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ErgoMOMics Part 1

ErgoMOMics: Part 1 This blog is being dedicated to all the busy moms out there trying to work, run a household, raise children and take care of themselves. Moms put themselves last so they are often experiencing physical issues that they have no time to address.  The idea of “just put yourself first” or “carve out some time for yourself” makes sense literally but in real life, it rarely happens for most moms.  There is a field of study called Ergonomics where scientists study work tasks and how the body can do these tasks most efficiently without body harm and offers suggestions on how to modify a work location such as an office desk, assembly line or a lift/carry job. Moms have multiple job descriptions: household management: cleaning, budgeting, shopping including loading/unloading groceries, laundry, cooking, and dressing/bathing children.  They are transporters to sports practice and dance classes.  Most moms feel like the ringmaster of a three ring circus.  Mom’s job never stops and it is as busy as it will get when you have infant/small children at home or in grade school. So, here is part one of a series of suggestions to help you as you handle your own personal three ring circus.  These are a few suggestions to help you avoid the physical wear and tear of motherhood:   Laundry: Carry balanced loads. Consider using smaller baskets versus one big one that can become too heavy.  If you are a side hip carrier of baskets, alternate sides so that your body does not get molded into carrying repetitive loads just on one side.  Slide the basket down the...

Avoiding Forward Head Posture

  Avoiding Forward Head Posture: Tips to make easy adjustments in your daily life:    Your spine is designed to support you and help you carry yourself. It is mechanically designed with unique curvatures and interconnections to give you freedom of movement as well as support so that you can complete tasks.  Muscles attaching to the front and back of your spine also work most effectively to produce healthy motion when your spine is in good postural alignment.           Modern life can be both sedentary and stressful. Many persons face long commutes sitting in cars or airplanes.  Students spend long hours at desks and hunched over tablets and phones.  Work follows us home where we often are on computers and various devices all of which place us in poor postural positions.  Our spines were not designed for the amount of time that we position ourselves throughout our modern lifestyles.  Modern conveniences are creating detrimental postural configurations which definitely contribute to the development of neck/back pain, headaches and shoulder impingement syndromes.  Forward head posture can definitely be avoided once you know what to do.                 When the spine is held in good alignment, the forces through the spine are minimal. However, these forces change when a more forward head position is assumed. Mechanically, these increases in force will, over time, result in the wear and tear of the small joints of the neck and the intervertebral discs which cushion the spine.  It also creates changes in the length and flexibility of the muscles that control posture, neck movement. and...

Do Compression Tights Help Runner’s Speed or Distance?

Researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Science Daily investigated if compression tights improve runners’ speed or distance compared to when they did not wear them.  The theory is that muscles vibrate while people run and this causes muscle contractions which use energy.  The researchers’ theory was that the use of compression tights during running should reduce the muscle’s  vibration and therefore result in less fatigue for the runner.  Fatigue is a concern because a fatigued runner may alter their running form and put more strain on their joints causing overuse injuries. Participants ran for 30 minutes at 80% of the maximum speed on 2 different days using a treadmill.  On one day, they wore compression tights and on the other, they did not.  The runners’ leg strength and jump height were tested prior to and after each run.  Heart monitors were worn by the runners to measure their exertion during the test.  Force sensors in the treadmill deck measured foot contact forces and motion sensors captured joint angles to see if they changed over time or between runs. The researchers concluded “experienced runners had no more strain on their joints at the end of a training run than at the beginning” with or without tights.  They also found “the reduced vibration” in the muscles with the tights did not result in any reduction in fatigue.   Nothing in the study showed that it is bad to wear compression tights.  They commented “every little bit of perception counts when running long distances, so the tights may help runners in ways we are not yet able to measure”.  Future...

Desk Job Exercises

How could you possibly injure yourself at a desk job?  It seems impossible that your body could be harmed in any way just by sitting at a desk, right?  Sedentary postures particularly the day in/day out kind can put a strain on your body.  I am sure you may have felt your body talking back to you during or at the end of a work day with physical complaints of stiffness or pain.  Why does this happen?  Sitting for long periods of time in one posture will cause the body to shorten certain muscle groups.  For example, your hip flexors (where your body meets your leg) are shortened to let you sit.  Also, your hamstrings on the back of your thigh can become shortened and tight.  You may also experience pressure on the large nerve in the back of your leg (sciatic nerve) that can send pain down the entire length of your leg.   If you assume poor sitting posture by sitting slouched forward, you are also affecting the joints and muscles around your chest and neck and overstretching those of your low back region.  Here are a few simple exercise stretch ideas you can do right at your desk to avoid the above issues. If you have 5 minutes, you can do these stretches! 1.  Sit on edge of your chair with legs together.  Reach arms out to your sides at shoulder level with palms facing down. Slowly rotate your torso and arms to the left followed by turning your head to look to the left.  Hold for a breath in and out.  Then slowly rotate to the...

Physical Therapy for Parkinson’s disease

April is Parkinson’s disease awareness month!!  Did you know that one million individuals in the United States are living with this disease?  Physical Therapy has always been a component of care for individuals with Parkinson’s. The past twenty years of rehabilitative research has revealed several important findings which physical therapists who specialize with this patient population would like patients to know.  The earlier care is initiated, the better the outcomes.  It used to be that persons were not referred for therapy until much disability had occurred or if someone was experiencing falls.  Now, there are proven interventions to address the disease early so that patients can be empowered to know what exercises and habits can help them even in the earliest stages.  Being involved in activity and movement is very important.  Rigidity (a form of muscle tightness) of the axial (spinal) muscles can be present even in the early stages and learning to improve mobility in this body region can carry over to being able to maintain long term functional capabilities.  There is also a sensory/motor disconnect whereby patients feel they are moving as big as they can when in fact they are not.  This change is very subtle over time and the patient is often unaware of it until someone else points it out to them.  Aerobic conditioning is very important to maintain at all stages of the disease and patients can benefit from guidance on how to incorporate this into their lives.   Postural changes can also be a subtle progression with this disease and can be improved with exercise and patient education.  Tremor remains resistant to...