We all know that the holiday season can be hectic and the last thing you want on your list this year is a new back. Back injuries can be frustrating, time consuming and costly to fix. Having a back injury can prevent you from being able to be fully present in all of your holiday plans. Having good postural awareness at home, in the car and at work are essential in providing care for your own back. Whether it involves baking cookies, decorating a tree or hanging lights around your house, it is important to be cognizant of having correct body mechanics. Remembering correct body mechanics during this busy season can be extremely tough, but here are four proper lifting techniques to help keep you pain free this holiday season!

  1. In lifting an object, remember to bend your knees and lift with your legs.
  2. Keep the object you are lifting close to your body.
  3. Avoid twisting when lifting, but pivot instead.
  4. Keep your core muscles tight when lifting.

Incorporating proper body mechanics, postural awareness and exercise can lead you to a successful outcome! We hope this helps you stay happy and healthy through the New Year. Happy holidays from all of us at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy Downtown Phoenix location.

As temperatures begin to drop, Phoenix Valley residents head outdoors. We’re lucky to live in a place with so much to do in our own backyard and if we’re looking for something beyond the magical desert — pines, snow-capped mountains, fishing, even the beach — it’s just a few hours away.

A favorite pastime of mine is to get out and enjoy hiking trails on nearby mountains and in local parks. Hiking leads us to amazing scenery and adventures, but it can also take a toll on the body. If you love the outdoors, the last thing you want is to be cooped-up inside because of pain caused by a recent excursion. Our physical therapist office offers a wide range of physical therapy services, including assistance with hiking injuries. Often times, we begin sessions by explaining how you can obtain a hiking injury and how your body is affected, as well as offer tips to reduce the chance of an injury.

Our first tip when being active — especially after a summer of sitting poolside — is listening to your body. There can be some good pain while hiking, which is what makes it a workout, but if there is any pain after stopping, it needs to be addressed. If you think the pain is from anything other than a good workout, monitor it. When our muscles move, there is a natural stress put on our joints, which can have positive or negative effects. In small and manageable amounts, it can help strengthen muscles around the joint, but if pushed too far or too fast, it can be harmful.

Secondly, it is important to understand how the body naturally reacts during a hike and how to stay comfortable. When moving, muscles utilize tendons and ligaments to control motion; muscles do the moving, while ligaments do the stabilizing. Muscles are stretchy tissues, designed to absorb impact by lengthening and shortening — like a rubber band. Tendons connect muscles to bones and are slightly more rigid. Ligaments have much less give than muscles. They are the strong chords of the body — like zip ties. Ligaments assist in holding our joints in place while muscles move them, but if a joint is moved while not controlled by the muscle it stresses the ligaments and can cause serious injuries.

Our third tip is to rest when necessary. Injuries tend to occur when people are fatigued. It is a natural tendency for the body to stop fully controlling a motion and let the muscle put the stress onto ligaments or joints themselves. An example of a muscle staying active is when a knee is bent. The muscles are maintaining the position and taking the stress, hence the burn when you hold a squat. An example of poor positioning is when a knee is locked straight, which is common when standing in one place. This position seems more comfortable for the muscle because it gets to be lazy and the ligaments do the work, but that’s not what either are designed for. Muscles should be the main source for control of any movement to help with long-term stability of a joint.

Foothills Sports Medicine wants to encourage everyone to get out and be active as the weather cools down. Hopefully, these quick tips will help you stay outdoors and enjoy the hiking season. If any pain arises, take some time off. If your pain doesn’t get better, call up any of our clinics to set up a Rapid Recovery Injury Assessment. It is a free physical therapy service that only takes 15 minutes. At the end of your assessment, you’ll get a professional opinion on what is happening and the best course of action to treat it. We have locations across the valley, so no matter where your adventures take you, we are always there with you.

“Core strength” and “core stability” are buzzwords in the fitness industry, which spends a huge amount of time and money convincing consumers their products will improve their lives. Ads on TV promote everything from workout machines to abdomen belts, each promising the latest and greatest way to get six pack abs. Core strength is obviously something people want to achieve, but why is it so important? Let’s find out.

First, let’s define what exactly we mean when we talk about the core of the body. According to the Journal of Sports Medicine, “The core musculature includes the muscles of the trunk and pelvis that are responsible for maintenance of stability of the spine and pelvis and help in the transfer of energy from large to small body parts during athletic activities.” Most people think of the core as the muscles that make up a six-pack, but it is actually only one of many muscle groups in your core.

The next term that needs to be defined is core stability, which is the ability to stabilize your body through the trunk and hips in order to control and use the force produced from the core, which is then transferred to your arms and legs. Increased stability of the core allows for greater mobility of all other parts of the body. Sounds pretty important, right?

