Archive for May, 2010

My Back Pain Incident Confessions of a Physical Therapist

Friday, May 21st, 2010

It happened to me. As a physical therapist I treat people daily for their aches and pains. Many of my patients think that we as PT’s never get hurt. That is the farthest thing from the truth.

About 3 months ago upon returning from a 5 hour car ride, I was unloading the baby gifts from our baby shower. Just as I brought in the last box of Pampers, I went to bend down and place the box on the side of the crib. What I could not see was a deflated balloon lying on the ground next to the crib. As I bend down my right foot slipped on the balloon sending my right foot into a “splits” position. Immediately I felt a sharp lower back pain that kept me hunched over for 10 minutes. All of the sudden I had to think of the advice I would give a patient of mine.
I asked my wife to get me an ice pack and I layed face down with the ice pack on my lower back for ten minutes. I followed that with some over the counter pain medication. I started icing my back 10 minutes every hour. I had to completely limit all activities.

The next day I took a warm shower and started stretching my gluts, quads and hamstrings. I would then follow that with ice for 10 minutes. I repeated this procedure for the next day and a half. By the 3rd day after the incident I was back at work at 70%. Even at work I continued to stretch and ice. At the end of the 5th day I had not pain and all of the tightness was gone. What could have set me out of work for more than a week, I was able to practice what I preached and returned to work on three days. That was a really great learning lesson.

Importance of Stretching

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Many people wonder why stretching is so important. Stretching helps muscles return to their neutral state rather than allowing the muscle to stay in a contracted or shortened state. With that being said, stretching should be a major part of everyone’s exercise routine. By incorporating a daily stretching routine, exercising could be made easier to tolerate and relieve pain that people experience for up to 3 days after exercising. Look at stretching as a reward for the hard work that muscles do everyday and with our exercise routines.

Stretching should be performed at a light to medium intensity setting. If you push your stretching routine to a strong stretch, most of the time muscles respond poorly and tighten right back up. Lighter more controlled stretches tend to yield better results. Duration is another key entity in stretching. You should hold your stretches for 40-50 seconds at a time. If you only hold for 5-10 seconds, you will not give the muscle groups sufficient time to elongate.

If you are taught correctly, stretching can be done anywhere, anytime without any special piece of equipment. As long as you perform the stretch in the right position and with the correct intensity, stretching should be the easiest thing you do.