Staying Healthy This Summer
It's summertime! The birds are singing each morning, the sun is out, the temperatures are up, and we are all ready to get out and enjoy some summer fun! However, with the increase in activity that comes for many in the summer, comes an increased risk of injury. Here at High Desert Physical Therapy, we are all about preventing and avoiding injuries and taking care of our bodies! So here are a few tips to help you enjoy your summer, while still keeping your bodies safe and healthy!
1. Slowly progress your activity level.
It is very tempting to go out and want to be as active as you were on the last day of summer last year as soon as the weather is nice! However, if your level of activity was lower during fall, winter, and spring, then rushing right back into high levels of activity can increase your risk of injury. Let your body progress through slow increases of activity, giving it time to build up activity and loading tolerance throughout the season.
2. Switch up your activities.
It is always good to try fitting in different types of activities all throughout your week, rather than doing the same activity each day. This can help you to avoid developing overuse syndromes. Try taking a walk one day, riding your bike the next, performing a resistance training workout one day, and hiking another, for example. This will help to ensure you are maintaining and building all of your muscles and not overusing a select few.
3. Wear sunscreen!
We are here to look out for your health as a whole, not just your musculoskeletal system. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It is what protects everything else inside of your body! So make sure to look out for your skin and overall health by wearing sunscreen, hats, and appropriate clothing to avoid sunburns.
4. Wear sunglasses.
Another often overlooked body part that can get hurt during the summer, is our eyes! The eye is one part of our body that can have a difficult time healing if it is injured. Many do not realize that our eyes can actually get sunburned as well! When this happens, the cornea gets inflamed and irritated. Too much sun exposure can also cause things like cataracts, macular degeneration, and even eyelid cancer! So put on those sunglasses and protect your eyes!
5. Drink enough water to stay hydrated.
As things heat up, we will sweat more, especially when we are being active outside. It is important to keep your body well-hydrated by drinking enough water. This helps to protect your muscles, joints, heart, skin, brain, and many other functions and tissues in the body.
6. Don't forget to take rest days!
It is tempting to spend everyday out in the wonderful weather being active! And don't get me wrong, I encourage staying active! However, there are also times where you need to listen to your body and take a rest day to avoid overdoing it. There are still ways to take "active rest" to allow your body to recover. Try doing some yoga or stretching, or going for a nice and easy walk around the neighborhood. These activities can help to loosen up your sore muscles, while allowing them to recover from days of higher activity levels.
I hope that these tips help you to stay active and fit over the summer, while avoiding injuries and other easily avoidable health issues.
Enjoy your summer!
Kimberly Taylor PT, DPT
Maintaining Posture While Working
Whether you are working from home or working from the office, posture is something that almost all of us can improve upon. It is easy to catch yourself slowly slouching over towards your chair and computer throughout the day. Setting up your workspace correctly can help to prevent some overuse injuries, and can also be helpful in preventing poor posture.
In an ideal workspace:
Here are some examples:
Along with posture and an ergonomic work setting, it is important to get up every once in a while to make sure you aren't sitting for too long. Many people benefit from setting an alarm for once each hour. When your alarm goes off, stand up and walk around the office. If that isn't possible, stand up and sit down 5-10 times. Then, squeeze your shoulder blades back and together 10 times. When you sit back down, check in that you are sitting upright and not slouching!
I hope these suggestions help you to make sure that your workspace is set up correctly and that you are doing a check-in with your posture throughout the day!
From all of us at High Desert Physical Therapy, Stay safe, healthy, and active!
Kimberly Taylor PT, DPT
We can all remember back to a time when someone told us to sit up straight and not slouch. There is no doubt, there are benefits to assuming an ideal posture. Is it aesthetic or functional? I would venture to say that it is functional in the sense that it takes stress off of structures within our bodies that can cause us pain. One of these structures is our nervous system.
Our nervous system controls vital functions throughout our body as well as providing our muscles the input to contract and do work. Often times, the path that a nerve takes through our body is tortuous as it travels to it's destination. These nerves move as we move and adjust to changes in position. When our body posture changes with our different activities and even over our lifespan, we effectively alter this tension. When our posture changes for the worse..
