4 Exercises for Neck and Upper Back Pain

neck-pain-back-pain-relief-posture-workplace-exercises

Neck and upper back pain are commonly reported medical conditions in the United States caused by a variety of factors that affect the muscles and ligaments around the base of the skull. The pain can be quite limiting and can cause considerable stress on the muscles in this area. For sedentary workers, poor posture in the workplace can be a big contributor to these pain symptoms and is often a tough habit to break.

Take a few minutes each day to fight back with these neck and upper back exercises:

Upper Trap Stretch

The Upper Trap Stretch helps to stretch and relax the muscle between your shoulder and neck. When tight, this muscle can cause pain and limited range of motion.

1. Slowly tilt your head to one side and hold for 5-10 seconds.
2. Repeat on the opposite side.

Levator Scapulae Stretch

The levator scapula runs along the back and side of the neck and attaches to the shoulder. It functions primarily to help the head and neck rotate and bend to the side.

1. Gently turn your head to a 45 degree angle. Bring your nose to your armpit.
2. Repeat on the opposite side.

Chin Tuck

The Chin Tuck is an effective exercise for combatting neck pain as it helps to strengthen the muscles that pull the head back into alignment over the shoulders. It can also help you to develop good postural habits.

1. Tuck your chin for 2 seconds and then relax.
2. Repeat 8-10 times.

Wall Angels

Wall Angels help to keep poor posture at bay by combatting muscle tightness and weakness.

1. Stand up straight, making sure that your shoulder, elbows, and bottom are touching a wall.
2. Keep your shoulders back as you use your arms to mimic the motion of a “snow angel”.

For more information, visit our pages on Neck Pain Physical Therapy and Back Pain Physical Therapy

Urge Incontinence & Bladder Irritants

bladder-urgency-overactive-bladder-irritants-urge-incontinence

Urge Incontinence is a problem with the bladder that causes you to feel like you have to go to the bathroom suddenly, when really you don’t need to. But why does this occur?

While it could be based on a number of factors, one of the big things that we consider are bladder irritants—certain foods and beverages that can actually contribute to the irritation of the bladder lining, which normally protects the bladder from toxic contents in urine. “The Four Cs” is a helpful rule to remember when considering bladder irritants.

The Four Cs
• Citrus: Fruits like oranges and limes contain high amounts of citric acid which can worsen bladder control.
• Caffeine: Beverages like coffee and tea can increase bladder activity and contribute to higher urgency and frequency of urination.
• Cocktails: Any type of alcoholic beverage will irritate the bladder and also act as a diuretic, increasing urinary frequency.
• Carbonation: Beverages like soda (which often also contains caffeine) has been shown to worsen incontinence symptoms.

Pay attention when you have these things and if you notice an increased urge following, take note of that and consider making changes to your diet.

Visit our Women’s Health Physical Therapy page for more information.

Office Ergonomics: Simple Tips to Keep Moving Throughout the Day

sitting-office-neck-pain-back-pain-shoulder-pain

For those who work at an office job, sitting at a desk all day is pretty unavoidable. As most people come to find out, long periods of inactivity day after day isn’t the best thing for our joints and can lead to neck pain, shoulder pain and back pain. Therapydia physical therapist Michelle Fell, PT, offers a few simple tips to keep us all moving throughout the day.

• Park far away from your building to get a brisk walk in before and after work
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator
• Bring a water bottle to work and make yourself get up throughout the day to fill it up at the water fountain. Hydration and movement, great!
• Set a timer to remind yourself to stand up throughout the day and move around!

Visit our Resources page for more information on how to avoid neck pain, shoulder pain and back pain.

Female Bladder Urgency: What’s Normal?

female-bladder-overactive-urinary-urgency

At Therapydia NOLA, our physical therapists address the unique musculoskeletal problems of the pelvic region to help and treat any functional limitations and also offer preventative services. As part of our Women’s Health Physical Therapy services, we field a lot of questions surrounding bathroom norms, urinary urgency and overactive bladders. Below are just a few things to remember when it comes to daily bathroom use:

When it comes to voiding, how many times should I be using the bathroom in a day?
Normally, you should use the restroom around 5-8 times per day.

