All posts by Teresa Stockton

gardening ergonomics

Gardening Ergonomics

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gardening ergonomics

It’s that time of year again. Time to exchange snow shovels and winter boots with gardening tools and watering cans. While the warmer weather brings on a new sense of happiness and energy, we need to remember to use proper body mechanics and follow general safety to avoid muscle aches and potential serious injuries. The number one injury associated with gardening is low back pain.

Here are a few tips to make your gardening experience more enjoyable and less painful.

LIFTING:
Lifting heavy objects such as bags of soil, planters and mulch improperly can lead to low back strains and/or sciatic pain. Other options include moving half of the soil/mulch to a separate pot before lifting the bag or planting in to smaller pots that are easier to maneuver. Using a garden cart or wheelbarrow can also assist with moving heavy gardening materials. Remember to lift with your legs, avoid simultaneous lifting and twisting and keep heavier objects close to your body to avoid injury.

PLANTING:
Prepping the soil can also be a difficult and tedious task requiring prolonged forward bending and frequent changes in position. Try prepping the planting bed by using long-handled gardening tools. Once the soil is ready, plant from a kneeling position using either a kneeling stool or a cushion. Remember to avoid twisting at the spine. Those with known chronic low back pain may want to consider planting in to pots, flower boxes or raised flower beds to avoid further injury.

WEEDING:
Most people dislike weeding their gardens and flower beds. Options to reduce the need to do so include using plants as ground cover or using mulch in your flower beds to minimize weed growth. If using a weed spray, look for bottles that have a sprayer hose to allow you to stand upright while treating your problem areas.

MOWING THE LAWN:
Another task that most people find tedious. When able, use an electric start mower. The action of pulling a cord to start your mower is the most common cause of low back injuries. If you must use a pull start mower, remember to bend at your knees and maintain the natural curve of your spine while reaching for the cord. Make sure you tighten your abdominal muscles just before pulling the cord in order to support your spine. If using a push mower, remember to maintain proper upright posture and take breaks as needed.

Remember to listen to your body. Take frequent breaks and change positions when you start to experience aching, cramping or fatigue. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. If you do happen to experience low back pain or any other injury, remember to contact your physical therapist. They can help alleviate your symptoms as well as educate you on proper body mechanics.

gardening

GARDENING STRETCHES
Stretching before you start gardening can help you from experiencing pain later. Here are some stretching techniques to help get you started!

1.) Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body, but this time extend your arms overhead. You should feel the stretch in your upper torso and shoulders to hand. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

2.) Place your hand just above the back of the elbow and gently push your elbow across your chest toward the opposite shoulder. This is a stretch for the upper back and shoulder. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

3.) Raise one arm overhead. Bend the elbow. Place the opposite hand on the bent elbow and gently push the elbow back further. This is a stretch for the triceps. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

4.) Extend an arm in front of you, making sure the elbow is completely straight. With your palm down, take the opposite hand and bend in the wrist downward. Then turn the palm up, and stretch the wrist backwards. This stretches the forearm and wrist muscles. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

The warm-up exercises were developed by professional hand therapists who are occupational and physical therapists specializing in the treatment of the hands, arms and shoulders. These exercises and tips have been designed to supplement more commonly known gardening safety practices that concentrate only on preventing back injuries.
For more information visit: www.asht.org

