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Chronic Pain

Getting The Spring Back In Your Step: Understanding & Treating Achilles Tendinitis (AKA Tendinopathy)

Getting The Spring Back In Your Step: Understanding & Treating Achilles Tendinitis (AKA Tendinopathy) 280 474 ResilientRx

Achilles tendinitis refers to painful overuse injury of the tendon that connects your heel to your calf muscles. It impacts numerous people – from athletes in running and jumping sports, to individuals who lead less active lifestyles. The pain and stiffness can greatly impact basic quality of life including activities like walking, exercise, and going up and down stairs. 

Before we dive into common treatments for this issue, it’s worth discussing exactly what it is, right down to how clinicians define and classify it. Having a better understanding of the diagnosis makes for more effective treatment approaches. We’ll start with the changing terminology – it turns out that “tendinitis” doesn’t quite capture what’s happening since the underlying issue is not quite black & white. Without further adieu, let’s break down the evolving terminology and science-backed treatment approaches:

What’s Up with the Changing Terminology?

Let’s first describe the key differences between tendinitis, tendinosis and tendinopathy, because these terms are NOT interchangeable. 

  • Tendinitis has historically been used to describe inflammation of a tendon, with treatments focused on reducing that inflammation. 
  • Tendinosis refers to more degenerative changes and microtears of the tendon, without inflammation present.
  • Tendinopathy is the most broad term that encompasses all tendon disorders, including inflammatory and degenerative features. It can involve inflammatory elements right after injury, but typically it’s more to do with dysfunctional healing and tissue remodeling over time. 

What we have a better understanding of now is that there is a spectrum of issues that can impact tendons, many of which are improper remodeling or healing of the tissue, as opposed to simply inflammation. Treatments (as discussed later) should focus more on remodeling and regeneration of the tendon rather than simply reducing inflammation. We need to get that tissue strong and resilient again!

What Causes Achilles Tendon Issues?

Simply put, it’s an overuse injury from repetitive strain. Micro-tears in the tendon outpace the tendon’s ability to repair itself properly, thus resulting in pain and dysfunction. Things like calf tightness, overpronation, sudden jumps in activity (i.e. couch to 5k), and poor leg strength may contribute over time. 

Most patients do not experience a single event or injury, but rather smaller insults over time. Pain can set in over days to weeks, and may worsen depending upon the person’s activity. So oftentimes a cycle of rest or stopping activity completely followed by resuming activities without the proper interventions in between causes people to stay in this unfortunate pain cycle. Complete rest actually increases tendon dysfunction!

Pain usually goes through a “warm-up phenomenon.” This means that pain can improve with exercise/activity a bit, only to return with a vengeance later on or the next day. This is where a structured program and guidance from an expert clinician is crucial. 

How Does Physical Therapy Get You Back on Track?

Your physical therapist should develop a customized treatment plan aligned with current evidence-based clinical guidelines and your goals (We do at ResilientRx)! Properly dosed strength exercises, mobility training, biomechanical corrections, and guidance on gradual return to activity aim to spark tissue regeneration/remodeling while minimizing flare-ups. Guiding the optimal balance of rest and activity helps manage load demands. It’s an intricate puzzle tailored to each patient. It’s also important to note that rehab will not be PAIN-FREE. It’s actually safe to have mild levels of tendon pain lasting less than 24 hours after activity. We often use a simple scale to monitor pain levels, which helps to dose exercise appropriately and push things forward without compromising progress. Every patient will respond differently, so communication is key.

Here’s what the framework for achilles tendinopathy rehab looks like:

  • Early stage: hands-on modalities to calm symptoms such as soft tissue work/massage, joint mobilizations, dry needling and taping. Here we also introduce gentle strength and mobility exercises to start the tissue remodeling process
  • Mid stage: progressive loading via strength exercises to the gastroc and soleus (calf muscles). Isometric and eccentric exercises are advanced to further expose the tendon to more time under tension Stretching may be more tolerated in this phase compared to when symptoms are more acute. 
  • Late stage: we start to move more toward plyometrics exercise and sport-specific or functional training as needed, including more “traditional” strength training principles

The Bottom Line

Tendinopathy rehab is load-related and dose-dependent. We want the achilles tendon to tolerate higher loads over time, so this is a gradual process that requires patience and diligence. The unfortunate truth however, is that progress with Achilles tendinopathy is almost never linear. There will be ups, downs, and plateaus. Sometimes consistent strength training may need to be done for anywhere from 3-6 months before returning to plyometrics. Anti-inflammatories and complete rest are discouraged as this leads to further deconditioning, weakness, and more susceptibility to flare-ups. The good news is that over 75% of tendinopathy patients achieve resolution of symptoms through dedicated rehab and avoid surgery! It can be a long road for many of us, but we’re here for you!

Have you been struggling with Achilles tendinitis or chronic tendon pain in general? Schedule an appointment with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy to get you back to doing the things you love! CLICK HERE or call 512-777-0330.

References:

1. Magnan B, Bondi M, Pierantoni S, Samaila E. The pathogenesis of Achilles tendinopathy: a systematic review. Foot Ankle Surg. 2014;20(3):154-159. doi:10.1016/j.fas.2014.03.002 

2. Morrissey D, Roskilly A, Twycross-Lewis R, et al. The treatment of mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy: a systematic review. J Foot Ankle Res. 2021;14(1):3. Published 2021 Jan 11. doi:10.1186/s13047-020-00440-5

3. van der Plas A, de Jonge S, de Vos RJ, et al. A 5-year follow-up study of Alfredson’s heel-drop exercise programme in chronic midportion Achilles tendinopathy. Br J Sports Med. 2012;46(3):214-218. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2010.083428

4. Rowe V, Hemmings S, Barton C, et al. Conservative management of midportion Achilles tendinopathy: a mixed methods study, integrating systematic review and clinical reasoning. Sports Med. 2012;42(11):941-967. doi:10.1007/BF03262301

5. Doral MN, Alam M, Bozkurt M, et al. Functional anatomy of the Achilles tendon. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2010;18(5):638-643. doi:10.1007/s00167-010-1083-7

6. Alfredson H. Chronic midportion Achilles tendinopathy: an update on research and treatment. Clin Sports Med. 2003;22(4):727-741. doi:10.1016/s0278-5919(03)00034-7 

7. Padhiar N, Achana F, Davies A, et al. Eccentric exercises reduce the risk of Achilles tendon overuse injury: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2021;55(21):1180-1188. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2020-103426

Heel Pain? Oh Heel No!: Breaking Down Plantar Fasciitis and Best Treatments

Heel Pain? Oh Heel No!: Breaking Down Plantar Fasciitis and Best Treatments 1920 1080 ResilientRx

WHAT IS THE PLANTAR FASCIIA AND FASCIITIS?

