5 Ways to Save your Back While Stuck at Home

Staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t have to mean staying stationary. If you already have occasional or chronic back pain, it’s so important to take extra care of your spine during this time! Even people who rarely experience back pain may see new flare-ups due to increased time spent sitting at home.

For many, work stations at home are not ergonomically ideal or perhaps even nonexistent. On top of that, social-distancing and closed fitness facilities are likely to reduce our overall level of activity and mobility throughout the day. Combined, prolonged, poor posture and reduced mobility are the main ingredients for increasing back and neck pain. But have no fear! There are still many ways to prevent your back pain from kicking up, even while stuck at home!

1. Stand Up & Take a Load Off

When we sit for too long, the burden of our weight is placed abnormally on our spine and can cause damage over time. Before long, those small loads add up to real pain. It makes sense when you consider that our bodies were designed to stand, sit, crawl, run, kneel, bend and move through the world in many different ways. It was never designed to sit in one position for prolonged periods, day after day. Sit too long, too often, and it can lead to bulging discs and weak, brittle muscles that are prone to tearing and other damage.

The solution? Limit your sitting to half-hour periods with a few minutes of standing in between, and you’ll reduce the uni-directional forces on your spine. In other words, if you sit for a long time at work or at home, stand up and walk around a little bit every thirty minutes. Aside from participating in regular strengthening exercise, like Pilates, this is the easiest way for the average person to prevent back injury (and heal your back faster if you already have an injury).

2. Watch for Curves

We have natural curves in our spine that help us handle stress and loads.  Whether sitting or standing, it’s important to maintain these curves.  When standing, our spinal curves occur more naturally and are usually easier to maintain.  When we sit, the protective curves in our spine are harder to maintain and often disappear.  And while a healthy core and strong back muscles are important to back health, they won’t protect your back if you sit for long periods, or when the curve in your lumbar area disappears while you’re sitting.

Fortunately, the solution is as simple as rolling up a towel and placing it between your chair or car seat and the small of your back (just above the belt line). Using a purpose-designed lumbar roll is my favorite choice, and what I use for low-back support. You can use a lumbar roll in your office chair, car, and on the plane if you’re flying! If you want to learn where you can get on of your own contact us about them here. Or see in more detail how to use them in our free e-book!

3. Extend instead of Bend

The human spine (and entire body) craves balance, which means both extension and flexion.  But we spend the majority of our time in flexion, bending over to put shoes and socks on, brushing our teeth, driving, sitting at work and then driving home. At home we bend forward to cook, sit some more as we eat and then curl up on our couch or an easy chair. As long as we’re not gymnasts or circus performers, it’s safe to say we could all use a little more extension in our day.  A really good exercise is to stand and place your hands on your lower back for support and then arch back as far as you can go.  Repeat this 10 times, at least once per day.  This is also a great activity to do when you are interrupting your sitting during the day.  If you’ve never arched you back like this before, it may feel stiff or even hurt a little at first. But, with a gradual increase in frequency, it will feel less stiff and more natural over the course of a few days.  If it doesn’t, or becomes troublesome for you, stop and consult with a qualified physical therapist who specializes in back pain.

4. Stay Hydrated

We all know that drinking water is important, but don’t forget WHY! Water lubricates the joints, keeps the body’s soft tissues and fascia hydrated, and boosts exercise performance (yes, including at-home Pilates!). Water also improves skin health and elasticity — keeping you looking (and feeling) young! Water is also essential for digestion, flushing the body of waste and reducing unnecessary snacking. Water makes up 90% of our blood – which helps regulate the body temperature, deliver oxygen to all the cells in our body, and improve concentration and reasoning. Now more than ever, to stay healthy and mobile – make sure you are getting at least 7-8 cups of high quality H2O per day!

5. Build Stability

Mobility and then stability! Stability comes from a strong core. It can seem challenging to maintain strength with little equipment at home, but there are, in fact, plenty of ways to activate your muscles without any equipment at all! A basic strengthening flow daily can help keep our muscles active, blood flowing and reduce likelihood of pain. The flow you see below targets some of our most commonly weak muscle groups in a simple-to-do floor routine.