opioid crisis physical therapy

CDC Launches Opioid Campaign in Hard-Hit States

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The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a campaign to reduce overdose deaths from prescription opioid painkillers. Between 1999 and 2015, more than 183,000 people in the United States died from prescription opioid overdoses such as OxyContin (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone). The goal of the CDC’s Rx Awareness campaign is to increase knowledge of the risks of prescription opioids and stop inappropriate use. Personal accounts from recovering opioid abusers and people who’ve lost loved ones will be featured. “It only takes a little to lose a lot” is the campaign tagline. It will be featured in videos, audio ads, social media ads, internet banners, web graphics, billboards and posters. Campaign ads are planned to run for the next 14 weeks in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Ohio. The campaign will expand to other states as more funding becomes available. “This campaign is part of CDC’s continued support for states on the frontlines of the opioid overdose epidemic,” CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said in an agency news release. “These heartbreaking stories of the devastation brought on by opioid abuse have the potential to open eyes and save lives,” she said. In 2015, 12.5 million people in the United States misused prescription opioids. Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for prescription opioid misuse and more than 40 people die from prescription opioid overdoses. Prescription opioid abuse is also a major risk factor for heroin use. About three-quarters of new heroin users misused prescription opioids before using heroin.

Manage pain safely with physical therapy. Physical therapy is a safe non-invasive form of treatment for patients experiencing musculoskeletal pain or injuries. Great candidates to be referred to physical therapy instead of prescribing pain pills include:

  • A patient that has had pain for more than 90 days
  • A patient that complains of pain disturbing their sleep or daily activities
  • A patient that has a history of substance abuse or has been on pain medication for an extended period of time
  • A patient that expresses an interest in avoiding opioids

Try Physical Therapy and experience the difference. For more information about what physical therapy can treat. Visit the PTandMe Injury Center.

For more information, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on prescription opioids.

HealthDay News

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
The information in this article, including reference materials, are provided to you solely for educational or research purposes. Information in reference materials, are not and should not be considered professional health care advice upon which you should rely. Health care information changes rapidly and consequently, information in this article may be out of date. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

PT News PTandMe

PT News February 2019

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This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout February 2019. We are excited to begin a new year of new posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

1. Cold Weather Exercise Tips
Written by IRG with physical therapy locations throughout Puget Sound, Seattle and the surrounding areas.

Are you planning to take your exercise outside this winter? Here are a few things to keep in mind for pre-and-post workouts in the elements this season.  Read more

 

2. Can I Exercise Safely with a Cold?
Written by the Therapy Team at The Jackson Clinics with physical therapy locations throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland.

The average adult gets one to six colds every year, with symptoms lasting a week to 10 days. Should you let these colds interrupt your exercise routine? Probably not, as long as you pay attention to what your body tells you. Read more

 

3. Physical Therapy for the Treatment of Osteoporosis
Written by the physical therapy team at Mishock Physical Therapy & Associates with locations throughout Montgomery, Berks and Chester, PA counties.

Osteoporosis is the leading cause of fractures in the elderly. It is a disease which causes diminished bone mass and leads to a decrease in bone quality which results in increased risk for bone fractures. Fractures can lead to functional disability, chronic pain, and at times, early death. Read more

athletic trainer

Who is an Athletic Trainer?

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athletic trainer

Athletic trainers hold at least a four year degree from a BOC (Board of Certification) accredited institution. They are licensed, certified health professionals working with athletes on and off the field. Generally they are the first responders when injuries occur during sporting events.

Athletic trainers work closely with coaches and parents and will refer athletes to other health care professionals such as physicians, physical therapists and surgeons when needed.

Athletic trainers hours are determined by sports schedules. Typically they are available after school and stay until sporting events have concluded.

IN THE TRAINING ROOM ATHLETIC TRAINERS

  • Prepare athletes for competition by taking preventative measures such as equipment fitting, taping and bracing
  • Assess athletes with acute and chronic injuries to determine their participation status
  • Perform sport-specific rehabilitation on injured athletes
  • Provide opportunities for strengthening and conditioning
  • Work with sports staff on proper warm up, game day preparation and on/off season conditioning
  • Educate athletes, coaches and parents on sports medicine strategies, nutrition and sports psychology

running back

DURING THE GAME ATHLETIC TRAINERS

  • Support athletes during sporting events
  • Manage any type of musculoskeletal issues including:
  • Shoulder, hip, knee, elbow, hand and ankle injuries
  • Facial injuries
  • Neck and back injuries, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries like concussions
  • Triage and wound care
  • Heat-related illnesses
  • Fractures and dislocations
  • Catastrophic injuries