If you’re dealing with pain and stiffness in your heel and arch, you’ve probably heard the term “plantar fasciitis” used quite a bit. It’s one of the most common causes of heel pain that we see, with over 2 million Americans struggling with it every year(1). The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating from the heel bone that extends along the sole of the foot towards the toes. It provides support for the foot’s arch, acts as a shock absorber, and aids with gait mechanics. It is typically described as sharp stabbing pain in the heel or arch area, often worse when taking the first steps in the morning or after long periods of sitting (2).

WHY PLANTAR FASCIITIS IS NO LONGER AN ACCURATE LABEL

Plantar fasciitis by definition, implies swelling and inflammation of that tissue. However, recent research found that only about 5% of cases actually show inflammation on imaging tests(4). There seem to be more factors at play than simply inflamed fascia. Other tissues can also be involved, which is why plantar heel pain has become a more popular diagnosis. It leaves room for other variables. The precise cause is often unknown, but plantar heel pain frequently results from repetitive strain and overuse dysfunction of multiple plantar structures including the fascia itself, the fat pad on the bottom of the foot, muscles, and nerves. Factors such as running, increased weight, or increased time spent on the feet are just a few possible contributors (3).

SO WHAT WE CALL IT A DIFFERENT NAME – HOW DO WE TREAT IT?

Bottom line, that deep heel and arch soreness stems from straining the fascia and structures around it way too much. It’s difficult to point to one exact mechanism for your pain, but there are plenty of options to get things feeling better!

Recent high-quality studies have evaluated rehabilitation strategies for plantar heel pain. Treatments now should emphasize progressive tissue loading and remodeling exercises rather than anti-inflammatory modalities. For example, a 2020 randomized trial demonstrated that plantar fascia-stretching using a towel or resistance band combined with calf and foot soft tissue massage led to decreased pain and improved function when compared to no treatment (5). The specific stretching targets and tension loads the plantar fascia itself, while massage techniques mobilize tight calf, arch, and plantar muscles. Other potentially helpful interventions include taping techniques to support the arch and reduce strain on the plantar fascia, dry needling, night splints, and relative rest/activity modification to avoid aggravating activities (7). Additional research supports use of prefabricated arch-support orthotics, which redistribute pressure away from irritated heel tissues out to the midfoot area (6). Orthotics worn during daily activities allow for graded loading and exercise progression.

WHAT PT CAN OFFER COMPARED TO MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS

It may be tempting to get a “quick fix” especially if the pain is really intense and impacting quality of life. It may come as no surprise that treatments like corticosteroid injections typically do not provide long-term benefit and do come with possible risks and side effects(8). Something more invasive like surgery should be the absolute last resort after 9-12 months if high-quality conservative treatment fails (7)

Physical therapists tailor and monitor the progressive loading process to stimulate tissue adaptation, while minimizing symptom flare-ups as best as possible. It is important that rehab strategies also consider the patient’s goals and lifestyle. Every patient is unique – what works for a 25 year old triathlete might not be best for a 68 year old retiree who wants to walk the golf course comfortably. Together we’ll get your foot feeling good based on your needs and goals. The ultimate goal is to coax those overloaded plantar tissues to remodel and repair themselves. 

While this may be all just semantics, calling it plantar fasciitis does get the point across. Just know it’s more of a “plantar heel pain” these days. But most importantly, we’ve got loads of ways to kick it to the curb!

Have you been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis or foot pain that just won’t go away? Schedule an appointment with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy to get you back to doing the things you love! CLICK HERE or call 512-777-0330.

References:

1. Buchbinder R. Plantar Fasciitis. N Engl J Med. 2004;350(21):2159-2166. doi:10.1056/NEJMcp032745

2. Riddle DL, Pulisic M, Pidcoe P, Johnson RE. Risk factors for Plantar fasciitis: a matched case-control study. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2003;85(5):872-877. doi:10.2106/00004623-200305000-00015 

3. Wearing SC, Smeathers JE, Urry SR, Hennig EM, Hills AP. The pathomechanics of plantar fasciitis. Sports Med. 2006;36(7):585-611. doi:10.2165/00007256-200636070-00004

4. Lemont H, Ammirati KM, Usen N. Plantar fasciitis: a degenerative process (fasciosis) without inflammation. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2003;93(3):234-237. doi: 10.7547/87507315-93-3-234.

5. Renan-Ordine R, Alburquerque-Sendín F, Rodrigues De Souza DP, Cleland JA, Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C. Effectiveness of myofascial trigger point manual therapy combined with a self-stretching protocol for the management of plantar heel pain: a randomized controlled trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011;41(2):43-50. doi:10.2519/jospt.2011.3504  

6. Lee SY, McKeon P, Hertel J. Does the use of orthoses improve self-reported pain and function measures in patients with plantar fasciitis? A meta-analysis. Phys Ther Sport. 2009;10(1):12-18. doi:10.1016/j.ptsp.2008.09.002

7. Martin RL, Davenport TE, Reischl SF, et al. Heel pain-plantar fasciitis: revision 2014. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(11):A1-A33. doi:10.2519/jospt.2014.0110

8. David JA, Sankarapandian V, Christopher PR, Chatterjee A, Macaden AS. Injected corticosteroids for treating plantar heel pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;6(6):CD009348. Published 2017 Jun 29. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009348.pub2

9. Sweeting D, Parish B, Hooper L, Chester R. The effectiveness of manual stretching in the treatment of plantar heel pain: a systematic review. J Foot Ankle Res. 2011;4:19. Published 2011 Jun 24. doi:10.1186/1757-1146-4-19 

Are Deadlifts Safe To Do With Low Back Pain?