How much water should I drink in a day?
To figure out how much fluid you should intake each day, take your body weight and divide that number by two. This amount of water in ounces that you should aim to intake each day.

For example: If you weigh 150 pounds: 150/2=75. You should be drinking at least 75 ounces of water per day.

For women, remember to always sit and to never push when voiding.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles. Everything exits through here. We want these muscles to be relaxed in order to promote healthy habits.

Never “just in case” pee.
Everyone has a different tolerance within their bladders as far as how much it stretches. If you use the bathroom all the time throughout the day, this “just in case peeing” is teaching your bladder to tell you that you need to urinate when really you don’t need to.

For more about our Women’s Health Physical Therapy services, visit: Women’s Health Pelvic Floor Therapy

3 Exercises for Tennis Elbow

tennis elbow exercises new orleans physical therapy

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a result of repetitive activities that cause the tendons in your elbow to become overloaded. The condition can not only be annoying but also worrisome as your livelihood may depend on performing motions that put you at risk. Symptoms such as tight or spasming muscles, pain when you extend or lift up the wrist, feelings of heat or tingling in the hands, and arm weakness can all be combatted with the assistance and expertise of a physical therapist.

For help with elbow discomfort, try these three stretches to target weakened areas along your arm that may be contributing to symptoms of pain.

#1: Forearm Stretch

To stretch the extensor tendons at the lateral part of the elbow.

• Extend your forearm straight out
• Flex your wrist down, put a little pressure on your fingers
• Pull toward your body
• Hold for 30 seconds

• Release and repeat two more times

#2: Wrist Extension

Strengthens the extension of the wrist, prevents recurrence of tennis elbow symptoms.

• Use a 1-3 pound weight (no more than 3 pounds)
• Support your forearm on a surface or table
• Lift your wrist up and slowly lower it all the way down
• Complete 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 times daily

#3: Pronation Supination

Strengthens the supinators of the forearm, helping to decrease the recurrence of tennis elbow.

• Hold the weight on the end, forearm supported on a surface or table
• Rotate your arm upward and back
• Complete 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 times daily

Do you know the difference between soreness and pain?

The attached article describes the difference between soreness and pain. People often don’t seek help until they are experiencing pain that limits them from participating in their fitness regimen of choice. We can help you stay injury free on your path to becoming the best version of yourself.

Our bodies move in the path of least resistance, meaning if you have limited range of motion in one area of your body, another area will pick up the slack. This is often referred to as a compensatory movement pattern. Over time with increased training loads and volume this can lead to injury. By having a movement assessment performed prior to starting a fitness program we can help you restore movement patterns and decrease your injury risk while improving your performance.

Call us today to schedule your movement assessment and let us guide you to optimal performance. 504.324.8345

http://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resources/Detail/soreness-vs-pain-whats-difference

My Road To Recovery After A Weightlifting Injury

As told by Jason Bourgeois, former patient of Therapydia NOLA physical therapy and wellness clinic. 

Last March, I tore my left quadriceps tendon (see injury below). I’d had an old injury that caused some scar tissue build-up and calcification. While doing some routine training, that scar tissue finally had enough and ruptured.

The Injury:

 

After getting the news from the doctor in the Ochsner ER, I figured my weightlifting days were over. After surgery, I connected with Jonathan Burke, a physical therapist at Therapydia NOLA. I wanted to work with him because of his background in CrossFit. It was important to me that my PT understand what I was trying to work back to.

Seated Bike in April:

 

Airdyne in May:

 

Putting In The Work

We first worked on gently restoring passive range-of-motion (ROM) on my affected side. When we reached the first set of ROM goals, we then focused on the kinetic chain – ankle, hip and lumbar spine – and restored strength to each of these areas.  During each treatment session, I worked one-on-one with Jonathan. Therapydia’s individualized approach to physical therapy really sets them apart from other PT clinics.

After several months of hard work, I was able to squat for the first time at the end of May. I worked with Jonathan to restore my range of motion and movement patterns during that time. We set the goal of getting back to 80% of my previous lifts in one year.

