As temperatures begin to rise in Phoenix, Arizona, don’t be shy about getting outdoors and enjoying everything this beautiful place has to offer! There are an array of activities such as hiking, mountain biking, running, brisk walks at night, canoeing, fishing or playing your favorite sport.  Don’t let the heat beat you. The days are longer, so take advantage of the early morning sunrise and the late sunsets.

Making memories with your family and friends is what life is all about. Don’t let the fear of injury stop you from taking advantage of the outdoors. The human body is a remarkable thing and allows you to live life to the fullest through outdoor fun and activities. As a physical therapist, I have spent the last seven years studying and understanding the human body and its physical properties. Your muscles and joints need to be active in order to maintain a healthy and pain-free lifestyle. Proper training, strengthening and neuromuscular education will provide a foundation for you to be safe in the outdoors and enjoy the beautiful warm weather.

Some of my favorite places to visit include Lake Pleasant, the waterfalls of Fossil Creek, the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon and Blue Ridge Reservoir. Arizona has many beautiful landscape to offer. Be safe and be smart by taking plenty of drinking water and food. Plan your trip appropriately for your needs. The heat can be a dangerous thing. Proper preparation can allow you to enjoy Arizona despite the extreme heat warnings. Most importantly, stay hydrated!

My job as a physical therapist is to help you continue doing what you love!

Are your aches and pains slowing you down? Find a Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy clinic near you and our physical therapists will help get your move back!

 

Have you ever gotten up in the morning and felt like you got hit by a truck? Or, have you noticed some discomfort in muscles you didn’t even know you had? Sometimes it is hard to know if what you are feeling is your body’s natural reaction to activity or if it is your body’s inflammatory response to promote healing and requires pain therapy. My goal for this article is to help you understand the difference and how to treat them.

Soreness

This is your body’s reaction to something you haven’t done before. Generally, you will notice soreness dispersed throughout the entire muscle. It is a general discomfort that eases as you move or increase the blood flow to the area. Often, heat or light exercise can help to eliminate this discomfort. Returning to the activity is encouraged to eliminate soreness. Soreness only lasts two to three days.

Pain

Pain is a little more complicated to understand. It is your body’s response to injury. It is usually localized to a specific spot in the muscle or joint. Sometimes it can be reduced with heat or light activity, but sometimes it can get worse with more use. General tissue healing takes four to 6 weeks for muscle and bone. Rest is encouraged to allow tissue to heal, followed by a guided program to safely increase activity and return to full function.

Proper management of both pain and soreness can help you to return to your full function and get you back to doing what you love to do. Consult a medical professional if your pain or discomfort lasts longer than three days. Schedule an appointment at one of our locations and one of our physical therapists will help you through pain therapy and getting back to the activities you love.

Running is arguably the oldest sport known to man. Before we rode horses or drove cars, running was used to transport messages over considerable distances. Everyone runs at some point in their life – it just comes naturally! After we learn to walk, we learn to run. Because it comes so inherently, we often don’t realize the importance of proper strength training and finding a physical therapist before an injury in order to be a successful runner.

Unfortunately, running typically comes with injury. There are several types of injuries that are common for runners, such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, illotibial band syndrome (ITB), bursitis, etc. often sidelining running athletes. While these injuries are treatable, many of them are also very preventable. Proper strength training of the core muscles ‑ abdominals, obliques, low-back muscles, and gluteal muscles ‑ can help provide a strong foundation in order to stabilize the hip, knee, and ankle joints which are essential for running. When you find a physical therapist, they can walk you through a comprehensive training program to address muscle strength deficits.

A key component to understanding how to train these muscles is to consider the type of running you are interested in.. For example, distance runners will want to train the aerobic, slow-twitch muscle fibers while sprinters will want to train the anaerobic, fast-twitch fibers. Training these muscles will help to prevent injury as well as improve overall performance. When you visit with a physical therapist, they will ask you questions to determine the right training plan for you.

There’s a lot of information out there in regard to exercising and staying fit. However, understanding proper body mechanics, how muscles work, and the type of fibers that are especially important for your type of running will help you to determine a successful strength-training plan. If you are having pain while running or can’t seem to “get over the hump”, chances are you need some guidance on your strength training.

As physical therapists, we undergo extensive training and studying to be regarded as musculoskeletal specialists. Nobody understands biomechanics and the musculoskeletal system better than we do. If you’re hitting the wall with your training and want to find a physical therapist, reach out to us and schedule an appointment. We have multiple locations in the Valley and we would love to help.

