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Why Non-Swimmers Get “Swimmer’s Shoulder”

Swimmers often complain of aches and pains in their shoulder that either keeps them from swimming or limits how well they swim.  In one study, as much as 50% of swimmers experienced shoulder pain, often referred to as “swimmers shoulder.” Due to the repetitive movements that swimmers must perform at their shoulders, they tend to more prone to overuse injuries at their shoulder.  One of the common risk factors with swimmers is observed during hand entry in which the hand crosses midline.  This can cause more “pinching” at the shoulder joint.  If you’re not a swimmer, however, you can actually still have swimmer’s shoulder!

Swimmers shoulder is a common term for all of the shoulder aches and pains that occur in swimmers, but one of the most common causes of this pain is shoulder impingement.  This is when the person raises their arm only to get that pinch or catch in their shoulder.  Shoulder impingement typically shows up during everyday activities such as when doing an overhead press in the gym, reaching into the cabinet at home or trying to lift your quickly growing child up in the air.  The catch or pinch that you feel is the impact of your tendons or fluid sacs (bursae) getting pinched or caught on the roof of your shoulder.  This can make reaching, sleeping, throwing a ball, and even driving more difficult.

A quick self-test to see if  you might have impingement is to position your arm to your side with your palm facing forward and then raise your shoulder out to the side and then all the way up until reaching the ceiling (like making a snow angle).  If you have pain at the middle point of the motion, then it’s time to take action.

If this is all too familiar to you, there are some simple actions you can take to get on the right track.

  1. Try a little ice – I know this is all too common of a solution, but if your shoulder is causing steady pain, there is likely some lingering inflammation that a little cold therapy can help. Sometimes in our world of advanced technology and an abundance of medication options, it is the most simple solutions that are often overlooked.  You can create your own, or pick up a cold pack from your local sports store.
  1. Do some exercises – Strengthening the smaller muscles around the shoulder (ie. The rotator cuff) is important because these muscles help hold the ball of the shoulder in place when you raise your shoulder. Here are a couple favorites:

Shoulder external rotation – Begin standing upright with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and a towel roll tucked under your arm, holding a resistance band that is anchored out to your opposite side. Rotate your arm out to your side, pulling against the resistance, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Shoulder protraction - Begin lying on your back with your arms raised straight upward, holding a dumbbell in each hand.  Keep your elbows straight and punch your arms up toward the ceiling, raising your shoulders off the ground.

  1. Add some stretches - You can only move as far as your muscles and joints allow.  Stretching some of the tight tissues will help reduce some of the pinching sensation you feel at your shoulder. Try these to get started.

Pect stretch – Begin in a standing upright position in the center of a doorway. With your elbow straight, place your hand on the side of the doorway at roughly a 60 degree angle from your side, then take a small step forward and slightly rotate your body until your feel a stretch in the front of your shoulder. Hold this position.

Sleeper stretch - Begin by lying on your side with your bottom arm bent upward at a 90 degree angle. With your other arm, apply a gentle downward pressure until you feel a stretch in your shoulder.

These are just a few to get started.  Keep working on theses and look to start seeing changes within a couple of weeks.  If you are not noticing changes or your progress comes to a halt, it is likely time for a comprehensive physical therapy assessment.

Four Reasons Your Ankle Hurts and How to Fix It

You are most likely reading this because you have ankle and foot pain now, you have had it in the past, or you know someone who does.  Efforts to try to cope with ankle pain, from walking boots, to ankle braces, ace wraps, and crutches have been used by many yet it seems that even after that, many of us still deal with it.  There is nothing like classic ankle pain that shortens your stride and slows your pace.  An estimated 11% of people will have ankle pain at some point in life, but if you are like me, I can appreciate things that limit any unnecessary discomfort.  Here are some reasons your ankle might hurt (and how to fix it):

 

1 You’ve Sprained it

I know what you’re thinking, “Of course it hurts if I’ve sprained my ankle.”  Well, this is not just for those who have just recently sprained their ankles. If you sprain your ankle today, you are more likely to treat it with ice and compression and elevation to get rid of the pain.  Unfortunately, once the initial pain is gone, we lose that reminder that our ankle isn’t as strong and stable as it was prior to the sprain.  This instability, or lack of control and balance at the ankle can lead to increased irritation and even impingement (or pinching) of structures around the joint thus causing the pain (and swelling) to return.