First Squat (May):

 

Squat 135lbs (June):

 

Nine months to the day from my injury, I exceeded my goal by a significant margin and completed a Snatch 286 lbs in December:

 

I honestly did not believe I would get back to that kind of weight in such a short time, if ever. Working with Jonathan helped me immeasurably. He understood what I was going through, what I wanted to accomplish and helped me get there. He pushed me when I needed it and restrained me when I wanted to go too quickly. I cannot recommend Jonathan Burke, DPT and Therapydia NOLA highly enough.

Why Ab Separation Happens During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Ab Separation Treatment Therapydia

What is a Diastasis Recti?

Most of the physical changes that come along with pregnancy are strictly temporary. Unfortunately, some physical issues don’t resolve immediately after you give birth. Abdominal separation, or diastasis recti formation, is commonly seen within the pregnant/postpartum patient population with 2/3 of women experiencing some degree of separation pre or postpartum. Abdominal separation happens when your rectus abdominis or abdominal muscles become lax and disconnects midline at the linea alba. If you recently had a baby, it’s key to know how to identify if you have abdominal separation before returning to any workout routine in order to prevent injury and further separation.

Unbalanced Abs, Unbalanced Body

Abdominal separation is usually something a new mom might not even know she has. However it is important to check seeing how it interferes with the way your core muscles work together, leading to postural deficiencies and increased risk of injury centered around your body having an inability to stabilize your core. These deficiencies can result in or contribute to a variety of symptoms such as:
• Low back pain
• Sacroiliac pain
• Hip pain
• Stress incontinence (urine loss when laughing coughing or sneezing)
• Prolapse (when internal organs fall or slip out of place)

How To Check If You Have Ab Separation?

You can identify if you have a diastasis recti by doing a simple self-test.

• Lie down on your back with knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat
• Place fingers of one hand horizontally across midline of abdomen at the belly button
• Slowly raise your head and shoulders a few inches off the floor
• If a separation exists your fingers will sink into a gap/ditch with your right and left muscles to the side
• Note the number of finger-widths that can be placed between the muscle bellies
• Check at your belly button, above, and below

If you feel a separation of 2 to 3 finger-widths or greater you are considered to have a mild Diastasis Recti, and 4 to 5 fingers width is a moderate to severe separation.

Healing Your Deep Core

First of all don’t panic or stress if you feel you have an abdominal separation. This is a very common problem where there are specific exercises that can help with the healing process and facilitate for full abdominal closure. To enable healing it is important to limit abdominal stressors involving lumbar flexion. This is characterized as the forward movement of your body such as crunches or when moving from your back to sitting upright when getting out of bed. Movements like this potentially lead to greater abdominal separation rather than closure. Correct movements are targeted towards having strong deep core activation with targeted transverse abdominis activation.

Transverse Abdominis Activation

Therapydia Pregnancy Physical Therapy

• Maintain a flat back with a chin tuck and shoulders over wrists
• Keep your hips and toes tucked under
• Inhale while causing for outward and upward movement in your back body/ribs
• Then exhale and pull your ribs up and in from your stomach
• Perform 6 to 7 breaths of 3 sets while being careful to not over breathe to limit any lightheadedness or dizziness

Closing The Gap

Your abdominal separation is something that should be reassessed every 2 to 3 weeks checking for closure with a proper exercise program established.

Experiencing ab separation postpartum is unique to everyone’s body and pregnancy journey. If you feel limited or uncomfortable because of the weakness in your core, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Although some cases may be mild enough to solve on your own, some cases may need to be seen by a physical therapist who specializes in women’s health and pelvic floor therapy.

By Whitney Braswell Fedor, PT, DPT, Specialized Woman’s Health Physical Therapist via Herman and Wallace Institute, Kineticore Dry Needling Level 1 and 2 certified practicing at Therapydia NOLA in Metairie. She can be reached at (504) 324-8345.

Self-Assessment Episode 3: Squat Mobility Vs. Stability

In the first post we looked at ankle mobility. We demonstrated the half kneeling ankle dorsiflexion assessment to see if poor ankle mobility was a contributing factor making it difficult to deep squat with proper form. We then moved up the kinetic chain with the supine knee to chest assessment and the seated tibial internal rotation test to see if the hips or knees were making it difficult to deep squat with proper form. If you passed those tests with flying colors, but your deep squat remains less than perfect; you could fall into the group of athletes that have great mobility but lack the ability to control/stabilize movement through these ranges. By definition mobility is the ability of a joint to be moved through its range of motion. Stability refers to the body’s ability to control movement through the available range of motion.

