Don’t Fall Victim to Opioids – Instead, Opt for Natural Relief

Chronic pain can become a huge burden, interfering with just about every aspect of your life until it can seem impossible to feel like things will ever be “normal” again. Whether as a result of wear and tear over time, or following a traumatic experience like an injury or a car accident, chronic pain can become increasingly difficult to cope with as time goes on. Learning to cope with the discomfort isn’t always realistic, and so rather than live in discomfort many people turn to ways to mask the pain—often through the use of pain medications. However, this isn’t always the healthiest option, and finding more appropriate ways to manage your pain that can actually help to reduce the severity of your chronic pain can have a huge impact on your quality of life and happiness.

Instead of turning to medications to manage pain long-term, talk to your physical therapist at TheraFit Physical Therapy & Fitness Center about natural strategies that may help you to experience actual relief from your pain.

The Problem with Pain Medications

Pain medications don’t actually do anything to help heal chronic pain. While often marketed as an ideal solution to experiencing ongoing pain, all that pain medications can do is help you to feel relief from the pain for a short period of time. Once the medication dosage wears off the pain will return, and over time it may even require larger and larger dosages of pain medication to help you experience that same level of relief.

What’s more, many pain medications come with a long list of complications of their own. Many pain medications are opioid-based, which means that they are highly addictive and can cause damage to the body if used for a prolonged period of time. For many people, the withdraw that occurs when they attempt to stop taking opioids is actually more severe than the initial pain itself, and in some situations, the use of pain medications for an extended period of time can lead to an array of additional health issues, including damage to the intestines, liver, and even the heart.

To actually overcome chronic pain and return to a more normal way of life, pain medications cannot be looked at as a sole means of treatment. While pain medications may be recommended for short term use to help you overcome the initial pain of an injury, there are other treatment options available that are much safer and more effective at helping to ease the pain and improve your quality of life.

Natural Strategies for Pain Relief

Working with a physical therapist to experience relief from chronic pain is one of the most effective strategies that you can try. Regardless of whether the pain stems from an injury or from wear and tear over time, physical therapy can identify the problem areas, target the source of the pain, and then provide you with strategies to help improve your range of motion and reduce the experience of pain.

The biggest difference between physical therapy and pain medication for addressing chronic pain is that pain medication will never actually fix the source of the pain, it will only cover it up. Physical therapy may not help you to feel that immediate relief in the same way pain medication would, but it will help you to feel gradual improvements in your experience of the pain so that you can eventually start to live your life free of discomfort.

Here are a few of the ways that your physical therapist can help you find relief from chronic pain:

  • Targeted massage: Your physical therapist can identify the area that may be causing the pain and utilize massage techniques to reduce tension in that particular area, thereby helping to alleviate pressure in your joints and reduce pain.
  • Hot and cold therapy: The combination of hot and cold therapy can help to reduce swelling and alleviate pain, and when used in combination with other natural strategies can be a great source of relief from chronic pain.
  • Deep stretching: Your physical therapist can guide you through specialized stretching techniques that will target the source of your pain, thereby helping to improve your range of motion and support the development of muscle mass in the area of your pain.
  • Weight lifting: As you begin to experience tension relief and decreased swelling in the targeted area, your physical therapist can then guide you through the process of building muscle mass to support a full and healthy recovery.

Physical therapy can often be used to help people overcome chronic pain, including pain the joints, like hip and knee pain, back pain, neck pain, and even chronic headaches. In some situations, such as when there is an injury like a torn tendon or damaged muscle, surgical repair may be necessary to help repair the damage prior to the use of physical therapy to restore range of motion. Working with your physical therapist to utilize these natural strategies that can help you to avoid the long-term use of medication can help you to feel greater relief from pain and experience improved quality of life in the process.

To start experiencing relief from chronic pain, contact TheraFit Physical Therapy & Fitness Center for an appointment today.

Get Back to Comfort with These Back Exercises – All of Which You Can Do at Home!

Are you feeling back pain after being quarantined to your home? You may be wondering, “Why is this? I’ve barely left the couch!” Well, therein lies the issue.

The sedentary lifestyle that I’m sure many people have experienced since being quarantined to their homes can actually lead to more aches, pains, and discomfort than one may think – especially in the back.

Your body, quite simply, was made to move! With gyms and exercise classes closing down for the time being, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get your daily physical activity while sitting at home. Luckily, there are several easy exercises you can do on your own to relieve your back pain and get moving! 

Always exercise and stretch within your comfort zone. Never push into pain and if you are unsure of doing any of the exercises below, simply consult your physical therapist first.

