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  • The Benefits of Heat Therapy

    What Is Heat Therapy?

     

    In the sports and fitness world we hear about types of cold therapy all the time, but what about heat therapy? Also called thermotherapy, heat therapy promotes the natural healing process for pain and therapeutic relief of muscle pain and spasms, joint stiffness or chronic pain. Check out our heat therapy products.

    Why Is Heat Therapy Beneficial?

    Improves Circulation: Heat therapy causes blood vessels to dilate promoting blood flow.

    Removes Toxins: An increase in blood flow causes toxins to pull out of injured tissues more effectively.

    Increases Oxygen: Heat helps increase oxygen within the injured tissues to aid in its repair. Oxygen also reduces the carbon dioxide that can heighten acid levels in the tissue.

    Heat therapy can relieve pain from arthritis, tennis elbow, sinus headaches, foot strains, shoulder and back pain, and many more conditions!

    heat therapy pad

    Moist Heat Therapy vs. Dry Heat Therapy?

     

    Moist heat therapy offers these benefits:

    - Delivers the most heat to the pain or discomfort due to water’s ability to hold in the heat during the transfer process.

    - The heat penetrates deeper into the muscles, joints and ligaments relieving pain sooner.

    - Blood flow and oxygen levels increase due to accelerated healing.

    - Skin will not dry out from application since moisture is contained.

    Dry heat therapy offers these benefits:

    - Delivers a sufficient amount of heat to the area to relieve pain and discomfort.

    - Treatment can be affective and extremely mobile.

    - There is a wide variety of long lasting temporary heat patches that you can purchase at your local pharmacy.

    Using a combination of the two types of heat therapy may give you the best self therapy results, rather than trying to weigh your options. However, you should always consult your physician about the proper treatment for your pain or chronic condition.

    When Not To apply Heat Therapy?

    - Do not apply to a fresh injury. Ice or cold therapy is for new injuries
    - If external tissue is sensitive
    - If your skin is red or hot to the touch
    - If there is swelling

    Resources:

    http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/heat-therapy-cold-therapy/how-apply-heat-therapy

    http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/heat-and-cold-therapy-for-arthritis-pain

    http://naturalpainremedies.blogspot.com/2011/01/heat-therapy-benefits-other-than-pain.html

     

  • What is Jumper's Knee?

    Now that summer is in full force, you’ve probably noticed that you’re more active than in the winter months. Anytime you increase the frequency or intensity of physical activity you put yourself at greater risk for injury. This is especially true for sports activities that involve direction changing and jumping movements.

    Jumper’s Knee is fairly common among tendinopathy injuries affecting athletes. Have you heard of this term before? The term has been used since 1973 to describe patellar tendinitis, an injury that affects the tendon connecting your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. Basically Jumper's knee refers to a stress overload to the knee due to jumping. Basketball and Volleyball athletes are most at risk because of the constant pressure put on the knee from jumping.

    jumpers-knee

    Jumper's Knee Risk Factors:

    Multiple factors may contribute to your risk of patellar tendinitis, including:

    • Frequent and intense physical activity or repeated jumping.

    • Lack of flexibility or tightness in leg muscles causing strain on your patellar tendon.

    • Imbalance of muscle strength. An uneven pull on muscles could cause tendinitis.

    Jumper's Knee Diagnosis Stages:

    The duration of symptoms can vary, so jumper's knee is often classified into 1 of 4 stages:

    Stage 1 - Pain only after activity, without functional impairment

    Stage 2 - Pain during and after activity, although the patient is still able to perform adequately in his or her sport

    Stage 3 - Prolonged pain during and after activity, with increasing difficulty in performing at a adequate level

    Stage 4 - Complete tendon tear requiring surgical repair

    Jumper's Knee Treatment:

    These guidelines are meant for information purposes only. You should always consult your physician before attempting any rehabilitation or treatment plan. Treatment is dependent on the grade of your injury.

    • Reduce Pain & Inflammation: Discontinue activity and apply cold therapy or ice regimen for 15 minutes every hour if the injury appears bad and at least three times a day otherwise.

    • Stretch & Strengthening Exercises: Try 10 seconds of holding exercises and repeat 5 times.

    Aim to stretch at least 5 times a day. Isometric quad contractions, Single leg extensions, Eccentric squats, Lunges and Step back exercises are recommended for strengthening.

    Patellar Tendon Strap: The strap applies pressure to your patellar tendon to help distribute pressure away from the tendon itself and direct it through the strap instead. This may help relieve pain.

