• man stretching

    Posted on 7/22/2021

    We have all heard the old adage, “You are what you eat.” The nutrients that you put into your body dictate your overall health, function and performance in any activity you do. A similar motto could be, “You are how you train.” The way you move is important. Allowing your body to move in the correct manner will not only decrease your chances of injuries, but it will also allow you to move in a pain-free manner with all daily activities.

    Rotational athletes move their bodies through high velocity motions that cause increased stress on tissues. This stress then leads to increased strain on the body. Golfers undergo some of the quickest changes in body movement in any sport, and that precision of movement is key in preventing injuries.

    Our bodies are comprised of a system of joints that are either considered a stable joint or a mobile joint. When we confuse the two systems and change a stable joint into a mobile joint, injuries occur. For golfers, low back injuries can occur due to changing a stable joint (the lumbar spine) into a mobile joint because of not conditioning and stretching enough. The good news is that can be changed, and injuries can be prevented if you take the time to stretch.

    By training your body in the proper manner, you can learn to swing your golf club pain-free and improve your overall mechanics. This would allow you to hit the ball farther, and without that wicked slice. Stretching is a key component in any sport and is often overlooked. By allowing your body to stretch certain muscle groups, you are permitting for improved movement. In order to perform your best on and off the links, incorporate stretching into your daily regiment starting from the tips of your toes, to the top of your head. Low back spasms, neck strains and shoulder injuries can all be lessened or even avoided if you stretch properly before your next round.

    Below are body regions that are important to stretch before your next round in order to avoid injuries and enhance your game.

    • Neck: The neck is a vulnerable body part when it comes to the golf swing, and can be the source of some tissue strains if there is restriction in movement. If you lack proper cervical flex and rotation, that can lead to injury and a poor golf shot. To ensure you have proper mobility and range of motion, complete some cervical flexion and rotation stretches.
      • Curl your chin to your chest until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your neck. Rotate your head side-to-side slowly in small motions. This will help to loosen up your muscles, minimize stress and keep focus on the ball during your swing.
    • Shoulders: When a golfer lacks mobility in the shoulder girdle (the clavicle and scapula), this can lead to poor swing and shoulder pain. A golfer needs good shoulder rotation to ensure a fluid backswing and follow through in order to not compromise both the labrum and rotator cuff. A stretch that can be completed prior to your swing is the standing prayers stretch.
      • Place your golf club in front of you with both hands on top of the handle with the club head on the ground. Lean backward while hinging at your waist until you feel a comfortable stretch across your shoulders. Some players will also feel a stretch across their lumbar spine, so don’t be surprised!
    • Thoracic and lumbar spine (see image): Low back strain and other injuries are common amongst golfers. No matter what phase of your swing, your thoracic spine is one of your main forces for rotation; however, too many golfers learn to rotate through their lumbar spine due to decreased overall core stability. Many golfers also have poor mobility along their thoracic spine (located in the upper and middle part of the back) as a result of improper training. The exercise below retrains your body to rotate through the thoracic spine while keeping your lower abdominals engaged, thus creating a stable base along the lumbar spine and preventing excessive rotation. This stretch can also help minimize injury and improve overall swing mechanics.
      • Start by laying on your side with your arm straight in front of you. Keep your eyes on your hand and allow your chest to open. Lift your arm to your side and keep your abs tight. You will feel a stretch in your middle back, and your low back should be stable with no pain.
    • Hips: Just like the shoulders, the hips are meant to move freely in three different planes. Your hips ensure you have enough mobility to move efficiently with golfing. In order to improve your swing, hip internal and external rotation are important as it pertains to the backswing and follow through. If you do not have enough mobility in your hips, you will pull off early from hitting the ball. This causes many faulty swing mechanics. Stretching your hips will allow you to address the ball better in all phases of the golf swing, and help you strike the ball straight each time.
      • While standing, complete small circles with a straight leg in a clockwise and then a counter-clockwise motion.

    Golf is an amazing sport, but in order to compete pain-free you have to learn to move correctly. Proper body mechanics help to decrease stress on your body and avoid injuries. Remember to stretch first, then swing. And who knows, by doing this you may even add a few more yards onto your drive!

     

  • Posted on 7/8/2021

    Select Medical, NovaCare's parent company, was proud to collaborate with the CDC on an important clinical study regarding the long-term impact of COVID-19. The study validates our Recovery and Reconditioning Program to focus on specific deficits in patients recovering from COVID-19 and other debilitating illnesses and conditions.

    Findings of the study indicate that patients recovering from COVID-19 could benefit from additional personalized rehabilitation services aimed at both physical and mental health. As the nation’s largest provider of outcomes-based, innovative physical therapy, Select Medical, along with NovaCare, is expertly positioned to guide the recovery of this 33.5 million patient population.

