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
It’s Spring again! When you look outside, the robins are back, the thermometer is trending upward, and it’s back to the diamond for one our favorite pastimes, baseball. This leads me to the topic of this blog: the overuse of the young baseball players’ arms.
Kids (or their parents) seem to specialize in sports at younger and younger ages. Many give up the variety of sports to specialize in one at a very young age. Travel baseball teams start as early as 9-10 years old. Some of them are even practicing almost year around. Also, there has been a significant increase in elbow and shoulder injuries in MLB and college pitchers. I believe this is in direct correlation with the number of pitches and types of pitches thrown by these players as they are coming up.
The first factor is the sheer number of pitches thrown. If a player starts at an early age and is talented, he will throw a lot of pitches by his senior year in high school. Let’s face it, the good pitchers are going to throw the majority of the innings. Coaches, player, and parents want to win. But, there are rules in place to look out for kids. The Little League limits 7-8 year olds to 50 pitches per day, 11-12 y.o. to 85 pitches per day and 13-16 y.o. to 95 per day. Their guidelines are well minded but vague. Each player has to be looked at separately. There is a huge difference between a 13 and a 16 y.o. Each child is at a different maturity level, body build, and over all conditioning.
Another factor to take into consideration is the season timeline that they are pitching in. Is it the first game of the year or the last? Even the pitchers in the Majors don’t throw over 100 pitches early in the season. They also have 3-4 months of “off season” to not throw and recover. It is crazy that some young athletes have less recovery time!
The second factor is the type of pitches thrown. I am not a fan of throwing curveballs at a young age. I think it’s much more important to work on pitch location and mechanics. Many young pitchers have poor mechanics, and trying to throw a curveball puts extra unwanted stress on the elbow. Dr. James Andrews (renowned orthopedic surgeon) advises not throwing curveballs before the age of 14.
These are just some general guidelines to go by. All kids are different, and each case should be looked at individually. But, the bottom line is, let’s do our best to keep our young athletes injury-free so they can enjoy the great game of baseball.
And if you or your athlete is struggling with an injury, don't hesitate to give us a call. We are passionate about helping athletes from the Jenison, Hudsonville, Grandville, Allendale, and surrounding areas make full recoveries, and we believe in educating them with techniques and exercises to prevent future injuries. 616-662-0990
Brian Colvin, MPT
We all know someone (or maybe experienced yourself) who has had a concussion. Concussions range in severity, and unfortunately are common in sports, particularly contact sports like soccer, football, hockey and wrestling.
What causes concussions?
Trauma to the head, often caused by motor vehicle accident, falls, and sports injuries, causes concussions. Your brain is made of soft tissue, cushioned by spinal fluid and protected by your skull. A blow or bump to the head can jolt your brain, causing it to literally move around in your head. This can cause bruising, blood vessel damage, and nerve injury, which leads to the concussion symptoms we see below.
How do I know if it’s a concussion?
Symptoms of a concussion include headaches (this is the most common), nausea, balance problems, sensitivity to light and/or noise, drowsiness, amnesia, trouble comprehending and concentrating, and feelings of being in a fog. When someone experiences a concussion, they may have just one or many of these symptoms, depending on the severity and how they respond.
What should I do if my child or someone I know appears to have a concussion? When do I call the doctor?
If your child experienced a blow to the head, it may take anywhere from 2 minutes to a few hours for concussion symptoms to appear. If symptoms of a concussion are apparent, you should consider taking your child to the doctor. If they did not lose consciousness during their concussion, they should wait until symptoms subside to return to normal activity (could be minutes, hours, or days depending on their concussion). They should get lots of rest and take precautions to avoid another concussion, and may be advised to avoid strenuous physical or mental tasks, and take time off from from sports, school, or work. Symptoms normally go away within 6-10 days.
If he or she loses consciousness or experiences a neck injury, you should take him or her to the doctor or the emergency room for observation and treatment.
Concussions can be dangerous, especially because once you sustain one, you are at a three to five times greater risk for experiencing another one. To decrease the likelihood of concussions for yourself or you child, always wear seat belts in the car, wear a helmet when biking, riding a motorcycle, skiing, etc. Have handrails on your staircase and safety gates on your stairs if you have young children. If you child does experience a concussion as the result of a contact sport, make sure they rest from that sport for the amount of time their doctor recommends, because repeat concussions (while their brain tissue and nerves are still healing) are much more dangerous to the brain than the first concussion.
Sources: Clevelandclinic.org: Concussions, January 2015; WebMD: Concussion (Traumatic Brain Injury), 2018; Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion, February 2019
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP
Happy first day of Spring!
The sun is finally out, and the temperatures are (mostly) above freezing! It’s time to start thinking about making the most of the longer daylight and enjoying the sun and warmer weather by exercising outside!
Whether it’s in your neighborhood, at the park, or just in your yard or on your patio, there are lots of exercises you can try outside:
Invite a friend to your outdoor workout, or find a group that does outdoor activities together! This makes it more fun and keeps you accountable to your workouts.
As you begin to exercise outside this spring, don’t forget to warm-up, especially with the temps still being cold. Your warm up can be just a few minutes long, inside or outside, and should focus on getting your heart rate up and should include dynamic stretching. Here are a few warm up exercises/dynamic stretches to try:
1. Leg swings - 10 reps on each side, to stretch the front and back of your hip and leg; hold something for balance if needed
2. Forward march with knee-to-chest stretch - 10 reps on each leg, to stretch your hip and groin
3. Walking quad stretch - 10 reps on each side to stretch the front of your leg and hip
Let us know your favorite outdoor exercise in the comments! As always, if you have a nagging injury keeping you from exercise, call us to set up a physical therapy evaluation: 616-662-0990.
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP (Cert. Exercise Physiologist)
Do you drive for a living? Have a long commute to work? Or find yourself bussing the kids around all day? These hours in the car really add up throughout the week, and a lot of people who spend hours in the car suffer back pain! Although you might not be able to change the amount of time in the car, you may be able to tweak a few things to keep you back and body happier during and after your travels! The two most common areas we see strained from driving are the low back (sometimes this can even cause symptoms like tingling, pain or numbness down the legs known as sciatica), and the upper back, neck and shoulders (sometimes this pain also radiates down the arms). Here are a few tips for healthy driving:
Neck, upper back or shoulder strain:
Also, take driving breaks as you’re able to. Sometimes taking a 5 minute break during your drive to stretch out and walk around can make a big difference if your comfort level!
Lastly, stretching your hips, back and shoulders regularly, and exercising the muscles around your hips and spine (back and core muscles) will also help you stay healthy and fend off the aches and pains causes by long amounts of time in a car or truck.
If you’re suffering back or other pain that’s aggrevated by driving, call us and we can take a look at it and build a program for you to combat your pain! 616-662-0990
Sources: Posture Direct: Tips to Improve Your Posture; Cleveland Clinic: Back Health & Posture (2015)
By: Lisa Bartz, Certified Exercise Physiologist (C-EP)
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)
Steve Bartz, PT