Louisville, Plattsmouth & Hooper Ne 68031

How to Recover from Post Exercise Soreness

September 27, 2022

                Have you ever participated in a sports game, ran around the yard with the kids and family dog, or even completed a physical therapy or training session and thought to yourself “Man! I am sore!”? This is a very common reaction the body may have to any sort of physical activity. As we use our muscles, whether it be in competition or with general exercise, small micro-tears occur within the tissues. This process is necessary in order to build muscle mass. As the tissues repair themselves, they repair in a stronger form than what they were previously, allowing the muscles to grow. But what do we do when we are sore? How do we get rid of the soreness or, at the very least, decrease the soreness so we can play again tomorrow? There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to help your body through the recovery process.

  1. Stay hydrated! Keeping hydrated will help the muscles during the repair process. Water assists in the transfer of nutrients to the cells. If the cells don’t have enough nutrients, it will be more difficult for them to repair, forcing a longer recovery process. Water will also take away any waste the body does not need to recover. Mountain Dew and iced tea cannot do this! I get the question all the time— “Can’t I just drink my iced tea or my pop? It helps quench my thirst.” The answer is no! While specific sports drinks have the ability to replenish electrolytes and assist in recovery, they do not have the ability to push nutrients and remove waste. So drink that water!
  2. Ice! Ice! Ice! Icing can have a couple different effects on the muscles and joints following a workout. The main contribution ice makes to the recovery process is decreasing edema, or swelling, in the area. After playing or exercising at higher levels, it can be common to see an influx of swelling due to the rate at which those body parts are working. Ice will constrict the blood vessels and decrease the amount of fluids to the area. Keeping swelling low will allow for greater flexibility and range of motion in the joints and muscles and decrease overall tightness you may be feeling.
  3. Stretch! This one may seem obvious, but it is important enough to mention over and over! As our bodies move throughout the day, our muscles are constantly contracting and relaxing. This repetition can increase the tension within the muscle bellies, creating stiffness in joints and muscles. Now picture that at a much faster rate as your running around the baseball diamond or squatting with weights in the gym. By stretching muscles for at least 30 seconds at time, we can effectively change the extensibility, or flexibility, within the tissues and improve the length of the muscle itself.

So next time you’re feeling tight and sore after a workout, take a few minutes to work through these steps. While completing one of these steps, you may feel a little relief, but it likely won’t be enough to make much of a difference on your body. Combining these three recovery strategies will not only help you feel better following a workout or game, but also get you back in the game faster. If you experience soreness and discomfort that lasts longer than 48-72 hours, there may be something more happening within the body that simple stretching can’t cure. Contact your doctor or local physical therapist to determine the issue. Us physical therapists here at Witte Physical Therapy can get you set up on an individual treatment plan that will get you down the road to recovery! Call us today at 402-234-3333 and we can help you schedule a consult or evaluation with a licensed therapist.

PT for your Pelvis?

September 20, 2022

Nobody is going to be surprised to hear that Physical Therapists work with muscles. But we bet a lot of people would be surprised to learn that the muscles inside your pelvis are included. While the pelvic muscles don’t get as much attention as the biceps or hamstrings, they can still cause problems that need treatment. Here are a few examples:

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine. More than 13 million people in the United States have this issue. There are different types of incontinence, but the most common are stress and urge incontinence.

 

  • Stress incontinence is when leakage happens during coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
  • Urge incontinence is a result of the bladder being overactive or unstable. People with urge incontinence often often have triggers that cause the involuntary loss of urine, such as hearing running water.

Pelvic Pain

This is defined as any pain that occurs either internally or externally in the pelvic or genital area. Both men and women can be affected, but it’s more common in women.

What’s the Cause?

Most incontinence is caused by issues with the pelvic muscles – either weakness or tightness. There can be other contributing factors like spasms that cause bladder contractions, or conditions like anxiety may increase the urge to empty the bladder.

