Tension Headaches: How to Handle Them

Of the four distinct types of headaches — tension, migraine, sinus and cluster — the tension type is the most common. Of course, stress is a natural reaction to stimuli and can keep us safe from danger. Yet an excessive amount of stress can lead to tension headaches. That’s why learning how to handle emotional and physical stress can help reduce the severity and frequency of tension headaches.

If you’re concerned about your headaches, contact us — and read on, for some helpful tips about coping with tension headaches.

How the Body Reacts to Stress

When the “fight or flight” response is triggered, our bodies become flooded with protective hormones like adrenaline, which leads to a chain reaction of neck and scalp muscles contracting. These physical reactions often result in either tension or migraine headaches.  

Muscular overuse is another factor that leads to tension headaches. Holding your neck or shoulder joints in an unnatural position for too long causes supporting muscles to go into spasm. In turn, the muscles compress the adjoining nerves, sending pain impulses to your brain that result in headaches and sometimes a sore neck.

Working at a computer, bending over a work table or holding a phone to your ear for prolonged periods are all frequent causes of tension headaches from physical sources.

Additional Causes

Along with muscle-bunching activities like desk work, here are a few other factors associated with tension headaches:

  • Emotional stress
  • Fatigue
  • Excess alcohol
  • Fluctuating caffeine levels
  • Eye strain
  • Use of tobacco products

Dealing With a Tension Headache

Here are three of the most common tips concerning how people effectively deal with tension headaches:

  • Stretch your neck muscles regularly. Tense muscles in the neck region are often tension headache culprits. Physical therapy can also help.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Whether it’s deep breathing, yoga or walking on your lunch break — finding a way to de-stress is key to stopping tension headaches before they start.
  • Adjust your ergonomics. Your workplace setup can cause headaches. Consider simple adjustments like setting up your monitor to a more comfortable position, and getting a headset for your telephone.

If you have a severe headache, especially if it’s an unusual type for you, seek immediate medical attention. Tension headaches, on the other hand, don’t require emergency care — but they can still be painful and interrupt your normal routine. We may be able to give you the tools you need to decrease the severity and frequency of these annoying headaches. Contact Bounce Back Physical Therapy today for more information.

 

The Unexpected Benefits of Stretching

Many non-athletes — and even a few actual jocks — are guilty of either rushing through their warm-up stretching, or skipping the cool-down moves after the workout. Yet, along with cardio and strength-training, stretching also delivers significant health benefits.

You probably already know that stretching extends your overall range of motion, while also elasticizing your muscles and enhancing coordination. But those improvements, in turn, bring about other health benefits. We can discuss more of these during your visit, but in the meantime here are some of the frequently-overlooked benefits of stretching.

Increased Circulation

The act of lengthening and loosening your muscles through stretching means that you’re simultaneously opening up their interior blood vessels. This increased circulation is crucial for heart health and lowered cholesterol. It’s also a boon for the muscles themselves, because the improved blood flow results in faster recovery time, and less overall soreness after a workout.

Longer term, improving your circulation is a superior mood enhancer and energy booster. The physiological impact of increased circulation means that your bloodstream is carrying more oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, allowing for higher energy.

Reduced Tension

The most obvious benefit of a decrease in muscular tensing is, of course, that your pain and discomfort is greatly lessened. That alone is a smart reason to add more stretching into your life, because relaxing those contracted muscles will instantly make you feel physically better.

There’s an emotional component to “de-knotting” your muscles, as well. You’ll literally feel as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders, which can’t help but lift your mood. Optimism is also restored because relaxed muscles allow all-important endorphins to flow, which banishes pessimism — and that dreaded midday fatigue.  

Improved Flexibility and Posture

Enhancing both your flexibility and posture through stretching your joints and muscles are key to avoiding a range of pain-causing conditions.

Range of motion is vastly improved by regular stretching. Not only can you correct any joint stiffness you presently have through regular stretching as you’re extending your limbs as far as they can go, but you can also reduce the risks of future, motion-limiting injuries.

In terms of your muscle groups, stretching keeps the muscles supporting your spin lengthened and in perfect position. This proper alignment improves posture, and usually reduces any incidences of neck and back pain.

