Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Desk Jobs: How to Relieve Habitual Aches and Pains

Desk Jobs: How Relieve Habitual Aches and Pains

Aches and pains… could it be that you’re just getting older, or that you’re less active, perhaps? Maybe it’s just a temporary phase in your life. You’ll grow out of it, right? The truth is, aches and pains are often associated with daily, ongoing, habitual mistakes. Take note of the word habitual – habits are key to understanding precisely why we experience certain discomforts during the day. If you’re one of the millions of people that have a desk job, and you’re also one of the millions who experience daily discomfort, it’s time to retrace your steps and reprogram your habits. Take a look:

Desk jobs are often some of the most stressful positions in society, not only because of the immense responsibility afforded them, but also because of the physical pressure that type of daily routine places on the body.

Oftentimes a desk job is underscored by a vigorous 9-5 schedule, and as you may know, that schedule leaves very little time for you to take note of your body and your habits. More often than not, you’re probably stuck in traffic on your way to work, you’re slightly late, you’ve possibly missed breakfast, you work right into lunch, and then you rush home for dinner with the family. Granted, not all your days look like this, but on average this might be what you deal with on a daily basis.

It comes as no surprise that you’re suffering from daily aches and pains. Sitting in the car, at the desk, at home, and during meals, impacts your health greatly. And furthermore, an unhealthy diet might be spurring on the discomfort. Even worse, you may not be drinking as much fluids as you should be, or maybe you’re substituting water with coffee. All these things add up. Our bodies are not made to withstand bad habits for too long.

The good news is, however, things can change. It may seem impossible right now, but take a look at just some of the ways in which you can change your daily-routine for the better, even as you’re reading this:

1.   Make time in the morning. We know that getting up may be tough, but the early hours of the morning really do give you the best chance to lay a powerful foundation for the day. Take just 20 minutes after you get up to be silent, stretch, drink a cup of tea, meditate, or even read. Make that time yours, and the habits you create thereafter with be healthier and fruitful.

2.   Take a look at your transportation. How far from work do you live? Do you have to drive? Could you challenge yourself to ride your bike? Any form of exercise you can incorporate into your day is a massive step towards relieving pain. The more you move, the better you feel. If you can avoid the traffic and the hours of sitting in the car, you’ll notice an amazing difference right of the bat.

3.   Water, water, water! Throughout your day it’s vital that you note how much water you’re drinking. If your joints and muscles aren’t lubricated, you’ll experience pain. Why not set yourself little reminders? Drink 8 oz of water on the hour, ever hour, for example. Ultimately, you need to drink about 10 cups a day – challenge yourself to meet that goal.

4.    Walk. And while we’re on the subject of water, why not meld two habits into one? Every time you drink some water, get up, walk around, and stretch a bit. In this way, you’re killing two birds with one stone. Walk to the water cooler, for example. Or if you’re adventurous, why not head to the kitchen and create a water-based drink with lemon or strawberries? Again, movement is vital, and the more you move, the faster you’ll heal.

5.   Posture matters. When you’re seated at your desk, it’s very important that you take note of your posture. Slouching, or sitting with an unsupported lower back, will eventually lead to pain. Make sure your desk isn’t too low and that your computer screen is at eye level. In this way you will prevent slouching and forward head movements, both of which could lead to problems down the line. Also, why not stretch every 20 minutes? In this way, you’ll prevent stiffness and future discomfort.

6.   Dietary needs. All too often we assume that what we do is most important. And while this might hold some truth, what we eat is equally as vital. The food you consume fuels your brain and body, so the better you eat the more productive and healthy you will be. And not only that, food heals. Eating more anti-inflammatory foods, healthy snacks, dark greens, nuts, and seeds, will help you relieve those aches and pain much sooner. Be sure to start with a healthy breakfast and to continue with your snacking, lunch and dinner in the same way. Also, cut out some of the caffeine if you can – it can lead to anxiety and stress, both of which contribute to pain.

7.    You are my sunshine! Unfortunately, unless you work at Google, desk jobs don’t really come with too much time spent outside. That having been said, you can make the change. Why not get outside and eat your lunch in a park? Or, better still, take a little stroll and explore the area around you? Getting some vital Vitamin D, naturally, is imperative for a healthy body and mind. You’ll also find that the sunshine vitamin helps improve your mood, thereby making the decision to create better habits that much easier!