 

If you like these tips and want to learn even more ways to prevent debilitating back episodes, you can sign up for access to our FREE COVID-19 back pain survival guide right here!  And don’t forget to check out our Virtual Pilates programs if you’re looking for a way to exercise in your home that will target — and resolve — back pain. We have virtual small group classes at least once every day, Monday through Friday. We’re here for you through this quarantine and beyond!

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Will strengthening your core get rid of back pain?

One of the number one reasons people come to see us at our practice is because they want to strengthen their core — in hopes that it will put an end to their back pain.

Pilates has long been known as the staple in core strengthening. We’ve been incorporating Pilates into our physical therapy practice for the last 10 years and it’s been transformational for my clients. Pilates is a full body strengthening system that emphasizes breath, precision, coordination, and core strength — and it helps our clients connect to their bodies in a way that they haven’t been able to achieve with traditional strengthening methods.

But here’s the thing about core strengthening and back pain:

Core strengthening — especially Pilates — is one of the best ways I’ve found to prevent back pain and keep it gone. But core strengthening alone is not enough to completely resolve a back problem, especially one that keeps coming back every few months.

The statistics show that 4 out of 5 people will suffer from a debilitating back episode at some point in their lives.

And while many back pain episodes appear to resolve on their own with rest and avoidance of activity, there are underlying problems that can go on unaddressed for years. Problems that won’t get resolved by strengthening your core.

For example, you could have a bulging disc that is responsible for irritating or pinching a nerve in your back. Research shows that 80% of the time, something like a bulging disc can be resolved with corrective movements of the spine. That’s actually why most back surgeries where they just cut the disc out fail. And it’s also why general strengthening exercises, even those that specifically target your core, also don’t completely resolve the problem.

You must address the underlying root cause of why your disc continues to bulge over and over, and learn how to correct it.

Once you know that, you can use something like Pilates and core strengthening to give you the best possible shot at your disc not bulging again. But even so, it can and most likely will, which is why you need the combination of both specific corrective exercises and proper strengthening to truly get control over your back problem for good.

It’s why we love combining both in our practice. Our specialist PT team works closely with our Pilates team to ensure that all our clients are not only getting the proper strengthening for their backs — but the proper movement as well!

If you’re wondering what kind of corrective movements you might need for your spine, or just want to know what to do about your general aches and pains – come to our FREE Health & Posture class on April 2nd! We’ll be talking about back pain, sciatica, and answering any other questions you may have. But make sure to reserve your spot — they go fast!

Setting Goals for the New Year? We can help!

A new decade is on the horizon, and so are new health and wellness goals for many of us!

Are you already discussing resolutions or considering ways to make 2020 your best yet? The new year is a great opportunity to form new habits that will help us become our healthiest, happiest selves. Setting detailed goals is a constructive way to approach the 2020’s that can help you feel more motivated and hopeful about the future.

The idea of New Year’s resolutions is great, but most people only stick to them for a couple weeks.

Resolutions are so often left unfulfilled in part because they’re usually pretty general statements that are made without much forethought, intention, or planning. At some point we’ve probably all resolved to “get healthy” or “eat more vegetables” or “spend less money.” All worthy ideas, but can you see why people don’t follow through?! There’s WAY too much wiggle room, and nowhere near enough specificity. That’s why oftentimes, setting goals with distinct processes will help you accomplish much more than a run-of-the-mill resolution.

There are two essential factors in goal setting. First, the goal must be attainable. Secondly, you must define concrete steps that you intend to take towards reaching that goal.

Most of us want to be healthier, but what does that actually look like? One person’s journey to becoming healthy could be totally different from another’s. These goals can be made in conjunction with a health professional such as a physical therapist, especially if they relate to mobility, strength, and physical activity. Many of us have intended to “exercise more,” but those two words rarely yield results. A more effective goal might be to enroll in a Pilates class, take a half hour walk outside five days a week, drink the recommended 64 ounces of water each day, or to do ten minutes of stretching every morning after getting out of bed.

