Stretching 101

To get the most out of stretching to prevent injury and muscle soreness, dynamic stretching should be performed before your workout and static stretching performed after your workout.  If you perform a static stretch before you workout, there is more potential to tear a muscle due to the lack of blood flow at the muscle.

To get the most benefit out of static stretching, make sure you hold the stretch at a point you feel a pull within the muscle. The stretch should be held between 15-60 seconds.  Perform 2-3 repetitions of each stretch on both sides of your body. If a stretch is painful, you should decrease the range of motion of the stretch.

If you are unsure what muscle groups to stretch in association with your workout, contact Harbor Physical Therapy.  Our physical therapists can create you a customized stretching program.

The Rotator Cuff: What You Need to Know

The rotator cuff, an often neglected muscle group, is a group of four muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint.  The rotator cuff helps to keep the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder joint. In addition to keeping your shoulder stable, these muscles help to lift and rotate your arm. Injury to this muscle group is common, particularly in those who perform repetitive overhead motions as you would in a sport like tennis or a profession like painting.

The key to preventing shoulder pain or injury to these muscles is maintaining good rotator cuff strength in addition to good posture to improve your shoulder mechanics. Here are four simple exercises that you can start performing at home to start building better shoulder strength and stability.

  1. Side-lying External Rotation with Weight

     2.  Shoulder Internal Rotation with Band

     3.  Scapular Rows

If you are currently suffering from shoulder pain, the physical therapists at Harbor Physical Therapy will help you to develop an exercise program that is specific to your injury.

 

Written by:

Dr. David Reymann

Staff Physical Therapist
Harbor Physical Therapy

Six Reasons to Start Walking This Summer

While walking may seem like an obvious form of exercise, most people do not walk enough for exercise. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week. The good news is that brisk walking falls under this category. Walking is a great form of exercise because it is easy to fit in your schedule, it can be done anywhere, and you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment to do it. Here are just a few of the many health benefits of walking:

  1. Walking makes you stronger. Walking is a good way to get your muscles activated and helps to improve muscular strength and endurance.
  2. It is good for your heart. Walking helps to improve cardiovascular and pulmonary health and can improve your endurance for all of your daily activities.
  3. It can help you to maintain a healthy weight.
  4. It decreases your risk for many health conditions and diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
  5. Walking can help to improve your mood and decrease stress.
  6. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that helps to build strong bones. Maintaining good bone health will decrease your risk of osteoporosis.

Written By:
Dr. David Reymann
Staff Physical Therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy

Common Causes of Sciatica

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a term commonly used to describe pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling that radiates down the back of the leg. These symptoms can be debilitating for some and contribute to difficulty performing daily activities.

Where does it come from?

There are 4 common causes of sciatica:

  1. Disc Herniation – Pressure on the sciatic nerve can occur from the protrusion of a disc in the lumbar spine. This pressure can cause pain to travel through the pathway of the sciatic nerve down the leg.
  2. Spinal Stenosis – Narrowing of the space where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal can also cause pressure on the nerve.
  3. Piriformis Syndrome – The piriformis is a muscle deep in your gluteal region that the sciatic nerve runs underneath and sometimes through. Tightness or spasm of this muscle can cause pressure on the nerve that sends pain down the leg.
  4. Referred Pain from Trigger Points – Trigger points are tight knots in muscles that can cause local or referred pain. Trigger points found in the gluteal muscles can cause referred pain that is felt down the leg and is similar to sciatic nerve pain.

How can PT help?

 A physical therapist is trained to evaluate your symptoms and do a thorough assessment to determine what may be causing them. The aim of treatment is to restore your range of motion, increase your flexibility, increase strength and stability, decrease trigger point formation, and improve your functional mobility. Treatment plans are individualized and are determined based on the causes of your symptoms and your specific presentation. If you are suffering from sciatica-related symptoms, call Harbor Physical Therapy to help eliminate your pain and prevent it from reoccurring.

Written by:

Dr, David Reymann
Staff Physical Therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy

Increase Computer Time and Pain Prevention

Do you sit in front of the computer most of the day? Do you get tension headaches, neck pain, and sore chest muscles?