So, there you have it. Desk jobs don’t need to be a ticket to old-age, in fact, they offer a unique opportunity to change your habits for the better. By using the tools you have around you, by utilizing your time, and by noting the needs of your body, you’ll make serious headway into getting ridding of those aches and pains. Make your habits count!

If you’re still unsure about how to tackle daily aches and pain, why not give us a call, and tell us about your situation. One of our dedicated and qualified physical therapists will be happy to  listen to your story and answer all your questions. Physical therapy is the fastest, most effective way to getting back to health, and we encourage you to make the change! We look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Pitfalls of Prolonged Rest

The Pitfalls of Prolonged Rest

Every week we hear countless patients ask us the same question: “how can I keep active even while I’m recovering from an injury?”. We completely understand: you’re fed up of resting the problem area in the hope that things will get better. Is this you? Keep reading!

We often find that the general advice given by doctors (and sometime even the internet!) is that ‘rest’ is the best thing for an injury. In the hope of healing faster, the patient then rests the problem area for prolonged periods of time. Later, though, once he/she attempts to get back to his/her activities, the pain is still there and often it’s even worse than it was at the start.

There are two major flaws in the ‘rest your problem’ strategy. The first issue is that an active person finds the idea of prolonged rest to be almost impossible, if not unbearable. Secondly, resting the area for long periods of time can actually be even more harmful – but, more on that later.

Let’s take a look at a fairly common scenario we encounter at our clinic on a regular basis. Quite a few of the patients we treat are generally active adults, and though they may not be professional athletes, they do enjoy running or cycling over the weekends. We often find that once an active patient sustains an injury – like a leg or groin injury in a runner – he/she finds it difficult to swallow the doctor’s “rest” pill. In fact, all those kind of patients want to know is when they can start running again!

And we absolutely love hearing that question! In fact, we dislike the “rest” prescription as much as the actual patient! Here are the two major problems we always try to make our patients aware of:

Firstly, rest almost NEVER actually fixes anything. Think about that for a moment. Our runner has injured his leg and is advised to rest it. What happens when he does? Well, the root cause of the problem isn’t addressed – in fact, it is often hidden behind painkillers. The problem with this is that the real healing just cannot begin. It’s as though the patient is, really, just wasting valuable time.

Secondly, resting the problem area for prolonged periods of time results in what is called “whole body de-conditioning”. That is to say, just because the patient experiences pain in the leg does not mean his/her entire body is incapable of staying active. Here’s the problem with a full-body rest-up: the entire body loses strength, power, endurance, and flexibility. Once this happens, the recovery time needed practically doubles! Remember, healing the problem area – and SUCCESSFULLY addressing and fixing the root cause of the problem – is really only possible when the muscles surrounding the issue are strengthened. This strengthening helps with support and flexibility, ensuring that the muscles in the affected area no longer overcompensate and create pain. Not strengthening these critical surrounding muscles only aggravates the issue at hand. The key is to adapt the patient, that is, to ensure that he/she keeps active in a safe/sustainable way – always building back up to the run, the walk, or the cycle. Doing this keeps the patient motivated, strong, and gives him/her the best possible start on their journey to health.

So, if you’re resting because you’re injured, but you only find more pain at the end of the day, then it’s time to make a change. Here at Manual Therapy Effects, we can help you. Our team of professional, friendly, and supportive physical therapists will help you get back to the activities you love in no time at all. With custom-made exercises suited to your routine and recovery, we aim to heal the root cause of the problem. If you heal the root cause of the problem then you are sure to create a strong foundation for the MAINTENANCE of a pain free life. This means that running, walking, or any activity you love will no longer cause anxiety or worry. We want you to get back to doing what you enjoy!

If you’re ready to finally sort that pain out, to get off of the sofa and back out running or doing what you love, visit our site or give us a call (703) 650-8824. We look forward to helping you get back to health safely, quickly, and effectively. 

Running Injuries and Prevention

Running Injuries and Prevention

We know that for many of our patients running is a passion. The truth is, however, so many of those same patients visit us because of injuries related to their runs. Far from telling them to stop running, our main goal is to prevent debilitating knee/foot/ankle injuries BEFORE they happen, and to keep our patients as active as possible.

