work out

5 Ways Working Out Can Aggravate Your Back

The research continues to show that the best “treatment” for back pain is exercise. But for some, a work out is what actually aggravates their back. This is a common frustration I hear from clients. They know that strengthening their core and working out is good for their back. But when they do – they suffer. 

Here are five ways your work out is aggravating your back:

1. Misguided Exercise Choice

While the research isn’t wrong about exercising and back pain – not all exercises are appropriate depending on the type and severity of back pain you’re experiencing. For example, walking is considered one of the best activities for back pain sufferers, but for some, it’s excruciating. Strength training and lifting weights should be an essential part of back pain rehabilitation (and prevention). But if it’s done haphazardly, you’re going to have problems and likely aggravate your back. “Exercise” is not what causes problems for most people – it’s exercise choice. And when you make the wrong choice and aggravate your back, you tend to do the worst thing possible – rest and avoid exercise altogether. There is a middle ground when it comes to exercise and back pain. Working with an expert who understands this is essential.

2. Premature Stability Training

Stability training is an important part of back pain recovery – but I often see it introduced too soon. “Mobility before stability” is my mantra. If you don’t have full mobility in your spine, there is a reason, and it must be explored. When your spine doesn’t move well, you risk developing compensatory movement patterns that cause structures in and around your spine to get irritated. You don’t want to stabilize this scenario. You want to restore proper mobility first and then stabilize your spine. I can’t tell you how often I see people making this mistake. When it comes to back pain and working out, mobility-first is a must. If you’ve got a stiff back but have been trying to stabilize it – this could be why your back is getting aggravated when you work out. Stability work has been introduced too soon.

3. Poor Core Activation

Knowing how to properly activate your core is different from having good core strength. You can have the strongest abs in the world – but if you don’t use them when they count – your “6-pack abs” are useless.  Knowing how to properly activate your core is essential when you exercise, but especially when you have back pain. If you don’t activate your core properly when you’re lifting weights, or when performing complicated, coordinated movements such as tennis or golf – you’re setting yourself up for injury. The ability to activate your core properly is developed through motor control training. It’s where we teach your mind how to recognize and activate specific muscles, during specific activities, so that it eventually becomes habitual. If you’re constantly having back pain every time you work-out or exercise, it could be that you lack the ability to activate your core properly – and/or when you need it.

4. Poor (or non-existent) breathing technique

Not breathing properly – or not breathing at all – can significantly impact the effectiveness of your exercise routine and impede your ability to perform an exercise properly. As mentioned previously, knowing how to activate your core is crucial when you exercise, and in order to activate your core properly, you must be able to breathe properly. Your deep core is made up of four parts: your deep abdominals, deep back muscles, pelvic floor musculature, and your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is what controls your breathing. Let’s say you hold your breath when you exercise. This means your diaphragm isn’t expanding or contracting, which impacts the other four muscle groups in your deep core. All four muscle groups must work together in order for your core to be functional and strong. Plus – when your diaphragm – or any other muscle group in your deep core can’t work like it should – you get unnecessary pressure and strain on your back muscles. If you’re constantly aggravating your back every time you work out – make sure you’re breathing properly. Or at the very least, not holding your breath.

5. Improper form

Perhaps the most common reason working out aggravates your back is because you’re not using proper form. There’s a lot of people out there who think posture and form don’t really matter. But they do. When you lift weights, for example, you’re adding load to your spine. It’s essential you have good form and technique when your spine is under load or stress. The tricky thing about form, however, is that you can get away with poor form for a time. It might not hurt the first time you lift with improper form – or the fourth – but by your 100th rep – your back will start talking to you. Same goes for body weight exercises. Just because you aren’t adding load to your spine in the form of an external weight, doesn’t mean you can’t still aggravate it by doing the same movement over and over poorly. If you’re going to exercise – and you want to exercise daily – do it with proper form and posture. Otherwise – if you haven’t aggravated your back yet – it’s only a matter of time.

If you’re always hurting your back when you work out – it’s likely due to one of these five reasons.

Get expert help to figure out which one it might be – because at the end of the day – exercise is good for your back – and you don’t want to avoid it or dismiss it when there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation

Are you local to Portsmouth, NH and looking for help?

Consider speaking with one of my specialists – we will ask you all about what’s been going on with you and see if we would be a good fit to help! CLICK HERE to speak with a specialist.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media group. To get in touch, or request one of her free guides for getting rid of back pain – visit her website www.cjphysicaltherapy.com or call 603-605-0402

Osteoporosis

5 Ways Pilates can help Manage Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease of the bones that makes them weaker and far more susceptible to breaking.

The Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that approximately 10 million Americans suffer from this disease, and another 44 million have low bone density. Osteoporosis affects one in two women and one in four men. A woman’s risk of breaking a bone when she has osteoporosis is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. For men, they are more likely to break a bone than get prostate cancer. Hip fractures are common with osteoporosis, and of the nearly 300,000 folks who fall and break their hips, 25% end up in nursing homes and never get back to their previous function.

If these statistics don’t scare you, they should. But the good news is there are plenty of things you can do – starting right now – to help protect yourself from this condition. When you research osteoporosis, diet and exercise consistently come up as key prevention strategies. When it comes to exercise, you want to make sure it focuses on healthy resistance exercises, mobility, flexibility, and balance. 

Well… there happens to be one exercise system that accomplished all of this. It’s called Pilates.

