Category Archives: Health

Sore Feet? Maybe It is Due to Weak Foot Muscles!

All of us have more than likely experienced sore feet at one time or another. It could have been due from wearing those beautiful tight stilettos sported at a party, or from running that first 150 triathlon. Or maybe there is a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis? The reasons are varied. But, how many think of the main cause of foot soreness is from weak foot muscles!

The recent 2018 International Fascial Congress held in Berlin Germany, Dr. Daniel Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology and Chair, Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, brought up very interesting concepts of plantar fasciitis. One of the many areas of studies Dr. Lieberman is involved in, revolves around studying the evolution of human movement; and, how evolution of human movement has changed over time. He also studies how different groups of peoples in the world move today.

His insights of walking and running in relation to the foot, and the plantar fascia are strikingly interesting. To boil down just one piece of information from his wonderful and engaging talk is that our western society culture of how we live and work is a contributor to weakened intrinsic foot muscles (the deeper muscles of the foot), that, in turn, places undo stress and work on the plantar fascia. Think about it: most of western society wears shoes. Many types and styles of shoes restrict and constrict how the smaller intrinsic muscles of the foot work. This limitation reduces their ability and strength.

Studies continue to indicate how shoes can alter how the foot functions as a whole. Because of the many moving joints in the foot and ankle, altered muscle firing patterns will place altered stresses on various joints. Most of which we do not feel while we are young, but certainly begin to experience the total effects as we age.

And, while there are a multitude of reasons for sore feet as mentioned earlier, the best two methods to begin to combat sore feet are: 1.) Exercising the intrinsic muscles of the feet and toes and 2.) choose your shoes wisely.

There are many exercises for the feet to choose from on the internet: suffice to say, ensure that any exercises you do, do not cause pain or increase any pain you may have. If that happens, please contact a health care provider such as a physical therapist or chiropractor that know feet to help you.

For choosing the best shoe, of course that depends on what you will do when wearing those shoes. Steel toes shoes are typically difficult, in that the steel or composite cap does not match up to the toe joints as the foot advances. Sneaker type of steel toe shoes, may not give the distance between the foot and the concrete to sufficiently reduce the ground reaction forces from the concrete.

RECAP:
Exercise your feet!

Choose your shoes to fit what you will do!
Call us for more information on strengthening your feet!

1.) Nicholas B. Holowka, et al.
Foot strength and stiffness are related to footwear use in a comparison of minimally- vs. conventionally-shod populations.

2.) Elizabeth E. Miller, et al.
The effect of minimal shoes on arch structure and intrinsic foot
muscle strength

Low back pain is a symptom of other musculoskeletal disorders

How Does the Range of Motion of All of Our Joints Really Affect Us?

Morning movement and stretch programs can do more for you than you think.

Low back pain is common and often misdiagnosed.

Points to changing how you move.

It does not matter what we do for work, outside of work, or where we are, movement is key to doing anything.  Even static positions are movement.  Muscles must attain a certain level of synchronized firing or you would not have the ability to sit.  Anyone that has even minimal neurological deficits understands this. This truth is never more important than as we age!

Certain joints are designed to provide stability, while other joints promote mobility.  Ball and socket joints are more mobile, while hinge joints such as the elbow and knee are more for stability.   In the diagram below, you can see alterations between stable and mobile from one joint to the next.

Some joints promote stability, others mobilityThe lumbar spine (low back) should be more stable, but because of hip or thoracic joint movement limitations, the low back must become the more mobile part.  In these cases, chronic low back pain and injury result. Looking at the model, “S” meaning stable and “M” meaning mobile, notice that the S’s and M’s alternate.  Now further look and compare between the model’s right side: “How We Should Be,” and the model’s left side: “How Most of Us Are.” One joint limitation can impact all other joints—not only how they move but more importantly their job function!

Also notice that if the hip range of motion becomes limited—stable—then the knee, a hinge joint that is considered stable, becomes more mobile.

The approach to morning stretch/movement programs and work place wellness programs linked below begin to address this.

https://www.functionalmovement.com/Articles/848/why_your_back_is_often_the_victim_not_the_culprit

 

3 WAYS A COMPANY CAN DEMONSTRATE COMMITMENT TO ITS MOST VALUABLE ASSET

I have been reading lately more and more articles on LinkedIn and other sites about what is truly most important in a company.   Oleg Vishnepolsky, CTO of the Daily Mail and Metro.Co.Uk posted an interesting experience that gave opportunity for thinking and changing his actions titled, “Your most important assets are not your clients, it’s your loyal employees.  If you take of your employees, they will take care of your clients."  Then there is Brigette Hyacinth, writer and author about working relationships in companies, who posted on LinkedIn a similar topic, “Why You Should Put Employees, Not Customers, First!”   Great articles to remind us that employees are individuals with high value.