How to Fix It:  Start doing single limb stance exercises on the previously affected ankle.  For example, try to stand on one leg (once the pain has reduced) and work on balancing on that leg.  If this is easy, swing the other leg back and forth at varying speeds to challenge the balance of the stance leg.  Exercises like this help build endurance in the smaller muscles that help to

 

2 Your Shoes are Hurting You

I wouldn’t dare to bring up the issue of wearing high heel shoes to the ladies reading this article.  I’m sure you’ve heard stories of how wearing high heels over long periods of time can cause foot and ankle problems from fractures, arthritis, hammer toes, ingrown toenails, and other problems.  Instead of bringing that up, let’s address shoes in general.  The best thing to keep in mind is that a good shoe should feel good when you wear it.  If you are wearing shoes that are too tight, too loose, or don’t have enough support, you just might be setting yourself up for foot and ankle pain.

How to Fix It: Remember, that although once you are an adult, you might stop growing in height but that doesn’t mean your feet are not changing shape.  Go to a good shoe store and have your feet measured to see what size you truly need.  Perhaps you need a narrow or a wide shoe.  Be sure to find that out and get the shoe that fits you best.  It’s not the price that makes a shoe good, but rather, the fit that makes it good for you.

3 Your Arch Support is Weak

There is a long tendon that goes under your foot that supports the arch.  It comes from a muscle in the back of your leg called the posterior tibialis.  When this muscle weakens over time, the dysfunction can cause your foot to flatten more. Over time this can cause pain to move to the outside of your foot and ankle.

How to Fix It:  Wearing shoes that support your arch is very important to help lift some of the pressure off of one part of your foot.  Exercise to strengthen the posterior tibialis is helpful for long term improvement as well.  One of the best exercises is to sit in a chair and resist turning and curling your foot inward using a resistance band while keeping your foot flat on the floor.  It helps to strengthen the tibialis muscle that supports the arch.

4 Your Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon can become irritated by tight shoes, strained, or overused.  If It’s been a while since you’ve ran or played basketball and you decided to jump right back in at 5 miles or 4 pick up basketball games, it’s likely that you know what this is all about.  An irritated Achilles tendon can cause cramping at your leg muscles and even pain at your foot and ankle.  Plantar fasciitis is a common complaint of pain at the foot and ankle after overuse.

How to Fix It:  Progress back into exercises at a slower, reasonable pace if you have not done the activities in a while. Jumping and repeated hopping activities are important to pace.  Also, before you take that first step in the morning, stretch your smaller foot muscles by using your hand to stretch all of your toes backwards repeatedly for 20-30 seconds each time.  Do this first thing in the morning and you’ll find that first step is not so bad.

These are only a few of the common reasons for ankle pain.  Give these solutions a try but whatever you do, if you have pain that doesn’t go away, don’t ignore it. Speak to your physician or your physical therapist right away.

6 Reasons to Start Running Today

Someone once told me the only way they would run was if a dog was chasing them.  Ironically after more than nine 5K races and two half marathons, they have become a recreational runner.  They started with just walking and then slowly adding short periods of jogging into their walk.  Over some time, they began to enjoy the benefits of running.  You have often seen individuals running in the community seemingly so graceful and with ease.  Somewhere deep down inside, you wish you could do that, but if you’re like many people, it seems almost impossible.

You can do it anywhere.

Unlike lifting weights or basketball or skill related activities, no equipment is needed to take a jog (or even a brisk walk).  Running is an activity that is always accessible.  That means you can start anytime and anyplace with just a regular walking routine.  Over time, you can add short bouts of jogging until the short bouts become longer. The more you do this, the better you will become.  The great thing about this is you can practice anytime and anyplace you choose.

