balance

A simple single leg balance exercise

A simple, yet effective exercise for foot strength and balance!

This blog will be covering a single leg balance exercise which will improve your foot musculature strength and your balance – two components of body function which are essential to healthy walking and running.  It can help reduce the possibility of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tedonitis, and knee and hip pain.

The main body position of this exercise is to stand erect on one foot with your leg in line with your torso – don’t allow your butt to stick backward or hips to slant downward. If your balance is not good enough to even balance on one foot, use one or two fingertips against a solid object (wall, chair, etc) to provide some support.  Next, without lifting your toes or heel off the floor, shift your weight slowly from the ball of the foot to the heel.  Shift back and forth repeatedly but slowly, taking about 2 seconds to move through the motion.  Repeat 10 times. Next, instead of shifting forward and backward, shift your weight from the inside to the outside of your foot.  Take 1-2 seconds to move through the motion.  Repeat 10 times.  This is much more challenging as there is less available range of motion in the foot to work with through this plane.  Next, for the final motion, if you are standing on the right foot, let your left hip drop downward without letting the right knee bend.  After dropping the hip downward, lift it up as high as you can, bringing your outer pelvis up toward your rib cage.  Take about 3 seconds to complete the motion.  Repeat 10 times.  Think of all of these exercises as fine tuning – the motions are not large full joint motions but are designed to work on isolation of fine motor and joint movements.  To advance any of these exercises, you can hold dumbbells or a kettle bell or close your eyes.    One hint to fit these exercises into your day is to perform this series when talking on the phone, waiting in line, etc. versus setting aside some specific exercise session.  As always, be sure to check with your primary care provider before beginning an exercise or balance program to be sure you are fit and safe to engage in exercise.

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Opioid use up 3000%!

A recent study revealed that Opioid use is up 3000%. The American Physical Therapy Association has recently began a campaign to help address this issue by promoting the use of physical therapy as an alternative to opioid use.

Read the article here. And find out more about the APTA campaign here.

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March Madness!

Hey, basketball fans!  March Madness is here and if you want to learn how physical therapy has helped a famous NBA player, check out this article in the American Physical  Therapist Associations Move Forward webpage.

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New studies show benefit of exercise in lower back pain.

Two recent studies show a positive connection between exercise and reduction in lower back pain. One problem identified is that exercise is not prescribed often for people suffering from lower back pain. Physical therapy often includes exercises specifically tailored to patients suffering from lower back pain. Check out the APTA article here.

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Trigger point therapy

Trigger point treatment:

Due to the repetitive nature of running and walking, certain muscle groups and areas of connective tissue are subjected to a higher degree of stress and strain than others.  In the muscle tissue one can develop tight bands of tissue termed “trigger points.”  There are two types of trigger points: active and latentActive trigger points are painful when palpated and will refer a painful sensation in a specific pattern when they are pressed on.  Latent trigger points do not refer pain but are painful when palpated.  One common treatment to alleviate the pain and tightness associated with a trigger point is a trigger point release. A trigger point release is a technique where constant, increasing pressure is applied to the trigger point for up to 90 seconds.  This treatment can be extremely painful but effective.  The goal is to cause ischemia or decreased blood flow to the area.  After the pressure is released, the body floods the region with blood which will cause a release of the bound up muscle tissue. Massage therapy, physical therapy and trigger point injections are other treatments.  Massage therapists and physical therapists will typically use multiple interventions to treat these impairments.

Runners and walkers typcially develop trigger points in the muscle tissue along the lateral part of the hip/pelvis, just below the crest of the pelvis (iliac crest).   These muscles are the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae (not a type of coffee drink!).  Press around in this area and feel for any tight, painful bands of tissue.  You may find one and if you hold pressure there for a moment or two, it may radiate pain down the leg or into the buttock.  This would be an active trigger point.  If it just hurts where you are pushing, it is latent.  A simple way to peform a trigger point release at home is to take a tennis ball and apply pressure to the muscle area with the ball between your hip and a wall.  Get close to a wall, place the ball between your hip musculature and the wall.  Lean into the ball, while trying to unweight the leg (keep most of your weight on the supporting leg and against your shoulder and torso against the wall).  Move around until you find the trigger point, then keep pressure against it, increasing pressure if you can, for 90 seconds.  You may feel the trigger point “release” before that (it may feel like a letting go or softening of the tissue).  Search around for any other trigger points in the region and peform the same technique.

Trigger points need to be reduced as they can inhibit performance and can lead to muscle strains or other connective tissue dysfunctions that may require greater treatment.  If you have trigger points that are difficult to release on your own, check with your primary care provider to determine if a more aggressive form of treatment might benefit you.

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Flexibility can help reduce injury

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recently recommended flexibility exercises as a way to reduce injury and improve sports performance. Check out the article here.  Aspire Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine is here to help you learn proper stretches and work on sports performance and reduce your chance of injury.

Do you get the “umbles?”

Many of us dread the idea of running outside during the winter, others are diehards and will run outside in almost any conditions that don’t blow us off the road or cause us to ice skate instead.  With being active outside in the cold weather, the chances of developing hypothermia and/or frostbite increase.  Hypothermia is basically a lack of adequate body temperature.  As the core body temperature drops because of a drop in environmental temperature, blood is directed away from the extremities and to the vital organs.  The Mayo Clinic describes symptoms including shivering and the “umbles,” ie, mumbles, stumbles, grumbles and fumbles.  Frostbite occurs when, typically, fingers, toes and face are exposed to the cold air and the body is unable to supply the necessary blood to the surface to sustain the health of the cells.  Symptoms include:  change in skin color to red or, in more severe cases, pale; hardening of the skin; numbness or pain in skin regions of the hands, feet and face or that are otherwise exposed to cold.  Avoid rubbing the skin to make it warm, this can damage the delicate cells.  Instead, use a source of heat such as your breath.   If you tend to run with a partner or even alone, watch for these symptoms.  Be sure to consider the following tips to avoid cold related problems:

 

1:  Stay inside if the temperature or wind creates temperatures below freezing.   Run inside on a treadmill.  Be sure to alter your pace and elevation.  Treadmills are essentially a flat surface and excessive running on a treadmill can lead to repetitive strain injuries because the running surface varies little.  Alternatively, consider cross training: aqua jogging, elliptical, Nordic Trac, aerobic or cycling classes.

2: Wear a hat and mittens.  The head is a major source of heat loss.

3: Wear layers.  This allows you to peel off or put on layers depending on changes in weather and temperature during your run.

4: Run short routes multiple times versus a long run.  This keeps you close to home and allows you to call it a day if you get too cold versus being a long way off and having to run home in the frigid temperatures.

5: Avoid running in wet clothes in the cold.  This can easily create a hypothermic condition because the clothes no longer act as an insulator.  Remember, sweat is wet and can lead to hypothermia.

6: be aware of “black ice” or running on packed snow/ice.  It is easy to loose your footing and create sprains or strains to the structures of the lower extremities.

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