Neck pain and upper back pain may be two of the most common ailments people experience. From struggling to move your neck, to worrying about the position you sit in on your favorite sofa, pain in the upper torso is debilitating. Yet, many of those who experience these kinds of issues haven’t suffered a fall, twisted their necks unnaturally, or been on rollercoasters since their pain started. For most people, the cause of neck pain or upper back discomfort can’t be pinpointed: there is no single unique moment in which their backs or necks could have been injured. What then? How did they come to be in so much pain? And if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking the same thing about yourself. Fear not, however, because we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll be investigating the hidden causes that have led to your neck and upper back pain. We’ll also be looking at what to do about it and which steps to take next.
The really frustrating thing about constant neck and upper back pain is that, no matter what you seem to do, it just doesn’t want to disappear. You’ve tried everything: hot water bottles, massages, and even long periods of rest, yet nothing has changed, right? Well, the truth is, it isn’t going to get any better unless you find out exactly why you’re experiencing the pain. See, the thing is, neck and upper back pain often have pretty mundane sources: your everyday habits might be the culprits here. Thus, no matter what you do, if you don’t start there, nothing will change. In lieu of this, take a look at some of the fairly common mistakes people make:
Lack of Exercise
Now, I can hear you thinking from here… “I should be resting my muscles, not moving them!” Well, no, not really. By not moving enough, you are actually setting your recovery back considerably. Muscles and joints need to move in order to maintain mobility. If you aren’t moving your upper back and neck enough, your muscles will start to stiffen and shorten, thereby placing stress on your joints and decreasing overall movement. This invariably leads to the pain you’re experiencing now. So, while rest may intuitively feel like the right thing to do, it may actually be doing more harm than good. Why not try doing some gentle stretches to loosen up the painful area? Furthermore, if you sit at a desk for long periods of time, be mindful of getting up regularly and stretching your neck and upper back. Walk around a bit and, during your time off, take up a new sport like cycling, walking, or swimming.
Having bad posture is one of the leading causes of upper back and neck pain. Slouching leads to a variety of ailments in the long run, but a tell-tail sign of poor alignment is the nagging discomfort you come to experience in your upper torso. Start becoming mindful of how you sit and stand: make sure your spine is aligned correctly. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, make sure your chair supports your back correctly, and that your computer – if you use one – is at eye-level.
Everyday Habits: Strain on you Upper Back and Neck
You may not know this, but some of the things you do daily actually affect your upper back and neck considerably. Think about driving, for example. How long do you sit in the car for? And, when you drive, do you turn your neck or just blink into the rear-view mirror when necessary? These are the types of things you need to start considering when it comes to the health of your upper back and neck. How long do you stare at your phone for, and do you slouch while you do it? When you bend down to pick up the groceries, the school bags, or your pot plants, do you do it mindfully or without regard for your upper back and neck? What about when you clean the house, play golf, brush your teeth and hair, or shave your legs? All these daily decisions and actions accumulate over time, and the effect their incorrect execution may have is usually far too understated. Make a change today: be mindful and cognizant of how you do certain tasks, how often you do them, and whether you’re aware of what your body is trying to signal to you. The devil is in the details.
When it comes to tackling the issue of upper back and neck pain, as has been mentioned earlier, movement is your best friend. Move as much as you can and as often as you can. Be conscious of the fact, however, that you should always be sensitive to the type of activities you’re able to do. Some safe activities on your road to health include Pilates and yoga, both of which offer you the opportunity to enhance the flexibility and mobility of you upper back and neck muscles. You could also try walking, swimming, and relaxing hikes in order to jumpstart your journey to a pain free life.
In addition to the extra physical activities we suggest, physical therapy is by far the best, safest and most effective way of tackling and overcoming your upper back and neck pain. With the help of a professional, hands-on physical therapist, you’ll not only find the root cause of the problem, but your particular issue will be treated accordingly, thereby permanently relieving your pain. And not only that, a physical therapist with equip you with the tools to maintain your pain free life by giving you tailor-made stretches and exercise routines suited to you personally. Physical therapy will mobilize your joints, relieve stiffness, and rid you of your pain so that you can enjoy the life you deserve.