 

Pelvic pain is also usually attributed to either tightness or weakness of the muscles of the pelvic floor. The pelvis is made up of three bones, forming three joints where they meet. These joints need to be stabilized by an outside force. The job of the muscles and ligaments in and around the pelvis is to  provide that stabilizing force. If the muscles are too tight, the joints will have an excessive amount of compression on them. Too loose, and the joints of the pelvis can experience shear forces. Both conditions result in pelvic pain.

 

What can PT do?

Because incontinence and pelvic pain are usually musculoskeletal conditions, physical therapy can offer a lot of effective treatments. Some examples include:

 

Exercise – strengthening or stretching of the pelvic muscles or the core can help correct imbalances, improve pelvic stability and reduce pain.

 

Biofeedback – This involves using sensors placed on the body while doing exercise to help the patient identify which muscle groups are working and bring awareness to areas of tightness or weakness.

 

Education – For incontinence,  learning how the bladder normally functions can help you to understand changes that can be made to improve symptoms. Learning about posture and how to improve alignment of the pelvis and the trunk can help to reduce pain and improve tolerance for positions like sitting and standing.

 

Manual Therapy – joint mobilizations, trigger point release, soft tissue massage, myofascial release, and other techniques can help improve mobility of the pelvic joints, decrease tone in spastic muscles, and reduce pain.

 

If you’re experiencing pelvic problems, a specially trained physical therapist can complete a comprehensive evaluation, help determine the cause, and design a customized treatment plan to help. At Witte Physical Therapy we have trained therapists to help men and women treat their pelvic issues and pain. Give us a call today!

How to Warm Up and Cool Down for Volleyball

September 13, 2022

When we think of fall ball, the first sport that comes to mind is football, right? Football is one of the greatly loved and favorited games of the season. However, volleyball is rapidly rising as one of the most popular sports, not only in the country, but in the world! It is enjoyed by men and women alike and attracts a wide variety of fans. For us volleyball players, we may start learning basic skills of the game as early as seven years old. Some hone in on those skills, perfect them, and play competitively all year round. Others may just play seasonally and focus on various recreational activities in the off-season. No matter which category you fall under, it is necessary to take care of the muscles and joints in your body to avoid a volleyball injury.

                Warm-ups and cool-downs are an important part of an athlete’s workout. They help prep the tissues for a higher level of activity and allow for those same tissues to relax and recover afterwards. Without taking proper care of your body before practice or competition, you leave yourself at a much higher risk of injury. Any injury, whether it be minor or serious, leaves the body damaged. Damaged tissue or muscle takes time to heal, which athletes can’t always afford. You may be working towards a “W” on a Thursday night in your high school gym, a trophy to add to your college’s display case, or a medal around your neck on the world stage. No matter what level you participate in, you must take good care of your body in order to perform at your peak.

                Volleyball is a specific sport that requires specific movements in order to play the game correctly and competitively. As with any sport, it is important to prep the specific muscles and joints you know you’ll be using most during your competition. There are a few keys stretches and exercises you should always keep in mind when preparing to play.

  1. Pectoral stretch (A):

A pectoral stretch is as simple as placing your hands and forearms on the walls that form a corner, placing one foot forward, and leaning into the corner. This particular stretch opens up the chest cavity and stretches the pectoralis muscle which helps bring your arm forward into a serve or spike motion. We use this muscle quite a bit during a match, so naturally it will sit a little tight during our down-time. Keeping this muscle stretched out will help prevent any excess soreness following competition.

  1. Arm circles (B):

Arm circles are easy to complete, as shown above, and are a great warm-up for not only the shoulder joint, but the muscles surrounding the joint. Creating a broad movement, such as circles, at the joint, will draw blood and warmth to the tissues, improve the elasticity or flexibility, and decrease your risk of strains or tears with fast, abrupt motions such as blocking or hitting.

  1. Sumo Squats (C):

A Sumo squat is a great exercise to warm up the hips, knees, and ankles. If you think about your position on the court, you are sitting in a half-squat position for a majority of the match. This position allows us to either quickly pass or hurry to our hitting spot. By completing squats before-hand, you will loosen the muscle tissue and again, decrease your risk or straining or tearing.