 

If any of these health issues sound familiar to you, please call Bounce Back Physical Therapy today. We’ll work together to put together the stretching routine that’s best for you!

 

How Staying Active at Work Can Increase Productivity

Picture yourself at work. Hunched over a keyboard, clicking away on a mouse, answering the phone, or having meetings, the most moving around you are likely to do is to and from the copy machine. It is no surprise that our sedentary jobs are causing fatigue and stiffness, both mentally and physically. Fortunately, having a desk job doesn’t exclude you from experiencing more physical activity at work. Give these activities a try and you are sure to find out you feel better physically and experience higher productivity.

Time for a Mental Shift

Somehow, somewhere along the way, Americans got it into their heads that working without breaks is the sign of productivity. Not true! Working without breaks not only causes physical and mental fatigue, studies have shown that people who allow themselves to take a break are more productive than their power-through counterparts.

Use the 1 in 20 Rule

Studies have shown that the mind can only work continuously on a singular task for 20 minutes at a time before productivity begins to slow. Fortunately, it does not take a lot to reset the brain’s ability to refocus. Standing up and moving around every twenty minutes, changing positions, or walking to another office is enough to give your brain the blood flow it needs to be ready for the tasks at hand.

Stay Hydrated

On average, water represents up to 60 percent of our body weight yet many of us walk around chronically dehydrated. In addition to digestive problems, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain, chronic dehydration can slow productivity. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Make sure you are consuming water throughout the day in order to keep your brain firing the way it should.

Stretch

Stretching your muscles is a great way to keep the blood flowing to your brain. You may find that your body has a natural need to stretch when it has been stagnant too long. This does not mean you need to roll out the yoga mat by your desk and do a pigeon pose. You can stretch your arms, legs, back and neck in just a few minutes without special equipment and enjoy greater productivity for hours afterward.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

We breathe thousands of times a day without even thinking about it, yet becoming aware of your breath is a great way to reduce stress, think more clearly and work better. Take deep breaths that fill your lungs and expel all of the air out. Then, enjoy a more productive work day.

Call Bounce Back Physical Therapy today and speak to our experts.

Tips to Treat Your Arthritis Pain

If you are like the one in four American adults who suffer from arthritis symptoms, you are looking for options for managing the day to day aches and pains and often debilitating loss of mobility.  Fortunately, there are many things you can do that, when combined with physical therapy, can improve your strength, increase your flexibility and help you manage your arthritis symptoms. While these tips are helpful, they work best when paired with professional treatment, call us today to learn how we can help you live pain-free!

Weight Loss

Since many arthritis symptoms are exacerbated by obesity, weight loss is one of the most effective ways to manage those symptoms without medication. Fortunately, physical therapists are adept at creating weight loss or weight maintenance programs that take pressure off of your joints and increase blood flow for nutrient delivery throughout your entire body.

Time for New Shoes

Many people overlook the effects of footwear on arthritis of the knee. Whether it is special purchasing special footwear or adding insoles or orthotics into your existing shoes, this simple fix can help immediately relieve the pressure on the weight-bearing joints of your lower body. As an added bonus, the correct footwear makes it easier to walk or exercise without pain.

Hot & Cold, Hot & Cold

When it comes to arthritis, temperature matters. Many people discover that a warm bath or heat pack helps ease arthritis aches and pains. Others find that cold packs applied on a regular basis reduce swelling in the joints and relieve discomfort. Alternating between the two has been shown to provide the soothing comfort of heat with the anti-inflammatory properties of cold. However, it is important to consult with a medical professional about the proper procedures for applying both heat and cold in order to avoid skin irritation.

Exercise

As tempting as it is to “rest” when you are uncomfortable, there is nothing better for managing arthritis than exercising on a regular basis. However, many people are reluctant to begin an exercise program with arthritis for fear of injuring themselves. Physical therapy can not only help you discover the exercise program that is right for your condition, it can provide you with a long-term solution to your arthritis symptoms. Your physical therapist will show you proper technique, a variety of exercises and how to wear appropriate accessories like braces or wraps if necessary.