Are Deadlifts Safe To Do With Low Back Pain? 1038 694 ResilientRx

The deadlift is a popular strength training exercise that involves lifting a weighted barbell off the floor to a standing hip position. However, it is also one of the most debated exercises due to concerns about risk of injury, with plenty of misinformation across the internet. Does the evidence support deadlifting for low back pain patients under a professional’s guidance? Is it an all-or-nothing exercise where the risks outweigh the benefits? Let’s unpack these questions and more!

Deadlifts ≠ automatic injury

First, examining injury rates will provide us some insight. Weightlifters do show a higher incidence of back injuries compared to other athletes, with deadlifting as a common precipitating factor(1). Not surprising that the people doing it the most are more likely to face injuries. However, a 2020 systematic review found that in trained lifters, deadlift injury rates are low at just 0-5.9%(2). Aside from good recovery practices that emphasize sleep and nutrition, proper progressive loading and technique can help to minimize injury risk(3).

What about for people with back pain?

Individuals with low back pain often experience limitations in their ability to perform daily activities or participate in recreational or sports-related endeavors. For these folks, research increasingly supports deadlift retraining under supervision. Several studies demonstrate the deadlift can reduce pain and disability when added to physical therapy programs. A 2015 study had patients follow a 16-week rehab protocol of mobility exercises plus hip hinge movements progressing to deadlifts. 83% saw clinically meaningful improvements in pain and function(4). A 2018 randomized controlled trial added deadlifts to standard PT care for 3 months. The deadlift group improved significantly more than controls on pain and disability scores(5)

These benefits are thought to occur because deadlifts dynamically load and strengthen the spine’s supporting musculature in a safe, controlled manner(6). Proper form also trains coordinated hinging movement patterns useful for everyday activities. Simply put, the deadlift is a functional exercise for all!

Ideal strategies to consider when utilizing the deadlift in a rehab program

  • It may be helpful to supplement a client’s program with graded loading and baseline mobility, stability, and movement pattern training (7)
  • Use low loads and high repetitions if needed initially – no maximal lifts early on, especially to clients new to this lift (8) 
  • Closely monitor form, provide cues, and avoid overloading (9)
  • Equally as important to the above, allow the client to safely explore nuances in technique and positioning. This will build confidence and adaptation to the exercise while building injury resilience. 
  • Progress slowly over 8+ weeks up to heavier loads based on response (10)

While more research is still needed, evidence indicates deadlifts can play a helpful role in rehab for low back pain under proper PT guidance and load management. No exercise is ever risk-free, but deadlifts performed correctly offer unique benefits that may outweigh their potential risks for select clients.  

If you have a new or nagging injury or are not sure where to start, book a FREE discovery session (in person or virtual) with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy!

Please note: The content in this blog is intended for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. See a healthcare professional if you have any questions about your individual needs.

References:

1. Raske A, Norlin R. Injury incidence and prevalence among elite weight and power lifters. Am J Sports Med. 2002;30(2):248-256. doi:10.1177/03635465020300020601

2. Calhoon G, Fry AC. Injury rates and profiles of elite competitive weightlifters. J Athl Train. 1999;34(3):232-238.

3. Siewe J, Rudat J, Röllinghoff M, et al. Injuries and overuse syndromes in powerlifting. Int J Sports Med. 2011;32(9):703-711. doi:10.1055/s-0031-1277207

4. Kim D, Cho M, Park Y, Yang Y. Effect of lumbar stabilization and dynamic lumbar strengthening exercises in patients with chronic low back pain. Ann Rehabil Med. 2015;39(1):110-117. doi:10.5535/arm.2015.39.1.110

5. Steele J, Bruce-Low S, Smith D. A Rehabilitation Program That Integrates Modified Resistance Training and Motor Control Retraining in Chronic Low Back Pain Patients Improves Muscular Endurance, Strength, and Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. BioMed Research International. 2015;2015:1-8. doi:10.1155/2015/30764

6. McGill S. Low back stability: from formal description to issues for performance and rehabilitation. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2001;29(1):26-31. doi:10.1097/00003677-200101000-00006

7. Hales M, Johnson BF, Johnson JT. Kinematic analysis of the powerlifting style squat and the conventional deadlift during competition: is there a cross-over effect between lifts?. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(9):2574-2580. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181bc191a 

8. Schoenfeld BJ, Grgic J, Ogborn D, Krieger JW. Strength and Hypertrophy Adaptations Between Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. J Strength Cond Res. 2017;31(12):3508-3523. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000002200

9. Swinton PA, Stewart A, Agouris I, Keogh JW, Lloyd R. A biomechanical analysis of straight and hexagonal barbell deadlifts using submaximal loads. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(7):2000-2009. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e73f87

10. Contreras B, Vigotsky AD, Schoenfeld BJ, Beardsley C, Cronin J. A comparison of gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, and vastus lateralis electromyography amplitude in the parallel, full, and front squat variations in resistance-trained females. J Appl Biomech. 2016;32(1):16-22. doi:10.1123/jab.2015-0194

Can the Meniscus Heal without surgery?

Can the Meniscus Heal without surgery? 900 600 ResilientRx

When it comes to knee injuries, meniscus tears are a very common diagnosis and occur across multiple age groups. It’s estimated that the annual incidence of meniscus tears ranges from 60 to 70 cases per 100,000 people. The menisci are two C-shaped pieces of cartilage that play a vital role in cushioning and stabilizing the knee joint. Meniscus tears can occur generally in 2 ways: due to acute trauma or due to degeneration. Acute injuries involve twisting or impact while degenerative tears can occur due to factors such as lifestyle, general health (comorbidities), prior injuries, and genetics. Approximately 35% to 50% of individuals over the age of 65 have meniscus tears. In contrast, traumatic meniscus tears from sports or other physical activities are more frequently seen in adolescents and young adults. For both traumatic or degenerative tears, individuals can experience pain, swelling, limited mobility and impaired function.

It may seem that surgery is the only answer to fix these issues, however emerging research suggests that conservative management is a very viable alternative to surgery in MANY cases. In this blog, we will delve into the topic of meniscus tears and explore the growing body of evidence that supports conservative management over arthroscopic surgery. In fact, outcomes tend to be the same, if not better, when people rehab their knee instead of jumping right to the operating table.

