It’s that time of year; the kids are back in school, the leaves are just beginning to change colors, and football season has begun. Understanding how precious our kids are to all of us, we thought we’d use this month’s newsletter to share some insight on the more common injuries that football players can sustain, what parents (and coaches) should watch for, and ways to potentially avoid injuries.
Knee injuries, involving the ligaments of the knee are all susceptible to injury in football, often caused by hits from other players. Some players also tear the meniscus, when they plant a foot to rotate their body and the knee twists.
Pivoting movements and changes in direction, make players susceptible to soft tissue damage in the ankle. Shoulder injuries often result from direct hits to the shoulder, causing the joint to dislocate or separate. And, as we now better understand, concussions and brain injury, can result from hard hits leading to even more serious consequences, especially when they are not carefully handled by the coach and parents.
The risk inherent to this highly physical game are often countered, however, by the values that the sport can instill in a young person. A good work ethic, perseverance, humility, respect and cooperation are just some of the values that a young athlete can carry into adulthood – often balancing the risk with the rewards available.
What Parents Can Watch For
Understanding and supporting the positive opportunities that come with sports, parents can counter some of this risk by taking an active role in monitoring how their child is doing. This includes keeping an eye on how frequently practices and games are held, and how hot it is outside when players are training and playing.
As with any sport, football players are prone to overuse injuries. Encouraging our kids (or grandkids) to be vocal about any chronic or recurrent pain, is really important, as it could be the sign of overuse and the need for rest. Being present for the games and asking questions increases your awareness of how your young athlete is doing.
While strength and conditioning training before the season begins is most helpful, young players can always benefit from sports training and injury prevention programs during the season. A good program for football players should emphasize conditioning, including agility drills and sprints; proper weight training, with someone that can teach the correct form; and building bone density and increasing reaction time. Being able to react more quickly, helps the brain work faster during a game and may help an athlete avoid impact with another player, reducing the chance of injury.
As physical therapists we work with youth athletes regularly – not just to rehab after an injury, but before an injury occurs. We have had much success in working with athletes to prevent injury and improve performance. If you are the parent or grandparent of a young football player or know of a friend who is, we encourage you to share this article or this insight.
As parents and grandparents help students (young and older) prepare for the upcoming new school year, a little information about the impact of backpacks can be very helpful.
Backpacks can be surprisingly heavy once books and supplies are gathered. On average, 6th graders carry backpacks weighing from 18 to 30 pounds. Given that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a student carry no more 15 percent of their body weight and ideally less than that, there are many students whose long-term back health is at risk.
In order to reduce this risk and take care of your growing loved ones, here are a few helpful back care tips:
1. Pay attention to the weight of your student’s backpack. Know the student’s weight and the back pack so that you can learn what the weight ratio is. For example, a child weighing 80 pounds should not be carrying more than 12 pounds.
2. Every effort to reduce the weight of the backpack should be made. This can be done by helping your student organize the contents and learn what is truly needed and what isn’t for any given day. When it isn’t possible to reduce the load, there are two options that can make a difference. 1) You can secure a backpack with wheels, or 2) You can help your student organize the contents so that the heaviest items are closest to the back.
3. Help your student learn how to wear the backpack so it is over the mid-back where the strongest back muscles reside. Adjusting the shoulder straps so that the backpack not only sits in the middle of the back but can also be taken off or put on without strain is important. Straps that are too loose are problematic as the backpack shouldn’t sit below the low back.
4. Using both straps is a big deal. Lots of students want to throw the backpack over one shoulder. The weight distribution ends up being uneven and can be very strenuous. When the weight of the backpack is evenly distributed across the shoulders the weight impact decreases.
Good back care that begins early in life, can result in a much healthier future for growing bodies and growing minds!
We appreciate our patients and followers and are hopeful that you are moving through this recent heat wave safely. As the heat index rises, we thought this important information might be helpful to have at your fingertips.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR...
HEAT EXHAUSTION Versus HEAT STROKE and the Difference…
Often it is hard to understand the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The symptoms are similar, heat stroke is life threatening, and both require quick attention. This helpful infographic from Beaumont is worth taking a few minutes to look at.
