Ergonomics 101: Working from home during Coronavirus.

Telecommuting has become the norm in our society today, and with the pandemic we have endured and currently face, we may be at home for much longer into the future. While this may be attainable and even ideal for most of the population, our bodies may be affected in negative ways we have never dreamed of. Many people are unaware of the stress bad ergonomics places on our bodies. People can develop wrist, elbow, neck, or back pain, never concluding the cause to be that of their own doing. Sitting in a chair for long periods places compression and stress on our joints that can cause stiffness, strain, and pain in our bodies. Setting up your workspace correctly can help prevent back issues and problems in the future.

Steps for a properly seated workspace.

– Your eyes should be level with the top of your computer monitor.

– Your shoulders should be relaxed and low, not high or hunched up.

– Your lower arms should be parallel to the floor. They should be resting on a support.

– Your feet should be resting on the floor.

– Your upper back should be straight, and your chair should support your lower back.

– You should avoid slouching in your chair and keep your hips as close to the back of the chair as possible.

– Your upper legs should be at a 90-degree angle from your body.

– You should be sitting up straight, and your screen should be a full arm’s length away from you.

– You should avoid leaning to any one side.

 

There is also the option of working at a standing desk that may increase blood flow, good posture, and decreased stress overall placed on the body.

Steps for maintaining proper posture at a standing desk.

– Your eyes should be level with the top of your computer monitor.

– Your shoulders should be relaxed and low, not high or hunched up.

– Your elbows should be bent to 90 degrees, and the desk should be set to the height of your forearms.

– You should be standing on an even surface with your feet shoulder-width apart.

– You should avoid leaning to any one side.

Sitting for long periods can be detrimental to your body.

Being sedentary has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.  Along with correcting your positioning at the desk, it is also essential to take standing breaks away from the computer every 30 minutes. Going to the bathroom, stretching, getting a drink of water, or grabbing a snack are good excuses to step away from the desk. Taking a lunch break away from the desk is also a good option.  Going for a walk on your lunch break is an excellent way to get your body moving and may even grant you some much-needed energy and concentration to take on the remainder of your day.

If you have experienced wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck, or back pain and cannot find relief from correcting your workspace, physical therapy can help decrease your pain and give you the tools to help it from happening again. You will be taught proper stretching, strengthening, and body mechanics based on your body and individualized goals. You will be able to get back to work feeling good again before you know it!

If you are suffering from pain and poor range of mobility we welcome you as a patient, we have over 20 clinics throughout the valley, request an appointment or come in for a free Rapid Recovery® Injury Assessment.

Running a marathon is an amazing achievement for any level of runner. Many people embark on this journey to one day cross that finish line, but not everyone will get there. An injury mid-training is a common occurrence that will impede your ability to compete in a marathon. Injuries can be frustrating and sometimes life altering depending on the severity of it. Following key tips throughout your training can be the difference between crossing the finish line and coming up short.

Preventing an injury has many advantages and benefits; it will be incredibly rewarding in the end. Here are a few injury prevention tips to follow during your training:

Warm-Ups and Cool Downs
It is crucial to properly warm up before your run and cool down following your run. This helps aid your body in preparing for the task in front of you and for recovering afterwards. If you don’t warm up, you risk some serious muscle and ligament strains. A solid 5-minute warm up can do your body wonders. Cooling down is also very important. If you stop too fast while your heart is working overtime, you could get sick or even faint. Also, stretching after running will reduce the buildup of lactic acid which aids in recovery time.

Purchasing the Correct Shoes
Purchasing the correct running shoe will also help with injury prevention for marathon runners. Your shoe size should be one size bigger from your normal shoe size. This is due to your foot swelling while you run. Many shoe stores offer a gait analysis program to help fit you into the proper style fit for your foot and running needs.

Nutrition
Proper nutrition is very important to maintain throughout your training. Eating well and plenty of food helps your body absorb the proper nutrients and vitamins it needs to keep up with your training volume. Failure to incorporate proper nutrition will leave you susceptible to fatigue, poor performance, stress fractures and low bone density which can lead to injury.

Exercises and Stretches
Pre-running exercises such as dynamic stretching, thera-band work, leg swings and hip openers help turn your “muscles on” and prepare them for the run ahead of you. These exercises can also help to prevent muscle strains.