Conservative Management: The Evidence

A robust body of research exists that shows the effectiveness of conservative management is just as good, if not better, than arthroscopic knee surgery, which includes physical therapy (exercise), activity modification, and pain management. Briefly summarized below are some key research findings in support of a conservative approach:

The FIDELITY Trial:
FIDELITY (Finnish Degenerative Meniscal Lesion Study) trial evaluated the outcomes of arthroscopic surgery versus sham surgery (placebo) for degenerative meniscal tears. The results revealed that there were no significant differences in pain or functional improvement between the two groups at 12-month follow-ups.

ESCAPE Trial:
The ESCAPE research group looked at nonobstructive degenerative meniscus tears in patients over the age of 45, and compared arthroscopic partial meniscectomies to physical therapy. They found no significant or clinically relevant difference in knee function at 5-year follow up between the two groups. The findings of this trial support the recommendation that exercise-based physical therapy should be the preferred treatment over surgery for degenerative meniscal tears.

The METEOR Trial:
The Meniscal Tear in Osteoarthritis Research (METEOR) trial focused on patients with meniscal tears and knee osteoarthritis. The study compared the outcomes of arthroscopic surgery with those of physical therapy alone. Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), the results showed that physical therapy alone was as effective as surgery in improving pain and function at 6-month and 12-month follow-ups.

The Benefits of Nonsurgical Treatment

Conservative management offers several advantages over surgery for meniscus tears, including:

Avoiding unnecessary risks: Arthroscopic surgery carries inherent risks such as infection, blood clots, and anesthesia complications. Opting for conservative management reduces exposure to these risks.

Cost-effectiveness: Surgery can be costly, especially when factoring in pre-operative assessments, post-operative care, and rehabilitation. Conservative management offers a more cost-effective alternative.

Preserving meniscal tissue: The menisci play a crucial role in knee function and joint stability. By avoiding surgery, there is a higher chance of preserving the meniscal tissue, reducing the risk of long-term complications such as osteoarthritis. In fact, patients who undergo meniscectomies increase their likelihood of needing total knee replacement down the road.

Faster recovery: Surgery typically requires a more extended recovery period, involving restricted movement and rehabilitation. Conservative management allows patients to engage in tailored physical therapy programs that can promote faster recovery and return to normal activities.

Summary

Surgeries (even simple, less invasive ones like knee arthroscopies) always come with potential risks and complications, and could lead to accelerated progression of knee osteoarthritis later in life. Individuals with significant, obstructive meniscus tears (i.e. knee locking) may still require surgical intervention. However the research is very convincing that most meniscus tears, especially degenerative, are better treated with a nonsurgical approach and that arthroscopic surgery is not superior to physical therapy intervention.

Have you been diagnosed with a meniscus tear or have ongoing knee pain? Schedule an appointment with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy to get you back to doing the things you love! CLICK HERE or call 512-777-0330.

References:

Hede, A., Jens|n, D. B., Blyme, P., & Sonne-Holm, S. (1990). Epidemiology of meniscal lesions in the knee: 1,215 open operations in Copenhagen 1982-84.Acta orthopaedica Scandinavica. 1990; 61(5): 435-437.

Goyal, D., Keyhani, S., & Lee, E. H. (2012). HHS public access. Annals of Internal Medicine, 156(12), 945–957. doi: 10.1059/0003-4819-156-12-201206190-00006

Paxton, E. S., Stock, M. V., Brophy, R. H., & Lubowitz, J. H. (2013). Meniscal repair versus partial meniscectomy: A systematic review comparing reoperation rates and clinical outcomes. Arthroscopy – Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery, 29(3), 872–880. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2012.12.022

Englund, M., Guermazi, A., Roemer, F. W., Aliabadi, P., Yang, M., Lewis, C. E., … Nevitt, M. C. (2008). Meniscal tear in knees without surgery and the development of radiographic osteoarthritis among middle-aged and elderly persons: The Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 58(3), 810–816. doi: 10.1002/art.23293

Sihvonen, R., Paavola, M., Malmivaara, A., Itälä, A., Joukainen, A., Nurmi, H., … & Järvinen, T. L. (2018). Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy versus placebo surgery for a degenerative meniscus tear: a 2-year follow-up of the randomised controlled trial. Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 77(2), 188-195.

Hwang, Y. G., & Kwoh, C. K. (2014). The METEOR trial: no rush to repair a torn meniscus. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 81(4), 226-232.

Noorduyn, J. C., Van De Graaf, V. A., Willigenburg, N. W., Scholten-Peeters, G. G., Kret, E. J., Van Dijk, R. A., … & ESCAPE Research Group. (2022). Effect of physical therapy vs arthroscopic partial meniscectomy in people with degenerative meniscal tears: five-year follow-up of the ESCAPE randomized clinical trial. JAMA Network Open, 5(7), e2220394-e2220394.

Does Icing for Injuries Work?

Does Icing for Injuries Work? 1920 1080 ResilientRx

Most of us at some point in our lives have probably sprained an ankle or twisted a knee, and were inevitably given the advice to “RICE” (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). We’ve also been advised to take anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. This has been the go-to self treatment for minor injuries for as far back as many of us can remember. However, this method has evolved into something different, the details of which may surprise you.

Based on some newer research, the RICE method may not be the most effective way to treat acute musculoskeletal injuries. In place of RICE, the new proposed acronym is PEACE and LOVE: Protection, Elevation, Avoid Anti-Inflammatories, Compression, Education and Load management, Optimism, Vascularization and Exercise. This updated approach offers more detailed guidance, which we outline below.

Protection

This involves taking steps to prevent further injury and reduce pain. Options such as bracing, taping, or crutches will limit range of motion and deload the affected area, to allow things to calm down as the healing process begins. Outside of assistive devices like the ones listed above, protection also entails scaling back or temporarily refraining from activities that may irritate the injury such as sports or certain exercises. It is important to note that protection does not mean complete inactivity or bedrest as we will discuss a little later in the process.

Elevation

Elevation of the affected area is still a key part of early injury recovery. Elevating the region helps to reduce swelling and pain, which helps facilitate the body’s healing process. It is recommended that the injured area be elevated above the heart whenever possible to promote blood flow and reduce swelling.