As we often say, take care of your body and it will take care of you. On these hot, humid days this is especially true.
Stay cool and stay safe!
There are many benefits to walking your dog; open air, sun, exercise, the chance to rewind and get perspective and more. Being smart about how you walk your dog, however, is essential.
To fully experience all the good benefits this activity offers, here are three simple, effective, tips:
ONE: If your dog pulls frequently, is easily distracted or gets overly excited, use a harness to keep your dog close and under control. In our business, we see patients who have experienced injuries to their back (spine), shoulders and arms due to an absence of control.
TWO: Make sure you don’t wrap your dog’s leash around your fingers, but rather use a shaped handle such as those found on retractable leashes. When a leash gets twists around the owner’s fingers, it can cause finger fractures and hand injuries.
THREE: If your dog is hard to manage, seek out help from a dog trainer before walking him or her regularly. Hard to manage dogs tend to get under their owner’s feet. This can cause falls and sprains and is avoidable when help is sought out. This is particularly important for owners who are elderly and struggle with balance.
Protect your fingers, hands, wrists, shoulders, neck and spine and enjoy the special time you get to spend with your dog safely!
CHECK OUT THIS SHORT LITTLE DEMONSTRATION VIDEO OUR SISTER CLINIC IN CHESTERFIELD MADE ON THIS SUBJECT!
One of the most cherished gifts you can give a child, are memories of you sitting in the bleachers at their games cheering them on. The time and attention given in this thoughtful act, can have a powerful positive impact on a child’s self-perception. The difficult part, however, for many people is the back pain that often accompanies long car rides and sitting on bleachers without back support.
In this month’s newsletter, we would like to give you (or someone you love) a few meaningful tips on how to prevent or ease the back pain that can come with these events.
Long Car Rides
If getting to a child’s game requires extended travel time it is important to:
Whenever possible, it is best to bring your own supportive chair.
When it isn’t and bleacher seating is your only option, bring a small cushion, pillow or blanket to sit on during the game. Using one of these items will elevate the position of your hips, so that they are level with your knees. Preventing a rounding out of your low back can help reduce potential back pain.
Also, while it is easy to become sedentary once you’ve found your seat, sitting in the same position (especially without back support) can cause your back to become stiff. It helps a great deal to get up an walk around at regular intervals. If it is difficult to get out of your seating area or if it is hard to walk, just getting up and cheering on the team can help you stretch and prevent or reduce back pain.
Remember Your Posture
Being aware of your posture is likely the best way to take care of your back and spine. Remember to:
Check out this helpful video offered by our sister clinic, Physical Therapy Professionals (in Chesterfield, MI). Connie Fuller, MPT helps you learn why correct posture is so important to your well-being. Select VIEW below.
Joint replacement surgeries like knee and hip replacements are on the rise. With many Baby Boomers approaching their 70s, this trend is likely to continue. While patients tend to think long and hard about what the surgery will entail and the expertise of their surgeon, they don’t often consider the role of physical therapy in their recovery.
A patient’s decision to undergo a joint replacement is often a result of chronic arthritis or pain, as well as a loss of function and quality of life. Throughout the process of rehabilitation, patients are commonly frustrated about meeting their own expectations after having the joint replacement. Patients aren’t usually prepared for the discomfort of the process of healing, and the challenges of restoring their full range of motion and building the necessary strength to return to a functional level that fits their lifestyles.
What is important to know is that at the beginning of the recovery period, there is commonly swelling and pain that interferes with the ease of moving the joint, such as bending and straightening the knee or hip. It’s critical to begin moving the joint immediately after surgery, even when there is pain, in order to prevent the formation of scar tissue, which can hinder the process of restoring the range of motion necessary to do everyday tasks.
Physical therapy is particularly important after a joint replacement since a physical therapist provides treatment that decreases swelling, improves soft tissue mobility, and allows for a gradual progression of improving joint motion. PT helps a patient learn to walk again with a normal stride. If a patient’s manner of walking after a total joint replacement isn’t addressed, this can cause problems in other parts of the body, including the back, hip, knee, ankle and foot.
