Northwest Wellness's Blog

Useful information for a healthy lifestyle.

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Rotator Cuff & Shoulder Impingement

Rotator Cuff & Shoulder Impingement

The rotator cuff refers to four specific muscles of the shoulder; the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the teres minor, and the subscapularis. The rotator cuff surrounds the shoulder joint and is meant to provide stability to the joint during dynamic movement. Learn why these muscles are important for you to be exercising.

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How To Bend Without Hurting Your Back

How To Bend Without Hurting Your Back

 

One of the more common things I see in practice are patients who report an acute onset of lower back pain when they bend over to pick up something small, like a pencil or a sheet of paper.  Clearly, the object being retrieved is not the source of the lower back pain as in a lifting injury, but rather the biomechanics of how the repeatedly bend throughout the day.   I also have patients that by teaching them to bend properly, reduced the incidence of acute lower back pain by 80% last year.

So what is the big bending secret?  Most people have the tendency to bend forward by rounding their lower back or lumbar spine.  This motion reverses the normal lumbar curve and places undo stress on the lumbar vertebra and discs.  The intervertebral discs are made up of two sections; the soft gelatinous nucleus pulposis and the strong, fibrous annulus.  Over time, with the biomechanical stress place by improper bending the annulus may become frayed and the nucleus with protrude through causing a disc bulge or herniation.  Bending in the lumbar spine also puts strain on the lumbar musculature and can cause a muscle strain or spinal segmental dysfunction.

To bend properly you should “hinge” at your hips rather than rounding the lumbar spine.  By doing so, you use the large ball and socket joints of the hip that are designed for this type of motion.  Hinging at the hips allows for maximum, efficient motion and spares the structures of the spine while strengthening the core muscles and stretching the hamstrings.

To Properly Hip Hinge:

·         Place your feet about 12 inches apart.

·         Keep your back straight.

·         Contract “the core” by tightening the abdominal muscles.

·         Keep your back straight.

·         As you soften your knees, allow the pubic bone to move backward.

·         Rotate forward around the hip sockets.
 

For more information on preventing back pain or injury contact Northwest Wellness in Federal Way, WA at 2539270660

 

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Why You Should Develop A Mobility Practice

Why You Should Develop A Mobility Practice

It’s a well-known fact that exercise is beneficial for physical and mental health. Many of us understand the importance of strengthening our muscles and developing a good base of cardiovascular fitness. One aspect of physical fitness that is often overlooked is mobility.

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How Does My Spine Work?

How Does My Spine Work?

Your spinal column consists of series of 33 bones called vertebra.  These bones cover the delicate spinal cord while simultaneously protecting the nervous system and allowing for movement of the trunk through the 24 moveable segments.  Muscles, ligaments and tendons attach to the spine and the spine to the extremities which allows for dynamic movement of the entire body

There are 5 different sections; cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx.  When viewed from the side, an adult spine has a natural S-shaped curve. The neck (cervical) and low back (lumbar) regions have a slight concave curve, and the thoracic and sacral regions have a gentle convex curve  The curves work like a coiled spring to absorb shock, maintain balance, and allow range of motion throughout the spinal column.

Each vertebra in your spine is separated and cushioned by an intervertebral disc, keeping the bones from rubbing together. The discs have two distinct parts; a strong fibrous outer ring called and annulus and a soft, gelatinous center called the nucleus. The nucleus acts like a ball-bearing when you move, allowing the vertebral bodies to roll over the incompressible gel. The gel-filled nucleus is composed mostly of fluid. This fluid absorbed during the night as you lie down and is pushed out during the day as you move upright.

Between the moveable bony segments and intervertebral discs, spinal nerves exit the spinal cord to innervate the entire body.  This allows the brain to send messages via the spinal cord and spinal nerves to every cell, tissue, organ and muscle of the body and for the body to send information back to the brain.

The entire system works quite well and provides us with mobility, stability, strength and nerve function.  However, problems arise when the segments of the spine become stuck or immovable. When this occurs the system works poorly and decreased mobility, pain or lack of coordination occurs. 

For more information on spinal health and wellness call Northwest Wellness in Federal Way, WA at 2539270660

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What Does A Physical Therapist Do?

What Does A Physical Therapist Do?

