Ever been lectured about the importance of stretching before physical activity? I know I have!
But what we may not realize or understand is how important it is not only before strenuous activity but also just making it a daily routine.
Stretching helps with keeping the muscles strong and flexible. We need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles and become tight and the chance of injury is increased.
Stretching before exercise: Stretching helps prepare your body for the exercise it's about to get so you won’t get injured. Make your pre-exercise stretching DYNAMIC.
Stretching after exercise: Reduces muscle fatigue along with helping your muscles recover faster after a difficult workout.
Benefits of stretching as a morning routine:
• Improve your energy levels
• Reduce soreness and increase blood circulation – Helps your muscles to relax and improves blood flow
• Relieve stress – Improving blood flow like I mentioned above can make you feel more at ease
• Enhance your flexibility - Increasing flexibility helps prevent injuries
• Improve your posture – Stretching your muscles in the lower back, shoulders and chest, can keep your back healthy and improve your posture
It may seem overwhelming to see all of this information and truly understand why stretching is important but if you just get into a routine, it may be hard at first, but it will pay off in the end to not get injured and feel better all around.
By: Rebecca Popma
Most of us have heard of shin splints, but I’ll bet than many don’t really understand what shin splints are. Typically if a patient describes pain in the front of the lower leg, it will be diagnosed as shin splints. Let’s talk about the causes and treatment of this condition.
This condition is common in people who do a lot of running, as well as with people who have jobs that involve excessive standing or walking. The pain is typically felt in the front of the lower leg bone, the tibia. It is often described as a throbbing pain, or a deep ache, but also can produce sharp pain as well. The interesting thing is that although the pain feels as if it is coming from the bone, it is typically produced by the soft tissues that attach to the bone. This includes the tibialis posterior muscle, which is attached on the posterior (back) side of the tibia bone. This muscle is active whenever we are bearing weight on our leg. It helps to keep the arch of our foot from collapsing during weight bearing. People who have flat feet/arches would be more prone to developing this condition, as the tibialis posterior muscle will work hard to try to support the collapsing arch.
In terms of treatment, there are a couple of things to consider. First, a precautionary X-Ray or bone scan is often a good idea, as repetitive stress on the shin (especially in long distance runners) can lead to a stress fracture. If this is ruled out, then we treat the soft tissue problem. As always, we want to identify the cause of the problem, not just treat the symptoms. Patients can take anti-inflammatory meds, or ice the painful area, but these will only provide temporary relief and will not address the cause of the pain. We first need to look at the lower leg and foot alignment to see if an orthotic is indicated. If a patient has poor foot structure (especially flat arches, but sometimes excessively high arches), a shoe insert to support the arch can relieve stress from the lower leg muscles (tibialis posterior) that have to work excessively to support the arch. We also want to make sure that the patient has full range of motion and flexibility in the lower leg/ankle/foot region, as well as good muscle strength in the lower leg/ankle/foot region. A gait evaluation and possibly a running assessment are also indicated to identify abnormalities which may be contributing to the condition.
If you have been dealing with shin pain, please give us a call so that we can help you! This can be a difficult condition to treat, but it is treatable, especially with the help of an excellent physical therapist.
By: Mason Riegel, PT
Meet the Therapist: Steve Bartz, PT
Steve founded Hudsonville Physical Therapy in 1994 and has been practicing physical therapy for 33 years, after graduating from Grand Valley State University. We asked him a few questions so you can get to know him better!
1. What is your favorite diagnosis to treat, and why?
I like treating complex patients with low back or neck problems, because we can often achieve dramatic improvements in a short period of time with physical therapy.
2. What is the McKenzie approach you sometimes use?
The McKenzie approach aims to diagnose people based on their movement preferences and symptoms. It’s a disciplined approach to try to identify types of tissue dysfunctions that would affect someone’s pain and limit his or her function. It’s becoming more widely used in rehabilitation because it is effective and efficient.
3. What is your vision for Hudsonville Physical Therapy?
My vision is for our clinic to provide the top quality, most personalized care to each individual we see. I want Hudsonville Physical Therapy to be a warm and friendly environment, especially with the changes in healthcare delivery that we see. Care is becoming more institutionalized, formalized, and less personalized. I want Hudsonville PT to be the best in the world at delivering highly effective, individualized, and caring physical therapy.
4. What are some of your hobbies or favorite activities to do outside of work?
My favorite hobby is spending time with my family, including my two new twin grandchildren. Outside of work you can find me hiking, biking, hunting, and backpacking – and running, although I’m not sure I actually like it!
Steve Bartz, PT