If you’re unsure about where to start, or you feel discouraged by the daily pain you’re enduring, contact us today. We’re here to uncover the hidden causes of your neck and upper back pain so that you can get back to living the life you dream of. We invite you to fill out the form below in order to speak to one of our highly qualified, professional physical therapists… find out how we can help you eliminate your pain, today!
If you generally step more gently as you go down the stairs, hold the hand-railing a little bit tighter, and take careful note of where your feet land next… you’re not alone. The vast majority of us either consciously or subconsciously fear the sudden jolt and feeling of vertigo related to feeling taking a tumble – not to mention the pain that comes afterwards! Our worst fears are realized when we start to think about the horrendous consequences of a fall: hip-fractures, muscle tears, back pain, even broken legs all come to mind. Yikes! Is it any wonder that a common nightmarish theme is falling out of bed? In fact, a fear of falling is so common that most people don’t even know they’re afraid! That’s right – the fear isn’t consciously spoken about or acknowledged, rather it translates into minute, prolonged posture and gait abnormalities which, if left unnoticed, can wreak havoc on one’s mobility and self-confidence. That’s why this post looks at why most people are secretly afraid of falling, why most don’t even know they’re afraid, and – thankfully – what we can do about tackling this problem.
Being afraid of falling is more than a cautious tip-toeing around objects: it’s an overarching alteration of the way we assess, approach, and interact with the world around us. Unbeknownst to many of us, the fear of falling actually restricts our movement, thus it can, in fact, cause pain and immobility over time. And not only that, it can actually reduce self-esteem, restricting us from otherwise social interactions along the way. So few of us ever really acknowledge the overarching effects of our fear that, consequently, we forget how our daily lives are being impacted – we become accustomed to limitations and we accept our worry as part of life. And yet, it doesn’t have to be that way! Take a look at some of the most common reasons you might be afraid of falling and what to do about it:
As you’ve gotten a bit older, you’ve stopped riding on your bicycle, stopped practicing yoga, and stopped rowing down the river in your canoe. The result? Your balance has deteriorated and you’ve started feeling the impact this has had on your mobility. The less balance-orientated activities you do, the less you hone your balancing skills, thereby allowing weight to be unevenly distributed throughout your body. This causes straining and overcompensation in certain areas and weakness in others. Subsequently, an unbalanced body wreaks havoc on your brain: is it that much more likely to fear falling… after all, it knows your balance is off! The answer? Well, get back on the yoga mat, dust off the bicycle, and start practicing activities that increase your balance; a daily effort to evenly distribute weight and create a greater awareness of your body’s balance is, ultimately, a giant leap on your road to overcoming the fear of falling.
Just as you’ve given up the rowing, you’ve also neglected to do your daily walks or stretches, thus your muscles have started to weaken and lose strength. Without muscle strength, your body isn’t capable of giving you the confidence needed to overcome a fear of falling. Again, your mind understands that your body is incapable of compensating for a fall if you have weak muscles, thus it trains you to restrict movement accordingly – it lessens the probability of a fall. Why not start walking for 30 minutes a day? Muscle weakness starts alongside a sedentary lifestyle: get active and feel the confidence return to both your body and mind.
When it comes to falling, footwear matters. Yes, of course, wearing 9-inch heals to the park is asking for a tumble, but realistically, wearing shoes that are incapable of supporting and distributing your weight evenly is setting you up for failure. Footwear needs to be comfortable and stable, thus giving you the reassurance of a good, strong, supported stride. In addition, good footwear offers you balance! So, don’t hesitate to ditch the heels and opt of support and comfort – your body and muscles with thank you for it!
Clutter, mounds of clothes, various sofas, and random chairs in your home place before your body a daily obstacle course – from stepping over a coffee table, to swiveling around a badly-placed chair, these movements impact your peace of mind, place stress on your already weak muscles, and increase your fear of falling. The stress associated with navigating the living-room is, at its most basic level, akin to traversing an uneven hillside: the fact that you do it every day makes your mind and body feel as though you need to be protected, and thus your movements become limited. Obstacles feed your fear. If watching Marie Kondo is motivation enough to clean out the clutter, then waste no more time! Clear a path to freedom from fear!
