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The Way To Prevent ACL Injuries

High school athletes account for about 2 million injuries and around a half-million doctor visits each year according to the CDC, but few of these injuries are as costly to a student-athlete and his or her family that a torn ACL.

An ACL tear in the knee will often lead to surgery and months of rehabilitation. Often, I’ll see many of these student-athletes during post-surgery rehabilitation, but I’d much rather see them before that – when our goal is preventing this all-too common injury from happening in the first place.”

One of four major ligaments in the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a band of tissue that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. An estimated 200,000 ACL injuries are reported in the U.S. each year, most commonly among athletes.

According to studies, women and girls are most susceptible to an ACL injury on the soccer pitch, while men and boys are more likely to experience an ACL injury while playing football. Despite occurring so often within aggressive contact sports, most ACL tears are non-contact injuries.

You have a student athlete plant their foot to quickly change direction, then bam, the ACL tears.  Basically, their knee turns one way and their body goes the other. You’ll see this in soccer and football, but also sports like basketball, gymnastics, skiing, and so on.

Over the years our physical therapy team at Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness have worked with countless athletes post-surgery whose rehabilitation has led to successful outcomes. But we would rather stress the importance of taking steps to prevent such injuries from happening in the first place.

Here are four things to consider for athletes of all ages:

Stretching: The flexibility of hamstrings, quads and gluteal muscles is beneficial in preventing knee injuries.

Strength: Having not just strong, but also balanced muscle integrity, especially in the hips and thighs, can put an athlete on a good track toward preventing such injuries to the knees.

A Good Warm-Up: It’s well-known that the lack of a good warmup can lead to injury, and this is certainly the case with ACL injuries. Without the right amount of blood flow, the muscles can’t react quickly enough when an athlete cuts of pivots, opening the door to injury.  In particular, we are a big fan of and teach the PEP program for prevention of ACL injuries.

Exercise Balance: In terms of exercise, it’s important athletes focus on all aspects of training: strength, endurance and flexibility. Remember to move in more than just straight lines.  Cutting and change of directions is critical for training.  Focusing on all three equally creates optimal stability in your body.

Physical therapists are specifically trained to identify weaknesses and imbalances in the body, then correct them with an eye toward both injury prevention and optimal athletic performance. If you are already having knee pain or have had an injury in the past, make sure you don’t wait until it’s too late to have a PT evaluate your movement.

 

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.

What to Know about Chris Paul’s Hamstring Injury (and yours)

Everyone is going wild over the competition of the NBA Playoffs.  It’s nice to see some close games in the post season.  Can you even imagine the potential of the NBA finals without Lebron?

As much as we love the post season, it is often a common time for injury.  After all, players have played up to 82 games, not including practice, scrimmage, and workouts.  By the time of the postseason, those small regular season hiccups can build up to eventual injury.

Chris Paul was just officially pulled (no pun intended) from game 6 of the Warriors-Rockets Game due to a right hamstring strain.  The big questions is, will he return if there is a game 7?

Well, here’s what you should know about the hamstrings.  It is a huge muscle.  If you’re being fancy, the hamstrings actually consist of 3 muscles together (the semimembranosus, the semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris) It connects from your hip to your knee and is responsible for stabilizing the hip and the knee.

Without the hamstrings working at full capacity, the ability to bend the knee and extend the hip to stand tall (as when moving from a crouched or defensive position) becomes very difficult or painful.  The same movement is needed for sprinting as well, so you must to have them working to make that fast break on the court.

The big question is “how bad was the strain?” Hamstring strains can be grade 1, grade 2, or grade 3.

Grade 1 strains are mild and usually just a few muscle fibers have been damaged.  With a grade 1 strain the athlete can usually still bend their knee normally and typically are able to walk fine and maintain their normal power and endurance.  They might be sore the day after the injury still.

Grade 2 strains are moderate in nature and the athlete typically feels pain when the knee has to bend or the hip has to extend against any resistance. This usually makes sprinting pretty difficult.

Grade 3 strains are severe.  This means most of the muscle fibers are ruptured.  I don’t think Chris Paul has to worry about this. If he did, the announcement of the strain would have read, “Chris Paul Out For Remainder of Postseason”

So, what will happen in the short term to get him back on track?  Most likely his rehab team will explore the use of things like massage, ice and or heat, taping, dry needling, cupping, electrical stimulation (maybe a little prayer) to get him back on the court in the case of a game 7.  Don’t be surprised if you see him on a stationary bike courtside to keep his muscles warm when he returns.

Long term in the offseason, he will have to look at a rehab and prevention program that consists of eccentric muscle training (a muscle is holding a contraction while it lengthens) such as is done with Nordic Hamstrings Exercises.   Rehabilitating the entire lower extremity for coordination of his lower extremity muscle groups, balance, and agility will get him ready for the next season.

So, the big question is, can he return to play.  Well that just depends on how bad the strain was.  My bet is that considering the circumstances, his potential impact, and the fact that he was at least able to walk off the floor after the injury, they will figure out a way to get him back in the game.

