If You’re Taking Opioids for Your Arthritis Pain, This Blog is For You

130: that’s how many people on average die from opioids every day in the United States. It’s a stunning statistic that sadly impacts nearly every community in our country, since opioid abuse and addiction affects people from all walks of life.

Many people who become addicted to opioids were first prescribed them by a medical doctor as a way to manage an acute or chronic pain condition. The problem is, opioid medications:

  • Can be highly addictive
  • Only hide symptoms of pain—they don’t address the underlying causes, which makes opioids less cost-effective over time
  • Are associated with an increased risk of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and depression

Unfortunately, in addition to an opioid epidemic in this country, researchers believe there is also a chronic pain epidemic, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 5 American adults report chronic pain caused by arthritis and other conditions. If you’re one of them, we encourage you to contact one our our offices today to schedule an appointment. We can connect you with a compassionate and highly skilled physical therapist who can help you alleviate your arthritis pain along with the other physical and mental symptoms associated with it.

3 Ways Physical Therapy Can Alleviate Your Pain

Medications, even opioids, may be appropriate in certain cases. But experts believe people with many types of chronic pain, including arthritis, should try physical therapy first. Here are three ways a physical therapist can help you:

1. Physical Therapy Can Address Pain at It’s Source AS WELL As Alleviate Symptoms

Physical therapy uses a combination of “passive” and “active” techniques to help people reduce their pain and improve their overall health and well-being. Unlike medication, physical therapy services can make you feel better while also correcting the underlying issues contributing to your condition.

For instance, arthritis joint pain is often caused or exacerbated by weak muscles or abnormal movement patterns that increase pressure in the affected joint. Physical therapy treatments like therapeutic exercises and joint mobilizations can help minimize these issues while also decreasing discomfort, reducing inflammation, and improving joint range of motion. Joint mobilization techniques, including spinal manipulation, can also modulate your nervous system and trigger the release of powerful pain-relieving chemicals in your body for significant relief and whole-body healing.

Other techniques your physical therapist may offer you for your arthritic joint pain include:

  • Soft tissue mobilization and massage
  • Modalities like electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and diathermy
  • Kinesiotaping
  • Exercises to improve balance, coordination, and strength
  • Breathing exercises
  • Training to improve posture and ergonomic set up at work or home

2. Physical Therapy Helps You Feel Better So You Can Exercise More

Regular physical activity, including strength training and aerobic exercise, is one of the most effective ways to improve arthritis joint pain. But if you’re always in pain, you may not feel like you’re able to safely workout. This may lead to worsening joint function and even weight gain, which makes arthritis even worse. What to do? This is where physical therapy comes in.

By working with a physical therapist, you can get your pain under better control so you can go do those active things you know are good for your body. A physical therapist can also help you learn how to move more safely, such as by teaching you efficient ways to move or pace yourself so you don’t end up being unsafe or doing so much that you’re laid up in bed for days after your workout.

Our physical therapists are also able to help you problem-solve and compensate for mobility limitations by fitting you for adpative equipment such as canes, crutches, orthotics, and braces. These devices can be valuable tools that make you safer and more independent as you set out on your pain-relief journey.

3. Physical Therapy Helps You Better Understand Pain Itself

Research shows that a person’s beliefs and fears about pain strongly influence how bad their pain feels and how long it lasts. Many things like stress, temperature, movement, and even acute illnesses like the flu or common cold can also make your chronic joint pain feel worse.

Research-backed techniques such as therapeutic neuroscience education (TNE) allow a physical therapist to help you explore your beliefs about pain and understand why pain happens. Simply increasing awareness is proven to help people feel less fearful of pain and be in better control of their symptoms. This is strikingly different than simply taking a pill and hoping it’ll make your pain go away.

The Bottom Line

According to the CDC, prescription opioids are not considered the best choice for many types of non-cancer related chronic pain, including arthritis. Nonopioid approaches like physical therapy are the preferred first line of treatment.

A great physical therapist can help you live with less pain without having to rely on pricey and potentially harmful medications, and in many cases can help you avoid surgery.

Is Your Chronic Arthritis Pain Holding You Back?

We are so empathetic for people living with chronic pain—it’s a challenging situation that so many of our patients and even some of our loved ones face, too. If you’d like to finally see if drug-free pain relief is possible for you, contact TheraFit Physical Therapy today to schedule an appointment.

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The Truth About Physical Therapy For Arthritis

If you’ve already been diagnosed with a common form of arthritis such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you may have learned that these chronic joint pain conditions can’t be cured or reversed. It’s an unfortunate fact, but one that many people are forced to live with.

Did you know that at least 50 million Americans are struggling with arthritis? That’s a sizable chunk of the U.S. population, and if you have joint pain, there’s a good chance that you’re included in that statistic!