...it becomes more likely that the mobility of our nerves has also decreased, as there is greater tension now. This is also a particularly common scenario following surgeries as there is usually a period of immobilization. When this occurs, we usually experience pain, numbness, tingling, and sometimes weakness. In many scenarios, working on postural exercises, flexibility, and nerve mobility resolves symptoms. At High Desert PT, we utilize techniques to keep this from becoming a limiting factor to the activities you enjoy.
Have a great day! Spring is just around the corner!
Michael Grajeda, PT, DPT
Ever given much thought to the way you move? Everyone develops a certain pattern of how they move throughout their day and even through certain activities. Sometimes this pattern can help us be more efficient when moving from point A to point B. Sometimes it can allow us to do something we wouldn't otherwise be able to do. But sometimes, we develop compensatory movement patterns without realizing it and sometimes these patterns may make it more likely that we feel discomfort or even injure ourselves.
For example, many people would likely tell you not to lift with your back. However, a person can lift with their back (ie deadlift) safely with proper technique. On the other hand, the common flexed back posture when lifting is a common strategy that dominates most people's movement patterns and may lead to injury. Once you understand how to hinge through your body's larger joints & rely on powerful muscles, you can decrease your likelihood of injuring yourself. This basic principle applies to everyone with virtually every activity level and hobby. From gardening to mountain biking to playing pickelball and even something as simple as unloading a dishwasher.
Our movement pattern dictates which tissue is stressed. Shifting loads onto tissue that can accept this stress and away from tissue that cannot, we can improve and maintain our physical health.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
What is TMJ and how does it relate to Physical Therapy?
Temporomandibular joint disorder is a common condition that is experienced by individuals of all ages. It limits the ability to open or close one’s mouth and often causes facial pain or pain around the ear. This can affect talking, yawning, or chewing. The pain may be temporary or chronic.
What causes TMJ?
TMJ is often caused by a combination of factors but it can be caused from poor posture, jaw clenching, poor teeth alignment, fractures, jaw spasms, and arthritis in the joint.
What does this consist of?
Our Physical Therapists will assess your individual condition and look at your Range of Motion, strength, tenderness, dysfunctional muscles, posture, and habits in order to find a personalized treatment to lessen your pain and help you regain your jaw motion.
How do I start?
While individuals do not need a referral to start Physical Therapy for TMJ. It is good to speak with your dentist or doctor as well to see if this would be a beneficial treatment for you. Physical Therapy for TMJ treatments would be billed under one’s Medical/Health insurance and not Dental Insurance.
Looking for more info on this topic? See this guide:
High Desert Physical Therapy has therapists that are highly trained to help ease the pain, regain normal jaw movement, and lessen the stress of this condition.
Back pain is something that affects most people at some point in their lifetime. The cause is not always clarified through current medical evaluation and imaging. Often times it is more complex than simply slipping a disc or pinching a nerve. Therefore the treatment must reflect the person's specific deficits that lead to the injury in the first place. This is why many times surgical intervention may relieve pain only initially.
It can be scary and downright unbearable to have debilitating pain in the back or radiating pain into the legs. Most people will assume the best course is to have a MRI performed ASAP. Current research shows this is not a reliable medium to determine what is actually causing the pain. MRI findings only give us a rap sheet of what could POTENTIALLY be causing the problem. Most folks over 30 will show signs of spinal degeneration. Many will have no symptoms. This disconnect leads many people to have spinal surgery and procedures based on a weak assumption.
This is a unfortunate situation and is entirely avoidable by seeking proper conservative treatment and someone that will take the time to address a person's specific deficits. If you or a loved one is experiencing back pain that is interfering with daily activity, give us a call to discuss what treatment might look like for your condition.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is a term for knee pain that is used to describe pain on the front of the knee surrounding the knee cap. Often times, patients will also complain of pain along the medial (inside) part of the knee as well. The pain is typically described as being a dull ache. Often times this type of knee pain increases with activity (sports, running, hiking, cycling etc). The knee will typically swell and become stiff. Young athletes are especially prone to this as they are growing and their musculoskeletal system simply cannot keep up with the additional demands placed on their joints. Females are most susceptible to this due to the wider pelvic structure in comparison to men.