Avoid Anti-Inflammatory Modalities

The advice to take anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen has long been coupled with the RICE method. The PEACE and LOVE approach advises against this, specifically with higher doses and longer duration of use  This is because the various phases of inflammation activate white blood cells that initiate tissue healing and repair (neutrophils and macrophages, for example). If possible, it may be beneficial to avoid anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, to allow your body’s natural processes to do their job. This also includes the use of ice. We believe that ice can certainly be useful for pain relief, but prolonged and excessive use with the intention to reduce inflammation, is not ideal because it has the potential to delay or disrupt revascularization and the arrival of those tissue-healing white blood cells. Use ice sparingly for pain management and try to wean off quickly.

Compression

Compression, like elevation, has remained an important component of early injury management. Compression helps to manage excessive swelling of the joints and hemorrhaging (bleeding) that has occurred in the soft tissue. It can provide general support to the injured area which may make it more comfortable to start moving and weightbearing, further facilitating the healing process. Compression should be applied gently and not be too tight, as excessive pressure can impede blood flow and cause some discomfort.

Education

Unlike the RICE method, which simply recommends rest, the PEACE and LOVE approach emphasizes the importance of active recovery strategies. It is important to understand the role of early movement and not rely excessively on passive modalities. Things like manual therapy and electric stim can be useful in reducing pain and swelling, but they should be used as supplements to exercise and load management. Education also entails encouraging the individual to avoid the mindset of “needing to be fixed” which can lead to overtreatment, and instead empowers them with knowledge and clear expectations for recovery.

Load Management

For nearly all patients with musculoskeletal problems, an active approach that includes movement and exercise is beneficial. Mechanical input (load, weightbearing, etc.) should be encouraged as early as safely possible along with resuming normal activities as soon as possible. Optimal loading means we are engaging and using the affected area without exacerbating pain. This promotes tissue repair and tolerance, which leads to restoring the individual’s function as a whole.

Optimism

Injuries can impact all aspects of a person’s life, including their mental health. Maintaining a positive outlook and belief in one’s ability to recover can have a significant impact on the healing process. Research has shown that patients who are optimistic about their recovery tend to have faster and more complete recoveries. There can be many mental and emotional barriers to recover, especially for someone who leads an active lifestyle. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help or talk to someone if you are ever dealing with depression or fear after an injury.

Vascularization

Vascularization, or promoting blood flow to the injured area, is also crucial in the PEACE and LOVE approach. Blood flow helps to bring oxygen and nutrients to the injured area, which are essential for the healing process. The previously mentioned strategies of elevation, compression and load management can help promote vascularization. Even moving parts of your body that are uninjured are helpful throughout the recovery process. Another very important strategy that will promote vascularization is exercise, which is discussed next.

Exercise

Last, but certainly not least, is exercise. Exercise is crucial for a number of reasons, from promoting blood flow and swelling reduction, to strengthening the muscles and joints around the injured area – all of which lead to improved function and less pain. It is important to consult with your physical therapist or physician before starting any exercise program, as the type and intensity of exercise will depend on the specific injury and the stage of recovery.

We feel that compared to the traditional RICE method, PEACE and LOVE is more beneficial because it provides more detailed guidance when recovering from injuries, promotes a more active recovery approach, and creates an advantageous environment for the body’s natural processes to perform their duties.

Here are some additional quick tips:

  • Ice is still okay to use, especially if it helps reduce pain. We just may not need to ice for extended periods of time, multiple times per day after an injury. Your time is better spent moving within your tolerance, even if it’s not the directly injured area early on. Use ice sparingly and try to wean off as quickly as possible.
  • When the goal is pain reduction for non-acute injuries, either ice or heat is fine to use – whichever you find more soothing.
  • Pain-free aerobic exercise should be initiated within several days after a musculoskeletal injury if possible, to promote blood flow and boost mental/emotional well-being. When in doubt, always ask your PT or other healthcare provider

For ankle sprains in particular, consult with your physical therapist or other healthcare provider if you have any questions on whether or not you will need an Xray. Here are some helpful tips from Dr. Nick’s Instagram!

If you have a new or nagging injury or are not sure where to start, book a FREE discovery session (in person or virtual) with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy!

References:

Dubois, B., & Esculier, J. F. (2020). Soft-tissue injuries simply need PEACE and LOVE. British journal of sports medicine, 54(2), 72-73.

Please note: The content in this blog is intended for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. See a healthcare professional if you have any questions about your individual needs.

A Mom pointing in the air carrying a child with a serene stress free field overlooked by a beautiful sunset

Why You Might Be Tired All the Time, and What to Do About It

Why You Might Be Tired All the Time, and What to Do About It 1920 1280 ResilientRx

Why am I exhausted and in pain all of the time??

US culture puts a ton of stress on moms and women in general.

There is a constant underlying shame and/or guilt that you are not doing enough. And to top it off, the narrative that “doing something for yourself is selfish” is perpetuating these thoughts.

This causes moms to lose their own identities. You are not only a mom, you may be a runner, singer, pianist, artist, dancer etc.

However, along the way we lose touch with ourselves, regardless of if you are a parent or not. 

Urgency culture is wreaking havoc on our bodies.

I am here to tell you that you ARE doing the best that you can with the resources and information that you have at this moment. 

And many other people feel the same exact way as you.

A Mom pointing in the air carrying a child with a serene stress free field overlooked by a beautiful sunset

How our bodies perceive danger

But first, I want you to imagine what the chronic ongoing stress can be doing and how it can be affecting your body.

I want you to imagine how you would feel if you saw a tiger chasing you.

Tense. 

Frozen to the spot.

In times of stress – whether it’s running for our lives or running late for work – our bodies don’t know the difference and process the panic in the same way.

There’s a perceived danger, and our body’s sole responsibility is to keep us alive. 

If you’re always in this mode – up against deadlines, worries about money, dealing with ongoing family drama – you don’t have the time to rest and digest. 

Imagining a tiger chasing you is the best way to understand stress response

How Stress Is Impacting Your Body

This constant tension can also lead to chronic bloating and heightened cortisol – a hormone created by the adrenal glands that can up your blood sugar levels, increase belly fat and decrease your body’s response to insulin – which could eventually lead to prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. This essentially is leading our bodies to being burnt out.

