Why is my neck hurting so much?

January 14, 2020 – If your teenagers and pre-teens are like those at my house, then we are constantly asking them to get off their phones or tablets. These devices are too addictive and can cause too many issues for our eyes and posture.

If you read our post last week we talked about posture at our desk, but what about our kids? Having proper posture with searching Facebook on your phone or watching Youtube on your tablet is nearly impossible.

To help to prevent and minimize possible pains caused by poor posture using these devices we must try to remember a few tips. First, try to limit our time on these devices to no more than 15 minutes at a time. Second, we should hold the device as close to chin level as we can. If we are constantly looking down in our lap as we are watching these devices it puts too much strain on our neck and its muscles. Lastly, make sure the brightness of the screen is appropriate for your eyes and the setting you are using it in.

Making these simple changes can help you to promote better postural strength and awareness and decrease your likelihood of having pain for these reasons. For more information call us at 402-234-3333 in Louisville or 402-298-4747 in Plattsmouth.

Your team at Witte Physical Therapy #homegrown #backtolife

Desk Posture

January 7, 2020 – What a flattering picture of me at my desk! Truth is, this is how I normally look when I am not seeing patients. Sitting at my desk, working on my computer, oblivious to my posture. More and more we find ourselves working on our computers at our desks. This is becoming more necessary as the world evolves and we become more reliant on computers to do our work. But this comes at a cost.

One of the biggest issues we treat in physical therapy is neck and upper back pain. This most often is found in our patients that spend a lot of time at their desk or on their computers. The fact is that the computers and desks are not made to fit us, but they are made to fit the look of the space they are in.

Proper desk posture includes relaxed shoulders, elbows and knees at 90 degrees, wrists at neutral, and feet resting comfortably and flat on the floor. The top of the computer screen should be at eye level with our head in neutral, not looking down position. This often requires an extended computer stand or a standing desk to have our head and eyes in the proper position.

Most of the devices and adaptations needed for these simple changes can be bought online. These changes have the potential to save you big bucks in future healthcare costs. For more information on these changes, ergonomics, or how we can help improve your postural awareness and strength call us at 402-234-3333 in Louisville or 402-298-4747 in Plattsmouth. You can also email dan@wittephysicaltherapy.com and request more information

Your team at Witte Physical Therapy #homegrown #backtolife

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year’s Eve! We have survived 2019! For everyone I am sure there has been ups and downs this year, but this day and New Year’s Day provides us an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and set goals for 2020.

As we all start to think about our resolutions for 2020 we need to think about a few things. First, we need to write down these goals and post them somewhere that we will see them daily. Second, we need to cover a variety of topics that are important to us. This could be financial, spiritual, health related, etc. Finally, we need to understand that these lifestyle changes take time and we need help. Reach out to resources in the community that can help you reach your goals and remember it takes several weeks of sticking with these changes to make them part of our normal routine.

Your insurance benefits are also likely starting over. If you have questions about what your benefits are for 2020 please reach out and ask questions. We can check your deductible amounts, co-insurance and copay benefits, and how many visits of physical therapy you have for 2020.

Happy New Years from Witte Physical Therapy

#homegrown #backtolife

Happy Holidays!

At Witte Physical Therapy and Witte 24/7 Wellness we want to wish all our patients and those reading this blog a very happy holiday season!

We have been very fortunate to get to treat and meet several members of our great communities and county over the past year. We are very grateful for that opportunity and want to continue to use these interactions as way to better ourselves and our communities.

Thank you for the trust you have provided us!

Have a Happy Holiday Season from Witte Physical Therapy and Witte 24/7 Wellness! #homegrown #backtolife

How heavy is your snow shovel?

December 12, 2019: Have you ever wondered how much a shovel of snow weighs? What is an appropriate amount of snow to lift?

Here is approximately what your snow shovel weighs:

  • Empty Snow Shovel: 3 pounds
  • Snow Shovel with Fresh Fluffy Snow: 5 pounds
  • Snow Shovel with Settled Snow: 10 pounds
  • Snow Shovel with wind Packed Snow: 15 pounds
  • Snow Shovel with Wet Snow: 25 pounds
  • Snow Shovel with Ice, Water, and Snow: 32 pounds                                                                             

By themselves some of these amounts don’t seem too big. But how many scoops of a snow shovel does it take to clear your driveway? Let’s assume the average driveway is 20 feet wide and 40 feet long. It would take several hundred shovel scoops to clear that driveway. Now instead of lifting 10 pounds one time you are lifting thousands of pounds over the course of the snow removal.

