Are Stress-Related Headaches Bringing You Down? Physical Therapy Can Help You Find Relief

Stress related headaches can put a huge damper on your quality of life, interfering with your ability to do your job, to enjoy time with your family, or to go about your business in just about any way. As headaches interfere with your ability to engage in regular tasks, things can start to add up and you may soon start to feel like you are totally losing control of your ability to manage even the most basic tasks—which in turn can add more stress to your plate, and in turn leave you pre-disposed to have even longer, more intense stress-related headaches. It is a vicious cycle, but there is a way to break out of it.

Physical therapy can help you to overcome stress related headaches. Working with a physical therapist can help you identify exercises that reduce tension and help you find long-term relief from headaches, without the need for reliance on pain medications.

What Causes Stress Related Headaches?

The easy answer to this question is stress, but in reality the answer is a lot more complicated than that. Stress can manifest in all sorts of ways, and finding ways around the stress isn’t always an option. Stress can build from a wide array of activities, and some of those activities may be things that you genuinely enjoy doing, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t weighing on you, creating an added level of pressure that can manifest in painful headaches.

Stress is a common trigger for tension and migraine headaches. Rather than stressing about ways that you can outright avoid stress, it may be more helpful to think about strategies that will help alleviate headaches once they develop—as well as stress reduction techniques that may prevent the stress from reaching your head in the first place.

Relaxation Techniques for Headache Relief

If stress is causing headaches to develop in your life, then finding ways to relax to reduce the build-up of that stress may be helpful. Some of the most common forms of stress reduction therapy include meditation, yoga, tai chi and deep breathing techniques. Other habits that can also sometimes help to alleviate stress include listening to music, dancing, engaging in exercise, reading a book, or spending time with loved ones—especially pets!

Here are a few lifestyle habits that are shown to reduce stress:

  • Simply whatever is possible. While it sometimes feels that the only way to manage stress is to squeeze as much into a day so that you can tackle your endless to do list, sometimes what you actually need is to simplify your life. Ask yourself what really needs to be done and focus on that.
  • Eat as healthy as possible. What you put into your body makes a big impact on what your body is able to handle. Try eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help prepare your body for the stress you need it to handle.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep isn’t something that can be compromised on when it comes to managing stress. Staying up late to get a task done is only going to lead to more stress. Try to get a sufficient amount of sleep daily so that you can handle what’s ahead.

One of the most effective things that you can do to help reduce the impact that stress has on your life is to work on adjusting the way that you react to stressors. Changing your attitude and becoming more open to things that would have previously stressed you out can significantly help improve the way your body copes with stressful events. Try making simple shifts in the way that you think about stressful events. Simply shift from considering something as “impossible” to “tough, but possible.” Look at ways that you can rise to a challenge versus how overwhelming the challenge feels.

Physical Therapy for Stress Headaches

If you are experiencing chronic headaches as a result of stress, then physical therapy may be able to help you find relief from that pain. In many cases stress headaches will develop as a result of tension that builds up in the neck and back. Working with a physical therapist can help you to target areas of tension, thereby helping to alleviate pain and improve quality of life.

There are several strategies that physical therapists often use to help with stress headaches. These include:

  • Hot and cold therapy: Applying hot and cold compresses in an alternating rotation can help to reduce tension and alleviate pain.
  • Massage: Identifying areas that have tension build up and targeting them with massage therapy can help to alleviate head pain.
  • Manual exercises: Your physical therapist can help you to identify exercises that will help you reduce tension naturally by improving your range of motion and stretching your muscles in a relaxing manner.

If you are experiencing regular headaches as a result of stress, including tension or migraine headaches, then it may be helpful to contact your physical therapist to learn about therapeutic options that can help you experience relief from your pain. Contact TheraFit today to schedule a consultation and to get started.

Nutrition Tips To Decrease Pain and Inflammation

Nutrition plays a crucial role in preventing and eliminating pain and inflammation in the body. It’s important to understand what pain and inflammation are, the causes and symptoms, and how both nutrition and physical therapy can help. If you’re experiencing pain and inflammation in your joints, the cause could be more obvious than you think. Contact TheraFit to learn more about how we can help alleviate your pain and inflammation.

Understanding Pain and Inflammation

Pain and inflammation are often connected. Inflammation is the body’s natural response when it’s trying to heal or protect itself after an injury. Usually this a good thing, however, inflammation is actually harmful when it becomes a chronic condition. According to Harvard Health, chronic inflammation can also lead to a variety of health ailments such as heart disease and diabetes.