Strength Training
Keep your body in top physical running peak with added strength training. This helps to improve form and eliminates muscle imbalances. It also helps brace your body and joints for impact with each stride and step. Avoiding over-training is key in injury prevention.

Training Program
Following a training program or hiring a running coach can help you find the proper mileage pace and overall help to regulate your training regime. If you’re looking for a place to start, Hal Higdon offers many programs online, from beginner to advanced runners. A training program will keep you on track to cross the finish line.

Cross Training
Cross training is also vital in training for a marathon. Biking or swimming helps you maintain your cardiovascular fitness while strengthening other muscle groups involved in running. If you don’t have access to weights for strength training, cross training can compensate for that.

These injury prevention tips are meant to help prepare your body for running a marathon. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent every injury. If you do encounter an injury throughout your training, the physical therapists at Foothills Sports Medicine are ready and willing to get you back on your feet and back on that training road. With locations all over the valley, there is one near you!

Many people are searching for a new diet or the latest fad to lose weight, feel healthier and increase energy. Eighty percent of how your body looks is based on nutrition. You can work out all you want but until you change your eating habits you will not see optimal results. Clean eating is a healthy approach to nutrition and food. It can improve your energy levels, weight, and overall health. You can actually eat more than you did before by choosing better food options.

There are six principles of clean eating.

  1. Choosing whole, natural foods
  2. Eliminating processed foods
  3. Choosing unrefined over refined foods
  4. Including protein, carbohydrates and fat in each meal
  5. Watching out for fat, salt, and sugar intake
  6. Eating 5‐6 small meals throughout the day

Clean Foods vs Processed Foods

The idea of clean eating involves eating whole foods that are rich in nutrients. You’ll want to stay away from processed foods as they contain high levels of salt, sugar, and fat. All of these components essentially increase your risk of health problems. Refined foods have been processed or altered so they are no longer in their natural state. This results in a loss of beneficial nutrients and fibers. Refined foods are easy to indulge in and can leave you feeling unsatisfied. They may consist of white flour, white rice, pastries, sodas, sweets and breakfast cereals with added sugars.

Why should you eat several small meals in a day?

Eating several small meals a day sufficient in protein, veggies, fruits, and whole grains helps to speed up your metabolism and helps your body by burning fat. Eating like this can strengthen cells, organs, and systems in our body. They help our bodies function properly and aid our immune system in fighting off illness, disease and age-related changes. When we skip meals or eat unhealthy foods, we deprive our bodies of nutrients that requires us to function and fight off health issues. Snacking throughout the day on healthy foods helps curb our appetite. It also helps to avoid overeating. Eating small meals increases our metabolism and keeps our energy at high levels all day long. It can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Cravings stop because you are constantly fueling your body. Undereating and skipping meals puts your body into starvation mode and you are more likely to eat unhealthy foods or overeat when you feel deprived and hungry. Your five to six meals a day should contain complex carbs and lean proteins. These macronutrients when eaten together give you a sense of fullness and satisfaction. This will help your body feel full longer.

Here are a few examples of how to eliminate all processed foods from our diet and begin a healthier lifestyle:

1. Eliminate sweets – even healthy snacks can contain high amounts of sugar. Be sure to read the nutrition label.

2. Smart snack options – reach for snacks like: unsalted nuts, popcorn, fruits, veggies, hummus, string cheese, etc.

3. Choose brown instead of white – by choosing brown rice, pasta, and bread you will absorb more vitamins, fiber, and iron which are considered disease-fighting nutrients.

Foods eaten in their complex state with fiber and nutrients gives the body healthy benefits. Some of the health benefits include a healthier heart, brain, immune system, weight loss, healthier teeth and gums as well as healthier skin. Clean eating is not considered a diet but a lifestyle change. It takes about twenty‐one days to develop a long‐lasting habit. Make this change the best habit you have made for yourself and your future. Your body will thank you for it!

Learn more about how to live a healthier lifestyle with the help of our physical therapists! Schedule an appointment today with Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy.

