Construction injures are incredibly common…

and avoidable in many instances. If laborers were to take the time to stretch before a task or prior to arriving at the job site, then reported cases of workplace injury would likely decrease.

I witnessed a laborer walking up a flight of stairs in a power plant and dislocate his ankle while carrying a couple 2 x 4’s. This man was not in best of shape. Could this injury have been prevented had he been on a stretching and strengthening program? I like to think he could have limited the extent of the injury with preparation. Maybe his boots were too loose? Maybe he was thinking of something unrelated to what he was doing or where he was going while carrying those materials?

I was a union carpenter for 11 years and in trade school we were taught to stretch out before work. Most of us followed this routine, unless you were in your teens or early twenties! Now, as a physical therapist assistant, I have the pleasure of working with tradesman in a different fashion. I get to help them recover from injuries. At the same time, I get to help them prevent injuries by working on a routine of stretching and strengthening. For example, by completing a basic routine of lower extremity strengthening and stretching exercises, a workplace injury such as the one mentioned may have been avoided.

Construction sites can be dangerous places and it’s best to minimize the chance of injury the best you can. Incorporating a routine of stretching and strengthening will likely minimize the event of an injury such as a strain, sprain, or fracture. Stretching the hamstrings prior to bending over to pick up that circular saw may prevent a lumbar strain. Completing some lower trunk rotations in the morning may prevent a rotational injury such as an end of range twist to mark “and go” on a stud. Musculoskeletal injuries abound in construction. We do not need statistics to tell us that. I know from experience many injuries go unreported. In my experience, shoulder and back injuries occurred more than any other musculoskeletal injury. Shoulder injuries could be prevented with scapular stabilization exercises.

Construction is a dangerous job.

It requires a lot physical stamina too. We want our patients to maximize time in their workplace by incorporating a basic stretching and strengthening program.

Prevent further and future injuries at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy. Come in today for your Free Rapid Recovery ®Injury Assessment!

 

When properly executed, the deadlift increases our core strength while working more muscles than any other weightlifting exercise. On the other hand, improper execution could put too much stress on your lower back, leading to a painful sprain or strain. It is important to know what back pain preventative measures to take; the correct lifting technique, and what to do if a sprain or strain of the lumbar spine occurs.

Sprain or Strain

Is it a sprain? Or is it a strain? A strain is the result of the lower back’s muscle fibers being overly stretched or torn. A sprain occurs when ligaments are torn. Both injuries can result in intense lower back pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, and decreased mobility.

The Healing Process

Regardless of whether your lower back pain is the result of a strain or a sprain, the only true cure is time. An initial 48- to 72-hour period of intense pain will usually give way to discomfort that gradually diminishes over the following week or two; I know this first hand.

While there are measures we can take to relieve pain associated with the deadlift, such as applying ice for 15–20 minutes every couple hours for the first three days, followed by 15–20 minutes of a moist hot pack beginning on the fourth day, this will do nothing if you do not take time off from physical activity.

You should also avoid any heavy lifting or excessive flexing of the spine. If you return to pumping iron too soon, you will likely find yourself sidelined for another couple of weeks, which can be difficult if you’re used to being active.

Exercises After Injury

It’s best to stick with the basics following lumbar strains and sprains. Core stability exercises such as glute squeezes, pelvic tilts, abdominal draw-in maneuvers, bridge exercises, and dead bugs are a good start.

When You’re Ready to Deadlift Again  

The majority of lower back injuries caused by the deadlift are the result of improper execution. It stands to reason the best way to avoid a sprain or a strain is by performing the lift properly.

In order to achieve a proper deadlift stance, your feet should be positioned so the bar is directly over center of your feet. With an overhand hold on the bar, your arms should be vertical — perpendicular in relation to the floor — and your shoulder blades should be directly over the bar. With your back straight, begin the lift by extending your legs as you push down on your heels. When the bar reaches your shins — just below the knees — continue the lift by thrusting the hips forward to bring the body to an upright position. This is important, because pulling back on the bar creates stress on our lower back, which may result in a strain or sprain of the lumbar region. Finally, complete the lift by squeezing the gluteal muscles. To lower the weight, all you need to do is follow the steps mentioned above in reverse order.

Deadlift Tips

While such tips as keeping our back straight might seem easy enough to remember now, the truth is, attempting to lift several hundred pounds of dead weight can be very intimidating — thus causing one’s attention to become focused elsewhere. One way of make sure you do not inadvertently round the back while executing a deadlift is by thrusting the chest forward and maintaining it throughout the exercise; remember, the chest always wins!

Also, because the bar often scrapes against the shins and kneecaps as it’s being raised, many weightlifters risk injuring their lower backs by holding it too far away from their bodies. Wearing long pants or shin guard’s to protect your legs will easily solve this problem.

Stretching

As with any weight-training exercise, proper stretching before performing a set of deadlifts will likely decrease the risk of injury like sprains, strains, or disc herniation.

If you find yourself dealing with lower back pain, contact one of our Valley-wide locations and schedule your free assessment with one of our physical therapists and #GetYourMoveBack today!

As clinicians, our patients often ask us why one knee is swollen and painful after running or walking, but the other is not. Following an assessment of the patient’s pelvic alignment and lower extremities, we may find that the patient is suffering from a mal-aligned anterior superior iliac spinous processes, or they may have legs of two different lengths. This is often a reliable indicator that our patient’s hips are not functioning properly, leading to noticeable pain from the hip to the foot. Increasing hip stability alleviates this unwanted pain and discomfort while allowing the patient to run or walk at a higher level.

Hip Instability & Stability

Mal-aligned hips cause one side of a person’s leg to appear shorter than the other, distributing weight unevenly throughout the body and negatively affecting the lumbar spine. The tensor fascia latae becomes overactive as the femoral head translates anteriorly, tightening the IT band, creating a lateral pull of the knee joint, which leads to stress on the joint and causes the muscles surrounding it to work harder to stabilize it.

You may even notice muscles, like the vastus medialis, becoming larger in size due to compensatory patterns necessary to maintaining stability. Hip instability, if untreated, may lead to tears in the meniscus, ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), or the MCL (medial collateral ligament), among other complications that require surgical interventions.

Stabilizing the hip joint is important because it assists in stabilizing the knee joint and decreasing knee pain. One way to remember the importance of hip stabilization as it relates to knee stabilization is that proximal stability equals distal mobility.

Before we can proceed in the delivery of care aimed at stretching, strengthening, and educating our patients regarding hip stability as it relates to knee stability, a few things need to be done. If possible, we stabilize the hip with selected interventions, such as exercises targeted at strengthening the muscle group surrounding the hip joint responsible for hip stabilization, like the gluteus medius, while at the same time delivering selective interventions addressed at corrective pelvic alignment, which release fibrous bands of tissue like the IT band, and muscles in a spasmodic state.

Knee Pain    

The gradual onset of knee pain is generally indicative that there are muscular weaknesses surrounding the hip, knee joint, and overall lower extremity, related to a mal-aligned pelvis. Knee pain often occurs with a combination of sharp pain along the medial and/or lateral side of the knee joint and signs of swelling within the knee joint. Treatment options for knee pain are vast and the majority of clinicians will possess their own specific set of interventions based on past experiences, education, and specific techniques.

If you would like to know more about hip stability and knee pain, don’t hesitate to contact your local Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy clinic. With locations all over the Valley, it’s likely there’s a clinic nearby waiting to help you!