Arthritis should not stop you from living the life you deserve. The combination of physical therapy, a weight loss program, heat and cold, and footwear can help you manage your day-to-day discomfort for the rest of your life. Contact Bounce Back Physical Therapy today to get started on your personalized physical therapy program and start enjoying a symptom-free life!

 

 

 

Still hurting? Your Diet Could Be Why  

What you put in your mouth can make your aches and pains worse. Like they say, “You are what you eat.” There are many foods that can cause inflammation and actually result in pain. Eating a healthier diet can help you feel better, without those nagging aches and pains.

Foods To Say “No” To

While it may be difficult to resist sodas, chocolate bars, pastries, and desserts, it’s smart to just say no. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, processed sugars release inflammatory messengers. The culprits are known as cytokines. To be on the safe side, avoid any ingredients that end in “ose.” That includes sucrose and fructose.

Saturated fats also trigger inflammation. Cheese and pizza are a mainstay of the American diet, and Americans should definitely reduce their intakes of these foods. Other culprits include full-fat dairy products, pasta, red meat and grain-based desserts.

Harvard School researchers sent out the alarm on trans fats in the 1990s. Trans fat triggers systemic inflammation. You’ll find plenty of trans fats in fast foods, snack foods, cookies, donuts and frozen breakfast products. Be sure to read the ingredient labels and avoid those listed with partially hydrogenated oils.

Skip the white flour products that have refined carbohydrates. That includes white rice and white potatoes. Processed carbs increase fats and fuel the production of advanced glycation, which causes inflammation.

While you may think mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) is only found in soy sauce and Asian food, it can be found in deli meats, fast foods, salad dressings and prepared soups. MSG is known as a chemical that triggers pathways for chronic inflammation.

Foods To Say “Yes” To

Think of a more natural diet like veggies and fresh fruits. And start drinking water. By just switching to water, you can reduce pain caused by inflammation. Greek yogurt is a good choice and so are foods with natural probiotics. Just by making better food choices can put you on the road to less pain and less need to rely on medications. Be a part of the solution instead of the problem by changing up your diet. Another plus to eating better is that you just may wind up losing a few of those stubborn pounds. So, the next time you feel a nagging ache, do some thinking about what you’re actually putting in your mouth. It just may be a food that you should say no to or give Bounce Back Physical Therapy a call to see how we can help assess your aches and pains!

 

Without Intervention, Your Lower Back Pain Could Be Here to Stay

Ask any physical therapist, and you’ll get confirmation that lower back pain is the most frequent complaint they’re asked to treat. Often, back strain goes away on their own, especially with the classic “RICE” treatment. But when rest, ice, compression and elevation just can’t cut the pain, physical therapy is often your most reliable path back to a pain-free life.

Where Does LBP Come From — and What Can Prevent it?

Among the most common causes of lower back pain (LBP) is an improperly aligned spine, stemming from incorrect posture. Most office desk setups don’t provide lumbar support or ergonomic positioning, while poor work habits keep us from giving our spines much-needed relief by moving around during the day.

Non-desk jobs have their own perils. Standing all day, especially when combined with heavy lifting or frequent bending, is also bad for spinal health. The muscles surrounding the abs and lower back may not get the support they need as you pace, bend and lift, resulting in LBP.

In either case, supporting those back muscles is key to reducing the risk of chronic lower back pain. Insist on an ergonomic desk chair, or at least take the opportunity to stretch and move around more frequently. If you’re a cashier, wait staff or warehouse worker, invest in shoes with good arch support, which helps keep your entire body better aligned. If needed, wear a specialized brace to help support heavy lifting.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Physical therapy is one of the most effective ways for easing lower back pain. Medical professionals generally urge their patients to try PT before turning to prescription medications or surgery. The reasons are obvious: Some medications can have long-term health consequences, despite the advantages of delivering temporary pain relief, while invasive procedures carry risk of complication and prolonged recovery time.

Lower back pain PT typically takes the two-pronged approach of using both active and passive physical therapy, unless the therapist has a reason to recommend one over the other.