You might be wondering why even bother to pursue a course of physical therapy for your arthritis since there is no cure for it, and this blog is going to explain that to you. As it turns out, physical therapy can do quite a lot to help you control your symptoms and optimize your joint function. Keep reading to learn more about arthritis and how physical therapy can ease your chronic pain.

Arthritis: The Leading Reason For Chronic Joint Pain

Did you know that over 100 different underlying conditions can cause arthritis, or joint pain? It’s true. Unfortunately, these conditions tend to be chronic, or long-lasting, in nature.

Take rheumatoid arthritis, for example. This painful condition attacks your joints over time due to an autoimmune malfunction, causing increasing amounts of swelling and damage to your joints.

The most common kind of arthritis, as well as the one you’re probably more familiar with, is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a progressive degeneration of the joint cartilage due to natural wear and tear. As the cartilage continues to disintegrate, your joints become increasingly stiff and painful over the years. This will end up hindering your mobility and functionality as it worsens, especially if you do not seek treatment.

Why not opt for surgery or medication?

There’s nothing more frustrating than sustaining painful physical damage that your body can’t repair or heal. In the most severe cases, some people with arthritis choose to undergo expensive, intense surgery to either fuse the joint in place (preventing painful motion) or replace the joint altogether with a metal implant. Surgery is not for everyone and it certainly is not the only option. If you can’t stomach the thought of major surgery, you might assume that your only recourse is life in a wheelchair or leaning on a walker, with a daily regimen of painkillers. The problem with this strategy is that the less you use your joints, the stiffer they will get, forcing you to take increasing amounts of medication just to get through the day.

Medications also only provide temporary relief and don’t get to the root source of your problem. They also won’t make you stronger and won’t preserve your mobility.

Preserving Mobility And Decreasing Pain With Physical Therapy

The sad truth is that we can’t turn back time when it comes to our health. Once a chronic, incurable condition develops, it’s here to stay.

There’s no reason to despair, however. Even if you can’t turn back the clock on the damage done to your joints, you can still do those joints a world of good through physical therapy. The kind of treatment our physical therapist recommends will depend in part on your baseline health and fitness, the type of arthritis you have, and the severity of the condition.

Your physical therapy plan will also be based on your specific goals, from relieving chronic pain to restoring your ability to perform particular activities. It may include:

  • Walking or cycling to keep your joints as limber as possible
  • Strength straining to build up the muscles that support and articulate your arthritic joints
  • Massage therapy to increase blood flow, relieve chronic inflammation, and reduce joint swelling
  • Corrective exercises and postural education to help you move around safely, either on your own or with an assistive device
  • The use of heat and cold to ease joint pain without drugs

These physical therapy treatment methods and other techniques can have a profoundly positive effect on your arthritis. You’ll find that you can move more freely and comfortably, and that you no longer feel the need to keep drugging yourself or enduring grueling surgery. By controlling your inflammation and preventing more stiffness from setting in, you’re setting yourself up for many more years of optimal mobility — despite your arthritis.

Are You Ready To See One of Our Physical Therapists?

If you’re interested in getting the ball rolling with treatment for your arthritis through physical therapy, don’t keep sitting around, waiting for us to call you! You have to take the first step towards bettering your health when it comes to a chronic condition like arthritis, so what are you waiting for?

Contact TheraFit Physical Therapy today to learn more about our services. Then schedule an appointment so that we can devise an effective arthritis management plan for you!

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Opioid Addiction: Why Taking Painkillers For Arthritis Pain is Doing You More Harm Than Good

Are you taking opioids for your arthritis pain? Did you know that opioids like morphine and oxycodone are actually making your arthritis worse? Drugs like these alter your perception of pain, but they don’t relieve it. So if you’re taking an opioid and believe it’s relieving your pain, know that it’s actually doing nothing to improve the symptoms of your arthritis. Opioids are not the only option you have to get relief from arthritis! Call TheraFit to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist to learn more about how treatment can help.

How Arthritis Happens

Osteoarthritis, or “arthritis,” is a degenerative condition that affects the joints. The connecting joints between bones are made of cartilage, and if that cartilage becomes weak or depleted, it can cause bones to grind and scrape together. One of the main causes of arthritis is simply getting older; our joints just wear out as we age and that’s normal. However, there are other factors like genetics, repetitive physical jobs, playing high-impact sports, or being overweight, which can increase a person’s chances of developing arthritis. This condition also affects weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, but it’s common for it to also develop in many other joints.

How To Know If You Have Arthritis

Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt like a joint or two was stiff? The most common symptom of arthritis is pain in the joint or joints that have lost too much cartilage. Or what about every day activities, do you notice that simple tasks like bending down are painful for you? Activities that use an affected joint will cause pain; the joint will hurt if you touch it or apply pressure to it. A joint can also be considered arthritic if it makes cracking and popping noises when it is used. As a defense mechanism, your body might try to grow new bone structure in the affected joint, which will be extremely painful.

