TIGHT HAMSTRINGS are a common contributor to BACK PAIN!
There are lots of ways to stretch your hamstrings, and here's one:
Find a step or chair to prop one foot up on, and lean forward at the hips, pulling your belly button toward your thigh (not hunching over to bend your back). Lean until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in the back of your thigh, and hold for about 30 seconds on each side.
This may help your low back pain, because your hamstrings affect your pelvis position, and this can put stress on your low back.
Remember, there are LOTS of causes of back pain, so it's always best to get it checked out by a PT or your Dr!).
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP
We all know someone who complains their joints start to hurt when it gets cold, so let’s figure out exactly what that means.
Fact or Myth: Cold weather causes your joints to hurt.
Trick question! Cold weather itself actually does not make your joints hurt but it is the drop in barometric pressure that causes your joint pain to worsen. For those who may not know, barometric pressure is just another term for atmospheric pressure or “weight of the air.” So it is not just the imagination causing people to think their joints are aching due to cold weather.
So how do we help this problem?
1. Ease the shock of cold weather on your body – dress in layers
2. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on your joints
3. Apply heat pads to the painful areas to relax the muscles
4. Stretch before going outside to loosen stiff joints so they don’t become even more stiff
5. HYDRATE! – staying hydrated helps keep inflammation away
Another important tip to focus on is not losing what you have gained in the summer and fall, try to keep working out and staying active even if it’s difficult. You will get even stiffer and it will be harder to get back to the place you were in when the weather was warmer and it will also reduce the frequency with your flare ups.
It is that time of the year again! As the leaves change and the temperature drops, those of us who hunt head off into the woods. Whether you’re a meat hunter or after that allusive trophy buck, there are a couple things to keep in mind as you prepare for hunting season. We see hunters for two different types of injuries.
The first group are the over-use or “over doing it” group. Let’s not forget what we have done for the 11 months prior to hunting season. If you are a sedentary person you can’t expect your body to respond well when you put on an extra 10-15 lbs. of gear and try to head thru the woods for miles at a time. Or more insane, trying to drag that 150 lb. deer out of the woods all by yourself. We see a lot of muscle strains and sprains from over use. Worst of all, a couple of hunters each year suffer from a heart attack while trying to overdo it. So be smart if you want to do a fair amount of walking during the hunting season. Get out and do some walking before you step out into the woods for the first time. Second, if you get that deer, get help and don’t try to drag it out of the woods by yourself.
The second group is the fall out of the tree stand group. This group is the one we see the most of in the clinic. It usually results in multiple serious injuries. There are a couple of things to keep in mind to reduce these incidents. First, inspect your equipment. For example, make sure your stand is solid, and make sure you have a safe way to get in and out of your stand. Inspect your tree, and don’t wait until the leaves are off. Check it out early in the season and make sure the tree you are using is alive, healthy, and does not have a bunch of dead limbs. Lastly, and most important, wear a harness. This is a simple thing that can save your life and prevent serious injury.
These are just a couple simple ideas to make your hunting trip safer and more enjoyable. Good luck this Fall!
By: Brian Colvin, PT
It is interesting to walk into a gym and watch how people exercise. Some people hurry through their reps, while others are very slow and precise. Some look as though they are using their entire body when exercising, while some are very still and have few moving parts. The common theme is that people can look very different when performing the same exercise. So, you might be asking, which is the best way?
I’m glad you asked, because I am very passionate about performing exercises correctly. First of all, it’s important to do things correctly so you do not injure yourself. Using poor form, or too much weight with an exercise (which will create poor form) will often lead to injuries. Secondly, using incorrect form involves compensation, which we will discuss further. Third, if you hurry through your reps, you will not get nearly as much benefit as if you do slow, controlled reps.
Let’s examine each of these points further. In terms of form, we want to not only perform the exercise correctly in order to achieve the desired results, but we also don’t want to injure ourselves. Proper exercise technique not only maximizes the benefit of the exercise, but it puts you in the safest position to perform the exercise. Using the proper amount of weight will allow you to use correct form and avoid compensation, which can lead to injury.
People often compensate when they have a weak muscle or group of muscles. The body is very good at compensating, but unfortunately long term compensation will lead to dysfunction, which leads to pain. An example would be someone with shoulder weakness. Say they are performing shoulder presses, and the shoulder cannot handle the amount of stress that is being placed upon it. The brain will tell other muscles to help, which could include the neck muscles or even the low back. Continued performance of this compensation can lead to issues in other areas of the body.
Tempo of exercise is also important. The most common error is to perform the exercise too fast. This often involves using momentum to swing the weight upward, and allowing the weight to fall back down. Proper technique involves controlling the weight; lifting it slowly and precisely, then lowering it down slowly and precisely. Slow, controlled exercise is much more safe and effective. I would much rather see someone perform 10 slow, controlled reps than 30 fast, uncontrolled reps.
That is just a quick summary of the importance of exercise form. If you would like more information, or would like to have us check out your exercise form, we have the PT’s for you! Give us a call at 616-662-0990 and we’ll make sure that you’re getting the maximum benefit from your exercises!
