Happy Thanksgiving!!

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A slice of homemade Thanksgiving pumpkin pie s...
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The staff at Advantage Physical Therapy would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!!

This time of year can be very stressful and painful for everyone.  There are two big events happening this week.  Thanksgiving on Thursday, and Black Friday on Friday.

Let’s start with some tips for making it through Thanksgiving:

1.  When you are in the kitchen, try to use good form when working:

  • Stand upright when chopping and/or carving
  • Use your legs when getting into and out of the oven or refrigerator
  • Take breaks if you feel pain

2. When it’s meal time:

  • Pace your eating, you don’t have to eat everything.  Try to enjoy some conversation
  • Try and use good posture when sitting
  • Stand up and move around every 20-30 minutes (you can refill your drink, check on the football games, etc.)

On Black Friday, the malls will be a mad dash.  I can’t believe that some of the stores are even opening up at midnight Thursday night (or Friday morning)!!!  Here are a few tips to stay safe while doing your holiday shopping:

1.  Try to limit your load:

  • Carrying heavy items can cause you to move with poor spinal control and positioning
  • It’s okay to make several trips to the car (this might even burn off some Thanksgiving dinner calories

2.  If you can’t limit your load (i.e. heavy items like TVs and computers):

  • Try and get a store employee to help you
  • If that isn’t possible try to limit the distance you have to carry the item
  • Carry the item as close to midline as possible (keep it close to your belly button

On the lighter side:

Everyone has different traditions for Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, my family goes to my aunt and uncle’s home for a late lunch/early dinner.  We all watch some football on TV, catch up with the cousins, and for the last 7 years we have been adding some children to the mix.  It is always nice to see family.  But we can’t forget eating some turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

Since high school, I have played football on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  The game changes every year.  It used to be a bunch of us around the same age, but that crowd has quieted down and now we challenge some of the college aged kids to some flag football.

Go ahead and leave a comment of some of your favorite traditions for the holidays.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook!!!

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Ski Resorts Opening This Weekend

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The local ski resorts are opening this weekend.  That includes Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass, Mt. Baker, and Crystal Mountain.

Skier carving a turn off piste

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I know that growing up around here means skiing and snowboarding in the winter time.  The problem is that most of us do not perform these activities year round.  Winter sports are just that, WINTER SPORTS.  This means that many of the muscles that we use for these activities have not been used since last year.  I recall many times coming home the day after my first trip to the mountains for the year.  I was definitely sore and only wanted to spend some time in the hot tub.

Besides muscle soreness, being up on the mountain skiing and/or snowboarding can leave the body vulnerable to many injuries all over the body.  Without the right equipment or preparation, there is a litany of injuries that can occur:

Head and Spine:

Both the head and spine are vulnerable to injuries from falling while on the mountain.  It is recommended that everyone should wear a helmet to help protect the head in the case of a fall or collision.  Spinal injuries can also happen from a fall as well as poor core stabilization during the act of snowboarding or skiing.

Lower Extremity:

The entire lower extremity is at risk for injuries when skiing.  Ankles tend to be pretty safe due to the ski and/or snowboard boots and bindings, but because of the design, the knee can have more rotational force applied to it than it can handle.  Good strengthening and conditioning of the muscles surrounding the knee can help lower the chance of damage to any of the knee ligaments (ACL, MCL, etc.).

Upper Extremity:

The shoulders, arms, wrists and hands are at risk for injury mainly during a fall.  It is a natural reaction to put your hands out to catch yourself and you can injure anything from the thumb all the way up to the shoulder.

Injury Prevention

It is always good to be prepared for all activities.  Winter sports are unique in that most people will spend an entire day on the mountain.  Think to yourself when the last time you spent an entire day using all of the muscles you use in skiing and snowboarding?  I know that I don’t use those muscles for extended periods very often.  We can still train ourselves to overcome some of the deficits.  Most of us will still be sore following a day at the mountain.

Planks and Monster Walks are two very good exercises for preparing your body to deal with the rigors of snow sports.

Planks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJo9IhFwlUc&feature=player_profilepage

Monster Walks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc7Yd5J54Ow&feature=player_profilepage

Stretching

Some light stretching at the end of the day can help maintain tissue elasticity in order to help limit delayed muscle onset soreness. It is always a good idea to stretch the legs (hamstrings, quadriceps, calves) and the low back (prayer stretch).

Yoga for Chronic Back Pain

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Yoga
Image by Kerala Tourism via Flickr

Most of us have had at least one episode of low back pain.  I remember, in PT school, our instructor would ask if anyone has ever had back pain and all but one person out of 60 would raise their hand up.  Now I have never had debilitating back pain before, usually I can fix any symptoms I have with a change in position or some stretching.

Friends and family often ask me “what should I do for my back pain?” I usually reply by asking what makes it worse and trying to get a fix on a cause. Last week, an interesting article grabbed my attention  from the PT in Motion website in regards to treating chronic back pain.

The article talked about a recent research study published on November 1st, 2011 in Annuals of Internal Medicine. This article talked about the study and how it showed that people who participated in a 3-month yoga program saw greater improvements in back function than usual care for patients who had/have chronic low back pain.  Now, it is important to note that in this study, all participants had, at a minimum, “usual care.” Everyone in the study showed improvements in the standardized tests that represent disability, pain, and general health, but by adding a yoga class approximately once a week, patients showed slightly more improvements.  You can click here to read the post on PT in Motion.