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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 flip-flop use can be bad for the feet, as well as other parts of your body. 

Why? Because not only do flip-flops offer little protection or support for your feet, but they also alter the way you walk – and not for the better. 

“We found that when people walk in flip-flops, they alter their gait, which can result in problems and pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back,” said Justin Shroyer, who was a doctoral student in biomechanics when he led an Auburn University research team in studying the effects of wearing flip-flops. “Variations like this at the foot can result in changes up the kinetic chain, which in this case can extend upward in the wearer’s body.” 

According to Shroyer’s research, which was reported in the American College of Sports Medicine, flip-flips change a person’s gait by forcing wearers to scrunch their toes up as they walk in order to hold on the footwear. In turn, flip-flops lead people to take shorter strides that turned wearers’ ankles inward, which can lead to plantar fasciitis and ankle pain. 

This, along with the chain-reaction affect up into a person’s musculoskeletal system, is relevant to everyone. It’s especially relevant, however, to those who are already predisposed to knee, hip and/or lower-back pain. 

“The feet are the foundation of your whole body. This is the base of the skeleton,” said Jackie Sutera, a New York podiatrist and a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association. “It’s a domino effect … the rest of your joints and bones have to compensate [with the lack of foot support].” 

All of this said, few suggest we fear the flip-flop. Rather, we simply must wear when appropriate and with caution. The following are a few suggestions for accomplishing this: 

Don’t live in your flip-flops 

In other words, flip-flops have a time and a place – in the shower, on the beach, the backyard, etc. But don’t wear your flip-flops during long walks, workouts, stop-and-go activities, or revert to them as your be-all summer footwear. 

Listen to your body 

Even if you’re being smart about your flip-flop use, continue to listen to your body. Discomfort or pain in your foot, ankles, knees, hips, and/or back can indicate that your gait and stance requires better support at its foundation: your feet. 

Be prepared with alternative summer footwear 

Complement your flip-flop wear with sandals that provide additional foot support and a strap across the back of the foot to better hold them on. Or, consider hybrid sneaker sandals if you plan to be more active. 

If you do find that you experience foot pain or ailments (which may be related to improper footwear) that makes walking, jogging or movement more difficult this summer, a licensed physical therapist can perform a thorough gait analysis and pain evaluation. Such efforts go far toward helping ensure the body’s foundation is always protected through the use of proper footwear. 

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 considerations and long-term trial and error, ensuring optimal comfort and health, home workspaces can often fall short in this regard. 

Home workspace safety and comfort, however, should remain top of mind. 

Self-Care & Injury Prevention 

While it sometimes feels we’re all sacrificing right now to survive the COVID-19 outbreak, that doesn’t mean we ignore self-care. 

This includes focusing on the hours you spend every day working from home, ensuring your workspace – whether at your kitchen table or at a desk in the corner of a spare bedroom – isn’t putting you at risk of pain or injury. 

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), injuries resulting from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) due to poor workplace ergonomics account for 34 percent of all workday injuries and illnesses. 

Neck strains, pain in the shoulders or lower back, tendinitis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and so on – injuries and ailments often associated with poor workplace ergonomics – can and should be prevented in the workplace, even when that workplace is in your home. 

Boost Productivity 

Sitting in fixed or constrained positions most of the day, often repeating movements with the arms, hands and wrists, can take a toll on your body, leaving you more vulnerable to injury to the muscles, tendons and nerves. 

In contrast, a comfortable workspace is great for productivity and morale. 

OSHA estimates that the implementation of proper office ergonomics can increase productivity by an average of 11 percent. 

So, whether your work-from-home stint ends in weeks or months, it’s important to consider workspace improvements with an eye toward longevity. This includes abiding by the following guidelines for creating a safe and comfortable workstation: 

• Set your desk, chair, keyboard and mouse in position so your hands, wrists and forearms rest in straight lines and run parallel to the floor. Use a wrist rest for your keyboard and mouse, if needed. Allow your upper-arms to hang normally from the side of your body, elbows bent at around 90 degrees. 

