Two isometric exercises for low back pain

By Bijal Shah

In my previous article, I talked about isometric exercises for hips and knees. Here, I want to discuss two major isometric exercises for low back pain, which greatly help in dealing with lower back pain.   Some of the more complex isometric exercises are planks, push-ups, or holding certain yoga poses.  However, They are more strenuous and intense exercises that should be performed by a healthy person with proper guidance.  The two basic isometric exercises that are demonstrated in this article can be used in the acute stages of lower back pain or lower back injury.    Continue reading “Two isometric exercises for low back pain”

Five Hip Exercises to Increase Muscle Strength

By Bijal Shah

Hip pain is becoming very common. This pain can originate from several sources like arthritic changes, weakness of muscles, some recent or history of the labrum or ligament tears, postoperative pain and weakness. Hip discomfort can also occur if one is constantly using wrong positions while walking, sitting, standing or exercising. In this article, I am going to discuss some important hip exercises. The article is aimed to discuss general exercises for the hip. Remember, I am not discussing any diagnosis specific exercises here rather these are strengthening exercises concentrating hip to reduce pain, increase mobility and flexibility. Continue reading “Five Hip Exercises to Increase Muscle Strength”

Four Isometric Exercises to Reduce Hip and Knee Pain

By Bijal Shah

Isometric exercises help reduce pain and improve mobility in cases like arthritis, hip pain, and knee pain. This is the first exercise that a PT will perform to assess muscle strength and level of pain. Therefore, Isometrics are not only important as pre-operative measures but also help in speedy recovery after injury or surgery. The key with isometric exercise is to have no visible movement.  Basically, you are trying to contract a muscle and hold that contraction for few seconds in a pain-free range. Gradually, you should be able to hold the contraction for a longer period and perform a stronger contraction – this is how it progresses.   My previous article described isometric exercises in detail.  In this article, I am going to discuss important isometric exercises for hip and knee pain.  Isometric exercises that help in hip and knee pain are quads,  hip abduction and adduction, hip flexion, and hip extension.  I’ll explain each exercise in detail below. Continue reading “Four Isometric Exercises to Reduce Hip and Knee Pain”

Tips to Treat Pinched Median Nerve: Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

By Bijal Shah

Overview of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)/Pinched Median Nerve

Carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS is caused by a pinched nerve in the carpal tunnel.    Physical Therapists use various stretches and exercises to help treat and prevent CTS, which is also the most common form of median nerve impingement.  The goal for CTS or pinched median nerve exercises is to stretch the (wrist and finger) flexors and strengthen the (wrist and finger) extensors.  In this post, I am going to discuss both in detail, which should help alleviate symptoms related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome .

Carpal Tunnel

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

By Bijal Shah

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or CTS?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is the most frequent and well known median nerve compression. Carpal tunnel is an anatomical compartment (canal) bounded by bones of the wrist and transverse ligament (thick fibrous bend). The median nerve passes through this canal along with few other tendons and goes to fingers. Any conditions, that causes an increase in pressure in this tunnel, can push/squeeze/impinge the nerve inside this tunnel. This, in turn, brings symptoms like numbness, tingling, inability to hold or grasp an object etc.. This is called carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS.

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Shoes – How To Find That Perfect Fitting Pair!!

By Bijal Shah

Shoe market is wide and with many options available that are concentrating on fashion, comfort, and durability. When we shop for shoes, it is little difficult to get all three in one pair without knowing what to look for. Selection of shoes can become much easier if we know what to consider and what to avoid. Knowing our foot types is a plus as shoe selection will differ widely based on the type of foot and arch.

A proper pair of footwear makes day to day life easy and less painful. Besides, it absorbs the shock and protects the feet. An improper pair of shoes, worn for long period of time, can cause malformation, discomfort or pain in feet, legs or back. This can lead to other health problems or an inability to continue to perform the required daily function!! Most of the time, people just look for either comfort or fashion depending on occasion they are using the shoe for. Continue reading “Shoes – How To Find That Perfect Fitting Pair!!”

Plantar Fasciitis – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

By Bijal Shah

Plantar Fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain caused by an injury to the Plantar fascia.  The heel pain that results from micro tears and inflammation of the fascia is referred to as plantar fasciitis.  Physical Therapy can play a part in treatment and help relieve the pain resulting from Plantar Fasciitis.

What is Plantar fascia?

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue at the sole of the foot that makes up the arch of the foot.  Furthermore, It is the largest ligament of the body connecting the base of toes to the heel bone. As per research, females are more prone to injure their plantar fascia as compared to males. Usually, an overuse injury causes inflammation in this fibrous band.

 

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Ergonomics of Driving – Tips to prevent injury

By Bijal Shah

So why do we need to have ergonomics for driving? for most of us, driving our car is the way we can be independent. Driving makes us able to go to the places we want to go, see people we care for and be a part of the community we live in. It is crucial for one’s well-being socially and mentally. Physical, cognitive and sensory changes can challenge our ability to drive safely. The story does not end only due to changes in our abilities. I am sure many of you may have had experiences of back pain, neck pain, leg pain or shoulder pain after a long day and ended up stuck in the traffic for few hours. This is a challenge even for a healthy individual. In this part of ergonomics series, I want to discuss proper positioning and how to get to that positioning while driving.

