How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis: Ways to Cure Heel and Foot Pain

Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common conditions that occur to the foot and ankle complex, and is the most common cause of heel pain experienced by people. About 10% of people with experience heel pain at some point in their lives, and most likely it is plantar fasciitis. Plantar Fasciitis typically effects runners, athletes, people who work on their feet and are on their feet all day and overweight people.  Plantar fasciitis is most commonly seen in adults from 40-60 years of age and with people who are flat footed (pes planus) or who have excessive arches (pes cavus). The good news is that a combination of PHYSICAL THERAPY and home treatments are extremely successful in treating this condition, allowing a person to resume all of their normal daily activities.

WHAT IS THE PLANTAR FASCIA AND WHAT CAUSES THE PAIN?

Your plantar fascia is in the shape of a bowstring, supporting the arch of your foot and absorbing shock when you walk. It runs from the heel bone (called the calcaneus) to the toes. It is thicker and more fibrous at the heel bone and thins out as you go more distally to the toes. Plantar fasciitis is due to stress and/or repetitive tears to the tissue causing inflammation and pain. Bones spurs (osteophytes) located at the heel are usually present and can be seen on x ray. This is one of the main causes of tears to the plantar fascia. Pain is generally felt at the heel of the affected foot. Most people experience increase pain in the morning when they wake up and initially weight bear in their affected foot, with mild easing of pain as the day progresses. Pain is most likely due to sleeping in a position that tightens the plantar fascia and calf muscles.

RISK FACTORS FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS

● Tight Calf Muscles

● Very High Arch or Flat Feet

● Obesity- Causes excess stress to the foot region

● New or Increased physical activity

TREATMENT FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS

The combination of physical therapy and home treatments can help to alleviate and
eliminate plantar fasciitis.
● Physical Therapy will use a variety of manual therapy techniques, exercises, and
modalities to address condition, such as massage, manual stretching, dry
needling, and taping to improve tissue mobility and flexibility. Exercises will also
be provided to the patient including flexibility/stretching to the calf and plantar
fascia, foot/ankle muscle strengthening to help decrease flat feet. Modalities
such as ice, electric stimulation, and ultrasound can be used to decrease
inflammation.
● Your physical therapist will also provide you with recommendations on home
treatments, such as using a frozen water bottle to roll out the plantar fascia,
home stretching exercises, as well as recommendations on proper shoes and
inserts/orthotics.
● Other home treatments may include night splints to keep foot stretched while
sleeping, compression stockings, as well as anti-inflammatory medication
(prescription and/or over the counter
While most people experience relief of symptoms within 4-6 weeks, some require more
advanced interventions. Your physical therapist will help you determine if and when to
consult a podiatrist and/or an orthopedist who specializes in foot and ankles. If you are
experiencing plantar fasciitis, contact Optimum Physical Therapy and Wellness and one
of our licensed physical therapist will help you on your journey to a pain free return to
life.

Why Does My Jaw Hurt When I Talk, Eat, and Even Yawn?

Do you find it difficulty to eat or even yawn due to pain in your jaw?  Do you hear popping or a clicking sensation when you open your mouth or are talking?  Do you suffer from headaches, neck pain, and or ringing in your ears (tinnitus)?  If you suffer from one or many of these symptoms, the origin of your symptoms and pain may be coming from the temporo-mandibular joint, often referred to as TMJ and/or TMD (tempo-mandibular disorder).  TMD is often underdiagnosed and not treated, leading to sever pain and dysfunction with activities such as eating and talking.  Many people suffering from TMD, seek medical attention from a dentist, who fit them for a custom night guard, which can help alleviate some of the pain, but rarely eliminate to problem.  The night guard that useful for people who grind their teeth but does little to address the musculoskeletal factors that contribute to this condition.

What is the TMJ (Tempo-mandibular joint)

The TMJ is in front of the ears on both sides of the face, where the skull meets the jaw.  The joint is supported by several muscles, cartilage, ligaments and an intra-joint disk that allows the joint to move and adapt to a variety of motions.  Jaw pain and clicking can come from any one of these structures, but most commonly the pain comes from the muscles around the joint or abnormal stress or degenerative changes to the small disk in the joint during opening and closing. Posture, neck mobility and muscle balance around the jaw and neck play an important role in proper function of the joint.  This disorder is called TMD by physicians, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.