Goblet Squat & Stability

Today we will assess an air squat versus the goblet squat. This serves as a quick assessment to see if the athlete/client is able to achieve full depth while squatting. Clients often times demonstrate the ability to sink into a full squat, but will reveal some type of movement fault. One of the most common faults we see is the loss of lumbo-pelvic position, the dreaded “butt wink”. This position is not optimal for loading. Now we assess the goblet squat using a 20 lb. kettle bell. The kettle bell acts as a counterbalance and allows the athlete to keep their hips underneath them. If the athlete is able to maintain proper positioning throughout the entire movement you can conclude the athlete has the mobility to squat, they many need to work on patterning and stability of the abs, pelvic floor, and diaphragm to create the counterbalance.

The goblet squat is used as a teaching tool for the athlete to work on proper position during the deep squat. As patterning and stabilization increases the athlete should reduce the weight of the kettle bell, reducing the external counterbalance. Goblet squats are a great warm-up exercise for squat day. I will demonstrate some stability drills in quadruped and half kneeling in the following videos to help with and create the counterbalance needed not to lose proper spinal positioning while squatting.

Quadruped Reach

• Start on all fours
• Rock back until your hips are lower than your knees to mimic the bottom of the squat
• Maintain a neutral trunk position
• Reach one arm straight ahead slowly while trying not lose balance or rotate trunk
• Alternate arms or complete a same side series
• 10 repetitions

Half Knee Chop

• Attach tubing at a high point of attachment
• Kneel with outside knee down
• Both knees should be flexed to 90 degrees
• Narrow your base to within 6-inch width of knee of one leg and heel of the other
• While maintaining a tall/upright position, pull tubing down and across the chest while keeping it close to your body
• Shoulders should turn minimally and your head should face forward
• All action should be done with the arms
• Tubing should come across the body from shoulder to hip, keeping your hands close to your chest throughout the movement
• 5-7 controlled repetitions on each side
• If to challenging, can also perform in tall kneeling position (both knees on the ground)

Half Kneel Lift

• Attach tubing at low point of attachment
• Kneel inside knee down
• Both knees should be flexed at 90 degrees
• Narrow your base to within 6-inch width of knee of one leg and heel of the other
• While remaining tall and upright, pull tubing up and across the chest while keeping it close to your body
• Shoulders turn minimally and your head should face forward
• All actions done with the arms
• Tubing should come across the body from hip to opposite shoulder
• Keep your hands close to your chest throughout this movement

Goblet Squat

• Hold kettle bell with two hands in front
• Keep kettle bell close to your chest
• Base of support feet are shoulder width apart, feet slightly turned out
• 3 points of contact big toe/little toe/heel
• Squat straight down keeping kettle bell close
• Spine is in neutral from neck through upper back and lower back
• Trunk will be positioned slightly forward to mimic the bottom position of a loaded barbell squat
• Knees track over 2nd and 5th toes
• A variation to promote an upright torso would be to stand 6-8 inches in front of a wall and perform goblet squats
• 3 sets of 5 slow repetitions
• Can also be performed in-between warm-up sets on squat day before hitting your work sets

Resources:
SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment).
Voight ML, Hoogenboom BJ, Cook G. The Chop and Lift Reconsidered: Integrating Neuromuscular Principles into Orthopedic and Sports Rehabilitation. North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy : NAJSPT. 2008;3(3):151-159.

Preparing Your Body For Pregnancy

Pregnancy Physical Therapy Therapydia

Pregnancy is a time of wellness accompanied with tremendous musculoskeletal, physiological and emotional change. Many women experience these changes with pain and discomfort, which can actually be prevented. There are specific muscle groups that can be trained to help you adapt and better prepare your body for pregnancy. The idea is to combat the strain that is put on the areas of the body that are carrying the weight of the growing baby by improving muscular support and strength. These areas include the lower back and sacroiliac joints.