It reduces your blood pressure.

No reasons to fret when you see your physician and they bring the blood pressure cuff out.  You can gain control of your blood pressure with a regular running routine. The top number of your blood pressure (systolic) is typically reduced by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm HG) for those who get regular exercise.  Better yet, regular aerobic exercise can prevent rises in your blood pressure as you get older.  Tired of those blood pressure medications?  Why not have a conversation with your physician to work together towards running those pills away?

It reduces stress.

There are chemicals in the body that are called stress hormones (ex. adrenaline, cortisol), but there are also some that are mood elevators or “feel good” hormones (ex endorphins).  A good run gives that moment of escape, the mental relaxation and the release of endorphins to help reduce your stress.  Very often, the stress relief that you need is not only in finishing the last part of that project or task you are working on, but in taking a break from it, going for that run, and then coming back to it.

It gives you more energy.

The same hormones that reduce your stress also give you more energy.  As you gain the benefits of better sleep from running, you will wake up with more vigor and more focus.  Regular running has multiplying effects.  Every time you use energy to do it, you gain more energy back than you used to do it.  If you feel like you are tired all of the time, why not giving running a try.

You can meet new people.

Runners of all levels often create communities.  This is a great opportunity to meet someone new with an already established common interest.  Companies such as Fleet Feet often have training programs to help people learn to run in small groups.  Even signing up to walk or jog during a local 5K event brings a great opportunity to experience the fun of meeting new people in a pressure free setting.

You live longer and healthier.

The National Institute of Health did a research study that shows that even those who start running at middle age, can reduce future disability and live longer, healthier lives by running.  Running is a great investment in your health.  Whether you start young or old, your body can adapt to the positive changes of running so that you get better and better at it.  There is nothing like maintaining your mobility that makes you feel free as you age.

So give it a try! Start out with a brief walking program that will progress over time to get you on track to be a regular runner.  Of course, it is always advisable to consult your physician or physical therapist when starting a new program.

 

6 Reasons it Hurts When You Exercise

It’s a new year and many of us have made the commitment to get healthy by getting in shape and exercising more.  Perhaps you’ve tried this before and it didn’t go so well.  We all have our reasons for falling short of our goal in the past but there is one reason that is all too common… It hurts when you exercise!  There are many different reasons you might feel pain when you exercise.  Here are a few common reasons that it hurts when you exercise.

  1. You don’t have enough motion.

Flexibility is an important part of exercise.  It’s often times skipped because most of us see either aerobic exercise or resistance training as the most important parts of exercise.  However, with many of us working in jobs where we are sitting much of the day, our hip muscles are often tight, and our necks and back and shoulders are often stiff.  Try some basic stretches first thing in the morning or prior to going to bed. It will not only help you maintain your flexibility but it will help you sleep better as well.  A good yoga class never hurts.  Some of the top athletes in America make this a common practice

  1. You forgot to warm up

A good warm up has many benefits.  It helps to gradually increase your body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.  There is nothing more discouraging than doing the first exercise or two and feeling like you are already out of breath.  A good warm can help your body ease into the activity.  Your muscles appreciate the extra blood flow as well.  As you warm up, the extra blood flow to your muscles is like the first dip of a dry sponge into a bucket of water.  It’s just more useful and pliable when it’s wet.  Likewise, your muscles are easier to move when there is sufficient blood flow.

  1. You did too much too fast

If you are doing resistance training, a good guideline is to increase your resistance no more than 5 lbs for upper body exercises and 10 lbs for lower body exercises from week to week.  For aerobic exercise (especially for jogging) aim to only increase your time or distance by 10% per week.  As you get more comfortable, you can adjust how you see fit.

  1. You don’t know how

There is no shame in not knowing how to exercise.  The only shame is not asking for help. Even if you don’t have a personal trainer, group fitness can be a good source of training when learning how to exercise.  Youtube videos and websites (from credible sources) can be helpful as well.  Don’t be shy asking for an orientation to the equipment in the gym.