Here are 5 Ways Pilates can help manage your Osteoporosis:



1. It’s a weight bearing exercise

One of the primary recommendations for preventing and managing osteoporosis is to engage in weight-bearing exercises. Well here’s the amazing thing about Pilates – the entire exercise system is based on bearing your own weight through various movements. Pilates gradually progresses you through postures of lying, kneeling, and standing – on both hands and feet – allowing you to bear weight through multiple planes and postures. This makes Pilates an excellent choice for those wanting to better manage their osteoporosis.


2. It improves muscle strength

You might be wondering… how does improving muscle strength help with bone strength? As your muscles become stronger, they pull harder on your bones, which helps improve the inherent strength of your bone. Plus, stronger muscles provide more support to your skeletal system as a whole, putting you at less risk of a fracture. Pilates in particular focuses on core strength – which is key for providing support to all your other muscles. And when you use the Pilates equipment to enhance your practice, you’ve got the resistance of springs putting special focus on all your tiny muscles, which helps strengthen areas of your body that might be inaccessible via traditional strength training methods.

3. It enhances flexibility and range of motion

It’s quite common for your joints to get stiffer and your flexibility to be impacted when you’ve got osteoporosis. You may think this is inconsequential – but stiffness and immobility can actually create more stress on your bones – which is what we’re trying to avoid. Pilates exercises emphasize the stretching and elongation of muscles, which inherently improves your range of motion. This will not only make you feel better – but makes doing everyday tasks a lot easier and they’ll feel less stressful on your body – which is important when you’re dealing with osteoporosis.


4. It encourages proper alignment and posture

Over time, osteoporosis can lead to unwanted changes in your spine, such as a stooped or kyphotic posture. Not only will these changes make it more difficult and uncomfortable to sit upright and move around, but they can make the bones (vertebrae) in these deformed areas of your spine more susceptible to damage. Pilates can help prevent and reverse these changes. Pilates emphasizes lengthened and proper spinal alignment and helps you to become more aware of your posture during the day. If you want to avoid (or even reverse) a slumped and kyphotic posture – with or without osteoporosis – Pilates can help.

5. It helps improve your balance and stability

Fall prevention is critical for those living with osteoporosis. And one of the best ways to prevent falls is to work on your balance. One might not think of Pilates as playing a key factor in this, however, Pilates is an exercise system that not only focuses on your core, but your feet as well. Everyone knows that a stronger core is going to make your whole body feel more stable. But when you’ve got feet that are more mobile and more in-tune with the ground – it dramatically improves your balance – making Pilates a safe and healthy way to not only improve your balance but decrease your risk of falling.

The best management of osteoporosis requires a multifaceted approach – and factors such as diet, nutrition, and exercise modifications must all be considered. Pilates is just one factor in the mix. But I like it because it hits on so many areas that are critical for the successful management of osteoporosis. If you’ve never tried Pilates before, I’d highly recommend giving it a whirl.

But be sure to get approval from your doctor first, and enlist the help of a movement specialist who understands how to work with someone suffering with osteoporosis.

Local to Portsmouth, NH? Consider speaking with one of my specialists by clicking HERE.

 Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media group. To get in touch, or enroll in her upcoming OsteoCore Strong Bones Program – visit her website www.cjphysicaltherapy.com or call 603-605-0402

tendinosis

Using Exercise as Medicine. A Natural Alternative to Pain Pills.

Using Exercise as Medicine. A Natural Alternative to Pain Pills.

We are inherently designed for motion from the moment we are born. But if you look around – we simply don’t move enough. Compared to our ancestors, our modern lives have us sitting (on average) for more than half our day. Fit bits and smart watches help combat this by alerting you to stand and get more steps in – but it still doesn’t seem to be enough. 

In today’s sedentary world, physical inactivity has become a significant health concern. In fact, the World Health Organization identifies physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Lack of movement and exercise has many adverse effects but most notably – more musculoskeletal problems and pain.

While over-the-counter pain pills and prescription medications are the standard go-to for pain management – research increasingly indicates that regular exercise as medicine is just as effective – and certainly healthier.

Let’s explore how exercise can be used as medicine – so you don’t have to rely on pain pills next time you experience something like back, knee, neck, or shoulder pain.

Exercise Mediates Pain

The way we perceive pain is complex. Many assume it’s a direct response to physical damage or injury – but it’s not that simple. The perception of pain involves numerous physiological and psychological factors that the brain must interpret. Depending on your general health, past experiences, and mental health condition, this can vary quite drastically from person to person. In other words – it’s your brain that decides how much or how little pain you experience.

Because of this complexity, external factors like exercise (and also pain medication) can alter how we perceive these signals. When we exercise, our bodies exhibit an increased tolerance towards pain, and a lower perception of pain intensity. This phenomenon is called “exercise-induced hypoalgesia” – and it works by closing down the gateways that allow pain signals to enter the brain. Certain medications can do this too, but when you exercise, you’re doing it naturally.

Exercise Helps Inflammation

Inflammation is a normal part of your body’s healing process, and it occurs when inflammatory cells travel to a place of injury. However, if inflammatory cells stick around too long, it can result in chronic pain and irritation. This is where exercise can really help. 

When you exercise, your body experiences minor physiological stress, which triggers your body’s natural inflammatory reaction. During the inflammatory process, certain proteins called anti-inflammatory cytokines are produced. These protein chemicals help to modulate the body’s inflammatory response – ultimately reducing the level of inflammation associated with your pain. Inflammation can be both good and bad. When you exercise, you are creating “good” inflammation, which will naturally ease your pain.