A home exercise program (HEP) is one of the most important aspects of physical therapy. This is an individualized set of therapeutic exercises that a patient is given in physical therapy to complete on their own at home.

A HEP is given to a patient during their initial evaluation. The patient will go through each exercise with their physical therapist (PT) so the PT can ensure they have the proper form and are experiencing no pain with the exercises.

The HEP is advanced throughout the rehab duration as the patient tolerates. This program eventually leads to support the transition from physical therapy appointments to the patient performing these exercises at home on their own.

Compliance throughout a patient’s rehab is very important. Many patients find it hard to stay consistent with a HEP because of their busy lives. Commitments like work, family, and school can make it difficult for a patient to complete their HEP. But, a patient needs to consistently complete their HEP to have a successful overall rehab experience.

Here are just a few reasons why completing a HEP is important:

  1. Home exercises can help improve muscle memory. This muscle memory is helpful when new exercises are added during your rehab sessions.
  2. Research shows patients who comply with a HEP are significantly more successful at achieving rehab goals like regaining physical function. They also tend to experience relief from pain more quickly.
  3. Home exercises can be the beginning of a new active lifestyle.
  4. Home exercise compliance can also help prevent recurrent injury or flare-ups later on.

Research shows only 35% of physical therapy patients comply with their HEP. There are many reasons for this: lack of motivation, limited time, and perceived barriers to exercise are just a few examples. However, there are some strategies that we as therapists can use with our patients to ensure HEP compliance.

  1. Educate your patients on the importance of their HEP and how it can impact their goals.
  2. Ask your patient about their schedule and encourage them to find a time to fit in their HEP in their day.
  3. You can also suggest that the patient breaks up their HEP routine into multiple 15-minute exercise sessions throughout the day.
  4. Have your patient track their progress. This can help provide a sense of accomplishment, control, and confidence.
  5. Encourage patients to focus on their goals. Achieving just one goal can help them gain momentum to continue with more the following week.
  6. Checking in with patients and being available via phone can support a patient’s HEP goals.

Investing in a patient’s recovery can keep them more plugged in with their rehab. Patients need to feel confident with their HEP so they feel comfortable consistently performing the exercises.

As a patient, it is important your exercises are pain-free — inform your therapist if they are not. Your therapist can tailor the exercises to ensure proper form and technique is in place to avoid any pain or discomfort. It is our jobs as physical therapists to educate our patients on their condition and give them the tools such as a HEP to help prevent and manage their condition.

If you’re looking for an Arizona physical therapy clinic, find a Foothills Sports Medicine location near you.

Running is a great form of exercise that is inexpensive and has significant benefits for enhancing your overall health. Running can help you lose weight, boost your confidence, relieve stress, eliminate depression, and — for women — reduce your risk for breast cancer. However, like any form of exercise, running can cause injury if you are not prepared for the stress it may put on your body. Be prepared before you take off running so that you can spend less time on injury recovery and more time enjoying your sport.

Increase Gradually
Many training injuries occur when an individual increases mileage or intensity too quickly. Muscles and joints need time to recover and build up in order to adjust to the demand of an intense exercise regimen. If this process is rushed, the muscles and joints break down and injuries can occur. By increasing your running mileage by 10% each week, your body should be able to adapt to the changes without injury.

Listen to Your Body
If you experience discomfort during a run that causes you to alter your stride in any way, you should rest for three days. If you are pain-free after the three days of rest, you may slowly return to the activity, increasing your pace and mileage gradually. However, if you are still experiencing pain after the third day, take three additional days off. When pain persists after those three extra days, you should schedule an appointment with a sports medicine specialist. Here at Foothills Physical Therapy, we offer a thirty-minute rapid recovery injury assessment where a therapist will assess your injury and determine if you need an injury recovery plan, which can include physical therapy, an at-home exercise program, or a physician consultation.

Stretching and Cross Training
A key component of injury prevention is stretching before and after the activity. By stretching important muscle groups such as the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and hip flexors, you decrease the strain placed on them during a run. Static or dynamic stretching performed before a run can remove any underlying tightness. Some stretches we recommend to runners are the hip flexor stretch, the IT band stretch, the hamstring stretch, the quadriceps stretch, and the calf stretch. Cross-training activities like swimming, cycling, elliptical usage, and rowing are also effective in keeping runners’ bodies healthy.