Signs you are in this “fight or flight” response include:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Craving sweets or carbs
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic headaches/jaw pain
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Chronic low back or pelvic pain
  • Constipation
  • Constantly feeling hungry
  • Bloating
  • Brain fog
  • Constantly needing stimulants (like coffee)
  • Weight gain in the mid-section (unable to lose)
Woman who is overwhelmed by her stress levels can't focus on work so she covers her face in dispair

The Body-Mind Connection

This isn’t to scare you, but to reiterate the importance of well-being, as our bodies and minds are interconnected. 

Chronically living in a stressed-out state can lead to chronic pain and illness.

As we come to the end of the month of January, coming out of the fog of New Year’s resolutions, bombarded with ads for new exercise routines or diets – I want you to think about your stress levels.

Exercising is only one form of health.

For our bodies to be in optimal health, focusing on ourselves is vital. 

I understand time, finances, work, kids, etc can be time-consuming, but just connecting with yourself can make a world of difference. 

How this applies to physical therapy

You might be thinking… How does this apply to physical therapy?

There is a direct correlation with chronic pain and chronic stress on our bodies. 

If I just treated someone’s low back without asking about the stress they are under, I am missing a huge piece of their recovery process. It doesn’t matter how many times that person is massaged or if they do their exercises, the muscles are going to go back to a tense state unless the root cause is addressed.

Busy woman sitting at desk trying to finish her work

So what can I do to support myself and my stress levels when I don’t have much time?

Here are a few questions to help you re-align yourself back to YOUR needs.

  1. Do I need to go to _______ today? (insert optional event here)
  2. Does ________ serve me or am I doing it to please someone else?
  3. Am I taking time for myself today? (even if it is 5 min in the car)
  4. What hobbies have I engaged in outside of work and the kids?
  5. Have I laughed recently?
  6. Do I sit and enjoy the food I am eating?

I know these things may sound insane, but after surviving cancer, I cannot relay this message enough.

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2019. I remember sitting in the chair getting chemo and thinking….

“Why did I care so much about what people thought of me”

“Why wasn’t I more present with the people I love”

“Why was I so worried if everything wasn’t perfect”

Nothing was scarier than not having my health. Thankfully my 3 year scans were clear.

The point is life is meant to be enjoyed. Leave the dishes in the sink, wait to reply to that email tomorrow, leave the laundry for another day… and just BE.

Your body will thank you.

The Benefits of Dry Needling

The Benefits of Dry Needling 2560 1707 ResilientRx

Have you ever had a deep tissue knot in your shoulder or back? Or perhaps you’ve had a muscle strain or even a herniated disc that was causing you significant pain. Others may even experience nerve pain in parts of their body that physical therapy and exercise don’t seem to relieve. Rather than using different exercises or manual therapy to treat these problems alone, many PTs are turning to dry needling to help their patients recover faster and restore mobility to the body.

Dry needling can mitigate pain caused by a number of issues – arthritis, nerve pain, trigger points, ligament strains, headaches, muscle spasms, and more. Before we dive into the benefits of dry needling, though, let’s start with the basics of what dry needling actually is.

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling can be used as a part of a comprehensive plan to help restore movement and function in the body. It’s a skilled practice that uses filiform needles to penetrate the skin and stimulate trigger points. A trigger point is a place of muscular dysfunction, causing pain and impacting mobility. They can be tender to the touch and difficult to eliminate as these tight bands of skeletal muscle can cause pain to permeate into other parts of the body. 

How do trigger points form? Inflammation builds up in muscles that are injured or overused, causing tension and depriving the muscles of oxygen which occurs from the impaired blood flow. This causes the muscle to be taut, limiting normal movement of the muscle.

How Dry Needling Works

To perform dry needling, a PT will insert super-thin needles into the skin. The needles stimulate the myofascial trigger points, creating twitches and muscle reflexes. These reflexes decrease muscle tension, reducing irritation and pain while improving flexibility. This increases blood flow to the area to promote healing.

By using dry needling, a Doctor of Physical Therapy can target these areas and stimulate them in a way they can’t do with regular physical therapy techniques. It can be painless but most people say the cramping is more of the sensation which can be slightly painful for some. Some patients also report some soreness around the needle sites for around 24-48 hours, while others don’t feel any soreness.

Benefits of Dry Needling

By inserting needles into trigger points on the body, the muscles relax, boosting blood flow, diminishing inflammation, and triggering an immune system response. There are four specific benefits to dry needling:

Relief of pain

Looking for immediate pain relief? Pain improves as blood flow is restored, moving acidic wastes away from the muscle and providing those areas with oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. Many people report immediate relief after one session, but some do require additional sessions.

Improving mobility

When you have tight knotted muscles, the tendency is to stop moving and limit your mobility and movement to avoid pain. By combining dry needling with physical therapy, strength and mobility are restored and future trigger points can be avoided.

Quicker Recovery 

Regardless of the injury or pain, restoring movement is the best way to heal and recover. While physical therapy can be the main component of treatment, adding dry needling to the treatment plan can help speed up your recovery time. 

Assists with Chronic pain

Dry needling specifically helps with chronic conditions such as back or neck pain. This can result in trigger points and tenderness. Patients with chronic pain who have had dry needling report significant pain improvement. It helps to increase blood flow to these areas that are impaired and help improve mobility

Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture 

While both dry needling and acupuncture use the same filiform needles, they are vastly different practices. Acupuncture is based on eastern medicine principles, and it’s focused on different points and meridians throughout the body. Needles are used superficially to assist with the flow of energy. Based on western medicine, dry needling inserts needles into a specific part of the muscle that is causing dysfunction and pain. 

Is Pain Holding You Back?

Are you limited in mobility and function because of pain impacting daily activities? We can evaluate your movement, strength, and function to form a plan of care, whether that’s dry needling, PT, or home exercises, that can get you back to doing the things you love. If you are struggling with pain or an injury, our physical therapists can help! Start moving again with help from ResilientRx. Book a consultation online today!

How Stress and Anxiety Affect Pain

How Stress and Anxiety Affect Pain 2560 1707 ResilientRx

Anxiety disorders, commonly associated with chronic stress, are the most common mental illnesses in the United States. In fact, anxiety disorders affect nearly 40 million adults each year. People suffering from anxiety are three to five times more likely to visit the doctor than those without anxiety disorders.

