We’re seeing more and more people itching to get back out on the trails as spring approaches. This can mean that we will start to see a lot of people coming in with hip pain or hip injuries…

If you’ve taken the winter off from running – be careful when jumping right back in. We recommend you prepare for running season again with some basic strength training exercises to keep yourself injury free!

In the video below, Jaime takes us through 3 exercises that we use to treat hip injuries. These exercises cover mobility, strength, and endurance.

First, you need good flexibility or range of motion. Exercise 1 above is called “the couch stretch.” Make sure your hips are square, your pelvis is tucked, and your glutes are engaged. Do this exercise morning and night.

Second, you need strength and control through that range of motion. The second move focuses on hip extensor strength and power. It also engages the core, and uses rotational control in the hip. Do these 3x a week while watching TV!

Third, you need endurance. This last exercise is a single-leg dead life variation. It focuses on hip control and endurance.  It integrates the whole limb – some people will feel it even more in the feet and ankles than in the hip! You can do these 3x a week – hold for 20 seconds and repeat 3-6 times on each side. If you’d like to wake up the hip a little before a run, you can also use this one as a warm up!

Each of these exercises starts with basic movement, but has variations that you can build to as you gain strength. Watch Jaime’s video above for a demonstration of each variation, and tips on how to get the most out of these exercises.

Shoveling SnowWinter is upon us and now our driveways and sidewalks are covered in snow. It’s a good time to consider how your snow shoveling routine may be impacting your physical health. The most common injuries associated with snow shoveling include sprains and strains, particularly to the back and shoulders.

There are a couple things to keep in mind as the winter season finally hits us:

  1. What snow shovel is best for me?

    • When purchasing a snow shovel a few things to look for include; the height of the shovel, the overall weight of the shovel, the width of the blade, and the shape of the handle.
      • Not too short and not too long: use a shovel that allows you to keep your back straight
      • A lighter shovel (plastic vs metal blades or fiberglass vs wood shafts) will also decrease the amount of stress placed on your back, as the snow can be plenty heavy on its own
      • A smaller blade will decrease the amount of snow removed at one time, but will lessen the load and the amount of strain on your back
      • Bent-shaft vs straight-shaft handle: a bent-shaft snow shovel can likely reduce lower back stress as it decreases the amount of motion required by the back
  2. How should I shovel?

    • When going outside to shovel, there are a few things to remember:
      • Warm-up before going out
        • A warm body/muscles work better. Your warm-up should include 5-10 minutes of light aerobic activity to get your blood moving, followed by gentle stretching.
      • Maintain good stable posture
        • Pay attention to your posture. Stand with your feet hip width apart and staggered. Hold your shovel close to your body.
        • Space hands apart to increase leverage. Bend from your knees and hips, not your back.
        • Make sure you tighten your stomach muscles and avoid twisting while lifting (push snow rather than lift if possible).
        • Preferably walk to dump snow, but if throwing, throw forward and step in the direction that you are throwing.
      • Pace yourself
        • Shovel for 5-7 minutes and rest 2-3 minutes. Start slow and continue at a slow pace. When snow is deep, shovel small amounts 1-2 inches at a time. New snow is lighter than packed/partially melted snow, so it’s better to get out early and more often.

Ultimately, TRY before you BUY. Make sure the shovel fits you and your body. And always warm up before going out! Try to avoid excessive motion to your low back by using your legs and hips more. And don’t forget to take rest breaks!


Sources

https://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resources/Detail/snow-shoveling

https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/public-safety-alerts/safety-tips-prevention/home-high-rise-school-workplace-safety/snow-shovelling/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23845725

My Knees HurtWe get this question all the time. “I’m in my 40’s and want to exercise but the next day I am miserable” or “I played tennis and basketball and now my knees are really sore” or “I can’t go upstairs easily, and I’m really sore when I’m sitting for any length of time.” You may think you need knee surgery or to have a knee replacement to get this pain to go away. But this is not necessarily true. Let’s take a look at your options.

Why do my knees hurt?

Before we talk about why we hurt, we need to talk about normal anatomy first. Our knee joint contains 2 parts: the tibial/femoral joint and patellofemoral joint. The tibial/femoral joint connects the femur and the tibia together and the patellofemoral joint is the kneecap in front. We have different ligaments that connect the bones together, and a meniscus that sits between the tibia and the femur. These can get injured with trauma. The biggest thing that we have on each part of the bone is called articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is usually what wears away with age and intense physical activity. It acts as a coating for our joints just like coating on our pots and pans when we cook to protect food from sticking. As we age the articular cartilage wears down and can start to cause pain. (Ahh=articular cartilage – that’s the reason why I hurt!) So, here is the question I always get: should I stop exercising? The answer is NO – that will do the opposite of help in this situation. Instead, there are things we can do to hopefully keep you from needing surgery. Staying active with Physical Therapy is very important. With the right treatment plan and exercises, we can help you get back on track.

What can PT do to help?

There are a number of things that Physical Therapy can do to help those achy knees. Here are a few:

  • Manual Therapy – our focus is on unloading the knee and taking pressure off your joints
  • Exercises that won’t aggravate the knee
    • these include hip drills: clams, clam lifts, band walks, RDLs, planks, etc (we give examples of these on social media and in our monthly recommended exercises)
    • try to avoid exercises that will aggravate the knee (deep squatting, stepping down from something, etc)
  • Wearing a Knee Sleeve – this can be helpful during activity to keep your knee warm and calm down your symptoms
  • Taping – this is a great way to help your symptoms as well
    • we can be specific to just your kneecap, or your tibial/femoral joint too, depending on the areas affected

If you have knee pain and have been avoiding getting treatment/diagnosis, come see us. Our job is to get you back to where you belong – as quickly as possible! Schedule an appointment here.