Patients can expect that physical therapy after joint replacement will include a variety of exercises to regain strength in a way that duplicates how we move throughout our daily lives, like being able to go up and down stairs, transfer in and out of a chair or car, run errands in the community and return to recreational activities. Full recuperation typically takes two to three months of therapy. A physical therapist provides education to help patients move through the entire recovery period.
If you or your loved one, are going through with a joint replacement surgery, commit to a full recovery by working with your physical therapist toward a stronger and healthier future. Our Care Team has extensive experience in helping patients heal.
As we head into early spring and prepare to clean up our lawns and gardens, it’s a good idea to remember how to take care of our bodies and avoid injuries as we bring in the spring. Here are 4 reminders to consider:
REMINDER 1: Fallen branches don’t need to lead to a sore back.
Small scattered branches require repetitive bending which can be hard on your back. You can reduce the chance of injury by remembering to keep your back straight, engage your stomach muscles and bend at the knees (not at the waist). If you have a big yard, do this clean-up in intervals. If it must be done all at once, ask for help.
Bigger branches that are heavy, present a bigger risk for injury. Before attempting to move these branches, gauge their weight and where you need them to be moved to. It is always best to seek help from another able-bodied person, if the branch is too heavy to move without it causing you pain.
REMINDER 2: Avoid bending over backwards for your flower beds and gardens.
It is common to bend for long periods of time when you are cleaning up a garden. This activity, however, is hard on your back and legs. You can reduce the possibility of injury by having one foot placed on the ground with the hip and knee flexed while the opposite knee is kneeling on the ground.
Avoid staying in one position for too long (10–15 minutes max.) Take breaks every 45 minutes to an hour. Try not to work for more than 2 hours a day.
REMINDER 3: Good tools are worth your investment.
There are many tools that can make your yard work faster and easier. A stand-up weeder is great for removing weeds without exerting pressure on your back and knees. A utility cart to haul debris away or bring supplies to your gardens reduces strain across many parts of your body. And, when you need to get to something up high like a tree branch or rain gutters, an extendable pole will keep you off of ladders and save strained muscles or potential accidents.
REMINDER 4: If you need help, ask for it.
Though we mentioned it in reminder 1 in reference to heavy branches, remember that if you don’t feel that you are physically able to clean up your yard without causing harm to your body, talk to your physical therapist. Learning more about how to move properly is your best bet for avoiding injury. You can also consider hiring a lawn service. Most providers offer a one-time only service to help with the bigger job of cleaning up last year’s yard debris.
Take care of your body so that when spring arrives in its full splendor, you can fully enjoy it!
We are now in the heart of ski season and have patients coming in with ski injuries. As we help these patients heal their injuries, we can see how important it is to share information on how ski injuries can be prevented.
Years of experience has shown us that physical therapy exercises lend great benefit to skiers combined with some basic knowledge of the most common injuries and how they can be prevented.
PHYSICAL THERAPY EXERCISES FOR SKIERS
When we are working with skiers to avoid injuries, we place great focus on helping a skier learn proper form. Being able to shift weight forward, keep legs parallel and allow equal flexion between the ankles, knees and hips is very important.
Next, having a strong core is critical and strengthening exercises can make all the difference in a skier’s good health. A strong core helps with posture and there is a reduction in injuries when turning or twisting. Planks (traditional and side) help strengthen the abdominal muscles.
Having strong legs creates strong knees. Squats, lunges and the use of circuit training machines builds up leg muscles and reduces the risk of knee injuries (like those described below).
Skiers with great upper body strength have better control of their poles. Using weights and or a medicine ball combined with tricep dips, give skiers significant advantages in performance and injury prevention.
INJURIES TO THE KNEES
The most common ski injuries are knee sprains that occur when a ligament around the knee joint is torn or has stretched too far. The two most common knee injuries are MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) Tears and ACL (Anterior Collateral Ligament) Tears.
MCL Tears involve the tissue that connects the thigh and lower leg. Because these tears occur most frequently when a skier tries to slow down or stop suddenly, skiers can often prevent this injury by learning how to properly balance their weight when they are slowing or turning.