Consider Your Running Shoe
Another good tip for staying healthy during the running season is finding quality running shoes. Every running store carries several shoe types that help you reach different goals. Additionally, many running stores offer a free gait analysis. They will assess your gait and foot placement and offer a few varieties of shoes that fit your specific need. Once you’ve decided on a shoe, make sure you’re keeping track of the mileage you run in them, as it is very important to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles.

Strength Training and Form Drills

Injuries can occur when one muscle or group of muscles is weak. The stronger muscles end up getting overworked by overcompensating for the weaker muscles, resulting in possible injury. When your body has a strong base, you can better endure running impact — caused by hitting the ground with each step — and prevent wear and tear on your joints. Building your gluteal and core muscles can steady your pelvis and legs during impact, and strengthening your feet and ankles gives your legs a solid foundation to land on with every step. Some good strengthening exercises include ball bridges, clamshells, planks, and the single-leg stance.

Many runners lack strength not only in their muscles, but also in their neuromuscular pathways. This is where the communication between your brain and body takes place. When you strengthen your pathways through form drills, your muscles fire more efficiently and quickly, allowing you to run with increased control and stability.

We’re Here to Help!

If running is your forte, hopefully these tips will help you to continue to hit the pavement injury-free! If an injury does occur, we’re ready to help. We have locations throughout the Valley and we focus on helping runners through their injury recovery process. Simply contact us to schedule an appointment!

Knee pain is a common issue, and most individuals will experience it at some point in their lives. Many learn to live with this aggravating pain on a daily basis. However, if the pain grows so severe that daily activities become hard to perform, replacement surgery might be the only option for a patient. Knee replacement surgery (total knee arthroplasty) is typically considered for individuals over the age of fifty who suffer from severe osteoarthritis, and physical therapy is a very important factor in having a successful replacement outcome.

Most patients are aware they will have to undergo rehabilitation after surgery, which will involve a physical therapy program. After surgery, the patient will stay in the hospital for only three to five days and a therapist will already be there to help them get up and moving the day after the surgery. The therapy process doesn’t stop there, and continues long after you are discharged from the hospital. Typically, patients will start to walk with the help of a walker or cane, but after six weeks of therapy most can walk comfortably with no assistance device. In the final stage of rehabilitation, outpatient therapy, the focus will be on improving range of motion, strength, balance, and gait deficits. This final stage may last up to three months. It is important to remember that not all knees are created equally – each replacement is different, and the healing time differs based on individual factors. However, the good news is that about 85% of knee replacements last for twenty or more years.

While post-surgery rehabilitation programs are common knowledge, fewer patients are aware that they can benefit greatly from pre-habilitation programs, or exercise plans you perform before surgery. Taking therapeutic action before surgery can help you recover faster, and strengthening the musculature around your hip and knee joint allows you to reap the benefits of rehab before the actual surgery. Daily exercises can help prepare your body, speed up recovery, and improve your overall health. In as little as 30 minutes a day (two 15-minute sessions), you can improve your circulation, strengthen muscles that will soon support your new joint, reduce fatigue and muscle soreness, and possibly reduce your risk for blood clots.

Some examples of Prehabilitation Exercises include:

  1. Ankle Pumps: Lie on your back and flex your ankle up and down.
  2. Quad Sets: Lie on your back with your leg straight. Push your knee down into the floor or your bed, tightening up your thigh muscle. Hold for five seconds.
  3. Gluteal Set: Lie on your back with your legs straight. Squeeze your buttocks for five seconds, then relax.
  4. Heel Slides: Lie on your back with your legs straight. Bend your surgical knee by sliding your heel towards your buttocks.
  5. Sitting Knee Flexion: Sit on a chair with a towel rolled under your surgical leg and both feet flat on the floor. Then slide one foot backwards along the floor, bending your surgical knee. Hold for a few seconds then slide your foot forward.
  6. Short Arc Quads: Lie on the ground with a rolled up towel under your knee. Slowly straighten your surgical knee by lifting your foot up while keeping your knee on the rolled towel. Hold for five seconds.
  7. Standing Hip Abduction: While standing, raise your leg out to the side. Keep your leg straight and keep your toes pointed forward the entire time. Use a walker for balance if needed.
  8. Long Arc Quads: Sitting in a chair, straighten your surgical leg, hold for five seconds and bend back down.
  9. Standing Hip Extension: While standing, move your leg back. You can use a chair for balance.
  10. Single Leg Stance: Stand on one leg and maintain your balance.