  1. https://drnotley.com/pectoralis-major-corner-stretch/
  2. https://www.spotebi.com/exercise-guide/big-arm-circles/
  3. https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/photo-gallery/36123288/image/36123503/Sumo-Squat

The cool-down following your game is just as important as your warm-up. By failing to properly relax those muscles after a couple hours of high-level activity, your body will experience excess soreness, tightness, and discomfort. The tighter the muscles are in a resting state, the less likely they are to extend and stretch in an active state. This could lead to injury and make it difficult to continue playing. Exercises any volleyball player can use to cool down are as follows:

  1. World’s Greatest Stretch (D):

This stretch is a great way to calm down all muscles used throughout your volleyball match. It allows for a stretch throughout the entire body and the joints to open up and move into full range. You will be able to gain mobility and decrease your risk of soreness afterwards.

  1. Cat/Cow Stretch (E):

You may have seen this completed in a yoga class before. The cat/cow stretch allows for full range of motion of the spine-all the way from the neck to the tailbone. When we are playing volleyball, we engage our core and use all of our postural muscles to complete key techniques such as passing, serving, hitting, and setting. If we neglect to stretch our spine and postural muscles, we will lose mobility. Once mobility is lost, our technique will be limited and less efficient.

  1. Walking:

As with any cool-down, walking is going to be a great way to decrease heart rate, improve oxygen intake, and promote function within the tissues, muscles, and joints. We like to say in therapy “Motion is lotion”. As long as you keep the body moving, you will decrease your risk of pain and discomfort following competition. A moderately-paced walk for 10-15 minutes is recommended for a proper cool-down.

  1. https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/how-do-worlds-greatest-stretch/
  2. https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/How-Do-Cat-Cow-Pose-26662589

Neck Pain and Posture

September 6, 2022

Studies show that approximately 75% of the world’s population will suffer from neck pain at some stage in their life. Studies also show that up to 50% of those people with neck pain may never get full relief. This is a staggering number of citizens that are dealing with this type of discomfort on a daily basis. You may be reading this and thinking to yourself “I am one of them”.  With advances in technology over the past couple decades, a decline in postural awareness has prevailed. We don’t pay as much attention to how we are sitting as we scroll through our phones or the position of our spine while we slump on the couch playing video games.

Having been through a pandemic recently, many of us have transitioned to work-from-home positions with our companies. While this may sound great in theory, there are many factors with home offices that may be detrimental to our overall spine health as well. Whether it be improper desk height, poor seating, or decreased back support, posture when working for prolonged hours is a key player in how our neck functions on a daily basis.

Many of us choose to turn to doctors when neck pain occurs, which could lead to expensive imaging, medications, injections, or even surgery. All of these can be great options, but they are quite invasive and can cause your wallet to take a hit. Before jumping right into these pricey “cures”, let’s take a look at a few simple exercises and stretches you can complete on your own to help decrease pain or tension in your postural muscles.

  • Upright Sitting with Towel Roll:

By tightly rolling a small hand towel and placing it at the small of your back, you are able to take hundreds of pounds of pressure off of your spine. You will automatically move from a slightly (or greatly) slumped position into a straight, neutral-spine position. Rather than being strained and elongated or shortened and tightened, muscles will be able to rest in their typical position, saving you from back pain occurring at any point on the spine.

 

  • Towel SNAGS:

Towel snags are a common exercise we therapists give our patients to help stretch and gain range of motion within the neck. The first picture depicts a rotational stretch to help you turn and look over your shoulder. The second picture shows an extension stretch to help relieve pain we may have from looking down at documents, leaning forward towards the computer screen, or sleeping with our heads in a forward position.

 

  • Scapular clocks:

Scapular clocks are utilized to encourage the activation of our postural muscles around our spine. When we have good control and strength in those muscles, it is easier to maintain an upright position for longer periods of time. They not only keep us upright, but also help stabilize the scapulohumeral complex, allowing for decreased pressure on the shoulders and neck muscles. With a greater balance in the muscles of the cervical and thoracic spine, there will be less stress and pain through the vertebrae.