A group program such as Pilates can be especially helpful because it gives you a sense of accountability and camaraderie. In fact, our signature Pilates 101 program is relaunching in January, and we are so excited about it! Pilates 101: Get [Your] Back to Health is a one-of-a-kind 8-week program that delivers safe, yet highly effective Pilates-based core strengthening exercises that are easy on the joints, designed to lessen back pain, and help improve your flexibility and posture.

If you can track, schedule, or measure the steps of your goal, you’ll know when you’re making progress. If those steps happen alongside people who share similar goals and under the direction of a movement expert who can support you for two whole months — even better!

So, let’s finish off this decade strong — and don’t miss out on Pilates 101! These spots go fast, so apply now to make sure you don’t miss your chance.

Five Ways to Stay Active on Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is just a few days away! While rest and relaxation might be top of mind for you, it’s still important to incorporate some movement and activity into your holiday. This is especially important if you’re suffering from something like back or knee pain! I always caution my clients before weekends or big holidays to make sure they keep moving! Rest might prevent you from feeling pain temporarily, but in the end it doesn’t do your joints any favors. “Motion is lotion,” I always say – and your joints need it!

If you want to avoid a stiff back or knees on Black Friday, here are five easy ways to stay active on Thanksgiving Day:

1. Sign up for a Turkey Trot

Most towns hold a 5k Race that can be fun for the whole family on Thanksgiving morning. The Seacoast Rotary Club is having one right here in Portsmouth! This is a great way to get your heart pumping and metabolism going first thing in the morning, setting a healthy stage for the day. If running is not your thing – then go for a walk! You could walk the 5K race or just schedule your own that morning before you begin your Turkey Day festivities. 

2. Stretch at Rest Stops

If you have a long drive ahead of you on Thanksgiving Day, schedule in some rest stops where you can get out and stretch. Or at the very least, stretch before you get in the car and as soon as you get out.This advice is especially important if you are suffering from back pain, or are prone to back problems.  Prolonged sitting is one of the biggest culprits for back pain suffers. It’s especially tricky because you might not have the pain while sitting, but instead feel it much later, making it difficult to tie the cause and effect together. My favorite stretch to give clients is to simply arch backwards with your hands behind your back for support.  It’s a great way to keep your back from getting stiff and painful.

3. Help with set up or clean up

Offer to help set the table or clean up!  This is an easy way for you to not only be a huge help to your gracious host, but to stay active before and after dinner.  It will force you to get up, walk around, and hopefully avoid that after dinner food coma. If you’re in your 60’s or 70’s, the younger members in your family might not want you to get up. They might think they are being helpful by letting you sit and relax all day. Don’t let them do that to you! Tell them you are happy to get up and stretch your legs and move your joints around.  Your body will certainly thank you – plus – you’ll be setting a good example for the young people in your family. 

4. Stretch during commercials

Whether you’re watching the Macy’s Day parade or Thanksgiving Day football, commercials are the perfect cue to remind yourself to get up and stretch! I can’t stress enough to you how detrimental prolonged sitting is to your body.  It seems harmless, but it can wreak havoc on your body. I guarantee you that on Monday I’m going to see an influx of clients with back pain in my office. I want to help you avoid that problem! Every commercial, get up and stretch.  Even better, do a few squats are heel raises at the same time.

5. After dinner walk

Before you sit down and relax after that big dinner, go for a walk! Even if you decided to do that Turkey Trot in the morning, it will still be a good idea to go for a nice relaxing walk after dinner.  Get the family or grandkids together. Take the family pet. Walking is one of the best exercises on the planet, and it’s something I prescribe to just about every client I work with. It’s one of the most functional activities that we do and it’s so good for you.

Now, if you’re currently suffering from any kind of back, knee, hip, or shoulder pain that is keeping you from trying out any of these strategies for Thanksgiving Day, then you should get in touch! Our physical therapists can help point you in the right direction and advise you on the best course of treatment to get you doing things you love again. You can even request a FREE Discovery Session if you want to talk with us. This is a completely free, no-obligation appointment that will give you all the information you need to make the best decision for YOUR health!