  • Passive PT includes the application of specialized ice packs and heating pads. The therapist may also use various types of pulsing equipment, which stimulate nerves and release pain.
  • Active PT involves the patient performing stretches and exercises that build the kind of flexibility and strength needed to both prevent future flare-ups and reduce current pain. Some of these are done under a physical therapist’s supervision, on specialized equipment, while others can be carried out at home after the patient learns the basics.

Call Bounce Back Physical Therpy today and speak to our experts.

5 Ways to Relieve Neck and Back Pain

Back and neck pain can stop you in your tracks, affecting your work and interfering with your recreational activities. It takes the fun right out of your day.

 

How to Reduce Neck and Back Pain

 

Your pain might be from a previous injury, arthritis, bad posture or another cause. However, there are things that you can do to lessen the pain or, in some cases, eliminate it completely. Here are five things that will improve your physical comfort.

 

  1. Avoid Injury – This one is obvious, but it is a common cause of neck and back pain. Often people get in a hurry and fail to follow the common-sense rules to protect themselves from injury. If you don’t know how to lift properly, for example, you run the risk of straining your back and neck. Our experts are trained to show you how you can do your work without compromising your health.

  2. Improve Your Posture – Growing up, most kids have heard the words “stand up straight” more than once. It’s not just cosmetic. Correct posture can help position your body so it functions better throughout the day. Rather than stiffly throwing your shoulders back to achieve this, our team will show you how to align naturally for best results. For example, one practice would be to imagine a string at the top of your head pulling you gently upward, towards the sky. If you have a desk job, be sure to take a break every half hour and stand. Stretch those muscles or take a short walk throughout the day. Incorporate variety into your work posture by using a standing desk or changing positions.

  3. Rest and Exercise – Non-stop work can wear you down. It’s crucial to get adequate sleep every night to let your mind and body recover and rejuvenate so you’re ready for the next day. If you don’t get enough sleep it can affect your pain tolerance, making a bad situation worse. Sleep deprivation sets you up for increased stress and weakens your immune system. Daily exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes, will improve your strength, heart health and flexibility.

  4. Eat Healthy – What you consume fuels your day and if you are eating fried or processed foods, you are increasing inflammation in your body. This causes pain and dehydration, but the cure is not complicated. Make sure you eat fruits, vegetables and lean protein every day and drink plenty of water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink that water, keep a glass with you as you work and take a bottle of water with you when you are active. Being hydrated eases many symptoms and helps your body function efficiently.

  5. Get Professional Input – While these tips are good general advice, everyone is unique. It is wise to consult with a professional who knows how to spot problem areas and can give you personal solutions for your specific issues. The goal is to restore your health, improve your movement, strengthen your muscles and give you the guidelines to maintain a higher level of pain-free function. Our physical therapists are educated medical experts who can provide the knowledge and advice you need to achieve your goals.

What to Expect From Us

Our physical therapists will meet with you, do a thorough analysis of your posture, movement and strength, discuss your routine and determine what is causing your pain. Then, using their knowledge of muscles and skeletal systems, they’ll determine the correct treatment plan to achieve the fastest results.  

By seeing our physical therapists at least once a year many painful outcomes can be avoided before they begin, due to our individualized assessments, recommendations and proper therapy.

Why live with pain for one more minute? Call Bounce Back Physical Therapy and make an appointment today and get started eliminating your pain and improving your well-being.

How To Relieve Shoulder Pain

Do you have aching shoulders? Do you know that the problem could be a result of rotator cuff damage? That’s right, your shoulder pain that comes along with certain motions or that you notice during sleep could be a result of rotator cuff issues.

 

What Does The Rotator Cuff Do?

 

Like most parts of the body, we don’t think about our rotator cuff until there is a problem. However, your rotator cuff issue can have a great effect on your shoulder pain. In fact, you use your rotator cuff many times a day to do even basic activities, such as throwing a baseball, lifting objects over your head or even brushing your hair and teeth. The rotator cuff’s role is made up of muscles that surround your shoulder joint, which guide your shoulder as it moves. Therefore, when your rotator cuff becomes damaged, this can result in poor range of motion in the shoulder and inflammation and pain.