  1. It’s normal

During exercise sometimes the muscles will feel full and even burn a little.  This is what is called the pump and burn effect.  As your body repeats muscle contraction, hydrogen ions can get trapped in the muscle creating a burning sensation (sometimes an itching sensation) in the muscle.  This usually goes away once the exercise is stopped.  Don’t worry, this is normal.  The more you exercise, the less you will feel this.

  1. Something else is wrong

The American Council on Science and Health estimates 50 million (20%) of Americans are in pain.  Never ignore the symptoms of pain.  It’s one thing to cover up the pain but it’s better to know how to fix the problem.  Pain is the “check engine” light for your body.  If you are having constant pain, consult with your physician or physical therapist before exercise.

 

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.

 

Why Everyone Over 50 Should Do Resistance Training

To the 43 million Americans who have low bone density, putting them at high risk of osteoporosis, there is great news for you… Exercise is good medicine. But not just any exercise – weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercise.

As people get older, bone density certainly becomes an issue for many people (women more than men), which can lead to unexpected falls, broken bones and even the onset of osteoporosis. But studies have proven that doing regular, weight-bearing exercise like jogging, walking, aerobics, dancing and resistance training can actually strengthen your bones. It’s a true ‘use it or lose it’ scenario.

And while this benefit of strength training for older adults is a powerful one, it’s simply just one in a list of proven reasons why seniors should make strength training a part of their lifestyles and fitness regimens.

While a reduction in strength is often considered an inevitable part of getting older, it is important that people of all ages should feel empowered to take charge of their overall health (including strength training) as they age. Along with diet and regular check-ups with both a physician and a physical therapist, an exercise regimen that includes elements of strength and resistance training can help slow some of the effects of aging – this, while also allowing one to maintain a high quality of life through activity and independence.

Here some of the many proven benefits of weight-bearing and resistance exercise:

Rebuilding Muscle: People do lose muscle mass as they age, but much of this can be slowed and even reversed through strength and resistance exercise. And of course, a stronger body has a direct impact on issues related to balance, fall prevention and independence.

Reducing Fat: We also tend to more easily put on weight as we get older. Studies show, however, that while older adults gain muscle mass through strength training, they also experience a reduction in body fat.

Reducing Blood Pressure: Studies have also shown that strength training is a great (and natural) way to reduce one’s blood pressure, even for those who “can’t tolerate or don’t respond well to standard medications.”

Improving Cholesterol Levels: Strength training can actual help improve the level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the body by up to 21 percent, while also helping to reduce to levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Strengthening Mental Health: This goes with all exercise, including strength training. Maintaining a high level of fitness can combat anxiety, depression, issues with stress, etc. Exercise is also great for memory!

Whether walking, jogging, hiking, dancing, etc., we recommend 30 minutes of weight-bearing activity every day. It’s also necessary to set aside another two to three days of strength and resistance training each week, which can include free weights, weight machines, Pilates, yoga, and so on.

Why Knee Surgery is Not the End of Physical Fitness

Being the largest joint, the knee is one of the most important features in the human body. It is made of different bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Aside from a complex anatomy, the knee also absorbs the weight of our body and the shock from our movements, making it very vulnerable to injury.

As we pointed out on Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness, damaging the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most common injuries. A Grade 1-2 sprain will recover through a regimented physical treatment but a Grade 3 sprain or a complete tear of the ACL will not heal without rebuilding the ligament through surgery. The same holds true for other ligaments, with the medial collateral ligament (MCL) the second most commonly injured. One athlete that comes to mind is NBA player Kevin Durant, who suffered a Grade 2 sprain to his MCL last year. Since it was a partial tear, no surgery was required, and physical rehabilitation helped him achieve a full recovery.