Remember though, that is just for Chris Paul (you know, NBA star Chris Paul).  If you just suffered a hamstrings strain and a playoff series is not at risk, how about letting it rest just a little before getting back.

#kptwellness #livingwell #kptgreenville

 

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 Kids Shouldn’t Specialize in One Sport

Most medical experts in agreeing that young athletes generally remain mentally and physically healthier, achieve greater success, and learn to enjoy a lifetime of physical fitness when they opt to play multiple sports.

Specializing in a sport is fine, but we should be aware that allowing youth to specialize in a sport year-round can lead to burnout, a greater risk of experiencing overuse injuries, and less long-term success.

While this path has worked out for some, these stories are very rare and overlook the fact that the risks of specialization far outweigh the rewards, especially when it comes to youth athletics.

It’s been estimated that up to 60 million U.S. youths ages 6 to 18 years participate in some form of athletics. More than 5 million of these athletes experience an injury each year. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 50 percent of athletic injuries are related to overuse, the types of injuries for which one-sport athletes are particularly prone.

An overuse injury happens when a bone, muscle or tendon has been put through repetitive stress without being given a sufficient amount of time to heal or repair, leading to microtraumatic damage.  Think sore pitching arms or pain in a swimmer’s shoulder that doesn’t go away, possibly keeping the athlete from competing.

The same repetitive motions year-round can, in other words, lead to such overuse injuries as strains, sprains, stress fractures, and even tears in muscles, tendons and ligaments. Playing multiple sports, in contrast, allows young athletes to challenge their bodies in different ways, developing new sets of physical traits and skills and that offer more universal performance benefits.

To help young athletes reduce the risk of developing overuse injuries and overall burnout here are a few things for parents and coaches to consider:

Encourage Diversity: Especially at an early age, encourage kids to try out and play different sports throughout the year. Some of the most successful athletes (up to 97 percent of the pros) believe being a multisport athlete was beneficial to their long-term success.

Seek Rest: Young athletes should take at least one to two days off from practice and/or structured sports participation each week. Some experts suggest limiting weekly practice to the age (in hours) of the athlete. Long-term, athletes should take 2 to 3 months off a particular sport each year to help refresh the body and the mind.

Specialize Later: Wait until at least high school age – better yet, around the ages of 16 or 17 – before considering specializing in any individual sport. At this point, the body is more prepared for such rigors.

Watch for Signs: If a young athlete complains of nonspecific problems with muscles and/or joints, physical fatigue, or grows concerned about poor performance, visit a physical therapist, who can fully evaluate the issue and offer treatment (if needed) for any potential injuries or deficiencies.

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.

3 Simple Steps to Prevent Golf Injuries

It’s estimated that about 29 million Americans each year hit the links for at least one round of golf. That’s 1 in 10 people in the U.S., according to the National Golf Foundation. But while golf is often considered a safe, low-impact, leisurely activity for people of all ages and abilities, that impression vastly underestimates the impact golf has on the body.

From sudden, acute injuries due to poor form or the lack of flexibility, to the development of long-term, overuse injuries caused by excessive play or poor swing mechanics, a round of golf can turn from leisurely to debilitating without proper training and conditioning.

People love to play golf because it’s challenging and competitive while, for the most part, remaining nondiscriminatory based on age or fitness level, but there’s no denying that golf as a sport is associated with a significant number of injuries each year – conditions that can keep you off the links while affecting other aspects of your life.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 131,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices and other clinics for golf-related injuries in 2015 alone. The most common injuries affected golfers’ backs, shoulders and elbows.

The most common golf injuries tend to happen either when a golfer jumps into a season or round too quickly, before the body’s prepared for the rigors of 18 holes or they come from playing and practicing too much – without proper rest – which can lead to overuse injuries like back pain or golfer’s elbow.

Studies by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) have shown that both are real issues within the golf community. For instance, AOSSM says that more than 80 percent of golfers spend less than 10 minutes warming up before a round. At the same time, about 44 percent of all reported golf injuries in youths are from overuse.

These injuries are preventable, and the first step is realizing that golf is truly a sport, not just a leisure activity. With any sport, you can’t just pick up the driver and start swinging. You have to get your body in shape for golf – both before the season and before a particular round – and you have to know when to rest.”

Preventing golf injuries requires the following:

Proper Mechanics: Your swing isn’t just important for accuracy and length. Proper mechanics keep you from placing too much strain on your back, elbows, shoulders … really your entire kinetic chain, from your feet to your head.

A Warmup Routine: If you’re one of the 80 percent of golfers who spend less than 10 minutes warming up, you’re just asking for injury. Instead, develop a regular and reliable stretching and warmup routine for use prior to each round that promotes flexibility, increases your heart rate, and gradually works your body up to swinging the driver.

Professional Advice: A golf pro can help you with mechanics, but a physical therapist can ensure your body is up for the rigors of performing these mechanics through nine or 18 holes. A full assessment from a physical therapist can help a golfer identify imbalances in strength and flexibility, from which a PT can provide him or her with a path toward addressing these deficiencies with an eye toward injury prevention and improving the golf game.