This information was written by the Center for Physical Rehabilitation, an outpatient physical therapy group with five locations in Western Michigan. The Center specializes in all inclusive physical therapy services, such as: Sports Medicine, Orthopedic Post-Surgical and McKenzie Therapy. Our state-of-the-art facilities are conveniently located around Grand Rapids with extended hours. Independent and locally owned since 1994, we have the freedom to work with the most qualified healthcare professionals. For more information click here.

winter injuries

Winter Is A Great Time To Take Care Of Injuries

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winter injuries

As Mother Nature keeps bringing on the winter wind, now is the time to think about spring and summer!  We were promised an early spring by Punxsutawney Phil, so it must be right around the corner.  Nagging winter injuries that you don’t address now, could end up hindering your return to the great outdoors. Waiting to take care of these injuries when the first fair day arrives can be too late. No one wants to lose weeks to months of fun in the sun because of  a lengthy rehabilitation. By taking care of these injuries now, you can have plenty of time to enjoy your favorite activities in the best kind of weather.

BACK INJURIES
From picking up leaves in the fall to shoveling snow, low back injuries are common this time of year. While a simple back ache may dissipate in a day or two after shoveling out after a winter storm, if it lingers longer than a week, chances are it’s not going away on its own. Waiting until the first round of golf to find out that you can’t complete the back swing due to low back pain not only severely hinders the golf game, but can also severely hinder the recovery. The more chronic the pain is, the longer it takes to eliminate the pain once treatment is started. Pain management becomes more complex; muscle strength atrophies; and bad spinal mechanics become a difficult habit to break. Fortunately, from a simple muscle strain to a herniated disc, all low back injuries have the opportunity to be conservatively managed quickly if treatment is sought out quickly.

JOINT REPLACEMENTS
Fear of slipping and falling is often the biggest rationale people wait to have their much needed joint replacement surgeries. While a legitimate concern, the process of recovery and length of time for recovery is often overlooked by patients. For a typical total hip replacement, it can take 12 weeks or more to feel “normal” again. For a total knee replacement, that time line can extend to six months. By waiting until spring to have the surgery, patients forego their fun-in-the-sun for recovery and rehabilitation. However, if that same surgery were elected to be performed in the late fall or winter, then plenty of warm weather is still left in the year to enjoy the capabilities of the new joint. To address the fear of falling, simple precautions can easily be taken to minimize the risk of slip and fall in the snow following the surgery. As an added benefit, patients in the winter often experience less swelling then those in the summer, as a result of the reduced humidity.

ROTATOR CUFF REPAIRS
Similar to joint replacement surgery, shoulder surgeries are often avoided in the winter due to the fear of falling. However, again, similar to joint replacement surgeries, the length of time for recovery from this surgery is grossly underestimated. Returning to swing a golf club, throwing a ball, or even swimming laps in a pool will take a
minimum of 12 weeks of physical therapy. While a neighborhood teenager may need to be hired to shovel the snow, the winter hibernation season is an idea for resting and mending from a rotator cuff repair surgery. After completing a comprehensive rehabilitation program with your physical therapist, you will be ready to tee off with your regular golf league and enjoy your planned summer vacation without restrictions.

SPORTS EVALUATIONS AND CONDITIONING
Winter is not only the time to remedy nagging injuries, but it’s the perfect time to prepare for the athletic season ahead. Whether you are a runner, a golfer, or an over-40 league softball player, preparing for the upcoming outdoor activities can help prevent future nagging injuries. During the “off-season” is the best time to undergo performance and biomechanical evaluations with physical therapist trained in motion analysis. From this evaluation deficiencies can be addressed and a plan for improvement implemented. Furthermore, winter is a perfect time to re-strengthen after the holidays and to condition yourself into the shape you need to be in in order to enjoy those outdoor activities and minimize the concern for strains and sprains. In just a few simple visits to physical therapy, conditioning tips and technique changes can help make the warm weather even more rewarding and enjoyable.

