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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...

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...

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...