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How to Protect Your Body While Lifting

Digging out boxes of holiday decorations, hauling packages to and from the car, hiding gifts away on the higher shelves at the back of your closet … the Holiday Season certainly requires its fair share of bending, lifting and reaching. This, coupled with the cooler weather, makes December the ideal time for a refresher on proper lifting methods.

Back pain and injury can put a real damper on the Holiday Season, yet it’s one of the most common conditions we treat as medical professionals. Fortunately, it’s also a condition that’s very preventable, and one of the ways to keep the spine healthy is learning – and practicing – proper lifting techniques.

Around 80 percent of all Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives, making it one of the top causes of disability in the U.S. And while preventing back pain is of key concern when one does a lot of bending and lifting, it’s not the only concern.

When we talk about proper lifting techniques, we’re talking about protecting the back, yes, but we’re also looking to minimize strain on the entire body. The goal is to put yourself in a position that allows the body’s musculoskeletal system to work as one cohesive unit, without putting too much strain on one area, such as the lower-back or shoulders.

So without further ado, here are a few tips for proper lifting:

Warm Up: Don’t ever assume your body’s ready to lift heavy objects without first being thoroughly warmed up. Take the time to stretch your lower back as well as your legs and hips. Give a few jumping jacks a tryto get the blood flowing to the muscles in your body.

Get Close: Avoid reaching for a heavy or moderate-sized load. Get up nice and close to the box or object to minimize the force (in the arms, shoulders and back) needed to lift, and always hold it close to your body.

Bend & Lift with the Knees: We’ve all heard this before, and it’s true. But in doing so, keep your back straight and your body upright as you lower yourself to the object in question, then use your legs to rise back up.

Get a Grip: This seems to go without saying, but if you can’t get a strong, comfortable grip on the object in front of you – even if you know you can carry the weight – don’t try to be a hero. Find someone to help you or an alternative way of getting the object from A to B, such as a hand cart or dolly.

Reverse the Steps: When you get to where you’re going, set the item down just as you picked it up – but in reverse. Keep it close to the body, lower with the legs and move slowly and deliberately. You can just as easily injure yourself setting objects down as you can picking them up.

During the process of lifting, keep from twisting or reaching while carrying a load. Don’t rush through the process of lifting, and if you’re tired, put it off until later.

Whatever you do, protect your body and prevent injuries and enjoy the holiday season.

 

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.

Why Your Shoulder Pain Isn’t Going Away This Time

Shoulder pain in older adults often appears suddenly, as if caused by a sudden trauma or injury. But for many shoulder injuries can often the result of musculoskeletal conditions directly associated with wear over time and, more specifically, weakening posture.

Some people may think ‘I slept on it wrong’ or ‘I pulled something in my shoulder, but the truth might point to something more long-term. The pain might be something that’s been developing over time, perhaps due to taking on a tighter, less upright posture as they age.”

According the National Institutes of Health (NIH), anywhere from 44 to 65 percent of all complaints of shoulder pain can be attributed to a condition known as shoulder impingement syndrome – also known simply as “shoulder impingement.”

Shoulder impingement is the result of chronic and repetitive compression of the rotator-cuff tendons in the shoulder, causing inflammation, pain, weakness, and a decreased range of motion in the joint. The condition can be caused by repetitive overhead movements such as those performed by golfers, swimmers and racquet sport athletes.

Changes in posture over time – tightness in the back and neck coupled with an arching of the spine – can create conditions ideal for the development of shoulder impingement.  This can cause the rotator cuff to start to fray and tear, which can lead to tendinitis and even tears in the rotator cuff.”

The key to preventing shoulder impingement is regular mobility – moving and stretching your shoulders daily in order to stay loose and counteract the effects of declining posture. To do so here are some exercises to include as a part of your regular exercise regimen.

Back Extension/Shoulder Flexing Stretch: Sitting in a chair, hands clasped together, reach your arms high above your head and slowly reach backward, extending your head and hands behind you. Hold for a few seconds, relax, and then repeat.

Backward Shoulder Extensions: Standing upright, your fingers interlaced behind your back, slowly lift your arms away from your buttocks and toward the ceiling. Lift as high as you can. Keep an upright stance, hold for a few seconds, release, then do it again.

Up-Back Shoulder Reaches: Reach one arm behind your back and, palm facing out, slowly reach up the small of your back toward the space between your shoulder blades. Hold for a few seconds, release, then do the same with your other arm. Repeat one time each.

Down-Back Reaches: Reach your hand behind your head and down your back. Hold for a few seconds, release, and then do the same with your other arm. Repeat one time each.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE EXERCISES

Maintaining a healthy shoulder and preventing the onset of shoulder impingement translates into staying active, playing with the kids, comfortably reaching that top shelf in your cabinet, and even sleeping more comfortably.

Do these exercises but if it’s still not working, of courese a physical therapist can help you get there – or stay there – by thoroughly evaluating your condition and setting you on a personalized path toward pain-free motion.