At the end of the day, we know and understand that your fear of falling is far-reaching: from your body to your mind, your mobility and lifestyle are both being affected. That’s also why we know that seeing a professional, hands-on, caring physical therapist is by far the best, most effective, and safest way of tackling the issue. A qualified physical therapist is able to diagnose the root cause of the problem, assess posture, gait, and muscle tension, and work with you in order to free you from your daily anxiety. Furthermore, physical therapy offers you tailor-made exercises and stretches, thereby allowing you to maintain a strong, stable body and a life free from fear! With physical therapy, the self-confidence to step out proudly, strongly, and bravely will become second nature to you.
Being afraid of falling is as much about your body as it is about your mind: the limitations your mind places on your body is affecting your life for the worse. And that’s why we know that the freedom from fear enables you to live the life you dream of, do the activities you long to do, and be the person you hope to be. We’re here to help you, and we look forward to speaking to you about how we can assist and guide you on your journey to achieving confidence in yourself and your body. Call us today; we look forward to hearing from you!
We’ve all been there… our hands clutching at our thighs in the hope of relieving hip-stress as we get up or sit down; a grimace on our faces as we try to grapple with what we think are signs of aging while easing into the bath; a frown as we get out of the car, straining to carry the weight in our legs, not our hips. Hip pain: most of us have experienced it, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably still suffering from its tell-tail discomfort. And yet, for most of you reading this, your pain isn’t related to any sort of injury you can think of – it just arrived and has decided to stay. The good news is, though its origins are unknown, hip-pain can be treated and alleviated. In this post, we’re looking at some of the reasons you might be suffering from hip discomfort – and better still – some of the ways in which you can become pain free, right now.
I know what you’re thinking – you haven’t fallen, tumbled, or tripped recently. In fact, you tend to take fairly good care of your hips in so far as you know how. And that’s great! The truth is, though, for the majority of us, joint health is something we don’t really consider in our daily activities. In other words, when it comes to our hips, we often don’t realize that small irregularities in our postures, habits, and routines, can affect the health of our hip joints in the long run. That having been said, take a look at some of the most common reasons you’re experiencing inexplicable pain in your hip area:
1. Sitting All Day
It’s possible you’ve already considered the fact that a largely sedentary lifestyle might be contributing to your hip pain – if so, you’re on the right track. Sitting for numerous hours a day will eventually lead to stiff, tight muscles, the presence of which will result in pain. Your hip joints are incredibly important when it comes to mobility – not moving or stretching them throughout the day will cause a decreased ability to move with comfort, hence the pulling, stabbing, or dull ache your feel when you leave for home or get out of bed in the mornings.
2. No Exercise
Your muscles and joints need to be lubricated, stretched, and strengthened in order for them to maintain their flexibility and functionality. And the best way to do this is… yes… you guessed it: exercise. Excluding exercise from your daily routine is a sure-fire way to end up experiencing hip-pain. If you don’t use your muscles often, they weaken and lose their ability to add structural support to your joints; in this way, then, weakening hip muscles can lead to damage in the hip joint, thereby causing and aggravating hip-pain.
3. Repeated Exercise Routines
Though exercise is a great way to keep your hip-joint healthy, the continual repetition of one single exercise, stretch, or routine can actually cause breakdown within the muscle, thereby aggravating hip-pain instead of alleviating it. Constantly focusing on one single type of activity places continuous pressure on one group of muscles, and so places stress on them while weakening those around them: this is the point at which injury, and thus the possibility of serious damage, may occur.
If you’re doing one, two, or even all of the above, don’t fear – your hip-pain can be dealt with. Fortunately, there are ways in which you can tackle and alleviate your pain. Take a look:
Doing stretches which target your hip area can be very helpful in loosening and lengthening tight, stiff muscles which may be causing you discomfort. Find the time to hit the mat and stretch out your hip muscles, even if it means getting up 10 minutes earlier.