And while this topic is not new, why are there so many articles and books on this topic?  It is obvious that there is a truth behind the saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care." This is an excellent company mantra.  For employees are, at the very least, two things to a company:  1) a company’s largest operating expense, and 2), a company’s largest and most valuable resource.  It is, therefore, critical for company executives to be the leaders in the manner they treat employees directly under them, as well as initiating programs that are powerful in the statement of how much a company cares for their employees.  The business we’re in—preventing employee injuries through a multitude of proven methods—is a demonstrable way to say to all employees that the company cares.   The benefits are two sided and valued by all recipients.

You may be able to visualize how the company can and should demonstrate outwardly their appreciation of employees, yet need a few easy methods to begin to institute and grow that care.   Below are three methods that can be used that will send a strong message to your employees about company commitment to them.

  1. Develop and start a strong daily stretch and movement routine. 

Companies that already have morning stretch programs in use, take stock.  It is quite possible that revamping and improving the program is in order.  For companies that have never started a morning stretch program, this method will be a welcomed employee experience.

Why?  Morning stretch and move programs provide not only physical flexibility and protection against injury, but daily educational moments as well.   Executives and managers can use this time with employees to improve their knowledge of physical movement and  fitness.  Not all individuals will have the same knowledge base, and this is an opportunity to bring everyone on the team to the same basic level of understanding.

  • For educational background, our bodies really do not stretch the way we may think of when the word “stretch” is used. Yes, there are elastic components in the tissues, but, overall, the tissues inside the human body slide and glide over each other. In addition, static stretches—the most commonly used type of stretch in many morning routines—should be replaced with what is known as dynamic stretches, or in Physical Performance Solutions parlance, specific movements.
  • Research shows that static stretches used prior to highly repetitious or ballistic movements can actually slow down the muscle firing process in the body for a short period of time.
    • To turn a static stretch into a dynamic stretch, make the stretch more of a movement rather than holding the end position.
    • This type of movement increases the blood and oxygen flow throughout the body, therefore mimicking larger movement patterns that maybe similar to the movements used in the work station.
    • Also add movements that are the opposite of what is used in the workstations. Why? For example, if gripping electric drills all day is a common task, the forearm muscles, both flexors and extensors, become fatigued well before the worker notices fatigue or stiffness. Teaching workers how to move body parts in the opposite direction helps to encourage and facilitate the tissue glide that is normal in the body.
  • Develop and encourage employees to use these movements all throughout the workday. Research in this area repeatedly shows that altering movements is beneficial to tissues of the body in maintaining a proper tissue motion.
  1. Institute a mentoring program for all employees.

In physical labor positions, many employees would like to step up and have the opportunity to expand their skills, yet feel that it’s not possible.  Starting a mentoring program at this level is just as important as mentorship programs that may exist in management or elsewhere in the company.

Mentorships here can take on many forms and be kept simple.  You might consider a reverse mentoring program.   An example of reverse mentoring can be an employee mentoring a production manager on the assembly line.  Managers aren't doing the work, so they may be missing some important elements that the frontline worker can see.   More importantly, the relationship between a mentor and mentee is something that can foster respect across departments and job titles:  a benefit that money can’t buy.

Another example of reverse mentoring is to couple an older employee with a younger employee.  These methods help to increase the knowledge base across the workforce and build mutual respect.  This reverse hierarchal mentoring is also shown to increase trust, understanding and engagement across departments and across a company’s entire organizational structure.  Additionally, reverse mentoring is a positive method for gaining an accurate pulse of the culture of the company.

Developing a mentorship program:   A H A moments:    Agree,   Hunger,  Appreciate

  • Agree. Each party needs to define their goals. What are the expectations? Both individuals need to agree to these and any additional rules as the mentorship program is designed.  Defining goals and expectations ahead of time helps the two to help each other gain the knowledge each one would like to gain.  This helps to increase communication skills for both parties and certainly increases the work relationship.
  • Hunger. To learn! At certain times, even the mentor will become the mentee.  Especially in reverse types of mentorship programs, both parties are learning new information as they share their ideas and concerns.  All of this helps satisfy each participant’s hunger to grow.
  • Appreciate. Appreciation comes from the new knowledge and perspective that was shared. As I mentioned earlier,  no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.   In mentorships, the building of new relationships builds a new level of acknowledgement and appreciation.  That appreciation can result for many reasons.  The salient point is that more individuals within the company now have a greater depth of awareness—interdepartmentally, intra-departmentally, and across the company’s organizational structure as a whole.  Engagement will increase for the company as a whole.  And, as a whole, the company will succeed! Because more and more employees will be on the same team.
  1. Utilize specific employee surveys.