Recognizing Pain and Inflammation – Causes & Symptoms

Did you know the food you eat may be a contributing factor to increased inflammation throughout your body? Nutrition plays a big part in the amount of pain and inflammation you might have. Inflammation can be caused by many different kinds of foods. Here are some of the most common foods that contribute to inflammation:

  • Added Sugar – Foods with added sugar that isn’t naturally occurring can increase inflammation. Regular table sugar and corn syrup with high-fructose are the two main types of added sugar.
  • Pasta & White Bread – These refined carbs or “empty calories” can cause excessive weight gain, which can also lead to inflammation.
  • Processed Meats – Sausage, bacon, and smoked meats are usually processed and contain lots of extra sodium. Eating too much processed meat can cause inflammation.

Food is not the only culprit when it comes to pain and inflammation – even what you drink plays a role. Take soda, for instance. Sodas contain lots of unhealthy preservatives such as sodium benzoate, not to mention high amounts of sugar. Excessive alcohol drinking should also be avoided as it can cause issues with inflammation as well.

Just like there are plenty of foods to limit or avoid in your diet, there are also a ton of healthy foods to eat that can help decrease your chances of experiencing pain and inflammation.

  • Garlic – Garlic alone may not be very appetizing, but it can add flavor to many everyday meals. Garlic contains diallyl disulfide, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Fish – Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which naturally reduce inflammation. Cod, tuna, salmon, bass, and halibut are all excellent choices.
  • Beans – Beans are great for easing inflammation and are also sources of protein and fiber. There are plenty of different kinds to try, such as pinto, garbanzo, black, or red beans.

There are several symptoms associated with inflammation. These often include swelling, redness, joint pain and stiffness. If you’re suffering from pain and inflammation changing your diet could improve your muscles, joints, and overall health.

How Can Physical Therapy Help You?

Changing your diet is a wonderful start, but it may not be enough to eliminate chronic inflammation and pain. Physical therapy may be able to help reduce or even eliminate the pain you’re experiencing. Physical therapists use several methods to help. A few techniques would be manual therapy, dry needling, or ultrasound treatments. They may also use heat or ice therapy. A physical therapist might even give you stretching and motion exercises you can do at home to better your chances of having a successful treatment!

Monitoring what you eat and drink every day may be able to drastically decrease the pain and inflammation you’re experiencing. Physical therapy is a great option as well. The American Physical Therapy Association states that there is a clear link between pain and nutrition. It’s important to find a physical therapist with experience in treating pain and inflammation. Call TheraFit today to learn more information.

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Sit Up Straight: How Poor Posture Can Cause Shoulder Impingement

Have you been experiencing moderate to severe shoulder pain? If you notice your shoulder feeling tight or have trouble raising it above your head to reach things on shelves, you might have a condition referred to as “shoulder impingement.”

This can be extremely painful to deal with, and if it goes untreated, it can cause several problems down the road. Thankfully, physical therapy can help! Contact TheraFit today to learn more about our safe and effective treatment options for this condition.

What Is Shoulder Impingement?

In most parts of your body, your bones are surrounded by muscles and tendons that allow you to move around freely. Your shoulder is a little different though because it’s actually made up of three bones. These bones are the humerus, or arm bone, the scapula or shoulder blade, and the clavicle or collarbone.

Instead of being “covered” in tendons and muscles, these three bones are attached to one another by something called a “rotator cuff.” At the top of your arm bone, there is a lubricating sac called the bursa, that allows the rotator cuff to move freely when you move your arm.

If the bursa becomes inflamed, or if the rotator cuff tendons become damaged, the result can be significant pain in the shoulder. However, when you raise your arm to shoulder height, the space between the rotator cuff and the bone at the top of your shoulder (referred to as the acromion) narrows. The acromion can rub against the tendon or bursa leading to shoulder impingement.

What Causes this?

Normally, shoulder impingement is caused by overhead repetitive motions. Construction workers, painters, swimmers, tennis players, baseball players, and weight lifters are all highly susceptible to shoulder impingement.

However, athletes are not the only ones that can be affected by this condition or find themselves unable to lift their arm over their head without pain! Shoulder impingement is caused by the shortening of the space between the acromion and the rotator cuff. Having poor posture can also shorten that space. The posture we hold while working, typing, reading, texting, eating, cooking, and exercising can all have an impact on the amount of subacromial space we have available on our shoulders.

