Why Should I Strengthen my Core?

Your core muscles are important for strength, balance, and overall function. Having a strong core helps to decrease the likelihood of developing back pain due to muscle compensation. There are many core exercises that can be performed in a variety of positions. You can even contract your core while performing any exercise of your choice to make the exercise into a core strengthening exercises.

Here is a core strengthening exercise you can perform anywhere to strengthen your core muscles.

  1. Assume a push-up position but bend your arms at your elbows so your weight rests on your forearms.
  2. Tighten your abs, clench your glutes and keep your body straight from head to heels.
  3. Start by holding the exercise for 10 seconds and build from there.

Make sure you are breathing while performing this exercise.

Stair Negotiation Physics

Many people with pain in the front of their knee comment that going down stairs is more challenging and painful than going up. Let’s take a quick look at why that is!

In the images below, Dr. Scott compares the forces at work when going up vs. down a step. The yellow arrow indicates the force of gravity and the green arrow is the force placed through the kneecap. A larger arrow = greater force, and as you can see the higher degree of knee bend when going down creates a higher force, and thus more stress, on the knee. This can cause increased pain and make descending steps quite challenging for those with a painful knee condition.

Written by Dr. Scott Newberry

Dr. Scott going up the step
Dr. Scott going down the step

How to Achieve an Ergonomic Workstation

 

1. Adjust your chair height so that your feet are flat on the floor. Use a footrest to assist.
2. Keep your wrist posture neutral.
3. Keep your monitor between 20 and 40 inches from your face.
4. Adjust your monitor so that the center of the screen is at eye level.
5. Place your keyboard so that your upper arms are perpendicular to the floor.
6. Adjust your chair to keep your body supported in an upright position.
7. Adjust your back rest to target the lumbar region of your spine.
8. Keep your work within 16 inches of your body.

If you are unable to achieve an ergonomic workstation on your own, Harbor Physical Therapy can help!  Our Physical Therapists are able to assess your workstation sitting posture and transform it into an ideal sitting posture for your workstation to decrease strain on your joints.

The Real Weight of Obesity: What It’s Really Doing to Your Body

Obesity is a complex health disorder in which excess weight gain puts an individual at high risk for osteoarthritis and several life-threatening medical conditions. Although the obesity epidemic is currently affecting millions of Americans across the country, each person’s battle with obesity begins right at home with personal lifestyle choices.

Contributors to obesity include:

  • Diet including intake of high-calorie foods
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Genetics (to an extent)
  • Some illnesses
  • Lack of sleep
  • Certain medication use (such as steroids)

Effects of obesity may include (but are not limited to):

  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoarthritis – breakdown of cartilage between bones
  • Diabetes
  • Difficulty sleeping and breathing problems
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Depression and social isolation
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Increased healthcare-related costs

Step-by-step on how to Fight Obesity:

  1. Drink lots of water! Keep your body hydrated throughout the day.
  2. Eat right! Fill your diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins; avoid foods with processed sugar and high animal fat content.
  3. Get active! Even a daily 10-minute walk can help. Challenge yourself by taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  4. Stay active! The Physical Activity Guidelines for America recommends at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week to stay heart healthy and to add 2 additional days of strength training.
  5. Stay motivated! Find friends or family to share your experience with. Weight loss is a marathon not a sprint, losing 1-2 pounds per week is a healthy pace.

**Remember!! Every pound lost is a success! Small amounts of weight loss have been shown to have substantial benefits including reducing knee and hip pain from arthritis, increasing blood flow through the body and heart, and improving overall quality of life!

Cortisone Injection

A Cortisone shot is an injection that is given to decrease pain and inflammation. Most doctors limit an individual to 2 or 3 injections per area over a 12 month period because repeated injections may lead to tissue damage. Some patients might get a cortisone injection prior to beginning physical therapy. Some patients may not get an injection unless pain is preventing progress with physical therapy.

Tips for Walking in Snow and Ice

1. Wear boots or shoes with textured soles. Avoid shoes that have smooth surfaces on the bottom.
2. Watch where you walk. Avoid dark and shiny patches. Walking on the snow will give you better traction.
3. Avoid being off-balanced by carrying things in your hands. Use a backpack if you are walking long distances and keep your hands out of your pockets so you can use them for balancing yourself.
4. Take small, quick, shuffling steps if you are walking through an icy spot and keep your weight slightly forward. It’s usually better to fall forward than it is to fall backwards.
5. Make sure you remove snow quickly from your steps or walk before it hardens and turns icy. Put some type of ice melt product down to ensure it won’t be slippery.
6. Avoid walking in shaded areas where ice tends to build up.

During the winter, physical therapists see many patients with injuries from falling on the ice. Thinking ahead and taking your time could prevent a lot of bruises, sprains and even fractures.

Can a Flu Shot Cause Long Lasting Pain or Injury?

After receiving a flu shot, a small portion of people complain of pain in their upper arm/shoulder that lasts for several weeks or months. A theory of why this occurs suggests that the vaccine is being injected into the joint capsule or bursa and causing an inflammatory response.

For relief, you can apply a heating pad to the shoulder/upper arm and rest the arm. If after several days your pain still persists, you should contact your physician that provided you the flu shot. At that point, your physician might refer you for physical therapy.

Physical therapy treatment is usually brief and can provide pain relief and increased range of motion. With use of manual techniques such as massage and stretching, range of motion can be restored and pain decreased. Strengthening exercises can help to restore any weakness that has occurred from lack of use of the arm.

If you have experienced pain from a flu shot that is lasting longer that you expected, seeing a physical therapist can help facilitate healing of your muscles, tendons and shoulder joint.