• Place your monitor at a height that keeps your head level (or bent forward slightly) and in line with the rest of your body. The top of your monitor should sit slightly below eye level and about an arm’s length away. 

• Ensure your chair offers proper lumbar support, allowing for a slight inner curve of the lower spine. 

• Keep your knees at about the same (or slightly lower) height as your hips, and make sure your feet can sit flatly on the floor. If they don’t fully reach the floor, bring in a footrest to support your feet. 

• Take frequent breaks from sitting. Take time to stand up and stretch for a minute or two every half-hour or so. And, if you can, take a walk over breaks or during lunch. 

If stiffness, soreness, numbness and pain persist, or you have a question about setting up a proper workspace in your home, contact your physical therapist to discuss options for an initial assessment. 

5 Exercise Ideas Amid COVID-19 Social Distancing

5 Exercise Ideas Amid COVID-19 Social Distancing

As the country bands together to slow the spread of COVID-19 (a.k.a., the coronavirus) through the practice of social distancing, many have found their regularly exercise routines disrupted. 

Gym closures, group fitness class cancellations and the closing of popular parks and trails have become commonplace, making it more difficult for people to get their recommended weekly dose of exercise. 

And yet, we’re in a time when exercise and physical fitness could do a lot of good. 

Regular exercise is proven to help stabilize and even strengthen the immune system. It’s not going to prevent someone from contracting a virus like COVID-19 – social distancing is still the key to this – but a strong immune system can help your body fight such viruses. 

And, during a time of great life and economic uncertainty, exercise plays an important role in reducing daily stress while boosting one’s overall mood. 

With isolation such an important goal right now, however, your exercise is going to have to be a more individual, at-home effort. This can make it challenging for some. 

But, regular exercise is still possible. Consider these five exercise ideas during our current era of social distancing: 

Try Virtual Classes / Apps 

Not only are there a number of free and paid services and apps available that will take you through a variety of daily workout routines (i.e., cardio, yoga, stationary cycling, etc.), but a few higher-end services are offering extended free trial sessions during the current pandemic. 

Some gyms (i.e., Planet Fitness) are even sharing streaming daily workouts during their closures. 

Become One with Nature 

While some of the more popular parks and trails in your area may have been closed, plenty of our less-populated parks and wildlife areas are still open for hiking, running, cycling, etc. 

Enjoy the fresh air and natural sites, but still be sure to keep your distance from passersby. 

Be Creative at Home 

If you don’t have gym equipment at home, don’t fret. With a little imagination, items like soup cans can serve as weights, towels can be resistance bands, and a set of stairs can be your cardio machine. 

Even cooperative young children can offer added weight during resistance exercises. 

Use Your Body Weight 

Many great exercises don’t require equipment, save for your own body. Burpees, lunges, squats, push-ups and sit-ups (to name a few) can combine for quite an effective workout. 

Also, don’t forget cool-down stretching to exercise your flexibility. 

Get Stuff Done 

Finally, don’t overlook the exercise benefits that come with simply doing home projects. 

Set time aside to do some deep cleaning and organizing, or finally get to those home maintenance projects you’ve been putting off. Even yardwork and gardening can make for great workouts. 

As you consider these ideas, keep in mind that even though you’re at home, don’t take exercise too casually. Be sure to always warm up before following through on any of these ideas.  

And, if pain or injury is keeping you sedentary, contact your physical therapist. They will be happy to assess the issue and offer potential treatments and alternatives. 

Sterling Heights Health: Surgery Delayed by COVID-19? PT Can Help.

Sterling Heights Health: Surgery Delayed by COVID-19? PT Can Help.

In an attempt to salvage supplies and resources during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, many U.S. hospitals and medical institutions have opted to postpone elective surgeries. 

