Top 5 Orthopedic Tips for Your Workout Routine

Top 5 Orthopedic Tips for Your Workout Routine

From pulled muscles and ankle sprains to knee, hip and shoulder pain—it’s no secret that when we work out we put ourselves at greater risk for strains, sprains and more. We asked the experts (our highly-trained Orthopedic Institute physicians) for their top tips on staying healthy while staying active.

Check out these top 5 orthopedic tips for athletes of all ages and skill levels.

1. Warm up and cool down

Whether you’re part of a competitive team or a “weekend warrior,” warming up your body prepares your cardiovascular system for activity and increases blood flow to your muscles. Cooling down after your workout allows for gradual recovery of both your heart rate and blood pressure. Both are important parts of exercising injury-free. Proper warm-ups and stretches specific to your sport can also help prevent painful pulled muscles.

2. Invest in the right equipment

No matter the sport or the amount of activity, investing in the proper shoes and equipment can help prevent injury along the way—especially when it comes to arch and heel support. Not sure what you need? Consider talking to a physical therapist, or athletic trainer. You might even benefit from inserts in your athletic shoes, which can absorb energy and help correct alignment. Our pedorthist can help with all your insert needs. Do a lot of running? Check out our post on how to find the perfect running shoe.

3. Use proper technique

From golfing, hiking and weight lifting to tennis, running, swimming and everything in between—every athletic activity involves technique. If you’re not actively working with coaches as part of your training, take time to learn the correct techniques associated with your sport or workout routine. For example, learning how to do the lunge correctly can protect your knees.

4. Switch up your routine

Not only does this beat workout boredom and keep you excited about athletic activity, it is essential for avoiding overuse injuries. By mixing up your activities, you give those overused muscles, joints and ligaments a chance to rest and recover before putting them into action again. Some great ways to give your joints a rest include elliptical machines, swimming, biking or yoga. Looking for new ideas? Check out these five unique ways to exercise outdoors this spring.

5. Don’t overdo it

You’ve heard the phrase, “listen to our body.” It’s one of the best things you can do to avoid a sports-related injury. When you begin a new sport or workout routine you’ve never tried before, begin slowly and steadily to avoid pulling or straining muscles. Even if you have been training hard, never let your competitive urges push you to strain or compromise your technique in an attempt to do more. Injury can often be the result.

How the Way You Sleep Affects Your Orthopedic Help

How the Way You Sleep Affects Your Orthopedic Health

It’s no secret that drifting off to dreamland (and enjoying the right amount of quality sleep) is essential to overall health. But the position you sleep in, the mattress you sleep on and pillow you sleep with – make a big difference. Whether you’re a back, side or stomach sleeper … how you curl up at night could lead to neck or back pain in the morning.

Get comfortable, and learn how sleep position affects your orthopedic health. 

Sleeping on your stomach

This is a comfortable position for many people, but if you’re already prone to lower back problems it’s best to avoid it. Most of your weight is in the middle of your body. So, in some cases, sleeping on your stomach can cause the lower region of your spine (the lumbar area) to extend beyond normal limits. Your neck will also be twisted out of alignment when you turn your head to the side to breathe. When you sleep this way you’re definitely upping your odds of waking up with a sore neck, back or shoulders. Can’t sleep any other way? Put a thin pillow under your head – or better yet, no pillow at all. That will reduce the angle of strain on your neck. For your back, try putting a pillow under your lower back to reduce the strain on lumbar region.

Sleeping on your back

If your spine could talk, it would say “sleep on your back.” Why? Because sleeping this way evenly distributes your weight and avoids unnatural curving of your spine. That said, it can be less comfortable than other sleeping positions. Just remember, with your head, neck and spine in alignment, you can get a better rest and wake up refreshed! If you give it a try, pay attention to your pillows: adding a small pillow under your head and neck (not your shoulders) helps maintain a neutral position to the mattress. Pillow support is essential for avoiding or alleviating back pain and spinal problems. Sleeping on your back can cause snoring. Try elevating your body with a cushioned foam wedge pillow or by using an adjustable bed. It will allow for easier breathing and (hopefully) less snoring.