Common Causes of TMD

There are many proposed causes for TMD. One of the most common of these is any history of trauma, fracture or blow to the chin or jaw.  It is proposed that these types of injuries are the start of many jaw problems that surface later in life. These injuries commonly occur in children with normal play and sports and are often not painful in the jaw at the time of injury.

Repetitive grinding of the teeth, also known as bruxism, and clenching of the jaw during sleep are also a common cause of TMD. Patients who do this are often not aware of these habits unless discovered by a dentist due to abnormal wear patterns on the teeth or by a family member who hears it.

Habitual gum chewing and nail biting are often causing of jaw pain due to the repetitive stress.

Many dental problems associated with mal-occlusion or misalignment of their teeth can cause abnormal wear and tear to the joint. It is also very common for patients with high levels of stress and anxiety to suffer from TMD due to frequent grinding or clenching of their teeth.

Why Physical Therapy Is A Great Treatment Option for TMD

Very often, patients diagnosed with TMD are told they must resign themselves to “living with” their condition or having extremely risky and expensive jaw surgery. But knowledge of the causes of TMD are helping qualified physical therapists discover how muscle and joint remobilization techniques can dramatically decrease the symptoms related to TMD, and in some cases eliminate most of the headaches related to the disorder.  Most often, addressing the musculoskeletal system of face and neck, can have a big impact on significantly decreasing jaw pain. 

Manual physical therapy includes hands on techniques to improve joint motion and reduce muscle stiffness, trigger points around the jaw to alleviate stress on the disk and joint. These mobilizations are used to help the disk move in a normal way, decrease pain, and increase motion.

Specific manual therapy procedures are designed to help reduce a “lock” of the jaw due to a displaced disk. Specific exercises are then prescribed to control and restore motion at the jaw and help re-educate the muscles surrounding the joint.

Soft tissue mobilization techniques are hands on techniques that are focused at the muscles around the jaw to reduce the trigger points and tenderness. Eventually, over time, the joints around your jaw will re-learn its proper motion, and the pain and discomfort associated with TMD will dramatically decrease or completely disappear.

If bruxism (nighttime clenching of the jaw and/or grinding of teeth) is a part of your problem, a therapist may also recommend a consult with a qualified dental professional. They may determine that your recovery would be more complete if you used a custom-fitted mouthguard at night. A mouth guard, or splint, will ensure that when you clench your teeth at night, your teeth don’t touch and the pressure you are enacting won’t translate to your temporomandibular joint.

Trigger Point Dry Needling for TMD

Trigger Point Dry Needling therapy is another treatment offered by physical therapists that has been shown to be effective in treating these trigger points. Trigger Point Dry Needling can target very specific muscles in your jaw that are contracting and causing your jaw to misalign—and often cause headaches. If effective, Trigger Point Dry Needling will release the muscle spasm and your jaw will immediately return to a relaxed state.  There are also many muscles of the head and neck that referred pain to the jaw region, which can mimic TMD.  Often, identifying trigger points in the neck, head, and facial region and with successful Trigger Point Dry Needling, can have an immediate reduction of pain affect for the person suffering from jaw pain.  The therapists at Optimum Physical Therapy and Wellness are certified and perform Trigger Point Dry Needling daily.

Don’t Be Resolved to “Just Live With It”

If you or someone you know has been experiencing jaw and facial pain and have been told to “just live with it” please contact Optimum Physical Therapy and Wellness to consult with one of our physical therapists.  We can discuss how physical therapy can help to alleviate your current pain, as well as provide ways to prevent your jaw pain from returning.  Why suffer daily with simple tasks, such as talking, yawning, and eating, when there are many treatment techniques that can improve your daily life.

Regain your beautiful smile by living TMJ/ TMD Pain Free

SAY GOODBYE TO PERSISTENT TENSION HEADACHES WITH PHYSICAL THERAPY!!!

One of the most common daily complaints of pain is the all too common headache.  It is the 3rd most common complaint of pain that people complain of daily.  Headaches can impact a person’s daily life, making it difficult to concentrate and perform daily tasks.  How many of us have showed up to work or school, with a POUNDING headache, that just would not go away as the day progressed.  Most of those people would say that it was very difficulty to perform their work or school tasks.  Fortunately, relief is just a phone call away.  Please contact Optimum Physical Therapy and Wellness for information on how PHYSICAL THERAPY can help with your headaches, allowing you to return to performing daily activities.