    414_bl_knee_1_3

    • Therapy: Additional therapies or treatment may be prescribed by your physician depending on the severity of the condition. This includes Corticosteroid injection, Platelet-rich plasma injection or Surgery.

    Resources: 
  • Preventing Lower Extremity Soccer Injuries

     Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world, with more than 250 million players in over 200 countries. The game of soccer involves stamina, balance, agility, coordination and teamwork, so it’s no surprise that soccer players are at high risk for injury.

     

    Jozy Altidore, U.S. forward, injured his left hamstring in Monday’s 2014 FIFA World Cup game against Ghana. After just 20 minutes of play time, Altidore had to be replaced on the field due to the pain of his injury. Sprains, strains or tears that present in the lower extremity are the most common type of injury reported by soccer athletes.

    A hamstring strain is not considered a serious injury, but activity should be stopped immediately in order to let the muscle(s) rest. The hamstring is made up of three muscles on the back thigh that help give you the ability to bend your leg at the knee. A hamstring strain is presented when one or more of these muscles have been over stretched. However, if the muscle stretches too far, a partial or full hamstring tear may occur. This would cause recovery to increase to several weeks or months without training or participating in sports.

    In addition to straining the hamstring, injuries like shin splints (pain of the shinbone), patellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee) and Achilles tendinitis are also lower extremity injuries commonly seen in soccer players.

    Prevention:

    Decreasing your risk of sprains, strains and tears are possible with these preventive steps:

    Warm Up – Make sure to stretch and warm muscles before each practice and game.

    Wear Appropriate EquipmentShin guards and properly fitted footwear that are in good condition. Use a brace or taping after a sprain to prevent a re-injury.

    Know Your Limits – Make sure to fully recover from a previous injury before returning to the game. If you return too early, you’re at higher risk for injury.

    whole-body-stretching-routine

    Rest and Recovery:

    Recovery may take days, weeks or months, depending on how severe the strain, sprain or tear is. For example, a completely torn hamstring (grade 3 injury) may take several months to heal and return to normal physical activity.

    Use the RICE method for optimal recovery:

    Rest – Avoid physical activity. Keep your leg as still as possible.

    Ice – Apply ice therapy for about 20 minutes, two to three times a day.

    Compression – Use a compression sleeves to help reduce pain and swelling.

    Elevation – Further reduce swelling by slightly elevating your leg while sitting.

    Over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen are safe to use to help relieve the pain. If your pain and discomfort continues longer than a few days, consult your physician immediately. You may have a grade 2 or grade 3 injury that requires more advanced treatment.

    271_thigh_black_44

    Resources:

    FIFA:
    http://www.fifa.com/

    National Center for Biotechnology Information: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1725275/pdf/v039p00473.pdf

    WebMD:
    http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/hamstring-strain

    American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:
    http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/

  • Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis

     

    Have you ever woken up, gotten out of bed and felt a huge stabbing pain in your heel? The pain can be excruciating. You may even want to sit down. Although continuing to walk and stretch the heel can reduce the severity of the pain, it will most likely reoccur later in the day - often after standing for a long time or strenuous activities. This is Plantar Fasciitis.

    Plantar Fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain in adults, but can be seen in youth who are extremely active. It is caused by a strain on the plantar fascia. This is the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes and acts like a shock-absorber for the arch of the foot.

    A00149F01

    Photo credit: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/

     

    Plantar Fasciitis Risk Factors:

     

    • Sudden Weight Gain or Obesity

    • Arch Problems (high arches or flat feet)

    • Tight Achilles tendon or Calve muscles

    • Excessive Pronation (abnormal inward twisting or rolling of the foot)

    • Run, Walk or Stand for long periods of time

    • Wearing shoes that are worn, do not fit or have poor cushioning

    • Middle Age (often occurs between ages 40 to 60)

    Most cases of plantar fasciitis will clear up in just a few months and with conservative treatment methods.

     

    Plantar Fasciitis Treatment:

     

    • Rest: Reduce activities that trigger pain, like running on hard surfaces or placing    continuous pressure on the heel.

    • Pain Relievers/Anti-Inflammatories: NSAIDs, Cortisone Injections, Ice treatments

    • Stretch: Start your day with a good stretch of your calf, foot and toes

    Arch Supports and Orthotics: Providing better support to the heel and foot

    • New Shoes: Shoes with well cushioned insoles can help relieve pain and discomfort

    Night Splints: Allows passive stretching to the calf and plantar fascia while sleeping

     

    Goals of Treatment:

     

    • Relieve inflammation and pain in the heel

    • Allow small tears in the plantar fascia ligament to heal

    • Improve your strength and flexibility

    • Correct foot problems like arches and pronation

    • Allow you to go back to your normal activities.

