Three Effective Breathing Exercises for stress management, relaxation and better health

By Bijal Shah

Breathing is how every cell in our body gets oxygen. This oxygen passes through the bloodstream. At the cellular level, this helps in ATP formation and thus energy production. Breathing is one of the most important involuntary actions. Many times, we are not even aware of our breathing pattern. We only start paying attention to it when we realize we are not getting “enough air”, constantly “out of breath” (AKA SOB), or having difficulty breathing.  Consequently, this turns into a visit to a doctor or ER.   In my previous article, I discussed COPD, which is one of the major disorders that makes people feel out of breath.   Here, I want to discuss few strategies to perform breathing exercise correctly.

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Signs and symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

By Bijal Shah

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a respiratory disorder that decreases the efficiency of air moving in and out of lungs. This causes difficulty in breathing. In COPD, the airway in lung loses its normal shape and elasticity. COPD leads to many systemic problems as well. As per COPD foundation, COPD is an umbrella term that describes progressive lung diseases. It includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. Continue reading “Signs and symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)”

Ergonomics for Healthcare Professionals: Positioning for Different Surfaces

By Bijal Shah

I want to write about ergonomics for healthcare professionals not only because it is important to take care of our body, but it also plays a vital role in patients’ safety.  Proper body positioning is crucial to avoid injuries and to protect our patients. In addition, this allows us to assist our patients throughout the task to help them perform at their best.

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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!!”

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”

A therapist’s guide to Postural Analysis

By Bijal Shah

Understanding a patient’s posture is a major goal for a Physical Therapist for many conditions.  A physical therapist performs postural analysis or posture assessment to determine proper anatomical alignment or posture to identify any abnormalities.   A proper/ normal posture ensures an even balance of the body and prevents a specific set of core muscles from getting overworked.   You may have heard about poor posture or an incorrect posture, and I also published a series of articles talking about different stretches to correct the upper body posture (neck, scapula, and chest).  Physical therapists always look for abnormalities to determine the imbalances that need a fix.

Our body is amazing, it automatically finds a way to compensate for a weakness, imbalance or pain. It starts favoring one side vs other, or few muscles vs others. When this happens, our posture gradually changes. Over time, this becomes obvious. In addition, using few muscles more than other starts to become uncomfortable and painful.  The postural imbalance also causes problems like a muscle spasm, and or bony changes (in chronic cases).

So, let’s talk about what a correct or ideal posture looks like.

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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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7 Simple Stretches to Relieve Back Pain

By Bijal Shah

The aim of this article is to talk about some important stretches for low back pain.  I talked about Sciatic nerve pain as well as low back pain in my previous articles.   In this article, I focus on combination stretching exercises to reduce sciatica pain as well as low back pain.   The stretches below will help alleviate the pain on both left and right side.  So let’s get started!!

Stretching exercises are necessary in many ways. An athlete needs to stretch his/her muscles prior and after any workout. A recreational player needs stretching to avoid any DOMS (Delayed onset of Muscle Soreness). A person who is exercising to gain muscle strength also needs to stretch the muscles after his exercise regime. A person suffering from injury or back pain stretches the muscles just to feel better.    No matter what level a person is at for exercises, they need to stretch the muscles. Stretching is done for whole body and all muscles.

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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”

Effects of Exercise on Body – Importance of being Active

By Bijal Shah
Effects of Exercise

I talk about what kind of exercise we should do with different pathology. I often discuss about exercises as a prevention method. In this website, I also wrote few articles on career development for physical therapists and student physical therapists. What I still have to do is, to talk about effects of exercises!! Why do we need to work hard to do something called “exercise or work out” (unless you are like me who enjoys that sweaty hour followed by body ache!). What does exercise do to our body, bones, muscles, soft tissues etc.. Important to know isn’t it? So here is to the main effects of exercise.

Effects of Exercise on our body

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