2. Varied Exercise
Having realized that a sedentary lifestyle is causing you discomfort, it’s time to begin making some changes. Start by incorporating some exercises in the office: get up every 15 – 20 minutes, and walk for 2 minutes every 30 minutes. In addition, try adding some extra activities to your daily routine. Why not try walking for 30 minutes a day, or cycling along the promenade or in the park? Getting those muscles moving is essential for your recovery and pain-free life. Remember, though, vary your routine as you go along.
3. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is by far the fastest and safest way to get rid of your hip pain, right now. If you’ve never considered physical therapy, or have misunderstood the benefits of this therapy, it’s time to reconsider. With the help of a hands-on, qualified, and dedicated physical therapist, you’ll not only be rid of your hip-pain once-and-for-all, but you’ll finally be given the information you’re looking for, thereby gaining peace of mind in the process. Unlike other forms of treatment which offer temporary, often harmful solutions for your pain, physical therapy tackles the root cause of the problem safely and non-invasively, thereby giving you permanent relief from your hip discomfort. In addition, a hands-on physical therapist is able to offer you tailor-made exercises and stretches to suit your needs, thus allowing you to maintain a pain free life and finally gain access to the lifestyle you dream of. Period.
Hip-pain doesn’t need to be a precursor to a life of immobility: it can be overcome and you can gain access to the active, mobile, healthy lifestyle you dream of. By following the above tips, and by contacting a professional, hands-on physical therapist today, you’ll be saying goodbye to your surprising discomfort in no time. Don’t waste even a moment more puzzling over the cause; find the answers you’re searching for – and take the actions needed – right now. For more information about how we can help you overcome your hip-pain, why not contact one of our dedicated, friendly physical therapists today. We look forward to helping and guiding you on your journey to health!
WHY Back Pain Isn't "NORMAL" Even if You're Getting Older
Back pain: very few people go through life without feeling its debilitating effects. From dull aches to sharp, stabbing sensations, back pain can afflict many of us in various ways. For a some people, back pain is a prolonged struggle that can strike at any moment, the intensity and heartache of which seems to increase over time if left untreated. For others, however, back pain seems to appear later on in life, and the predominant assumption is that it is therefore age related. Here’s the thing, though: it isn’t necessarily true. Yes, that’s right. Back pain – especially when you’re older – actually has very little to do with your age and a lot more to do with your lifestyle. In this post we look at why we often mistake middle-age back pain for something “normal” or “natural”, and we discuss some of the ways in which you can overcome the pain and get back to the active, mobile lifestyle you deserve.
The biggest issue with back pain in later years is that, well, it’s accompanied by general acceptance. Most people who experience back pain when they’re older just accept it and try to work around it, so to speak. And while we’re not denying that back pain may come with age, we are saying that the pain is NOT a product of age, rather that it is a result of an aging mindset or imbalanced lifestyle.
Let’s think about this for a moment: it is true that, as we age, our bodies require a little more maintenance. We no longer have the metabolisms of 18 year olds, and we can’t really keep up on the soccer field. Yet, that doesn’t mean we have to give up on trying to be active or healthy. The problem with middle-age back pain is not that it is a natural response to aging, but that we allow it to be defined by age. If we maintained healthy lifestyles, kept active, and enjoyed a healthful diet, our age would not determine the health of our backs – our lifestyles would. In other words, age is just a number, but you really, truly are what you do. Here are some of the reasons you might incorrectly assume that your back is sore simply because of your age:
Breaking Good Exercise Habits
When you were younger you had the motivation and will to run the extra proverbial mile. Getting up at 6am to go to the gym wasn’t a chore, and the pay-off at the end of the day was worth the endurance it took to stay slim and healthy. However, as you aged, you had to work a little harder, struggled a little more to wake up early, and found that juggling a job, kids, pets, and a social life left little in the way of time for exercise. And the result? You aged. Yes, that’s right. As controversial as that may seem, the minute you let yourself break all the good habits you had when you were young, you started to age. And, sadly, the consequences of that meant – yeah, you guessed it – back pain. Here’s the thing: the habits you forge define who you are and how you feel. If you incorporated movement, exercise, cardio, and stretching into your life, right now, you’d jumpstart your journey to health by strengthening the muscles in your back. You’ll feel and look younger! Do some yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi – whatever you choose, stretch and move those muscles! If you want something a little less adventurous, why not start by taking a daily walk, getting up a couple of minutes earlier to hit the yoga mat, or joining a spinning class in your local gym? It’s amazing what a mind-shift can do you for your body.
