Posted on 10/18/2021
Technology has brought many wonderful things to our fingertips. However, an undue side effect of all this technology and connectivity is a condition known as tech neck.
If you have a stiff neck, experience headaches or feel frequent muscle tension around your neck and shoulders, your technology-using habits are likely a contributing factor. Physical therapy exercises can help to alleviate your pain.
Many suffer unnecessary pain due to poor posture when using a computer, tablet or smartphone. Poor posture greatly increases the amount of pressure placed on your muscles. Sitting straight up, the weight of your head is 10-12 pounds. Slouching forward with head dropped down, the weight of your head is more like 50-60 pounds to your neck. It’s easy to understand why your muscles are hurting when you imagine them supporting five times more weight for several hours each day.
If you’re suffering from tech neck, the good news is that it’s often reversible and treatable. Here are five strengthening and stretching exercises to combat it:
You may often find yourself sitting slouched forward with your head well in front of your shoulders. This is the starting position for retracting your head.
Pull your chin backward while looking directly forward. You should feel a “double-chin” forming under your jaw. Repeat this forward/backward exercise 10 times once every hour or two while working.
Perform this daily while sitting at your work space.
What about neck exercises for computer or laptop users? Tension in the upper trapezius muscles, which span the back of the neck and shoulders and are responsible for moving the head and shoulder blade, is common. The trap stretch can be performed any time, and you only need 20-30 seconds to help release tension on one side of your neck.
To stretch the right side, place your right hand on your waist or lower back, tilt your head to the left while looking back to the right. Place your left hand on top of your head and gently pull toward the left until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold this stretch for as long as 60 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Perform this daily while sitting at your work space.
Lean forward in your chair as if you’re smashing a pillow between your belly and thighs. Place your hands with fingers crossed behind your head.
Reach your elbows toward the ceiling while keeping your belly close to your thighs, causing only your upper back to straighten. The thoracic extension reverses the forward bend and slouchy posture so many assume throughout the workday.
Perform this daily while sitting at your work space.
Lie face down on the floor with your arms at your side, hands near the hips.
Keep your neck straight (do not look upward) and simultaneously lift your chin, arms and knees off the ground. Hold the position for 2-3 seconds and release to the floor. Repeat 10 times for three sets.
Perform this exercise 2-3 days each week to promote strengthening of the muscles across the back of your neck, shoulders and torso.
Lie face down on the floor with your arms reaching upward and slightly outward from your head.
Keep your neck straight and simultaneously lift your chin, arms and knees off the ground. Hold the position for 2-3 seconds and release to the floor. Repeat 10 times for three sets.
This exercise emphasizes the lower trapezius muscle between your shoulder blades due to the overhead arm position. The prone scaption should be performed 2-3 days each week to promote strengthening of the muscles across the back of your neck, shoulders and torso.
Finally, sit up straight. It’s not a complicated tip, but it is easy to forget that we need to maintain good posture when working with technology. Elevate your computer screen so that it is at eye level. If you’re working on a laptop, generally you’ll have to direct your gaze downward while keeping your posture upright, but do your best to comfortably elevate the computer. If you’re on a phone/tablet, simply make an effort to hold the device higher in front of your face.
If you have pain that persists and is impacting your daily activities, contact us today to request an appointment with a licensed physical therapist. A physical therapy plan of care can efficiently and effectively strengthen your body, reduce pain and prevent injury.
By: Joe Zucco, P.T., DPT, FAAOMPT, center manager for Select Physical Therapy in Sarasota, FL.
Select Physical Therapy and SSMHealth Physical Therapy are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
Posted on 10/1/2021
At SSM Health Physical Therapy, we believe movement is medicine. So, what moves you? Physical activity is key to good health, vitality, energy, strength and might even make you laugh more.
If pain or a medical condition is holding you back, we’re here to help. Physical therapy is a moving experience.
Physical therapy gets you back to life and the things that are most important to you. Whether it’s running a marathon, playing with the grandkids or simply cooking dinner pain-free, the benefits of physical therapy can change lives for the better.
That’s why we’re excited it is October, one of our favorite months of the year. Why, you may ask? October is National Physical Therapy Month. For 31 days, we get to celebrate all things physical therapy and the many ways our dedicated physical therapists and physical therapist assistants help improve the quality of life.
There is so much to share about the benefits of physical therapy, including the highly-trained clinicians who provide it. Did you know that physical therapy helps people manage pain and chronic conditions? How about the power of physical therapy to help heal from recent injury and reduce the risk of future injury? Or prepare the body for surgery and successful recovery or avoid the need for surgery altogether? Well, physical therapy does all this and more.
Physical therapy is also a safe alternative to taking prescription medication. It treats common aches and strains, sprains and fractures, and helps with many other issues and conditions, including:
- Back sprain/strain
- COVID-19 fatigue and other debilitating illnesses
- Headaches and concussions
- Vertigo, dizziness and balance
- Disc injury and pinched nerves
- Rotator cuff tear, bursitis and frozen shoulder…and more
So, what moves you? That marathon? Those grandkids? That culinary masterpiece? Whatever it is, physical therapy, and our compassionate team of licensed therapists, can help get you moving.
Request an appointment today and see how physical therapy can physically, emotionally and mentally enrich your life.
#ThePowerOfPhysicalTherapy #WhatMovesYou #ChoosePT
Posted on 9/22/2021
Sports and exercise are part of the lives of many young individuals. Typically, people who participate in sports are known to be healthier and less likely to partake in outside negative distractions compared to people who do not play sports. However, for some adolescent girls, when they only focus on the sport and not their bodies, consequences can arise.
Many girls who participate in sports are at risk for an issue called the female athlete triad. This triad consists of three conditions, and the athlete can have one, two or all three. The three conditions include disordered eating, amenorrhea and osteoporosis.