Exercise Stimulates Endorphins

Every wonder why a quick walk outside, or a strenuous gym workout just magically makes you feel better? It’s not your imagination. It’s something called endorphins – neurotransmitters released by your brain to alleviate pain and promote pleasure. 

Endorphins are considered your body’s natural “opioids” – because they interact with the same pain-inhibiting receptors in your brain that drugs like morphine would. But unlike morphine, endorphins are triggered naturally and don’t come with all the harmful side effects. Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins – and ultimately – your very own stash of natural and healthy painkillers.

Exercise Improves your Mental Health

Ever heard of the phrase “mind body exercise”? It’s coined from the fact that exercise and mental health share a powerful connection. It’s virtually impossible to influence one without the other.

Regular exercise stimulates the production of various mood-boosting chemicals such as our new friends, endorphins – along with serotonin and norepinephrine. Aside from helping to control pain, endorphins are also considered a “feel-good hormone”. They trigger feelings of positivity that, once again, are similar to morphine. Serotonin and norepinephrine are instrumental in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. Therefore – when you exercise – it’s virtually impossible not to feel better. And since we know that pain is controlled by your brian – anything that improves mental health is going to be beneficial in your relationship to pain.

Exercise as a Prescription

OK – so we’ve discussed the multitude of positive effects that exercise has on pain perception, inflammation, and mental health. But what if you’re currently suffering from an injury? Is it possible to still use exercise as a pain reliever? The short answer is yes. But it’s challenging to do on your own. You can’t just google “best exercises for back pain” and expect good results.

When it comes to using movement or exercise to rehab an already existing injury – it needs to be carefully prescribed. 

For all the reasons already discussed, physical activity will still help you modulate pain – but you must consider the role exercise is going to have on any potential tissue damage. With weakened or damaged tissue, exercise is still an effective pain reliever, but it has to be prescribed or you risk worsening your injury.

For these reasons, I always recommend working with a movement expert who truly understands the nature of musculoskeletal pain and tissue healing. If you start a general exercise routine because you want to feel better  – I applaud you – just make sure you’re getting your desired result.

But if you start exercising to help with pain and don’t experience any noticeable improvement – or you catch yourself modifying to work around your pain – then it’s time to enlist the help of an expert. Otherwise, you risk ending up on pain pills, which is exactly what we want to avoid.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media group. To get in touch, or get a copy of one of her free guides to back or knee pain, visit her website www.cjphysicaltherapy.com or call 603-605-0402

pain

Your Pains Location May Not be it’s Source

Pain is both a confusing and scary topic.

There’s lots of advice out there on what to do when you experience pain and it’s hard to know who to listen to. Should you rest – exercise – apply heat – apply ice – see a doctor – get an MRI – or just wait it out to see if it goes away on its own? Any or all of this advice could be right – but it’s irrelevant until you accurately determine where your pain is coming from.

For example, if you have pain in your knee, and it’s coming from your back, the best knee treatment in the world isn’t going to fix it. Inaccurate diagnosis of pain is one of the most common reasons why so many people suffer longer than they need to, and it’s one of the biggest contributors to unnecessary procedures and surgery. You must accurately determine the source of your pain for treatment to be effective. And the location of your pain, alone, is not a reliable way to figure that out.

Let me explain.

I’ve met people who’ve suffered from unrelenting tennis elbow for years – despite treatment protocol after treatment protocol – only to find out it was coming from their neck. I’ve met people who’ve undergone major knee surgery and it failed – only to find out later they never actually had a knee problem. Isolated extremity pain (knees, elbows, shoulders) is one of the most mis-diagnosed problems in the musculoskeletal world. In a study published in the Journal of Manipulative Therapy, they found that over 40% of people suffering from isolated extremity pain had a spinal source responsible for their symptoms, even when there wasn’t any spine pain. In other words, the pain they were feeling in their knee, elbow, or shoulder was actually coming from their back or neck (respectively).

Confused? I don’t blame you.

But more importantly, how do you reliably figure out the source of your pain when it’s not always where you’re feeling it?

As already mentioned, the most common place for this to happen is with extremities. If you’ve got shoulder, elbow, or knee pain, and you don’t recall having a specific injury to it, you must consider that it could be coming from your spine. There’s a 40% chance that it is. Where this gets really confusing is that typically, when you’ve got isolated knee or shoulder pain that won’t go away, your doctor will order an MRI. And if you’re over 40 years old, the MRI will almost always show “something”. It could be a torn rotator cuff, torn meniscus, arthritis, or wear and tear. But what most people don’t realize is that these findings are quite normal and happen naturally as you age.

Just because they show up in your MRI – doesn’t mean they are responsible for your pain. Despite the science proving this over and over – doctors continue to order these tests and rely on them to make important decisions about treatment. It’s how people end up undergoing unnecessary procedures or surgery – they let images and an inaccurate diagnosis lead the way.

Whenever I meet someone with isolated extremity pain, especially if it came on suddenly and out of nowhere, I always consider that it could be coming from their spine.

How can you figure this out?

Well, it’s challenging to figure it out on your own. But if you work with a movement specialist who understands this concept – you’ll be able to figure this out accurately. The basic premise is that if you can move your spine in specific directions – repeatedly – and influence the symptoms you feel in your extremity – then there is a very good chance your problem is coming from your spine. Or at the very least, your spine is involved. And whenever your spine is responsible solely or partially for pain elsewhere – and it’s ignored – your problem will persist and likely get worse over time if it’s not addressed.

