Archive for the ‘Physical therapy’ Category


Your Posture and Your Emotions

June 10, 2011

depressed posture

Want to try an experiment? Slump down right now, wherever you are, into a hunched posture with your back bent and your spine collapsed.

Once you’re all hunched and slumped, try to do some challenging task. Multiple studies have found that people who are placed in a slumped posture are less likely to succeed in challenging tasks. In fact, they’re likely to exhibit signs of “helplessness” and “defeat.”

Some studies have found that observers are also likely to decide that someone with poor posture is depressed. Worse yet, people who have been asked to assume a slumped posture are more likely to report that they feel sad, depressed, or defeated.

We’re talking here about people with normal posture and normal emotional conditions who are asked to slump or hunch. They’re not asked to think about sad things or to pretend to be depressed, but they end up feeling and behaving as though they were sad.

It goes the other way, too. Depressed people are more likely to walk in a slumped posture with side to side movement. Playing sad music causes people to change their gait to this sad way of walking.

What happens outside of experimental situations? Sad people are more likely to exhibit poor posture. People with poor posture are more likely to feel sad. We may have a vicious circle here.

Poor posture has physical consequences as well, leading to back pain and stress.

Call Innovative Spine Rehab at (501) 221-6009 to schedule a consultation where you can learn solutions to your posture problems.


Biking and Your Knees

May 5, 2011

Biking is a fun way to increase fitness. British studies have found that cycling just 20 miles a week can cut the risk of heart disease or heart attack in half. Cycling 30 minutes a day can help you drop 10 or 12 pounds in a year with no changes in your eating habits. Bike riding, with its combination of effective aerobic exercise and time spent enjoying nature, can also reduce stress and depression along with the physical ailments that can stem from stress.

There is one thing about biking that can be a negative: knee pain.


The knee involves three bones: the femur, or thigh bone; the tibia, or shin bone, where the muscles of the thigh which move the knee attach; and the patella, or knee cap, which floats on top of the knee joint. There is one more bone, the fibula, which is parallel to the tibia. The knee joint has two articulations: one between the femur and the tibia and one between the patella and the tibia. When the knee bends, it rotates as well as flexing and extending. Both the quadriceps and the hamstrings are engaged in movements of the knee. In short, the knee is a complicated joint.

Overuse can make any part of your body hurt, and the knee is no exception. With such a complex joint, there are plenty of potential sources of pain. While a little muscle soreness is nothing to be afraid of, pain can keep you from getting back on the bike and enjoying another ride. The solution is to increase your time and distance gradually — about 10% per week. Work your way up to longer, hillier rides and higher gears.

Alignment and Bike Set Up

The height and angle of the saddle, the length of the crank, and the position of the pedals all can affect your knees. Make sure the bike is a good fit for you, and adjust everything to suit your body.

The best way to do this is to get assistance from your trainer or from the experienced people at a bike shop. Your investment in this step will pay off in greater comfort and less chance of knee pain.


Stretching before a bike ride doesn’t “warm up” your body and it doesn’t lead to fewer knee injuries. Stretching after your ride is a better bet. Better still is building overall conditioning into your daily routine.

Biking is a good all-around exercise, so you may think that a regular schedule of cycling is all you need. In fact, the movements of cycling never extend the knee. All that work is done with the knee flexed. This can lead to imbalance.

The strength of the core muscles also affects the likelihood of knee pain. Weak core muscles can lead to poor form in cycling, resulting in an increased chance of injury.

Regular stretching and strengthening can solve these problems. Contact Innovative Spine Rehab of Arkansas to develop a conditioning program designed specifically for you. You’ll enjoy your bike rides without sacrificing your knees.


The Muscles to Work on for Back Health

April 1, 2011


We talk a lot about how to cope with back pain and how to avoid back injury, but when you take the long view of back health, you have to think lower. Lower back pain is the most common form of spine and back suffering, with nearly 80% of adults experiencing at least some lower back pain during their lives, but you really have to think even lower than that.

Glutes. The gluteus maximus muscles are the ones that support the lower back. Strong glutes will make it far less likely that you’ll experience pain in the lower back — you can be part of the lucky 20% who never do.

Strengthen the glutes with these exercises:

  • squats
  • lunges
  • deadlifts

It’s important to follow correct form with these exercises, so we recommend visiting a physical therapist to learn the correct (and therefore effective) way to do these moves. Your physical therapist can develop a complete workout for you which takes into account your medical history, any current pain, and your goals for the future.

Weak abdominal muscles put extra strain on the lower back, especially if there is extra weight to support, so spend some time training those muscles as well. A balanced workout incorporating strength training, flexibility, and cardiovascular workouts is always your best bet.


The Dangers of — Knitting?

March 25, 2011

knitting pain

Knitting can be relaxing, creative, and fun. It can give you plenty of socks and sweaters. It can keep you feeling productive even when you’re watching TV or talking with friends.