Let’s face it, when we’re young we really don’t worry too much about the position in which we sit, how we stand, or how evenly we distribute our body weight. The only problem with this is that our mistakes eventually catch up to us. Poor posture is one of the leading causes for back pain experienced in middle age – not only does a lack of mindful joint and muscle positioning mean that you place stress on the spine, but it also means that you constantly repeat the same detrimental stances and gait. You end up entrenching the pain by destabilizing your body’s balance. Thus it comes as no surprise that the battle against back pain is the battle against poor posture. And, of course, poor posture makes you feel older: you’re bent downward and you feel less inclined to move. So, in a bid to rid yourself of discomfort, start by correcting your posture and practicing more mindful ways of positioning the spine during sleep and the hours spent at your desk. Your back will thank you.
Weight Gain Woes
Here’s the rub, right? Weight gain is perhaps the most quintessential middle-age battle; we gain weight as we age and, unfortunately, the weight carries a lot more than a few extra pounds. Gaining weight often means excess stress not only on your organs, but on your joints and muscles, too. Your back actually incurs a dramatic increase in pressure as you gain weight, the result of which can often lead to disc damage or spinal injuries. Controlling your weight is absolutely vital is maintain a healthy back. So, why not opt for a cooking course to learn a few new recipe’s, or take your partner up on that new dish he or she has been dying to make. Increasing the amount of vegetables, berries, fruit, healthy oils and fats, as well as beans and legumes in your diet will help you maintain a healthy weight.
Let’s be frank: back pain can rob you of your happiness and joy. We also realize that living with back pain is something that can feel too big to tackle on your own. And that is why we know that the tips above, no matter how badly you want to start doing them, may seem daunting to begin with. What can be done, then? Feeling younger is as much about the changes you choose to make as the mind-shift you need to implement. Make a change, right now – get the help you need.
For the safest, easiest, most effective way of tackling your back pain, contact a professional, hands-on physical therapist. Physical therapy offers you the opportunity to regain your joy and for you to feel younger and happy again. With a physical therapist, you’ll receive hands-on, caring treatment aimed at treating the root cause of the problem, thereby giving you a permanent solution to the daily pain you’re suffering. And not only that, physical therapy gives you tailor-made, targeted exercises and stretches for you to do at home, thereby equipping you with the tools you need to maintain a pain-free life. No painkillers, no surgery, and no temporary fixes: physical therapy is the best way to overcome your back pain, right now.
Age is just a number, and back pain does not have to be a product of your age. You can overcome your back pain and get back to the life you deserve. For more information about how we can help you do just that, contact one of our professional physical therapists, right now. We’re here to help: don’t let back-pain steal even one more moment of your life.
The sudden pain you’ve experienced in the back of your heel during or after your morning run, workout, or squat has a name… Achilles Tendonitis. And though it’s a mouthful to pronounce, its symptoms and aftermath are more common. In this post, we look at the effects and causes of this uncomfortable, oftentimes painful affliction, and we give you the tools to overcome its debilitating effects on your exercise routine and lifestyle.
Achilles Tendonitis is characterized by a sharp, unexpected pain in the back of the heel, the occurrence of which is caused by inflammation is the tendon it’s named after. Because inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or disease, the pain you feel in your heel may therefore be accompanied by swelling, irritation, and a lack of mobility.