Symptoms

It is very common for people who suffer from shoulder impingement to find that they have difficulty lifting their arm above their head. They might be unable to lift something overhead or have trouble putting on a shirt or jacket.

As previously stated, if left untreated, shoulder impingement will cause more problems. For example, it will wear down the tendons or bursa in the shoulder, and cause a tear to occur in the rotator cuff. This often requires surgery to repair it, which can not only be extremely expensive but also keep you in recovery mode for quite some time.

You might be wondering how you can know for sure that you are dealing with this condition. According to WebMD, “Diagnosis of impingement syndrome begins with a medical history and physical exam by your doctor. X-rays will be taken to rule out arthritis and may show changes in the bone that indicate injury of the muscle. Bone spurs or changes in the normal contour of the bone may be present.”

How Physical Therapy Can Help!

It doesn’t matter what motion caused your shoulder impingement. The first goal when experiencing this condition should be to reduce the inflammation in your joint. You can do this through anti-inflammatory medications or the application of ice when pain occurs. Once your inflammation has been reduced, the best way to get rid of shoulder impingement pain for good is to see a physical therapist.

A physical therapist will be able to perform a thorough physical examination and rule out other underlying causes for your pain. They will also create a customized treatment plan designed just for you and your symptoms. Treatment is likely to include avoiding repetitive, overhead motions for a time, but it will also include stretches to reduce the impingement and strengthening exercises to prevent it from recurring.

If your shoulder impingement is due to having poor posture, your physical therapist is also likely to recommend adjustments to improve it. Making sure you have an ergonomic workspace, including your chair, desk, and computer screen height can do wonders for improving your posture. Stretching appropriately throughout the day will all treat the underlying cause of your shoulder impingement and keep it from coming back.

Contact Our Office For Treatment Today

Whether you are experiencing shoulder impingement from poor posture or from repetitive tasks, this condition is not something to be taken lightly! If you are experiencing pain when you move your arms overhead or are struggling to do simple tasks such as get dressed, talk to a physical therapist today at our clinic. The sooner your condition is assessed and treated, the fewer problems you’ll have to deal with in the future. Contact us today or visit us in Hazel Green, AL Fayetteville, TN to learn more!

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Losing Weight Through Interval Training

Are you one of those people who do various workouts for an hour or more every day, 7 days a week, but fail to see any real results? That’s because exercising at a steady rate doesn’t yield the same results as interval training does.

Interval training has been around for years, but it has recently gained a lot of attention as a way to increase fat loss. Read on to learn more about interval training, why it works, and the many ways you can seamlessly incorporate it into your everyday exercise routine.

Interval Training Defined

High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is a kind of training that involves doing quick, intense bursts of exercise and utilizing a shorter recovery period. By alternating your workout activity levels between bursts of intensity and moderate exercise, you can keep your heart rate at a higher level while simultaneously increasing your need for oxygen. An example of a basic interval routine could include moderate walking for 2 or 3 minutes followed by 30 to 60 seconds of jogging or running.

According to Healthline, “High-intensity interval training is a very efficient way to exercise and may help you burn more calories than you would with other forms of exercise. Some of the calories burned from high-intensity intervals come from a higher metabolism, which lasts for hours after exercise. Overall, HIIT produces many of the same health benefits as other forms of exercise in a shorter amount of time.”

Why Does It Work So Well?

Interval training is successful because you will burn more calories during the actual workout while increasing the overall amount of fat you burn for the rest of the day. The “afterburn effect” causes a post-exercise consumption of oxygen that increases more fat to be burned than a regular workout would allow.

Interval training also works because it only requires about half an hour per workout, works for every fitness level, and can be done practically anywhere!

Running & Interval Workouts

One really cool thing about interval training is that the difficulty level is totally up to you. Your interval training could include a simple routine of walking for 2 minutes and then running for 1 minute. Your overall workout would be about half an hour. A more difficult interval routine could include jogging slowly for 2 minutes and then running for 4 minutes. You could complete this 5 times in half an hour. There are tons of other ways to set your preferred difficulty level, so get creative!

Using A Stationary Bike & Interval Workouts

Biking is another fun exercise method you can incorporate interval training into. Before starting a workout on a stationary bike, make sure the resistance level on the bike is high enough so that you don’t pick up speed too quickly and risk your legs spinning out of control during the harder part of the workout.

Begin your workout with a steady 5 minute warm-up at a moderate pace. Then do 30 seconds of intense pedaling followed by 30 seconds of easy pedaling. This should be repeated 4 or 5 times, then increase each rep to 1 minute of intensity followed by 1 minute of easy pedaling. This is another workout that may only take 30 minutes.

