Benefits of Whole Body Vibration (WBV)

GForce WBVWhether you are an avid runner, soccer mom or weekend warrior – everyone is trying their best in today’s fast pace world to maintain optimal health and fitness through breakthrough technology and exercises. Current fads include dry needling, cupping, tabata/HITT workouts and most recently Whole Body Vibration therapy (WBV). Now WBV isn’t exactly new, but is resurfacing as an effective treatment to increase bone density and maintain/restore muscle strength. Vibration therapy has been used for thousands of years and was first well acknowledged in 2002 when NASA implemented vibration therapy to fight muscle atrophy (wasting) and bone density loss with their astronauts on space missions. Recent research has found that WBV is beneficial for seasoned athletes, pulmonary patients (COPD), neurologic diagnosis (CP and Parkinson’s disease), as well as the aging patient.

Treatments usually consist of the patient holding a static position(s) for 3-10 minutes. The main principle behind WBV is that a patient is exposed to 3D vibrations while standing/lying on the vibrating platform. The rapid vibrations force muscles to contract to maintain your position which ultimately provides a form of exercise. The vibrations stimulate muscle spindles and alpha motor neurons causing relaxation/contraction of muscles to enhance neuromuscular learning. Weight bearing along with vibratory perturbations will help to stimulate bone growth to avoid or reduce the effects of osteoporosis and loss of bone density in community dwelling adults. Significant improvements in gait speed and balance were also noted due to WBV mimicking natural perturbations during ambulation.

Benefits of WBV:

  • Increased bone density
  • Increased muscle and tendon strength
  • Improved muscle performance (power and coordination)
  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved circulation
  • Increased body awareness
  • Improve walking/functional balance
  • Pain reduction
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Decreased spasticity
  • Improved lymphatic drainage

Contraindications:

  • Acute injuries
  • Unhealed/recent fractures
  • Recent arthroplasty (joint replacement)
  • Cancer
  • Kidney/Gall stones
  • Pregnant women

WBV is a newly accepted form of treatment, and research has proven that WBV can be beneficial to a variety of diagnoses and populations. If you are interested in learning more about WBV or starting a WBV therapy program, ask your trusted Synergy physical therapist or check out the ‘Synergy Recovery Room’ for more details and other therapy options.

Kayla Roof, SPT

Student Physical Therapist

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leg Compression for Athletes Recovery

Athletes who undergo rigorous training often cause damage to their muscles and joints in which impacts further training and success. This damage can cause exercise-induced inflammation, repetitive stress and trauma to the muscles. Symptoms include soreness, swelling, and tenderness, in part secondary to local increased lactic acid resulting in decreased range of motion. Therefore, quick recovery is crucial for athletes to regain and strive for optimal performance in their sport. For athletes striving for optimal recovery and performance, mechanical compression has gained popularity, initially in the 2010 Olympics. Several research papers have shown usage of intermittent pneumatic compression may benefit recovery in athletes.

Physiology and Mechanism of Action synergy-3

Post exercise, the venous return is significantly reduced thus allowing for the build up of carbon dioxide, lactic acid and metabolic waste. The goal of compression is to massage and squeeze your muscles intermittently for a period of time. Research has shown this can decrease swelling and pain, enhance lymphatic return, and increase blood flow. This restore strength and endurance 10 times faster compared to rest alone. Compression is used to help flush out the lactic acid that can of build up after intense training. The use of intermittent pneumatic compression can help promote healing of the tissues by reabsorption of interstitial tissue and reducing metabolic waste. Proper recovery following exercise is important to repair the transitory and long- term impairments created by the stress of training and competition. Following rehydration, correcting the metabolic disturbances and restoring glycogen stores are paramount for recovery of exhaustive exercise. Theoretically, pneumatic compression can reduce the space available for swelling, hemorrhage and hematoma formation as well as providing mechanical support.

Usage

There are three primary treatment options available using compression. A typical treatment lasts no longer than 15-20 minutes.