6 exercises to stretch those back muscles:

  • Lumbar Rotation Stretch in Lying. Back giving you troubles? Try a Lumbar Rotation Stretch in Lying. Lying sideways with your top knee bent and bottom knee straight, gently rotate your torso so your head is facing the opposite direction of your legs. Hold the stretch and then switch sides. This will stretch out your back and get you feeling comfortable once again!

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/333092920/1dbb30daae

  • Bird Dog (Leg Slide). With major businesses shutting down, we know how disappointing it is to not be able to attend the weekly yoga classes you enjoy so much. Fortunately, you can bring the same yoga stretches to your own home. Begin on the floor with your knees bent beneath you and your hands flat in front of you, so your back is flat toward the ceiling. Stretch your left arm out in front of you and your right leg out behind you, so your toes are pointing down at the ground. Hold this stretch and then repeat on the opposite side, with your right arm and your left leg. The Bird Dog (Leg Slide) exercise is great at targeting the back muscles to give you that relieving stretch you’re looking for! 

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/371130374/85ad5de4ee

  • Hip Bias Lunges (Back Heel Down). Who doesn’t love a good lunge? This is a great exercise to get you moving. As a bonus, it not only targets your back but also focuses on your knee muscles. Begin standing in a slight lunge position with one leg slightly bent out in front of you and the other leg straight behind you. Lean your torso forward so it is almost in a 90 degree angle with the floor (this will cause your back leg to bend, as well). Hold this stretch and continue reps on the side you are on, then switch sides repeating the same steps.

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/391227766/dc90917bdc 

  • Standing Hip Abduction 45 Degree Angle Back Arom. This exercise may have a lengthy name, but we promise it’s not that difficult! For this exercise, you will need a chair or something else to steady yourself. Stand with your left hand on the back of the chair and place your right hand on your hip. Keeping your back straight and face forward, slowly kick your back leg out behind you until you feel the stretch in your back. Continue a few reps and then switch sides, placing your left hand on your hip and kicking your left leg out behind you. Make sure to always keep the opposite hand on the chair to steady yourself. 

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/285854056/0165cea4f4

  • Standing Shoulder Flex/Hip Extension With Back Arch (Wall). Another exercise that has a lengthy name but is very easy to do! For this exercise, you will begin standing with your hands outstretched directly in front of you on a wall. In a fluid “swinging” motion, extend your right arm and left leg behind you so your back is arched, then bring them both toward the wall. Continue doing this in fluid motions. After a few reps, repeat this exercise on the other side of your body, with your left arm and right leg.

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/394420569/71808708d0

  • Neural Mobility SLR (Outward Turn). Looking for a great way to stretch your back, legs, and glutes at the same time? This exercise is for you! Begin by laying down on your back with both arms clasped around your right hamstring. Raise that leg in the air, keeping the left one bent with your feet flat on the ground. Flex your right foot that is in the air so that the bottom of your foot is flat facing the ceiling, then point that foot so that your toes are straight up toward the ceiling. Then, slowly bring that leg back down to a bent position between your hands. Continue for a few reps and then switch legs, repeating the same steps.

Here is a video for your reference: https://vimeo.com/370059225/1087fe3a40

Questions?

If you have any questions about any of these exercises or if you are looking for more ways to relieve back pain during the quarantine, call or message Therafit at any time. We want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible while also staying active at home!

Get Back to Your Daily Life Quicker with Pre-hab

It is common knowledge that post-surgical rehabilitation is necessary following almost any surgical procedure. This rehab is performed after surgery as a way to enhance the recovery process and help patients regain their mobility.

But did you know you can also participate in rehab treatments before your surgery? Pre-surgical rehabilitation, commonly referred to as “pre-hab,” is a way to help speed up your recovery time even more and make the surgery itself easier on your body. Pre-hab has been proven to both reduce recovery time and improve the overall outcomes of the surgery.

If you have a surgery coming up and you’re looking for an effective way to prepare, contact us today to consult with one of our licensed physical therapists about pre-hab.

The many benefits of pre-hab:

Pre-hab has been proven to significantly enhance the recovery process for those who decide to partake in it. In fact, in a study published by the Arthritis Foundation, three universities in Boston demonstrated that patients who engaged in pre-hab had much better outcomes following surgery.

Working with a physical therapist before surgery makes it possible to get out of the hospital faster. For example, studies done on knee replacement patients concluded that the patients who went through pre-hab treatments before their knee surgery were able to meet the requirements to get out of the hospital much quicker than those who did not go through any physical therapy prior to surgery.

In most cases, knee replacement patients must walk a certain distance and travel up a certain amount of stairs before they can leave. For patients that have worked with a physical therapist before surgery, meeting these requirements is easier to do. Their bodies are stronger due to physical therapy; therefore, they are able to recover much faster.

