Foam Rolling to Improve Posture

Do you find yourself slouching all day at work? Do you experience upper back or neck pain at the end of the day?

Slouching at work causes chest muscles to tighten and places extra stress on your upper back and the muscles that you normally use to achieve good posture. Stretching and mobilizing in your upper back can help decrease these symptoms and improve postural awareness while sitting at work.  Check out these foam roll exercises.  These can be performed daily to help decrease muscle tightness and improve posture.  Always make sure to check with your physician or physical therapist to ensure these exercises are appropriate for you.

Written by: Holly Hibbard, D.P.T.

Vestibular Disorders and Physical Therapy

Vestibular disorders are characterized by various types of dizziness such as feeling lightheaded, spinning, floating, tilting, whirling, and feelings of unsteadiness. These episodes of dizziness can last for seconds to hours and may be associated with changing positions, laying down, or can even occur while you are sitting still.

Feelings of dizziness can be very worrisome and it is important to see your physician to investigate more serious causes of dizziness such as a brain or heart condition. However, many causes of dizziness are less serious and are associated with a mechanical problem with your inner ear.

In these cases, a physical therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy can help diagnose these conditions and design an individualized program to help alleviate symptoms of dizziness. Patients with diagnoses such as vertigo, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), migraines, imbalance, dizziness, and many others may benefit from physical therapy to assist in decreasing feelings of dizziness and improve balance so individuals are able to return to their daily activities.

5 Reasons to Ride Your Bike this Spring

In addition to saving money on the costs of other modes of transportation and being environmentally friendly, biking has many health benefits that make it a good option for getting around the neighborhood this spring. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Cardiovascular Health – Biking will help to elevate your heart rate and provide a great aerobic workout. This will promote heart and lung health and can lower your blood pressure and risk for heart disease.

2. Low Impact Exercise – Compared to other forms of exercise such as running, biking has a very low impact on your joints, which is good if you are susceptible to having joint pain.

3. Good for all Fitness Levels and Ages – Even though it is low impact, that doesn’t mean it has to be easy! By adjusting speed, distance, and resistance, the exercise you get while biking can be as challenging as you want it to be. This makes it a good option for everyone, whether you are a high level athlete or are trying it for the first time.

4. Muscle Strength – Biking works the muscles in the legs as you are pushing the pedals, core muscles as you stay upright, and the muscles in your arms as you hold onto and steer the handlebars. Having more strength in these muscles can improve your ability to perform all of your daily activities such as standing, walking, and going up and down stairs.

5. It’s Fun! – Biking is a fun way to get around and explore. For safety, make sure you wear a helmet to protect your head. If you have any health issues and are unsure if biking is appropriate for you, check with your physical therapist or doctor first.

Static Vs. Dynamic Stretching- How to Prevent Injury

As the weather begins to improve, people begin participating in more outdoor recreational activities. However, this change in activity level can come with an increased risk of injury. This article will briefly describe ways to decrease risk of injury through various stretching techniques.

Prior to any activity, it is good to perform an active warm up involving light cardio activities (i.e. walking, jogging) paired with a dynamic stretching routine. This helps increase range of motion and blood flow to the muscles being used to help decrease the risk of injury. Dynamic stretching is described as a continuous movement that maximizes someone’s active range of motion. Examples of this include hip in/out, forward kicks, butt kicks, and lunge with a twist.  Please see pictures below.

 

 

 

 

After activity, it is important to stretch as the muscles are recovering from activity in order to decrease soreness and increase muscular extensibility. Static stretching is typically performed after a workout and is defined as a stretch that is held for a period of ~30 seconds. It is recommended that each stretch be performed 3-4 times to maximize benefits of stretching and decrease future risk of injury. Good examples of static stretching that is useful post-workout include a hamstring stretch, quad stretch, calf stretch, or trunk twist.  Please see pictures below

 

 

 

 

Written by: Holly Hibbard, D.P.T. from Harbor Physical Therapy

 

Fall Prevention

Falls in the elderly population can lead to serious injury and should be avoided at all cost. Multiple factors place a person at an increased risk for falls. These factors include advanced age, poor vision, muscle weakness, poor balance, fear of falling, and home and environmental hazards. There are many steps that you can take to prevent falls. Here are just a few:

  1. Keep rooms in your home free of clutter to prevent tripping.
  2. Walk in shoes that have a good grip. Avoid wearing socks to decrease your risk of slipping.
  3. Keep your home well-lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see.
  4. Make sure that all rugs in the home, as well as the bathtub and shower floor are nonslip.
  5. Stay active to improve strength, balance, and flexibility.

If you have a history of falls, are fearful of falling, or feel that you have problems with walking, balance, or decreased strength, a visit to a physical therapist can help to address these issues and prevent any falls in your future.

Written By: Dr. David Reymann

How to Decrease Arthritic Symptoms

One in four people suffer from arthritis. Arthritis causes stiffness, pain, deformity and decrease function of your joints. Physical therapy can help to decrease pain and restore mobility with the use of exercises and modalities.

Harbor Physical Therapy provides patients with arthritis instruction in exercises to help increase flexibility and improve muscle strength around the joint. A daily home exercise program will help to prevent loss of the use of your joints and preserve muscle strength.

If you are interested in learning more about how physical therapy can help with your arthritic symptoms, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

The Upper Trapezius and its Role in Neck Pain

If you find yourself suffering from neck and shoulder pain, it may be coming from one muscle in particular: the upper trapezius. The upper trapezius makes up one of three parts of the large trapezius muscle in the upper back and neck and runs from the base of the head to the clavicle. The upper trap works with the middle and lower trap to stabilize the scapula and assists in upward rotation of the scapula and shrugging of the shoulder.

Increased stress, poor posture, and weakness in the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers can contribute to overcompensation from the upper traps. This can lead to increased tightness, neck/shoulder pain, and trigger point formation in the muscle. If pain and muscle tightness persists, it can affect daily activities such as sleeping, sitting, reaching, head turning and can also contribute to headaches.

If you suffer from this, here are some quick tips to help relieve pain:

1. Stretch the upper trap by placing one arm behind your back on the same side as your neck pain. Then, gently pull your ear to your shoulder with your other hand until a stretch is felt. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 3 times and perform throughout the day as needed.

2. Work on your posture. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down towards each other and hold for 5-10 seconds while keeping your head in an upward position. Repeat multiple times throughout the day.

If your pain persists, the physical therapists at Harbor Physical Therapy can help by using a combination of manual therapy, strengthening and stretching exercises to decrease muscular tension and pain.

Written by:
Dr. David Reymann
Staff Physical Therapist
Harbor Physical Therapy

How to Continue Exercising in the Winter

Winter weather is upon us! Even though temperatures are dropping, there are many options to continue exercising safely.

If you spent the warmer months exercising outdoors, but continued making monthly membership ‘donations’ to your local fitness center, use this winter to redeem your money’s worth of classes and workouts! Gyms offer plenty of indoor cardio, conditioning, and strengthening exercise options. Most gyms also offer fitness classes if you like the group setting. If a gym membership is not your thing, there are also many exercise options online, TV on Demand, or on DVD.

If you still plan to battle the elements and exercise outdoors through the winter months, be sure to make use of warm, protective clothing. Proper footwear, warm socks, hats, gloves, and layers are all important!

Also, remember winter brings shorter hours of daylight so use reflective gear whenever necessary! Always remember safety first and consider alternatives to outdoor exercise when icy or extra cold outside!