  1. Pre-workout to benefit in warm up and promote blood flow
  2. Post-workout used to speed up muscle recovery, decrease muscle fatigue and stiffness
  3. Post rehab or injury to reduce edema and stiffness

Using this technique can speed recovery and relieve muscle soreness in a shorter period of time. Although research is limited in this field, the preliminary studies indicate this technique may help improve athlete’s ability to restore strength and endurance faster than rest. If you are interested in using lower extremity pneumatic compression pre or post-race, check out our newly opened Synergy Recovery Room. final-logo500pxYou may also visit our Recovery Room website by clicking on the logo to see other benefits of compression therapy and other services we offer to help take your training to the next level!

 

-Stephanie Kurica, SPT

Student Physical Therapist

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South

 

The Ergonomics of RELAXATION

Most people think about ergonomics when they’re at a computer in an office. But what about during other activities that are more for relaxation—like gaming, watching a movie or just checking Facebook on your phone? Ergonomics applies to all the things we use our body for during the day—not just when you’re in the office at a desk. Here are some tips for activities that most of us do at some point during the day.

Checking your Phone

You may have heard the term “tech neck” or “text neck.” Well, it’s for real folks. Don’t bend your head over to view your phone or tablet. Instead move the device up into the viewing range OF YOUR EYES. That may mean propping a pillow under your elbows in order to maintain the viewing height for prolonged periods while in a seated position. Or just raising your hand to the level of your face in order to view the screen. And remember, your eyeballs can move! So, you can look down at your phone just by MOVING YOUR EYES and NOT your head.

Think about it this way: See the graphic below? Dr. Ken Hansraj did some pretty cool research to find out exactly how much pressure there is on the human neck when you bend your head forward to look at your phone. Even just a slight forward movement of the neck to view your phone can exponentially increase the amount of pressure on your spine, discs and muscles. At just 30 degrees of forward neck flexion, you get 40lbs of pressure…that’s equivalent to a 5 gallon jug of water! Check out the infographic from DegreeSearch.org to get an idea of just how much pressure you are putting on your neck.

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Via: DegreeSearch.org <http://degreesearch.org>

Watching TV

If your favorite chair is not ergonomically positioned in front of your TV, you are most likely craning your neck in order to view the show. Maintaining your neck in a rotated position for prolonged periods can cause joint dysfunction and muscle tension and/or imbalance which can lead to neck pain, headaches and even jaw pain. So, when you sit down tonight to watch your favorite flick, think about moving your furniture around to accommodate better viewing angles.

Gaming

Think about the posture of gaming exactly like you would if you were in the office. You must have the control/joystick/keyboard at the right height for your arms. You must have the TV/monitor at the right height for your eyes. And finally you must support your spine in an upright posture.

CRW_1831Kelly BW

copyright 2009 CPTC

Reading a Book

Whether it’s a real book with paper pages or a digital book on your tablet, don’t bend your head down to view the pages (remember the graphic above!). Raise the pages up to your eyes. That may mean propping a pillow under your elbows in order to maintain the viewing height for prolonged periods while in a seated position. If you are lying down or reclining, perhaps bend your knees and support them with a pillow, then prop the book on another pillow on top of your knees.

Internet Surfing

If you spend more than about 15-30 minutes checking email, checking Facebook or hunting for that perfect pair of shoes, you need to arrange for proper ergonomics. If you’re using a tablet or phone, it may be as easy as using pillow to prop the device as described in the “Reading a Book” section above. But if you’re using laptop, you should really consider a docking station at a table or desk so that your neck and arms are at the proper level. Check out the Workrite Ergonomics website for details on proper ergonomics. Don’t slouch, get off the couch! You know who you are if this pic looks familiar!

6 ways to combat text neck.

