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.

Does your neck hurt reading this? Spending alot of time on the computer can cause shoulder, neck and mid-back tightness and pain. That can lead to other problems like pinched nerves, compensations and muscle degeneration. Other times you might experience muscle tightness and spasms from a sports injury or ‘over-doing it’ either in the gym, on the playing field or just in the garden!  Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN) can alleviate chronic and acute pain.

TDN is a treatment for muscular tightness and spasm which commonly follows injuries and often accompanies the degenerative processes. This muscular tightness and spasm will cause compression and irritation of the nerves exiting the spine. When the nerves are irritated, they cause a protective spasm of all the muscles to which they are connected. This may lead to carpel tunnel, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, decreased mobility and chronic pain.

How does TDN work? Small, thin needles are inserted in the muscles at the trigger points causing the pain referral. The muscles then contract and release, improving flexibility of the muscle and decreasing symptoms.

This is definitely a helpful therapy technique that relieves pain for many people. If you think it might help you, contact Foothills Sports Medicine–North Central Phoenix or Old Town Scottsdale for a Rapid Recovery® assessment.  https://foothillsrehab.com/contact-us.html

Our backs are involved in everything we do and are the foundation for every movement we make.  We cannot sit, stand, walk, or reach without involving our back. And, since approximately 80% of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives, it is crucial that we understand our backs better.

So, how do you know when your back pain really needs professional attention or when it’s okay to just stick-it-out with an ice pack? Here are some guidelines that may help:

How much does it hurt?

If you are experiencing back pain for the first time, congratulations, you are old.  Not really.  It is common for 1st episodes of back pain to occur in the mid-twenties to early thirties.  They often resolve quickly but may be associated with more trauma since most of us tend to be more active in that age range.  If you have one or two occasions a year when your back hurts, don’t wait for the next one.  This could mean that your spine has some significant mobility issues that need to be addressed.  You don’t want to put off getting your back examined because those one or two episodes could turn into three or four occurrences or one big incidence of back pain that can really leave you immobilized.

Where is the pain located?

If your pain is localized to a small area of your low back it is likely that your injury is not as severe.  If, on the other hand, your pain travels down into your buttocks and into the back of your thigh or leg, then you should consult a healthcare professional.

Is your back irritable?

You can often tell something about the severity of a back pain by how irritable it is.  If you find that every movement bothers your low back then it is definitely more severe than someone who only has pain when they bend to one direction.  Try to pay attention to which movements trigger your pain because it can help your doctor and physical therapist determine the problem.

Snap, crackle, pop!

Some back pain episodes are precipitated by a pop or significant pain.  Next, the pain goes away only to come back intensely the next morning.  This often suggests that chemical irritation (which takes time to develop) has occurred and a significant inflammatory process is occurring.  This is a good instance where you should see a healthcare professional.  They need to determine the extent of the damage and possibly control the inflammation.

Is it getting better?

If you notice steady improvements day by day then your body is naturally healing.  Try to be careful though, you don’t want to justify mild improvements.  If you haven’t seen a total recovery in one week then you should consult a professional just to be sure.  If you are noticing a regression then, obviously, your back does need some help

We need to be vigilant about taking care of our backs now. Let’s face it; we only have one spine and a long life to live with it. If you aren’t sure – be proactive. Foothills Sports Medicine offers free Rapid Recovery® injury assessments. Call or email us at www.foothillsrehab.com/contact/ to schedule a visit with a physical therapist.

Visit our blog next week and learn the ‘Core Essentials’ – 3 great exercises to keep your back and abdominals strong.

Hint: It has nothing to do with a gun.

A trigger point usually consists of a small band of muscle which feels knotty. It is sometimes painful when touched, but the pain is often referred to another area of the body. A trigger point in the shoulder, for example, might cause a headache.

What causes a trigger point? Acute trauma or repetitive micro-trauma may lead to the development of stress on muscle fibers and the formation of trigger points. Trigger points are thought to be due to an accumulation within deep muscle of the waste products of physical activity. This causes localized muscle tension and spasm which may make the points feel like small nodules.

Patients may have regional, persistent pain resulting in a decreased range of motion in the affected muscles. These include muscles used to maintain body posture, such as those in the neck, shoulders, hip and pelvic girdle.

Trigger points may manifest as tension headache, jaw pain (TMJ), tinnitus (ringing in the ear), decreased range of motion in the legs, low back and neck pain. Trigger points have also been found to be related to shoulder pain, carpal tunnel, sciatica, hip/knee pain and foot/ankle pain. Usually, a physical therapist will ‘feel-out’ a hypersensitive bundle, or knot, of muscle fiber associated with a trigger point. Hands-on pressure of the trigger point will elicit pain directly over the affected area and/or cause radiation of pain toward a zone of reference and a local twitch response.

Physical therapy has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments to inactivate trigger points and provide prompt relief of symptoms. Physical therapy treatment, such as the strain/counter-strain technique, ischemic compression, cupping, massage, myofascial release, active release techniques, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, joint mobilization therapy and corrective exercises, are used to ease the tension, numbness and pain associated with trigger points.

The key to success with trigger point symptoms is to be consistent with therapy and to know what caused the tightness in the first place so that you can avoid it in the future.

The ASTYM System

We are pleased to announce that Foothills Sports Medicine has several ASTYM certified physical therapists throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan area.  The ASTYM system has been used in clinical settings by certified health professionals since 1996. But many of you may not know what ASTYM is really all about and how it can help you with chronic and acute injuries.

What is ASTYM?

ASTYM is a soft tissue mobilization technique that is designed to effectively treat scarring, fibrosis, and degeneration that can occur in soft tissues. This technique uses ergonomically designed instruments and can be very effective on both new injuries as well as chronic, nagging conditions. The ASTYM instruments are used along the surface of the skin to identify abnormal soft tissue areas and begin the body’s healing process. This healing response or inflammatory process results in the resorption and remodeling of scar tissue and/or abnormal tissue and helps to regenerate degenerative tendons.

ASTYM has been proven to be effective with a number of common orthopedic injuries including IT band syndrome, hip bursitis, shin splints, patellofemoral syndrome, medial and lateral epicondylitis (golfer’s and tennis elbow).

ASTYM has many advantages over conservative PT treatments. ASTYM often allows patients to remain active or continue to work while undergoing treatment. It also has an 88% success rate with patients, achieving improved function and decreased pain, even if the condition is chronic or previous treatment was not successful. It can reduce the need for surgical intervention and achieve maximum results with minimal treatments. Finally this technique has been supported by an extensive outcomes database, clinical experience, and most importantly, by scientific research.

The ASTYM technique may be mildly uncomfortable with some patients. ASTYM is applied to not only the affected or painful areas but to the areas above and below the injury that may be contributing to your condition. During the treatment, you may feel areas of “roughness”, which are the problem areas that will be addressed. As these areas become less rough or smooth over, the pain begins to decrease and improved function also occurs. It is not unusual to have some mild bruising or tenderness over the abnormal or “rough” areas; this is the first indication that the new healing response has started. A comprehensive stretching and strengthening program will also be introduced to help guide the healing process, rebuild healthy tissue, and ultimately, get you back to your desired activities without any pain or limitation.

In my first year of using ASTYM, I have had great personal success with my patients having chronic tendon injuries, plantar fasciitis, and other painful conditions. This technique is used to complement our manual and hands-on techniques, not replace them.

We have several clinics offering ASTYM treatment: Ahwatukee, South Chandler, South Gilbert, Old Town Scottsdale, Surprise, Arrowhead, Litchfield Park. Please click on a location near you to schedule a Rapid Recovery FREE assesment to see if ASTYM is right for you.