 

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.

Two Fitness tips we learn from the Winter Olympics

While we watch Alpine skiers speed through difficult downhill courses and figure skaters bound balletically across the ice during these Winter Olympics, I can see the importance of two oft-overlooked elements of good fitness and training routines: of balance and flexibility.

When we work to prepare our bodies for a certain activity, or simply for the rigors of living an active lifestyle, we shouldn’t only be focusing on strength and cardio. It’s a good start, but if your balance and flexibility are below par, performance will be limited and the body will be more susceptible to injury.

Few things highlight this more than winter sports and activities, such as those featured during the Winter Olympics because they provide the ultimate challenge to balance and flexibility.  Both balance and flexibility work together to keep these athletes upright while they adapt to new terrain, changes in position, etc. The importance of this is obvious on snow and ice, of course, but the same concept applies in everyday life.

Whether your personal goals include competing better athletically, getting outdoors more for hiking, cycling or (yes) skiing, or simply feeling safer and more confident playing in the backyard with the kids, good balance and flexibility are key.

To help improve balance and flexibility in your life check out these three tips.

Take an Exercise Class: Yoga, Pilates, step classes … they all strive to strengthen your core muscle groups, which are essential in achieving good balance. Plus, these classes often complement indoor cardio and resistance training – training that may do little to help with your balance.

Stretch Every Day: Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to stretch, either in the morning or just before bed. A stretch right before an activity will do little to help you out unless you’ve worked to establish a higher level of flexibility over the long term.

Perform Single-Leg Balance Exercises: Get your body accustomed to relying on one side at a time. Practice standing on one leg while tilting your body forward, back and sideways. Place your hand on a wall, countertop or piece of furniture if you need help balancing. Other single leg balance ideas include ball bounces, standing on a foam pad, and practicing with eyes closed … all in a safe setting, of course.

For a more individualized approach of our course, a physical therapist can help but in the meantime, give one of the tips a try.

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.

A Better Way to Reduce Your Pain

October is National Physical Therapy Month, and as medical professionals across the U.S. work together to expound the benefits of physical therapy, the team at Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness in Greenville are joining the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in highlighting a topic that affects the lives of millions: opioid awareness.

More specifically, the goal is to create awareness around the fact that physical therapy is a safe and effective alternative to opioids (i.e., Vicodin and OxyContin) for long-term pain management.

This is according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which in March of 2016 released guidelines urging non-opioid solutions (such as physical therapy) for the management of chronic pain.

There’s definitely a time and a place for the use of prescription pain medication, but the misuse of opioids in our country is very real. The CDC reports more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every day for misusing prescription opioids.

Other scary facts about opioids, according to the CDC:

  • Opioid misuse, overuse and addiction contributed to the death of nearly 20,000 Americans in 2014.
  • Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication in 2012, enough for every adult in the U.S.
  • As many as one in four people who receive prescription opioids long-term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings end up struggling with addiction.

It’s truly an epidemic in our country, but as a physical therapist I’m in a hopeful position to help people manage their chronic pain in ways that are safer and oftentimes more effective than using prescription drugs.

A number of studies over the years have pointed to movement, exercise and individualized physical therapy as effective options for treating chronic pain. A report about chronic pain released by the National Institutes of Health in January of 2015 specifically mentions physical therapy as a key, non-pharmaceutical option for treating, managing and event ending chronic pain.

“Despite what is commonly done in current clinical practice, there appear to be few data to support the long-term use of opioids for chronic pain management,” states the report titled “The Role of Opioids in the Treatment of Chronic Pain.”

“‘Movement is medicine,” is not a phrase we use lightly in the physical therapy profession, but the solution isn’t as easy as just suggesting movement and exercise. All who suffer from chronic pain are different, and through one-on-one care, we’re able to identify and address the physical as well as some of the mental and emotional factors that stand in the way of safe and effective pain care management.

From education, strength and flexibility exercises and manual therapy, to posture awareness, body mechanics instruction, and many other methods, physical therapists are licensed and trained to identify the causes of chronic pain, then establish individualized treatment plans for managing and possibly eliminating the pain.

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.

Aovid ‘Text Neck’ Injury with better smartphone posture

In so many ways, our smartphones make elements of our lives easier and more convenient, putting the world at our fingertips at a moment’s notice. But as we turn to our phones more often to connect, learn about the world, and simply occupy downtime, I must warn you that these technological tools have a downside.Read More

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.

Get Rid of Those Tension Headaches for Good

Do you ever find that you have frequent headaches when you get stressed? Have you ever wondered why this happens? Tension headaches are typically the type of headaches that occur with stress. The pain from these headaches is frequently felt in the back and/or sides of the head, often spreading to the eye. Most people treat this type of pain with medication, but is this the best solution to address the underlying problem?

One of the most prevalent contributing factors to stress or tension headaches is Read More

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.