This includes non-emergency surgeries scheduled to relieve pain and repair injuries related to the musculoskeletal system – arthroscopy, ligament and tendon repairs, joint replacement surgeries, and so on. 

Despite these delays, Sterling Heights physical therapist Ashesh Vyas says those whose surgeries were delayed need not sit back and suffer. 

“Physical therapy can be a proactive way to reduce pain while increasing mobility and function until surgeries can be rescheduled,” said Vyas, owner of Active Kare Physical Therapy in Sterling Heights.  

The goal of physical therapy, Vyas said, is to help people improve their quality of lives by optimizing movement and reducing pain naturally. 

“In a lot of cases, we can help people avoid the need for surgery,” Vyas added. “But, even if surgery is in your future, we can help you live a more comfortable and active life as you’re waiting to reschedule your procedure.” 


Physical therapists can also help patients prepare themselves for surgery, strengthening their bodies so that they recover faster and without complication. Known as prehabilitation, or “prehab,” the goal is to prepare the body for both the surgery itself and the rehabilitation effort that follows. 

“Prehabilitation is based on the simple philosophy that the stronger and more balanced your body and muscles are before orthopedic surgery, the stronger and better off you’ll be after,” Vyas said. “Multiple studies have shown this to be an effective strategy.” 

For example, a study published in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery found that taking part in a physical therapy program before joint replacement surgery – a prehabilitation program – can reduce the need for post-operative care by nearly 30 percent. 

“When a person has reached the point where they need orthopedic surgery, their bodies have oftentimes become accustomed to compensating for pain and certain impairments,” Vyas said. “By seeing a physical therapist before surgery, we can address any bad movement habits, weaknesses or flexibility issues that can impede the rehab process post-surgery.” 

Pre-Surgery Anxiety 

As surgeries are delayed, this can also lead to great patient anxiety. Working with a physical therapist during this period, however, can help reduce this anxiety while PTs better prepare patients for the mental strain of surgery and rehabilitation. 

“We pride ourselves on being educators, and we don’t take this role lightly when helping prepare someone for surgery,” Vyas said. “We’ll educate them about what to expect immediately after surgery and coach them on exercises they’ll need to know during the rehab process – all of which can ease anxiety.” 

If your orthopedic surgery has been delayed due to COVID-19, and you wish to stay active and pain-free leading up to surgery, contact the team at Active Kare Physical Therapy to schedule an initial assessment. 

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Sterling Heights Wellness: Why Flexibility Matters as You Grow Older

Sterling Heights Wellness: Why Flexibility Matters as You Grow Older

Though it often takes a back seat to strength and cardiovascular fitness, flexibility plays a critical role in ensuring one’s able to maintain a high level of independence and mobility during their Golden Years. 

While our muscles and tendons tend to naturally shrink and tighten as we age, that doesn’t put seniors at the mercy of such changes. According to Sterling Heights physical therapist Ashesh Vyas, muscle elasticity can be maintained and improved at any age. 

“Staying flexible certainly takes effort, but the payoff is you’ll be able to stay more active and independent while you grow older, which should be all our goals,” said Vyas, owner of Active Kare Physical Therapy in Sterling Heights. 

Flexibility is defined as one’s ability to move muscles and joints through their full ranges of motion. It’s a critical component of mobility, which also involves strength, balance and coordination. 

Poor flexibility, says Vyas, can lead to poor balance, poor posture, and a greater overall feeling of tension in the body. It also affects daily living and the ability to avoid common ailments and injuries often related to aging. 

“Not only do you need to maintain flexibility to accomplish daily tasks like bending to tie your shoes or reaching to grab something from a high cupboard,” Vyas said. “Flexibility is also critical in allowing your body to safely absorb impact and falls, helping you prevent injury later in life.” 

