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!
It is a common myth that physical therapy is just for senior citizens. While seniors clearly experience an improvement in the quality of their lives when they have effective physical therapy, the benefits of PT are substantial for people of all ages with many different circumstances and needs.
For example, did you know that dancers use PT to prevent injuries, heal injuries and enhance their artistry? Dancers need to be highly flexible and precise in their movements. They also must have an abnormally large range of motion, to perform at their highest ability. With physical therapy they develop an understanding of their muscles, ligaments, joints and bones, thus learning how to move and care for their body, maximize their wellness and refine their craft.
Golfers are another group of individuals that tend to experience great benefit from physical therapy. Those that seek to enhance their performance, use PT to improve their physical strength and stamina to help them play their best game. While others are seeking help with sore shoulders, back pain, tight hips and painful knees, all receive help as they learn about the fundamentals of movement. This includes methods for opening up their lower spine, releasing tightness around the hips and improving their overall mobility.
The number of conditions that PT helps, is another area that is often misunderstood. Many connect physical therapy with ailments most often experienced by the elderly. The list that follows of some of the most common diagnosis we see, is another example that dispels the myths long associated with physical therapy.
After almost 40 years of providing physical and occupational therapy, we have helped young hockey players, baseball players, soccer players, factory workers, administrators, professionals from all walks of life, dancers, runners, golfers, parents, patients preparing for surgery, patients healing after surgery, employers, grandparents, and so much more!
Physical therapy can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for the young and the elderly. It isn’t just for senior citizens, it’s for all of us.
Why is good balance so important? The reason can be summed up in one word: CONTROL.
Think about it… we balance our checkbook – or lose control of our finances, we balance our diets – or lose control of our good health, we balance our schedules – or lose control of our time, we balance our bodies – or risk injuries and accidents. To maintain control of our bodies is foundational to our ability to maintain control of our lives. To move safely and comfortably in our lives, we need to maintain a solid awareness of where our bodies are in relation to the things around us.
Do you know how to check your balance?
Check out this video with our own, Josh Halas, DPT, Strength & Conditioning Coach, to learn how.
Do you know what causes balance problems?
While balance problems are common with aging, there are other factors and events that can impact your physical balance. Among these are medications, head injuries, bacterial and viral infections, blood circulation disorders, arthritis, and more.
Do you know how to prevent balance problems?
Here are 4 things you can do:
1. Get your vision and hearing tested annually.
2. Monitor your medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medications can affect your balance.
3. Manage chronic diseases, like diabetes, carefully.
4. If you fall, let your doctor or physical therapist know about it.
Do you know how Physical Therapy helps with balance problems?
First, your Physical Therapist can help reduce your fear of falling by addressing the specific problems that have been discovered.
Using an individualized treatment and exercise program, you can improve your mobility, and regain your ability to move with more ease, coordination and confidence.
As you work with your Physical Therapist, you will see an improvement in your strength, a reduction in muscle weakness, especially in those muscles most important to your balance (your trunk, hip and core muscles).
You will be able to increase your activity, as you learn how to identify muscles that are tight and learn to stretch them properly, resulting in an overall improvement in your flexibility and posture.
Physical Therapy is highly successful in helping you improve both static balance (standing or sitting) and dynamic balance (keeping your balance while moving).
Considering how important good balance is to our overall well-being, we encourage you to check your balance regularly and seek out help if you feel unable to sit or stand upright comfortably.
In the span of one hour, pay attention to how many times you use your hands. To hold your phone, feed yourself, do your job, drive your car, scratch your face, rub your eyes, help your loved one, open a door, pick up anything… the list goes on and on. Our hands are extremely important, but rarely are they fully appreciated. Until, that is, we have trouble using them…
In our PT world, where pain-free mobility is our primary focus every day, we realize that physical therapy often gets a lot more attention than occupational therapy and specifically hand therapy. In this issue, we want to take a moment to give a “high-five!” to hand therapy and provide you a greater understanding of the problems hand therapy helps and the intensity of the training it takes to become and stay a Certified Hand Therapist.