 

  • Chin Tucks:

Chin tucks are utilized to get our necks out of the forward-flexed posture we tend to spend our time in. We don’t always realize how far forward our head is sitting when we are on the computer, phone, or gaming system. As you can see by the first picture, we are encouraging our vertebrae to compress, causing increased pressure at the front of the neck as well as within all muscles attached to the area. By simply pushing our head back and tucking our chin, we resume proper alignment and strengthen our stabilizing muscles to help keep us there.

 

References:

https://mslongi.weebly.com/posture.html

https://www.hep2go.com/exercise_editor.php?exId=76060&userRef=0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LZE7BRvYjc

https://www.elitefitcenter.com/blog/alleviating-shoulder-pain/

https://cleanspine.com/2019/08/18/neck-pain-at-work-try-this/

How to Warm Up and Cool Down before and after Softball (especially you adult co-ed players!)

August 30, 2022

As fall approaches, we are quickly getting back into the routine of fall sports: practices, scrimmages, games, and tournaments. We are active and playing much more so than a couple months ago during those relaxing, summer months. Our bodies must gear-up for this drastic change in activity. But if we aren’t careful, the risk of injury can be high and the results detrimental to the season.

                One of the most common sports around this time of year is softball. Girls (and adults) are lacing up their cleats and hitting the dirt, sometimes as often as five times a week!  Think of the energy required of your body to handle such levels of activity! Studies show that females tend to be more prone to injury than males. This is due to the basic anatomy of a female. A wider-set hip structure puts females at higher-risk of leg injury than males. Smaller bones also place females in a higher-risk category for injury, more specifically in the ligaments and tendons. So how do we decrease our risk?

                You’ve probably heard your coaches (trainers, therapists) preach on the importance of warming up and cooling down, so much so that it started to go in one ear and out the other. But there is a good reason for this repetitive reminder! Without proper preparation, your muscles and bone structures will struggle to tolerate the high demand of competition. Warmups usually consist of a series of exercises or stretches at a low load and slow pace. The idea is to drive blood flow to the muscle tissues, allowing them to relax enough to withstand a great force later. A proper warmup can also improve oxygen flow in the body. Oxygen is needed for your muscles to function during activity. With a greater oxygen flow, your muscles can readily access the supply and work more efficiently.

                So, what type of exercise is good for a warmup? There are many ways you can prepare those muscles and tissues, depending on your sport and intensity. For softball players, dynamic (movement-based) activity, as well as static (non-movement based) activity is recommended for a well-rounded preparation. Dynamic exercises can range anywhere from jogging around the field to agilities to throwing the ball with a partner. Static exercises would include those stretches you sit or stand and hold for 15-30 seconds. A prolonged hold is recommended to change the length of the muscle and improve its flexibility, which decreases the likelihood of strains and tears. As a softball player, you’ll want to make sure you get prolonged stretches completed at every joint! The ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, and neck are all vital when it comes to your softball game-there is never a time we aren’t using one of those joints!

                Now that you’ve properly warmed up and played your game, you can go slump on the couch to relax the rest of the evening, right? Wrong! One of the worst things you can do for your body is to halt all activity and sit still for the next couple hours. High-intensity physical activity causes microtears within the muscles. As the muscles repair themselves, they regenerate to a stronger, more stable state. A cool-down allows for muscles to regroup and repair without causing too much soreness. Exercises for a cool-down can mirror those of a warmup. Low load stretching to improve your range of motion and flexibility will help decrease symptoms over the next couple days. Walking is also a great way to cool down those muscles and allow time for your body to reset. A mild to moderate pace for about 10-15 minutes following a softball game will decrease your heart rate, decrease lactic acid build-up, and decrease your risk of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) over the next 48 hours.

                While you may be ready to hit the field running, I’d encourage you to stop. Take the time to stretch out and warm up those tissues. Fully prepare your muscles for the undertaking they are about to experience. Set aside some time before and after your game to complete a regimen that includes all major muscle groups. This could save your body from injury and keep you in the game all season long!