Why does this happen?
Our kneecap glides within a groove normally, however there are instances when it does not track within this groove perfectly. Even the smallest degree of misalignment can cause a great deal of pain and swelling, especially if the activity is repetitive (cycling, running, skiing etc). Usual culprits are muscular strength imbalances and flexibility impairments in the thighs and hips that alter joint mechanics at the knee.
Since the issue is usually caused by things we can influence and improve, it is very likely to see great improvement with personalized treatment. As with most conditions, the sooner it is recognized and treated, the better the outcome.
How we address it
The proper strengthening progression is key to overcoming this situation. Balancing strength training with recovery and minimizing shear within the knee is the key to getting back to the activities you want to be enjoying. Feel free to give us a call to discuss your situation and what treatment might look like.
Have a great day and enjoy the beautiful weather!
Megan Flesch, PT, DPT
Shoulder dysfunction is a condition we treat very often in the clinic. From the mountain biker that has a history of going of the handlebars to a rancher that uses a post hole digger on a regular basis. Our region has a large range of activities that challenge our joints and tissue. At the same time, folks that spend a majority of their time in a poor postural position in front of a computer or at a desk are predisposed to experience the onset of shoulder pain.
Among the most common non-traumatic problems we see is shoulder impingement. This is a scenario where the tip (acromion) of the shoulder blade (scapula) makes irritating contact with part of the rotator cuff. This often starts as a non painful catch or pop in the shoulder. This pop is a sign of microtrauma that when repeated over time leads to rotator cuff tears. As we age, the likelihood of us experiencing this scenario increases. The main symptom of shoulder impingement is pain with lifting your arm overhead.
Contributors to Shoulder Impingement:
The good news is that this problem is best addressed with conservative treatment. Occasionally, a physician will give a patient experiencing similar symptoms a steroid injection to decrease pain in order for the person to perform physical therapy. During this window of opportunity, a patient develops improved shoulder mechanics, postural control, and stability to reduce future shoulder impingement and subsequent rotator cuff damage. This scenario allows for a return to sports and activities and best prevents the need for a rotator cuff surgery down the road. Don't let a painful shoulder keep you from enjoying life. If you have any questions about this particular condition, feel free to give us a call.
Have a great week!
Michael D. Grajeda, PT, DPT
Surgery Isn't The Only Option
Most people would be surprised to learn that many orthopedic situations can be treated nonoperatively. Most people would be surprised to learn that outcomes are often times no better following surgical intervention than with conservative treatment such as Physical Therapy. How can this be the case when an MRI shows obvious tissue damage? MRIs and other imaging studies don't lie but they also do not tell you what is actually generating your pain. Most people will have spinal stenosis, rotator cuff tears, bulging discs, meniscal tears, and other signs of tissue damage on imaging. Some are symptomatic. Some are not. Pain is very complex and often involves more than just our physical body. So while we may be able to assume what may be causing pain, we are rarely certain.
At High Desert PT, we are more concerned with a persons' movement impairments and compensatory patterns that contribute to an overall presentation. We believe in addressing the functional problem to help establish long term improvement. This approach allows clients to have a better understanding of the extent of their condition prior to serious consideration of surgery.
Some people need surgery. Some do not. I would recommend everyone exhaust conservative options prior to any elective orthopedic surgery.
Do you have a question regarding orthopedic care? We are more than happy to discuss what conservative treatment may look like for you or a loved one.
Thank you for your time.
Have a great day!
Michael D. Grajeda, PT, DPT
We are excited to begin a blog featuring updates and news about our profession that everyone can benefit from. We started a clinic in the Cortez area in August 2018 to offer exceptional care to people in the Four Corners. We look forward to helping people reach their goals in a professional environment!