Swimming & Interval Workouts

Swimming is a great way to get an intense workout while exerting minimal strain on bones, joints, and tendons. It’s also another exercise method that allows for interval training. However, instead of timing your intense portions of the workout, it may be easier to divide swimming workouts into laps. For example, you could swim for 25 meters as quickly as possible, and then backstroke 25 meters at a slower, more leisurely pace.

Jumping Rope & Interval Training

Jumping rope isn’t just for grade school children. This is a great way to get your heart rate up! The easiest jump rope interval workout is to simply pick a number of reps. You could jump 100 times and then rest for 1 minute. Repeat this until you reach 1,000 jumps. You could also time yourself to get in as many jumps as possible in 30 seconds before resting for 60 seconds. Just 20-30 minutes would provide a fairly intense workout and help you lose more weight!

Contact Our Office To Learn More

There are so many different ways to stay active while incorporating high-intensity interval training into your routine. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to learn how this kind of training works, and it doesn’t take much to get used to. If you’d like to talk with a physical therapist at our office about interval training and how it can help you cut more fat, contact our office today or visit us in Hazel Green, AL Fayetteville, TN!

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Improve Your Posture and Relieve Your Back Pain Today!

According to a longitudinal study, approximately 3% of all emergency room visits tend to be the result of back pain or injury. Back pain is the most commonly reported area of pain, which can cause significant limits to one’s daily life.

It is common for back pain to develop as a result of poor posture. If your posture is not correct, it can cause stress on other parts of your body, resulting in pain, inflammation, or dysfunction. Fortunately, posture can be improved with the help of physical therapy.

To learn more about how we can help improve your posture and relieve your back pain, contact TheraFit in Hazel Green, AL, and Fayetteville, today.

Why did my posture decline the way it did?

Poor posture isn’t anything to be embarrassed about – very few people have perfect posture, and most people partake in bad posture habits in one way or another. We become so wrapped up in whatever tasks we are doing that we forget to think about the way our bodies are positioned.

Maybe you’re completing a project at work, it’s the end of the day, you’re tired, and you’re slouched sideways in your desk chair with one eye on the monitor and the other on the clock. This position isn’t normal for your body, but you are getting in the position most efficient for you to type up the rest of that file and then zoom out the door.

Poor posture isn’t due to laziness or apathy; rather, it generally has something to do with a physical weakness within our bodies. We slouch, slump, hunch, and droop over when we get feel drained because our bodies literally get tired of holding us up.

Even if you exercise regularly, it is possible that there are still a few weak muscles contributing to your posture that you may not even realize. The muscles in your shoulders, back, abdomen, buttocks, and pelvic floor all play an important role in your posture. If even one of these is weak, your core will be affected, and your posture may suffer.

So, what exactly is going on with my back?

If you are suffering from persistent back pain, there is a good chance it is due to your posture. Poor posture is one of the most common causes of back pain. Do you slouch at your desk? Do you lean forward to read emails? Do you hunch over your keyboard? These are all things that people do subconsciously, without even realizing the toll it takes on the body.

Your posture affects how your body moves – whether you’re sitting, standing, walking, running, jumping, or performing pretty much any other task throughout the day. Your posture may also change depending on what you are doing – perhaps your posture when you stand is perfect, but when you sit at a desk or lay down, your body begins to hunch and fold in ways that it is simply not supposed to.

Get your posture back to normal with us!

Our physical therapists are highly experienced and dedicated to helping patients relieve pain and improve their posture. When you arrive for your first appointment, your physical therapist will conduct a comprehensive exam to find out where your pain is originating and what the best treatments will be for relieving it.

Your physical therapist will design a treatment plan based on your specific needs. This will focus on relieving your pain, improving your strength, and enhancing your posture as quickly as possible. Depending on the nature of your condition, treatment plans may also focus on mobility, balance, flexibility, or stability.

Is your posture causing your back pain? Contact TheraFit in Hazel Green, AL, and Fayetteville, TN today to find out. We’ll provide you with the treatment you need so you can get back to your pain-free life!

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Discovering Proper Ergonomics for Your Home Office

With all of us working from home, it can be difficult to find a comfortable workspace. However, it is important to make sure that the ergonomics in your office are functioning properly, in order to avoid developing unwanted aches and pains.