Photo by Brandon Mowinkel on Unsplash

Proper Sitting Posture

August 23, 2022

School is right around the corner, and you know what that means—It is time to swap the couch for the desk. With the plastic chairs and wooden desktops, it can sometimes seem hard to find a comfortable position to sit in. When on the couch, we have the luxury of leaning back, kicking our feet up, and resting our head on a pillow to help hold our necks in a good position. When at a desk, however, our options for comfort seem limited. We all have a tendency to rest our elbows on the desktop, place our head in our hands, and position our backs in a hunched-over position. What we don’t realize is how detrimental this position can actually be for our overall health.

                Our bodies are made to rest in proper alignment-ears in line with the shoulders, shoulders back, equal weight bearing on both sides. Any time we leave this erect position, we add undue strain on all of our muscles and joints, which can cause pain. The number one complaint we get from those that sit at a desk most of the day is pain within the neck and back. Lucky for you, we have some key rules you can follow to avoid this unnecessary pain and discomfort.

 

  1. Keep your feet supported: It is suggested that you keep your feet firmly planted on either the floor or a step stool. Any time we sit without our feet supported, our pelvis has to shift, forcing our core to work extra hard to keep our spine in a neutral position. These small compensations at the core can create muscle imbalances overtime and begin to create pain at the low back.
  2. Keep your forearms rested on the desk: With your arms properly supported, you are able to prevent stress at the top end of the chain (the neck and shoulders). Typically, as our arms raise, our shoulders do as well, which could increase tension in the region between the neck and shoulders. With our arms rested on a solid surface near waist-height, we are able to keep our shoulders low and our muscles relaxed.
  3. Follow the 90-90-90 Rule: Your elbows, hips, and knees should all be bent at 90 degrees. If you look down and see your elbows are nearly straight, that may mean you need to bring your keyboard and/or mouse closer to you. If your hands are near your belly, you may need to slide the keyboard/mouse back or scoot your chair back just a little. In order to adjust the degree of flexion in your hips, simply adjust the height of your chair. Keep in mind, we need your feet supported and your knees to remain at 90 degrees of flexion as well. By adjusting the chair/seat height and height of your foot support, you’ll be able to maintain good posture for a longer period of time.
  4. Place the computer screen at or just below eye level: This is one of the harder adjustments to make when it comes to desk ergonomics. Many people will use a lift under their computer stand so they can easily adjust. Others will use a good old-fashioned phone book or catalog to get the proper height. You may have to get creative with your own desk in order to get the proper screen height. This is important to keep your neck in good alignment. If we are looking down for multiple hours throughout the day, we place extra stress on the vertebrae and muscles in our neck. After years in this position, we can actually develop what is called the Dowager’s Hump. Due to the weakness in our postural muscles along the backside of the neck and shoulders, our head starts to sit more forward and creates a more pronounced curvature within our vertebrae.
  5. Use a towel roll: As mentioned above, many of us prefer to lean forward onto our desktop and “lounge”. A simple towel roll can fix this habit and transform your sitting posture. All you need is a small hand towel from the kitchen or bathroom. Fold that hand towel in half and roll it up as tight as you can. You want to place it at the small of your back (belly button height). This little towel acts as a lever and automatically places your spine in a more erect position. It has the ability to take up to 400 pounds of pressure off your spine while sitting at your desk.
Good posture for a healthy back. Vector illustration isolated on white background.

By keeping all of these rules in mind, you’ll be sure to find relief in your muscles and joints as you sit through your classes this upcoming school year. If you are already suffering from back pain or feel your posture is suffering due to your job or classes, give us, here at Witte Physical Therapy, a call so we can help get you straightened out!

Proper Lifting Mechanics

August 16, 2022

We all do it; most of us multiple times a day.  As it turns out, it is a common cause of back pain and something we can reduce or prevent problems with a little care and attention. Of course we are talking about lifting techniques.