Your core stability plays a huge role in your ability to perform athletic activities. The muscles of your core serve a different function than those of your extremities. They produce power, while arms and legs are meant to move around. The core is the part of your body that generates power and transfers it to other parts of your body, allowing them to move freely.

For example, consider a baseball player. If an outfielder has a weak core, he is more likely to injure his shoulder. Why? His shoulder has to produce increased force, because his core is not effectively generating power. If an outfielder has a strong core, he will be able to efficiently transfer power from his core through his shoulder and arm. This decreases the stress on his joints and results in a more optimal throwing motion.

The level of core strength and stability you have is inherently limiting, and if you do not have a strong core it is unlikely you will be able to perform at a very high athletic level without injury. The reason everyone in the fitness community seems to be preoccupied with core strength is because it’s an essential part of training that is too often neglected. For more information about how to improve core strength and prevent injury, feel free to contact your local Foothills Sports Medicine physical therapy clinic today.

 

References:

  1. The Role of Core Stability in Athletic Function :W Kibler – Joel Press – Aaron Sciascia – Sports Medicine – 2006
  1. Core Stability Exercise Principles: Venu Akuthota – Andrea Ferreiro – Tamara Moore – Michael Fredericson – Current Sports Medicine Reports – 2008
  1. Core Stability and Its Relationship to Lower Extremity Function and Injury: John Willson – Christopher Dougherty – Mary Ireland – Irene Davis – Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons – 2005
  1. Core Training: Evidence Translating to Better Performance and Injury Prevention: Stuart Mcgill – Strength and Conditioning Journal – 2010
  1. The Role of Core Training in Athletic Performance, Injury Prevention, and Injury Treatment: John Cissik – Strength and Conditioning Journal – 2011

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy is a leading provider of physical therapy in Arizona, and serves patients who have a vast variety of injuries and complaints. Our commitment to hands-on, individualized therapy makes it possible for us to help you achieve your specific goals. To schedule a free consultation with one of our therapists, go online here today! For more information about physical therapy in Arizona, follow our blog.

Kacie Lyding, PT, DPT, and SCS, has played and coached sports at the collegiate level, and has experience working in a variety of PT settings. She is here today to explain knee pain, and how it might be coming from an unexpected source.

We’ve learned since childhood that all the bones in the body are connected, and research shows weakness in one area can lead to injury in another. Chronic knee pain is caused by a number of different issues, and at Foothills Sports Medicine we can help determine exactly what the problem is and how to fix it. Here’s some of what we know about knee pain, and how we can help.

Knee pain is one of the most common injuries, and is common across all ages. A study of over 2,000 runners showed that 17% of their injuries were related to knee pain. Insidious knee pain, meaning pain starting without an obvious reason, is more common in women (62% of cases) as compared to men (38% of cases). There have been several theories proposed as to why this is the case. One theory is that women have a deficit, or lack of, hip muscle strength. According to a systematic review by Prins et al, there is a strong correlation between patellofemoral (front of the knee) pain and hip weakness in external rotation, abduction, and extension.

In other words, because the knee bones are connected to the hip bones, knee pain is often related to hip weakness. When the hips are weak, the femur (thigh bone) is more internally rotated, meaning when you are standing straight, your knees tend to point inward, rather than straight ahead. This reduces the amount of contact between the thigh bone and the knee bone, which impacts the way the knee moves and can result in overuse injuries overtime. The femur relies on muscles at the hip and the knee to keep it stable during movement, and to control the motion of the hip and knee. Therefore, muscle weakness at the hip directly effects knee motion.

Given these complicated interactions in the body, how can Foothills Sports Medicine help? Our physical therapists are experts in biomechanics – the way the body moves. This means we can identify your injury and trace it back to its true source. We also address specific issues related directly to your knee pain and design an individualized exercise program to help you get better and return to your active lifestyle. Our specialized care enables you to develop new habits and reduce the likelihood of experiencing the same pain again in the future. We make sure you understand how to do exercises correctly and effectively, so you can continue to practice these exercises on your own at home after you complete therapy. Our priority is not only to help you get better, but to help you remain pain free far into the future.

 

References:

Bolgla, L., Malone, T., Umberger, B., & Uhl, T. (n.d.). Hip Strength and Hip and Knee Kinematics During Stair Descent in Females With and Without Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 12-18.

Powers, C. (n.d.). The Influence of Abnormal Hip Mechanics on Knee Injury: A Biomechanical Perspective. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 42-51.

Prins, M., & Wurff, P. (n.d.). Females with patellofemoral pain syndrome have weak hip muscles: A systematic review. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 9-15.