Disordered eating is a term that refers to an individual having unhealthy eating behaviors and worrying about body image. Some of the most common forms of disordered eating include extreme dieting and restrictive eating. On the top end of the spectrum are eating disorders, which involve things such as self-induced vomiting, binge eating and laxative abuse. An individual can have disordered eating and not be diagnosed with an eating disorder. Most girls with disordered eating are trying to lose weight to help them improve their athletic performance. For these specific athletes, this eating pattern can range from not eating enough calories to sustain the amount of activity that they are participating in, to trying to avoid “bad” foods, all the way to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Amenorrhea is the lack of menstruation, or one or more missed menstrual periods. Women who have missed at least three menstrual periods in a row have amenorrhea, as well as girls who have not started their periods by the age of 15. Intense exercise accompanied with not eating enough calories can lead to a decrease in the hormones needed for menstruation. As a result, a girl’s period may never come, become irregular or stop altogether. Some girls who have been participating in sports since a young age may never get their first period, because they have been training so hard. On the other hand, some girls may have gotten their period, but it disappears as their training intensifies or their eating habits change. On one hand, dysfunction of the menstrual cycle can lead to infertility. And on the other hand, it can lead to unplanned pregnancies in young women recovering from the triad. While the cycle is being restored, an egg may be dropped early and, without contraception, pregnancy can occur.
Osteoporosis is translated as porous bone. It is a disease in which the density and quality of the bone are reduced. For people with osteoporosis, boss loss overtakes the growth of new bone. Consequently, over time the bone becomes more porous and fragile, and the risk of fracture greatly increases. This typically happens silently, and there are usually no symptoms until the first fracture occurs. In girls with the triad, estrogen is typically lower. Low estrogen accompanied with a poor diet, especially low calcium, can lead to osteoporosis. During the teen years, a lot of bone growth is supposed to happen and the peak bone mass should be reached. An athlete with the female athlete triad will have a hard time getting to her peak bone mass, and it can affect her greatly later in life.
Takeaway: Diagnosing and treatment
Girls who have female athlete triad are typically invested in their sports and would do almost anything to be the best athlete possible. Girls in particular sports have more of a risk than others. Sports with a weight class like wrestling, martial arts and rowing, and sports where being thin is more optimal for performing like gymnastics, diving, figure skating, cross country and ballet, have a higher risk. However, the truth is, being very thin, and losing those last few pounds, doesn’t typically improve performance at all.
If a female athlete is suspected to have the triad, a wide-ranging physical examination is needed for diagnosis. A doctor will likely ask questions about her period, diet, exercise habits and overall feelings about her body. From there, blood test will be ordered to check for vitamin deficiencies and to rule out any other reasons for a lack of period and weight loss. A doctor may also order a bone scan to check for osteoporosis, since the athlete will be at a higher risk for bone breaks.
Doctors will not work alone to help treat a girl with female athlete triad. Coaches, athletic trainers, parents, physical therapists, nutritionists and dietitians and mental health specialists all work together and play a role in the recovery of this athlete. They focus on both the physical and emotional issues that the girl is likely facing to help prevent long term issues.
By: Wyneisha Mason, MAT, ATC. ‘Neisha is an athletic trainer with RUSH Physical Therapy in Chicago, Illinois.
RUSH and SSM Health Physical Therapy are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
Posted on 8/11/2021
Recently, I had a runner try to increase their pace by 30 seconds from one weekend to the next. The result? Severe pain along the inside of their shin and the start of spending two days a week in physical therapy.
Many running injuries are due to overuse and/or improper training. Up to 70% of recreational and competitive distance runners sustain an overuse running injury during any one-year period.1 One of my favorite questions to ask runners is, “Other than running, what exercises are you doing?” Usually the response is, “You mean running isn’t enough exercise?”
Running injuries can be prevented. One of the keys to proper training is cross training. The most important group of muscles to strengthen for runners are those along the side of your hip, mainly your glute medius and glute minimus.
When people hear glutes, they immediately think of their buttocks. But, two of the smaller glute muscles – the glute medius and minimus – are often overlooked. The glute medius and minimus are vital hip muscles and their main function is to stabilize your pelvis.
When you’re walking, think about the moment you put your right foot down and swing your left leg through. Does your left hip drop down? If so, then you may have some weakness in these stabilizers along your right side. Now, imagine running more than five miles and this is repetitively happening without you knowing. Imagine the wear and tear this is taking on your body. Weak hips place unnecessary stress along your back, knees and feet. The good news is that this can be prevented.
How do you strengthen your glutes? Here are some simple exercises that do not require much equipment.
- Sidestepping: Place a resistance band just above your knees (easier) or above your ankles (harder). Keeping your toes pointing forward, side-step in a mini squat about 20 feet. Then, return to the start without turning around.
- Jane Fondas: Lay on your left side completely against the wall, head, back and heels. Place a towel behind your right heel and keeping your toes pointing straight forward. Slowly lift your leg up/down. Repeat on other side.
- Side planks: These can be done from your knees or feet.
- Knee side plank: Slowly bring your buttocks back then forward to target multiple fibers of the muscle.
- Hydrants: On all fours, lift your knee out to the side without letting your hips tilt.
For more information or to request a complimentary injury screen with one of our licensed physical therapists, please contact the center nearest you today. In the meantime, train smart, run fast and run happy!
By: Sarah Zayyad, DPT, CMPT, CDNT, Cert-ART, physical therapist with RUSH Physical Therapy
RUSH Physical Therapy and SSM Health Physical Therapy are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
1: Ferber, R., Hreljac, A., & Kendall, K. D. (2009). Suspected Mechanisms in the Cause of Overuse Running Injuries: A Clinical Review. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 1(3), 242–246. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738109334272