ACL Tears involve the tissue that connects the thighbone to the shinbone. Since this tissue helps to stabilize the knee joint, it can be injured when a skier stops suddenly, changes direction abruptly or lands a jump on a slope awkwardly. When skiers learn how to balance properly and shift their weight forward, they can avoid putting too much weight on the back of their foot and too much pressure on the calves (avoiding an ACL Tear).
INJURIES TO THE WRIST
Broken wrists happen most frequently when a skier falls with an outstretched hand. When they land, the excess pressure on the wrist bones can fracture. Learning how to move the body during a fall combined with wearing a wrist brace can help skiers prevent wrist injuries.
OTHER WAYS TO PREVENT INJURY
While there are several other types of injuries that can occur while skiing (foot and ankle sprains, back injuries, shoulder dislocations) there are many additional methods that can be used for injury prevention. This can include wearing a helmet, having gear that is properly fitted, using a knee brace, shoulder supports and stabilizers, are all examples to discuss with your Physical Therapist or Hand Therapist.
GET ON THE SLOPES, STAY ON THE SLOPES
While we are dedicated to helping skiers with injuries, rehabilitate and get back on the slopes, remember that physical therapy isn’t just for those with injuries. Because we understand body mechanics extremely well, we are also adept at helping you prepare for this demanding but seriously fun physical activity.
With a little smart prep, you can get on the slopes and stay on the slopes, all season long!
Waking up day after day to dark cloudy skies, can impact not only your mood, but also your movement. At a time when it becomes even more important to get up and get moving, it can take more effort. The reasons however, to put your best foot forward and get mobile, are really worth your time and consideration.
Why? Well, let’s look at a few simple facts.
Did you know that…?
Research has proven that when you sit up straight in your chair, it boosts your confidence!
Standing up, stretching your arms up to the sky and taking a deep breath, decreases stress and anxiety, increases your pain tolerance and your feelings of power.
Individuals who exercise for 30 minutes are much better equipped to overcome sadness and regulate difficult emotions.
Just 5 minutes at a park or on a nature trail (whether the sky is gray or not!) enhances your mental health and can put a smile on your face.
Making the choice to get outside, walk, swing your arms, pull your shoulders back, and put a spring in your step, decreases stress hormones, increases immunities, lowers bad cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and raises good cholesterol!
So now that you know how much movement can help you feel good, put down your phone or walk away from your computer or tablet. Get up and move your body!
Don’t let those gray sky blues bring you down. Let movement improve your mood!
Share with us, how did movement help you?
The first snow in Southeastern Michigan arrived in a blast last night and has just about melted away. Though the snow didn’t last long, we are all now preparing for the cold weather months and for many the experience of increased joint and muscle pain.
To help you reduce the impact of the cold weather on your well-being and mobility, we want to offer you a few simple but helpful ways you can move through these chilly months with less pain.
1. DRESS IN LAYERS
During the autumn, we often experience a surprising blend of warm days and cold days. Unless you are an individual who pays attention to weather forecasts (and trusts them!), dress in layers so that you can adjust your body temperature with these shifts. The ability to easily add or subtract clothing can curtail extremes and the pain that can accompany them.
2. WARM UP YOUR MUSCLES FIRST
When you are about to leave your house and go outside, take a few minutes to stretch or walk in place to loosen and warm up your muscles. These simple movements can reduce the tightening of your muscles and joints as you experience the change in temperature – and as a result, reduce potential pain.
3. ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF A WARM BATH
A warm bath is soothing to joints and muscles according to the Arthritis Foundation and can reduce pain. It is important, however, to avoid going into the cold after a warm bath as this will counter your efforts quickly. Allow your body temperature to normalize first.
4. FIND A GOOD MASSAGE THERAPIST
In June 2015, The Journal for Alternative and Complementary Medicine, released a study that examined the impact of massage on knee osteoarthritis. They were able to measure a notable reduction in joint pain as a result of massage therapy.
5. USE GLOVES, HATS AND SCARFS
Though it takes a little getting used to, as the weather turns cold, make a point of using gloves, hats and scarfs to reduce direct cold to sensitive joints and muscles. This method for reducing pain is particularly effective for individuals with arthritis.
As we often say, take care of your body and it will take care of you!