The winter is long and it would be unfortunate to miss enjoying any of the warm, sunny weather heading our way in a few months. Addressing lingering winter injuries now will help ensure a fun spring and summer without restrictions. Always discuss your medical options with your Doctor first. Then, call your physical therapist to help accelerate your recovery and be a picture of health.

Heart Disease to Healthy Hearts

Healthy Hearts This February

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Heart Disease to Healthy Hearts

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. In fact, more than 67 million Americans have high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease, compared to those with normal blood pressure.

According to the Office of Disease Prevention you can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease.

To lower your risk you can:

  • Watch your weight.
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get active and eat healthy.

A Snapshot: Blood Pressure in the U.S. Make Control Your Goal. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the first and fourth leading causes of death for all Americans. High Blood Pressure Basics. 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure. High blood pressure contributes to ~1,000 deaths/day. When your blood pressure is high, you are 4 times more likely to die from a stroke, and you are 3 times more likely to die from heart disease. 69% of people who have a first heart attack, 77% of people who have a first stroke, and 74% of people with chronic heart failure have high blood pressure. Annual estimated costs associated with high blood pressure: $51 billion, including $47.5 billion in direct medical expenses. Blood Pressure Control. Only about half of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Reducing average population systolic blood pressure by only 12–13 mmHg could reduce stroke by 37%, coronary heart disease by 21%, deaths from cardiovascular disease by 25%, and deaths from all causes by 13%. Make Control Your Goal, Every Day. Check your blood pressure regularly—at home, at a doctor’s office, or at a pharmacy. Eat a healthy diet with more fruits, vegetables, potassium, and whole grains and less sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol . Read nutrition labels and lower your sodium intake. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods. About 90% of Americans eat too much sodium. Quit smoking—or don’t start. 1-800-QUIT-NOW or Smokefree.gov. Adults should limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. Get active and maintain a healthy weight. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. This infographic was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention in support of achieving the Million Hearts® initiative goal to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
The American Heart Association also has some great resources on their website including tips to stay active, and how to make every move count!

If you need help finding exercises and activities that fit your lifestyle and abilities talk to your physical therapist. PT’s specialize in the science of movement, so who better to ask! If you don’t have a physical therapist make sure you check out our PT finder and get started on your path to a healthy heart this February!

PT News PTandMe

PT News January 2019

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PT News PTandMe

This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout January 2019. We are excited to begin a new year of new posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

neck pain

1. Improving your Bed & Workstation Setup can Help Reduce your Neck Pain
Written by Sport & Spine Physical Therapy with 5 physical therapy locations throughout Southern Wisconsin.

The neck has an incredibly important job to do. It supports the head and allows us to move it in a wide range of directions so that we can better navigate the world around us. But because of how frequently it’s used and its position in the body, the neck is also a very common location for pain, and sometimes all it takes is one bad night’s sleep to ruin your day.  Read more

 

Dry Needling

2. What is Dry Needling and How Does it Work?
Written by the Therapy Team at Momentum Physical Therapy with 12 physical therapy locations throughout Greater San Antonio.

You may have heard of acupuncture, but have you heard of dry needling? If you’re up for trying new things to help with your physical therapy, keep reading to get more information on dry needling and how it works in physical therapy.  Read more

Work Injury Patient

3. Rehabilitation Program Gets Man Safely Back to Work After Two Different Operations
Written by the physical therapy team at Ability Rehabilitation with locations throughout Greater Orlando and the Tampa Bay Area

Carlos needed two different surgical procedures three years apart to repair a torn rotator cuff and an injured bicep muscle. But he also had a family to support and a paycheck to earn; he didn’t have the luxury of taking an extended leave of absence from work. Read more

seniors start exercising

Seniors: It’s Never Too Late to Start Exercising

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For years, seniors have attributed their aches, pains, and illnesses to the normal aging process. Age is often used as a reason to avoid exercise. But a regular exercise program can improve the quality of your life and help you avoid illness, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. As always, you should consult with your health care provider before starting any exercise program.

