  • Nightshade vegetables- Example, tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant can increase the inflammatory response in your body. Also watch tomato sauces in pasta or pizza.
  • Trans fats and fried foods- These promote inflammation in the body.
  • Aspartame- the artificial sweetener in a lot of sodas can increase sensitivity to pain.

Eating healthy fresh fruits and vegetables as well as drinking plenty of water can help your body get rid of toxins in your body and reduce your inflammation. While this may not eliminate your pain completely, it can certainly help when combined with seeing your physical therapist. If you are suffering with muscle or joint aches and pains, call us today to find out how we can help you relieve your pain and get you back to the activities you love.