Physical therapists are a primary care provider for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. Learn how a physical therapist can help you improve your mobility, increase strength, and achieve optimal health.

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Is stretching good or bad?

Most of us have been taught from a young age that stretching before and after exercising is important. But is that completely accurate? Sort of. We first need to talk about 2 types of stretching (there are others but we will focus on just 2 today). Static stretching involves remaining in one position while stretching a single muscle at the end range. Dynamic stretching is a stretch performed while moving. Static stretching following exercise has been shown to have some benefits. Before the exercise, however, is where more recent research has been shedding light on the benefits of dynamic stretching. So let’s take a look at what dynamic stretching following a sufficient warm-up is and why there is benefit from performing these before exercising or competing.

Dynamic stretching is performed by putting your body through ranges of motion and using momentum to stretch muscles. In short, dynamic stretching is using certain movements to activate muscles and sending a signal to the brain to stimulate those muscles. This will not only increase blood flow to the area, but also prepare the body for using those muscles by enhancing flexibility and strength, thus preventing injuries and increasing performance. The type of dynamic stretches that should be done depend on the workout that you are going to do. Dynamic stretches performed should be motions similar to those which will be used in exercising or competing.

Some examples of dynamic stretches include high knees, butt kicks, air squats, arm circles, lunges, and leg swings to name a few. There are numerous references out there for types of dynamic stretches such as http://www.brianmac.co.uk/dynamic.htm.

Does this mean that static stretching is bad? Possibly. When you are about to perform a strenuous work out or compete in a sport, static stretching can actually inhibit the muscles, decrease performance, and make the muscles more susceptible to injury. Static stretching is great for overall flexibility, but if when stretching before performing, consider substituting dynamic stretching to improve strength.

The Knee Explained

The knee is a hinge joint that is made up of the femur, the tibia, and the patella (knee cap). It is a synovial joint meaning there is a joint capsule that contains fluid called synovial fluid. The synovial fluid nourishes and lubricates the joint. This blog is the first of a series of blogs discussing the basic anatomy and injuries to different parts of the knee joint. BURSA: A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that is located in the body in areas of high friction. The knee has a large bursa above the patella, a few small ones behind the knee, a few in front of the knee, and others that are sometimes present.

CARTILAGE: There are two types of cartilage in the knee: fibrous and hyaline. Hyaline cartilage covers the surface of bone along which the joints move. Fibrous cartilage (also called the meniscus in the knee) is strong and helps to protect the bone and allows for pressure resistance. The menisci in the knee wear and tear over time and has limited ability for healing.

LIGAMENTS: Ligaments are non-contracting tissues that connect two bones to each other. They help stabilizes the knee and limit movement. The knee has 5 main ligaments and a few smaller ones for stability: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL), patellar ligament, oblique popliteal ligament, and arcuate popliteal ligament.

TENDONS/MUSCLES: Tendons are on the end of muscles where they connect muscle to bone. There are several muscles and tendons that cross the knee joint. Anytime a tendon/muscle crosses a joint, it plays a role in the movement of that joint. The more a joint moves, the more susceptible it is to getting injured.

The knee can be bent and extended (flexion and extension) and can rotate slightly. Injuries often happen when one of these motions is forced too much. The following blogs will talk specifically about the different structures of the knee and different types of injuries that may occur.

Core stability basics

You know what the core is (kind of), but do you know how to stabilize it and why you need to? An article in Dynamic Chiropractic states, “a major goal… is to recruit core and stabilizing muscles throughout the entire kinetic chain to work together as parts of larger functional units in order to improve stability and control of motion throughout a full range of body movements while reducing tissue strain, avoiding trauma, and allowing safe, effective whole body activity.” So what does that mean? Functional exercises. Exercises that help engage the abdominal muscles and other muscles that help support the low back.A very basic maneuver for core stability can be performed lying on your back. With your knees bent and your back in a neutral position, draw your lower abdomen inwards to bring your belly button closer to the floor. Hold the contraction for about 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat this 5-10 times. Remember, this is only a basic move. There are an abundance of exercises to help strengthen the core which should be done on a daily basis. So why does the core need to be strong? The stronger the core, the less strain and workload placed on your back. The core is meant to help support the back. Doing core stability exercises can help reduce back pain and recurrences of back problems in the future.