Sleeping on your side

Odds are you like sleeping on your side—most of us do! This common position is especially good for people with breathing problems. If you are experiencing back or neck pain, try taking the fetal position while sleeping this way. Tuck both your legs (not just one) up toward your chest. This will keep your back naturally arched. Next, put a small pillow between your knees to help take some strain off of your lower back and promote hip alignment. Again, it’s all about pillow placement. Make sure you’re keeping your head, neck and spine as naturally aligned as possible to prevent pain when you wake up.

If you have neck pain…

Your spine needs to be in a neutral position while you sleep. If you’re a stomach or side sleeper, try sleeping on your back. Also, pay attention to your pillows. If the pillow does not allow your head to sink in or if it has too much loft, it could be forcing your neck into sustained forward bending and causing pain. The main function of the pillow is to support the neck and head. Therefore it should fill the natural hollow in the neck between the head for easy adjustments for your sleep style. If you must sleep on your side, consider purchasing a down or artificial down pillow for side sleepers, which contains more fill. You could also combine two pillows to help fill the space between your neck and shoulder.

If you have back pain…

Your mattress or sleep position may be the cause of the pain. First, consider the age of your bed. Sagging mattresses should be replaced to give you the best lumbar support. Your mattress should not be to firm or too soft, a medium-firm good quality mattress usually works best for most people with back pain. Remember, your spine needs to be supported in a neutral position. If lying on your back produces low back pain, and there are no observable sags in your mattress, try placing a pillow placed under your knees when you sleep to achieve the neutral position. If that has no effect, a small pillow or a towel roll that is 1 to 1 ¼ inches compressed can be placed in the small of the back. Are you a side sleeper? Try placing the pillow or towel roll between your knees and a pillow behind your back.

There is not any one sleep position that will work for everyone. If you are experiencing pain without relief, make an appointment for an evaluation with our physical therapy team.

Home Remedies for Joint Pain Relief That Truly Work

Home Remedies For Joint Pain Relief That Truly Work

Joints form connections between bones to help our body parts move. They’re made up of connective tissue and cartilage, and when they become injured or inflamed… ouch! If you are experiencing serious or ongoing pain in your joints, it’s important to see your doctor for a medical opinion and, if necessary, a medical treatment plan. But when it comes to relieving minor joint pain, there’s no need to wait.

From hands and feet to knees, arms and elbows–try these home remedies for joint pain relief. They truly work!

Epsom Salt Soaks

This home remedy has been around for years, but do epsom salts really work? There aren’t any scientific studies to back it up, but anyone who’s tried soaking in a warm, epsom salt bath can speak to how relaxing it can be. Try this type of bath for temporary joint pain relief – and, if necessary, check with your doctor to discuss how long or how often you should soak.

Hot/Cold Compresses

Not only does heat reduce stiffness in painful joints, it can help relax muscles and increase range of motion by stimulating blood flow. On the other hand, cold packs will numb the pain and reduce joint inflammation. Try alternating both – with 15 minutes of heat followed by 15 minutes of cold to ease joint pain even more. Note: Do not use heat if the affected area is red, hot and irritated. Do not use cold compresses if you have circulatory problems.

Turmeric + Omega-3

Several studies have found that turmeric (a yellow spice found in curries and mustard) reduces pain and swelling in arthritis patients. You can also try loading up on inflammation-fighting foods rich in omega-3, such as salmon, trout, olive oil and walnuts. As always, check with your doctor before adding dietary supplements or making a major lifestyle changes. Want more healthy food advice? Check this out: 8 Joint-Friendly Foods to Strengthen Your Mobility.

Topical Creams

Think those over-the-counter creams are just for aching muscles? Think again. Anti-inflammatory topical pain creams like Penetrex or Blue-Emu can help relieve some arthritis pain, too.

Paraffin Wax Baths

Heated paraffin wax can be a great way to soothe arthritis aches and pains in your hands, feet and even elbows. There are many paraffin wax bath products on the market. Ask your doctor which is best for you, and always read the directions carefully prior to use.

Regular Exercise

Technically, it’s not a home remedy. But exercise is one of the best things you can do to stay pain-free and healthy! Joint pain can be a sign from your body that it’s time to get active. Talk to your doctor about appropriate activities that can help build muscle and relieve pressure on painful joints – including stretching, swimming or water aerobics, walking, biking and more.

Severe and chronic joint pain, especially when caused by degenerative conditions like arthritis, needs proper diagnosis and treatment. While the above suggestions may help decrease some inflammation and pain, nothing takes the place of a qualified medical opinion. Make an appointment to see one of our specialists today.