Health Tips Blog

Raking Leaves 101

It's that time of year when the leaves start to fall. Here is a list of safety tips to follow when raking leaves:

• Use a rake which is the right size for you. The handle should be chin height and hands should be able to hold the rake 18″ to 24″ apart. A rake that is too short can hurt the back; one that is too heavy can strain shoulders and neck

• Wear appropriate layers of lightweight clothing

• Wear gloves to prevent blisters

• Wear skid resistant shoes – leaves can be wet and cause a fall

• Warm up muscles with light stretches of the arms, back and legs, take a 5 minute walk before starting

• Alternate hands with raking, and stagger feet to help shift weight

• Make short strokes, so you don’t overextend muscles

• Rake to the side, keeping the back straight

• Bend at the knees, instead of at the back

• Don’t twist. It’s better to move the legs and pivot the body to shift your weight

• Be careful not to overstuff the bags. Remember that wet leaves weigh more, so pack less leaves in the bags when they’re wet

• When moving the bags, make sure to lift with the legs – bend the knees and keep your back straight and stomach tight. If a bag is large and awkward to lift, walk backwards pulling the bag, or use a handcart or dolly to move it

• Pace yourself and take breaks every 15 minutes

• Remember to stretch after you finish. A few standing back bends and another short walk may help prevent muscle soreness

If you are in need of Physical Therapy for your pain, please call one of our physical therapy clinics:

Rehab at the Natatorium
2345 4th Street
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Phone: (330) 926-0384

Easy Street Therapy at Western Reserve Hospital
1900 23rd Street
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Phone: (330) 971-7445

Main Street Therapy
999 N Main Street
Akron, OH
Phone: (330) 940-5708

Sitting All Day Seriously Hurts Your Health

 

The human body, especially the cardiovascular and digestive system, is set up to operate most effectively while standing upright. However, the average person remains sedentary for over half of the hours they are awake throughout the day due to desk work and evening television programs.

Sitting for an extended period of time, or over 6 hours, increases your risk of several serious health problems including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, obesity and shorter life spans, even for those who exercise regularly. Researchers at the University of Toronto found that due to excessive sitting, people have an 18 percent increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, a 17 percent increased risk of dying from cancer and a 91 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

As you sit throughout the day, your body experiences many negative physical changes. The longer you sit, the weaker your large leg and gluteal muscles become due to lack of usage, according to WebMD. These muscles stabilize your body while walking and standing and cause you to become more susceptible to injury when they are weak. Your hips and back are also impacted while remaining sedentary. The hip flexors become shortened, which may cause problems with the hip joints in the future. The back is affected negatively especially while sitting with poor posture, which can lead to premature degeneration of the spine due to the compression of spinal discs.

As far as mental health goes, more research is being done to find out the link to risks of sitting often. What we do know is anxiety and depression are higher in those leading sedentary lifestyles, likely because they are not experiencing the positive effects generated by physical activity and exercise.

Any prolonged sitting at a desk, in the car or in front of a screen is harmful because significantly less energy is used compared to when you stand and move. Exercising daily does not completely counteract the effects of sitting for hours on end as researchers once thought. Instead of exercising more, the key to maintaining good health is taking frequent breaks from sitting. Incorporate physical activity into your work life as often as possible. Do this by following these tips:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Stand up every 30 minutes
  • Host walking or standing meetings with colleagues
  • Stand while answering phone calls
  • Position your computer on a standing desk or over a treadmill
  • Place your trashcan across the room to force yourself to walk to dispose trash

Pitcher's Elbow

Medial apophysitis, or pitcher’s elbow, is a condition that occurs as a result of an injury or irritation to the inside of the elbow, commonly affecting young athletes. It is often classified as an “overuse syndrome” in baseball or softball players in the developmental stages of rapid growth (approximately 11 to 15 years of age).

CAUSES

Forceful and repetitive actions, such as overhand throwing in baseball players, and lack of recovery (not enough time between periods of activity), can cause inflammation of the growth plate inside the throwing elbow. This occurs in adolescents because their elbow structure (bones, growth plate and ligaments) is not fully mature or developed.