This is a result of repetitive forward head movement that can be from typing, reading and looking down to write. Excessive forward head posture puts strain on your neck and shoulder muscles. Perform the pectoralis stretch below to decrease strain to your neck and shoulder muscles.

Stand in a doorway and place your arms about 90 degrees along the sides of the door frame. Step through the door frame until you feel a stretch across your chest. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Alternate your foot forward with each stretch.

Pectoralis Stretch

Written by:
Amanda Macht, D.P.T.
Owner/Physical Therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy

What is the Difference between a Physical Therapist and Chiropractor?

 

Have you ever wondered whether you should see a Physical therapist or a Chiropractor for your symptoms? Check out the descriptions below to learn the differences and which type of provider you should see depending on your injury.

Physical Therapist

A physical therapist performs an exam of an individual’s impairment, disability or functional limitation by examining their movement, affected joints and tissue, neuromuscular imbalances and misalignment. They determine a diagnosis and intervention of treatment and set treatment goals.  Physical therapists work to alleviate pain, restore range of motion, regain any function lost, promote and maintain fitness and prevent further injury. The physical therapist may use heat/cold, electric stimulation, ultrasound, soft tissue mobilization, stretching, exercise and other manual techniques to reach treatment goals. There are many different specialties/settings in physical therapy.  Examples of this are outpatient, women’s health, acute care, sub-acute care, sport, and neurological.  An average physical therapy treatment program consists of the patient attending physical therapy 2 times a week for 4 to 6 weeks.  The end goal for a physical therapy treatment program is to decrease the patient’s symptoms and educate the patient on how to prevent their injury/symptoms from recurring through continued exercise.

Chiropractor

A chiropractor concentrates on musculoskeletal and systemic disorders through a controlled manipulation of the spine. Some chiropractors perform x-rays of the spine to check for misalignment. Chiropractors look to the physiological and biochemical aspects of the patient’s structural, spinal, musculoskeletal and neurological components. They also may use heat/cold electrical stimulation and ultrasound for pain control. Chiropractors practice in a private practice setting and occasionally you can find them staffed in a hospital setting.  In the state of Maryland, Chiropractors can take an exam to receive physical therapy privileges.  Therefore, you might see a facility advertising chiropractic and physical therapy services together. However, be mindful that most of these facilities only employ chiropractors.  A chiropractic treatment program on average is once a week and then tapers down to once a month for a long period of time.  Chiropractors typically see their patient consistently for sometimes years to continue to assess for misalignment of the spine to manipulate.

If you are wondering what practitioner you should see for your injury, it is always beneficial to see a physical therapist.  I typically educate my patients that you should always see a physical therapist first as we are more conservative than chiropractors.  Physical Therapists are able to increase strength/range of motion of a muscle/joint which in turn naturally corrects misalignment of the spine.  If you have not reached your goals with physical therapy, then try your local chiropractor.

Written by:

Amanda Macht, D.P.T.
Owner/Physical Therapist Harbor Physical Therapy

Knee Pain and Running

If you have been suffering from pain in the front of your knee while running, you may be suffering from patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee. Multiple factors including muscle weakness, tightness, and imbalances can contribute to increased stress on the knee cap and the structures underneath it. Patellofemoral symptoms increase the more that you run. The best way to decrease symptoms is to get a thorough evaluation by a physical therapist to determine the most appropriate exercises for you.  Listed below are several strengthening exercises that target the muscles in your hip and knee that are commonly provided to patients with knee pain.

Straight Leg Raise– Squeeze your quads in the front of your thigh to straighten your knee and lift your leg to the level of your opposite thigh.Clams– While on your side with your knees bent, lift your knee up. Do not let your hips roll forwards or  backwards.

Side-lying Hip Abduction– While on your side, squeeze your quads to straighten your knee. Lift your leg up without letting your hips roll forwards or backwards.

Bridges– While on your back, lift your hips up to the ceiling while squeezing your core and glutes.

If your symptoms still persist after performing these exercises, please call Harbor Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment.

 

By: Dr. David Reymann- Staff Physical Therapy at Harbor Physical Therapy