WHAT WE KNOW
Most people know that with age, come certain physiological changes. Studies show that we lose the following as we age:
• Lean muscle tissue—Most of us will lose muscle mass as we get older. We usually hit our peak muscle mass early—around age 20—and begin losing muscle mass thereafter.
• Aerobic capacity—The aerobic capacity is the ability of the heart and the body to deliver and use oxygen efficiently. Changes in the heart and decrease in muscle tissue decrease aerobic capacity.
• Balance—As we age, our ability to balance decreases, making falls and injuries more likely. The loss of muscle is a major contributor to losses on balance.
• Flexibility—Our joints and tendons lose some of their range of motion with age, making it difficult to bend and move around comfortably.
• Bone density—Most of us reach our peak bone density around age 20. After that, bones can become gradually thinner and weaker, which can lead to osteoporosis.

Fortunately, regular exercise can help delay some of these changes and give you the energy you need to do everyday activities like walking, shopping, and playing with your grandchildren. Exercise may even help decrease depression and stress, improve mood and self-esteem, and postpone age-related cognitive decline.

By adding endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance training into your routine, you will be healthier, happier, and more energetic.

senior push ups

ENDURANCE
Decades ago, doctors rarely recommended aerobic exercise for older people. But we now know that most people can safely do moderate exercises. Studies have shown that doing aerobic exercise just a few days a week can bring significant improvements in endurance.

Aim to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise—such as brisk walking, bicycling, or swimming—at least 5 days a week. You do not have to do 30 minutes at once—you can break these sessions up into two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute sessions. Moderate exercise will cause your heart rate to rise and your breathing to be slightly elevated, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation.

STRENGTH
It is not just aging that makes people lose muscle. One of the main reasons older people lose muscle mass is that they stop exercising and doing everyday activities that build muscle.

Building stronger muscles can help protect your joints, strengthen your bones, improve your balance, reduce the likelihood of falls, and make it easier for you to move around in general. Even small changes in your muscle size and strength—ones that you cannot even see—will make things like walking quickly across the street and getting up out of a chair easier to do.

Aim to do strength exercises (eg, weight lifting) every other day, or at least twice a week. For each exercise, do three sets of 8-12 repetitions.

FLEXIBILITY
Increasing your overall activity level and doing stretching exercises can markedly improve your flexibility.

To improve the flexibility—or range of motion—of your joints, incorporate bending and stretching exercises into your routine. A good time to do your flexibility exercises is after your strength training routine. This is because you muscles will already be warmed up. Examples of exercises that you may enjoy include Tai chi, yoga, Pilates, and exercises that you do in the water.

By regularly stretching, you will be able to move around easier. You may also feel less stressed, and your posture will improve.

BALANCE
Just becoming more physically active will improve your balance and decrease your risk of falling. If you add some basic balancing exercises to your exercise routine, you will begin feeling more stable on your feet. Balance exercises can be done just about anywhere and usually require no more equipment than a chair.

Keep in mind that if you are having severe problems with balance, a fall prevention physical therapy program can be a great way to regain your balance, increase strength or improve flexibility.

GETTING STARTED
To avoid injury, start slowly. Add one or two sessions a week at first and progress from there as you begin to feel stronger. A physical therapist, or other health professional, can help develop a program that will be both safe and effective. Check with your local fitness or community center, which may offer exercise classes designed especially for older adults. Check with your primary health care provider if you are planning to participate in vigorous activities.

Remember, it is never too late to start exercising. The sooner you start, the sooner you will start feeling healthier, more energetic, and less stressed.