Improper lifting technique can lead to back, leg, and arm pain. Poor technique can cause both acute injury, or aggravate existing back pain. Learning the right way to lift can assist a person in avoiding these problems. Most people know this, but actually taking the time to perform lifting activities properly is often forgotten.

https://stock.adobe.com/search?k=ergonomics+lifting&asset_id=515612279

 

Steps to Ensure Proper Lifting Position and Technique

 

  1. Plan ahead before lifting. Knowing what you’re doing and where you’re going will prevent you from making awkward movements while holding something heavy. Clear a path. If you are lifting with another person, make sure both of you understand the plan.
  2. Lift close to your body. You will be a stronger and more stable lifter if the object is held close to your body rather than at the end of your reach.  This also reduces the physical load on the back muscles by reducing distance that increases the torque load on the body.
  3. Feet should be shoulder-width apart. Having a solid base of support is important while lifting. Placing your feet too close together will be unstable, while if they are too far apart it will hinder movement.
  4. Bend your knees and keep your back straight. Practice the lifting motion before you lift the object.  Focus on keeping your spine straight. Raise and lower to the ground by bending your knees rather than bending at the waist or hips.
  5. Tighten your stomach muscles. Tightening your abdominal muscles will hold your back in a good lifting position and will help prevent excessive force on the spine.
  6. Lift with your legs. Your legs are many times stronger than your back muscles. Again, lower yourself to the ground by bending your knees, not your back.
  7. Don’t twist or bend. Face in the direction you are walking. If you need to turn, stop, turn in small steps, and then continue walking.
  8. And remember, if you’re straining, get help. If an object is too heavy, or awkward in shape, make sure you have someone around who can help you lift.

Its Fair Time!!!!

August 9, 2022

One of my favorite times every year is the when the county fairs get going in early August. I have fond memories of my time in 4H and spending time at the county fair. I really enjoyed getting to see my 4H friends, getting to show off my animals, and having the opportunity to spend so much time and do some many things at the fairgrounds. As I am now an adult I get the relive some of those experiences. Last week I spent an afternoon at the Dodge County Fair (where our Hooper clinic is located) and this week I plan to spend some time at the Cass County Fair (where our Louisville and Plattsmouth clinics are located). While I will not be showing any animals, the fair still provides an opportunity to see a lot of people and to reconnect with them and some found memories. 

Being in 4H provides so many wonderful opportunities and experiences for our youth. Perhaps one of the best things that it does is to teach them about responsibility, project and time management. These are all things I still use as a physical therapist and that our patients can use to get better. It is important to have and take responsibility and ownership in what we are doing. Our therapists take responsibility in making sure that they are doing their due diligence and absolute best to get our patients what they need. This ensures that we are providing the best, most efficient and individualized care as possible. 

Project and time management are also important attributes for our therapists and patients. It is important for our patients to understand that “project management” occurs in two forms. One, as a member of their healthcare team in the clinic, and two as their own project manager outside the clinic. When our patients work to doing their home exercise program, improve their movement quality, and make routine adjustments to their daily life they are often improving much more efficiently. This efficiency leads to better time management in the clinic and at home. 

4H and the county fair has provided me with many attributes and memories that are still present with me today. These things have had tremendous carry over into other aspects of my adult life. I hope everyone can get out to their county fairs this summer, see the exhibits, meet the vendors, enjoy the food and fellowship, and reflect on what these fairs mean and how their values can be applicable to all aspects of our lives. 

entrance.jpg

https://www.cassfair.com/

 

School Backpacks: How to choose and wear them properly

August 2, 2022

As summer begins to wind down, we all must start thinking about what we need to buy and gather for the new school year. Pencils, pens, folders, and notebooks are all items that seem to make the supply list every year. We tend to look for the ones that draw our eye and suit our personal taste. Maybe we need something bright with a fun design. Maybe we look for something simple and solid. Either way, we want it to match our personality so we can feel excited to use it!

This “personalized” approach to supply shopping may work just fine for the small, essential items we need, but what about when it comes to backpacks? While a backpack may look like it suits us based on the color or pattern, it may not be the best for us. It is important to find a bag that is comfortable, durable, and has all the features to offload the bundle of books we will be dragging around. There are a few tips we need to keep in mind when finding and using the proper backpack.

