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What is your Risk level for experiencing a Fall? Take this short Quiz Then read how to prevent falls in your life.

Ask these questions to yourself or to someone you care about: Are you over the age of 65? Are you female? Do you take 4 or more prescription drugs a day?  Are any of these medications of the following types:  diuretic, high blood pressure medication, antidepressants, sedatives? Do you drink alcohol? Do you have trouble seeing? Do you have foot disorders? Do you ever get postural hypotension? Do you have trouble hearing? Do you have a physical limitation that prevents you from moving well? Each yes to a question posed above is a yes to the fact that you have that risk factor that makes you more prone to falling.  Here are some facts about falls and how physical therapy here at Optimal Physical Therapy and Sports Performance can help you if you are concerned about falls or have fallen with or without injury. It is a known fact in the United States that every year, 1 out of every 3 persons who are 65 years or older will experience a fall.  50% of those who fall will fall repeatedly.  90% of all hip fractures are a result of a fall.  Falls are the sixth leading cause of death of those 65 or older and cause more deaths than either pneumonia or diabetes.  20% of hip fractures result in death within a year of fracture.  Women are three times more likely than men to be hospitalized for fall related injuries.  Younger senior women are actually more at risk than older senior women most likely due to the fact that they walk faster and have less time to recover from...

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...

Barefoot and Minimalist Running

Barefoot and Minimalist Running Barefoot running was initiated as an observation of many long distance runners from Kenya performed well in competition and trained barefoot. Their lifestyle involved them being barefoot much of their lives and the bottom of their feet became adapted to this over many years and thus the skin was thought to be much thicker and tougher than those who grew up wearing shoes on a daily basis. It did not take long for runners who tried barefoot running to notice that their feet had thin and sensitive soles and cuts, blisters, skin breakdown and pain limited their running. We have all experienced what stepping on a small rock while barefoot feels like. Now try it at a running pace. Thus minimalist shoes were created that fit like a very short sock and have a rubber-like bottom to protect the sole of the foot. Barefoot running and running in minimalist shoes have been a “buzz” over the past 5 years. It is estimated that 25-30% of runners have tried running in minimalist footwear on a regular basis and only 2% run barefoot routinely. Approximately 20% of people surveyed reported trying to run barefoot. People who promote barefoot/minimalist-shoe running suggest that it changes the biomechanics of the running style and thus strengthens the foot muscles and changes the forces of impact on the legs. They feel this can reduce certain injuries. An article in March 2014 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed current research regarding barefoot running and concluded, “running injuries are the result of many factors and running without your shoes is least likely...

Avoiding Bike Fit Related Injuries

Avoiding Bike Fit-Related Injuries Bicycle riding is a great form of exercise. The longer you ride, the more forces are placed on your body which can lead to pain, numbness, and tingling. Eventually, if these symptoms are intense or persistent many people quit riding. Our goal is to keep you active and healthy so we are providing some tips to keep you on your bike. • Try to maintain a straight spine posture even though your trunk will be inclined forward. A prolonged spine position of a forward curve (flexed) puts the same unhealthy forces on your back as if you sat slouched in a chair for a long time period. Adjusting the handle bars and seat tilt can help align the spine better. • Set the seat height to position your knees in a slightly bent angle at the bottom of the pedal stroke. If your knees are fully straight at the bottom pedal position, you will be reaching with your leg causing your hips and pelvis to tilt and placing unwanted forces on the hips, pelvis and low back. If the knee is too bent at the bottom pedal stroke especially combined with pedaling more forcefully like in a harder gear or up hills, harmful forces will be placed on the patellofemoral joint (knee cap) resulting in front of the knee pain. Too much forward tilt of the bike’s seat will result in extra body weight on the arms and hands. • Change the handle bar position occasionally on longer rides to alter the forces on your arms, neck and upper back. Keep a light to moderate...

Medial Tibial Stress Syndromes -Shin Splints

Medial Tibial Stress Syndromes – Shin Splints “Shin splints” is a general term that is used to describe pain often accompanied by tenderness along the front of the lower leg. The tibia is the larger of the lower leg bones and runs from the knee to the ankle. It can be felt running along the front of your shin. Many muscles attach to the tibia and the bone is covered by periosteum which has a good blood and nerve supply. Medial tibial stress syndromes are commonly caused by prolonged running or walking or repetitive jumping. Shin pain is most commonly diagnosed as a stress fracture of the tibia or an overuse syndrome of the muscles and their attachment to the periosteum. The difficulty in diagnosing between these two conditions is that stress fractures are often missed on X-ray because the hairline fracture is typically not seen until after about 3 weeks when the new bone growth becomes visible. A bone scan or MRI would better detect a stress fracture but are not typically ordered early after pain onset due to the cost. We rely on clinical signs and symptoms to guide the diagnosis if radiographic tests are not conclusive or have not been taken. Typically, stress fractures have more localized area of pain and tenderness to palpation and muscular inflammatory problems tend to have a larger area of pain and tenderness. Stress fractures tend to be painful during the running, walking or jumping and the pain resolves shortly after the activity is finished. Muscular inflammatory injuries tend to hurt early in the morning, and progress in intensity with the...