While hand therapy commonly references treatment of the hands, it actually includes treatment of the upper extremities, including the arms, hands, wrists, elbows, forearms, and shoulders. People who have any of the following conditions benefit from hand therapy:
• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
• Golfer’s Elbow
• Tennis Elbow
• Traumatic Injuries (surgical and non-surgical)
• Flexor Tendon Repairs
• Burns and wounds
• Hand pain
• Repetitive Motion Disorders
• plus, a number of other conditions…
At our clinic, we focus a lot on the function of the hand and areas such as pain management, scar management, swelling, sensory re-education, range of motion, strength and more. We also fabricate custom splinting right here on site.
Becoming a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is intense and likely one of the reasons there are just under 6,500 CHT’s around the globe.
A CHT must first become an Occupational Therapist or Physical Therapist, have at least 3 years of experience, plus 4,000 hours of experience providing upper extremity rehabilitation before they can become certified. And, once they are certified, they have to renew the credential every 5 years through at least 80 hours of continuing education. We are really fortunate to have a highly experienced and respected CHT on our team and she has been with us for over 20 years.
In recognition of this important therapy and learn more about how she helps patients regain their abilities, check out this video with our own Kris Moonan, OTR/L, CHT.
Most healthcare professionals would agree that back pain is a complicated issue. While up to 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, there are so many causes of back pain that it’s often difficult to pinpoint the exact reason, making it hard to treat and relieve such pain. Sources can include arthritis, spinal injury and nerve compression.
There are, however, three main causes of lower back pain which can be avoided with proper self-care.
CAUSE #1: Poor sitting posture.
Many of us have jobs that require us to sit at a computer for hours* at a time, staring at a small screen and perhaps involuntarily hunching over our keyboard. this can lead to problems with the intervertebral discs, making it difficult to not only sit, but also stand up and sit down in chairs.
If you have a job that requires sitting for any length of time, paying attention to your posture could help you avoid back pain. Remember to sit with your back straight, but retain the natural curves in your back; if you need support, you can put a lumbar roll or even a rolled up towel in your chair behind the small of your back to help.
It is also very important to move throughout the day so you can keep your muscles loose.
CAUSE #2: Poor lifting techniques.
How many times have you sat through a training video that reminds employees to lift with the legs, not with the back? Incorrect lifting posture can create a lower back injury quickly. Always make sure that your knees are bent and your back is straight. Never jerk heavy objects up; move slowly and carefully instead. And if the object is heavier than 30 pounds, get help, either from another person or some machinery.
Don’t forget that this applies to small objects as well as large ones. Bending down many times to pick up toys can put just as much strain on your back as one lift of a heavy box. Even for light objects, bend at your knees and save your back.
CAUSE #3: Lack of lumbar extension.
Lower back pain can often be a sign that your lumbar muscles are too tight. We recommend trying some lumbar extension exercises to relax and stretch the muscles.
Making a few smart adjustments to your daily routine are a good guard against back pain. Maintain correct sitting posture, consistently utilize proper body mechanics and do daily extension exercises. While this is not a guarantee against all lower back pain, it does significantly reduce its likelihood.
Running regularly or competitively can be one of the most exhilarating experiences a person can have. Runners who enjoy the thrill of completing a marathon or appreciate the sense of well-being that accompanies a simple daily run, are often the most committed, healthy individuals you’ll meet.
To maintain this activity, however, they need solid support; they need to understand how they are holding their body frame, how their feet hit the ground, what shoes are best, and much more.
As technology has advanced, we’ve been able to blend our knowledge of body mechanics with video analysis, giving us the ability to provide a whole new level of support to runners. We can now study a runner’s movement, history and habits to conduct an assessment and provide an analysis that helps them learn how they can:
As you can see when viewing this video, we are providing runners support that includes both responsive and preventative physical therapy.
Following our gathering of the runner’s history and goals combined with an analysis of the video taken, we provide a written assessment of what we learned along with recommendations. This report includes suggestions for proper training, posture, exercise, and related activities. Prior injuries, restrictions, or problem areas with running are all taken into consideration.
With the support we provide, runners are well-equipped to maintain this activity, and reach the goals that are important to them. The runners we have worked with are reporting a positive impact in their performance and good health.
