The holiday season seems to be one of the busiest times of the year. Although it is filled with lots of great things – like Christmas, time with family and friends, and fresh start to a new year, it can become a stressful time as well! Physical and psychological stress, as well as lack of sleep, can take a toll on you and make you more susceptible to injury and sickness. Here are four tips aimed to keep the holiday stress in check this year so you can focus on what’s important!
1. Plan ahead – cooking, shopping, etc. If it’s stressful for you to go to the mall on weekends when it’s crowded, try to stay organized and plan your schedule to go on a weekday. Do your Christmas grocery shopping before the week of Christmas. Little steps like these can help you feel prepared!
2. Don’t overdo it – don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself (hosting, decorating, overcommitting to Christmas parties, etc). If decorating brings you joy, that’s wonderful, but don’t feel pressured to partake in every part of the season. Remember what is important to you and celebrate that in your own way!
3. Exercise – try to move 20 minutes each day – maybe for you that means mall walking or doing some exercises or yoga at home. 20 minutes is only 1% of your day - try to make time for this and see how it relieves stress in the other 99% of your day, including improving your quality of sleep.
4. Take time to be reflect and be thankful – write down a few things every day that make you feel grateful. Sometimes a thankful mindset makes all the difference!
If you are dealing with a new injury or chronic pain, give us a call and see if we can help. Some injuries and conditions heal on their own, and some need expert guidance, hands on treatment, and a program you can follow. Let us know if we can help and have a blessed holiday season!
By: Lisa Pfotenhauer, ACSM Cert. Exercise Physiologist
J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Jan (1):20-5. Effect of Physical and Academic Stress on Illness and Injury in Division 1 College Football Players (Mann, Bryant, Johnstone, Ivey, Sayers, 201)
How stress affects your health. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress (2019)
Vuori I, Urponen H, Hasan J, Partinen M. Epidemiology of exercise effects on sleep. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica. Supplementum. 1988 ;574:3-7.
Winters in Michigan can be long, beautiful at times, cold, and sometimes very snowy and icy!
Every year around 1 million Americans are injured from a fall due to slipping on ice or snow. There is potential for this type of incident during the winter whether you’re healthy or already injured or frail. We see lots of people during the winter months from falls in driveways, sidewalks, or parking lots. These types of falls can cause a range of injuries, like muscle sprains, wrist, hip, and shin fractures, back and knee injuries, and more. We want to give you a few tips for when you do have to go out in poor conditions, to prevent falls:
We hope these tips help you! Remember, if conditions are poor and you do not feel comfortable going on in the snow and ice, put your safety first and stay in or ask a friend to help you safely get where you need to be.
When will I get better? How long will this take? Why does it hurt so much, and it’s not better yet?
We hear these questions all the time in physical therapy. After surgery or an injury, your body is trying to heal itself through regular and predictable stages. Unfortunately, we cannot rush through the stages by just trying harder. You certainly can slow down the recovery by doing too much or too little during each stage.
For example, during the early phase of an injury or after surgery, your body goes through an inflammatory phase which is a natural reaction to the injury. By simply exercising “harder”, you can further aggravate this inflammatory process. By doing nothing and just lying around for weeks on end, your body will also stiffen up, ultimately causing loss of range of motion to be able to perform your activities.
There is a balance between how hard and how easy to exercise during your recovery time. We are typically trying to gradually make gains with range of motion and then strength as you work through your rehabilitation. You will have ups and downs, plateaus, and feelings of frustration when things don’t progress smoothly or at a regular rate. Remember, this is not unusual. We do expect our patients to make regular progress on a weekly or biweekly basis. Patience is the key!
Also, ask yourself if you are doing everything as instructed by your therapist. If you are negligent in performing your home exercise program, you cannot expect to see the same results as if you were faithful in performing the exercises. Probably the biggest obstacle in a person’s recovery is their lack of adherence to their home program.
So be faithful about doing your exercises, doing them properly and regularly!
Fall is here! And so is the rain and the colder temperatures!
It is easy to curl up inside and be inactive during the colder months (which is a lot of the year here in Michigan), but you will feel much better – healthier, stronger, and happier – if you stay active this fall.
Here are five good exercises with which to start. You can do all of these from the comfort of your home! Warm up your muscles first with 30 seconds of jumping jacks or 2 sets of stairs, and if you experience pain with any particular exercise, do not continue with that exercise.
1.) 2 sets of 10 Sit-to-stands in a chair (or couch if you want to make it more challenging)
2.) 2 sets of 10 Push-ups – if you can’t perform 15 full push-ups, try them from your knees or against a stationary countertop/table. The lower the surface, the more challenging!