Longus coli strengthening:

 

Noodle thoracic spine laying:

CRW_1659Jill BW

copyright 2009 CPTC

 

Pec doorway stretch:

Pec stretch door

copyright 2009 CPTC

 

Supine stability ball:

CRW_1715Ryan BW

copyright 2009 CPTC

 

Theraband Lat pull-downs:

 

Standing theraband row:

 

Blog by:

Kelli Crosby, PT, COMT

Physical Therapist/Owner – South Location

 

Squats: The King of All Exercises

The squat is one of the most popular exercises performed in gyms around the world. Squatting provides core, hip and leg strength along with endurance and injury prevention benefits. It also provides the health benefits of raising metabolic rate and helping to maintain a healthy body weight. Correct form is key when performing squats, whether you are using a weighted barbell or simply using your own body weight for resistance. The lack of proper form while squatting can lead to all sorts of injuries from herniated discs to torn ligaments.

Let’s break down the form needed to execute a safe and effective squat. To start feet should be just wider than shoulder width apart with the toes slightly angled outward. During the repetition the knees should not cave inward and should stay over the feet with the knees never shifting forward past the toes. The back should remain flat throughout the duration of the repetition. To help to ensure this, pull the shoulders back and keep your chest up. If your back begins to round forward while squatting, that is an indicator that you are either using too much weight or need to adjust how low you are squatting and not sink as low. It is also important to maintain a slow and controlled speed throughout the repetition. It is important to make sure to keep your weight on your heels, and not shifting your weight forward over your toes as this adds extra stress to your knees and can result in injury. If you are new to squats it is wise to practice them using just your body weight. And if you are worried about falling, use a sink or counter to hang on to with your hands and have a chair close behind you to catch you.

You can also check out the advice and tips we found on this YouTube video:

Squats are very functional exercises and are used in our daily routines. Whether or not you notice it, we all squat every day. We squat when we stand up out of bed and get up from chairs and couches. Not to mention that we squat when performing activities such as picking up and moving furniture. Along with strengthening muscles, weight bearing exercises like squats also strengthen tendons, ligaments, and bones. Weight bearing exercises also help to prevent osteoporosis.

In addition, squats burn a high number of calories because of the sheer number of muscles that are engaged during the exercise. The benefit of this is an increase in lean muscle mass, which helps to raise your body’s natural daily metabolic rate. This, combined with proper diet, can help to maintain a healthy weight.

As you can see, when the right form, weight and safety procedures are used while squatting, the health benefits from this exercise greatly outnumber the risks that are associated with squats.

 

Peter Hammersmark

Physical Therapist Technician

North Office

 

Exercise for mental health

Mental Health ConceptWe’ve all heard time and time again what the benefits of exercising are: Lower body weight, decreased blood pressure and cholesterol, decreased risk for heart disease and diabetes, improved energy levels, etc etc etc. But did you also know that it helps to improve brain function and decreases your risk for mental health diseases later in life?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 15% of the population, or greater than 700 million people, should expect to be diagnosed with a mental health condition after they reach the age of 60. And, a mental health issue later in life can also negatively affect your outcomes from other physical conditions or diseases you may be suffering from. You do not want to forget to take your medications, miss your doctor appointments, or be unable to exercise due to a mental illness. So the time to start improving your physical and mental health is now.

So what type of exercise is good for mental health?

When choosing to exercise for mental health, the studies are still up in the air regarding implementing mentally challenging games to prevent mental illness such as Lumosity. In a recent article posted on the BBC News website, they found little evidence to support the theory that mentally challenging activities such as reading or solving puzzles will help prevent or delay mental diseases. However, this study did show that even a brisk walk a few times a week could help. So along with helping your overall health, exercising has also been proven to help delay or reduce the likelihood of developing mental illnesses later in life. Our advice would be to go with what has been shown to help (exercising) and then add the mental challenging games as a supplement. But we would also suggest speaking with a healthcare professional, which includes your physical therapist, to get an exercise program tailored specifically to you. While a fast walk a few times a week may benefit one person, it may not be challenging enough for the next person to provide the maximal benefit.

What are other ways to help reduce your risk of mental health diseases?

