Fall is back to school time, a bittersweet event for many families. Parents anticipate the return to healthy routines, while many kids dread the structure of academic life. Additionally, fall sports provide a chance for kids to enjoy teamwork and some outdoor fun, but parents often worry about safety and the potential for injuries.
Fall sports can be educational, fun and safe when guidelines are followed and safety measures employed. Even if you are not out on the field with your kids, there are ways you can help keep them safe during fall sports, too.
Keeping your child safe is a parent’s general concern year-round, but your anxiety can be increased during fall sports season. Fortunately, some of the same precautions you take to protect your children in other areas can also help them stay safe during fall sports:
• Encourage proper sleep habits — Kids are still developing mentally and physically, and this requires plenty of sleep. During sleep, the body and brain can recover from the activities of the day and grow and develop more strength for the days ahead. Good sleep is a safety requirement for children in all areas of their lives. They will be more likely to perform better in school, avoid careless accidents and make better decisions when they are sufficiently rested.
• Ensure good nutrition — Nutrition is important for everybody, but kids especially thrive on the nutrients they get from the food they eat. A young digestive system breaks down food more thoroughly and makes the most of the vitamins and minerals it contains. Kids are still growing bones and muscles, too, so feeding them well will help keep them strong and free of injuries.
• Pay attention to healthcare — This can be as simple as bandaging a cut, so it is not exposed to infection. Kids are not fully aware of their bodies and are often unable to judge when they need medical attention. As a parent, you can keep your child safe by assessing signs of illness or injury and seeking the proper care for them.
Sports Safety Tips
Even if you are not particularly athletic yourself, you can keep your child safe in fall sports by remembering these tips:
• Always insist on proper safety gear
• Keep kids hydrated before, during and after sports
• Get your child a physical before each sports season
• Never let them skip the before- or after-game warm-up
• Make sure the coach has your emergency contact information
• Have injuries assessed by a qualified professional
Fall sports are fun, but there is nothing fun about sitting in the emergency room or getting sidelined by a serious injury. Protect your child with good health habits and consult a doctor if you have any concerns.
For sports physicals or injury assessment, contact Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery to schedule an appointment.
Smokers are more likely to develop chronic back pain than non-smokers. You might attribute this to some lifestyle issues. Smokers are generally not as healthy as non-smokers. Smoking reduces the immune system’s ability to defend the body against disease. Smokers get more colds and have more respiratory issues than non-smokers.
Beyond all of that, there are now some scientifically proven reasons why smoking causes chronic back pain:
- Smoking affects the areas of the brain that are involved in habit forming and addiction. The brain activity that is associated with resistance to chronic pain is stimulated by smoking. Smokers are more likely to develop chronic pain because their brain pathways to chronic pain are better connected.
Blood flow to the discs in your spine is restricted by smoking. Those discs are meant to cushion the vertebrae, and they degenerate faster in smokers.
Smokers are prone to coughing, and that can cause back pain.
Smoking blocks calcium absorption in the body, which slows bone growth and repair. Smokers are at a higher risk for osteoporosis and tiny fractures in the spine.
Studies show that when people quit smoking, these health risks are reduced. In time, calcium absorption resumes, as does blood flow to the spinal discs. If you experience chronic back pain and you smoke, quitting may help resolve your pain.
Back Pain Causes
There are several causes for back pain, but most of them come down to a structural issue in the spine. When a vertebra has even a tiny fracture, it is susceptible to causing pain. It could move out of place, rest on a nerve or cause the adjacent disc to become injured. If the vertebra becomes unbalanced, it might put more pressure on one side of the disc. If the pressure on the disc becomes too lopsided, the disc could slide out of position.
In addition to running through the middle of the spinal column, nerves run from the spinal cord out from between the vertebrae and to other areas of the body. Any movement of the vertebrae or discs threatens to pinch a nerve. Even if the movement is not permanent, the pain can cause inflammation, which will put more pressure on the nerves and increase the pain.
Because there are so many small structures in the spine, spine pain can have several causes. Knowing the cause of the pain helps determine what can be done to resolve it.
Spine Pain Assessment
Assessing the cause of spine pain begins with some basic information. By understanding where your back hurts and what type of pain it is, we can begin to figure out what is causing your pain. We also need to know how long you’ve had the pain, when it started, if you were injured and if you have other related symptoms.