By: Mason Riegel, PT
FMS Level 1 & 2 Certified, SFMA Certified
Its Spring! Lots of people are moving in the Spring, whether it’s to a new home or helping move a kid out of college for the summer, or even doing some Spring cleaning that involves moving heavy objects. Moving heavy objects can cause a lot of aches and pains, and we have some tips for you to keep in mind to keep your back and knees safe this Spring!
Getting ready to lift:
By: Lisa Bartz, Exercise Physiologist (C-EP)
At some point in our lives, we all have to sit at a desk. We all know it can cause a lot of damage to our bodies, so here are some ways to reduce the damage and make working from a desk more comfortable:
• Keep your monitor at an arm’s length away (approximately 19 inches)
• Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes of staring at your computer screen, spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away! This will give your eyes a break
• Adjust chair height so knees are about level with hips
• Keep your hips as far back in the chair as possible, to give you low back support
• Keep your wrists straight, with your hands at or below elbow level
• Keep objects you use a lot, such as your phone, stapler, tape, etc. close to your body to avoid reaching
• Wear a headset or have your phone on speaker so you don’t strain your neck
• Stand up and walk or stretch every hour - it does not need to be for long, just to get your body out of the sitting position and move a bit
All of these little adjustments can help you feel better if you’re stuck at your desk! If you have access to a standing desk, that can also be a great alternative to sitting, or you can switch between the two while you're working.
If you are currently experiencing any pain at work, we might be able to help!
Give us a call at 616-662-0990!
By: Rebecca Popma
& Lisa Bartz
Sitting is the new smoking.
Have you heard this claim before?
The body loves movement, and static positions can take a toll on the health of the joints and muscles. However, we now live in a society where we find ourselves sitting several hours a day. Whether you are working, relaxing, reading, or surfing the web on your phone or laptop, we maintain a typical posture that places our neck and shoulders at a risk for injury.
I’m sure as you are reading this, 90% of you are somewhat slumped over, with your head forward and shoulders rounded. This position exponentially increases the relative weight of the head and places much more stress on the neck joints and muscles. You may feel your muscles tighten up and your joints stiffen with an extended stay in this position. The problem is, most people are unaware of their posture at work or at home until it’s too late.
So how do you avoid this position or recover from years of stress on your neck?
Here are some ideas!
Stretch the pectoral muscles: As you sit with this rounded shoulder posture, it places your chest muscles in a shortened position and they tighten up. Over time, they maintain this shortened position and pull the shoulders forward even more, making it difficult to straighten up and raise your arms overhead. One easy way to stretch these muscles is to stand in a doorway, place your hands on each side of the frame, and lean forward until a gentle stretch is felt in your chest muscles. Be careful this does not cause pain in your shoulders!
Strengthen scapula muscles: The main muscles that help you correct posture are localized around your shoulder blade. Muscles called the rhomboids help pinch your scapulas together, pull your shoulders back and help with a strong erect posture. If you have an old elastic band lying around or access to a gym, rows are one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen these muscles! If these are not accessible, you can sit on the edge of a chair and squeeze your shoulder blades together like you are trying to pinch a ball in the middle of your back. Hold the pinch for 5 seconds, relax, and repeat 20 times!
Become aware of posture: People who work at a desk or on a computer all day often get engrossed in their work and forget how they are positioned. Try setting a timer for every hour. When it goes off, assess your posture. If you find yourself hunched over, stand up, stretch, do some shoulder blade pinches and reset yourself before continuing work. This can be a very effective way to realign your neck and shoulders and avoid the pain!
By: Andrew Bult, SPT
Hypermobility is a condition characterized by excessive mobility of the joints. It can be a single joint, but is frequently found in multiple joints. Often people will describe hypermobility as being “double jointed”. People with this condition basically have joints that are excessively “loose”, due to having more elasticity in their ligaments. This is not necessarily a problem if the person has very strong muscles to support the joints, but often these people do not.
When a patient with hypermobile joints comes to see us in PT, they frequently complain of pain in the joints, and sometimes will complain of the joint feeling as though it is slipping out of place. Typically these patients will have excessive range of motion in their joints; more than what we normally would see. Also, they often complain of their joints “cracking” or “snapping” all of the time.
The best remedy for hypermobility is strength! People with hypermobility do not need to stretch more, but rather strengthen more! They need stability, not flexibility. A good strengthening/stabilization program can help provide stability to the hypermobile joints, which can reduce symptoms and improve performance.
Mason Riegel, PT
As the weather gets colder, we have a tendency to stop going for walks/runs outside and become less active. Instead of stopping your activities, stay healthy and active this winter by bundling up and continuing to get your exercise in!
Before exercising in the cold, whether that be walking, running or biking, warm up your muscles!
Why warm up?
Don’t forget, when exercising outside in the winter make sure you are cautious of very cold temperatures and ice on the roads/sidewalks!
Stay tuned for a blog on workouts can you do indoors this winter!
(ACSM Basic Injury Prevention Concepts, October 2016)
Lisa Bartz, EP-C
Steve Bartz, PT