If you are a runner or know someone who is, give us a call to learn about this helpful individualized service. Prevention, rehabilitation, performance. Mobility. Solid support, that’s our commitment.
Getting older can be scary. We worry about weaker bones and osteoporosis. We worry about losing our balance and falling, which can lead to serious injury. And many of us worry about losing our memory. Older adults and their family members should know that there is a difference between becoming a little more forgetful (what some elders call their “senior moments”) and the early signs of dementia.
Dementia is more than being forgetful; it’s categorized by the loss of cognitive skills, or the way that a person can consider and make decisions. The National Institutes of Health explain that compared to mild forgetfulness, dementia impacts daily life, interferes with decision-making, and affects every-day tasks. Dementia can affect “memory, language skills, visual perception, and the ability to focus and pay attention.” It is caused by damage to brain cells; when the brain’s cells can’t communicate properly, the way we navigate the world around us is affected.
Dementia is not always permanent. It can be caused by excess fluid in the brain (normal pressure hydrocephalus), infections, head injuries and brain tumors, or reactions to alcohol or medication. If these conditions are treated, it is possible that the dementia will recede.
While irreversible dementia isn’t curable, the process can be slowed with both medications (prescribed by your doctor) and some types of rehabilitation therapy. Specially trained speech-language pathologists help patients with dementia and memory loss retain cognitive skills as long as possible. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the professional organization of speech-language pathologists, SLPs focus on the “cognitive aspects of communication, including attention, memory, sequencing, problem solving, and executive functioning.”
Others on the rehabilitation team can also help people with dementia. Occupational therapists can help to set up safe environments without obstacles; if the person is still living at home in the early stages of dementia, an OT can do an assessment to reduce the risk of falling and remove the risk of dangerous items (like flammable liquids or the use of the stove). OTs and SLPs can create a home environment where reminders are posted about daily tasks, helping the patient to remain independent for as long as possible. And physical therapists can work with the person to keep him or her physically active for as long as possible, which can also contribute to slowing down memory loss, while reducing the chances of falling.
There are many reasons to sign your kids up for sports teams. They’ll build strong muscles and bones by being active, make friends and learn how to get along with others, and become more confident as they improve on the field. But many kids burn out and quit playing before they graduate from high school. Why? Here are a few reasons and how to prevent burnout.
Some parents emphasize competition over fun.
Parents who recognize their child has a notable talent for a specific sport (such baseball or tennis), will sometimes encourage their child to sign up for multiple leagues for the same sport.
Constant practice and competition trigger physical and mental burnout.
Physical burnout increases the risk of injury. This is due, in part, to the fact that many sports require repetitive motion— such as, repeated kicks of a soccer ball with one leg, the constant swinging of a bat in baseball, or the motion required to serve in tennis.
Some kids and parents attach sports to scholarships and fame.
When unchecked, a child’s or parent’s (or coach’s) desire for great results, can lead to significant pressure and stress for a young person. The fun of sports can quickly be erased and with it a child’s natural talent can erode.
So, how can parents and their kids prevent burnout?
Remember… kids are kids.
Ask any eight-year-old what his favorite color or cartoon character is, and he won’t hesitate to answer. But if you ask him again a week later, his answer may be completely different. So why should he choose which sport to do at such a young age? In reality, by the time that boy reaches high school, the sport he loved as an eight-year-old has become a chore. Weekend fun with friends is passed over for tournaments played out of state. Holiday breaks are spent refining techniques with specialized coaches. Athletes who burn out like this may quit playing all sports.
One of the most notable ways to prevent burnout is to encourage kids to participate in multiple sports. Sports yield tremendous benefits to children in helping them improve their motor skills and learn how to be a part of a team. Athletes that have off seasons or play multiple sports throughout the year, will strengthen multiple muscle groups and let other muscles recuperate.
Aside from reducing the risk of overuse injuries and mental burnout, these multi-sport players gain more athleticism. The skills gained in one sport can enhance those for another. And best of all, each sport feels fresher on the field when not played every week, and the athlete can enjoy the sport for what it is — a game.