    The Recovery and Reconditioning program launched in June 2020 amid the pandemic and was developed in partnership with leading physicians, including physiatrists, pulmonologists, infectious disease specialists as well as physical and occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists. Following evidence-informed program guidelines, our licensed physical and occupational therapists tailor a plan of care to address patients’ specific needs and goals to resume pre-COVID activities and routine.

    NovaCare centers are “direct access” and do not require a physician referral to receive care. If you or a loved one are recovering from COVID-19, please click here to find a center near you and schedule an appointment today.

     

  • Posted on 6/28/2021

    Whether you’re new to the sport of triathlon or jumping back in after a longer break in racing, many are excited to drop any weight gained during the past year. It’s the perfect time of year to get outside and back to racing.

    While triathlons are a great way to push our bodies and are relatively safe for individuals at any age, athletic background or ability level, participants also need to be aware of the:

    • Pitfalls of overtraining
    • Importance of rest
    • Appropriate time to take some time off

    What defines rest and why is it important?

    Rest comes in many forms. It can be as simple as the time between repetitions, intervals or sets or a scheduled day off in your training plan. And, it can be skipping a workout when you are tired and feeling worn down, physically or mentally.

    If you sustain an injury or have an illness, rest may mean prolonged time away. However, rest doesn’t mean you have to completely stop all activity. You can take time off from typical training to work on mobility, participate in a yoga class, go for a walk, spend extra time on nutrition or enjoy a hot bath and relax.

    Whether planned or forced, rest allows the body to adapt to the stressors and changes in demand being placed on it. It allows muscles to recover and gain strength, our nervous system to adapt to changes and regenerate and our body to replenish our energy stores. Rest ultimately decreases the risk of overtraining, overtraining syndrome and overuse injuries.

    Triathlon training naturally allows our muscle groups to get some rest. When training in one discipline, the muscles involved in the other disciplines naturally get some time off. Spending the day in the pool gives your body a break from the repetitive pounding on the pavement from running, and with cycling or spinning, your shoulders get some needed time off from the resistance of the water.

    When is it time to take off, skip a workout and push training to another day?

    What are the signs of needing a break?

    As you dive into your training plan and are weeks out from the year’s first event, here are some important signs and symptoms that your body is telling you to take a break:

    • You are suffering through workouts that were previously done with ease
    • Notice your form is deteriorating or you are slower in any of your disciplines
    • It is harder to wake up
    • Increased irritability
    • Decreased motivation to train or in your daily life
    • Decreased concentration during work-outs
    • Increased sleeping
    • More frequent soreness or injuries (and it’s not due to an increase in intensity level of working out)
    • Increased illness

    If we don’t listen to these signs, our bodies may just force us to rest. If this happens, we can end up overtraining or sidelined with an injury.

    What is overtraining?

    Overtraining, simply put, is doing more than your body can handle at any given time. There is an imbalance between training, nutrition and rest leading to a decrease in performance, increase in fatigue and a decline in mood. For a well-trained athlete, overtraining may occur when putting in extra training sessions on an already full schedule. If you’re a rookie, it might mean jumping in too quickly with one or two extra days of training.

    Overtraining can be influenced by outside workload when we are stretching our personal schedules and sleep routines too thin. You may see you are underperforming with little to no change in your training program. Or, you may find you have more difficulty sleeping - falling asleep or staying asleep despite fatigue from working out.

    Once this stage or overtraining is reached, athletes will often find an elevated heart rate, especially first thing in the morning as well as deficiencies in vitamins B12 or D, lower iron levels and increase in creatine kinase levels in the blood. All of these can be serious signs of overtraining syndrome and can force an athlete into three-to-eight weeks off from training and treatment by a medical professional.

    What are overuse injuries?

    The most common overuse injuries in triathletes and athletes in general are from overtraining or overuse. Overuse injuries represent the largest percentage of sports-related injuries that require medical attention and are most common in runners and endurance athletes (triathletes).

    Approximately 50-70% of triathlete injuries occur when running, and the majority of those are overuse. These injuries most often occur in the knee, Achilles, foot or back or the shoulder from swimming. They can occur due to a breakdown in tissue that doesn’t have adequate time to repair itself before more use.

    If you are seeing aches and pains that don’t subside in approximately three days in the well-trained athlete or seven days in a new participant (due to new muscles being trained,) it is time to take some time off and seek out your local physical therapist for guidance. A physical therapy plan of care can help you heal, regain/increase strength and flexibility and reduce pain. It can also help you prevent future injury and optimize your sports performance.