RESOURCES:
American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org

The President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition
http://www.fitness.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Effects of aging. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00191. Updated September 2009. Accessed April 4, 2016.

Exercise and physical activity: your everyday guide from the National Institute on Aging. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/exercise-physical-activity-your-everyday-guide-national-institute-aging-1. Updated February 16, 2016. Accessed April 4, 2016.

Physical activity: glossary of terms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/terms/index.htm#Moderate. Updated June 10, 2015. Accessed on April 4, 2016.

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

FOOSH

FOOSH – Silly Name, Serious Injury

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FOOSH

One of the most common mechanism of injury from falls is called a FOOSH (Fall on an Out Stretched Hand) injury. Don’t let the funny name fool you. A FOOSH injury is one of the most debilitating ways to injure your upper extremity and cause a significant loss of function. A Foosh occurs when a person is on their way down during a fall and tries to brace for impact using their hands. This is a natural response to falling and is difficult to try and prevent. The resulting impact of the hand and wrist on the ground can cause varying types of injuries from strains and sprains to fractures of the hand, wrist, elbow or shoulder.

What to look for if you experience a FOOSH Injury

1. Fractures: Typically, the fractures of the forearm from a FOOSH are the easiest to spot. They become swollen and bruised very rapidly and are associated with a lot of pain. Often times they produce a visible bulging of the skin of the forearm which can even protrude outside of the body. Fractures of the wrist and forearm will need to be evaluated and often times re-set and casted. Following casting the person must regain strength and range of motion through a guided exercise program before normal function can return. These injuries may take as long as 12 weeks to heal, but as many as 20 weeks for return to normalcy. This process can be expedited significantly by a referral to a well-trained physical therapist.

2. Sprains: Sprains from a FOOSH are much more difficult to spot. A sprain is a common injury to a ligament that normally holds one bone to another as a part of a joint. It most likely causes moderate to severe swelling, bruising, and pain. The pain may occur both by moving the joint yourself or having someone else move the joint while you are relaxed. During a sprain, a non-contractile piece of tissue becomes torn partially or completely. The result is a joint that is too lax to allow proper joint stability. This can cause problems for years following the initial injury. Think of the brake system on your bicycle. If the brake cable becomes elongated the brake does not function correctly until it is repaired. An evaluation by a physical therapist is necessary to diagnose and treat a sprain correctly and to prevent further injury to the injury site as well as allow for speedy recovery.

3. Strains: Strains are also difficult to spot following a FOOSH. A strain differs from a sprain in that it occurs as a tearing of the tendon instead of a ligament. This can present like a sprain with swelling and bruising, but will have a few different characteristics. Tendons attach to bone on one side and a muscle on the other. Tendons therefore hurt with both passive motion, but also with active motion. Strains of the wrist and hand can cause a significant loss in function with things like writing, typing, or even just holding an object in your hand. Without intervention, this can lead to progressively worsening problems like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome which may need surgical intervention if not attended to quickly.

No matter your age or fitness level please use caution to avoid these types of debilitating injuries. If you do fall, it is important to consult your health care provider. During rehabilitation we can help you reduce pain, increase strength and regain function. Please feel free to call us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

remain active with a knee injury

How to Remain Active with a Knee Injury

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remain active with a knee injury

In the U.S., ACL and other knee injuries are one of the most common orthopedic and sports-related injuries. For athletes, physically-active folks, and health-conscious individuals, suffering a knee injury can be particularly difficult as they find themselves suddenly immobilized, with minds craving for exercise. Fortunately, as with any injury, there is always something that can be done. As your knees heal, you need only to modify and adapt your training regimen and lifestyle so that you don’t lose the hard-earned strength, stamina, and sport-specific fitness that you’ve so far acquired.

Consider the following 3 tips on how to remain active with a knee injury and keep yourself in the proverbial game.