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Happy Halloween! Spooky Noises coming from your Knees?

“What are those cracks and noises coming from my knees? Is there something wrong??”

Our clients come in with this question all the time. They usually feel nervous and fearful that the noises they hear may indicate something more serious is going on within the joint. Is there damage occurring whenever they hear this sound? Do they need to avoid activities that provoke these symptoms? Will they need to rely on pain pills and surgeries in order to maintain their mobility if their joints deteriorate? 

Crepitus refers to these clicking, popping, and creaking sounds that a large portion of the population experience on a regular basis.  This phenomenon can occur at any joint, but is most commonly reported in the knees, shoulders, ankles, hips, and spine. 

Although these noises often don’t produce any pain, they can cause anxiety. Individuals start to develop their own beliefs about what is going on, and ultimately alter their behavior to avoid these cracking or popping sensations.

What causes these noises?

Many structural factors can contribute to joint noises.  Some of the most common are:

  • Tendons rubbing along bony prominences (bumps on bones)
  • Nitrogen bubbles popping due to pressure changes within the joint
  • Small labral or meniscus tears that get caught or pinched as we move

However, we don’t have the luxury of utilizing x-ray goggles during our examinations.  This means that we often cannot be certain of exactly which structures are creating these sounds.  What we do know is they aren’t a reason to be highly concerned as long as they aren’t associated with pain or swelling in the affected joint.  

How can I prevent it from getting worse?

The best way  to prevent these symptoms is to keep moving!! Motion is lotion. Regular movement throughout the day allows our joints to lubricate themselves, kind of like applying WD-40 to a creaky door hinge.  Additionally, it’s important to keep the muscles surrounding your knees strong and balanced. This helps to offload the forces through the joint, which limits “typical” wear and tear on cartilage and bony structures.

What if I’m noticing pain or inflammation in the joint that’s making these noises?

If you have a specifically noisy joint that’s also painful or swollen, it’s best to come in for a formal examination with a physical therapist – ideally someone who specializes in movement mechanics.  We train you in correct, healthy movement that both relieves your body of pain in the short term and protects it from further damage in the long term.

If finding the solution to your problem is something you’re interested in, you can come in for a free Discovery Session at our practice in Portsmouth, NH! All you have to do is fill out this brief form here and we’ll contact you. Discovery Sessions are great for people who want to talk with a specialist about what might be causing their problem, and we’ll help you figure out what the next best steps are.  Our goal is to give you all the information you need so that you can make the best decision for your health – without any obligation or commitment.

We also know not everyone is ready to commit to regular physical therapy appointments, and that’s why we offer free health and posture classes!  These events are for people in our community who want really valuable, expert information about movement, pain, and overall wellness. We know it’s confusing out there with all of the information floating around on Google and Facebook, and this is a valuable first step towards getting some answers for your problem.

Hopefully you found this information helpful, and the only thing scaring you this Halloween will be haunted houses instead of the noises coming from your joints!

PS – If you found this information helpful, please share this with a friend or on your Facebook feed.

How you actually CAN recover from chronic back pain

There’s nothing more discouraging than being in pain and feeling that there’s no way out of it. Back pain is such a common issue, and unfortunately, many people hold onto the mistaken belief that if you have a “bad back” you’re stuck with it for life. Not true!!

It is totally possible to recover from chronic back pain and return to the activities you used to love.

Great news, right? Let’s talk HOW. 

First of all, keep moving.

There are people in healthcare who will tell you to just avoid anything that irritates your back and accept that you can’t be as active as you once were. But what if basically everything triggers back pain? What if your job requires you to be on your feet or you simply want to tie your own shoes or pick up your grandkids? You don’t have to resign yourself to sedentary days spent popping ibuprofen every four hours and missing out on life. Don’t listen to the people who tell you to avoid movement — because in fact, the solution is the exact opposite. Consistent, correct movement heals your body and keeps it from shutting down. If you’re suffering from back pain, it may be a sign that your movement habits are off. You could benefit from working with a specialist physical therapist to retrain your body in how to move properly throughout your day, thus eliminating unnecessary stress on your spine.  