  1. Choose a bag with two straps: While a duffel bag provides more room to carry your items, they are made with one long strap. This is going to place the full weight of your school items on only one shoulder. As we continue to overload one half of the body and not the other, we cause a lot of strain on our muscles. This can disrupt the balance in our muscles and joints and potentially create pain within the neck, shoulders, and upper back. By splitting the weight of the bag between both shoulders, we keep the muscles working evenly and in sync with each other. It also places the center of the bag at the center of your back, allowing for your large back and core muscles to support the weight as opposed to the smaller neck and shoulder muscles.
  2. Make sure the straps are wide: Wide straps on a bag will ensure the weight is distributed throughout the entire muscle it is resting on. A skinny strap places a lot of undue stress on a very small portion of the muscle belly. When pressure occurs in a small area such as this for a longer period of time, it has the potential to cause swelling or bruising in the area, both of which are indicative of tissue irritation and damage.
  3. Do not overload the backpack: While it may seem efficient to carry a full days’ worth of books around with you, it can become very taxing on your body. Excess weight sitting atop your shoulders will strain not only the muscles your straps are on, but also the muscles in the mid and low back. This downward pressure from the backpack combined with typical pressure from gravity could cause spinal issues. The weight tends to pull your spine, or posture, downward and forward, rounding out your trunk. This position allows for shortening and tightening of your front side and increased tension or stretch on the backside. Joints will then shift and create misalignment, which ultimately leads to pain that could require therapeutic or surgical intervention.

So now, when you head to the store to pick out that perfect backpack for your new year at school, don’t automatically choose the fanciest or brightest or biggest one you can find. Take a good look at it and ask yourself a few questions. Can I fit a couple books at a time in this bag? Does it have two straps that can be adjusted to fit around both of my shoulders? Are the straps wide enough to sit comfortably on my shoulders without causing pain? The answer to these will surely lead you to a smart choice that works best for you!

Fibromyalgia – What to Do When the Fibro Ignites

July 26, 2022

As we head into the dog days of summer, the weather is heating up. For the nearly 5 million people in the United States with Fibromyalgia, they might experience a different kind of heat – the burning pain that typically comes along with this diagnosis.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that can cause a wide range of symptoms throughout the body. It’s usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50, and 80% to 90% of the people affected are women.

The most common symptoms are:

  • chronic pain all over the body
  • fatigue
  • memory problems
  • sleep disturbances
  • depression or anxiety.

How Does Physical Therapy Help?

Because of the wide range of symptoms, fibromyalgia can be a debilitating condition. It is not uncommon for people to begin avoiding activities altogether because of pain and fatigue. This begins a cycle of deconditioning that not only impacts the person’s overall health, but also makes the symptoms of fibromyalgia worse. The cause of fibromyalgia is currently unknown and there is no cure, so physical therapy treatments are designed to reduce and manage the symptoms. This requires a multi-pronged approach. Common treatments include:

Education

The first step in treating fibromyalgia is often helping people understand what’s going on, and what they can do about it. Research has shown that people who are knowledgeable about their condition have better outcomes, more confidence, and cope better.

Decrease Pain and Improve Range of Motion

Physical therapists are movement experts with a lot of tools and techniques to help with the pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia. A PT might use gentle manual therapy or massage, prescribe specific stretches, or a simple yoga routine. They might also use modalities like electrical stimulation, biofeedback or in states where it is allowed, dry needling.

Exercise

Once patients understand the condition and are able to move a little better with less pain, exercise often enters the treatment picture. Research has shown that low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise like walking, biking, or swimming is important in managing fibromyalgia symptoms. It can help with pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, and more. Physical therapists and patients work together to find the right type of exercise and the right intensity to best manage fibromyalgia. They often have to start slow, and make adjustments along the way.

Each physical therapy session is tailored to the needs of the patient and will vary depending on the severity of their symptoms. Despite there still being no cure for fibromyalgia, physical therapists can help with pain management, strength, mobility, fatigue and function to help patients find relief from their symptoms.