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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...

Avoiding Tech Overload that can cause Tech-induced Injuries

Just as the words Facebook, Twitter, Xbox, cell phone, tablet, laptop and Snapchat have made their way into our everyday life and vocabulary, new medical conditions are surfacing due to how we are physically interfacing with all the great new technologies available to us. TEXT NECK For example, could you be using your cell phone, laptop, electronic book or other digital device in a way that may cause the condition known as “Text Neck”? Your head weighs an average of 10 to 12 pounds and places this weight onto your spine. However, if you bend your neck forward and look down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. Take a look at how a normal 10-12 pound load on the neck changes with the angle at which you are holding your head on your neck: 15 degree bend: 27 pounds 30 degree bend: 40 pounds 45 degree bend: 49 pounds 60 degree bend: 60 pounds That amounts to a great deal of unnecessary wear and tear on the joints of the neck! Think about how often you are looking at a device in this way. If you have high school or college age students, the amount of time they do this may exceed many of us. When tissues of the spine are placed in these positions of stress repeatedly and for prolonged periods of time day in and day out, it can lead to tissue inflammation, muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated discs, and headaches. Medical experts are growing increasingly concerned with the amount of people and particularly young people who require spine care. To avoid this poor...

Unexpected Sources of Pain

Here are some strange but true sources of pain that may not be obvious. If you are suffering from discomfort but just cannot seem to pinpoint what is causing it, consider some of these potential culprits. Our choice of wardrobe: Paying attention to what we choose to wear can have an influence on how we feel. Let’s think about shoes first. Most women can attest to the fact that high heels are known to be uncomfortable but flip-flops/sandals can be problematic too. This type of footwear offers no arch support and can lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis, ankle and knee pain. Save this type of footwear for the beach or in limited time frames. It really is best to have some arch support for everyday use. Watch that wallet-where you keep it that is. Most men like to keep their wallet in one of their back pants pockets. This location however can contribute to back or leg pain. From a seated position, the wallet placement can place unnecessary pressure on the sciatic nerve which can lead to sciatica. The easiest solution is to remove the wallet while driving – especially long distances- or when taking a seat. Tight fitting pants or belts, wearing a phone in a front hip pocket or taking a long bike trip while bent over the handle bars for a long period of time can cause pain in the front and side of the upper thigh. This can sometimes be mistaken for a back nerve root problem but it is actually a sensory nerve impingement syndrome. Monitor anything that may be constricting where your...

“Do This Not That” to avoid Back Strain, Pain and possible Injury

There is a popular book on the market right now entitled Eat This Not That which helps persons make better nutritional choices for their health and well being by comparing various food choices side by side with photos. It makes a compelling case for empowering a person’s knowledge on what are the most healthy food choices. This article would like to borrow that concept and apply it to teaching you a similar thought process to help you be empowered to know how to do some everyday tasks while avoiding dangerous back positions or movements that can contribute to back problems and pain. Your spine is a complex beautifully constructed structure composed of 24 bones/vertebrae which are separated by flexible and cushy discs, layers of muscles and ligaments and dozens of joint surfaces. The spine protects your spinal cord and nerves that travel out of the spinal cord through joint surfaces between the vertebrae in order to carry signals from the brain to the rest of the body. These nerves enable you to generate movement and feel sensation. Injury can occur at any of these component parts of this structure. Extreme trauma can cause devastating injuries. Microtrauma (small amounts of injury which can accumulate over time) can also wear and tear at the component parts of the spine leading to such things as: herniated discs which press on nerves and lead to weakness, pain and altered sensation, spinal arthritic changes in the joint surfaces which create narrowing of nerve passageways, pain and nerve compression, and muscular strain or changes in muscular integrity to support the spine (certain muscles become over...

“Handy Advice” for Preventing Hand Injuries

Our hands are a remarkable part of our human body.  They permit us to do so many things.  Just think how nice it is to hold hands with someone you love or to touch the face of  your child.  Your hands allow you to work both inside and outside the home.  If you are like most people, you may just take your hands for granted.  At Optimal Physical Therapy and Sports Performance, we often help persons who have experienced hand injury.  It is the hope of this blog to give you some prevention/protection tips to guard those precious possessions.  Here are some tips to avoid the most common causes of hand injuries: 1.  Proper form for carrying groceries  Trying to carry multiple plastic bags at once creates a challenge for fingers, wrists and elbows.  When you do this, you are putting strain on many delicate finger joints by lifting too much weight in an awkward manner.  It is better to carry from the bottom of the bag or opt for paper so that the larger muscles of your arms can assist with the carry.  Remember to balance the loads between both arms to prevent back injury as well.  It is always a better option to choose a cart over a basket at the market even if you are just running in for a few items.  A basket can easily become very difficult to grasp as the weight of its contents increase.  Also keep in mind that when you go to lift heavy gallon jugs or bottles, you should try to use both hands rather than finger grasping the handle.  This avoids significant...