Along the same lines, make sure you educate yourself.

We offer a FREE workshop at our Portsmouth office every month to answer questions from our community, and our next topic is back pain and sciatica! You may feel like surgery and medication are the only options out there for recovery, but in reality they are just two of the less effective strategies for treating back pain. One of our clients, Sean, was dealing with multiple herniated discs and spoke with us on this exact topic. 

“I was considering back surgery until I found CJ Physical Therapy. I walked out of 

therapy with such relief that the thought of surgery was no longer an option. Therapy 

worked so much better than the steroid injection just a few months earlier, that it gave 

me hope of actually being able to feel like I did before the injury a year earlier.”

Nobody wants to get surgery, but if you haven’t been told about any noninvasive therapeutic routes to remedy your pain, surgery may seem like the only option. But time and time again, we have clients come to us with severe back pain and injuries that are often prescribed surgery — and time and time again, they have FULLY recovered through an individually customized program of physical therapy

If you’re dealing with chronic back pain, don’t be afraid to reach out.

We understand if you’re not yet ready to commit to PT — that’s why we offer FREE Discovery Sessions for potential clients. This 30 minute session is a chance for you to speak with one of our specialists and determine for yourself if we’re the best people to help you. It’s a completely free, no-obligation appointment that will give you all the information you need to make the BEST decision for YOUR health — whether that’s working with us or not! 

5 Tips to Save your Neck and Back During Summer Travel

Summer is FINALLY here, which means many of us are getting ready to do some traveling! Whether you’re headed up to the mountains for a weekend or planning a flight across the Atlantic, it’s so important that you make sure you’re taking care of your body. Back and neck pain are the most common travel-related complaints we get from clients, and we want to make sure everyone has these five tips in their back pocket to prevent pain and injury!

1. Interrupt your sitting

The biggest strain on your body while traveling — whether you’re on a plane, bus, train, or in a car — is undoubtedly the prolonged periods of sitting in cramped spaces. Our bodies are made to move continuously throughout the day. On road trips, getting out of the car is critical for keeping your neck and back healthy. If you pull over at rest stops for a bathroom break, try adding a five or ten minute walk each time. Take advantage of scenic vistas to walk around, and ask your physical therapist for tips on healthy stretches that work for you to lengthen your spine and work through any pain or stiffness.

Flying is notorious for triggering back pain and spasms, especially in older adults. If you fall asleep on planes, you’re also more likely to end up sleeping in an uncomfortable position (often putting a lot of strain on your neck) and wake up feeling stiff and sore. If you can, we recommend choosing an aisle seat on planes so that you can get up and move more frequently without bothering your neighbors. Try getting up every 30 minutes to an hour on longer flights to walk to the back of the plane, stretch, and spend five minutes standing (if it is safe to do so, of course!). And if you plan on sleeping for part of the flight, try using a supportive neck pillow to reduce the strain on your vertebrae.

2. Use lumbar support

In addition to neck pillows on flights, you might want to invest in some reliable lumbar support for all modes of travel. We use lumbar pillows specially designed to take the pressure off of your spine that accumulates while sitting for prolonged periods. They help maintain the natural arc of your spine and promote healthy posture. You can even use a lumbar support pillow when sitting at your desk at work or home!

3. Stay hydrated

We all know that it’s important to stay hydrated, but why is it especially critical for avoiding back and neck pain during travel?

Well, water is the vehicle responsible for transporting nutrients to your cells, including the nutrients your muscle cells need to do their job. Dehydration causes muscle cramps because it deprives your body of electrolytes. Proper hydration increases strength, balance, and flexibility. Water also helps to lubricate your joints, which is a bonus for keeping your spine working smoothly and allowing it to support the movements of your entire body. So if you’re planning to hit the road soon, make sure you bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up regularly. And the extra bathroom breaks will give you an excuse to stay moving!