With all of your information and a few diagnostic tests, we can present you with some treatment options for relieving your back pain. To get started, use our online pain assessment tool and schedule a consultation.
Arthritis, particularly of the hip, spine and shoulder, can be extremely painful and cause stiff joints. Whether you’re experiencing sharp, dull or burning pain or you feel extreme pressure, it can almost feel as if a boa constrictor is squeezing your joints. Because chronic arthritis pain is common, it can become frustrating and cause you distress.
That’s why exercise for arthritis sufferers is so important. It reduces joint pain, increases flexibility, improves strength and helps to combat fatigue. According to the Arthritis Foundation, exercise is one of the best things you can do for arthritis of the hip. Exercising helps support your hips by strengthening the muscles and maintaining range of motion. You can ease hip pain and reduce your chances of injury by stretching the tendons and muscles around your joint.
Those with shoulder arthritis know the limited mobility and severe pain of this condition can make physical activity a challenge. But, if you don’t exercise your shoulder, it can lead to joint instability, muscle atrophy, further joint degeneration and even potential adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder.) There are also some activities and exercises that are enjoyable and appropriate for spinal arthritis sufferers.
Surely, just thinking about swimming a few laps or walking around your neighborhood with painful, stiff joints might seem overwhelming. But you don’t have to swim like an Olympic competitor or run a marathon to reduce your arthritis symptoms. It only takes moderate exercise to potentially relieve your arthritis pain. Following proper exercising techniques is also crucial to preventing further arthritic damage.
This guide provides you with information about the benefits of exercising for arthritis sufferers, tips for exercising with arthritis and some interesting statistics about arthritis. Let’s start with some facts and figures about this common condition.
Interesting Arthritis Statistics
Everywhere you go, you’ll find individuals with arthritis. If you’re an arthritis sufferer, you know your condition not only impacts you, but often your employer and family as well, sometimes costing productivity, money and quality of life.
- There are approximately 350 million individuals with arthritis worldwide.
- In the United States alone, more than 50 million adults have been diagnosed with arthritis.
- By the year 2040, it’s anticipated that more than 78 million people will receive a diagnosis of arthritis.
- One-third of all working individuals have arthritis and are limited in the type of work they can perform, their ability to work and whether they can work full- or part-time.
- Each year, individuals with either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis miss around 172 million workdays combined.
- Each year, arthritis contributes to more than $156 billion in medical expenses and lost wages.
Knowing these statistics, wouldn’t you want to do something that can potentially improve your arthritis symptoms and quality of life?
Benefits of Exercise for Adults With Arthritis
The days when physicians tell people who have arthritis to “rest their joints” are long gone. Physicians now advise people with arthritis to be more physically active to help reduce their pain and improve mobility, mood, function and quality of life. Exercising with arthritis can enhance your fitness and health without hurting your joints.
Although nothing is permanent or guaranteed, with your current treatment program, exercise can:
- Help maintain the strength of your bones.
- Strengthen joint muscles.
- Help with weight control.
- Provide you with more energy all day long.
- Improve your balance.
- Help you sleep better.
- Enhance your quality of life.
You may think that exercise with arthritis leads to more stiffness and joint pain, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It’s the other way around. When you don’t exercise or get enough physical activity in your life, it can cause your joints to be stiffer. This is because your muscles and surrounding tissue need to be strengthened to maintain bone support. You weaken those supporting muscles when you don’t exercise, which creates additional stress on your joints.
Exercise for people with arthritis is just as important as it is for those without arthritis. In fact, studies have shown that low-impact, moderate-intensity physical activity helps improve your joint function and quality of life without worsening the severity or symptoms of your condition. Being physically active and exercising with arthritis can put off the onset of disability.
Many arthritis sufferers avoid exercising due to symptoms that can make it difficult to be active physically, coupled with unclear expectations of the benefits and a lack of understanding about the best types of exercise to do.
Levels of Exercise for People With Arthritis
The American College of Rheumatology recognizes three primary levels of exercise for arthritis: rehabilitative/therapeutic, leisure/recreational and elite/competitive. An optimal arthritis and exercise routine will have the right balance of all three:
- Leisure or Recreational Activities: These types of activities can range from swimming and cross-country skiing to walking and running. The proper way of doing them is to perform them in a safe and controlled manner that minimizes your risk of injury and doesn’t place a lot of stress on your joints. In many cases, you still need to incorporate therapeutic exercises as well.