3.) 2 sets of 10 Glute-bridges – to make it harder, do 10 single leg bridges on both sides
4.) 10 Bird-dogs on each side (lifting opposite arm and leg
5.) 30 second High-plank hold (from your hands)
Cool down with one minute of deep breathing lying down.
Try to do a workout like this one 2-3x per week to build strength and stability. When adding in new exercises, aim for exercises that work large muscle groups, and if you have any questions about exercises you're trying, or experience any pain, feel free to call us to schedule a free consultation: 616-662-0990.
Five years ago, when someone sprained their ankle, what did everyone tell them to do? RICE! Rest, ice, compression, and elevation!
Some of the ideas behind the old acronym for acute injuries remain the same, but RICE was often taken too far. Individuals hindered their recovery by resting the injured body part too long. Because of this, RICE has been replaced by a new acronym, POLICE:
P: Protect the injured joint, ligament, or muscle – this means resting the area for a few days, and then after that, when you do start moving the area, continuing to protect it (for an ankle sprain, this might look like using crutches).
OL: Optimal Loading – while still in the protection phase but after a few days of rest, you should start gently moving the joint, first passively, then actively, and finally with exercises. In the past, injuries often lead to lots of muscle atrophy and stiffness; this optimal loading focuses on beginning to move and strengthen the muscle at the appropriate time rather than getting stuck in the “rest” phase as the muscle continues to weaken and the joint stiffens up.
I: Ice can help temporarily decrease the swelling around your injury. The inflammation is one of the contributors to the pain you feel around your injury, so icing for 20 minute increments can help manage your pain.
C: Compression can also help with swelling. Think: ACE bandage, compression sock, etc.
E: Elevation: Placing the injured body part up is another means of reducing swelling and inflammation. If your ankle is injured, try lying down and placing your ankle/leg on a stack of pillows.
The main difference is that “rest” has been replaced with “protection” and “optimal loading”. Protecting the injured area and getting a few days of rest is important, but it is also essential to begin moving the area and progressively loading it as your body heals, for optimal recovery.
If you’ve just experienced a strain or sprain, whether mild or severe, and have questions on how to handle it, feel free to call and ask for one of our experienced physical therapists! They will be able to give you guidance to help you recover as quickly (and fully) as possible: 616-662-0990.
By: Lisa Pfotenhauer, C-EP
When people complain of heel and foot pain, one of the most common terms tossed around is “Plantar Fasciitis”. Exactly what is Plantar Fasciitis? It is inflammation of the plantar fascia, or in layman’s terms, inflammation of the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. It is responsible for supporting the arch of your foot.
It presents itself as a sharp pain in the bottom of the foot. It is usually around the heel or just in front of the heel bone. The pain is usually worse when you first get out of bed or get up after sitting for a long time. In addition, being on your feet for long periods of time usually exacerbates the pain. Discoloration and significant visible swelling do not usually occur. It is, however, tender to the touch.
What is the best treatment for Plantar Fasciitis? Common sense says if it hurts, don’t use it. This is impossible, since we all need to walk! I recommend three basic steps to begin the healing process. First, always wear shoes, even around the house. It is important to wear shoes with good arch support. A quality tennis shoe works well. This will take some of the pressure off the plantar fascia. Going barefoot usually increases pain due to the lack of support.
Second, stretch your calves. One of my favorite stretches is to create an incline that you can comfortably stand on for 1-2 minutes at a time. By making the calves more flexible, some of the pressure is taken off the plantar fascia.
Third, ice the painful areas of your feet. This helps take some of the inflammation and, in turn, pain out of the foot (since inflammation is contributing much of the pain). My favorite way to ice is to freeze a water bottle and roll it on the bottom of the foot over the painful area. This not only ices the area but massages it as well.
Plantar Fasciitis treatment is usually pretty straight forward but requires time and patience. Two things are important to remember: First, “no pain no gain” is not a good approach. You want to keep your treatment pain to a minimum while still making strides to stretch the area when pain is minimal. Second, try to catch it early! If you can catch it before it gets bad, it is much easier to treat. Give it a month or so of supportive shoes, resting, and stretching, and it should improve. If not, it is time to see your local physical therapist to try some more exercises and treatment options.
By: Brian Colvin, PT
Exercising is not only for losing unwanted weight; it has many health benefits that are important to everyday life. A lot of people have the idea that they don’t have enough time in the day for working out with housework, families, jobs, social life, etc. and while that is partially true there are a lot of ways you can work out without even knowing you’re doing it or setting time aside for it.
Tips for exercising throughout the day:
While at first these may seem like unreasonable steps to do, if you incorporate them into your daily routine it will feel normal and eventually you will start to not even think twice about it like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, etc.