Moral of this story… If you’ve had pain in one of your extremities for a while now, and it’s not going away, it’s possible you’ve missed the source, and that where your pain is may not be where your problem is. And if you’re considering some kind of surgery or procedure, you definitely want to rule out that the problem could be elsewhere.

Specialized movement exams are one of the most reliable ways to figure this out – studies have proven it. If you’ve had unexplained pain in your elbow, knee or shoulder that isn’t going away, look for someone who understands this and can give you a proper movement exam to accurately identify the source of your pain.

Looking for help and local to Portsmouth, NH? Click here to speak with a specialist.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, or get one of her free guides to knee and back pain, visit www.cjphysicaltherapy.com or email [email protected].

Running Over 50: Top 3 Injuries and What you can Do

If you love to run, then you’re probably no stranger to running injuries.

But if you love to run and you’re over 50, not only are you more likely to suffer a running-related injury compared to runners half your age, but you’ll tend to suffer from different categories of injuries as well. In older runners, we tend to see more soft-tissue related injuries versus problems with joints and stress fractures. Part of this is due to the fact that older runners may have been running longer. This predisposes them to more long-term wear and tear that is typically associated with soft tissue injuries like tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis. Older runners also are more likely to have altered their running mechanics over time, another factor that leads to injury. Either way, the good news is that once you know what to look for, you can take proactive measures to prevent these common running injuries as well as treat them naturally.

Here are the top 3 running injuries I see in people over 50 and what you can do:

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a condition characterized by a sharp, stabbing pain in your heel or bottom of your foot. It often worsens with the first steps in the morning or after long periods of rest. This discomfort comes from inflammation in your plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue running across the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes. Factors such as overuse, improper footwear, high arches, flat feet, and tight calf muscles can all contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis, whether you’re a runner or not.

Prevention measures for plantar fasciitis include incorporating regular stretching and self-massaging of your plantar fascia and calf muscles before and after running. Balance exercises that focus on strengthening the intrinsic muscles of your foot, along with maintaining a healthy weight can also help – as it will allow you to better control and manage the load that gets transmitted through your plantar fascia. But what if you’re already suffering from pain due to plantar fasciitis? Don’t just resort to rest and ice, which has been known to impede healing. Plantar fasciitis requires prescriptive loading of your muscles in order to remodel the damaged tissue. This, along with non-invasive treatments such as Shockwave Therapy designed to enhance blood flow to the tissue, can aid in accelerating your healing.

2. Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

Runner’s knee is a term used to describe a variety of conditions that cause pain around the kneecap (patella) – and is often synonymous with patellar tendonitis. You’ll notice your runner’s knee most during activities that require knee bending, walking downhill, or descending stairs. Overuse of your quadriceps muscles, poor tracking of your patella, and any other muscle or joint imbalance that results in increased load to the front of your knee can all result in runner’s knee. 

Regular and balanced strength training of the muscles around your knee – particularly of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles – is a key prevention strategy. Making sure you have good ankle and foot mobility is also important. Because if your foot doesn’t move well when you run, unwanted forces move up the chain into your knee, eventually leading to runner’s knee. If you’re already suffering from runner’s knee, then you’ll want to first mitigate your pain. Similar to plantar fasciitis – rest and ice won’t do much for you. Getting blood flow to the area – followed by carefully prescribed exercises designed to restore your mechanics and properly load your patella tendon – is what’s going to heal the irritated tissue in and around your knee and make it stronger.

3. Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis presents as pain and swelling in the back of your heel or lower calf. Right where your Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Your Achilles pain will typically be most prominent during or after running. It may be accompanied by stiffness when flexing your foot. While the causes of Achilles tendinitis are very similar to that of plantar fasciitis, we see this occur most often with sudden increases in intensity or duration of training. Particularly, this happens when your body is not adequately prepared.

A gradual increase in training load, regular calf strengthening and stretching exercises, and proper warm-up and cool-down regimens can go a long way in preventing Achilles tendinitis. Be cautious of your footwear as well. Minimalist running shoes have become extremely popular. But, if you move into them too quickly, your Achilles tendon could become irritated due to the sudden change in load and force. If you’re already suffering from Achilles tendinitis, the treatment is quite similar to that of plantar fasciitis. The exception is that when it comes to tissue loading, you’ll want to focus more on your lower calf and Achilles tendon, versus the plantar fascia.

With all of these conditions, keeping yourself healthy and in good shape is crucial for prevention.

Enlisting the help of a running coach is also a good idea. They can address any potential issues with your running mechanics that may have occurred over the years. If you’re picking up running for the first time, or returning to it later in life, take it slow and easy. Consider talking to a movement expert who can detect and analyze any imbalances in your body. They can ensure that you’re moving and exercising correctly. Imbalances will cause you to compensate. This is not something that will be immediately obvious to you – until it’s too late.

plantar fasciitis

Best Treatments for Persistent Plantar Fasciitis – According to Science

Ever had nagging foot and heel pain that’s so bad it feels like you’re walking around on glass? Yep – that’s called plantar fasciitis – and it impacts over 2 million individuals in the United States every year. 

Plantar fasciitis occurs when you have inflammation of your plantar fascia – the tissue that makes up the arch (bottom) of your foot.