- Rehabilitative or Therapeutic Exercises: These types of exercises are prescribed by your physical therapist or other health professionals. Rehabilitative or therapeutic exercises are designed to address specific joints and areas of your body that are affected by your arthritis, or surgery related to your arthritis. They are often the first step necessary if you’ve been inactive for some time, are experiencing joint pain, have restricted joint motion or are recovering from a joint replacement or another type of arthritis-related surgery.
- Elite or Competitive-Level Activities: These activities require greater training and skill and are performed at longer durations and higher intensities. It’s rare that individuals with arthritis can return to an elite or competitive level of physical activity, but some have. As a general rule, however, it’s not recommended that you exercise at competitive or elite levels if you have sport-related joint problems or inflammatory arthritis. If your arthritis is in its early stages and mild, you can talk with your physical therapist, rheumatologist or orthopedic specialist before continuing with this level of exercising.
Types of Exercises for Arthritis
Your physician, physical therapist or orthopedic specialist will suggest the best exercise for arthritis. This regime could include strengthening exercises, cardio, range-of-motion exercises and other physical activities.
You can look into the various types of exercise programs that might be held in health clubs, hospitals, libraries and clinics in your area. You can also reach out to your local Arthritis Foundation center for information, as they conduct exercise programs in many areas of the U.S.
Aerobic or cardio exercises help increase your overall fitness. They give you more energy and stamina, while helping control your weight and improving your cardiovascular health.
Low-impact cardio exercises are easier on your joints. They use your body’s large muscles in a rhythmic and repetitive manner, in addition to improving your lung, heart and muscle function. When you have arthritis, this form of exercise benefits your sleep, mood, weight control and general health.
Examples of cardio exercises include:
- Aquatic exercise
- Aerobic dance
- Stationary bikes
- Elliptical trainers
Moderate-intensity cardio activities are most effective when you perform them for at least 10 minutes per session and 150 minutes or more per week. However, even exercising a couple of days a week is much better for you than not exercising at all. If you’re able to exercise while carrying on a conversation, you could be at the moderate-intensity level of exercise, but you should consult with your physician first to be sure
Strengthening exercises help protect and support your joints and build strong muscles. A good example of a strengthening exercise that helps increase and maintain your muscle strength is weight training.
These robust exercises work your muscles a bit harder. As your muscles start to get stronger, it reduces stress and load on painful joints and provides you with greater joint support. Stronger muscles also help reduce bone loss from inactivity, inflammatory arthritis and certain medications, like corticosteroids. It also contributes to better function.
Examples of strengthening exercises include:
- Weight training with dumbbells, machines or weight cuffs
- Sit-ups, push-ups and other resistance exercises that use your body weight
- Working with resistance bands
- Shoveling, digging and other heavy gardening
- Different types of exercise classes
- Exercise videos on muscle strengthening
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend performing muscle-strengthening exercises a minimum of two days per week, some experts advise refraining from strengthening exercises on the same groups of muscles two days in a row. In other words, consider taking one day off between your strengthening workouts, and if your joints are swollen or painful, take a couple of extra days off.
Exercising places strain on your muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and joints. Rest days are helpful to allow your muscles to repair and your body to recuperate. And if you don’t allow your body to rest, you run a greater risk of injury.
Flexibility and Range-of-Motion Exercises
These types of exercises increase joint mobility to their fullest range of motion and relieve stiffness. Range-of-motion exercises are essential stretching and warm-up exercises to help preserve joint function. They should be performed before you begin any endurance or strengthening exercises, or engage in other types of physical activity. You can typically perform these exercises daily.
Examples of range-of-motion exercises include:
- Rolling shoulders back and forth
- Raising arms above your head
- Head turns
- Knee lifts
- Forward arm reach
- Back pat and rub
- Elbow bend and turn
With this group of exercises, you can condition your affected joints by gently bending and straightening your joints in a controlled manner. You stretch your joints progressively further with range-of-motion exercises until you can achieve and maintain near-normal or normal range. Range-of-motion exercises also are geared toward preserving function while maintaining comfort.
Balance exercises are another exercise and arthritis group of movements that are less recognized, but beneficial. They are also known as body-awareness exercises and include activities that enhance balance, posture, coordination, proprioception (joint position sense) and relaxation.
