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How about a walk?

How about a walk?

Don’t let those joints get stiff in this cold weather!

Have you received prompts from your cellphones or wearable devices/activity trackers such as Fitbit, Apple watch to move around and walk?

Whenever you are inactive, your activity tracking app on your smartphone your wearable activity tracker device will remind you to move around. And this is a good thing.

My patients always complain that the cold weather makes it difficult for them to move, or they are in more pain and their muscles ache more than usual.

It is funny how we always blame the weather for those aches and pains.

I agree that our perception changes with the change in weather, and when the weather is damp, cloudy, or cold, we feel lazy. We tend to be less active compared to when it is sunny outside.

The reason for this feeling is because as it starts getting cold around us, our body starts rerouting blood to our internal organs and away from the extremities. That leads to stiff joints and muscles, resulting in aches and pains in joints.

In this situation, the best thing to do is get joints warmer to get more movements.

Staying in one position for too long is not suitable for anyone. That is why I suggest all my patients working from home keep moving every few minutes. I am sure; if you are wearing a smartwatch, it might remind you to move every few minutes.

Here are some tips to help you avoid your muscles getting too stiff and prevent them from aching.

Following these tips should help you even if you have arthritis.

1. Start your day with some gentle stretches and exercises:

The best way to start a day

Of course, the type of exercise might differ depending on how you feel but warming up before you start your day is the best way to get ready for the day. Most people I talk to complain of having the most pain in the morning when they wake up, and the reason behind this is that they slept in one position for too long, and when they wake up, their muscles are stiff.
The best way to start your day is with some easy gentle stretching, loosen up your body and prepare for the day.

2. Avoid staying in one place for too long

Move around every few minutes. If you are working on a desk all day, remind yourself to stand up and walk around, stretch back by twisting and turning, shrug your shoulders, move your neck to the sides to relax neck muscles.

3. Remind yourself to move

Staying in one position for too long is not healthy. You might have experienced a tight neck or stiffness behind your shoulder after sitting in one place for too long. It is advisable to remind yourself to change position. Also, do some easy stretches such as moving your neck to sides, rolling shoulders, twisting trunk, and so on…, every few minutes.

If you wear a wearable activity tracker that might remind you to move if it finds you inactive for some time.

4. Get into a habit of sitting with a better posture.

It is essential to be mindful of how you sit while doing your day-to-day activities. To avoid the neck pain or back pain, make sure to sit with a correct posture. If needed, use back support that will allow you to sit straight. Make sure to keep your head straight while looking at the computer and avoid slouching over. Adjust the monitor’s height, so you don’t have to look down or tilt your head while looking at it. If needed, zoom in or make fonts bigger to make it easier for you to read.

5. Take Hot Shower

When joints and muscles are stiff and are aching during cold weather, taking a hot shower is a great way to feel better. It will help you to have better mobility and less muscle tightness.

6. Use heating pads

If you have pain in any specific area, the hot shower is insufficient to relieve muscle aches. In that case, use a heating pad to warm up that particular area. A heating pad will help improve blood supply to that part and relax muscles and joints in that area.

These tips will be helpful for you to stay warm and stay active during this cold weather. It is essential to keep active, keep moving, and not let the cold or damp weather affect our day-to-day lives. Of course, if your problem is not from a change in the weather and if you have the same level of discomfort regardless of the weather change, you need to talk to your healthcare provider.

Suppose you have aches and pains with any specific activities. In that case, whether it is cold or warm outside, it is essential to get it checked by your licensed physical therapist.

By talking to your physical therapist, you can better understand what is causing that pain. It will give you an idea of what you might need to do to reduce that pain.

We will suggest visiting a PT or needing to be seen by a specialist. Email us at info@activekarept.com with the subject line “I need Help” and give us more information about your problem.

You can also reach us by calling us at 248-432-1618 or chatting with us with our chat tool on the website.

We answer your questions and give you the best advice possible as per our expertise and allowed by the physical therapy scope of practice.

Lazy Summer or Deconditioning?

Lazy Summer or Deconditioning?

The weather is hot, the gym is closed, and you've been relaxing - enjoying the lazy, hazy days of summer. Taking a day off here and there is no problem, but if you've been consistently missing your regular run, bike ride, or gym session and notice some aches and pains...