Employee surveys are not new.  Most medium to large companies use employee surveys to gain insight on what is important to employees in aggregate and also to address specific areas of concerns for individual employees.  We suggest a specific type of survey that will be used to impact the first two suggestions we’ve laid out here:  morning stretch and movement programs, and mentorships.   Via integrating the responses from this more specific survey, these two well-known methods can evolve, stay fresh, and engage employees, thereby becoming a true demonstration of the company’s appreciation of and care for its most valuable asset.

Your Time in the Gym Can Be Bad for Your Health!

Your Time at the Gym, on the Bike or on Your Horse Can Be Bad for Your Health

Your Time in the Gym Can Be Bad for Your Health!Finally, data analysts and orthopedic surgeons have gotten together to conduct a study of cervical injury across the United States, with a particular focus on sports-related injuries.  The findings of the study were presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Guess what?  Football is bad for your neck! No surprise there.  In sporting related neck injuries, the study found that football leads as the most common cause of neck sprains in men.

But unexpectedly, the study revealed that the most common cause for cervical fractures in men is cycling injuries.  The study’s lead author J. Mason DePasse, MD, orthopedic trauma surgery fellow at Brown University, stated that “the biggest takeaway was that cycling is the number one cause of neck fractures, which suggests we may need to investigate this in terms of safety."

For women, weightlifting and aerobic exercise were the leading causes of cervical sprains, along with trampoline and cheerleading.  Cervical fractures for women occurred primarily during horseback riding, followed by cycling and time in the pool diving or swimming.

The study was conducted using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database. The database is managed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and collects information on emergency room patients from 100 U.S. hospitals.  27,546 patients who sustained a neck injury during a sporting activity were identified in the database by using data analytics to sift through 50,000 specific cases.

"Cervical spine injury is a substantial cause of morbidity and mortality, and, as far as injuries go, one of the more devastating injuries that we as orthopaedic surgeons can treat," said lead study author J. Mason DePasse, MD, orthopaedic trauma surgery fellow at Brown University.

From 2000 to 2015, the study found that neck sprains increased 66% during weightlifting and aerobic exercise.  The very things we’re doing to keep us strong and healthy turn out to be a major cause of pain and debilitation.  Take those injuries into work with you, and your woes will likely be compounded.

So, what can you do to reduce your chances of sustaining exercise-related neck injuries and pain?

  • According to Harvard Health, maintaining core strength is key. "If your core muscles aren't strong, your neck and shoulder muscles will be overworked," according to Dana Kotler, instructor in physical medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Once you strengthen your core muscles, everything falls into line a little better. It has an effect similar to adding a pillow to support your back." Also, we are now learning that muscles will remember incorrect firing patterns, which create movement dysfunction patterns. This dramatically increases risk for injury - even during exercise.
  • Harvard Health also recommends creating awareness of and correcting your posture when performing any exercise to avoid neck pain and reduce your chance of injury. Checking your posture when performing particular tasks at both home and work can help, too. To be redundant, posture patterns are movement patterns too. It is actually more important to focus on increasing your posture awareness to correct movement patterns that improve your flexibility and create better muscle firing patterns than your exercising. If you are exercising incorrectly, you are inadvertently increasing your risk for soft tissue injuries, including joints. Health care professionals trained in this area are your target contacts to help you to correct posture and movement pattern dysfunctions.
  • A study conducted by Denmark's National Research Centre for the Working Environment found that using three particular strength-building exercises using weights—shoulder shrugs, upright rows and reverse flies—can reduce neck pain by 80% in less than three months, according to Prevention. The other side of the coin is that too many of these exercises that isolate muscles without looking at the whole leads to shoulder movement pattern dysfunction. Some of the problems with "exercises" is that we are looking at parts instead of the whole system: the body.
  • Lastly, each of us is aging. Whenever you engage in a sporting activity, keep in mind that your body is changing and a different approach to exercise may be required over time. But, please!  Don’t stop exercising!  Your cells are aging, too, and a recent study in Preventative Medicine concluded that high levels of physical activity help curb and even reverse cellular aging as well as sarcopenia, or muscle loss.
Professional Early Symptom Intervention

Early Symptom Intervention (ESI) & Its Benefits

What is Early Symptom Intervention, or ESI, and how can both employers and employees benefit by focusing on it?

Waiting too long to address an employee discomfort issue is no doubt a contributing reason to why organizations find themselves trying to cover missed shifts, dealing with FMLA forms, watching their employees suffer, and blowing budgets.

Whether it’s the employee’s delay or our own, the outcome is the same: pain that finally insists on being dealt with, often at great expense to all involved. Continue reading

Static Sitting and Correct Posture

To Fix Forward Head Posture, You May Need to Look at Your “Ass”ets….

My name is Kim Romaner, and I’m the blog editor for Physical Performance Solutions.  Today I’ll be interviewing CEO Lori Peacock on correcting Forward Head Posture, or FHP.