Fear not, though! While it is certainly painful and irritating at the best of times, Achilles Tendonitis can be treated. To do that effectively, however, it is important to take a look at some of its causes, that is, some of the reasons you may have been in the line of fire:
1.Too Much High Intensity Exercise
While we all like doing a good HIIT workout as much as the next person, overdoing the squats, lunges, and star-jumps may be directly affecting your heel-health. By denying your body the chance to recover, you may actually be doing a lot more damage than good. Placing unnecessary and unexpected stress on your joints, muscles, and tendons will eventually lead to damage, and thus, pain. A good way to judge whether you’re pushing things a bit too far is by taking a honest look at your expectations, goals, and timeline. Evaluate the weight limit you’re currently lifting and adjust it accordingly. It’s far better to play the long-game than risk injury in the short-term. Similarly, if you’re a runner, alter the distance you’re running per day, making sure to give yourself enough recovery time in the process. Your body, and especially your heels, will thank you later.
An unvaried exercise routine may result in the development of Achilles Tendonitis, as the constant repetition of certain movements may eventually effect the heel. Movements causing pain or irritation should be kept to a minimum and, if possible, avoided altogether. If you are a runner, for example, make sure to include some weight training or swimming into your routine and, if you’re a weight-lifter, focus on activities targeting cardio, too. Doing this therefore ensures that no single muscle or joint is exposed to all the stress of your workout… especially not the heel. In addition, make sure your routine allows the recovery of all areas in the body, and is, as such, varied in movement and intensity.
It’s no secret that being immobile and stiff is detrimental to your overall health. When it comes to your heels, though, the flexibility and movement in your calf muscle is absolutely vital. If this muscle is tight, stiff, and inflexible, the stress placed on your heel during exercises such as weight lifting, squats, or running, can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Achilles Tendonitis is more often than not as a direct result of short, tight calf muscles. Be sure to stretch these muscles before, during, and after your workouts to avoid being caught-out later on. Be advised, also, that jumping into stressful, high-intensity, unfamiliar workouts adds extra stress to this particular area: hence the increased need to stretch it and warm it up beforehand.
4.Stretches: what stretches?
Not stretching before a workout is like entering a gun-fight armed with a wooden spoon. The likelihood of injury increases exponentially if your muscles are stiff and tight. And, believe it or not, the health of your heel is not just dependent on the mobility of your calf muscles! Your body is like a well-oiled machine, each muscle connected to the next, and each joint primed to facilitate the movement of the others. Therefore, it is exceptionally important to stretch all your muscles before a workout – if one is tight, cold, or isn’t expecting movement, you may damage it, thereby intensifying pressure in one area of your body, thus leading to overcompensation and, ultimately, to stress in your heel and foot.
If you’re reading this and thinking… I now know what caused it, but how can I get rid of this pain, don’t worry: you can. By far the best, most effective, and safest way of dealing with your Achilles Tendonitis is by visiting a qualified, professional physical therapist. Physical therapy is unlike all other forms of treatment in that it treats the root cause of your problem, thus offering you a permanent solution. Far from using painkillers or quick fixes, a hands-on physical therapist will give you the answers you seek and the tools you need to overcome your pain once and for all. In addition, physical therapy doesn’t just focus on short term pain-relief: physical therapists will provide you with targeted, tailor-made exercises suited to your particular condition so that you can maintain your newfound pain-free life. Remember, true healing comes from a deeper understanding of the issue and thus a comprehensive plan of treatment; physical therapy gives you all that and more.
If you’re tired of dealing with ongoing Achilles Tendonitis, have been blindsided by its sudden onset, or just want to steer clear of its clutches, we invite you to contact us today for a chat. We know that pain can derail your exercise routine, affect your social life, and cause you to feel overwhelmed. Because of that, we want to help. Contact us today for more information on how exactly we can do that. Until then, here’s to your heel health!
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Over the last few weeks, there’s been a buzz about an up and coming sport called Pickleball. I’ve been very confused yet intrigued to learn more about this mystery sport. Why is it called Pickleball? What’s making this sport the fastest growing sport in America? Where can I learn more about this? A quick Google search brought me to The United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA).[...]
John Salva, PT
"We help people in pain get back to the things they want without relying on surgery or painkillers, even if past treatments have failed."