What’s the difference between rehab and pre-hab?

Rehab

It is completely normal to feel some pain and discomfort following surgery. It may feel difficult to make certain movements, and you will likely have to limit your physical activity for a set amount of time after your procedure. However, it is important to make sure you are still getting the movement you need, so you can regain your optimum function following surgery. This is where rehab comes in.

Rehab is a must following surgery. A physical therapist can help you move safely, in ways that will fight inflammation and keep adhesions from forming. Rehab treatments with a licensed physical therapist will also help increase your strength, so you can get back to your normal life after surgery.

Pre-hab

Pre-hab with a physical therapist helps you get a jump-start on the recovery process, and it can allow for a more successful surgical process. It reduces inflammation and increases strength, which can make the job of the surgeon (and your body’s natural healing response!) much easier. While rehab works to strengthen your body after surgery, pre-hab works to strengthen your body before the surgery.

Spending even a few sessions with a physical therapist will help improve your overall health before undergoing your procedure, so you’ll have more strength stored up to help you along your recovery. Instead of starting out rehab feeling fully depleted, you will already have some built-up strength to make the process much easier on yourself.

Make the most of your surgery:

The benefits of pre-hab treatments are immeasurable Contact us today to schedule your appointment and find out how our pre-hab services can help you. Our dedicated physical therapists will create a personalized treatment plan for your specific needs, in order to improve your strength before your surgery. If you want to get back to your daily life quicker by ensuring a quicker recovery rate and smoother outcome, don’t hesitate to contact us! Make the most of your surgery by participating in pre-hab treatments today.

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The Connection Between Core Strength and Better Balance

Physical therapy as an industry has been talking about the link between core strength and better balance for years. When the “core” muscles around your trunk are strong, they prevent chronic lower back pain and many other injuries, but they also keep you from losing your balance and falling down. A stronger core will help to keep you upright — especially as you age and start to become more at risk of falling. If you’d like to get started on a core routine to improve your balance, contact Therafit PT today to speak with a physical therapist!

How Core Strength and Balance Are Linked

There are three systems in your body that help to control your balance. One is the vestibular system; the liquid in your inner ear functions sort of like a “carpenter’s balance” to keep you level. If you’ve ever felt dizzy, it means the liquid in the vestibular system can be “off” a little bit. Another balancing system is your visual system. Your eyes send signals to your brain about your position in relation to the world around you. The final system is the proprioceptive system, which has to do with your core.

Proprioception nerves are sensory nerves situated throughout the body that make you aware of your posture and awareness of spatial things around you. To stay balanced, you have to have equilibrium in all three systems. A weak core is one element that can make you feel off balance and cause you to fall down.

Core Muscles, Core Stability & Core Strength

Your core muscles are more than just your abs! In fact, there are two groups of core muscles: Inner core and outer core. The inner core muscles are attached to your spine; they’re the muscles that stabilize your core. The outer core muscles work in conjunction with the inner core muscles when you need to move your body from point A to point B (or to do most physical activities).

Core stability relates to your inner core muscles. These muscles stabilize your spine. Core strength relates to the outer core muscles and is developed to help you move around better. Engaging in physical therapy will help you to train both inner and outer core muscles for better balance and movement.

Core Strength & Stability Through Physical Therapy

You don’t need a bunch of expensive gym equipment to start working on your core strength. In fact, here’s a quick exercise that many physical therapists will recommend if you’re just starting out. It’s called the “drawing in maneuver,” or if you prefer the less fancy term, “sucking your gut in.”

First, stand up straight and find the proper pelvic position. This is done by rotating your hips forward and back finding the comfortable “middle” position. Then, draw your belly button in toward your spine. Don’t hold your breath — it’s not a breathing exercise. You should be able to talk, breathe and slowly walk around with your belly button drawn in. It sounds easy, but if you’re older, out of shape or recovering from an injury, the drawing in maneuver will be a little difficult at first.

You want to build up your core muscles until you can hold your belly button in for 30 seconds before moving on to more difficult core exercises. Also, if you feel any pain from this exercise, stop immediately. It shouldn’t be painful. As you build up your core, your physical therapist will recommend moving on to more strenuous exercises that are appropriate for your age and ability. This can range from planks and bridges for the more athletic, to gentler workouts like a yoga routine for older folks. Your therapist will also work with you on specific core exercises to help your balance.

If you have a weak core or you’re struggling with balance, physical therapy can help! Contact our Fayetteville or Hazel Green offices and schedule an appointment to get started with a physical therapist today.

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