When working from home, ask yourself, “how do I maintain my posture throughout the day?” Do you catch yourself slouching frequently? Do those last couple hours of the workday leave you achy and ready to call it quits? If you are experiencing aches and pains, especially in your neck or back, poor posture is probably to blame. Fortunately, posture can be improved with some ergonomic changes.

Making the most of your work-from-home days

If you work from your home office all day, it is important to have a proper ergonomic setup. Make sure that you are at a proper height with your desk chair and computer, so you don’t have to slouch or lean forward. 

If you are at a desk for extended periods of the day, it is important to make sure your back posture is okay. Sit upright, place your feet flat on the floor, and try not to cross your legs. Make sure there is a small gap between the back of your knees and the chair. Having a chair with strong back support and padding is also recommended for making your upright position more comfortable. Additionally, make sure your chair has the proper lumbar support needed to help you sit straight while you’re working. These simple steps can help tremendously with your overall posture.

It is important to make sure that you get up every 30 minutes or so and take a small walk, at least for a minute or two. This will help in loosening up your muscles and joints, as well as initiating a stronger blood flow. Taking even a small amount of time to walk around the house or jog around the neighborhood every day after working from home can highly improve your posture and gait. 

Did you know that standing burns between .7 to .15 more calories per minute than sitting does? It may not seem like a lot, but by simply standing for long periods of time, you can easily burn more calories throughout the day.

Have you thought about investing in a standing desk?

Sedentary lifestyles, especially the ones that many of us are experiencing right now, can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, or other serious health issues. However, using a standing desk as opposed to a traditional sitting desk has been proven to lower one’s chances of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Nevertheless, standing desks are not for everyone, especially those with joint or vascular conditions.

You may be asking, “doesn’t standing all day long have its own implications?” The short answer is – yes. Anything without moderation can have its pitfalls. Standing can boost your energy levels, concentration, and even your mood, but if you have a traditional 9-5 job, chances are that level of productivity will dissipate after a while. Many medical professionals recommend adjustable desks for your home workplace environment, so you can spend a large amount of your day standing or stretching, with the opportunity to rest when you become tired.

At the end of the day, make sure you’re comfortable

No matter how you choose to work from home, ergonomics is an important concept to keep in mind. Ergonomic laptop desks and chairs can promote proper posture and decrease the risk for back problems, while workplace design can positively impact your overall happiness, productivity, and well-being.

At the end of the day, make sure you’re comfortable – don’t let the daily stresses of working from home take a toll on your physical health! There are several steps you can take to improve your posture, strength, energy, and overall wellbeing throughout the workday. For more information on how to optimize the ergonomic setup of your home office or additional tips for beating daily aches and pains, contact TheraFit today.

Weightlifting or Cardio: How To Know Which One Is Best For You

Cardio exercise and weightlifting hold equally important places when it comes to physical therapy and exercising for good health. The only way to know which of the two is the better choice is to know what your end goal is. If building up stamina and endurance is your end goal, the best choice would definitely be cardio exercise. If building mass or regaining physical strength is your end goal, the best choice for you would be weightlifting.

However, just because you choose one doesn’t mean you should totally ditch the other! Even though your primary focus may revolve around one type of exercise, it is extremely important to include the other in your daily workout plan as well.

Read on to learn more about cardio and weightlifting exercises, and how a physical therapist can help you figure out how to get a good balance in between the two for your daily workout schedule.

Why Is Cardio Important?

Cardio exercises, or “aerobic exercise” as it’s also commonly referred to as, involves any kind of physical activity that increases your blood flow and gets your heart rate up. It’s recommended to get at least two and a half hours of cardio exercise per week. Some examples of cardio activities are as follows.

  • Speed walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Running

According to Healthline, “Aerobic exercise is recommended by the American Heart Association and by most doctors to people with, or at risk for, heart disease. That’s because exercise strengthens your heart and helps it more efficiently pump blood throughout the body. Cardiovascular exercise can also help lower blood pressure, and keep your arteries clear by raising “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lowering “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood.”

There are tons of benefits to cardiovascular exercise as well! A few are listed below.

  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
  • Reduces chronic pain symptoms
  • Regulates sleep
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Improves mood

If you want to learn more about cardiovascular exercise and how to safely incorporate them into your daily routine, contact our office today. One of our skilled physical therapists will be able to assess your body, strength and goals, and help create the most effective, efficient workout routine possible.

Why Is Weightlifting Important?

