Practical Self-Care Tips to Help You Prevent Pain and Injury on the Slopes: Part 1

Everyone knows that squats and lunges are great exercises to help you handle the steep and deep.  But did you know that preventing injury on the slopes starts in your bedroom?  Keep reading to find out the three things I teach my patients to prevent pain on the slopes—or even while doing yard work—these tips will help you prevent pain before it begins.

1. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in the bedroom

The things you do to your body while you sleep at night, determine how your body performs the next day.  If you sleep in a twisted position all night long, it’s not hard to imagine why your back fails you during your 4th run on a powder day.  Sleep position is a common topic at our clinic because it can impact everything from neck pain and headaches to low back and buttock pain.  Here are some things to consider when you hit the sack:

If you are a stomach sleeper:

In order to breathe you must twist your neck to one side.  This is not an ideal position for your neck for a prolonged period (imagine sitting at a desk all day in that position—definitely a violation of ergonomic principles).  So, my usual tip to patients is to try to sleep on your sides or back, if at all possible.

If you are a back sleeper:

Make sure your neck is supported with a pillow that is not too thick or too thin, in order to maintain neutral alignment of the spine.  Try putting a pillow under your knees if your back bothers you in this position.

If you are a side sleeper:

Don’t sleep in a twisted position like the photo on the left below.  Also, the pillow choice advice above applies here too.

2. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in your chair

We treat so many desk jockeys at our clinic it’s no wonder that when the weekend includes 6-8 hours of skiing (and sometimes falling), Monday arrives with pain.  Even if you don’t sit at a desk for a living, you most likely sit for prolonged periods using a handheld device—gaming, facebook, checking email, etc.  It is absolutely necessary to undo what you’ve done all week, such as prolonged sitting or slouching (ahem), if you want to reduce pain on the weekend and be ready for a powder day.

Posture 101:

Roll your hips forward to reduce pressure on your buttocks and restore the natural lordosis of the lumbar spine.  Don’t stick your chinforward or let your upper back and shoulders roll forward.  Instead pretend the hair on the crown of your head is being pulled upward toward the ceiling

Ergonomics 101:

For Pete’s sake don’t sit on the couch like this!  A laptop should only be on your lap if you are using it for less than 30 minutes; otherwise you need to create a docking station at a desk or table.  In general: sit up straight, support your low back, get the monitor at eye level, and make sure you are typing with your elbows at a greater than 90° angle.

 

3. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in the home

Whether you realize it or not you are doing things every single day that make your back a target for injury.  Every time you bend improperly to unload the dishwasher or pick up your socks off the floor you are setting yourself up for pain on the slopes.  Don’t curve your back when you bend forward, instead bend your knees and hips and keep your back straight.

There you have it. Now you know simple things that you can change in your daily routine to keep you from setting youself up for a rough day on the slopes. The best way to keep injury and painfree on the slopes is to make sure that your postures and body mechanics off the slopes are not putting your musculo-skeletal system at risk.  This post is a part 1 in a series of 2 blogs that will help you prevent pain and injuries during your winter weekends on the mountains. Stay tuned to our blog or Facebook page to see the second part of this series on injury prevention. In the meantime, stay safe out there and stop in or call us if you have any questions on prevention or a current injury!

Kelli Crosby, PT, COMPT

Owner

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

Pesky Plantar Fasciitis

      You have stretched, braced, iced, rolled, rested, strengthened, changed shoes and prayed to the plantar fascia gods but nothing is helping your chronic plantar fasciitis. You are not alone, it occurs in 10% of the population. Don’t worry your problem is correctable but may be related to more than your foot. Plantar fasciitis causes heel pain in active as well as sedentary adults of all ages. There are many causes that can include overuse, improper foot wear, obesity, sudden increase in duration and frequency of activities. Plantar fasciitis is defined as inflammation of the plantar fascia. With any inflammation, the stress causing the inflammation must be removed to completely treat the problem. In most cases, plantar fasciitis doesn’t resolve or keeps returning because the cause of the problem is not corrected. Common symptoms include, pain in the heel with the first steps in the morning, sharp, localized pain in the heel or arch, and slow decrease in pain with activity. With chronic plantar fasciitis, one must look past the foot and ankle.

The foot has 33 joints and 20 muscles, with the muscles and fascia attaching to the bones that make up the joints. The plantar fascia has many attachments throughout the foot. A lot can go wrong in such a small space. A joint that doesn’t move properly can cause a host of compensatory reactions in other joints and soft tissues in and around the foot. Joint restrictions can lead to changes in the way your walk, asymmetry in flexibility or limitations in your nerve mobility all the up the kinetic chain. These problems will turn an acute situation, into a chronic problem quickly if not corrected. So it is important to treat all systems to effectively heal the plantar fascia. The biggest problem may actually be in your lower back. The nerves that exit your lower back area are the ones that control the foot and ankle. A joint restriction in your lower back may be the actual cause of your plantar fascia. Restrictions in the lower back cause biomechanical alterations to the joints down the kinetic chain and can limit normal nerve mobility. All this can create abnormal stress to the foot and ankle, especially if combined with an activity like running.

Manual physical therapists will assess strength, flexibility, joint and soft tissue mobility, and nerve mobility of the entire lower quadrant to include lower back, pelvis, hips, knees and feet. We will correct for any joint restrictions throughout the kinetic chain to ensure a quick return to pain free living. Modalities may be appropriate to treat swelling, pain or inflammation. These can include ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, infrared and/or cold therapy. Exercises will be prescribed to normalize mobility and prevent further issues. Research shows that most cases of plantar fasciitis improve over time with these conservative treatments, and surgery is rarely required. So, if you are still dealing with plantar fasciitis, it is time to see a manual physical therapist at Synergy Manual Physical Therapy. In the meantime, be sure to rest as much as possible, perform stretching of the hips, plantar fascia and calf, massage the bottom of the foot and ice multiple times throughout the day. Hang in there; it will improve with the right care.

Kelly Haddock PT, COMT, ATC
Owner
Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112