If you remember our last post on MET levels and energy expenditure this shows that these are only increasing more. If we are not prepared to move the snow correctly to save our backs and joints and we are not prepared to handle the energy required to move the snow, we are opening our bodies up to several stresses that can cause bigger problems down the road.

For any further questions please contact us in Louisville at 402-234-3333 or in Plattsmouth at 402-298-4747 or ask us about our Wellness Center options.

Your Witte Physical Therapy team #homegrown #backtolife

How much energy do I need to shovel the snow?

                                                             

December 12, 2019 – Have you ever noticed that while you are shoveling snow that you get tired? Have you ever thought about why? Is it the cold, the extra layers, the heavy load? How much energy does it really take to move snow?

Energy is measured in MET levels. A MET level is the amount of energy or calories you expend each minute while resting quietly. The more demanding the activity the higher the MET level.

How many METs do we experience with each activity level?

  • 1-3 METs: dressing, casual walking, desk work
  • 3-4 METs: showering, doing laundry, golfing with a cart
  • 4-5 METs: having sex, push mowing, climbing a set of stairs, walking during golf
  • 5-7 METs: SHOVELING SNOW, walking at 5 mph, occasionally lifting 50 pounds
  • 7 METs or more: running, playing basketball, occasionally lifting 100 pounds

If daily, you are only expending 3-4 METs and then on a heavier day doing 5 METs it can be a shock to system when you now must expend 6-7 METs to shovel that snow. Usually these increased expenditures are also done under a time crunch making it even tougher.       

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As we prepare for the upcoming winter season, we must remember that it is important to have the snowblower and shovels ready, make sure to have hats and gloves that fit, and to condition our cardiovascular system for the rigors of moving snow. Start now by doing 30 minutes of brisk walking, stair climbing, or light weight training at the proper MET level 5 days per week. (Before starting any fitness program you should consult your physician or qualified healthcare professional.) If you need a place to increase your MET level tolerance or a support system to do it with, Witte 24/7 Wellness has both!

Your Witte Physical Therapy Team #homegrown #backtolife

Proper Lifting Mechanics

 
December 3, 2019 – As we start to enter the winter season and the dreaded “s” word is around the corner we must start to think about reaching for our shovels and preparing to dig ourselves out.

The incidence of low back pain tends to climb during the winter months. Overall, we are less active and then when the snow comes, we are put in a position to have to bend, lift, and push snow that is always heavier than it looks. It is important during these times that we slow down and think about how we are bending, lifting, and pushing that snow.

“Lift with your legs and not your back” is a message we have all heard in our lives. It is very important when it comes to proper lifting mechanics. As we are working to dig out under that pile of snow, we must get low enough for the shovel to be effective. We need to think about the following aspects of using proper lifting mechanics:

 

Squatting: Proper squat form is essential to be able to lift with our legs. Practice this by putting a chair behind you while you are standing. Begin to sit in the chair like you normally would but once you buttock contacts the chair stand back up before you sit down. This is how a proper squat should feel.

Carrying a Load: Whenever we are carrying a heavy load with our arms it is important to carry that load as close to our body as we can. As we extend our arms it causes more strain on lower back to stabilize the load which can lead to back pain.

Avoid Twisting: We need to be able to move that heavy snow filled shovel around our bodies to get it off our driveways and sidewalks. It is important not to twist your back to do this. You must pivot your body like it is a log on your feet. Think about making sure the heavy shovel is always over your feet and never outside of them. As you turn your body the shovel and feet will turn together, by taking small steps to pivot, to avoid twisting your back.

 

Following these simple steps will decrease your chance of having low back pain due to the harsh Nebraska winters. Of course, you can do everything right and sometimes your luck just runs out. We are always here for free consultations to help you start the journey to getting over you back pain.

The Witte Physical Team #homegrown #backtolife

Post Surgical Rehab: Function and Stability

November 26, 2019: In our post last week, we talked about the initial steps following a surgery including pain management, improving range of motion, and addressing strength. But that is only half of the picture. What good is range of motion if you can’t lift that jar of pickles from the top pantry shelf? What good is having the strength to do a squat if you can’t get up from your favorite soft easy chair? This is where function and stability must be addressed.