4. Pack light

No matter where you’re going or how you’re getting there, traveling involves packing, and packing too much stuff can be a quick recipe for back pain. Anyone who has flown knows that lugging multiple bags and/or suitcases around an airport is not only exhausting and stressful, but can leave you sore and unbalanced for days. Plus, you may have to lift a heavy bag in and out of the overhead compartment or carry a backpack with you as you’re exploring your destination.

Even if you’re traveling by car, you still have to load and unload your bags, carry them to wherever you’re staying, and still make sure there’s enough space in the vehicle for everyone to have decent legroom! Your best bet is to pack light, no matter what kind of trip you’re taking. If you’re bringing a suitcase with wheels, pack heavier items in there so that you don’t put unnecessary strain on your neck and shoulders. Opt for a backpack instead of an over-the-shoulder bag to avoid uneven distribution of pressure, and stock it with your water bottle, small travel essentials, and healthy snacks.

5. Prepare your body

The best way to prevent injury or pain in general is to maintain an active lifestyle that incorporates healthy, biomechanically correct movement on a daily basis. If you have a trip coming up, it may be worth investing in your health beforehand and meeting with a physical therapist to take an inventory of your body’s specific needs as well as potential problems. A physical therapist can help you learn how to strengthen your whole body in a way that both improves flexibility and gets rid of tension and pain. They can also teach you specific, individually customizable exercises to do during travel that will help your body take care of itself and prevent injury.

Are you taking a trip soon? Try these suggestions and let us know if they worked for you! You can also reach out to schedule a FREE Discovery Session with us! This 30-min session is a chance for you to speak with one of our specialists, tell us everything that’s been going on with you, and determine for yourself if we can help prepare you for your travels or improve your strength and mobility in general.

Happy summer, and safe travels!

Carrie working on a knee

When Your Knee Problem Isn’t Really a Knee Problem…

Knee pain is one of the most common complaints that brings people to physical therapy.  Since most of our clients are in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, many of them fear that knee problems could bring an end to their active lifestyles. But that doesn’t have to be the case!

Ironically, the truth about knee problems is that they’re often not actually knee problems!  

There are many folks out there who struggle with chronic pain, instability, and stiffness in their knees. Naturally, they wonder why after countless treatments — sometimes even surgery — their knees still hurt.  Even worse, they start to accept having “bad knees” as a way of life. But if treating the knee directly has been consistently ineffective, it’s time to look elsewhere. Sometimes, even though you may experience pain in your knees, the root of the problem is elsewhere.

Let me explain…

With most knee pain, we can trace the underlying issues to a locality directly below the knee (the ankle or foot) or directly above it (the pelvis, hips, core, and low back). If you don’t engage your core throughout your daily movement, it actually puts a huge amount of strain on your knees. As your legs swing and rotate, the torque that should be occurring through your pelvis and hips gets overloaded onto your knees. So as we age, we may start feeling a sense of wear and tear or weakness in our knees that actually comes from a lifetime of improper movement.

The mainstream medical model is focused largely on treating symptoms rather than identifying the root cause of WHY the problem is occuring in the first place.  Pain pills, injections, and even surgery are often recommended before more conservative and natural treatments! And because these quick fixes are merely addressing the symptoms, the physical problems return for the majority of affected individuals. That’s because those knee issues actually stemmed from a different part of the body, and the knee will continue to be overloaded until those biomechanical problems are addressed directly!

So how do you I figure out what’s causing my knee pain?

Physical therapists go through extensive training in order to analyze your strength, mobility, and body mechanics. These factors allow them to figure out exactly what deficits are contributing to your knee pain, and develop a plan to optimize your movement patterns.

The purpose of a physical therapist is to train you in correct, healthy movement that both relieves your body of pain in the short term and protects it from further damage in the long term.  