With pitcher’s elbow, you may experience:

Gradually worsening pain at the inside of your elbow when throwing a ball.

• Lingering soreness at the inside of your elbow following throwing activities.

Swelling and tenderness around the inside area of the elbow area.

Inability to throw the ball at your normal speed.

• Loss of grip strength.

Loss of accuracy or distance when throwing.

Muscle cramping in your forearm.

Loss of motion of your elbow.

Discomfort with daily activities that use your forearm muscles, like turning a doorknob or carrying a heavy object in front of you.

HOW A PHYSICAL THERAPIST CAN HELP

Once other conditions have been ruled out and pitcher’s elbow is diagnosed, your

physical therapist will work with you to develop an individualized plan tailored to your

specific elbow condition, and your athletic goals. There are many physical therapy

treatments that have been shown to be effective in treating this condition. Your

physical therapist may focus on:

Range of motion

Strength training

Manual therapy

Pain management

Functional training

Education

Gardening Tips

Gardening 

Common gardening activities, such as digging, planting, weeding, mulching and raking can cause stress and strain on muscles and joints. This is especially true for senior citizens and people who are normally sedentary. Different body areas such as the shoulders, neck, back and knees can be vulnerable to injury during gardening. The following tips can help minimize or prevent injuries:

• Warm up before you garden. A 10 minute brisk walk and stretches for the spine and limbs are good ways to warm up

• Change positions frequently to avoid stiffness or cramping

• Be aware of how your body feels as you work in your garden. If a part of your body starts to ache, take a break, stretch that body part in the opposite direction it was in or switch to a different gardening activity. For example, if you’ve been leaning forward for more than a few minutes and your back starts to ache, slowly stand up and gently lean backwards a few times

• Make use of a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move heavy planting materials or tools. Be sure to keep your back straight while using a wheelbarrow

• If kneeling on both knees causes discomfort in your back, try kneeling on one and keep the other foot on the ground. Use knee pads or a gardening pad when kneeling

• If kneeling or leaning down to the ground causes significant pain in your back or knees, consider using elevated planters to do your gardening

• Use good body mechanics when you pick something up or pull on something, such as a weed. Bend your knees, tighten your abdominals

and keep your back straight as you lift or pull things. Avoid twisting your spine or knees when moving things to the side; instead, move your feet or pivot on your toes to turn your full body as one unit

• Avoid bending your wrist upwards when pulling things or using gardening tools. Instead, keep your wrist straight and use your shoulder muscles to pull and lift

• End your gardening session with some gentle backward bending of your low back, a short walk and light stretching, similar to stretches done before starting

Video Running Analysis

Running 

Do you have difficulty running due to knee or calf pain?  Does your hip or back pain prevent you from training for your next race? If so, a video running analysis is perfect for you!  Running is an activity that requires repetitive use of many muscles and joints in your body. Asymmetries can cause abnormal stress and strain on your body and create pain which may prevent you from running or from meeting your potential as a runner.   Running is a single leg activity and therefore requires many different structures to be balanced and work together. If your muscles are tight, weak or even over stretched, you may develop abnormal running patterns which may create pain, decreased performance or injury over time.  Although it is likely that the therapist can see “something is not right” when watching you run, finding faults in someone’s running pattern is much more likely with a video that can be broken down and analyzed in slow motion.  Even if you are not currently injured, a running video analysis is a great way to help you become a more efficient runner.

A running gait analysis will consist of a brief warm up on a treadmill followed by a 1 minute video from the side, front, and back.  The video will be reviewed by a Licensed Physical Therapist to look for potential factors that might lead to or be causing your pain. Angles will be measured and compared to normative data from current research. Suggestions will be made for corrective or preventive exercises to help you run more efficiently and overall, become a better runner. You will get a copy of your video electronically.

If you think you will benefit from a running gait analysis or to make an appointment, please call our Physical Therapy Department at the Natatorium, Rehab at the Nat, at (330)926-0384. You will need a Physical Therapy prescription from your physician.