Although you can achieve these improvements with the other three forms of exercise above, specific exercises are often needed for problem areas. Yoga and tai chi are good examples of body-awareness exercises.
When arthritis affects your joints and surrounding muscles, or if you had a joint replaced, it often leads to impaired position awareness, coordination and balance, in addition to increasing your risk of falling. Your physician or physical therapist can recommend balance activities to help reduce your risk of injury and improve your overall function.
Examples of balance exercises include:
- Tai chi
- Side stepping
- Backward walking
- Toe-and-heel walking
- Standing on one foot
Combining a few of these balance activities in one routine can be beneficial.
Other Physical Activities
Any movement can help — regardless of how small it is. Daily activities like raking leaves or mowing your lawn can count as beneficial physical activities. But so do more enjoyable activities like walking your dog, playing golf or dancing.
Before Starting Your Exercise Routine
There are a few steps you should take before you start any exercise routine. These are included below.
Check With Your Physician
It’s important to let your physician, rheumatologist, orthopedic specialist or physical therapist know you’re going to begin an exercise routine. Your doctor might have you refrain from certain types of exercises due to your medical history.
You should consult with your physician about how hard and how long you should exercise, too. If you’re new to exercising, your doctor will probably have you start slowly and build up gradually, and not exceed a certain level of exercise. As mentioned above, he may also refer you to a specific program or certified professional trainer with experience in exercise for arthritis sufferers.
Set Modest Goals When Starting
Once you decide you’re ready to change your life and begin to exercise with arthritis, you may be unsure of how to start. If you have a big goal, such as losing 100 pounds, break it up into smaller, attainable goals you can work through and accomplish. This will help keep you motivated.
For example, if you set a goal to exercise 30 minutes a day, even if you break that 30 minutes into two 15-minute increments, you’ll still derive the benefit of the entire 30 minutes of activity. If going to the gym seems overwhelming when you’re first getting started, consider beginning your workout routine at home with an exercise DVD. This will help you get more active while boosting your confidence.
Beginning a new fitness routine can be challenging for anyone, especially those exercising with arthritis. This is understandable. But don’t allow fear to keep you from taking the steps that will help improve function and reduce your pain.
This is the time to get courageous. It will take time and effort, but the benefits of a regular workout routine will make it all worth it, especially when you can live a healthy, better-quality life. Make friends with other arthritis sufferers who are also embarking on this journey so you can encourage and inspire one another.
Modify as Needed
You will have good days where you feel great, and bad days where your arthritis symptoms, like stiffness, pain and fatigue, will be at their worst. Take a break on your bad days, but don’t quit exercising altogether, as that can worsen your arthritis symptoms. Try modifying your activities first before you take a break so you can remain as active as possible. Remember, any activity is better than no activity at all.
Modifying can include:
- Doing fewer repetitions of a particular exercise
- Slowing down the activity
- Ensuring the place you work out is safe
For instance, if you enjoy walking in your local park or neighborhood, just make sure the paths and sidewalks you take are well-lighted, level and free of obstructions. The last thing you want to do is trip and fall, causing more joint pain.
Good Techniques to Incorporate While Exercising
If it’s been awhile since you’ve been active, ease your joints into the activity slowly. You don’t want to worsen your joint pain and overwork your muscles by pushing too hard. Be aware of the techniques you use, as well. Bad techniques can also further damage.
Some techniques you should consider include:
- Perform low-impact exercises. Stick to low-impact exercises like recumbent or stationary bikes, exercising in water or using elliptical trainers. These all allow you to move, but reduce joint stress.
- Apply heat. You can apply heat treatments like hot packs, showering or warm towels around 20 minutes before you begin exercising to relieve pain and relax your muscles and joints.
- Use gentle movements. Warm up first by gently moving your joints. This would be a good time for your range-of-motion exercises before you step into your cardio or strength-training activities.
- Go slowly. Perform easy and slow movements when exercising. Take a break if you feel pain. Be aware of the type of pain which could indicate a problem, such as strong or sharp pain that’s not normal to you. If you notice any redness or joint swelling, slow down.
- Apply ice after exercise. After exercising, it’s a good idea to apply ice to your joints for around 20 minutes, particularly if you notice any swelling.