Summer Pro Tip: Wear your flip-flops with caution

Summer Pro Tip: Wear your flip-flops with caution

Warmer weather means lighter clothing all around, and footwear is no exception.  But before you grab the flip-flops for summer outings and activities, physical therapists join other medical professionals in offering a word of caution: long-term...

Create a Safe, Productive At-Home Workspace

Create a Safe, Productive At-Home Workspace

As millions transition into working from home to help thwart the spread of the coronavirus, maintaining both comfort and productivity has no doubt been an issue for many.  While in-office workstations are often designed around ergonomic...

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Holidays an Ideal Time for a Refresher on Proper Lifting

Holidays an Ideal Time for a Refresher on Proper Lifting

Digging out boxes of holiday decorations, hauling packages to and from the car, hiding gifts away on the higher shelves at the back of your closet … the Holiday Season certainly requires its fair share of bending, lifting and reaching. This, coupled with the cooler weather, makes December the ideal time for a refresher on proper lifting methods. 

Back pain, after all, can put a real damper on the Holiday Season. 

As one of the most common conditions treated by physical therapists, back pain and injury will even about 80 percent of all Americans at some point in their lives, making it one of the top causes of disability in the U.S. Fortunately, it’s a condition that’s preventable, and one of the ways of doing this is to learn proper lifting techniques. 

But, preventing back pain isn’t the only concern when we talk about proper lifting. Using the proper techniques for lifting and carrying awkward and/or heavy objects is about minimizing strain on the entire body. 

The goal, in other words, is to put yourself in a position that allows the body’s musculoskeletal system to work as one cohesive unit, without putting too much strain on one area, such as the lower-back or shoulders. 

So without further ado, strongly consider the following tips for proper lifting during this Holiday Season … and throughout your lifetime: 

Warm Up: 

Don’t ever assume your body’s ready to lift heavy objects without first being thoroughly warmed up. Take the time to stretch you lower back as well as your legs and hips. Also, do a few jumping jacks to get the blood flowing to the muscles in your body. 

Get Close 

Avoid reaching for a heavy or moderate-sized load. Get up nice and close to the box or object to minimize the force (in the arms, shoulders and back) needed to lift, and always hold it close to your body. 

Bend & Lift with the Knees 

We’ve all heard this before, and it’s true. But in doing so, keep your back straight and your body upright as you lower yourself to the object in question, then use your legs to rise back up. 

Get a Grip 

This seems to go without saying, but if you can’t get a strong, comfortable grip on the object in front of you – even if you know you can carry the weight – don’t try to be a hero. Find someone to help you or an alternative way of getting the object from A to B, such as a hand cart or dolly. 

Reverse the Steps 

When you get to where you’re going, set the item down just as you picked it up – but in reverse. Keep it close to the body, lower with the legs and move slowly and deliberately. You can just as easily injure yourself setting objects down as you can picking them up. 

In addition, keep from twisting or reaching while lifting and/or carrying a load. Don’t rush through the process of lifting, and if you’re tired, put the work off until later 

And finally, if you do feel pain during or after lifting, or you have an injury or condition you feel is holding you back from moving properly, visit a physical therapist for a full assessment prior to trying any sort of heavy or awkward lifting. 

Lazy Summer or Deconditioning?

Lazy Summer or Deconditioning?

The weather is hot, the gym is closed, and you’ve been relaxing – enjoying the lazy, hazy days of summer. Taking a day off here and there is no problem, but if you’ve been consistently missing your regular run, bike ride, or gym session and notice some aches and pains showing up, you might have the beginnings of deconditioning.

Deconditioning explained

Exercise creates many changes in your body – your heart begins to pump blood more efficiently, your muscles use oxygen more efficiently, they contract in a more coordinated manner, and your body gets more efficient turning food into fuel to name just a few. Deconditioning is the reversing of these changes. Exercise is a “use it or lose it” kind of thing, and deconditioning is the process by which we “lose it.”

How long does it take to decondition?

As with most things related to a system as complex as the human body, it depends. According to the ACSM, two weeks without exercise can lead to significant loss of cardiovascular fitness. Two to eight months of detraining can erase virtually all of your gains. As you detrain, cardiovascular fitness tends to decline first, with muscle strength declining later.

Other factors are your age, and your exercise history. If you’re younger, you’ll probably lose fitness at a slower rate than someone older. If you’ve been consistently exercising for a long time, or at a high intensity, your losses will probably be slower than for someone who just started.

Reversing the losses

PT can help with aches and pain.