It is a good idea for a person who is focusing on endurance to work a few weightlifting exercises into their routine. The same is true for people who are weightlifting. You will only go so far with your progress without some degree of endurance. The key is to create a healthy balance between the two, and remember to constantly change your workouts so your body does not fall into a routine!

One common misconception people have about weightlifting is that it’s only meant for those who are trying to build bigger, bulky muscles. This isn’t true at all. In fact, according to Forbes, “weightlifting can create non-bulky muscles that have stronger thicker fibers, which with power training have shown to enhance performance in endurance sports.” You don’t have to be a wrestler or professional athlete to lift weights!

Just like cardio exercise, there is a whole list of benefits that come with weight training! A few are as follows:

  • Building muscles combat the buildup of fat
  • Improves mood
  • Lowers risk of developing diseases such as diabetes
  • Improves heart health
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Speeds up metabolism
  • Stimulates bone tissue growth

If you want to learn more about weightlifting and how to make sure you’re lifting the right amount for your body, a physical therapist can help you out!

Contact Our Office Today

When it comes to setting fitness goals, changing things up and keeping them interesting is key! Make sure that you’re trying out new exercises to challenge yourself. Push your limits on occasion to find out just how well you are doing. A physical therapist can assess your current abilities and help you figure out the correct and safest plan of action when it comes to your fitness goals.

You may be surprised at your progress once you determine what type of exercises will best fit your needs, whether your workout ends up being more cardio heavy, or more oriented around lifting weights. Be sure to decide on a few goals first, such as “I want to lose weight and build muscle!” or “I want to improve my overall health.” Once you have those answers, you’re off to a great start!

Contact TheraFit offices in Hazel Green, AL and Fayetteville, TN today for more information. We’re here to help make your fitness journey a successful one!

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Developing a Hunchback? You Might Have Upper Crossed Syndrome, But Physical Therapy Can Help!

Do you find that you’re always being told to sit up straight? Do you notice that you have shoulder pain after work? Are you developing a hunchback? If you’re nodding yes to these questions, chances are you have Upper Crossed Syndrome, or UCS. This is a muscle imbalance that occurs in the head and shoulders. It is often found in people who work desk jobs or sit with poor posture for most of the day.

As a result of this, they have weak cervical flexors and lower trapezius muscles (which form a straight line when looking from the side) and tight upper trapezius and pectoral muscles (forming the cross when looking from the side). Wow! That’s a lot of wires being crossed! UCS causes a person’s head to seemingly lean forward, their body to appear hunched, and their shoulders to ache often.

If you’ve been diagnosed with UCS, or notice any of the above symptoms, call TheraFit today to speak with a physical therapist about correcting the problem before it’s too late.

Symptoms of Upper Crossed Syndrome

People struggling with this condition normally appear stooped over with rounded shoulders. According to Healthline, this is because the deformed muscles put strain on the surrounding joints, bones, muscles and tendons. Below is a list of symptoms that accompany UCS:

  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Weakness in the front of the neck
  • Strain in the back of the neck
  • Pain in the upper back and shoulders, as well as the lower back
  • Tightness and pain in the chest
  • Trouble with sitting to read or watch TV
  • Trouble driving for long periods
  • Pain and reduced movement in the ribs

How Can A Physical Therapist Treat Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Physical therapy is the best route to go when it comes to Upper Crossed Syndrome. Not only can a physical therapist relieve pain symptoms, but they can also eliminate underlying causes for your pain. You’d be surprised at what you don’t know about your body!

Your physical therapist can create a custom treatment plan that will address your pain levels as well as your symptoms. Typically, your physical therapy treatment plan will be divided into three parts – stretching the upper trapezius and pectoral muscles, strengthening the cervical flexors and lower trapezius muscles, and training you to make postural adjustments throughout the day to avoid future recurrence.

It seems like a lot, but don’t worry! That’s what your physical therapist is here for. Read on to learn more details about each part of this treatment method for UCS.