Poor balance is a common symptom of a weak core, and being off balance in your movement is bound to affect crucial joints such as your knees — especially in simple everyday activities like climbing stairs and walking. That’s one of the many reasons why we like to combine physical therapy with Pilates in our practice. Pilates-based rehabilitation is a unique, core-centric approach to teaching healthy movement patterns. We love seeing our clients become stronger, balanced, and pain free as they are able to combine the full body workout of Pilates with the practiced eyes of a physical therapist who can identify movement problems and guide the client through correcting them.

The fact is, knee problems are rarely just knee problems, and if you have chronic knee pain, it’s worth asking a physical therapist to help out! If you want more accessible information about knee pain, check out our Facebook Happy Hour video right here! Then you can even request a free discovery session with us to see what PT is all about, and how we can work together to create a customized plan of action for your individual needs. We’d love to hear from you!

Is Running Bad for Your Knees when you’re Over 50?

This is a question we get asked a lot — especially by clients who are getting older and worried that they won’t be able to keep running into their 50s and 60’s.

The short answer? No!

If you experience knee pain when you run, it’s not that you’ve “aged out” of the sport! It’s probably just a biomechanical issue that can be fixed with proper education and strengthening (best offered by a specialist physical therapist).

In fact, research supports that running may actually be GOOD for your knees!

Here are some factors that could be responsible for knee pain when you run:

1) Poor ankle mobility

Ankle mobility affects the way force hits your foot, which can in turn impact your knee. According to Trail Runner Magazine, “if your ankle can’t move adequately, then excess forces are shifted up to the knee. The knee may be forced to flex, and/or rotate, and/or tilt more than it should. This may result in loads that the tissues of the knee can’t handle.”
A physical therapist can help you improve ankle mobility in order to prevent long term damage to the joints, tendons, and ligaments of your knees. This might be especially important for you if you’ve ever sprained or twisted an ankle in the past!

2) Weakness

There’s a widely perpetuated myth out there that runners don’t need to strength train. That’s simply not true! Adding strength training to your running regimen makes it way less likely that you’ll suffer an injury. When it comes to protecting your knees, developing strong lower limb muscles is critical. The hamstring and quadriceps groups play a crucial role in stabilizing the patella, otherwise known as the kneecap. Running is an extremely repetitive action and consequently requires durability and endurance from your joints — something that is lost quickly when you neglect strength training.

3) Unstable core

It may seem like running is all in the legs, but in reality, every physical action begins at the core. You derive all your power, speed, and stamina from your core muscles, and if they are weak, all your joints suffer — especially your knees. A stable core is key for maintaining balance and rhythm. It also keeps your weight distributed between your legs and prevents undue stress from resting on your knees.
Our favorite way to improve core strength is Pilates! If you are a runner but think you could benefit from a stronger core (let’s be honest, we all could), consider giving it a try — for FREE.

4) Running form

It doesn’t matter if you’re a marathon runner or an occasional jogger — running form is important. It determines where and how the impact of every step is distributed throughout your body. If your body mechanics are compromised — for instance, you’re dragging your feet or running with your shoulders tense and shrugged — you’re more likely to suffer from chronic knee pain, or even experience a serious injury. Work with a movement specialist – like the PT’s in our office – to analyze your form and help you be more efficient when you run.

Running is good for you at any age, if you do it right!

Research shows running can actually slow knee arthritis. According to an article published by Outside Online, “animal models show that exercise promotes cartilage thickening and protects its stretchy properties… instead of wearing down your bearings, running may grease them. That’s key, because cartilage thinning and the loss of elasticity are both prominent causes of osteoarthritis.”

Want to make sure you’re running right? Get in touch!

You can even schedule a FREE Discovery Session if you have chronic knee pain (or any type of pain) to talk about what you’re dealing with and figure out the course of action that works best for you.

Don’t let aches and pains ruin your golf season

Spring is finally here, which means golf season is right around the corner!

And there is nothing worse than an injury or chronic pain getting in the way of you enjoying your favorite sport.

At our office, we see a lot of chronic golf injuries — especially from folks in their 50’s and 60’s. That’s why I want to share with you some of my top tips for avoiding and preventing these common aches and pains so that you can stay out of the doctor’s office and keep doing what you love most… golf!