Holiday Health and Safety Tips

The holidays are a time to celebrate, give thanks and reflect. Give the gift of health and safety by following these holiday tips:

  • Never use lighted candles near trees, boughs, curtains or any flammable item. With a natural tree, cut about 2 inches off the trunk and place the tree in a waterproof sturdy stand. Keep the tree well-watered so it does not dry out quickly. Dry branches can catch fire from heat of lightbulbs. If you use an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled fire resistant. Use no more than 3 light sets on one extension cord. Use a proper step stool or ladder for putting up decorations. Don’t stand on chairs or other furniture.
  • Wash your hands often. Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps to avoid illness and spreading germs to others. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds. You may use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and let the product dry on skin.
  • Travel safely. Don’t drink and drive or let someone else drink and drive. Wear your seat belt. Always buckle your child in approved safety seat according to height and weight. Get vaccinations if traveling out of the country.
  • Make sure you wear several layers of loose-fitting, tightly woven clothing for the cold weather. Cold temperatures can cause serious health issues for children, elderly and pets.
  • As you are preparing the holiday meals, make sure you wash your hands and counter tops frequently. Avoid cross contamination of surfaces with raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs with ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Do not leave perishable foods out longer than 2 hours.
  • Keep a watchful eye on young children with potentially dangerous toys, foods, drinks and choking hazards (like coins and hard candy). Remember, if the object can fit down the roll of a toilet paper holder, it can slide down a child’s airway.
  • Enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose more vegetables and fruits.  Find fun ways to stay active, such as dancing to your favorite holiday music. Be active at least 2 1/2 hours per week. Children and teens should be active for at least 1 hour per day.

Manage stress by sticking to a financial and time budget. Limit overspending.  Balance work, home and play. Get enough sleep. Don’t overcommit to holiday gatherings. 

Age Related Physical Changes

Agerelatedphyschanges

The world is aging. The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to double  from 46 million to more than 98 million by 2060.It will be the first time in history than the number of older adults outnumbers children under age 5.

Normal age-related physical changes include the following:

BONES- once we reach the age of 30, bone marrow gradually starts to disappear from the bones in our arms and legs. There is also a reduction of calcium that leads to decreased bone mass. A fall can lead to serious injury and loss of independence. Talk to your provider about diet, exercise, vitamins and supplements to keep bones healthy and strong. Consider modifying your living environment to minimize the risk of falls. Remove hazards such as throw rugs and extension cords. Add grab bars in the bathroom and secure railings along stairs.

EYES- By age 40, almost everyone is reaching for reading glasses. Presbyopia occurs when the eye lens becomes stiff and won’t adjust to re focus from distance to near vision. Clouding of lens or cataracts may begin to affect your vision when you reach your 60’s. Long term exposure to sunlight increases risk of cataracts. Recommend sunglasses and adequate lighting in your home.

HEARING – Age related hearing loss (presbycusis) is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most of us as we grow older. About one in three people between the ages of 65-74 have hearing loss. Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand and follow your provider’s advice, respond to warnings, hear phones, doorbells, and smoke alarms. Hearing loss can make it hard to enjoy talking to family and friends, leading to isolation.  Because the loss is gradual, you may not realize you have lost some of your ability to hear. Some medications can affect your hearing. If you think you have a hearing problem, seek advice from your health care provider.

HEIGHT – Beginning in our 40’s, we lose one to two inches in height. Most of the loss occurs in the spine as the disks between vertebrae shrink.

MUSCLES – We experience a steady reduction in physical strength due to loss of muscle tissue, with the most rapid decline occurring after age 50. Be careful not to overdo it. Weight bearing exercises such as walking, dancing, or lifting weights can help you maintain muscle mass, strength and balance.

