It is not a surprise that when you lack sleep or sleep poorly, you aren’t at your top efficiency for the day. What may surprise you, however, is how much a lack of sleep actually affects your body, your brain, and your skin:
If you don't get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol in excess amounts. Cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic (WebMD).
How much sleep is necessary?
This is a tricky question that varies for everyone, but it is important to talk about. A safe answer is 7-9 hours on average per night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amounts based on age:
By: Rebecca Popma
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
Today we’ll discuss the common saying, “no pain, no gain.” Like many other common sayings, people tend to state this as if it’s a fact. So, is it a fact? Well, I’m not sure if we’ll be able to reach a consensus, but I’ll give you some information that will both support this statement and refute it.
First, it’s important to gain more understanding about the purpose of pain. Pain exists to indicate that there is something wrong with our body. Nobody likes to be in pain, but it does serve a purpose. If we only seek to eliminate pain (with medication and injections) without fixing what’s causing the pain, we will likely not have long term success.
Often the source/cause of pain will be the main factor in determining if “no pain, no gain” is accurate. If we’re dealing with an overuse type of injury, we really don’t want to reproduce the pain with our activities. This would include such conditions as lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), plantar fasciitis, any type of bursitis or tendonitis, or spinal strains. In these situations we need to assist the body in healing, and if we continue to do activities that trigger the pain, we will not have success in eliminating the pain. So in those situations, we do not want to cause pain and would not agree with “no pain, no gain”.
Conversely, sometimes we deal with stiffness or loss of mobility in the body. When we work on gaining back lost mobility, this is not typically a pain free endeavor. So if we are stretching or mobilizing a tight joint or muscle, it will be uncomfortable, and we’re ok with that. In fact, we expect that. So in cases such as these, we enthusiastically say “no pain, no gain!”
A third situation deals with trying to gain strength/muscle. When trying to build muscle we need to challenge the body so that it reinforces itself by building more muscle. We need to push muscles to the point of fatigue (“feel the burn”), and this typically results in some post workout muscle soreness. So if people are doing a muscle workout and they complain about being sore afterward, guess what we’re going to say? You guessed it, “no pain, no gain!” That being said, there is an appropriate amount of soreness that is good, as opposed to not being able to move for 2 days! But that’s a topic for another time.
So as you can see, sometimes this common phrase is accurate and applicable, but sometimes it is not. If you’re not sure, please ask Mason, Steve, or Brian, and we will be glad to give you an answer!
Mason Riegel, PT
During the holidays it seems everyone is talking about diets, and how they do not want to gain any holiday weight. But other than gaining unwanted weight there are actually more negative side effects that you may not have thought about. One big one is inflammation in your body.
What is inflammation?
“When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body's white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection, and may result in redness and warmth.” (webmd)
What are the symptoms / physical signs of inflammation?
There are several home remedies to get rid of inflammation in your body, some of them are:
By: Rebecca Popma
A bad spill can be a life-changing experience. More than 1/3 of adults 65 and older fall each year in the US! If you feel like your balance isn’t what it once was, or if you’ve experienced a minor or major fall in the past, here’s a few tips for you:
1. Move regularly! Don’t avoid physical activity because of fear. Exercising, walking, and moving will continue to train your brain and your muscles in how to balance. The more you move, the more confident you will be in your steps and movements. (An exercise class is a great way to do this!)
2. That being said, you want to make sure you’re moving in a safe environment. Wear sturdy shoes when you’re out and about, and be careful of slipping while wearing socks in your home. Look around your home and see if there are any tripping hazards like cords, loose rugs, etc. Make sure your staircase has handrails and your shower/tub has grab bars. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the use of a cane or walker. Plow and salt your driveway in the winter (or hire someone to do it). Position yourself for safety in your everyday tasks in your home.
3. Vision: One of the biggest causes of falls is poor vision. Have your vision checked annually and wear your contacts or glasses. The other part of this is to have good lighting in your home, and take extra precautions when you’re out and the lighting is dark.
4. Have your hearing checked. The inner ear is highly related to balance! Also, if you suffer a certain type of vertigo (BPPV), physical therapy can help you, and it is often a quick treatment process.
5. Train your brain & muscles to balance: perform exercises (in a safe environment, with instruction) to improve balance while standing/sitting still, and while moving.