If you’re just undergoing a period of increased time commitments at work or with family, using a shortened exercise routine can help minimize your losses. Even one session a week will help you keep most of what you’ve gained. Other options are to use shorter but more intense interval training sessions, or breaking up your activity into multiple short chunks during the day. If your layoff was longer, it may take just as long to retrain as it did to make the gains initially. If you’re having those aches and pains due to inactivity or need help designing a safe program to either maintain your fitness or gain it back after a layoff, your physical therapist can help. Injury and illness are other common reasons for detraining. Your PT can not only help you recover faster, but they can also find activities to maintain your fitness while safely working around an injury or illness.

Did you have a lazy summer? Do have aches and pain from from not being very active this this summer?

Have been working from home and now you are suffering from aches and pain? Don’t avoid your pain. Get help you need so that you can stay productive at your work

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Physical Therapy Offers Relief from Holiday Tension Headaches

Physical Therapy Offers Relief from Holiday Tension Headaches

The fact that the season of giving, joy and celebration can also be our most stressful time of year is one of the worst kept secrets of the Holidays.

And yet, year after year, we charge forward, often fighting through tension-type headaches to complete our shopping, plan for get-togethers with friends, and fulfill all our family obligations.

But why fight through the headaches, asks Sterling Heights physical therapist Ashesh Vyas, when a physical therapist can often provide relief from tension-type headaches by correcting the problems that cause the pain?

What is a Tension Headache?

“A tension headache often starts with pain or dysfunction at the back of the head or neck – discomfort that can spread around your head, and even to your eyes,” said Vyas, owner at Active Kare Physical Therapy in Sterling Heights. “What we as physical therapists can do, after a thorough examination and a series of questions, is determine the likely causes of your headache. Then, we can treat these causes.”

According to the World Health Organization, a tension-type headache (TTH) is the most common primary headache disorder in the world, typically related to stress or associated with musculoskeletal problems in the neck.

One study published in the U.S. Library of Medicine called tension-type headaches the second-most common illness worldwide, affecting 80 to 90 percent of people at least once in their lives.

Tension headaches, as they’re often called, are frequently described as a feeling of pressure or tightness, often like a band around the head that spreads into or from the neck.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), these headaches may be caused by stress, fatigue, poor posture, or problems with the neck or jaw – like an injury.

How Physical Therapy Helps

“Once we determine the cause of your tightness and pain, a PT can work with you to correct the underlying problem that’s leading you to experience these headaches,” Vyas said. “This can be fatigued muscles from bad posture, or a lack of strength or mobility in your neck and shoulders.”

Often, treatments will focus on three areas: improved posture, improved strength in the upper back, neck and shoulders, and improved mobility in the neck and spine through stretching and pain-reducing movements. This is also known as manual therapy.

“We’ll not only provide relief through treatments in the clinic, but physical therapists also work with people to correct the issues which caused the headache in the first place, be it improving posture or simple changes in lifestyle,” said Vyas. “PTs always treat with an eye toward future prevention.”

If the Holiday Season has already become a headache for you this year, schedule an assessment with the Active Kare Physical Therapy team to learn more about what’s causing your tension headache and how it can be successfully and affordably treated through physical therapy.

6 Common Back Pain Myths Debunked

6 Common Back Pain Myths Debunked

Despite being one of the top causes of disability in the U.S., affecting around eight in 10 people in their lifetimes, back pain is an ailment often misunderstood by those affected.

Such misconceptions can cause those suffering from back pain to seek solutions, potential treatment paths, and even lifestyle alterations that aren’t necessarily in their best interests.

Back pain can be as frustrating as it is debilitating, especially if past preventative measures and treatments haven’t been helpful. And, this can lead a person down paths that don’t result in the best and most necessary evidence-based treatments.

These paths can sometimes lead to treatments that are more expensive or personally invasive – and perhaps even unnecessary – such as MRIs and surgery.

MRIs, shots, surgery, medication, etc., should mostly be considered last resort-type solutions. The fact is, most back pain issues will go away on their own in a few days. And even when they don’t, most remaining cases can be successfully resolved through safer, more affordable and more effective treatment approaches.

To help health care consumers make better decisions when considering solutions to their back-pain issues, we’d like to shed some light on the following common back pain myths:

1. Bed Rest Helps with Relief & Healing

Once a common treatment for back pain, research strongly suggests long-term rest can slow recovery and even make your back pain worse. Instead, treatment involving movement and exercise (i.e., stretches, walking, swimming, etc.) often works better to hasten healing and provide relief.