Whether you’re an athlete, a casual runner, a mom squeezing a jog in before work, or even just a bi-weekly trail blazer, injuries related to running can happen to you. And the sad thing is, knee, ankle, and foot injuries can often set your training and activity back considerably. We don’t want this happening to you, and that’s why this post looks at the 10 best ways to PREVENT running injuries, thus keeping you on your feet for longer.

1. Leg Strengthening Exercises – Strengthening your leg muscles is key to preventing an injury on your run. Leg muscles ensure that we have the support and strength to stave of the consequences of a fall or a twist. Why not try strengthening your leg muscles on a daily basis? Forward lunges are great way to start, as they target hip, hamstring, quad, and glute muscles.

2. Hydration, Hydration, Hydration! – Drinking enough water is absolutely VITAL in maintaining a pain free, active lifestyle. Runners are particularly in need of proper hydration: when you run, the joints in your legs and back have to deal with an enormous amount of pressure. If these joints aren’t lubricated properly, friction will cause abrasion, thereby leading to pain and discomfort. Make sure you drink at least 8 cups of water on a daily basis, and if you’re running long distances in the heat make sure you add to that number.

3. Flexibility is Key – As with any exercise, being flexible greatly reduces your risk of injury. When it comes to running, things are no different. Flexibility is particularly important for runners, as it means the muscles are well equipped to deal with varying terrain, obstacles, and exertion. Why not try doing yoga or Pilates? These types of exercises strengthen your core and leg muscles, thereby correcting your posture and gait during your run. It is far more difficult to injure a flexible muscle, and should a muscle be injured, a flexible muscle is able to recover much faster.

4. Gradual Mileage Increase – We all want to shoot out the gate at a hundred miles an hour, but in order to prevent injury, the best thing to do is to increase the mileage steadily. Working towards a goal is often an effective way of preventing injury; it gives your body a chance to strengthen and catch up to what is being asked of it. If you start slow and steady, you’ll win the race!

5. Warm Ups and Cool Downs – This is a tip that is overlooked far too often. Lactic acid build-up causes our muscles to get stiff, thus increasing the risk of injury. As little as a 15 minute warm up and cool down can flush out the lactic acid and give you the best possible chance of beating the odds. What do you have to lose? Why not do some stretches, a gentle walk, or even a little yoga before/after your run?

6. Rest Days – We know that you hate hearing this, but resting your legs and knees is an essential part of training and/or participating in any type of fitness regime. If you don’t allow your muscles to rest and recharge, fatigue might expose you to serious injuries which could set you back for a lot longer. Take a day or two off during the week and opt for a different type of activity: Pilates, yoga, or even swimming will do the trick.

7. Essential Footwear – Get fitted and invest in supportive, comfortable running shoes at a running specialty store. If your soles are worn out and you’re no longer getting the support you need, it’s time to grab a new pair. Remember to introduce the new footwear gradually, thereby giving your body time to adjust. All shoes are different, and it’s important to find a pair that’s right for you.

8. Running Form – Runners need to be aware of their running form. In so far as balance and posture are concerned, running is particularly responsible for twist/fall injuries. Your running form needs to be as functional and safe as possible, and one way to correct muscle overcompensation, or weight distribution imbalances, is to practice rectifying activities such as Pilates or yoga. Your legs, knees, ankles, and feet will definitely thank you!

9. Reduce Downhill Running Impact – Running downhill is particularly hard on your knees, and while many of you might like the challenge, it is a good idea to reduce the amount of downhill running you’re doing. Because running already places far more pressure on your joints than walking, taking care of your knees is a big priority.

10. Vary Running Terrains and Surfaces – The type of terrain you choose to run on plays a big role in the way your joints react and function. All too often, running related injuries are as a result of unforgiving, hard terrain such as asphalt and/or cement. Exposure to these types of terrain over long distances can result in serious injuries which could put your running lifestyle on hold. Try varying your terrain by running on grass and sand, for example.

So, there you have it: 10 ways to prevent debilitating injuries as a result of running. That having been said, if you are currently experiencing pain in your legs, knees, or feet, we invite you chat to one of our friendly, professional physical therapists, today. Not only will a PT find the root cause of the problem, but he/she will end the pain and help you maintain a pain free, active lifestyle moving forward. Don’t wait for the pain to disappear – act now and be back on the road in no time. We know how important running is to you, and we’re here to help.  Click here to reach out to us.