Your plantar fascia is responsible for both the mobility and stability of your foot so that you can propel yourself during walking and running. When you suffer from plantar fasciitis – it’s not only annoying and painful – but can be quite debilitating. It keeps runners from running, walkers from walking, and eventually will cause problems up the kinetic chain (think knees and hips) when left untreated. Typical treatments for plantar fasciitis include everything from rest, ice, cortisone shots, orthotics, braces, exercise, and stretching. 

But which treatments are best? 

Depending on who you ask – you’ll get a lot of different answers – so let’s see what the science and research says. 

Cortisone Shots:

While there is plenty of evidence to support the use of cortisone shots for reducing pain and inflammation – it’s important to consider the consequences of how cortisone works. When you’ve got damaged, painful tissue from overuse or overstretching – such as what can occur with plantar fasciitis. The cells in your tissue respond by releasing certain factors designed to recruit blood vessels, stem cells, and healing factors. The inrush of these fluids causes temporary swelling and pain, but it also stimulates the laying down of new collagen. Collagen, a naturally occurring protein in your body that helps tissue to heal and become strong again. Cortisone works by shutting down this cellular process. Which is great because it stops the swelling and pain from occurring. But by doing so – it inhibits your body’s natural healing process.

This can result in weakened tissue that stays in a weakened state. Leaving you susceptible to repeated and sometimes permanent damage over time, especially if you keep getting cortisone shots. So while cortisone injections may appear to be the miracle quick-fix you’re looking for – it’s crucial you consider the long-term consequences that inhibited tissue healing could cause.

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy:

Unlike cortisone shots, this therapy aids in the tissue-healing process instead of inhibiting it. And there is good research and evidence to support its use with plantar fasciitis specifically. While it’s been successfully used in Europe for decades, it didn’t surface in the United States until around the year 2000. Shockwave Therapy uses acoustic sound waves to stimulate the same natural healing process described above. This can be especially useful in tissue that has already experienced damage. What I like about Shockwave Therapy – is that it’s completely non-invasive – compared to something like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections (another popular treatment for plantar fasciitis). With injections, there is always a risk of infection. You don’t have to worry about that with Shockwave Therapy. That, combined with promising evidence for significant pain reduction in as few as six sessions, makes this a wise treatment choice for plantar fasciitis.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises:

For most musculoskeletal injuries (plantar fasciitis included) the research overwhelmingly supports the use of stretching and strengthening as an effective and long-lasting means of treatment. So why does this approach fail so often? And make us quick to resort to injections, surgery and other types of medical procedures to resolve musculoskeletal-related pain? The biggest problem I see is not with the stretches and exercises themselves, but with exercise prescription. That’s why you can’t just go to Google or YouTube and look for “the best exercises for plantar fasciitis”. Finding great and appropriate exercises isn’t the issue.

The problem is that you won’t know when and how to perform them – and you risk making your plantar fasciitis worse or resorting too quickly to a more invasive treatment option because you think the exercises just didn’t work. With plantar fasciitis specifically, the type of stretching and exercise you choose has to match the stage of tissue healing. You have to load the tissue just enough to cause the appropriate amount of tissue damage that will elicit remodeling of tissue fibers – but not so much that you elicit an inflammatory cycle, which will disrupt the remodeling process. The only way plantar fasciitis truly heals is through remodeling the damaged tissue. And this requires a perfectly prescribed stretching and exercise protocol – which can take up to 7-9 months to work.

So be cautious of the quick fixes, work with an expert, and be patient in this process – because stretching and strengthening really do work when done correctly for Plantar Fasciitis.

In the battle against plantar fasciitis, a prescribed combination of stretching and strengthening exercises, along with non-invasive passive modalities that work to enhance your body’s natural healing process tend to be the most effective. Stay away from ice, rest, and other invasive procedures that disrupt healing or interfere with tissue remodeling.  If your plantar fasciitis is chronic, understand that there’s still hope, but it may take some time. My advice is to talk with an expert who is up to date on the latest research, and who has a good understanding of tissue healing and remodeling.

Because ultimately – the best treatment for plantar fasciitis must involve a combination of these two things. 

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media group. To get in touch, or to inquire further about Shockwave Treatment, visit her website www.cjphysicaltherapy.com or call 603-605-0402

Shockwave Therapy

What is Shockwave Therapy and Should You Consider it?

What is Shockwave Therapy and Should You Consider it?

If you’ve been reading my articles for awhile – you’ll know that I’m generally not a huge fan of passive modalities – especially when used in isolation. However, every now and then one comes along that grabs my attention. A few months ago – Shockwave Therapy treatment did just that – so I started doing my research…

Shockwave Therapy is a revolutionary, non-invasive treatment protocol that utilizes high-energy acoustic (sound) waves to treat chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions, as well as soft tissue/sports-related injuries. To give you an idea of how powerful it is – it was initially used by urologists to treat and break up kidney stones. Over the last few years, the orthopedics and sports medicine practitioners have started to apply the technology in their respective fields, and are happy with the results.

So what is Shockwave Therapy and how does it work?

Shockwave therapy – otherwise known by its technical name of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) – utilizes high-energy “shock waves”. These Sound-waves promote and accelerate the body’s own natural healing process. When the shockwave treatment is applied, there is a transference of energy from the shockwaves into the targeted tissue area. This triggers a biological response that helps to aid and accelerate the healing process. The biological responses include stimulation of cell regeneration, improved blood flow, and formulation of new blood vessels (neovascularization). All are designed to speed up soft tissue healing and provide relief from pain. Some folks feel pain relief right away, for others it takes a few sessions. 