WHY DO I GET TENSION HEADACHES?

The most common cause of headaches experienced by teenagers and adults is tension-headaches.   Tension headaches, also referred to ad stress-related headaches, occur when the scalp and neck muscles become tense and the muscles in that area contract and become tight.  The headache pain usually begins at the base of the skull and moves the top of the head, which then can cause pain behind the eyes.  Tension headaches can also routinely cause cheek and jaw pain.  People have stated these headaches feel like they are wearing a very tight hat, or having their hair pulled.  The main reason people get tension headaches is as follows:

  • Increased Stress
  • Poor Posture
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • History of neck and jaw dysfunction
  • Arthritis

DETERMINING TYPE OF HEADACHE

Types of headaches. Set of headache types on different area of patient head. Woman with tession cluster and other head variety of migraine.

Before creating a treatment plan for physical therapy, it is important to determine the type of headache one is experiencing.  This is important because some types of headaches need to be addressed by other medical professionals, to rule out other serious medical issues.  Most headaches will decrease in intensity and resolve on their own, but if headache does not subside or gets worse, medical attention is warranted.  Here are the 10 most common headaches that people experience:

  • Tension/Stress (Responds well with physical therapy)
  • Migraine
  • Sinus
  • Cluster
  • Rebound
  • Hypertension
  • Hormone
  • Exertion
  • Post Traumatic (Concussion)
  • Caffeine

HOW PHYSICAL THERAPY CAN HELP & WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR 1ST SESSION?

Your physical therapist will take and review a thorough medical history and history of your headache symptoms, along with any other symptoms that you may be experiencing.  Once the therapist determines that physical therapy will be beneficial, and no other health risks need to be addressed, a thorough Physical Therapy evaluation will be performed, which will include

  • Questions about any history of neck, jaw, or back injury/dysfunction
  • Inquires about location and characteristics of headache pain, as well as severity and how it is affecting daily function.
  • A postural assessment will be performed to note neck, shoulder, jaw, and back positioning as it can play a part in tension headaches.
  • ROM and strength of the neck, mid back, and shoulders will be performed, as any limitations can be a contributory factor for tension headaches.
  • Joint mobility of the neck, mid-back, and jaw will be assessed for too much or too little mobility.

WHAT WILL YOUR PHYSICAL THERAPY TREATMENT CONSIST OF?

  • Improved strength to the muscles that control the neck and upper back, allowing one to improve sitting and standing tolerance.
  • The various manual therapy techniques performed by the physical therapist will improve mobility and stretch muscles, which will help relieve the tension causing one’s headaches.
  • Proper posture techniques and improving one’s posture will greatly improve daily function and help reduce and/or eliminate tension headaches.

If you are suffering from daily tension headaches, there are things that can be done without the use of daily medication.  Please contact Optimum Physical Therapy and Wellness, to set your initial session, and get on the path of enjoying your daily activities headache free.

It’s the Most Stressful Time of the Year!

The holidays are a time to celebrate with family & friends.  Office Parties, Family Parties, Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Neighborhood caroling and while all this activity can by “marry and bright” the holidays can also be a time for experiencing lots of stress, which can affect your overall health and wellbeing. 

We understand and want to help you manage your stress in a healthy way. In this blog we will provide you with 6 tips to help you both physically and mentally during the holiday season.

1. Keep Your Mind Calm: Using basic meditation and conscious deep breathing trains your body to stop for a minute and relax, when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed.  By having less stress and anxiety, your body and mind stay in balance, and decision making becomes easier.  It also helps with coping with stressful situations, allowing them to become second nature.  Mediation does not need to be long, even just a few minutes several times a day can help you calm down and remain focused.

2. Practice Conscious Breathing: The stress of shopping for gifts, finances, and challenging family and friends can all lead to increase in anxiety levels.  When you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed, stop what you are doing and practice conscious breathing.  Take slow breaths through your nose for about 5-7 seconds then slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 6-8 seconds.  Repeat several times and as often as necessary.

3.  Stay Hydrated: With all the office and holiday parties during this time of the year, it is easy to consume too much alcohol, which is why it is very important to stay hydrated.  Try to consume a lot of water when you know you will be attending holiday functions or parties.