6. Improve your strength, mobility and posture: a lack of strength or mobility in a joint can add stress or pain to other parts of the body, and can contribute to a fall. Focus on training your core, hips, and legs, (along with stretching), as these are shown to significantly help improve your balance.
If you struggle with balance or have had some close calls with falling, don't hesitate to give us a call and see what we can do to help you: 616-662-0990.
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP
December is here, and so is the winter weather! There are two major types of injuries that seem to go along with one of winter’s biggest issues: shoveling snow.
The first and by far the most serious injury is heart attacks. Every year across the country, people suffer heart attacks and/or heart-related symptoms when shoveling snow. Snow can be heavy, and in combination with all the extra clothes we wear, very taxing.
This leads us into the second and probably the most common injury: back pain. Shoveling is one of the most taxing activities on your back. It is very repetitive and at times heavy, putting a lot of stress on your spine.
There are several things to keep in mind to keep you safe and healthy during this winter weather:
If you keep these few simple things in mind, it can lead to a healthier and happier winter.
By: Brian Colvin, PT
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!
1. What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a term many people are familiar with – it’s when one’s bones become weak and brittle from losing too much bone (becoming too “porous” – hence the term osteoporosis), or from making too little bone. It is dangerous because weak bones are more susceptible to breaking from falls, bumps, and accidents. Also, it can affect vertebrae and lead to hunched posture, often resulting in pain. Osteoporosis is especially prevalent in women and older populations.
There are MANY causes of osteoporosis, and it can occur in conjunction with dozens of different medical conditions and medications. This is an important conversation to have with your primary care physician to see if you are putting your bone health at risk.
2. How is it treated, and how is it prevented?
Half of women over 50 who have osteoporosis will break a bone. If you know you do have osteoporosis, is your condition hopeless or is there something you can do to take care of your bones?
Osteoporosis cannot be “cured”, but there are measures one can take to treat it. Doctors sometimes prescribe medications (bisphosphonates, prolia, forteo, estrogen-like drugs, fortical, and more) that work either by preventing the breaking down of bone or by increasing the building of bone, but all come with side effects. Depending on the severity of your osteoporosis, a medication treatment may be worth discussing with your doctor. Each person is unique, and a different treatment may work better for one person than another
Nutrition is another key component of treating (and preventing) osteoporosis! Calcium is the “building block of bone”, and your body needs vitamin D to help absorb the calcium. Daily multi-vitamins are one way to ensure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D, but here are some foods that are calcium-rich and vitamin D-rich (and don’t forget good old sunshine!) Most adults should aim for 1000-1200 mg of calcium, and 400-1000 IU of vitamin D daily.
Lastly, exercise is key for keeping your bones strong. Proper and consistent exercise not only strengthen your bone density but also will strengthen the muscles and tendons that connect to and support your bones, relieving pressure from your joints. Exercise for treatment and prevention of osteoporosis should include two types of exercise: weight-bearing exercise, and muscle-strengthening exercise.
Weight-bearing exercise puts stress on your bones - "good stress". This stress increases production of bone - increasing your bone density and mass or reducing the loss of bone mass. (If you want to learn more about how bone production and loss work check out this video on bone remodeling!) To exercise and use this "good stress" on your bones, do activities like running, walking, tennis, dancing, or anything repetitive on your feet. The impact on your bones actually makes them stronger. HOWEVER, if you suffer severe osteoporosis, you should consult your doctor about what exercises are safe for you to participate in. Running may not be the best exercise for someone with severe osteoporosis who is at a high risk of breaking a bone.
Muscle-strengthening exercise (“resistance” exercise), should be done for the whole body. If you’re just going to do a little bit, focus on complex movements and large muscle groups. Strengthening the legs, hips, and glutes are going to give you the support you need and this lower body strength may help prevent falls! Core and upper body strengthening are also important. If you already have osteoporosis, consider adding some fall-prevention exercises to your day, like balancing on one foot.
If you do not have osteoporosis now, remember that the best solution is prevention!
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP
National Osteoporosis Foundation: What is Osteoporosis and What Causes It? 2018;
The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research: Response to New England Journal of Medicine Study: “Biphosphonates: Where Do We Go From Here?” 2012;
Endocrine Web: The Role of Calcium and Vitamin D in Bone Health: Nutrients for Osteoporosis Prevention, P. Camacho, MD, D. Toft MD, PhD
WebMD: Osteoporosis: Diagnosis and Treatment, 2017
Steve Bartz, PT