Function takes range of motion and strength a step further. If we set a goal for you to achieve 4+/5 strength in your shoulder, what does that mean to you? Probably not very much. But if your goal is to be able to put your groceries away without help, this functional goal means much more. Once we have the range of motion and strength as good as they can be for you, then we want to begin to work on what that means for you. If you like to play with your grandkids, then function may mean the ability to move about the playground. If you like to be able to get in and out of the tractor then that function may mean being able to walk on uneven farm ground and climb a ladder. This answer is different for everyone, but each answer is the most important one for you.

Stability and function go hand in hand. We must have stability in each of our joints if we are going to take on the task of being functional. Stability is much more than just staying upright while we walk or run. If you are going to reach out and turn on the water valve at your house, you must have good stability through your shoulder to do so. If you are going to climb a tall set of stairs to get a great view of the countryside you must have excellent hip stability to achieve this goal. Stability is achieved from the joints closest to our trunk first. Without good strength we can’t have good stability. Without great stability we can’t have great function. There is a systematic approach that must work together for you to achieve your goals. This is our primary focus at Witte Physical Therapy, you and your goals!

Your Witte Physical Therapy team #homegrown #backtolife

Post Surgical Rehab: Range of Motion and Strength

November 19, 2019 – Well you survived the surgery, but now what? What can I expect next? What does physical therapy work on? The answers to these questions can be as specific as we need them to be, but in generic terms we must get you moving again.

Outside of pain control, most physical therapy programs initially will focus on improving your range of motion and strength after surgery. This is done because we must build a foundation to work from. There is no point in working on balance, athletic situations, work scenarios, or how to get you going in the yard without having a good base.

First, range of motion. Often our initial goals focus on getting you back to moving fully and normally. This include things like being able to lift our arm above our head or bending your knee back so we can sit normally. These are very basic things, but without them you can’t wash your hair or get on and off the toilet. Range of motion is first addressed passively, where you focus on relaxing and remaining comfortable while our team works you through your available range of motion within a comfortable pain range. Next, we work on active assistive range of motion, where you use other body parts or machines to help the area regain its range of motion as pain free as possible. Finally, we work into active range of motion where we are focusing on improving your normal range of motion and function as much as possible.

As your range of motion is improving, we move our focus onto my strengthening activities. It is important to strengthen in a manner that allows for continued improvement in range of motion. It makes no sense to only be strong through 90 degrees of range of motion when that joint normally has 120 degrees of range of motion. Strengthening starts isometrically where we are working on pain free muscle contractions without any joint movement. As this strength improves, we can begin to work on concentric and eccentric strength. Concentric strength is used to move a load through a range. Think of a bicep curl. Eccentric strength is used to control a load through a range. Think of lowering your self down from a high step. These are both very important but treated very differently.

At Witte Physical Therapy we will help you work to efficiently improve your range of motion and strength while being aware of your pain levels are affected. We will work to develop a plan made only for you so that you can achieve your goals as quickly as possible. This is a big goal for us, and we continue to try to work for you every day.

Your Witte Physical Therapy Team 

#homegrown #backtolife

Prehab

November 12, 2019 – A lot of people refer to physical therapy as rehab. When the word rehab is spoken, we can also think of an athlete returning from an injury or a long-term care facility specializing in helping patients recover from more serious injuries. But what about “prehab”?

Prehab is becoming more and more prevalent in the research. As physical therapists we are seeing more and more people for prehab. So, what is it? Prehab refers to a physical therapy program that helps to prepare you for an upcoming life changing event, usually surgery. It is becoming more and more important to help speed recovery especially in the initial states of rehab after surgery.

Prehab is used to increase your range of motion before a shoulder surgery, improve your quad and hip strength before a knee procedure, decrease your back pain caused by injury or abnormal movements, and for many other deficits.

It is important that if you are planning a surgery with your physician to ask about prehab. Coming in to see a physical therapist can help better prepare you for that procedure. We can work on activity modifications that you may need due to having to use crutches, a walker, or a sling. We can give you some exercises to help with improving range of motion and strength. We can work with you on some pain relief strategies for both before and after surgery. Often a few visits of physical therapy before surgery can make the whole surgical process much more comfortable.

Your Witte Physical Therapy Team

#homegrown #backtolife