Monthly Archives

February 2019

What not to wear

By | Pain Relief | No Comments

Recently, I had a memorial service to attend right after treating patients.  So I wore my dress and flats while I was treating.  That afternoon, while I was standing at the memorial service, I felt my back tighten up.  “Oh well, it will be fine” I though like every other person does.

That evening I tried to avoid my low back pain by walking around the house and getting some things done.  I went and ran an errand at the mall to get more steps in.  My thought was – “move more and my low back pain will settle down”.  What I did NOT do was take off those flats.

The next morning I rolled out of bed and tried to stand up straight.  As I hobbled on my aching feet, holding my back and trying to stand up straight, I was reminded that it was not fine.  There are consequences for improper footwear and low back pain is at the top of the list.

Here’s the thing – I usually wear very supportive shoes all the time.  Especially when I am going to be working with patients.  I thought that I could get away with one day of wearing improper footwear and not have it bother my back.  I thought that doing it wrong, just this once, would not cause increased low back pain.  I thought these shoes were good enough to get me through my day.

What I am learning is that since I have hit the big 4-0, my body has less tolerance for these deviations.  My body requires me to work out daily.  My body requires regular stretching to maintain its performance.  My body requires me to not sit for more than 60 minutes while I am working on the computer.  And my body requires me to wear supportive shoes.

I have many people ask me what brand of shoes they should wear for work.  That is a complicated question as everyone has a different foot structure.  Also, your daily work requirements are different than your neighbors.  But I would be happy to discuss what works for me.  Feel free to send me an E-mail at amy@physicaltherapyforeverybody.com

One key way to decrease your low back pain?  Wear supportive shoes!  I have an order for new ones on the way as we speak.

 

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Snow Shoveling 101

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Snowpocalypse hit the Pacific Northwest and left behind snow, sleet, hail, slush, and ice.  Last I heard, the groundhog was awaiting extradition from the Bahamas for his poor forecast this year.  As we move forward to finally getting out of the house, here are some key tips to remember while you are shoveling all that snow.

#1 – Use the shovel to push the snow – Walk with the shovel in front of you to push the snow out of your way.  Kind of like your very own snow plow.  This puts the snow in a nice pile ready to be lifted.

#2 – Bend your knees – do a squat to pick up the snow with the shovel.  Bend your knees and keep your back straight.  This is critical when the snow is heavy as it is now.  Make sure you have two hands on the shovel to distribute the weight.

#3 – Pivot your feet – when you are getting ready to throw the snow make sure you pivot your feet.  This allows your back to stay in a neutral position.  Twisting of the spine with a weighted load (like snow!) is the most common cause of injury to the low back.

#4 – Make sure to breathe – keep your breathing regular.  Holding your breath while you are lifting increases the pressure on your back.  Breathing also helps to improve your endurance.

#5 – Take a break – we’ve gotten a lot of snow this year and clearing it away will take some time.  Make sure you take regular breaks to head inside, warm up, and drink some water.

Snow shoveling is a great workout when you can’t get to the gym, yoga studio, or Crossfit box.  If you need more of a workout, offer to clear your neighbor’s driveway too!  Be careful with your body if you are not used to performing heavy lifting or endurance type activities.  Give yourself lots of breaks and keep an even pace.

If you have any questions regarding proper snow shoveling technique or if you hurt yourself in the snow, please reach out to us at PT4EB.

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So, you have a herniated disc

By | Pain Relief, Physical Therapy | No Comments

There are few things in life as painful as a herniated disc.  But it’s not just the pain that is difficult to deal with – it’s also the fear.  What is going on in my spine and am I going to live?  That may sound extreme but herniated discs are extreme.  They can cause extreme fear, extreme panic, extreme frustration, and extreme pain.

The first time I herniated my disc was in college.  I was in Air Force ROTC (don’t ask, long story) and we were doing physical training.  All of a sudden, I felt a ball of glass explode in my lower right spine.  Okay, I know that a ball of glass didn’t explode in my spine but that is absolutely what it felt like.

Of course, training must go on so I got up and went for a 3 mile run.  Each step caused a mini explosion of the glass shards in my right spine.  And I was one of the lucky ones.  My pain never touched my sciatic nerve and went down into my leg.

For many people, the disc herniates and then it irritates the nerves in the area.  The nerves are located close to the spine and right next to the disc.  When the disc herniates, the material inside the disc leaves the fibers of the disc and is hanging out right next to the disc.  This can cause increased pressure on the nerve which responds by sending pain down into your leg.

What are your initial steps when you have a herniated disc?

  1.  Breathe – Easy for me to say when the glass shards aren’t flying around my spine, right?  I know.  But it’s really important to breathe slow and steady.  Holding your breath increases the pressure on your spine which is not what you want right now.  I now it is incredibly painful right now but I promise it’s going to get better.
  2. Grab an ice pack and your favorite chair, floor, or bed.  You need to rest for the first 24-48 hours.  Find a comfortable position (as comfortable as possible) and an ice pack.  You might want to grab some magazines or the remote control.  You are going to be there for a day or two.
  3. Small movements matter. During the first 24-48 hours it is important to keep the area moving in small PAIN FREE ways.  This can mean trying to stand up straight while you walk to and from the bathroom.  Rolling your shoulders to get some movement in your upper spine.  Sitting and rotating your spine from side to side.  Don’t go crazy right now but keep those small movements.
  4. Get help. Once you can walk to and from the bathroom pain free you are ready to get some help.  A Physical Therapist will help you get back to moving pain free.  Yes, you will get back to all those activities you loved doing before.

Yes, the pain will go away.

Yes, we can help you figure out your path on this journey of healing.  Please fill out this simple form and we can get you started healing and back to living life on your terms.