4.  Get in a Quick Workout: If you are too busy to make it to the gym for your normal workout, or you don’t have time for your favorite workout (running, spin class, CrossFit, etc.), try to make time to fit in a quick workout.  There are many different resources to perform quick workout, some in as little as 10 minutes.  YouTube, the internet, or the vast amounts of workout apps can give you good ideas for quick and effective workouts during the holiday time.  Not only will it help your mental well-being but will help combat weight gain with all the extra holiday cookies, parties, and meals.  

Take a Nap:  If possible, try to take a 20-30-minute nap throughout the holiday time.  These are not meant to be long, deep sleep, just a short nap to relax your mind and body.  Short, light naps help restore alertness, cognitive function and memory, allowing your body to feel refreshed.  It just takes 5-6 minutes of sleep to restore wakefulness, which enhances performance, mood, and leaves you feeling more energized.  

6. Get Organized:  Being and staying organized will help ease your mind and keep your anxiety in check.  One of the main feelings during the holidays is feeling overwhelmed and anxious.  Writing things down in a planner and staying organized, will help to ease your anxiety.  By planning beforehand, you can avoid overbooking or double-booking engagements, keep you on task, and keep you feeling that you are in control of the holidays. Use calendar, planner, or your phones (calendar/reminder/task) functions to keep you organized.

We have all experienced the hectic nature of the holiday season and we know how easy it is to become overwhelmed during this time.  By using some or all the tips that were provided, you can reduce your stress and anxiety, which will allow you to enjoy the holiday season

Happy Holidays from Optimum Physical Therapy and Wellness

What is Piriformis Syndrome and how we can treat it.

Are you having buttock pain that sometimes travels down the back of the thigh? You might have piriformis syndrome. Sometimes this problem can come from starting a new walking or exercise program.  Marked by a dull ache and tightness in the gluteal muscles and oftentimes pain radiating down the back of the leg, it can range from a low-level irritation to a ‘stop you in your tracks’ injury.

One of the more difficult injuries to diagnose, piriformis syndrome results from injury to or inflammation of the piriformis muscle. Located in the hip region, the piriformis is an important stabilizer muscle. “It keeps your pelvis and sacrum stable and prevents your hips from internally rotating,” explains Jarrett Shavitz “If you have weakness of the piriformis and gluteal muscles, that increased rotation of the hip can lead to issues and irritate the piriformis.”

The difficulty in diagnosis is usually related to the similarity in symptoms between piriformis syndrome and sciatica. While sciatica is commonly caused by a herniated disc or spinal degeneration, it can also be a result of an irritated piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve. Since the nerve runs close and sometimes through the piriformis, dysfunction of the piriformis can actually cause sciatica. With that said, the pain and numbness down the back of the leg that comes with sciatica isn’t always a result of piriformis syndrome. There can be nerve irritation associated with piriformis syndrome, or the nerve can be irritated from the spine. To further confound the situation, long standing pain creates trigger points which can refer pain to the back of the leg as well, even referring pain to the foot.

While each case is different, Jarrett will examine each case and pinpoint the origin of your pain to best manage your underlying symptoms and problem.

One of the main issues with piriformis syndrome is that can be frustrating for the patient. Just as people are getting good at a exercise program, you get this injury and have to take time off to let the injury heal. But if you don’t rebuild and balance your core strength, many people get a recurrence as soon as they ramp up activity again. “You need to develop a good balance between core and extremity strength,” he adds.

We use a variety of myofascial techniques to decrease pressure on the sciatic nerve, and calm down the piriformis,” he says. These therapies allow the clinician to be more exact in targeting the area of interest. While foam rolling can further irritate the sciatic nerve if you compress it as you work to stretch and massage the hip and glute region, trigger point therapy and Iastm allow for scar tissue and muscle dysfunction to be pinpointed more accurately.

Dry needling can also be quite effective in management of trigger points of the lateral part of the piriformis. The gluteals are most easily managed with dry needling which can reduce pressure on the piriformis muscle. Most true piriformis injuries are now successfully managed with physical therapy, as well as a commitment to strengthening and stretching. Optimum therapy will have you back on your feet in no time!

To be sure, since this is a complicated injury, if you’re having persistent pain in your backside that is preventing you from doing “YOU”, it’s time to see a therapist.