Never overexert yourself or put more stress on your joints with exercise that is too vigorous. Listen to your body. Always begin slowly, and gradually work your way up in intensity and length. You can expect some joint aching and soreness after exercise because of your arthritis, particularly in the first few weeks after starting a new exercise routine. However, sticking to your exercise routine can provide you with substantial, long-term pain relief.
What to Do If in Pain After Exercising
If you do experience pain while working out, there are healthy ways to manage it. These include:
- Reducing the duration (length of sessions) or frequency (days of the week) of your exercise program until you feel an improvement in your pain.
- Reducing the impact on your joints by changing the exercises you are performing (e.g., you can try water exercises instead of walking).
- Properly warming up before exercising and cooling down afterward.
- Sticking to a comfortable pace while exercising (if you can’t carry on a conversation during your routine, you may have to lower the pace).
- Wearing comfortable clothing and shoes.
Signs to Halt Exercising
The last section described things that you can do to minimize pain while exercising. However, there are also signs that you should stop what you’re doing and see your doctor. These signs include:
- Stabbing, sharp and constant pain
- Pain after exercise that lasts for more than a couple of hours or gets worse at night
- Pain that makes you limp
- Pain not relieved by hot/cold packs, rest or medication
- A significant increase in hot, red or swollen joints
Arthritis and exercise is not an impossible combination. Individuals with arthritis who stay active on a regular basis experience more energy, less pain, better day-to-day function and improved sleep. When your body is used to regular exercising, it can help keep you going when arthritis threatens to immobilize you. Still not convinced? Try it yourself. However, if you have persistent arthritis, give us a call at (855) 853-6542 to request a consultation with one of our doctors.
Back pain is a common problem that can develop as we age. It is often difficult to understand the cause of the pain, but it can keep you from doing the things you enjoy. In many cases, back pain that restricts your movement can worsen over time and lead to other health issues.
Types of Back Pain
The location and type of pain you experience can help determine the cause. Back pain is usually reported in any of these ways:
- Referred pain: A dull ache that moves around or turns up in different locations or with different intensity is a referred pain. The pain in your lower back that sometimes goes into your hip is an example of a referred pain.
- Axial pain: Usually localized to a particular muscle or muscle group, an axial pain can be dull or sharp. This type of pain may also come and go and is often related to a muscle strain.
- Radicular pain: Often accompanied by numbness or weakness, radicular pain tends to follow the path of the nerve. It may begin at the spine and radiate down the arm. Radicular pain is usually an intense or severe pain.
Chronic or recurring back pain can diminish your quality of life, sometimes without you even realizing what is happening. Ongoing pain affects your mood in subtle ways and can lead to depression if not addressed.
Understanding the Cause of Back Pain
Figuring out the cause of your back pain can reduce your stress and is the first step in resolving the pain. There are many causes of back pain, but here are some of the more common causes:
- Poor posture: Most people have some bad posture habits they continue to exercise throughout their lives. You may slouch in your chair, roll your shoulders forward when you stand or drag your heels a little when you walk. All these habits require some compensation from your spine. Over time, poor posture can damage your spine and cause pain.
- Over use: Weekend Warriors run into back pain all the time. You sit at a desk five days a week, and then on Saturday spend eight hours bending and crouching over your garden. The muscles you use on the weekend to swing your softball bat, shovel your walkway or hike the local nature trails are not well conditioned. When you overwork the muscles in your back, they become inflamed, pull on vertebrae and press on nerves.
- Heavy lifting: Carrying heavy packages, moving the refrigerator to clean under it, rearranging your furniture or picking up grandchildren can put an acute strain on your back and even cause a small tear in the ligaments. Lower back pain is often caused by these types of activities.
Regardless of what caused your back pain, it is important to have it evaluated and treated so it does not continue and slow you down anymore. Fill out our online form to schedule your appointment for a consultation with someone on our team of spine experts.
For those suffering with neck or back pain who are not ready – or do not qualify – for surgery, OLSS is proud to offer a safe and effective solution for our patients that doesn’t involve surgery or a long recovery period – Stem Cell Therapy.
OLSS’s stem cell therapy is a revolutionary, non-surgical treatment option for various spine conditions, including bulging discs, herniated discs, disc tears, disc degeneration, a pinched nerve, spinal stenosis, radiculitis, spinal tingling and numbness, and general lower back pain.