Tips to Remain Active

1. Find the Right Exercise Regimen

Knee or ACL injuries are particularly problematic as most endurance exercises, and many strength training activities, require activity and flexion in the knees. Thankfully, an injured knee should not keep you bedridden and away from any physical activity. There are still many other activities that you can do to stay active and physically fit, and even recuperate faster.

You do have to be smart about choosing the exercises and always (always!) consult your doctor, physical therapist, or other medical professional. Depending on the severity and extent of your injury, they may recommend a variety of exercises and activities and keep you from exacerbating your condition.

Knee-Friendly Cardio

It’s difficult to think of cardio exercises that do not require flexion and extension of your knees. You may have to wait until you’ve fully recovered to run, jog, or hike again. Nevertheless, you still have many other options for cardio that do not require one knee (or two). Ask your doctor about kayaking, one-legged cycling, rowing, or using an arm ergometer (the handcycle machine).

You could even try swimming, which is a favorite of many with joint or muscle issues! Of course, you’ll need some support or a buoy to keep you from kicking with your legs. Check your local swimming pool if hydrotherapy classes are available. As soon as you are able and approved by your physical therapist, return to doing regular walks, but keep them light and short.

Keep Flexibility and Strengthen Other Muscle Groups

Along with cardio, remember to keep your flexibility and strength up as well. Although you should expect some muscle loss in and around your problem knee, you can still train your other muscle groups.

Again, consult your doctor or a physical therapist before attempting any strength training methods. Depending on your condition, your PT may recommend assisted bench presses for your chest and arm muscles, Lat pulldowns or seated cable rows for your back, presses for your shoulders, as well as appropriate core exercises for your abs and obliques. You may also inquire of their recommended repetition and load for each exercise.

With strength training also comes the importance of flexibility exercises. These activities will keep you nimble, lower risk of injury, and make for more efficient muscles.

Always Warm Up thoroughly

Whatever physical activity you end up doing, never forget to warm up. The proper warm-up techniques deter injury and prepare you both physically and mentally.

2. Wear the right gear

You’ll also need to pay closer attention to your exercise gear whenever you’re physically active. Although you won’t be training your knee directly, a good supportive shoe that absorbs impacts will be invaluable to your recovery.

Another crucial accessory for staying active with an injured knee is a good compression knee brace. Look for the best compression knee brace you can get and find the one that suits your particular injury best. Compression knee brace gives added support to the knees, reduces swelling, relieves pain, increases blood circulation, and aids in the healing process.

You could also give resistance bands a try, particularly when your weight training or stretching. These will help reduce any pressure on your knees.

3. Focus on other healthy habits

An active mind will motivate you to stay physically active as well. Of course, you won’t get as much exercise as before, at least not until you fully recover. Thus, in the meantime, you can set your mind to other healthy activities. For example, now would be a great time to improve your diet and sleep routine. Find a good diet that will help you maintain and keep the weight off (or lose, depending on your doctor’s orders.

Getting better quality sleep is paramount regardless if you’re injured or not. In fact, it’s as important as exercise and diet for a healthy and active lifestyle.

Final Thoughts

No one wants to lose all the progress and fitness gains they’ve made when they’re injured. And with the right mindset and determination, you won’t have to. Find the right exercise, equip yourself with the right gear, and focus on other healthy habits. Give some time to healing and rehabilitation. You’ll be jumping again before you know it. Never let an injury discourage or demotivate you from reaching your health or fitness goals.

About The Author
Aaron Burns is the Owner and freelance writer for Apex Health & Care. A site dedicated to informing and educating people about the right products to support their injuries. Aaron discovered his passion for health and fitness at the young age of 9, after spraining his ankle during a weekly soccer match. He was forced to wear custom orthotics (thanks, flat feet!) and ankle braces to avoid re-injuring his ankle. This childhood experience spurred his passion for writing content surrounding the themes of health, fitness and nutrition. He hopes to aid people of all ages in their endeavor of remaining happy, healthy and mobile as they grow older.