I have to admit that I’m conducting this interview on a somewhat personal basis, because many years ago I had a pretty bad car accident that left me with a bunch of neck and back issues. I also work on a computer for a great portion of my day (maybe you do, too!), and I find myself constantly correcting my posture as I realize that my shoulders have slumped forward, my chin is up and my head is back, which is absolutely the worst posture in the world for me.

I’ve read an enormous amount of material, online and off, on how to correct this, but it didn’t really work for me on a consistent basis until Lori straightened me out. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with neck and back pain, then take a read. I’m sure you’ll find it helpful.

Two Wrong Chair PosturesKim: Hi, Lori!  Thanks for taking some time to talk today.

Lori: Always a pleasure, Kim!

Kim: So, as you know, my neck hurts quite a bit due to a long-ago injury combined with my daily work habits.  I sit a lot, I use a computer constantly, I might be set up ergonomically well or not, etcetera.

Lori: Welcome to 99% of the world! They’re now saying that sitting is the new cancer; that is, cancer risk dramatically increases the more time you spend in a sitting position. This is, unfortunately, the case for many, and it’s a challenging problem to solve.

Kim: It has been for me.  The “experts” say that you need to keep your head in a neutral position.  My problem has been, I couldn’t ever really tell when my head was in a neutral position.

Lori: Most people can’t. Learning to feel what your body is doing does not come naturally to most people.  And for one person it will feel one way, and for another, a different way.  This is one of my pet peeves about reading all of the how-to’s on the Internet and watching instructional YouTube videos.  Many people learn to perform the wrong, unintended move.

Kim: So, I read online that I’m supposed to push my chin forward and back in an exaggerated way. How does that help?

Posture Appearances are Deceiving

 

 

Lori: Well…resolving a forward head posture doesn’t necessarily begin with the head.  We need to look at the whole body first.  All things being equal, and the individual does not have a skeletal challenge, such as ankylosing spondylitis, and no other “issues” that would limit reducing a forward head posture, then, when sitting at your desk, the first thing to check and possibly correct is your pelvic alignment.

 

 

Desk Posture-2 Wrongs and 1 Right

If someone is sitting with a 90-degree hip flexion angle, their pelvis is not in a neutral position, but rather more into what is commonly known as “posterior pelvic tilt.”  A seated posterior pelvic tilt mal-aligns the spine and actually increases a forward head posture.  Therefore, increasing the hip angle, by placing the knees slightly lower than your hips, without leaning back, increases the hip angle and there an individual can learn to know their “neutral pelvic” alignment.

Once the pelvis is in a position to allow for optimal spinal alignment—close to when you are standing—then you can work on your forward head position.

Now, to speak to where you read that tucking your chin is a good exercise to correct a forward head posture; well, maybe yes, maybe no.  In the clinic, most individuals do not know how to correctly perform a “chin tuck.”  They lower their chin, rather than pushing the chin back.  This is a kinesthetic type of exercise where you need to internally feel the difference between the two movements, then pick the chosen movement.

And, I repeat that what I am saying is never a blanket statement for all individuals.  The word “individual” is the key elemental word.  All of us may not be able to perform the “chin tuck” as many Internet sites explain due to past injuries or disease processes.  Remember how you told me that you have numbness in your right fingers?

Kim: Sure do.

Lori: That’s a symptom that can be worsened by overworking the neck or moving it in a particular way if the tissues are not capable of that movement at that time.  Having said that, pain in the shoulders and upper arms can also result when we don’t correct our posture and sustain these aberrant postures for long periods of time, as I know they do for you when you overuse your neck.  Remember, static postures are the worst repetitive motion!

Kim: Yeah, sitting at the computer all day is the worst!  Although I have to say bike riding for long periods can do me in, too.

Lori: Right!  Same kind of thing. We don’t want to illicit these types of symptoms while trying to solve the problem!  That’s going backwards.

Kim: I’ve heard you speak before on how “one size fits one.” I may have to find the correct position for my head using a different methodology than someone else with different issues, right?

Lori: Absolutely.  And I love to repeat myself – we are individuals with different DNA, different life experiences.  Our tissues are a direct reflection of that; therefore, what may work for someone, may not work for you.

Kim: Any tips on how someone can check for a neutral head position themselves?

Lori: One tool you can use is what I call “the poor man’s biofeedback.”  If you can, practice sitting correctly in front of a mirror to learn what a proper neutral pelvis may look on you.  From there you would follow your spine to your head.  Then observe and feel what that looks like.  There is no easy fix.  Attempting to change years of life in one week is unrealistic.  So, change your mind and begin to enjoy the process of “relearning!”

Kim: Great tip.  Never thought of checking how my pelvis is aligned to be a part of a forward head position.

Lori: Again, this is a whole body thing.  The head must sit on a stable and correct surface for it to be correct.  Someone with experience can help you get to the right position so you know how it feels in one lesson, really.