Physical Therapy Can Help Arthritis

As previously stated, opioids can alter how you perceive pain so that your brain thinks you are no longer suffering from the effects of arthritis. This is not a long-term fix. Your bones are still grinding together, your cartilage is being worn down, and ultimately your condition is worsening. Before you know it, you’ll be in need of an even stronger painkiller, and most likely a pretty expensive surgery down the road.

There are better options out there to relieve arthritis pain. Physical therapy is one of them! Physical therapy can help you get rid of painkillers once and for all, and also keep you from spending thousands for surgery. A physical therapist will examine you and determine what activities trigger your pain symptoms. From there, he or she will create a customized exercise program that will help support your joint structures, and ultimately relieve your arthritis pain.

A physical therapist will be able to show you how to adjust your work area and home so that you can put less stress on the impacted joints. There are a multitude of different therapies, but manual therapy (targeted massage of painful joints) will probably be included in your treatment.

Your physical therapy treatment will also include an exercise plan for you to do at home to improve your health. Losing weight can also be an effective way to relieve arthritis pain, so if you’re overweight, your therapist might include weight loss exercises and advice on nutrition in your exercise plan. It won’t all be on you to bear though, your physical therapist will be there to keep you motivated throughout your entire treatment!

Opioids carry significant health risks. While they may temporarily numb the pain of arthritis, they do nothing to slow it down. It’s time to try physical therapy, a safe and effective alternative that will improve your symptoms with no risk to you. Call Therafit today to get your appointment set up with your physical therapist, and get back to living a pain-free life.

How Can Physical Therapy Relieve Your Chronic Back Pain?

After dealing with Chronic back pain for years, many people consider costly surgeries or addictive pain medication to deal with the problem. But did you know that surgery and opioids aren’t the only options available to people suffering from this condition? If you’ve been dealing with chronic back pain and are thinking about surgery to finally feel some relief, contact Therafit today to learn about how working with a physical therapist can be an alternative solution to your chronic back pain.

What Does It Mean To Have Chronic Back Pain?

Back pain by itself is pretty simple to understand. It is pain a person experiences in their back, usually along the spine or in the muscles attached to the spine. “Chronic back pain,” however, is a little different and in some cases, much more serious. Chronic back pain is pain that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. A person suffering from chronic back pain might say that their back feels better or worse depending on what time of day it is, but the pain is consistent and always debilitating. This kind of pain often interferes with a person’s ability to work and can even cause people to struggle with simple day-to-day tasks.

Recognizing Chronic Bain Pain and What Causes It

The main symptom of chronic back pain is intense pain in some area of the patient’s back. Other symptoms might include limited mobility; you may find yourself unable to move your body like you were once able to. Even simple tasks that you once never thought twice about, such as getting up out of a chair or out of bed after waking up can be an incredibly painful experience. Lifting even light objects can cause the pain to intensify.

Maybe the patient received a work-related accident or was in a car accident in which their back was injured. It could be that a patient was injured while lifting a piece of furniture too heavy for them to carry. Sometimes patients and their doctors know exactly what the root cause of the back pain was. In a majority of cases, back pain develops on its own over time, without one specific event that injured the person’s back. In fact, a 2014 article in the journal Clinical Radiology notes that in 90% of cases, patients can’t quite place the source of their back pain.

Three Ways Physical Therapy Can Alleviate Back Pain

It’s not a secret that physical therapy is a great way to treat chronic back pain, in fact, there’s a substantial amount of medical literature out there proving just that. Ask yourself if “living with the pain” is really going to work long-term for you. If the answer is “no” then understand that working with a physical therapist is a proven method for improving the symptoms of chronic back pain. Oftentimes, the need for surgery can be alleviated and patients won’t need to depend on prescription painkillers if they follow through on the physical therapist’s recommendations.

Here are three ways physical therapy helps chronic back pain.

  • Passive Physical Therapy: Exercise isn’t all physical therapy is made up of. “Passive” physical therapy involves non-physical treatments which can help relax a patient’s muscles and bring relief from their pain. With back pain, this can involve hot and cold packs applied directly to affected areas, electrical stimulation of the muscle structures, and more.
  • Active Physical Therapy: Your physical therapist has years of training and hands-on experience working with chronic back pain patients just like you. Your physical therapy plan might include specific stretches and exercises. This technique is known as “active” physical therapy. These exercises are great for strengthening the muscle groups that support your back and core. The stretches will be geared toward helping your body regain the flexibility and mobility you have lost as a result of your back pain.
  • Long-Term Support: Physical therapy takes dedication and patience. It takes time to alleviate chronic back pain through stretching and exercise, and it’s easy to get discouraged if you try to do it on your own. Your physical therapist is there to help you by providing emotional and psychological motivation throughout your treatment journey, until your back pain is a thing of the past.

Surgery and painkillers are not the only options you have if you’ve been struggling with chronic back pain. Call Therafit to schedule a no-risk appointment with a physical therapist and begin your journey to a pain-free life.

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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