It can also cause you pain.

It’s hard to think of knitting as dangerous, but one Arkansas knitter found that her beloved hobby, after many years, left her arms and wrists sore. “It just doesn’t seem that athletic,” she said.

In fact, it was pain caused by an imbalance. The flexor muscles which close the hand were stronger than the extensor muscles which open the hand. The result was tension and pain. The long-term result, if left untreated, could have been carpal tunnel syndrome.

The solution was a program of exercise designed to stretch and strengthen the extensors.

The same type of injury has been found in the knees of soccer players and the ankles of skiers.  In every case, stretching and strengthening exercises are the solution.

Unfortunately, the exercises most people do, such as squeezing a stress ball or lifting weights, don’t solve the problem. Instead, they may worsen it. These exercises work the flexor muscles even more, increasing the imbalance. Add time on the computer (gripping a mouse) or a long commute (gripping the steering wheel), and the knitter can end up in severe pain.

You can try Pilates exercises if you are not in pain now but want to avoid this imbalance. If you’re experiencing pain, contact Innovative Spine Rehab of Arkansas. You’ll be back to the knitting and purling in no time!


Physical Therapy for Balance, Part II

March 18, 2011

balance therapy

Last week we discussed vestibular dysfuntion and other inner ear problems that lead to trouble with balance. The inner ear is in charge of our sense of balance, and problems in the inner ear, whether from temporary infections or long-term dysfunction, can make balance difficult.

However, there are other reasons people sometimes have trouble with balance. Playing sports that rely heavily on one side of the body can cause the body to develop unevenly, creating an imbalance. More common is the problem of getting too little activity, so that the core muscles that keep the body under control become weak.

Anyone may have a momentary loss of balance: we slip, miss a stair, turn too quickly and misjudge a step. People with fit core muscles and quick reactions catch themselves and think no more about it.

People with slow reactions and weak muscles fall. Add a hard surface, a sharp object in the way, an open stairwell — you can end up in the emergency room.

After a fall leading to injury, physical therapy can help the patient regain full range of motion and ability. But if would be better to avoid the fall in the first place.

Visit Innovative Spine Rehab of Arkansas to plan a complete regimen of strengthening exercises now, before you lose your balance and take a chance of injury.


Physical Therapy for Balance, part I

March 11, 2011

D. Sharon Pruitt

Balance problems account for a lot of trips to the emergency room — some say as much as 75% of those visiting the emergency room for injuries have lost their balance in one way or another.

Is physical therapy the solution?

One of the primary causes of balance problems is a disturbance of the inner ear. The inner ear is in charge of balance. Infections can create the problem in young people. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a condition in which calcium deposits become detached from their places on the sensory hairs in the inner ear, causing sudden vertigo. Both of these conditions can be treated by direct medical intervention.

Depending on the individual, physical therapy may be needed to retrain the body to keep its balance.

Vestibular dysfunction, as ongoing inner-ear problems are called, affects about a third of Americans over 40 and more than half of those age 90 or older. Smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes make it even more likely that people will develop this problem as they age.

Not everyone who suffers from inner ear problems actually suffers. Some people are troubled by dizziness and vertigo, but some don’t realize that they have the problem until they fall. Because of this, many health care professionals believe that people over 50 should be tested for the condition as part of routine exams.

The test for vestibular dysfunction is very simple. Stand still on a flat surface (choosing a soft surface is a good precaution) and close your eyes. If you have vestibular dysfunction, you’ll fall down, once you no longer have visual cues to help you maintain your balance.

Physical therapy is the solution for vestibular dysfunction. Training the body to feel the balance and strengthening the muscles to maintain it will make for safer, more comfortable movement.



Tendon Injuries: Rest or Physical Therapy?

March 3, 2011

elbow pain

A recent report in the Lancet looked at two common remedies for tendinitis: injections of corticosteroids and rest. Neither produced results as good as physical therapy.The injections, according to a review of studies involving thousands of patients, gave only temporary relief. Rest prevented worsening of the pain, but also appeared to prevent improvement.

Most of us might be pleased to avoid those shots, but rest seems like the best thing for an injury at first glance. Why would resting an injury fail to produce relief?

It’s simple enough when you think about it.

Tendons attach muscles to bones. Overuse can inflame the tendon (that’s why “tendinitis” is sometimes spelled “tendonitis”). Inflammation leads to pain. Sometimes tendinitis flares up without any evidence of inflammation, though, and sometimes it continues long after inflammation has died down.

Resting the injured tendon, especially over a long period, weakens the muscles that support it. Those muscles are then less able to do their jobs.

The tricky part is finding the exercises that will strengthen the muscle without hurting the tendon further. Here’s where a qualified physical therapist comes in. Your physical therapist can identify the precise cause of the pain and develop a regimen of exercises that will lead to a solution.