2. The Problem’s in My Spine

Back pain can be caused by a wide array of issues throughout the body as well as one’s environment. It can be a response to the way you move when you exercise, how you sit at work, the shoes you wear, the mattress on which you sleep, or simply your body compensating for movement limitations and weaknesses. Back pain doesn’t necessarily mean you have a “bad back,” or are predisposed to back pain.

3. I Just Need an ‘Adjustment’

Those accustomed to visiting a chiropractor for back pain issues often claim to find relief from having their spine adjusted, or “cracked.” While this process can release endorphins that offer some temporary relief, only about 10 percent of all back pain cases can actually benefit from spine mobilization. Exercise is often more effective, as is determining and treating the pain’s source. (See item No. 2.)

4. Medication’s the Answer

A popular quick fix, medication should never be viewed as a long-term solution to chronic back pain issues. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help get you through in the short term, but many prescription pain meds can be dangerous, addictive, and even make the pain worse in some instances.

5. I’ll Probably Need Surgery

Of people experiencing low-back pain, only about 4 to 8 percent of their conditions can and should be successfully treated with surgery, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Even 90-plus percent of herniated discs often get better on their own through a combination of rest and physical therapy.

6. I Need a Referral to See a Physical Therapist

Multiple studies have concluded that physical therapy is one of the safest and most effective ways to both treat and prevent back pain. And in nearly every state, patients can access physical therapy services without first getting a physician’s prescription.

Tips for Preventing Shin Splints this Running Season

Tips for Preventing Shin Splints this Running Season

The longer days and warmer weather of the season can be invigorating, enticing runners of all levels to up their games. But while this time of year may motivate one to increase the duration, frequency and intensity of their runs, Sterling Heights physical therapist Ashesh Vyas cautions that if the increase is too sudden, it could put the runner at the risk of a painful condition known as shin splints.

“Shin splints isn’t a serious condition, but it can be painful and will most certainly hold runners and other active people back from their workout, and perhaps even other things they enjoy in life,” said Vyas, Owner of Active Kare Physical Therapy in Sterling Heights.

Known in the medical world as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints present as soreness, tenderness and pain along the inside of the shin bone (tibia). At first, the pain may only be felt during a run or workout, Vyas said, but the condition may progress to the point where pain may be felt well after exercise.

With about 3 million reported cases per year in the U.S., shin splints account for 13 to 17 percent of all running-related injuries. Dancers and military recruits also record a high incidence of shin splints.

“People who take part in activities that involve high-impact stress on the legs are most susceptible to developing shin splints, especially during a time when the intensity of their exercise has suddenly increased,” said Vyas. “This increased stress can overwork the muscles, tendons and bone tissue in the lower leg, which can manifest as pain.”

The key to overcoming shin splints, according to Vyas, is to rest. Take a few recovery days off from high-impact activities and exercises, and allow the body to heal. If you experience inflammation, ice can also be beneficial.

However, it’s important, Vyas added, that runners and others susceptible to shin splints take steps to prevent the onset of the condition. Consider the following tips:

Avoid overdoing it. When increasing the distance, duration, intensity and/or frequency of an exercise regimen such as running, do so gradually. Slowly building your fitness level over time is safer on the body than making quick, monumental leaps that can overload your shins.

Wear proper shoes. Not only should you always wear a good pair of shoes, but the type of shoes you wear should fit your foot type. The right shoe for someone who’s flat-footed, for instance, won’t be right for someone with high arches, and vice versa. Also, wear the right type of shoes for your chosen activity or sport.

Mix up your workouts. We all have our preferred ways of exercising, but mix it up once in a while. Alternate running with, say, cycling or swimming – something that still challenges you but with less impact on the body.

Analyze your movement. A thorough, biomechanical running analysis performed by a physical therapist can identify movement patterns that may be leading to the onset of shin splints. You may find out that one small tweak in your running form can keep your shins healthy and pain-free.

See a physical therapist. Besides performing a running analysis, a physical therapist is trained to analyze your entire kinetic chain to identify any imbalances or weaknesses that could put you at risk of pain or injury. From advising you on what shoes to wear to creating a personalized exercise regimen to help you move and perform better, teaming up with a physical therapist is an ideal step for those serious about pain and injury prevention.