    Author: Melissa Bryant, P.T. Melissa serves as the center manager for Select Physical Therapy’s Colorado Springs facility, located in the USA Triathlon headquarters building.

    Select Physical Therapy and NovaCare are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.

    Resources

    • Vleck, V., & Alves, F. B. (2011). TRiathlon injury review. British journal of sports medicine, 45(4), 382-383.
    • Koutedakis, Y., Budgett, R., & Faulmann, L. (1990). Rest in underperforming elite competitors. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 24(4), 248-252.
    • Gosling, C. M., Forbes, A. B., McGivern, J., & Gabbe, B. J. (2010). A profile of injuries in athletes seeking treatment during a triathlon race series. The American journal of sports medicine, 38(5), 1007-1014.
    • Budgett, R. (1990). Overtraining syndrome. British journal of sports medicine, 24(4), 231-236.
    • O'Toole, M. L., Hiller, W. D. B., Smith, R. A., & Sisk, T. D. (1989). Overuse injuries in ultraendurance triathietes. The American journal of sports medicine, 17(4), 514-518.
    • Collins, K., Wagner, M., Peterson, K., & Storey, M. (1989). Overuse injuries in triathletes: a study of the 1986 Seafair Triathlon. The American journal of sports medicine, 17(5), 675-680. 

     

  • Close up of female hand while playing the piano

    Posted on 6/9/2021

    The first week of June has been annually designated by the American Society of Hand Therapists as Hand Therapy Week. It’s a time for raising awareness of hand, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder injuries and conditions and the therapists who have specialized training to treat them. This week is also a great time to spotlight the individuals who most benefit from hand therapy, individuals like musicians.

    Playing a musical instrument is emotionally, mentally and physically demanding. Musicians, like athletes, are at risk for career-ending injuries in the neck, shoulder, wrist and hand. In a musicians’ lifetime, 63-93% will experience musculoskeletal symptoms related to their instrument play. Even the most conscientious musician can begin with symptoms or injury at various times through their play and performance season.

    The challenges musicians face are practice and rehearsal patterns established by others (an orchestra conductor, for example) in large segments of time, without rest or stretch breaks. There is also fierce competition for work, and musicians may be reluctant to complain of injury or new symptoms for fear of losing out on an opportunity. Additional injury risk factors include inadequate physical conditioning, poor posture, abrupt increase in play time and patterns, poor techniques or a change in the instrument.

    Symptoms, whether intermittent or persistent, are seen most often when learning to play over the age of 50. In professional musicians, symptoms can present when increasing the complexity or time spent playing.

    Common symptoms include:

    • Pain
    • Muscle cramping
    • Tremors/spasms
    • Inability to control motion
    • Headaches
    • Numbness/tingling
    • Stuck, catching or locking joints
    • Inability to straighten fingers

    Hand therapists have the important skills needed to evaluate musicians and identify abnormal sensation, poor posture and other causes of symptoms.

    A therapist identifies risk factors and develops a rehabilitation program specific to the musician’s instrument, goals and play demand. The plan may start with an active rest period, avoiding activities that cause symptoms while mentally rehearsing and initiating new normal movement patterns. During this stage, the therapist modifies the play/practice schedule and explores pain control techniques and strategies including diet, exercise, sleep and posture.

    When the active symptoms quiet down, the hand therapist begins the advanced rehabilitation phase with a goal to return to play. The therapist monitors play and rest cycle and a home program is developed to provide visual feedback using imagery and mirrors. The advanced rehabilitation phase also involves aerobics and fitness, strengthening, postural exercises and increased duration and complexity of play.

    The hand therapist works with the musician to develop a return to normal play schedule that is timed incrementally. The schedule starts with a slow and easy repertoire and passages, increasing to fast and more challenging passages for up to 10 minutes. Activities that help with return to play include warm-up with brisk walking, cycling and stretching.

    The musician will warm-up with their instrument using easy scales, long movements, slow and quiet play. As rehabilitation progresses, 50 minutes is generally the maximum play time before rest is suggested. The therapist also instructs the musician on symptom management techniques during rest and after play. These management techniques include ice, hydration and stretching.

    Hand therapists identify the root cause of injury, provide a whole-body approach to care and work in collaboration with music instructors to ensure continuity with proper technique and posture. Education and early intervention is key, as early treatment leads to better outcomes.

    If you or a loved one are a musician and suffering from pain or discomfort while playing, request an appointment today and experience the power of hand therapy. Our certified hand therapists will help you get back to doing what you love – creating beautiful music!

    By: Rob McClellan, OTR/L, CHT. Rob serves as the hand program coordinator for Physio.

    Physio and NovaCare are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.