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Snow Shoveling Safety Tips – Ergonomics to Minimize Risk Of Injury

By Bijal Shah

I recently did tips on carrying heavy objects. Today I want to discuss some do’s and don’ts about snow shoveling. Every year, a scary data or articles releases about injuries and disabilities due to snow shoveling. Just carrying heavy wet snow itself is bad. But here, I am talking about carrying and moving this snow for an hour or two a day and for few months during winter (depending on your geographical area). A study looking at data from 1990 to 2006 by researchers at the US Nationwide Children’s Hospital recorded 1,647 fatalities from cardiac-related injuries associated with shoveling snow. In Canada, these deaths make the news every winter. Snow shoveling is particularly strenuous because it uses arm work, which is more taxing than leg work. Straining to move wet and heavy snow is particularly likely to cause a surge in heart rate and blood pressure.

Good thing is, we can prevent this happening just by changing our position and using appropriate protective devices.

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Ergonomics when Lifting and Carrying Heavy Objects – Tips to prevent injury

By Bijal Shah

This is a part 2 of series on using proper ergonomics in everyday life. In this article, I am going to share important tips on carrying heavy objects.  You end up carrying heavy objects on many occasions without even thinking about it. Think about chores done around the house like carrying a toddler, carrying groceries inside the house, lifting a load of laundry, lifting heavy objects at work, etc. The list is long and can go on and on. In fact, as a PT, I see several cases of sprains and strains due to lifting or carrying heavy objects. This usually involves back, shoulder or wrist etc. The injury not only causes pain but also results in loss of workdays, family, and finance related stress. No one wants that, right? We need to take care of our body and use proper ergonomics all time, every time.  So, let’s talk about how to avoid injury by using proper ergonomics.

ergonomics - lifting and carrying heavy objects

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Ergonomics of Sitting at a Computer Desk – Guide To Prevent Injury

By Bijal Shah

Correct ergonomics for any position is crucial.  If not addressed, an incorrect posture can cause pain, injury and chronic deformities. The data from Bureau of labor shows 1/3rd of occupational injuries occur from work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), for which employers pay an estimated 15 to 20 billion dollars each year for workman’s compensation. This also results in workers losing work days, extra labor, losing deadlines for projects, etc. Plus, it causes some chronic pain that a person has to suffer through. These are scary numbers, however, with the right techniques, most of these injuries can be prevented!! This is the aim of this series. To help people find a better fit for their work environment, avoid MSD and chronic pain.

I discussed the importance of a proper posture in my previous article. If you are one of the regular readers of this blog, you may have also read about how to analyze a posture.  Here, I want to talk about proper positioning while doing different activities. Essentially, your do’s and don’ts with different motions.  For instance, sitting in front of a computer for long hours, lifting and carrying heavy objects, reading a book or watching television etc. The technical term of word ergonomics means a study of work. Per OSHA, it is defined as designing a workplace to fit a person’s body. And not making a person fit to design. Yes, it is a personal customization of your surroundings!! The first part of this series is ergonomics for sitting in front of a desk like a computer or a television.   Continue reading “Ergonomics of Sitting at a Computer Desk – Guide To Prevent Injury”

Posture Correction: Scapula movements

By Bijal Shah

Scapula or shoulder blades play a pivotal part in maintaining a proper posture.  In turn, movements and stretching of the scapula are crucial for posture correction.   No one likes to see a tall healthy person with rounded shoulder or humped back. Yes, if there is a medical issue and it is not fixable than that is a different story.  But, a healthy person will not make a good impression (especially the first one) with poor posture.

This is the last article in series of neck, chest and upper back movements to correct posture.  Previous articles talked about chest and neck exercises and stretch.  This article will focus on the Scapula or shoulder blade.

There are many muscles that stabilize the scapula or shoulder blade.  Some of them are deep, some are very small muscles. Some muscles are hard to get to by a massage therapist or even a physical therapist due to its position. Yet all of the muscles involved in scapula movement are equally important.  Imbalance of these muscles can result in pain on the upper back, poor posture, etc.

scapular muscles

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Chest Stretches for Posture Correction

By Bijal Shah

Chest stretches and opening exercises are useful in improving the breathing pattern, correct muscle imbalance, and boost proper posture.  Moreover, chest stretches also help relieve stress and help relax the body.  Stretching exercises are usually pleasant if done correctly following expert guidelines. Lengthening a shortened or tightened muscle also relieves muscle tension and reduces pain.

 

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Posture Correction: Neck Stretches and Isometric Exercises

By Bijal Shah

Proper posture is very important. It’s been said that the “first impression is the last impression”. I know it may not be true 100% but your first impression plays a vital role in several things. The way you carry yourself carries around 70 % to 80% of weight in that first impression. So, I want to dedicate a series of articles on postural correction exercises. I am going to talk about upper body posture and exercises for neck, chest and upper back in this series. Neck exercises are important to reduce neck pain, tightness and to improve posture. In this era of computers and phones, many of us are constantly in front of a screen, which creates either forward head posture or computer neck.  I want to dedicate this article to all the computer savvy readers whose neck is working overtime hours (with no bonus)!!

neck exercises

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Seven Knee Exercises to Improve Strength

By Bijal Shah

I talked about Knee arthritis in detail in my previous article.   Today, I want to discuss important knee exercises.  The aim of exercises for arthritis is mainly to ease the (knee) pain and increase muscle strength.   If the muscles surrounding a joint are strong than your joints are protected and well cushioned. A person is less likely to put more force on a joint when he or she has strong muscles. This is not only true for knee arthritis but works similarly for pain, tendon or ligaments tear, any post and pre-operative surgery of a joint etc.. Exercise is your answer. Remember, there are thousands (not literally of course) different exercises you can do for knee and there are a million modifications (again no literally) can be made in positions, adding weight or not, making it more challenging vs not. The aim here is to discuss the most important exercises for the knee. These are kind of your MUST DO to achieve higher strength and reduce pain. So let’s start!! Continue reading “Seven Knee Exercises to Improve Strength”