One of the most common injuries reported in long distance runners is shin splints, which presents as shooting pains in an athlete’s shins. There are two main types of shin splints – one which is present in the inner part of the leg and corresponds with the posterior tibialis muscle, and the other which is present on the outside of the leg and corresponds with the anterior tibialis muscle. However, while the location of shin splints is different the cause of the injury is the same. Understanding the mechanism behind this condition is key to treating it – and preventing it from reoccurring.

Shin splints are caused by repetitive stress to the periosteum of the bone, which is a thin layer of tissue to which muscle fibers attach. This repetitive stress causes inflammation and pain felt in the leg on the surface of the bone. This can be treated and potentially avoided by placing less stress on the peristoeum and instead putting pressure on the inner muscle itself. Muscle fibers are designed parallel to each other and they shorten collectively in order to cause movement. However, connective tissue known as ‘fascia’ inside the muscle that surrounds each muscle fiber can oftentimes restrict these muscle fibers from moving alongside each other. As a result, stress is transferred to the junction where the bone and muscle attach – the peristoeum.

Even when stress is very low in intensity, consistent and repetitive stress ultimately leads to inflammation and pain. Various forms of myofascial release are used to decrease stress, such as massage, tool-assisted therapy, and foam rolling. While these techniques have been shown to be effective on superficial tissues, they lack the invasive properties needed to address the deeper restrictions in muscle fibers that sit deep in the muscle belly. However, a technique known as Trigger Point Dry Needling can be used to penetrate the superficial tissue in order to release the deeper muscle fibers and restore their parallel movement. This allows the stress to be absorbed in the muscle fibers rather than in the peristoeum.

Contact your local Foothills Sports Medicine Phoenix physical therapy clinic to see if Trigger Point Dry Needling could be right for you.

Foothills is an AZ physical therapy group dedicated to providing personalized, hands-on treatment to patients across the Valley. If you have any injuries or pain you need treated, make an appointment online today to schedule a free assessment. For more information about physical therapy techniques and the services we have to offer, check out our blog.

Logan Moore has a doctorate in physical therapy and a specialist in manual therapy. He is here to tell us why physical therapy techniques that involve moving multiple parts of the body are much more effective than exercises targeting only one muscle.

People often assume that physical therapy simply involves the implementation of different exercises to target specific muscles in order to correct problems, like movement deficits, pain, or injury. However, I believe it is more effective to train the movement pattern of the body as a whole, rather than isolating and training a single muscle. We are three-dimensional beings in a three-dimensional world, so it makes perfect sense that our exercise and training should be three-dimensional as well.

Our muscles and joints are designed to move our limbs through space. As a result, multiple muscles need to contract in rhythm with each other to complete that motion. Identifying the most likely cause of your pain or injury isn’t always easy. When analyzing movement patterns of the body as a whole, we can determine which parts of the body have strength deficits or movement impairments that are contributing to flawed movement patterns. Historically, therapists have tried to isolate a specific muscle to rehabilitate and improve strength to correct the movement pattern. However, isolating the muscle will only improve that muscle; it will not correct the rhythm or timing of the movement.

Neuromuscular reeducation (the process of retraining the brain and body to work together, encouraging the body to move in the correct way) is a key component in movement training. Whether it is a relatively basic movement such as squatting, or a more complex motion such as swinging a bat or throwing a baseball, it is important to train all of the muscles involved to contract when and how you want them to. In order to do this, we need to perform exercises that mimic the actual movement. This means we need to train multiple muscle groups at a time.

For example, consider a pitcher who is recovering from a rotator cuff repair, is 15 weeks post-op, and wants to return to a throwing program. Laying this patient on his side and performing resisted external rotation to improve the strength of the infraspinatus muscle in his shoulder will help heal the rotator cuff, but it will not improve his throwing mechanics, which is likely the reason he tore his rotator cuff in the first place. Standing a patient up, checking his hip motion, ensuring proper force generation from the ground up, and progressing through a series of eccentric rotator cuff strengthening exercises will return this patient to the field safely and quickly.

Keeping exercises functional in nature will help to improve the strength, endurance and rhythm of all of the muscles involved in the movement pattern. Understanding which muscles should contract, when they should contract and how they should contract is important to understanding and correcting movement deficits. Proper, functional training will help to safely return patients to activity quickly and will help to prevent future injury or re-injury.