  • Stretching – When it comes to Upper Crossed Syndrome, the first thing to focus on is restoring shortened muscles. When one muscle is tightened or shortened, the opposite muscle relaxes. Your physical therapist will recommend a series of stretches and other therapies, like myofascial release and massage, to lengthen the upper trapezius and pectoral muscles.
  • Strengthening – Strengthening exercises in your physical therapy treatment will target the cervical flexors and lower trapezius muscles. The most basic stretch is one called the “chin tuck.” Your physical therapist will instruct you to lay on your back with your knees bent, without a pillow to support your head. Next, bring your chin as close to your neck as possible, while keeping the back of your head on the floor and your mouth closed. Keeping your head straight, hold this position for 10 seconds, 10 to 12 times. This is another exercise that you can do at home by yourself as well, so you can continue to make progress outside of your appointments!
  • Postural Correction – You can do hours upon hours of stretching and strengthening exercises but it’ll be for nothing if you don’t address your posture! This is the problem that landed you with UCS in the first place. So, to address it, practice standing with your back and the back of your head against a wall. Your feet should be about six inches or so from the wall. Your neck should be two fingers-width from the wall. This is a fast and easy way to remind yourself what it feels like to stand up straight and have proper posture. Think of it as a way to retrain your body to know when it’s slouching.

You can also get a standing desk or adjust your own desk to be raised up a bit to allow for a more neutral posture sitting position. Pay attention to your posture as you text, type on a computer, cook in the kitchen, or drive.

Contact Our Office Today!

It’s easy for people to put off correcting something like their posture, because they’ve become so used to slouching or being hunched over. Putting off treatment will only make correcting the problem a longer process in the future!

Not only will you look better from a postural perspective, you will see bigger gains in your athletic performance. For more information about UCS or to find out more about the three part routine for correcting this issue, contact our physical therapy offices in Hazel Green, AL and Fayetteville, TN today. We’re ready and waiting for your call, and we can’t wait to see the improvements you’re bound to make in our care.

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4 Types of Stretches That Can Dramatically Benefit Your Physical Health

When you begin a workout or physical therapy routine, you should complete a set of stretching exercises beforehand to help you limber up and prevent injuries. However, many people don’t receive any instructions on the proper way to go about stretching for their specific program. A licensed physical therapist can teach you how to complete the correct stretching exercises before you begin your workout. If you aren’t sure what direction to start, contact TheraFit today for more information!

To make sure that you can avoid hurting yourself, here are four types of stretching exercises and their health benefits to guide you!

Passive Stretches

When you think of stretching, you might tend to think of passive techniques. Whether the pose is held by hand or with gravity, one is largely stationary and exerts a force to extend the target muscle by reaching the outer limits of the range of motion.

Poses that can be held for a long time should signal to you that the muscle isn’t reaching its outer capabilities, and warrant a gradual, deeper stretch. Toe touches are stretches meant to strengthen the hamstrings, but they are typically done incrementally.

Passive stretching is great for promoting overall balance and flexibility. The extension of muscles before intense exercise or activity can hinder explosive abilities, making it a better choice for cooling down after a workout rather than immediately prior to major exertion.

Active Stretches

Active stretching techniques require you to hold a position or pose using only the muscles in the corresponding group to the one being targeted. For example, consider an ankle being flexed back and forth. The calf muscles involved in holding your toes in a pointed position or raised toward the shin are referred to as the “agonist” and “antagonist,” as they perform opposing functions. In any stretch, the agonist muscle is the one contracting, the antagonist is the one being extended.

Even though this technique can be applied all over the body, make sure to allow the limbs or joints in question to move naturally through their full range of motion, holding at each end. This is best for warming up before a physical activity, rather than lengthening the muscle as part of a proactive program to improve flexibility.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching

PNF stretching is a set of techniques most commonly utilized in a physical therapy or rehabilitation setting to restore range of motion to an injured or weakened muscle.

For PNF stretches, start by moving the specific limb or target muscle into a stretched position, and then contract that muscle group for 4-6 seconds while a helper or fixed object (like a wall or table) provides resistance that ensures nothing is moving. Release the contraction, and hold the stretched pose in place for 20-30 seconds before shaking loose and taking another 30-45 seconds to relax completely and then repeat in cycles.

By combining both passive and active elements, PNF stretching can be a highly effective choice, and create a safe set of exercises to aid in recovery.

Stretching is all about improving performance and preventing injury, so it’s critical you understand when each one is necessary in order to really enjoy the benefits. You don’t want to get overconfident by moving too quickly in an attempt to speed up gradual improvements!

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching techniques are a bit more interactive because they put the body in motion. Dynamic techniques rely on momentum to flow through a series of repeated movements. One example is a hamstring stretch, in which the leg is kicked upward through its range of motion, and gradually increases in height with each pass.

One example of how dynamic stretching can be utilized in sports is a baseball player or preparing for a throwing motion. They would begin their shoulder warm-up with widening arm circles, expanding the range of motion little by little until the regular full range is accounted for.

It’s important to know your limits when it comes to your own range of motion, as excess momentum can overextend the limb and cause a painful injury to be sustained.