Another anatomical feature that commonly gets injured is the meniscus. Each knee has two menisci, the medial and the lateral. A meniscus is a cartilage that acts as padding that protects the ends of the bones and prevents them from rubbing together. Dr. Nina Jullum Kise explains that performing surgery on a patient with a meniscal tear depends on whether it is degenerative or traumatic in nature. Degenerative tears normally occur with age, wear and tear and conditions such as arthritis. In this case, Dr. Kise states that exercise is a preferable treatment for patients to minimize further complications. She references a study that found physical therapy showed more success in reducing pain and improving strength and mobility than patients who underwent surgery.

On the other hand, surgical treatment is recommended for traumatic knee injuries caused by playing sports or accidents. Many well-known athletes have sustained injuries to their menisci and required surgery to recover. In 2016, Roger Federer announced his withdrawal from major tournaments due to a torn meniscus. The irony is that his injury happened at home in the bath and not while playing tennis. Nonetheless, the tennis pro underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and made a full recovery. It didn’t take long for the Swiss ace to reclaim his rank as #1 in the world, and Federer enjoyed a resurgent 2017 which also earned him the title of the highest paid tennis player that year. It’s a difficult decision for a professional athlete to take a long break from sports, but as you can see from Federer’s case, it is one that paid off in the long run.

However, injuries that require a total knee replacement (TKR) will most likely force you to choose a gentler form of exercise. It’s most commonly performed in people with knee arthritis where symptoms become too severe and painful that they affect a person’s mobility. Very Well Health lists down low-impact activities such as cycling, swimming and calisthenics that people who’ve had TKR can still do. On the other hand, sports such as basketball, football and jogging are not recommended.

It’s natural for athletes or active individuals to ask whether they’ll be able to return to an active lifestyle after a knee surgery. Depending on the type of injury and appropriate surgery, there are positive chances of making a full recovery. With time and care, you will be back on your feet and have the chance to rebuild yourself.

 

Blog post for kineticptgreenville.com by Millie Miles

Three Reasons Movement Matters

You don’t need Physical Therapy just for rehabilitation from injuries alone. Physical therapy also impacts people’s lives to help people move and live better!  That’s what people deserve right?

When it comes down to it, physical therapy is all about experiences. It’s about making it possible for people to live and experience life to the fullest. Movement – not just exercise, but the overall ability to work, play and LIVE WELL – just so happens to be at the center of so many of our greatest life experiences.”

And with October being National Physical Therapy Month, Jones and other physical therapists across the country are highlighting the many ways physical therapists are uniquely positioned to improve lives and experiences for people of all stages in life.

Physical therapists are highly educated medical professionals who are trained and licensed to help people both improve and maintain the ability to move optimally and with reduced pain. Often, physical therapists can help people do this without the need for surgery or prescription medication.

This includes people who are hurt, injured or who have had surgery, of course, but this also includes athletes looking to improve performance and avoid injury, older adults looking to remain active and independent, workers who want to improve production and comfort while on the job, women who are pregnant … all the way to people who simply just want to be healthier and less sedentary so they can better enjoy the things they love.

And, while strength, cardio health, balance and flexibility are critical for maintaining functional abilities throughout life (i.e., walking, climbing stairs, lifting, reaching, getting out of bed), the ability to move optimally and be active, is something that can equally benefit the body, the mind and the soul.

Why does movement matter?  Well here are some great ways that movement will help you:

Reduced pain – It’s no secret that being active and exercising regularly can benefit the body in seemingly countless ways, from improving cardiovascular health to reducing the incidence of chronic disease. But beyond maintaining great health, specific exercise as prescribed by a physical therapist can benefit people in numerous ways, from helping reduce chronic pain to strengthening bones and joints in older adults. Don’t get caught in the cycle of pain, then less movement, then more pain from not moving.

Improved focus and memory – Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise can sharpen and improve memory. But for those with mild cognitive impairments, exercise can also help slow the rate at which                people with such impairments decline. Exercise has also been linked to greater focus, improved learning for children and adolescents, and a reduction in anxiety and stress.