Research is still being done to evaluate the full effectiveness of shockwave therapy – but so far we are seeing really good results for persistent, chronic conditions such as plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, patellar tendonitis (runner’s knee), and shoulder tendonitis. Anytime you have a chronic condition involving tendonitis, the treatment protocol required to get true healing and rehabilitation is highly specific and generally takes 7-9 months. You also want to avoid things like ice and anti-inflammatories because it impedes the healing process. This can be hard for a lot of folks since chronic tendonitis tends to be painful. This is one of the reasons I love Shockwave Therapy. It not only enhances the healing process of tendons and other soft tissue – but it helps to relieve pain at the same time.

Ok – now that you know a little bit more about Shockwave Therapy. Is this a treatment you should consider for yourself?

Have you been suffering from a chronic or persistent soft tissue injury or tendonitis? Are the treatments you’re currently trying not quite getting you back to 100% as fast as you’d like? Then this might be something valuable to add into the mix. It could very well be the missing link needed to give your soft tissue healing the boost required to get you over the hump you’re currently at.

Another great reason to consider trying Shockwave Therapy is that it’s very safe and completely non-invasive. It doesn’t require any kind of incision, use of  anesthesia, or needle punctures such as with steroid injections. This significantly reduces the risk of any type of infection or complication after your treatment. Plus, the treatments are short. They only last about 15-20 min to get significant pain relief and powerful tissue healing.

The last thing I’ll say about Shockwave Therapy is that although it’s very safe and designed to reduce pain, there can be some short-term pain and discomfort associated with this treatment. As well as temporary skin redness and minor swelling. For those with extremely low pain tolerance, this treatment can take some getting used to. Shockwave Therapy is also very noisy. The treatment is administered through a handheld device that pulses and makes a noise throughout the duration of your session. That – combined with potential temporary pain/discomfort – causes some to shy away from giving Shockwave Therapy treatment a try. But luckily the treatments are short, so it makes these minor adverse side effects more tolerable.

So, if you haven’t yet heard of Shockwave Therapy, hopefully this helps you have a better understanding of what it is.

And most importantly, decide for yourself if it’s something worth considering. Especially if you’ve been suffering with a persistent soft tissue or tendon injury for quite some time. While it’s not a miracle cure by any means, I have seen fantastic results since beginning to incorporate this technology into my own practice. I like it because there’s a lot of scientific evidence to support its efficacy. Plus it’s a safe, non-invasive alternative to so many other pain-relief techniques that is designed to leverage the body’s own natural healing response.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, or learn more about Shockwave Therapy, visit her website www.cjphysicaltherapy.com 

orthopedic surgery

Three Science-backed Reasons not to Rely on Imaging for Orthopedic Surgery

Approximately 7 million people undergo an orthopedic surgery each year in the United States. Topping this list are elective procedures (meaning they are not life threatening or urgent) such as ACL reconstruction, total hip and knee replacements, arthroscopic surgery (meniscus repairs, shoulder decompression, etc), and spinal fusions.

Now, what if I told you that of the top 10 elective orthopedic surgeries performed, only one (carpal tunnel syndrome) has real evidence to support that surgery will have a better outcome than conservative care. A recent study published by scientists in the UK hospital system and National Health service reviewed thousands of published studies in an effort to find out if orthopedic surgery was truly better than conservative care or placebo procedures. They found that sadly, thousands of patients are undergoing invasive procedures every year with known associated risks and complications. All while there was an equal or better alternative.

One of the biggest reasons this happens is because people rely on imaging (X-rays, MRI’s, CT scans) to determine whether or not they need surgery. Don’t get me wrong, this incredible technology has revolutionized the field of medicine and orthopedics. The problems occur when we fail to look at the full picture (no pun intended) and rely on images alone to make important decisions about our musculoskeletal health.

Here are three science-backed reasons not to rely on imaging alone when considering orthopedic surgery:

 

1. Imaging does not always correlate with symptoms

One of the most fundamental reasons why imaging alone should not dictate your decision to get orthopedic surgery is the well-documented lack of correlation between image findings and actual symptoms. 

Studies have shown that 20-25% of all people will show a bulging disc in their spine on MRI. This happens even when they don’t have any back pain. At least 50% of adults over the age of 50 will show torn meniscus or cartilage in their knees and feel completely fine. In 2013, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found one-third of participants with no knee pain had “abnormal” results in their imaging. This was while one-half of the participants who actually experienced knee pain had completely clear scans. 

We have to start normalizing what aging actually looks like on a scan. Just because you’ve got a bulging disc, torn cartilage, or even “bone on bone” arthritis – it doesn’t mean you need to rush into the operating room.

2. Risk of Over-diagnosis and Overtreatment

Overdiagnosis refers to the identification of conditions that aren’t actually causing symptoms or harming a patient. The biggest culprits here include spinal stenosis, joint arthritis, and degenerative joint conditions. One notable study from 2017 published in PLUS ONE, a peer-reviewed mega journal, found that at least 20% of arthroscopic knee surgeries were overdiagnosed and subsequently overtreated. How did they now? Because even though their scans showed things like “wear and tear” and torn cartilage, they had no relevant dysfunction or clinical findings. The only thing indicating they needed surgery was the overdiagnosis of normal aging in their knee.