Other Ways Stretching Can Benefit You

There are more ways that stretching can benefit you and help improve your overall performance and health. Healthline lists out a variety things in your life that can be made easier by a regular stretching routine:

  • Improves posture
  • Improves flexibility
  • Helps to heal and prevent back pain
  • Can calm your mind
  • Helps decrease tension headaches
  • Increases range of motion
  • Improves your performance in physical activities
  • Increases blood flow to your muscles

Contact Our Office Today

Whether you’re an athlete in need of some stretching guidance, or you just enjoy working out in your free time and want to make sure you’re avoiding possible injuries, physical therapy can help! One of our trained physical therapists here in the clinic will talk with you about your levels of physical activity and show you simple exercises to make sure you’re staying safe and in shape!

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Should You Be Wearing Weightlifting Shoes In The Gym?

If you’re an athlete or someone who enjoys copious amounts of exercise, you need to maintain a high fitness level. This requires relying on strong core muscles to stabilize our bodies so that we can perform to the best of our ability. One of the primary exercises to strengthen the core is the squat.

This seems like a pretty typical and easy exercise, but in order to perfect it, athletes must improve their form. For squats, this means reducing forward lean, getting the thighs as close to a horizontal position as they can, and keeping the hips at or below knee level. What happens to the feet during this exercise is a matter of debate. Some people think the feet should be flat on the ground. Others believe the heel should be slightly elevated. Those who believe in elevating the heel often choose running or weightlifting shoes.

Read on to learn more about the effects of using weightlifting shoes while squatting!

What Are The Differences Between Weightlifting Shoes and Running Shoes?

Running shoes and weightlifting shoes are two different things. At first glance, weightlifting shoes appear to be the better choice. Most weightlifting shoes come with a lateral stability that running shoes don’t offer, thanks to a wider base and differences in construction, like a less flexible midsole. Running shoes are also cushioned, and absorb energy when exercising. If you lift weights, you want to redirect as much energy as possible during the movement vertically.

Don’t use your running or other athletic shoes for lifting purposes. The ideal lifting shoe should be hard with a raised heel, as this comes in handy with exercises such as squats and deadlifts. You don’t need as much arch support when weightlifting, either.

The differences in cushioning, shape, and construction between weightlifting shoes and other kinds of footwear produce a different result when wearing the weightlifting shoes. Scientific studies can show exactly what kinematic differences will manifest when wearing either type of shoe.

What Happens When You Wear Weightlifting Shoes During Squats?

A study conducted by three researchers at the University of Northern Colorado observed the differences when fit, college-aged males performed repetitions of squats at 60% of their maximum ability. The study participants randomly switched between running shoes and an unnamed brand of weightlifting shoes. The researchers observed the range of motion (ROM), trunk displacement and ankle flexibility.

The weightlifting shoes made a difference with ankle flexion, which was expected due to the lifted position of the heel in weightlifting shoes. This meant it was easier for the study participants to maintain proper squat form during the exercise. Their thighs and hips remained vertical and there was less leaning forward. The knees moved over the toes more easily, which also promoted better form and performance.

The weightlifting shoes also produced less displacement in the torso region than the running shoes did. The athletes exhibited much less forward lean during the exercise and were able to redirect the energy upward. The researchers surmised this was due to less stress on the lower back.

The participants in the study stated they thought it was easier to perform squats in the weightlifting shoes than in the running shoes as well. This may have been due to the reduced stress on the lower back or through some other factors, such as the mental conditioning of being told they were using shoes specifically for weightlifting rather than for running.

To Wear Weightlifting Shoes Or Not….

Weightlifting shoes may not be for you if you’re a runner, but if you spend a lot of time in the gym with barbells and the like, it’s probably a good idea to consider getting a pair! If you’re just starting out, it may be even more beneficial to wear shoes with less heel lift so you can focus on proper form. For strength athletes or powerlifters, weightlifting shoes may help maintain form during heavy lifting or competition.

Proper form when executing squats will help prevent injury. The study results suggest that the weightlifting shoes promote better form, and should then help prevent injury. Athletes at any level of experience can benefit from this aspect of wearing weightlifting shoes while performing squats.

If you aren’t quite sure what kind of shoes would be best for your level of physical activity, no problem. Contact TheraFit today. One of our experts in physical therapy will be able to assess your form, ask questions about the kinds of sports or athletic activity you participate in and make an educated suggestion about what type of footwear would be best suited to your needs!

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