The reason?

Stress and anxiety do not just have an impact on the mind. Together, they cause or enhance chronic pain. Many of us forget that anxiety or worry can cause several painful physical symptoms — chronic fatigue, heart palpitations, muscle aches and weaknesses, headaches, and more. 

Here’s a deeper look into the impact chronic stress and anxiety have on the body.

Man really feeling how stress and anxiety affect pain

How can stress and anxiety impact pain response? 

Have you ever noticed that your muscles hurt more when you’re worried about work or family? Do you get headaches more as you think about something too much? These are all small signs of how anxiety and stress can impact our body’s pain levels.

Research has also proven that stress and anxiety can influence pain perception (how we perceive pain). Some people, when their cortisol levels spike, experience stress-induced analgesia — which suppresses our sensation of pain. 

Stress-induced hyperalgesia, on the other hand, occurs when stress, anxiety, or even fear, are already present, elevating pain and increasing intensity and duration. 

The fight or flight response affects pain

We all know the “flight or fight” response our bodies experience when we undergo stress. When our bodies activate this response, it dumps higher levels of cortisol into the bloodstream which spikes our blood sugar. Your body also experiences an increased heart rate and adrenaline output. Over a period of time, this influx of cortisol can harm your body and cause you to be more susceptible to injury and pain. 

In the fallout of this response, people tend to feel exhausted, which can heighten mental and physical ailments and decrease their immune system response. 

The nervous system and stress

Stress is very closely aligned to the nervous system. Your body’s reaction to stress can tip off pain perception in the body and, because the nervous system extends into the brain, can impact the way your body responds to pain. Over time, your body may develop a more sensitive nervous system reaction to stress and anxiety, which could be the cause of chronic pain. 

Woman sits at computer looking very stressed out and anxious because of how stress and anxiety affect pain

Common physical symptoms of stress and anxiety

The longer a person experiences chronic stress and anxiety the more intense the symptoms may be. You could equate it to heart health — the longer you eat fatty, high-sugar, and highly processed foods, the greater your chances are for heart disease. So, the more often you’re stressed, the more vulnerable your body becomes because of the wear and tear that results. 

Symptoms of stress and anxiety often go unnoticed or are mistaken for something minor. However, consistently experiencing the following systems can wear out your body. 

Fatigue

This is the most common symptom associated with stress and anxiety. Because the mind is in a constant state of alertness, it tires out much faster than the mind of someone who may not often experience stress and anxiety. Even after healthy sleep, people can still feel exhausted because of mental fatigue or the physical symptoms that come along with prolonged high-cortisol levels in the body. 

Heart palpitations

Having heart palpitations can be distressing, which may cause a continued increase in cortisol levels and can increase heart rate. Heart palpitations feel as though your heart is pounding too fast and skipping beats. 

Muscle aches and weakness

Tension is usually to blame for muscle and joint pain caused by stress and anxiety. Prolonged periods of these emotions cause muscles to tense up and leave you feeling stiff. A high level of stress consistently can impact immune system functions, making it more difficult for your body to fight off inflammation. 

Muscles also tend to become weak, especially in the legs and arms. During a fight or flight response, blood flow is increased to the limbs to make it easier to take action against a perceived threat. After the adrenaline response has ended, muscles can become sore and painful. 

Woman laying down clutching her head and stomach feeling sore from stress and anxiety

Headaches

Headaches and migraines are other common results of chronic pain and anxiety. Because other systems, such as teeth grinding, tension in the face, and poor posture often accompany stress and anxiety, prevalent headaches and migraines that are extremely painful are likely. Sharp pain or dull aches accompanied by pressure in the head and eyes are usually the headaches caused by stress and anxiety. 

Find relief for your pain

Stress and anxiety are common ailments in the U.S., but if you’re experiencing pain that you believe is associated with stress, it’s time to get help — for both your brain and your body. The key is to manage daily habits to ensure this type of pain does not get out of hand. 

If you are experiencing pain that is impacting your daily life, our team can help. With extensive training in treating patients with chronic stress and anxiety disorders, we can get you back on track to feeling calm, relaxed, and healthy in no time. 

To find relief from your chronic pain, book a free consultation today!

Namaste

Sleep and Athletic Performance

Sleep and Athletic Performance 1200 799 ResilientRx

Quality sleep is an important consideration when it comes to pain, injury and recovering after a workout. Research supports that individuals who get a bad night’s sleep (especially those with chronic sleep issues, insomnia, etc.) are more likely to have pain the subsequent day. In fact, two thirds of people with chronic pain suffer from sleep disturbances.

Sleep influences our pain experience and internal function.

Studies suggest that disturbances in sleep may hinder key physiological processes in the body that contribute to the development and maintenance of chronic pain, including your body’s ability to inhibit or regulate pain. A recent review showed the role poor sleep patterns can play in causing acute injury to transitioning into chronic pain in adolescents. Many of the substances in our bodies that help regulate our sleep-wake cycles such as serotonin also regulate pain signals (Andreucci, et. al, 2021). So if we constantly are in a depleted state due to lack of sleep, this can disrupt the balance of these processes in our bodies and therefore lead to persistent pain and inability to recover from an injury in a reasonable amount of time.

Poor sleep, especially over time, can also have negative impacts on things like cognitive function, emotions, immune function, energy conservation and synthesis, immune function, and cardiovascular health (Wei, et. al., 2019).

Injury Risk in the Athletic Population

Even for patients without chronic pain, the risk for overuse injury increases with lack of quality sleep. A recent 2020 study showed that less than 7 hours of sleep led to an increased injury risk in endurance athletes (Johnston, et. al., 2020). They found that there was a 2 week delay from the period of poor sleep to the time of the new injury!

Oliver, et. al. in 2009 found that for athletes with 30 hours of total sleep deprivation, they experienced a 2.9% decrease in running performance. Another study looked at 2 groups of endurance athletes performing a stationary cycle test to failure. One group had normal sleep and the other group was sleep-deprived. The athletes in the sleep-deprived group showed a 9% reduction in endurance (Temesi, et. al., 2013).

