Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Arthritis Answers

Monday, January 18th, 2010

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a disease that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in or around your joints. Pain from arthritis can be constant or it can come and go. It may occur when you are moving or after you have been still for some time. Your joints may feel stiff and be hard to move. You may find that it is hard to do daily tasks that you used to do easily, such as walking, bathing, dressing, stair climbing or household chores. Pain and stiffness will usually be worse in the morning and after periods of inactivity. For many people, arthritis may not go away, but there are things you can do now to avoid arthritis, reduce pain and keep moving.

How is Arthritis Treated?

There is no cure for arthritis, but there are many things you can do to feel better and stop the pain and swelling in your joints.

1) Use heat and cold: Heat helps to relax aching muscles. Cold numbs the area so you don’t feel as much pain, and can decrease swelling and inflammation. It is important to use heat and cold safely. Do not use either treatment for more than 20 minutes at a time. Do not use heat with rubs or creams because this can cause skin burns.

2) Protect your joints: You can learn to protect your joints by using them in ways to avoid excess stress. You may need to wear a brace or use an assistive device such as a cane, crutch or walker to decrease pressure on a specific joint.

3) Weight Control: It is extremely important to stay at or near your recommended weight especially as you get older. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.

4) Exercise: Regular exercise is important to keep you moving and independent. Exercise helps to lessen pain, increase movement, reduce fatigue and prevent weight gain. Physical therapists can assist you in designing an exercises program that will improve mobility, flexibility and increase strength of muscles in order to minimize joint stress.

Heather Torris, DPT, ATC
Oakmont Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center
Member of the American Physical Therapy Association

Proper Backpack Fit

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Proper Backpack Fit Tips

Wear both straps.
Use of one strap causes one side of the body to bear the weight of the backpack. By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed.

Wear the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles.
Pay close attention to the way the backpack is positioned on the back. It should rest evenly in the middle of the back. Shoulder straps should be adjusted to allow the child to put on and take off the backpack without difficulty and allow free movement of the arms. Straps should not be too loose, and the backpack should not extend below the low back.

Lighten the load.
Keep the load at 10-15% or less of the child’s bodyweight. Carry only those items that are required for the day. Organize the contents of the backpack by placing the heaviest items closest to the back. Some students have two sets of books so as not to have to carry the heavy books to and from school.

Heather Torris, DPT, ATC
Oakmont Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center
Member of the American Physical Therapy Association

Simple Golf Stretches and Postural Tips

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Golf injuries are caused primarily by repetitive overuse, poor physical conditioning, lack of appropriate warm-up and technical swing errors. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), awareness of proper posture and the importance of fitness and flexibility are just as important for weekend golfers as they are for the pros. Below are a few stretches and tips to take into consideration before hitting the golf course.

Golf Stretches Posture Exercises

Heather Torris, DPT, ATC
Oakmont Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center
Member of the American Physical Therapy Association

Safe Snow and Shoveling Techniques

Monday, January 18th, 2010

With winter now upon us and snow falling more frequently, we find ourselves having to shovel our sidewalks and driveways on a more regular basis. Snow shoveling is a repetitive activity which places excessive stress on the heart, low back and shoulders if not performed correctly. It is very important that we try to reduce the number of injuries that may occur from shoveling snow by practicing safe techniques.

  • Wait until the afternoon to shovel: More injuries occur in the morning when disc pressures are increased and muscles are stiff.
  • Warm up your muscles: Warm muscles work more efficiently and are less likely to be injured. Walk a few minutes or march in place and perform light stretching of the legs and arms.
  • Pick the right shovel: Choose a shovel that is lightweight, has a smaller blade and is the proper size for your height. The shovel should have a shaft that allows you to bend your knees slightly while keeping your back straight. A shovel that is too short will require you to bend more when lifting. A shovel that is too long will make the load at the end heavier.
  • Try pushing snow rather than lifting: If you are working in an area with enough space, push the snow off the area with the shovel rather than lifting or throwing it.

Snow Shoveling Safety

  • When lifting practice good body mechanics:
  1. Stand with feet at hip width for balance
  2. Hold the shovel close to your body
  3. Space hands apart to increase leverage
  4. Bend from your knees, keeping your back as straight as possible to make sure your are lifting with your legs.
  5. Tighten your stomach muscles while lifting
  6. Walk to dump the snow rather than throwing it
  7. Avoid twisting by throwing snow straight ahead and pivoting your feet.
  • Don’t over-do-it! Listen to your body. Stop immediately and seek medical help if you feel pain or experience the warning signs of a heart attack such as chest pain, neck or arm pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea or breaking out into a cold sweat.

If you experience soreness after shoveling, use ice. Ice is most useful for decreasing inflammation. However, if soreness remains for more than a few days think about seeing your physician or a physical therapist. Snow shoveling may be great exercise, but it must be done correctly!

Picture source: Anchorage Daily News

Heather Torris, DPT, ATC
Oakmont Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center
Member of the American Physical Therapy Association

Preventing Baseball Injuries

Monday, January 18th, 2010

As spring approaches, so does the start of the baseball season. With this we tend to see an increase in injuries, especially shoulder and elbow problems in young baseball players. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, almost 500,000 baseball related injuries are treated in health care facilities each year. It is very important that we educate athletes, parents and coaches on how to avoid shoulder and arm injuries.

  • Athletes of all ages need to be taught to be aware of how their bodies feel. Pain is the first sign of a problem and athletes should pay close attention to any muscle twinge, tightening, or burning sensation they may experience.
  • Always take the time to warm-up and stretch. A basic stretching regimen should be used before a player picks up a ball. For example: Jog, cycle or do jumping jacks for 3-5 minutes to get the blood flowing. Then stretch slowly and gently, holding each stretch for 30 seconds. Pitchers should concentrate on stretching their arms, shoulders and neck in addition to stretching their legs. Please consult a physical therapist, certified athletic trainer or other medical professional if you have questions concerning appropriate stretching programs.
  • Players should start with short tosses and gradually work up to throwing the ball a greater distance. Increasing the speed of the throw should be the last step.
  • For pitchers, remember there is a limit to the number of pitches thrown. The table below outlines the recommended maximum number of pitches based on age according to the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Staff. Reproduced with the permission of Jen Bleuter, Administrator of Research at the Cleveland Sports Health Clinic.

Recommended Maximum Number of Pitches

Age Maximum Pitches per Game Maximum Games per Week
8-10 50 2
11-12 65 2
13-14 75 2
15-16 90 2
17-18 105 2

If you experience soreness or pain after playing, apply ice to the area for 10-15 minutes to decrease inflammation, pain and muscle spasm. If pain persists for more than a few days, contact your physician or physical therapist.

Heather Torris, DPT, ATC
Oakmont Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center
Member of the American Physical Therapy Association