1. Strengthen your upper back and shoulders

Do you have tendonitis in your wrists and elbows? It could be from weakness in your upper back and shoulders. This is a common oversight that I see in my office all the time.  Everyone is focused on their swing, but they neglect to consider whether or not they have the proper strength to hold the form. When it comes to preventing elbow and wrist injuries, you must have adequate strength in your upper back. I call this area the “mini-core” of the upper body, and it’s where a lot of your power comes from. If you’re suffering from chronic elbow and wrist problems no matter how many times you’ve iced or rested the affected area, you should see a physical therapist to assess your upper back and shoulder strength. That could be the true root of your problem.

2. Mobility before Stability

If you’ve ever been in my office, you hear me say this all the time. Before you attempt to strengthen a move – let’s say it’s your swing- you must have adequate mobility. The last thing you want to do is strengthen, or reinforce, a stiff and inefficient movement-pattern. For example, let’s say you’re having back or hip pain that’s impacting your swing. If all you do is stretch or foam roll those “tight” muscles, you’re simply putting a bandaid on the problem. Instead, you should be examining the specific joint. How well do the vertebrae in your spine bend and rotate? How much mobility do you have through your hip? Once you address your joint mobility, your muscles will be able to work better as they experience less stress and tension. Not sure how to improve your mobility, or wondering if it’s even a problem? Just ask a mobility expert, like the specialists in our office.

3. Don’t sit too much

What you do off the course is just as important as what you do on the course. A big problem I see, especially as clients get into their 50’s and 60’s, is that our bodies need a little more time to prep and acclimate before activities — especially repetitive ones like golf. If you have a desk job and sit most of your day, be mindful of what all that sitting does to your muscles and ligaments. Over time, something called “creep” can occur, which results in your muscles getting chronically over-stretched from too much sitting. It’s like an elastic that lost all its stretch. This phenomenon puts your muscles in a weakened position, and it’s how people end up straining a muscle for what seems like “no reason.” One simple and easy tip to avoid straining your back or hamstring next time you’re out on the golf course is to make sure you interrupt your sitting with a brief period of movement at least once every 30 minutes throughout the day.

4. Work on your core

I know I’m not the first to tell you that strengthening your core not only helps your golf game, but helps to prevent neck and back pain as well. Why? When you strengthen your core the right way, you not only get strong abs and glutes, but you become more coordinated and improve your reaction time. This is essential if you want to perfect your golf swing!  When your limbs need to move together in one coordinated effort, like hitting a golf ball, that power comes from your core. Otherwise, you end up with sloppy moving limbs, or worse — repetitive strain injuries because your arms and legs end up working harder than they need to in order to compensate for a weak core.

But what’s the best way to properly strengthen your core?

At CJPT, we love Pilates. It’s a full body strengthening system that also challenges your mind. You have to concentrate on each exercise, which not only improves your coordination, but your timing and rhythm as well — all of which are required for a perfect swing. Plus, Pilates is easy on your joints. In fact, doing Pilates with springs like we have in our office can even help with arthritis!

5. Walk!

This might seem like an odd tip, but walking helps to keep all of your joints loose and lubricated in addition to improving your endurance on the golf course. It’s a vicious cycle — you take the cart because walking hurts your knees, but you need to walk to help your knees. My suggestion is to walk regularly when you’re not golfing to help keep your endurance and mobility when golf season rolls around. Currently suffering from knee pain? Get yourself a good pair of shoes and start slow. Aim for a 5 min walk to start and when that gets comfortable increase it 5 more minutes. Make small changes throughout the day, like parking farther away to make yourself move a little bit more. And if after these changes your knees still hurt and are keeping you from walking, get them checked out! My tip is to choose a physical therapist if you want to avoid injections, pills or surgeries.

Curious about how physical therapy and/or Pilates could help you stay healthy and strong through this golf season? Check out our programs and offerings here

All of us at CJPT & Pilates wish you many injury-free rounds this season!