Vital senior couple in the gymAlong with exercising there are other risk factors that have shown to contribute to developing mental health diseases later in life. In a recent study published in Science Daily found that alongside exercising, the following factors also helped to reduce the chance of developing dementia, one of the most common mental illnesses in the elderly, by 60%:

  1. Cessation of smoking
  2. Keep a low body weight
  3. Consuming a healthy diet
  4. A low alcohol Intake

This study was performed over the course of 35 years using 2,235 men. The number one thing this study found to be the strongest mitigating factor… Exercise! So time to pay attention to what has been proven to work and take a walk, find yourself a personal trainer, or participate in a sport. But as always, we recommend that you see your physician or physical therapist first about participating in a new exercise regimen or sport. Call us today for an evaluation and start to decrease your chances of mental illnesses today!

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapist – South Office

Where to Find Quality Health Care Information Online

A violet stethoscope on a white laptop computerWith the growth of the Internet, we now have at our fingertips an enormous and almost inconceivable amount of knowledge. There is no question that the Internet cannot answer! However, this does not mean that everything is true. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who do take what’s posted on the web as fact.  It would take years to compile all of the false information out there so we will not be providing that today. But, we would, however, like to share a few of the more reputable sources for accurate and up-to-date health care information.

  • WebMD.com – A great resource for health related information and tools. They have expert medical practitioners on their staff that review all the published content and take extra measure to make sure they are providing credible information.
  • MedlinePlus.com – Through its extensive research database it provides the most up-to-date information on most health care topics with easy to use navigation tools, videos, illustrations, and dictionary of medical terms.
  • MayoClinic.org – Is a website that produces content provided by more than 3,300 physicians, scientists and researchers with ties to the world renown Mayo Clinic.
  • Synergympt.com – Okay, so we had to put our website on this list! After all we provide a great resource of information on orthopedic injuries, women’s health issues, and health tips. Check it out, we think you will be impressed!

As physical therapists we often have patients that will self-diagnosis or even self-treat due to health care information that they found online, even from these reputable sources. At times the patients have been correct and have performed the right stretches or exercises, but there are even more cases of patients who have either delayed their healing or made things worse by becoming their own doctor or physical therapist.  Just because you researched shoulder pain from one of these websites does not mean the diagnosis you think you have is the actual diagnosis. For example, if you have a torn shoulder muscle but through your research think you have tendonitis, which can present very similar to a tear, you could be doing the wrong treatments and making things worse. So use this information with a grain of salt and please do not disregard the value of a physical exam and diagnosis by a licensed professional.  If you do suffer from an injury your best bet is to stop by and see one of our physical therapists today. At our clinics you will get a personalized examination and diagnosis that will most often lead you to a quicker recovery.

Call to schedule an appointment today!

 

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapist – South Office

Foot Drop: The causes and anatomy

Do you or someone you know suffer from foot drop? Foot drop is a gait abnormality in which the dropping of the forefoot happens due to weakness, irritation or damage to afoot drop nerve, or paralysis of the muscle/s in the anterior portion of the lower leg. It is usually a symptom of a greater problem, not a disease in itself.

The most common cause of foot drop is injury to the peroneal nerve as it passes around the outside of the knee. The peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve that wraps from the back of the knee to the front of the shin and travels down into your foot. Because it sits very close to the surface near your knee, it may be damaged easily. This can be caused by prolonged compression of the nerve while sitting cross-legged or having your leg leaning against something, a sports or impact injury to the knee or lower leg, knee or hip replacement surgery.

Nerves are part of the “electrical wiring” system that carries messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Motor nerves carry messages between the brain and muscles to make the body move. Sensory nerves carry messages between the brain and different parts of the body to signal pain, pressure, and temperature. And most nerves, such as your peroneal, have both sensory and motor components.

Pressure or stretching injuries can cause fibers within the nerve to break. This may interfere with the nerve’s ability to send or receive signals, without damaging the insulating cover, similar to a wire you find in your home or electronic devices. However, nerves can heal, and with time, this injury is likely to fully heal and you can likely make a complete recovery.