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.

Another Way to Decrease Pain

Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined (American Academy of Pain Medicine).  If you are like most people, you probably want to get rid of it as quickly as possible.  Fortunately, there are many options out there for pain management that can be help without long term use of pain medications.

One of those options include Trigger Point Dry Needling.  Now I know you’re thinking, “a needle!  Oh my!”  No worries. It’s not quite what you think.  Dry needling is a treatment that has been safely provided by physical therapists since the 1920’s that has recently had a resurgence in use.  It involves a very thin monofilament type of needle that the physical therapist pushes through the skin to stimulate trigger points (really tight areas within the tissue) and muscles to help them to relax, to restore motion, and decrease pain.

Many athletes, runners, dancers, use dry needling as a part of their normal rehab routine.  Most people report that they don’t really feel anything with the initial stick until the needle gets into the muscle.  Then there is often a very quick muscle contraction that is more surprising than it is painful.  Afterwards, the client usually demonstrates improved range of motion and reports decreased pain.

After treatment, there might be a muscle soreness similar to what one would feel after exercise but once this is gone, oh the joy of decreased pain!

Now, remember, this is not magic (although it would be really cool if it were).  Dry needling is one of the many tools that physical therapists can use to help restore motion and decrease pain.  Your therapists can perform a thorough evaluation to help determine if you are a good candidate for this as a part of your treatment program to reduce your pain and improve your function.

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.

5 Running Mistakes to Avoid this 5K Season

It’s the season for weekend fun runs, charity 5Ks and multi-stage team relays. But as recreation and competitive runners hit the roads and trails to prepare for upcoming events remember that avoiding common early season training mistakes can keep runners healthy and competitive throughout the season.

This is an especially important message considering about 60 to 65 percent of all runners experience an injury during the average year.

Running injuries are common, especially early in the season when people are training and prepping for races by getting their bodies back into shape. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles problems, knee pain, IT band friction syndrome … these are all common running injuries, often caused this time of year by doing too much too soon, and doing so lacking proper strength, muscle timing, flexibility or form.

To help remain on schedule throughout the spring and summer outdoor season remember to avoid the following five running mistakes:

  1. Skipping Warmup and Cooldown: While workout windows can be tight and difficult to secure during a given week, don’t use time constraints as an excuse to avoid properly warming up and cooling down before and after a run. Some walking, light jogging, skipping, high knees and butt kicks prior to running increases heart rate and circulation, loosens up the joints and increases blood flow to the muscles. For your cooldown, do some light walking and stretching to help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can lead to stiffness and muscle cramps.
  2. Wearing the Wrong Shoes: How your feet strike the ground will affect muscles and joints throughout your body’s entire kinetic chain, from the feet and ankles, through the knees and hips, and up into your spine and torso. If your shoes don’t fit properly, support your feet correctly or sufficiently absorb the impact of each stride, you’re going to feel it. It’s important to not only wear a good, high-quality shoe, but also one that matches your foot type.
  3. Not Listening to the Body: Don’t subscribe to a “no pain, no gain” model when running. Sure, you’ll want to push your body hard, but if you feel pain or an unnatural level of discomfort or fatigue, stop, assess and seek treatment from a physical therapist or other medical professional, if necessary.
  4. Focusing Only on Cardio Fitness: With running, cardio fitness is certainly important. But when it comes to both injury prevention and performance enhancement, flexibility and strength are equally as vital. Stretch daily and during cooldown periods and build strength in your calves, knees, hips and core through heel drops and body weight squats.
  5. Forgetting to Rest: It’s good to push yourself, but rest and recovery are essential in avoiding injury, burnout and plateauing before you’ve reached your fullest potential. So always work rest into your long-term training regimen. This doesn’t mean just kicking up your feet and relaxing for a day. Sometimes, ‘rest’ can simply mean mixing up your training so you’re not challenging your body the same way every day.

To learn more about proper training, including personalized assessments and the development of training regimens that can enhance your running performance and ensure optimal injury prevention, feel free to contact the physical therapy team at Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness.

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.

Take Steps to Avoid Sprained Ankles

With basketball season in full swing and winter weather affecting large areas of the country, it’s peak season for ankle sprains, one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries in the US, yet incidents of ankle sprains can be minimized through simple strength, balance and flexibility exercises.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.

PT Helps Prevent ACL Injuries

If you’re even a casual sports fan you’re likely very familiar with the dreaded ACL tear that will end an athlete’s season. But what if there was a program that you could take part in that would help lower your chances of serious injury? A physical therapist might not be your first thought of someone to call for help, but we’re leading the charge on ACL injury prevention.

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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.

The Right Way to Squat

Several times I have seen athletes, bodybuilders, military personnel, and even the weekend warriors for injuries related to one of the most popular exercises in the gym… The Squat!!!

With so many variations on how different people do the squat, one must ask, “What is the correct way to do it?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.