Now why should we do this? Why is it important to get that exercise in and work on good habits? Studies have shown exercising and movement can reduce diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and many more. Exercise helps with sleep and feeling more rested while increasing your energy level! Mental health is a big plus with working out, getting more active can help you feel better and help accomplish your goals.
By: Rebecca Popma
Whether minor or major, muscular imbalances from your left side to your right side are common. For example, if you are right handed, you may be stronger in your right arm and shoulder muscles. When people are stronger in one side, they tend to reinforce this strength by using that side more (because it’s more efficient). They may also become stiff and have inadequate range of motion on one side more than the other. An imbalance can eventually lead to pain and dysfunction in your body.
Performing unilateral exercises (movements that put stress on right or left side), can help correct asymmetries, by putting equal stress on both sides independently (so you can’t “cheat” and bear the load on your dominant or stronger side). Unilateral exercises isolate one side, and engage your core uniquely as your body is challenged to balance.
Here are a few unilateral exercises for your upper and lower body you can incorporate into your exercise routine.
1. Reverse Lunges: Take a big step backward with your right leg and lower yourself (slow and controlled) until your knee is a couple inches off the ground (or more, if this is difficult). Make sure you have a chair or wall nearby for balance if needed!
Do 10x on the right side, then 10 on the left. Repeat.
2. Unilateral Half-Kneeling Overhead Press: Kneeling with your left knee out in front of you, and a dumbbell or kettlebell in your right hand, perform an overhead press.
Do 10x with hand in your right hand, then switch (so right knee is out in front, and weight is in left hand). Repeat.
3. Single Leg Romanian Deadlift: Balancing on your left leg, hinge forward at your hips until you feel a good stretch in your left hamstring or until you’re parallel with the ground. Keep your core tight so that you don’t hunch forward in your back. Your left foot should be grounded, and your left knee should not be locked.
Unilateral training is great for muscular asymmetries, core strength, and balance training. Let us know if you have any questions or are dealing with any pain in your exercise routine! 616-662-0990
By: Lisa Pfotenhauer, C-EP
Your neck is made up of 7 vertebrae at the top of your spine, and surrounded many muscles and tendons that control the head movements and support your neck and head.
Unfortunately, neck pain is pretty common. Here are some of the most common causes, and how to handle them if you experience neck pain:
1. Poor posture – Less-then-ideal posture can put stress on your neck, and can even cause headaches. The force of gravity and the weight of your head when it’s out in front of your torso is much greater than when it’s aligned with the rest of your body, causing a strain on your neck. If you suspect too much slouching at your work computer, driving, or phone time may be causing your neck pain, check out these blogs on posture tips for driving, and posture tips for at your desk! If you need some guidance on fixing your posture, we have lots of exercises and stretches we recommend! Give us a call.
2. Acute muscle strain – Maybe you were playing a sport, or slept funny, got whiplash in your car, or just turned your neck in an unusual way, and now you’re feeling the pain every time you turn your head. Don’t fret, this is not uncommon and usually goes away within a couple days. Do: ice to calm the pain, take ibuprofen if needed, rest, gently stretch your neck as tolerable, and see your physical therapist or doctor if the pain has not subsided within a week.
3. Herniated or degenerative disc, osteoarthritis, or a pinched nerve – These are a few of the more common serious neck injuries. Fortunately, they can often be effectively treated with physical therapy. If your neck pain has been going on a long time, or is very sharp, we would recommend starting with physical therapy. Physical therapy is very effective for creating the stability and mobility your body needs to alleviate pressure that may be on your disc(s) or nerve. If it appears you may need surgery or another route, our physical therapists will help direct you and find the route that you need for your neck pain.
Neck pain can be very debilitating, and our goal is always to help you take control of your care and be able to do the things you love, pain-free. If your pain has been going on a while or is severe, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We can get you set up with one of our licensed physical therapists within 24 hours: 616-662-0990.
“Cervical Pain,” William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, 2019, medicinenet.com
“Neck Pain,” Mayo Clinic, 2019, mayoclinic.com
By: Lisa Pfotenhauer, C-EP
It is always important to do research for everything you do, so why wouldn’t you with physical therapy? Many physical therapy offices around here have different specialties and things to offer, so hopefully this will help you decide what is best for you when it comes to your care.
At Hudsonville Physical Therapy, we do not have any PTA’s or aides; you will be seen by a licensed physical therapist one-on-one for every appointment. Your first visit will be between a half hour and an hour. It will include an evaluation and the start of treatment. Every other appointment is about 30-45 minutes for treatment.
We have three experienced physical therapists: Steve, Brian, and Mason.
They specialize in a variety of orthopedic areas, including:
If you have any questions about our therapists, specialties, or our facility, we would love to assist you. Please call 616-662-0990!
By: Becca Popma
Steve Bartz, PT