SKIN- Age spots and wrinkles become noticeable around age 40-50 and overall skin is less elastic. Skin is less resistant to cuts and bruises, especially if you are taking any blood thinner medications such as aspirin. Make sure dry skin is hydrated to help prevent cuts with moisturizing lotion and increase water hydration. Many older people are more sensitive to air temperature and less insulated from the cold with lower body weight, inactivity, and reduced muscle mass.

TEETH – With proper dental care, teeth should last a lifetime. As you age, your teeth will become more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Tooth decay, gum disease and discoloration of teeth occur with age. Keep your scheduled dental appointments twice a year for assessment and cleaning. Limit caffeine and carbonated beverages that can decrease dental enamel.

Continue to engage in routine preventative health behaviors, such as annual physical exams, lab work and immunizations (such as flu, pneumonia, shingles). If you feel anxious or depressed or are using alcohol or drugs to manage your mood, seek assistance. Untreated mental health problems are associated with poor physical health outcomes including increased disability, loss of independence, and decreased quality of life. The staff at Western Reserve Hospital is here to help with your health care needs as you age.

Halloween Safety Tips

Trick Or Treat

Just a few reminders to keep your little goblins safe during the much anticipated childhood event of “Trick or Treat”:

1. When selecting a costume, make sure it is the correct size and length to prevent any falls or trips. Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure shoes fit well. Add reflective tape striping to costumes and trick or treat bags for improved visibility. Make sure costumes are of nonflammable material. Masks can block vision, consider non toxic make up. Pretest make up on a small patch of skin to make sure there will be no reactions for the big day. Make sure accessories such as a sword or stick are not sharp, so if a young child falls, they will not get injured. Glow sticks are a fun way to improve visibility, but remember the liquid inside could be hazardous if ingested.

2. Walk safely on sidewalks and do not cut across yards. If no sidewalk is available, walk far away from the road facing traffic. Remember motorists may have trouble seeing the Trick or Treaters. Don’t assume because one car stopped, the other cars will. Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly. Teach your child never to dart out into the street or cross between parked cars. Children under 12 should have adult supervision.

3. Make sure your porch or doorway is free of clutter so a child cannot trip when visiting your home. Remove toys, garden hoses, yard tools, etc. Restrain pets so they cannot jump on a child or bite them. Make sure your pathway is well light and free of slippery leaves (or snow!). Make sure candle lit pumpkins are on a sturdy table and away from flammable objects.

4. Review with children how to call 9-1-1 if they become separated, lost or if they ever have an emergency. Review with children their address and contact phone number. A parent could place this information inside the costume to facilitate an easier relocation of a lost child.

Pneumococcal Pneumonia

Pneumonia Vax

Pneumonia signs and symptoms include chest pain with difficulty breathing, high fevers with chills, excessive sweating, fatigue, and a cough with phlegm production that persists or worsens. Pneumonia can be serious and symptoms can last for weeks, potentially requiring hospitalization and, in some cases, death. Prevnar 13 is a pneumonia vaccine approved for adults 18 years of age and older but recommended for adults 50 years of age and older. It offers protection against 13 strains of streptococcus pneumoniae strains. As you get older, your immune system cannot respond as quickly to infection, and chronic health conditions could increase your risk for developing pneumococcal pneumonia. The CDC recommends adults 65 and older receive the Prevnar 13 vaccine to protect against pneumococcal disease.

Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

Shingles Vax

Nearly one in three people in the United States get shingles, resulting in an estimated one million cases diagnosed annually. The risk for developing shingles increases as you get older but children can contract the virus, especially if they have had chicken pox in the past. Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body. The most common complication is post herpetic neuralgia (PHN) that can cause severe and debilitating pain, lasting weeks, months or years. Shingles can also lead to serious complications involving the eyes, such as vision loss and blindness; rarely can it cause pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation (encephalitis), or death. Zostavax is the only shingles vaccine approved in the United States, which has been used since 2006. This vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles by 51% and PHN by 67%. Studies show 99% of Americans 40 years of age and up has had chicken pox , therefore, everyone 60 years of age and older should get the vaccine. You should still receive the vaccine to prevent future occurrences of the virus, even if you have had shingles in the past.