WHY DOES MY KNEE HURT, I DIDN’T INJURE IT?

Have you started to notice an aching sensation or pain to your knee(s) for unknown reasons?  Are you starting to notice that you are having knee pain when you walk or run, or with just regular daily activities such walking, getting up from a seated position, or going up and down stairs?  Has the pain, which you originally thought would GO AWAY ON ITS OWN, started to get worse with time.  You, like many others are experiencing the most common form of knee pain.  Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is the most common form of knee pain, with most of the pain located around and underneath the kneecap. 

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is a common knee problem, with most of the pain located in the front of the knee, but more specifically behind/underneath the kneecap.  Pain usually worsens with climbing stairs or hills, running, squatting, and sitting for prolonged periods of time with knee bent.  Pain is usually alleviated with reduction of strenuous activity, frequently getting up from sitting position, and using unaffected leg to lead with going up and down stairs.  People may ice and take over the counter medication.  Some people experience relief of symptoms with rest, modification of activity (then slowly resuming activities/exercise), and OTC medication.  For others, the condition worsens, requiring them to see a healthcare professional such as an orthopedic surgeon and a physical therapist.

In the past, most physicians and physical therapist would work on the knee and muscle around the knee to treat PFPS, which was not very effective.  Physician would routinely prescribe quad strengthening and stretching to the quads and hamstrings, with minimal long-term improvements.  The reason for this is that that did not address the main issue, ABNORMAL PATELLA TRACKING/MOVEMENT.  The knee moves up and down when a person bends and straightens the knee.  In a normal, pain-free knee, the kneecap moves in the trochlear groove.  This allows for smooth translation of the kneecap and the femur.  When the kneecap tracks medial, but more commonly laterally, you have abnormal contact of the undersurface of the kneecap with the lateral femoral condyle of the femur.  It this persists over time, then there could be irritation to the tissue and bone causing pain the knee. Over time, physical therapist have realized that there are many other factors that cause PFPS.  The knee can be considered a DUMMY JOINT.  It is affected by position of the hips and pelvis, and the lower leg and foot and ankle.  Over time, physical therapist have realized that addressing the hip/pelvis region, and the foot and ankle, cans significantly help with PFPS.

 

Some things that need to be assessed and addressed by the physical therapist are:

  • Tightness to hip and buttocks muscles
  • Pelvis and hip positioning
  • Weakness to low back, hip, buttocks muscles
  • Flat Feet (pes planus)
  • High Arches (pes cavus)
  • Weakness to the lower leg and foot and ankle muscles

Physical Therapy Treatments will consist of:

  • A thorough assessment of the knee, hip/pelvis, low back, and foot/ankle regions.
  • Flexibility exercises to address tightness to low back, hip/pelvis, thigh, lower leg, and foot and ankle
  • Strengthening exercises to address weakness to the same area as stated above.
  • Manual Therapy techniques to address joint stiffness, muscle tightness and soft tissue restrictions.
  • Neuromuscular Re-education activities which will focus on activities, such as stairs, walking, sit<->stand, and squatting with emphasis on normal patella tracking.

The good news is that the above-mentioned physical therapy treatments have had good, long term results for decreasing knee pain, and allowing the patient to return to their prior level of function and recreational activities pain-free.  If you are suffering from knee pain that is preventing you from doing your normal daily activities, or recreational activities, please contact Optimum Physical Therapy and Wellness to schedule a Discovery Session with one of our licensed physical therapists.

Chronic pain for Patients Pain is not Damage

Pain is an unpleasant sensory experience from actual or potential damage. Chronic pain is not about damage, it is a threat calculation by the brain.

A man named Michael is diagnosed with chronic pain after a series of serious car accidents eight years ago. He needed surgery for degeneration of spine and herniated discs of spine. Now he has developed chronic back pain and rates his pain a seven of ten most days.

Michaels pain is not about damage from eight years ago. Medical professionals agree that after six to twelve months all body tissues are healed as well as they ever will be.

But Michael still has severe pain every day. He takes medicine to control the pain. He avoids activities he used to do. Michael really has severe chronic pain.

The good new is Michael is not broken! Chronic pain does not equal damage. Michaels pain after eight years is driven by nervous system “noise”. It is important to understand that Michaels pain is not creating new damage, its because he is getting too much noise from his nervous system.

