%AM, %06 %657 %2017 %10:%Sep

Pain in the Neck? Think Dry Needling

Chris NawrockiI have the daily experience of working in outpatient physical therapy care of evaluating and treating many spine patients.  Having over 22 years of clinical care and pursuing advanced credentialing as a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a McKenzie Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment I think I have a pretty strong background in helping patients deal with their spinal pains.  Throughout my day I evaluate then educate and explain why the pain is limiting their life.  Hopefully we get the correct treatment structure in place to make their pains go away and resume getting back to normal life.  I have always felt empathy for those patients wreathing in obvious pain and my goal was always to encourage them to work through the pain and realize there will be better days ahead.  And then….May of 2016 hit me with a pain in my neck.  Literally.

Published in Blog

Anne Slater 4First, you should know that I am not what one would call a “weekend warrior.” It’s true that I have not been in my true peak physical condition since my days participating in high school sports. That said, I stay pretty active playing team sports in adult rec leagues; I play volleyball every chance I can get, I am always willing to jump into a pick-up game of ultimate Frisbee, or join a game of Spikeball at the beach.  I’m in what I call “volleyball shape.” I rarely run voluntarily. When I was asked to sub for a soccer league by a coworker, I was not trying to relive the glory days; I thought, here’s an opportunity to get some cardio and have fun at the same time.

Published in Blog
%AM, %11 %621 %2016 %09:%Oct

Is Something is Better Than Nothing?

RS2273 shutterstock 263097353When it comes to strength training, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Most of us are aware of the benefits of strength training in areas like everyday physical function, bone rebuilding, self-confidence, fat reduction, and elevated metabolism. But did you know that strength training can also help prevent diabetes, enhance your cognitive ability, reduce blood pressure, reverse the aging process associated with muscular decline, and help balance your cholesterol levels?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends strength training exercises for all major muscle groups 2-3 times a week: upper body, lower body, core, chest, shoulders, and arms.

But let me be honest, I haven’t always practiced what I’ve preached about strength training. Running has consistently been a part of my life since high school, but it’s a struggle to maintain a regular strength routine. However, as I’ve dealt with knee, lower back, and hamstring injuries  in the past few years, I’ve learned that I need to incorporate some basic strength training if I want to continue to run.

Published in Blog
%PM, %31 %828 %2016 %14:%Oct

My Journey to the Olympic Trials

Betsy OlympicsThis July, I had the opportunity to compete in the US Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene , Oregon.  My event is the steeplechase, a 3000m (7.5 laps, 1.86 miles) race over barriers.  There are 35 barriers and one each lap has a water pit on the other side. For women the barriers are set to 30 inches.  Unlike hurdles that you may be used to seeing on the track, the barriers cross three lanes, are made of wood and don’t fall over if you hit them.  It adds another dimension to distance running.  I’ve heard people call it ‘terrifying,’ ‘difficult,’ and overall unappealing, but I call it fun.

 To qualify for the Trials in track, you have to run a qualifying time (under 9:53 for women’s steeplechase this year) within the year leading up to the race. I qualified in 2012 in the same event and decided then to make it back in 2016.

The experience, especially the build up to the race, taught me a lot about life and running. The beginning of my season didn’t go exactly as planned.  My first race was a good start, but my second race was poor.  My third attempt was interrupted by a thunderstorm.  The disappointment left me questioning my ability and purpose.

Published in Blog
%PM, %14 %787 %2016 %13:%Jul

Everything Happens for a Reason

NancyryanAs a middle school student, I thought I heard the worst news of my life when I was told I needed a back surgery.  That news led to an event that would change my life forever.

My love for sports whether watching or playing started at an early age for me.  I was classified as the athlete and occasional “tomboy” by my family. I played teeball then softball for as long as I can remember along with trying any other sport that was thrown my way including basketball, volleyball, tennis, and track & field.  I enjoyed being active and was really looking forward to competitive team sports during middle school. 

In order to participate in middle school sports, an official sports physical was required by the MHSSA.  During my sports physical, I completed the forward bend testing to examine my spine.  It was brought to my attention that I needed to be further evaluated for Scoliosis by a spine specialist.

Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine that can present like a “C” or “S” shape in the thoracic and lumbar spine.  It can have many degrees from very mild with just needing to be monitored, moderate with bracing, and severe with surgical intervention.

Upon further examination over many consecutive x-rays and spine specialist appointments, it was determined that my “S” shaped curve was growing rapidly and more severe.  Surgical intervention would be the best recommendation in order to prevent significant functional impairments for my future.  At first, I thought it would be no big deal until things were further explained to me.  They wanted to try a newer procedure with fusions versus placing rods in my spine.  It would be a lengthy surgery and recovery requiring a back brace and months of physical therapy following surgery.  There were many risks to the surgery that at the time I felt invincible and would never happen to me.  However there was one thing that frightened me and that would be not being able to participate in sports during recovery and the possibility of not being able to return to a competitive athlete especially with contact sports.

Published in Blog
%PM, %27 %825 %2016 %13:%Jan

A New Way to GO

eliptigoIs pain keeping you from running or walking?  Does riding a bicycle hurt your back or give you ‘saddle sore’? Are you bored on the cardio machines at the gym or at home? Are you looking to improve your time in your next race? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, the ElliptiGO may be the tool for you.

What is it:  Think bicycle plus elliptical machine.  The ElliptiGO was invented in Southern California and came to the market around 2010.  It has the familiar bicycle components (handlebars for steering, hand brakes, gears, two wheels) with a stride similar to the elliptical machine.  The stride is very comfortable and smooth.  It is slightly longer and narrower than the average indoor machine to match your running stride better. The handle bars and stride length can be adjusted to accommodate heights of 5’ 0” to 6'8". 

What the research says:

A recent research study by Rendler and colleagues found that workouts on ElliptiGO improve cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition in line with fitness industry standards and American College of Sports Medicine guidelines.  (You can read the full article here)

ElliptiGO riding expends 33% more energy compared to cycling at the same speed.

ElliptiGO also conducted many case studies with their elite athletes that you can check out.

Who uses it?

The ElliptiGO is a useful tool for all runners and fitness enthusiasts.  Elite runners are using it to supplement their training and achieve their goals.  Former runners who are unable to run due to pain use it to get the ‘runner’s high’ and build fitness without pain.  Injured runners use it in their rehabilitation to keep fit while allowing their injuries to heal.

If you do not have pain, the ElliptiGO can supplement your training to improve your cardiovascular fitness without the impact that running puts on your body.  Recovery is an important part of training.  You can add additional training time without putting excessive stress on your body.  My friend Tina Muir, an elite marathon runner, posted a blog about the benefits of cross training for runners.  You can check it out here.

Published in Blog
%PM, %15 %834 %2015 %15:%Apr

Yoga: A Health and Wellness Revolution

Yoga was first practiced in India thousands of years ago and has become a popular form of exercise recently in the United States, which is no surprise since there are numerous health benefits while engaging the mind, body, and spirit. Some main benefits of yoga are:

  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Improved energy levels
  • Improved flexibility and balance while focusing on engaging core muscles that support the spine
  • Can help manage stress and help you focus while decreasing blood pressure  
  • Improved sleep
  • Yoga also focuses on slow breathing and incorporating meditation which can improve a person’s overall well-being

Yoga is not just slow movements anymore, there are many different types of yoga offered at different studios in the area.  A few yoga studios are highlighted below with the different types of classes they offer:

Published in Blog
%AM, %19 %683 %2013 %10:%Nov

Preventing Winter Related Injuries

When the winter weather arrives, there is no need to stop exercising outdoor; it just needs to be done the right way in order to prevent an injury. Following is a list of steps that will help you get the fresh air you crave and the exercise your body needs; while minimizing the risk of an injury:

 

  • Snow RunningDress in layers (loose clothing) and either add or remove when your body temperature changes.

 

  • Wear the proper shoes for the activity.

 

  • Drink plenty of fluids; water is preferable.

 

  • Know your surroundings: when you know your surroundings, you know where the sidewalks are uneven, the trails marked for running or walking, hills, closed roads, and construction areas. This will help you to avoid such areas.

 

  • Warm-Up: a gentle and short stretch is needed to prepare your muscles for the activity that will follow. After the warm-up, follow with some stretching.
Published in Blog