 

How Does a Rotator Cuff Become Weakened or Injured?

 

Usually, an injured rotator cuff is a result of you moving your shoulder in a forceful or repetitive movement. The injury itself is pretty common, especially when you get older. However, an injured rotator cuff can occur in anyone, no matter his or her age. It is more commonly seen in older individuals, though. In fact, studies show that 30% of individuals under the age of 70 and 70% of those over the age of 80 have experienced a rotator cuff tear.

 

How to Relieve Shoulder Pain For Good:

 

Thankfully, there is hope for you and your shoulder pain. This recovery comes with strengthening the shoulder and practicing proper motion. You can successfully strengthen your shoulder joint by utilizing anti-inflammatory treatments, such as ice applications, cortisone injections and medications, along with physical therapy. Your goal isn’t treating the rotator cuff itself, but instead, healing the muscles and tendons, which is accomplished by the methods just mentioned.

 

Specifics On How You Can Improve Your Shoulder Pain: What Can You Do?

The following are some easy-to-follow tips to improve your shoulder pain:

  • Ice and rest your shoulder frequently. Ideally, you will want to ice for around 10 minutes, directly on the joint. Don’t worry if this causes the middle of your arm to ache. This is common.
  • Hug a pillow while you sleep, tucking the pillow deep in your underarm. This works by keeping your shoulder joint properly spaced.
  • Stand against a wall and squeeze your shoulder blades back and together. Be sure you don’t shrug your shoulders. This exercise will help retrain your shoulder to maintain proper posture.
  • Avoid heavy lifting. Heavy lifting can include repetitive reaching over your head, even if the object you are placing overhead is light. Also, avoid carrying groceries on your injured shoulder. 

What Happens if These Tactics Don’t Make The Pain go Away?

 

If your pain doesn’t go away in 3-4 days of making these changes, you should seek help from a physical therapist. The purpose of physical therapy is to improve the function of the muscles surrounding your shoulder. This helps the mobility of the joint. Physical therapy specifically targets the small, but significant muscles in the shoulder that are often neglected. When you strengthen these muscles through physical therapy, you can better compensate for the damaged tendons.

 

About Our Physical Therapy:

 

Our physical therapists perform their therapy in a soothing, gentle manner. We will educate you on the proper way to perform various exercises and techniques. The work of our wonderful therapists will greatly accelerate the relief of your shoulder pain by restoring proper shoulder motion sooner. Thankfully, many patients with rotator cuff tears will not require surgical treatment. In most cases, physical therapy will be enough to remedy your shoulder issue. Call Bounce Back Physical Therapy today to learn more about our programs and how they can help relieve your pain.

Suffering With Back Pain? It Could Be Your Thighs…   

Are you suffering with back pain? If you are, you are among the majority. That’s right, around 80% of the population deals with back pain at some point in their life. If you fall into this category, you know the annoyance that is caused by frequent back pain. As you know, back pain can interfere with every facet of life. It can make bending over difficult and cause you to become irritable, making it hard for you to participate as you once did in social activities. In essence, it takes away the life you once had and leaves you with one void of the joy you once experienced. The solution to this problem is to understand what causes back pain in the first place. Do you know the culprit could be your thighs and/or hips?

 

How Does Your Thigh or Hip Strength Correlate With Back Pain?

 

It might come as a surprise to you, but poor thigh and hip strength often leads to back pain. As you age, your thigh and hip muscles—more specifically the external hip rotators, gluteus muscles and the quadriceps– naturally weaken. This is caused by various factors, such as sitting for long periods of time, along with age. As a result of this weakness, the support your spine once enjoyed is lessened. This in turn makes it harder for you to do simple tasks, like bending over and picking something up. Put simply, it means you don’t have the correct amount of strength in the right places. Consequently, when you bend down repetitively on a daily basis in your weakened state, this will lead to more stress on your back, which causes your pain to worsen.

 

How to Know If Your Strength is Located in the Right Places:

 

First of all, do the following:

  • Face a mirror.
  • Make sure your head is facing forward and your spine remains straight.
  • Squat down, by sticking your buttocks outward.