As staying limber is an essential part of maintaining health and happiness while one ages, Vyas offers the following advice for maintaining flexibility: 

Stay Active

The best and easiest first step in staying flexible is to simply stay active every day. Going for walks, playing with the grandkids, dancing, working in the garden, taking yoga or Pilates classes … they all help keep the body warm, loose and strong. Focus on daily activities you enjoy! 

Warm Up Dynamically

Even when you aren’t necessarily exercising, it’s important to keep your muscles and joints loose by doing dynamic movements throughout the day. Movements like neck rolls, arm windmills, walking lunges, etc., take your muscles and joints through their full ranges of motion, keeping them loose and limber. 

Stretch & Hold

Called static stretching, these bend-and-hold-type stretches (think touching your toes) help increase flexibility by putting light tension on your muscles and joints for 30 to 60 seconds at a time. These stretches work best after a brief warmup or following a workout or activity, though it can also be beneficial (and relaxing) to do them early in the morning or just before going to bed. 

Use a Foam Roller

These affordable tools for self-massage will, when used properly, help release tension that develops over time in the muscles and connective tissues. This, according to the Mayo Clinic, helps increase flexibility and improve mobility. 

Visit a Physical Therapist

Not sure where to start? Whether you’re already active and limber or wish to start down a path toward increased flexibility, visit your local physical therapist. After reviewing your medical history and assessing your current flexibility levels, a physical therapist will establish a personalized strategy for helping you reach your mobility and lifestyle goals. 

Artists: Don’t Let Pain or Injury Dampen Your Creative Spirit

Artists: Don’t Let Pain or Injury Dampen Your Creative Spirit

We often don’t consider the long-term impact that practicing the fine arts can have on the body. 

Yet, according to physical therapists, dancers, musicians, visual artists and even performing artists are not immune to experiencing pain and injury related to their crafts. 

Artists of all types express themselves in ways that require various levels of strength, flexibility, balance, precision and dexterity. Over time, this can have a real impact on their bodies, issues that may manifest as discomfort, pain, injury and movement limitations. 

With the most potential for stress on their bodies, dancers, of course, may experience some of the same types of injuries as jumping athletes. But, artists who practice other, lower-impact crafts are not immune from the long-term stress of practicing, creating and performing. 

Musicians, for example, often have to train their bodies to bend, reach and grip in incredibly tense and precise ways for long periods of time. Even visual artists may find themselves bent tightly over a piece over long stretches, which can lead to a number of potential musculoskeletal disorders. 

The following are some common issues that can develop within various populations of fine artists: 


Along with the potential for acute injuries, dancers of all types are prone to overuse injuries in the hips, knees, ankles and feet. Injuries like hip impingement, tendonitis in the hip flexor or Achilles tendon, runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome), stress fractures, and even the development of arthritis are common in dancers. 


Those who play string, percussion or wind instruments can, over the long term, also develop overuse and repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). RSIs are in pain the muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repetitive movements. 

Conditions such as tendonitis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome can be painful. They can also affect a musician’s strength, endurance, and ability to properly grip their instrument. 

Visual Artists 

Visual artists such as painters and sculptors are also not immune to RPIs and overuse injuries (i.e., tendinitis, carpal tunnel, etc.). 

The focus and precision that goes into artists’ efforts can cause them to work for long periods of time without a break – sometimes in awkward positions and postures – adding tension and strain to the body. 

Performing Arts 

Covering a broad spectrum of people, from actors to stage and lighting designers, injury trends in the performing arts are more difficult to track. However, excelling in this field requires mental and physical endurance. Performing artists often work and practice long hours while wearing multiple hats, often crossing into other elements of fine arts such as dancing, music and visual arts. 

The need to create or perform artistically is so strong in some people, it can seem to rival their need to breathe. So, when pain, weakness or discomfort starts to affect your work, it’s important to get in to see a physical therapist early for an assessment and treatment, if required. 

Physical therapists can also identify the potential for painful conditions before they occur, providing clients with exercise and treatments for strengthening their bodies to avoid injury.