When a nerve is cut, both the nerve and the insulation are severed. The end of the fiber farthest from the brain dies., but the end that is closest to the brain does not die and after some time, may begin to heal by developing finger-like sprouts that begins to look for its partner end. If those sprouts reach the other end, your function and/or sensation will be restored. If not, surgery may or may not work to repair the damaged nerve.

a1Compression of the peroneal nerve can lead to pain, numbness, and/or weakness to the foot, ankle, or outer portion of your lower leg. Once a nerve is injured the symptoms will typically occur below the site of injury and can last minutes or hours, or with a more severe injury, it can cause months or a lifetime of disability.

The common personal also has multiple branches that vary in function. Some branches just innervate our skin and so compression or injury to this portion may only cause numbness or a tingling sensation to our lower leg or foot. And then other branches support our muscles of the lower leg and foot, most notable being the anterior tibialis muscle that controls your ability to lift your foot off the ground.

The tibialis anterior muscle runs along the front to outside portion of your lower leg. It begins just below the outside of your knee, and inserts into your foot, just below the front of the ankle. The most important function of this muscle is to lift the foot during gait so you do not drag your toes on the ground, which can be a fall hazard. It also controls your foot as you strike the ground with your heal during walking, allowing your foot to slowly lower to the ground giving you more stability, and preventing the notorious foot slap that is associated with foot drop. When this happens, likely an AFO will be prescribed to improve that ankle stability and prevent tripping over your toes.

So there you have it. That is the basic anatomy and physiology of foot drop. If you think you may suffer from this condition, or just want to learn more about it. Stop by and see me or another one of our physical therapists today!

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapist – South Office

Back Pain Prevention

Chronic low back painIf you suffer from lower back pain you are not alone. As someone who has suffered three episodes of intense LBP within the past ten years, I am among the millions of people who suffer from this condition. It is the number one reason to visit your doctor or miss work, and if you have never experienced LBP you are a in a significant minority. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it difficult to move. It can start quickly if you fall or lift something too heavy, or it can get worse slowly. Discs that sit between the vertebrae of the spine can rupture or break down. Muscles can strain or tear.

We use our back all day, throughout the day, and it can suffer extraordinary forces through our frequent bad habits while lifting, carrying heavy things, or even during sitting. Even if we think we are using the best posture and mechanics, we still can be setting ourselves up literally for a rude awakening.

So here are the best 8 ways to prevent LBP:

  1. Always warm up before exercise or other strenuous physical activity, including work activities that involve lifting or bending.
  2. Don’t slouch or lean forward when standing or sitting. Your back supports your weight the best when it is in its natural alignment.
  3. At home or work, sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task.
  4. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can provide some lumbar support while sitting at your desk or even for long commutes. (Tip: Roll up a medium sized towel and wrap plastic wrap around it several times to hold it together. It will last longer and can work just as good as a $50 lumbar roll! I have one in my car!)
  5. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes if you need to be on your feet for extended periods.
  6. Don’t try to lift objects too heavy for you. Lift with your knees, pull in your stomach strain2a-BBmuscles, and keep your head down and in line with your straight back. Keep the object close to your body. Do not twist when lifting. And ask for help when transferring heavy or odd shaped items.
  7. Limit excessive body weight around the abdomen. Maintain a diet with sufficient daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D, which will help to promote new bone growth.
  8. And last but definitely not least, if you smoke, quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate at a faster rate.

Recurring back pain is often preventable and can often times become worse if we do not take care of our backs once an initial injury has occurred. If you have suffered a lower back injury, you need to take immediate actions to correct the reason you developed LBP in the first place and take proactive measures to eliminate these factors from occurring in the future.

Your best bet of preventing LBP from becoming chronic or recurring is to visit a physical therapist. Physical therapists are highly trained professionals who are experts in the musculoskeletal system. They can show you things such as weakness in your core muscles you didn’t think you had, faults in your lifting mechanics or posture, and even how the way you run or exercise can cause trips to the ER and years of pain.

Even if you do not have current LBP, I think you would agree that taking the time out of your day now is better than experiencing the symptoms in the future.

Remember:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  – Benjamin Franklin

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapists – South Office

 

Knee pain: It may be all in your hips

You’re trying to get yourself back into shape, eating healthy, hitting the stair master, lifting or jogging… everything you’re supposed to do right. BUT, after a couple weeks your knees start to bug you. You wonder: “Am I doing too much? Am I too old for this? What am I doing wrong?” Someone suggests shoe inserts, someone says don’t buy inserts. What next?