A particularly sad story comes to mind as I write about this. I recall treating a man with spinal stenosis who was told by his doctor he needed steroid injections to calm the inflammation in his back. He had 6 weeks until his injections, and during that time, we were able to decrease his pain by about 80%. Since it’s impossible to reverse or stop spinal stenosis without surgery (because it’s related to wear and tear as you age), I knew that his pain was being caused by other unrelated factors. But following doctor’s orders, he still went through with the injections. Unfortunately, he had a bad reaction to the injections that left him worse off than when he started with me. His over-diagnosis of spinal stenosis led to a cascade of over-treatment and worse pain than when he started. 

3. Non-surgical treatments can be equally effective (if not better)

Orthopedic surgery should really only be considered as a last resort. No matter how routine or “non-invasive” the surgery is, there are still risks of infection and complication, and you want to avoid those at all costs. The problem with conservative treatment is that it takes longer to get to the same (or better) result. And let’s face it, we live in a quick fix world and rarely have patience for this, especially when you’ve got a scan that seems to say otherwise.

Study after study shows that arthroscopic knee surgery (in particular) has the same or better results when treated conservatively (physical therapy and exercise). In fact, when you get arthroscopic surgery on your knee, it increases the likelihood you’ll need a total knee replacement. With back surgery, we know that in the first year or two, your pain will be better or gone. But by year 2-3, if your symptoms haven’t crept back in yet, you’ll feel just as good as your peers who forewent surgery. But after year three, your back pain symptoms tend to return, and you’ll often feel worse than your friends who decided to take the conservative approach from the get-go.

The research continues to support that 70-80% of all musculoskeletal pain is mechanical in nature. Mechanical problems have to do with movement dysfunction and lifestyle/postural habits. They don’t show up in a scan, and they are best treated conservatively. When you see something on an image, it’s better to assume it’s irrelevant and that you fall into the 70-80%. This will protect you from being overdiagnosed and help you avoid potentially unnecessary procedures and surgery. Pay attention to your pain, symptoms, and overall function – they tell a much better story than your images.

Are you local to Portsmouth, NH?

Consider seeing one of my Specialists – they’re experts in mechanical pain. In a free Discovery Visit you can tell us everything that’s been going on with you, and determine for yourself if we’re the best people to help you. It’s a no-obligation appointment that will give you all the information you need to make the BEST decision for YOUR health. Whether that’s working with us or not!

CLICK HERE to request a Free Discovery Visit.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, email her at [email protected].

Pickleball

Six Reasons to Try Pickleball this Father’s Day

If you’re looking for something fun and active to do this Father’s Day – why not try a game of Pickleball?

If you haven’t yet heard of pickleball – it’s quickly become one of the most popular racket sports in the country. It’s a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Since the rules are fairly straightforward, it tends to attract people of all ages and skill levels – but it’s been a huge hit in the over-50 crowd. You can find both outdoor and indoor courts just about anywhere – and it provides a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to engage in a fun-filled day of friendly competition – while also honoring your favorite active dad.

Pickle ball also comes with a ton of health benefits. 

Here are 6 of my favorite reasons why pickleball is good for your health – and why I think you should give it a try this Father’s Day:

1. Get’s the Heart Pumping:

Since Pickleball is a dynamic sport – it keeps you on the move – making it an excellent cardiovascular workout. When you play pickleball regularly – it can improve heart health, increase endurance, and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Pickleball consists of both aerobic exercises as well as bursts of anaerobic activity – such as quick sprints and lunging on the court. This helps to elevate your heart rate in a way that is great for promoting overall hearth health and cardiovascular fitness.

2. Weight Management:

Everyone knows you need both diet and exercise to effectively manage your weight. When it comes to exercise – why not pick something fun that you know you’re more likely to do because it’s enjoyable. The continuous movement involved in the sport of pickleball helps to burn calories and increase your metabolic rate. But it’s not just cardio that pickleball is known for – there is a strength component too. This combination of both strength and cardio only adds to your calorie-burning – making it not only fun – but an efficient way to manage your weight.

3. Improved Balance and Coordination:

Pickleball requires you to move quickly, change direction, and react to the ball’s trajectory. These dynamic movements help to improve balance and coordination because they force the engagement of multiple muscle groups at once. When you have to anticipate shots from any angle, pivot at a moment’s notice, and reach for the ball – this helps to enhance something called proprioception – your body’s ability to sense position in space. Since pickleball is super popular with the over 50 crowd, anything that works on balance and coordination is something I support – since these two areas only tend to decline as you age.

4. Increased Strength and Endurance:

When you play pickleball – you have to do everything from swing the paddle, lunge at the ball, and reach for shots. These varied physical movements help to engage just about all the muscles in your body – particularly your arms, shoulders, legs, and core. When you play pickleball regularly – it’s going to lead to improved muscular strength and endurance. Plus, pickleball is generally low-impact – so you get to improve your strength and endurance while not having a huge negative impact on your joints.

5. Cognitive and Mental Benefits:

The strategic aspects of pickleball – such as shot placement, anticipating your opponent’s moves, and the adaptation to different playing styles – challenges your brain and enhances mental agility in a fun and active way. For example, just the hand-eye coordination required to track the ball and make split-second decisions sharpens your cognitive skills and improves your reaction time to things. When you play pickleball regularly – you’ll find that your focus, concentration, and overall mental well-being will simply improve.