These exercises can be performed twice a day, two sets of ten repetitions.

If you have more questions about knee pain or recovering from surgery, feel free to contact your local Foothills Phoenix physical therapy clinic today! Our therapists will create an individualized plan for your recovery, so you get exactly what your body needs to heal.

 

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy is a Phoenix physical therapy provider with locations all across the Valley. We are dedicated to helping our patients achieve fulfilling, pain-free lives by providing them with high quality, individualized care. To schedule a free assessment with one of our expert staff, you can go online here today. For more news and information about Phoenix physical therapy, follow our blog!

Melissa Miller holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise & Wellness and an associate’s degree in Physical Therapy Assisting, and she is a passionate member of our Downtown Phoenix physical therapy clinic. Her focus is in orthopedic cases, giving her lots of experience with patients’ back issues. She explains why back injuries are so common, and what people can do to prevent them.

Back injuries are an increasingly common diagnosis seen in the field of physical therapy today. They can be frustrating, time consuming, and costly to fix. Many individuals become unable to work, perform daily activities, or even care for their families due to this unfortunate disorder. This is why it is vital to our community to not only treat this injury, but to provide education that will prevent these injuries from occurring.

Our spine has three major jobs: to maintain the structure of our trunk, to protect the nervous system, and to act as a shock absorber. It is made up of bones (vertebrae), intervertebral disks and ligaments, muscles, and nerves. Vertebrae provide structure for our back, discs allow flexibility in our spine, ligaments are elastic bands that hold bones together, muscles contract to allow the body to move, and nerves provide energy to make the muscles work.

There are many common causes of back pain. Some of these include poor posture, faulty body mechanics, stress, loss of strength and flexibility, or a decline in fitness. Rarely is back pain a result of one specific incident or injury. Injuries actually tend to develop long before an episode of pain comes on; which is why a twist, slip, or sneeze may seem like a minor injury at first, but can lead to a debilitating condition.

There are many different types of back disorders. Muscle guarding and spasms are tender muscles that cause a lot of pain, which can be alleviated by heating pads, muscle relaxant medications, electrical stimulation, soft tissue massage, flexibility, and strength training. Another common diagnosis is a herniated disc, which generally takes months to develop and is usually caused by sitting or standing in a forward slumped position, as well as forward bending or lifting. The jelly-like intervertebral disk is squeezed through the cartilage rings, causing the outer wall of the disk to bulge. This becomes extremely painful when there is pressure placed on the nerves and disc wall. Treatment for this includes strengthening the core muscles, stretching the musculature surrounding the spine, educating the patient on correcting faulty body mechanics, correcting posture, and avoiding forward bending and slumped sitting for a while. Another issue, postural strains and sprains, are caused by overstretched and irritated muscles and ligament fibers as a result of many hours, days, and years of strain placed on the joints and muscles due to poor posture. A simple flexibility and strengthening home exercise program is beneficial in treating this disorder.

Having good postural awareness at home, in the car, and at work are essential in providing care for your own back. It is very important to be cognizant of the correct body mechanic techniques if you are working in an environment that requires you to lift heavy objects. Always remember to keep the object close to your body, tighten your abdominals, and lift with your legs – NOT your back. Avoid any twisting of the spine, lifting with your legs straight, and lifting an object that may be too heavy for you. If you have a desk job, it is important to take frequent walking breaks, keep your computer screen at eye level and sit in a chair that has adequate lumbar support. These are just a few examples of proper posture and body mechanics that can be used in the workplace.

If you are suffering from a back disorder, successful treatment from a physical therapist is possible. However, everyone should take care of their bodies to prevent this from happening or reoccurring, so they can live a pain free life. Recognizing proper body mechanics, having postural awareness, and exercising can aid an individual greatly in a having a successful treatment and outcome, and preventing pain in the future.