How Does Your Body Change During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy there are many different changes that occur within you body, but for the sake of this blog, let’s focus on the changes related to the musculoskeletal system.

Most important of all the connective tissue changes occur primarily with the release of hormones, relaxin and progesterone. These hormones cause tendons and ligaments throughout your body to become more elastic, allowing for a greater stretch to occur across joints, and in turn causing for overall joint hypermobility. This “stretch” is a good thing because it allows your body to accommodate the growing baby, and also helps facilitate the baby coming out during delivery. However, with this increased elasticity comes your body’s need to rely more on muscular support and stability within the pelvis to combat joint hypermobility.

Also, core muscular changes occur primarily due to the stretching of muscles, specifically within your abdomen and pelvic floor. This stretching increases as the baby grows, which in turn, decreases your ability to elicit a strong muscle contraction due to the muscle tension relationship. However, if these areas are trained and/or strengthened prior to or during pregnancy, they can help combat this stretch for decreased episodes of lower back pain and stress incontinence.

In this article, we are specifically looking to help decrease the occurrence and severity of the common issues of pregnancy:

• Lower back pain
• Sacroiliac/pelvic pain
• Hip pain
• Urinary stress incontinence

Building Body Core Strength

Avoiding strain on your body during pregnancy involves strengthening the muscles around your core and pelvis area. If you go into pregnancy with strong core and hip stability, you’re going to be able to help combat these issues allowing for an easier time carrying the baby and for a faster recovery post-baby.

Clams:

Therapydia Pregnancy Physical Therapy

Therapydia Pregnancy Physical Therapy

• Lay on side with hips in a stacked position towards the ceiling
• Knees at a 90-degree angle and hips in line with knees
• Keeping ankles together, raise top knee towards the ceiling
• At the same time, lift at the hip and keep hips forward
• You can place your hand behind your hip to keep your hips from rolling backwards
• Return to start
• To increase resistance you can add a cuff weight around the lateral thigh or apply an elastic band slightly above both knees
• Perform 30 repetitions once a day

This is important with pregnancy to help strengthen the muscle surrounding the sacroiliac joint by helping to prevent sacroiliac issues with enhanced glute and hip external rotator stability.

Kegal/Abdominal Bracing:

Therapydia Pregnancy Physical Therapy

• Lay on back with knees bent
• Pull up and in with the vaginal opening as if you are trying to stop the flow of urine
• Make sure to not squeeze your bottom and to not tighten your muscles in a way that will change the neutral position of the spine
• Perform 30 repetitions with a 2 second hold 2 times a day

This is what I call a secret exercise because when performed correctly the outside observer will see no movement. This exercise is important to help counterbalance the stretching of the pelvic floor that occurs with pregnancy which can help to decrease incontinence issues during and post-baby.

Quadruped Multifidi Activation:

Therapydia Pregnancy Physical Therapy

Quadruped Multifidi Activation

• Start on your hands and knees (shoulders and hips at 90 degrees)
• Tighten your back and your stomach by pulling your belly button to your spine internally and holding
• Without shifting your pelvis and keeping the neutral position of the spine, pick one knee up slowly while also making sure to hold the opposite hip in the same position
• Then perform with the other knee as well
• Perform 20 repetitions on each side (pain free exercise)

When performed correctly, this exercise helps to strengthen your core in the back and abdomen region. It also helps to strengthen your hip external rotators causing for greater sacroiliac and hip stability.

Mobilizing Your Pregnancy Muscles

Knowing how your body is going to change is key to preventing physical discomfort and pain during pregnancy. Strengthening specific areas can lead to a smoother pregnancy, birth, and rehab post-baby by combatting any musculoskeletal imbalances.

Contact Whitney Braswell at Therapydia NOLA if you have any questions about prenatal care and strengthening. We can work with you to design a treatment program that’s unique to your body and your pregnancy.

By Whitney Braswell Fedor, PT, DPT, Specialized Woman’s Health Physical Therapist via Herman and Wallace Institute, Kineticore Dry Needling Level 1 and 2 certified practicing at Therapydia NOLA in Metairie. She can be reached at (504) 324-8345.