How about effects on weightlifting performance? One study showed that limited sleep to 3 hours per night for just 2 nights, reduced lifting performance in multiple upper and lower body exercises (Reilly & Piercy, 1994). Other important factors such as motor control, coordination, and athletic response time have also been shown to be negatively impacted due to lack of quality sleep, all of which can lead to injury (Mah, et. al., 2019).

The take-home message for the above examples is that with poor sleep not only are you at increased risk for injury, but your athletic performance will suffer.

Adequate sleep can increase athletic performance.

A great example of what consistently good sleep can do for you can be found in Stanford’s men’s basketball team. The players participated in a 2011 study by Mah, et. al. where they increased their sleep an average of 2 hours per night for 5-7 weeks, with the goal of getting about 10 hours of sleep per night. As a result, the team saw a 10% increase in sprint performance and 9% increase in 3-point and free-throw accuracy!

Helpful Sleep Tips
  1. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day
  2. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day
  3. Keep your bedroom dark and cool
  4. Limit screen time – no cell phone or TV 30-60 minutes prior to bed
  5. Keep caffeine intake to early in the day
  6. Meditation/mindfulness practices

If you are struggling with pain or an injury, physical therapy can help! We can evaluate your movement, strength, and function and come up with a plan to help get you out of pain and back to doing what you love!

Written by Nick DiSarro, PT, DPT, OCS

Sources: Wei, Y., Blanken T.F., Van Someren. Insomnia really hurts: Effect of a bad night’s sleep on pain increases with insomnia severity. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30210367/

Finan, P., Goodin, B., & Smith, M. (2013, December). The association of sleep and pain: An update and a path forward. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046588/

Johnston, R., Cahalan, R., Bonnett, L., Maguire, M., Glasgow, P., Madigan, S., . . . Comyns, T. (2019, November 01). General health complaints and sleep associated with new injury within an endurance sporting population: A prospective study. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1440244018308545

Oliver, S. J., Costa, R. J., Laing, S. J., Bilzon, J. L., & Walsh, N. P. (2009). One night of sleep deprivation decreases treadmill endurance performance. European journal of applied physiology, 107(2), 155-161.

https://www.academia.edu/download/43130932/One_night_of_sleep_deprivation_decreases20160227-2241-1o288ei.pdf

Andreucci, A., Groenewald, C. B., Rathleff, M. S., & Palermo, T. M. (2021). The Role of Sleep in the Transition from Acute to Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain in Youth—A Narrative Review. Children, 8(3), 241.

https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9067/8/3/241/pdf

Temesi, J., Arnal, P. J., Davranche, K., Bonnefoy, R., Levy, P., Verges, S., & Millet, G. Y. (2013). Does central fatigue explain reduced cycling after complete sleep deprivation. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 45(12), 2243-53. http://karen.davranche.free.fr/pub/Temesi,%20Arnal,%20Davranche_et_al_MSSE_2013.pdf

Reilly, T., & Piercy, M. (1994). The effect of partial sleep deprivation on weight-lifting performance. Ergonomics, 37(1), 107-115. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8112265/

Mah, C. D., Sparks, A. J., Samaan, M. A., Souza, R. B., & Luke, A. (2019). Sleep restriction impairs maximal jump performance and joint coordination in elite athletes. Journal of sports sciences, 37(17), 1981-1988. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31122131/

Mah, C. D., Mah, K. E., Kezirian, E. J., & Dement, W. C. (2011). The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep, 34(7), 943-950. https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/34/7/943/2596050?TB_iframe=true&width=370.8&height=658.8

Sleep for Rehab; YouTube video presentation by E3Rehab https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAaAnWB-3jY

Self Care

Why is Self Care Important?

Why is Self Care Important? 1200 799 ResilientRx
Surprise– eating clean and exercising doesn’t make you a “healthy” person.

Healthy living is beyond exercising.

Living healthily is a conscious effort to take care of your physical body and mental health. “Self-care” is a phrase you have probably heard often, especially lately, and with good reason! Self-care addresses your physical health- lack of sleep, limited exercise, diet, etc., as well as mental health- stress, relationships, life changes, etc.

We have two main automatic regulatory nervous systems (autonomic nervous system):

  • the sympathetic nervous system
  • parasympathetic nervous systems

These systems help to regulate breathing, digestion, heart rate, etc. without a conscious effort. In other words, these things happen without us thinking about them or deciding they will happen.

The sympathetic nervous system is known as the stress response. You may have heard of this as the “fight or flight” response. The parasympathetic is the “rest and digest” response- the system that calms you down.

Here is an example of how the sympathetic nervous system works:

Imagine being stuck in traffic when you are late to work. You might start to clench your jaw or grip your steering wheel. In that moment you are feeding your body stress.

This stress activates the sympathetic nervous system and causes the body to tense up and release cortisol. Cortisol is released during any stressful event from the adrenal glands that sit above the kidneys.

Whether you are stuck in traffic or being chased by a tiger, bodies react in the same way.

Chronically stressing our bodies, can cause:

Keep this in mind if you are experiencing chronic pain. It could be caused by stress and not just misalignment. Although there are many things that are out of our control, you can use some of the tips below to help manage your stress.

Tips on reducing stress:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing: Place your hand on your chest and your lower belly/ribs. As you inhale, feel your lower belly and ribs expand. This helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system
  • Planning ahead: Try to avoid running late when possible. This gives you ample time to get you’re your destination without being stressed by traffic and other factors that you cannot control.
  • Mindfulness: Check in with yourself, do you feel tense in your body? Take a minute to breath and ask yourself why you are tense and focus on relaxing the muscles that feel tense.
  • Avoid foods high in sugar: Try to maintain your blood sugar levels. Eating too much sugar and caffeine can spike your cortisol levels.
  • Exercise: Go on a 15 to 20-minute walk outside in the sun. This will help to calm your sympathetic nervous system. (Zankert S., Kudielka, B., Wust, S., 2020)

Of course, this just scratches the surface and we are here to help along the way! Stress can also exacerbate issues with your physical body that you might already have. In our office, we look at our clients holistically to see how all elements can add or take away from feeling your best. Ready to start feeling better? Book an appointment with us now!

Written by: Mary Grimberg PT, DPT, OCS

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