6. Social Interaction and Emotional Well-being:

This is probably my most favorite health benefit of pickleball. For the younger crowd (30’s and 40’s) – it’s quickly becoming one of the hottest business and networking events out there. And for everyone else, it’s a fabulous social sport that encourages interaction and camaraderie. Regardless of who you play with – whether it be friends, family, or in a community league – pickleball fosters a sense of belonging and enhances social connections. Plus, the positive connections you find on the court can easily extend off the court – so it becomes a fun and active way to quickly expand your social circles and overall well-being. Your new pickleball buddy could suddenly double as your gym and walking buddy too.

So there you have it – six healthy reasons to try Pickleball if haven’t already.

And why not use Father’s Day as the perfect excuse to to make it a family affair. With any new activity, there’s always a risk of injury, so make sure you warm-up properly and go into  it with ease – especially if it’s your first time. And if you’re currently suffering from an injury that is keeping you from wanting to even try this super fun and accessible sport – consider talking to a movement or mechanical pain expert who can help you sort out what’s going on.

Are you local Portsmouth, NH?

Consider speaking to one of my specialists. Tell us everything that’s been going on with you, and determine for yourself if we’re the best people to help you. It’s a completely free, no-obligation appointment that will give you all the information you need to make the BEST decision for YOUR health – whether that’s working with us or not!

CLICK HERE to request a Free Discovery Session with one of my specialists.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media group. To get in touch, or request a free copy of one of her guides to back, knee, neck or shoulder pain, visit her website www.cjphysicaltherapy.com or call 603-605-0402

morning neck pain

Three Causes of Morning Neck Pain and What to Do

Waking up with morning neck pain puts a huge damper on your day right from the start. While neck pain may not be at the top of the list when it comes to debilitating musculoskeletal problems (aka people tend to just “live” with it) – it still impacts between 10-20% of the population at any given time – so it’s worth discussing. 

One of the most common problems I see with those suffering from neck issues is that seemingly out of nowhere they can go to bed feeling great – but wake up with a stiff and painful neck that can last up to a day or two. When this pattern starts to repeat itself and goes on for too long – you can end up with a chronic neck problem that doesn’t just show up in the morning – but will start to impact your day-to-day life and get in the way of things you love to do.

Here are Three Common Causes of Morning Neck Pain and What you can Do:

1. Sleeping position

Any joint – including those that make up your neck – will feel strained after being in a prolonged position for too long. In a healthy, uncompromised neck – this is fine if it happens on occasion. But if it’s happening once per month or more – it’s time to address your sleeping position.

Those that like to sleep on their stomachs, or with multiple pillows under their head, are going to have the biggest problems. When you sleep, you want to get your neck as close to what I call a “neutral spine” as possible. That means your neck feels relaxed, maintains its natural curves, and your ears, neck, and shoulder will be aligned on top of one another.  I find the best way to achieve this is by sleeping on your side – or on your back with just one pillow. If you’re a multi-pillow type of person – make sure you’re using the second pillow to hug and support your arm – or in between your legs – not underneath your head.

2. Clenching Your Teeth

While many people tend to associate clenching your teeth with TMJ – or jaw dysfunction, it can cause neck problems as well. When you clench your teeth, you’re also tensing the muscles around your neck. If you do this every night, and for prolonged periods, your neck is going to become very unhappy and start to have problems of its own.

Many folks are unaware they are clenching their teeth at night. But some signs this could be happening to you  include tense or fatigued jaw muscles in the morning, walking up with headaches, or a stiff and painful neck and shoulder when you first wake up. Clenching teeth is often a reaction to stress – so having a good end of day routine could really help with this problem. Be sure to shut off TV and electronics at least one hour before bedtime. Practicing some meditation and/or relaxation breathing just before bed could help too. If all else feels, a night guard could help as well. It won’t stop you from clenching completely, but it will protect your teeth and could minimize your neck pain.

3. A Bulging Disc

This isn’t spoken about too often, but if you’ve got a bulging or problematic disc in your neck – this could be the reason you’re waking up with a stiff and painful neck in the morning. When you lie down and “unload” your spine for a period of time – such as at night while sleeping – our intervertebral discs hydrate and actually get larger. If you wake up with a sudden movement – this could be all it takes to “pinch” that disc and cause your neck to feel “locked up” and with sudden pain.

Now, don’t feel like you need to go running to the doctor for an MRI to figure this out. It’s not necessary. Most people have bulging dics occurring normally as they age throughout their entire spine. They only become a problem when you don’t take care of your spine. When it comes to your neck, the biggest risk factors for turning a normal bulging disc into a painful and problematic one include behaviors such as looking down at your phone, tablet, or computer for too long and not being respectful of the fact that a healthy neck needs to move in all directions – not just forward and down. Doing some simple chin tucks frequently throughout the day and making sure your upper back stays flexible can go a long way in preventing (normal) bulging discs from becoming a problem.

I hope these tips help shed some light on why you might be waking up with morning neck pain and most importantly – what you can do about it. If you try some of these remedies and still find yourself unsuccessful – then it’s time to talk to a mechanical pain expert. There’s no need to rely on pain pills or expensive tests and procedures to resolve morning neck pain. Most of the time, problems like I’ve just described can 100% be resolved naturally and with the right “movement therapy”.

Are you local to Portsmouth, NH?

Consider speaking to one of my specialists. Tell us everything that’s been going on with you, and determine for yourself if we’re the best people to help you.

It’s a completely free, no-obligation appointment that will give you all the information you need to make the BEST decision for YOUR health – whether that’s working with us or not!

Click here to book a free Discovery Visit.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To request a free copy of one of her guide to neck and shoulder pain CLICK HERE or to get in touch, email her at [email protected].