    With any medical injury, you should consult a physician. However, WebMD recommends you call your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms:

    • Heel pain is accompanied by fever, numbness or tingling, or redness or warmth in the heel

    • Pain that continues without putting weight on the heel

    • Pain when you put weight on a heel injury

    • Pain that doesn't get better after a week of home treatment

     

    Resources: 

    NCBI: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004438/

    Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/basics/causes/con-20025664

    WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/plantar-fasciitis-topic-overview

  • Common Causes of Back Pain

    The onset of back pain can cause you major discomfort and even prevent you from participating in activities that you love. There are several ways to injure your back, but I want to discuss common habits that trigger back pain. If you’re aware of the risk factors then you will have a better chance at preventing or limiting back injuries in the future.

    #1 Marathon Sitter:

    Whether it’s on your daily commute to work, the desk job you’ve had for a decade or your obsession with watching Netflix, sitting for extended periods of time can cause havoc on your back. This is because the discs that cushion your spine need a study blood supply. When you sit still, you deprive these discs of its nutrition. Motion helps circulate the fluid through your discs.

    When sitting, try using these tips to reduce the pressure on your back:

    Maintain Healthy Posture: Do not lean or slouch when sitting and keep reading material at eye level to encourage straight posture.

    Make an Effort to Move: Doctors recommend moving every 20 minutes. Although this may not be possible while driving, if you work at a desk all day or sit on the couch for long periods, set a reminder to get up and move. On long driving trips make regular stops to stretch and move around.

    Support the Back: This means choosing a chair that supports your back or getting a back support to use with your chair. If you are looking for a homemade solution, try placing a rolled towel or small pillow behind your lower back.

    #2 Weekend Warrior:

    You probably already know what I’m going to say. Often on weekends, we participate in outdoor activities or try to “fix” items on our to-do list around the house that can cause stress on our bodies. Especially if you are a “marathon sitter” who turns around on the weekend and tries to be a “weekend warrior.” Even taking out a heavy load of trash can cause a back injury. You get what I’m saying, right?

    If you’re planning on participating in a pick-up game of basketball or try to fix the roof leak yourself this weekend, protect your back by:

    Strengthen Core Muscles: Work on small core workouts throughout the week to build strength. You can even use an exercise ball while sitting to build up your Ab muscles.

    Stretch Those Muscles: Make sure to stretch your muscles whether you’re on a regular exercising routine (you should be) or not. Stagnant muscle movement can also cause you to be more susceptible to injury.

    Engage Core Muscles: Make a habit of engaging your core muscles in daily activity. You can do this by “sucking in” or pulling your abs inward multiple times during your day.

    #3 Bad Technique:

    You may be an avid exerciser or someone who always tries the latest workout fad, but you aren’t familiar with proper technique. Believe it or not, this is more common than you might think. Here are some proper lifting techniques:

    Weight: Do not move, carry or lift something that is 20% of your body weight.

    Form: When lifting something, try to keep the item below your armpit and above your knees. Also make sure to lift with your knees and keep your spine straight. Try not to make sharp turns or twisting motions while carrying a heavy item.

    When to see a Physician:

    • Always consult your physician if your back pain persists over 48 hours or reoccurs often. This could be an indication of a more serious condition.

    • When your back pain is accompanied by other conditions, such as a change in body function, abdominal pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, fever, or headache.

    • Back pain that is a result of a trauma, like a hard fall, sports injury or car accident.

    Additional Information:

    • A Back Brace can be used short-term to help support the muscle weakness in the back and provide controlled motion to help limit pain during recovery.

    Icing the affected area can help reduce pain and swelling in the short-term.

    • Bed rest can be used for acute back pain to help minimize motion and tasks that can agitate the injury.

    McDavid 495 Lightweight Back Support - Moderate level support that relieves minor to moderate back pain

    Resources:

    American Academy of Family Physicians:

    http://www.aafp.org/ 

    WebMD:

    http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/features/how-to-wreck-your-back

    http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/america-asks-13/12-back-pain-tips

    Spine-Health:

    http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/lower-back-pain/should-i-see-a-doctor-back-pain

     

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