Overall Happiness – Research has also shown that those who exercise regularly tend to be happier and more social than those who live a more sedentary lifestyle. Not only that, but maintaining a stronger, healthier body with an eye toward optimal movement helps remove barriers that may stop someone from experiencing life to the fullest, whether that includes exploring new places or trying new things.

The best part about being a physical therapist is helping people get to a place in their lives that they thought was either in the past or was unattainable. Whether it’s helping a person complete their first 5K or making sure someone’s able to still pick up and hug their grandkids, our job as a PT is to help people experience life and be the greatest possible versions of themselves – all through better, more optimal movement.

Why the Pool is Good For You All Year

While drinking plenty of water is critical to life, health and healing, simply submerging your body in water (i.e., a pool) opens up opportunities for relief and fitness for those who otherwise may have difficulty exercising.

Although many of our athletes and runners love the pool, this is also especially important for aging adults and those with chronic conditions.

When our bodies are submerged in water, such as in a pool, we become lighter. This, coupled with the natural resistance water places on movement, makes water exercise ideal for many people who deal with issues related to strength, flexibility, balance, sore joints, pain, and even chronic conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.”

The buoyancy of waist-deep water, for example, can support around half our body weight, while neck-deep water can reduce body weight by up to 90 percent. Such reduction in weight and impact on the joints can help people who may experience difficulty standing, balancing and exercising on land to move more freely – and often with less pain.

In addition, water offers 12 times the resistance of the air around us. Because of this added resistance, movement and exercise while submerged in a pool can help build overall strength and stability in the body.

This makes pool exercise, and even aquatic rehabilitation (physical therapy in the pool) when needed, ideal for the aging adult whose goal is to simply maintain a strong, stable and healthy body, ensuring they’re able to keep up with their active lifestyles outside the pool.  A warm pool can both soothe muscles and joints while simultaneously keeping you strong and in optimal health.

One study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise back in 2007 showed that older women who regularly participated in a pool-based exercise program performed better in daily tasks than others who exercised similarly on land. The women in the study, for example, improved their walking speed by 16 percent, their agility by 20 percent, and their ability to walk stairs by 22 percent.

Even when people suffer from common chronic diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis, water exercise can help improve the use of affected joints while decreasing overall pain.

This can also be applied to people who are recovering from injury or surgery.  With the guidance of a physical therapist, the pool can be an effective rehabilitative tool for helping people recover while improving strength, confidence and function.

Those who feel pool exercise or aquatic therapy may help them improve fitness levels or overall functional abilities should first contact their physical therapist for professional guidance.

 

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.

 

Thinking About Getting a Dog? Read This First

It turns out our furry friends have more to offer us than companionship and unconditional love.  Multiple studies actually show that dog owners are generally healthier and more likely to meet national fitness benchmarks than non-owners.

How likely? According to the American Heart Association, dog owners are 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity each day.

In general, pet ownership has proven to lead to a number of great health benefits associated with happiness, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. But dogs are special. Because they need exercise and often demand it from us, they have a persistent way of urging us onto a path toward more exercise and better health.”

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health showed that dog owners take an average of 2,760 more steps per day compared with those who don’t have dogs. This amounts to 23 additional minutes of moderate exercise per day. Another more recent study published in 2017 by BMC Public Health backs these numbers.  I don’t know about you, but my Fitbit loves those added steps.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (i.e., brisk walking) each week. And of course, achieving such benchmarks help individuals improve and maintain long-term health – both physical and mental wellness.

Walking is one of the best physical activities nearly anyone can do, and, taking a dog out for a walk often makes the activity more enjoyable and feel less like exercise – less like a chore.

Approximately 54.4 million U.S. households own at least one dog, based on stats from the Humane Society of the United States.

Pets require lots of love, care and responsibility, and simply having one isn’t going to immediately make you a marathon runner but, if you love animals and could use some added motivation to get outdoors, dogs have a way of pushing you in that direction.

 

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.

 

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

 

Don’t Let The Heavy Lifting Hurt You

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 try to 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.

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.