When pain stops serving its purpose and becomes chronic, it begins “protecting” from things that don’t cause damage. His brain is getting nervous system noise signaling pain to things that are not a threat.  

Consider a pain sensation in Michaels back. His body adjusted the volume of noise of the up to eleven different times in the brain and spinal cord before registering in the brain. In chronic pain the noise is being turned up and up before getting to the brain, giving a false signal.

The theory makes sense, but is there any hard science behind this?

In a 2013 research study people were given the exact same pain signal from heat for 30 seconds then asked to rate the pain. Pain ratings ranged from 1.05 to 8 out of 10 to the exact same stimulus! Persons with chronic pain rated the highest.

Our chronic pain rehabilitation works to turns down the nervous system noise back to normal levels. We have discussed stress management and sleep hygiene to control the nervous system noise. In the next module we will talk about other ways.

Stress is defined as “The non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.”  Our bodies were not designed to handle chronic stress.

You know this intrinsically. Stress is the reason your favorite American President seems to age 20 years in their 8 year term. The president with dark hair will leave looking grayed and exhausted.

Chronic pain drives the stress response of the body. Chronic pain makes you feel constantly exhausted. Higher levels of chronic stress are correlated with chronic pain.

Chronic stress alters cortisol levels in the body. Having chronic pain can cause chronically high levels of cortisol. Because cortisol is also important in sleep, chronic pain will disrupt your sleep. Sleep is very important for your rehabilitation and recovery.

Your goal in therapy is daily stress reduction with any one or more of these following keys to addressing stress:

Keys to addressing Stress

★ Physical Exercise. Ensure activity is pain free during and after. Example 5 min walking followed by breathing. Make breathing a focus with activity

★ Mindfulness meditation apps for stress reduction (Calm app, Breath app, Breethe meditation app)          

★ Breathing retraining for relaxation

★Diaphragmatic breathing

★Adopt daily coping strategies: meditation, gentle yoga, acupuncture, breathing, mindful meditation


(Note: all of the above reduce nervous system drive or noise. For example diaphragmatic breathing decreases nervous system “noise”, thereby helping relax .Use these techniques for 15 minutes before bed to aid sleep. Diaphragmatic breathing also corrects the oxygen balance for muscle relaxation. Meditation apps often focus on breathing and relaxation. Yoga needs to be gentle, pain free during and after, limit participation as needed)

Fall Sports Injury Prevention and Tips

With the start of the fall sports season for youth, recreational, and school levels sports, kids today are likely to resume their sport of choice after some time off due to summer break. But more time on the field brings a greater risk of kids experiencing sports-related injuries, including ACL and meniscus injuries in the knee, or injuries to the labrum or UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) in the shoulder and elbow.  Now, more than ever, concussions are a major injury experienced by athletes at all levels and need to be taken as serious.  Injuries have always been part, and will always be a part of youth sports, but there are steps that you and your parents can take to protect yourself from early season injuries.  Here are a few easy things that can be done to protect your children from injury:

  • GET A PRESEASON SPORTS PHYSICAL:  A preseason or back-to-school physical is a great way to determine if your young athlete is fit to play. Sports physicals help assess any areas of concern for athletes before they start an activity, and in turn keeps them from further injuring themselves during play if a condition is present and needs to be treated.  Formally, this can be done by your child’s pediatrician, but also by an orthopedic surgeon and/or sports medicine physician.  You can also find licensed physical therapist and certified athletic trainers; whose clinics provide sports physicals.  Parents need to check to see if the sports organization allows for PT’s/ATC to perform sports physicals, or do they need to be completed by a physician.
  • TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN:  Make sure your children understands that he or she NEEDS TO TALK with you and/or seek help if experiencing a pain or something that just doesn’t feel right. Some kids are tough and just push through pain, which can lead to a more serious condition that could have been prevented with early intervention.  Also, parents need to talk to their children if they suspect an injury or that their child is in pain.  This is especially true with concussions.  The symptoms may be subtle but could become more serious if not addressed.  I a parent does suspect and injury and/or concussion, they should seek medical attention quickly.
  • PROMOTE HYDRATION:  When fall sports season starts, it can still be very hot and humid out during practice and games.  Heat related illness is still a real concern for athletes, especially during hot and humid days. Parents should make sure their children have adequate water before, during and after play, and watch for any signs of a heat-related illness, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion or fainting.  Coaches also need to be trained on the signs of heat exhaustion and take adequate breaks for rest and rehydration.
  • MAKE SURE KIDS HAVE ADEQUATE REST: Athletes of all ages need to rest between practices, games and events. A lack of sleep and muscle fatigue predispose an athlete to injury.  The most common injuries seen in young athletes are overuse injuries— too many sports and not enough rest.  Coaches can help by spacing practices out the week, and resting player during games. Parents can help by having their children get the right amount of sleep throughout the week.  If your child is overly tired/exhausted, they will not perform at their highest level, which can lead to injuries.   Along these same lines, parents should also plan an offseason for their athlete, giving him or her adequate time to recuperate before the next season.
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  • PROPER WARM UP AND CONDITIONING: Stretching is an important prevention technique that should become habit for all athletes before starting an activity or sport. Combining a mix of both static and dynamic stretching during warmups, helps loosen the muscles and prepare them for play. Toe touches and stretches, where you hold the position for a certain amount of time, are considered static, while jumping jacks and stretches, where the body continues to move during stretching, are considered dynamic.  Practices during the season, should also incorporate conditioning for the younger athlete, and a strength and conditioning program for older athletes.  Also, consider preseason strength and conditioning programs, that will prepare the young athlete for the season.
  • IF YOU NOTICE AN INJURY SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION ASAP: Any type of injury, especially serious injuries, the parents must seek medical attention as soon as possible.  Often time, the parent thinks that all the child needs is rest, and they will be fine.  If a child’s injury is ignored, the damage to that area has already progressed, which could have serious consequences on the young athlete.  There are often subtle signs that a parent and/or coach needs to be aware when an athlete gets injured.  Rubbing or shaking out the affected area, a slight limp when running/walking, or just a slight change in their mechanics such as throwing, or kicking are signs that the athlete could have an injury.  They should be immediately pulled from the activity and assessed and seek medical attention. 

Millions of youths will be participating in fall sports this year.  They will be playing, football, soccer, softball, track and field, and many other sports.  All these sports can cause an injury to your child, but good preparation for the sports season could minimize potential injuries.  Also, seeking immediate medical attention for your injured child, could promote earlier healing and return to sports. 

Dealing with Chronic Pain

You have chronic pain. Some of your chronic pain has been learned through neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is defined as the ability of the brain to form and reorganize its connections. This is similar to the concept of muscle memory.

Consider a child learning to throw a ball. The first throw is awkward.  At first the child needs reminders. The coach says “Keep your elbow up” and “aim at the target”. But soon the child is able to keep her elbow up and throw at the target without any reminders from the coach. Her muscle memory is really in the brain.

Just like the child’s brain writes new patterns to throw, chronic pain writes new patterns in the brain. This therapy program helps your brain learn new healthy patterns, and over time change your brain.

The majority of our clients are dealing with some sort of chronic pain so our team has put together a 4 part guide to dealing with, and perhaps, curing this pain.

The first and perhaps simplest adjustment you can make when dealing with chronic pain is studying your sleep hygiene.

“Good sleep has functional and structural effects in the brain”.  Sleep is important in learning, and neuroplasticity. Sleep Hygiene is defined as “habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.” Good sleep affects your ability to handle pain and stress.

12 Keys to Great Sleep
★ Have a set sleep/wake time; do not vary on the weekends.                                                                        

★ Avoid naps, especially if there is difficulty falling asleep at night. If you must, only 30 minutes                     

★ Don’t force sleep- if unable to fall asleep, leave the room and sit in the dark or read a book. NO SCREEN TIME!!                                         

★ Reserve the bed for sleep and sex                                

 ★ No caffeine after 2pm, avoid alcohol within 3 hours of sleep, avoid smoking, especially at night                

 ★ Avoid heavy meals before bed.                                          

★ Exercise is good for sleep, but not within 3-4 hours of bedtime                                  

 ★ Minimize light, noise, and excessive temperatures        

★ Hide the clock for clock-watchers, may cause anxiety

★ 15 minutes of morning sun helps regulate melatonin and circadian rhythm

★ Have a relaxing bedtime routine, avoid screen time 90 minutes before bed.

★ A hot shower one hour before bed

Please check back later this week for our second installment “Stress Management”