 

When completing these actions, notice the following:

  • Are you able to squat as you stick out your buttocks?
  • Do you feel discomfort or pressure in your knees?
  • Does one or both of your knees turn inwards?

If you answered yes to the questions listed above, you likely have problems with the strength and mobility of your pelvis, hips and thighs. These issues could be the culprit behind not only your back pain, but any knee pain you might have as well.

 

How to Strengthen Your Hip and Thigh Muscles:

 

The simple solution to the problem of back pain would seem to be for you to strengthen your hip and thigh muscles. Of course, that’s easier said than done. That’s where our expertise comes in handy. When you choose us for your treatment, we begin by thoroughly analyzing the way you bend and walk. We also make note of how strong your thighs and smaller hip muscles are at the present time. After this assessment, we can pinpoint the areas of your body that need work. The next step will be creating a treatment plan that is specifically designed to help you quickly build strength, and as a result, improve your spinal stability, muscle coordination and eliminate or reduce your back pain.

For more information on the programs we offer to relieve back pain, call us today. We are happy to create a treatment plan that will have you pain free as quickly as possible. Don’t despair; there is hope for an existence free of back pain. We can help. Call Bounce Back Physical Therapy today.

 

Is Pain Stopping You From Getting Back in the Game?

Sports represent a healthy way to stay in shape, enjoy socialization with friends and family, and provide an effective outlet for stress. Nothing else in life compares to the invigorating and stimulating enjoyment that comes from participating in sports. As you play, however, you may develop some pain or injuries that prevent you from fully enjoying your sports activity. When this happens, a negative spiral can occur. The suddenly sedentary life may lead to weight gain, mood swings or depression, or feelings of hopelessness. If you choose to ignore doctor’s advice and play anyway, your small injury could turn into something that keeps you on the sidelines longer, or worse, require surgical intervention.

 

How Do Most Injuries Occur?

 

Many things can contribute to sports injuries. One of the most common contributing factors that physical therapists encounter is that of the “weekend warrior.” The weekend warrior is a term for a person who leads a relatively sedentary existence during the work week, but who gives it all they have on the playing field on the weekends. While the term warrior has strong connotations, it’s not smart to suddenly test and strain your body in fits and starts only on the weekends. You would be better off to participate in moderate exercise during the week so that your body has a more level pace of activity.

 

Other injuries occur from poor gear choices. It’s important to wear the right equipment for the right sport. Tennis shoes, for example, are designed to support the foot and ankle for the quick side-to-side footwork that occurs on the court. Running shoes are manufactured so that the impact of your body hitting pavement is somewhat absorbed and doesn’t injure your skeletal system.

 

Finally, many injuries occur because people neglect to warm up before practice and play. Your muscles, tendons, ligaments and other tissues need to be warmed up and trained first in order to work properly. They take enormous strain during running and sports activities.

 

You May Be More Prone to Injury as You Age

 

While age should not prevent you from participating in your favorite sports, you do need to consider the physical limitations that come with age. As you get older, your tissues become less elastic and less flexible. It would be foolish for anyone to think they can perform at age 60 the same as they did at age 26. However, exercising consistently, warming up before exercise, and keeping hydrated can help. When your muscles, tendon and ligament tissues have enough water, they become more supple and flexible, allowing you to do more activities safely.

 

How to Avoid Pain and Prevent Injury

 

With a little bit of preparation, you can easily do these activities and decrease your risk for injury.

 

  • Stretch before practice and play
  • Maintain or increase strength training
  • Practice eye-hand coordination with drills
  • Maintain or increase endurance with training

 

It is important to do sports activities, fitness and a host of other physical activities to keep you healthy and happy. Knowing the right exercises to do to prepare for fitness activities is key. Our physical therapy experts have years of experience helping people rehabilitate after injuries and return to the activities they enjoy. What some people might not know is that physical therapists can help put a specific exercise plan together based on your needs to prevent injury. If you do start to experience pain with activities, we can get you back to enjoying your activities, pain-free. Call Bounce Back Physical Therapy today to learn more about how we can help you get back in the game!