Knee pain can be a tricky and is also one of the most common issues we see. The knee is the center point of what us PTs (or to-be PT in my case) call the “kinetic chain” of the lower limb. This kinetic chain involves the lower back, hip, knee, ankle and foot. Dysfunction at any part of this chain can be the underlying cause of knee pain. Determining where and why this dysfunction is occurring is the key to solving most knee issues.

One of the first things we try to determine is if your legs are resting in similar alignment, if leg-length-discrepancy-not we call this a leg length discrepancy. Leg length discrepancies generally fall into two broad categories: structural or functional.

Structural discrepancies account for a very small percentage of what we see and stem from anatomical differences in the length or shape of the bones of the leg. This usually results from previous injury, illness or can be present from birth. Structural discrepancies are a little more challenging to treat dalton01__1_1_5760and sometimes require orthotics, inserts or other devices to help your body compensate for the anatomical differences.

With functional discrepancies, all the bones are the right size and shape but aligned incorrectly. This can be caused by a variety factors like posture, muscle imbalances, restricted joints or training errors. Functional discrepancies are usually correctible with manual therapy to realign the bones and exercise techniques to help the correction to stick. Shoe inserts are typically not useful for functional discrepancies because they don’t correct the underlying alignment issue and can actually lead to more problems.

It’s impossible to create a single solution that will fix every individual person’s pain and discomfort. Interventions must be tailored to each patient’s unique profile. Before investing in a pricey pair of orthotics it’s important to determine if you are actually likely to benefit from their use or if you would be better off with corrections and therapeutic exercise

Kit Durban, SPT

Physical Therapy Student, Boston University

Synergy North Clinic

 

 

 

Exercising when sick

Man having a fluSo you’ve stuck to your New Years resolution to take better care of yourself. You’re feeling great, hitting your goals, and are finally seeing results…. then you get struck with an illness! Whether it is a cold, flu, or another illness, this will definitely put a thorn in your routine. But should you stop exercising when sick? As physical therapists we get this question on a regular basis during the winter flu season. And it is not just a simple yes or no answer unfortunately. But that is not necessarily all bad news depending on your symptoms.

The GOOD news

Exercise has shown to keep people healthy during the flu season. Researchers are even finding out that with a mild cold or flu exercising can actually help with your recovery! If you are experiencing cold-like symptoms without a fever or difficulty breathing, it can be safe to work out as long as you feel up to it. If you do decide to work out, you should continue to listen to your body. You may be more fatigued as your body is also working hard at fighting the illness. So take it easy and make it a light day. Don’t push yourself past what your body is telling you it can handle.

Break from exercisingThe BAD news

When you are sick the symptoms you are experiencing are due to your body fighting off the illness. But your body is also telling you what you should and should not do to help it. If your symptoms are so severe that you cannot get out of bed in the morning, you should likely stay in bed. You need to know your limits and listen to your body. If you feel up to exercising but then feel worse after 20 minutes into your workout then you should decrease the intensity or stop altogether. In a recent CNNhealth.com article they cite the common “neck rule.” The neck rule states that if your symptoms are above the neck (runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, sinus pressure, headache) then you should be good to go. Bu,t if your symptoms are below the neck as with body aches, fever, or chest congestion, then you will likely want to sit this one out and save your energy for fighting the illness. In the early period of an illness you are also more likely to be contagious. If hitting the gym is your workout, then you also need to make sure you are not spreading your illness to others. Make sure you are showing consideration to others by not putting them in the same situation you are in.

Everyone needs a break and an illness may just be your body telling you the time is right for yours. If you are still questioning whether or not you should hit the gym after reading this then perhaps it’s best you play it safe and take a day off. If you are truly dedicated then you will bounce back once you feel better and continue on with your healthy lifestyle. Better to play it safe and live to fight another day than to delay your recovery or risk injury from working out when your body is telling you to stop.

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapist

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office