One of my secretaries at work came to me a couple weeks ago and asked me about her ankle.  She had sprained it years ago and was continuing to have pain and wanted to know what she could do to stop it.  The problem here was that she decided she wanted to be a runner and when she tried to increase her mileage, her prior ankle sprain became a problem causing her to have severe pain and muscle spasms around her ankle.

Strangely enough, at the same time, I was seeing a 13 year old girl who had sprained her ankle a year ago and continued to have pain with every day activities like walking and climbing stairs.  This young lady could not participate in any sports.

I thought both of these stories would be relevant here and that you guys could learn something from them. Read the rest of this entry »

This just in!  The female athlete triad just may have become the female athlete tetrad.  Yup, it turns out that the most recent research has suggested that there is a fourth disorder of the female athlete triad making it a tetrad.  Read the rest of this entry »

In my last post I discussed the muscles of the lower extremities.  Now is time to go into the muscles of the upper extremities which are your arms.  As with the previous article, I will stick to the basics of what you need to know.  If you have any other specific questions, you can always ask me.  Oh ya, isn’t this a cool tattoo? Read the rest of this entry »

As a physical therapist, I see many female athletes for post injury rehab.  I have noticed that a lot of them don’t know where certain muscles are located on their bodies.  When I say, “Now we’re going to stretch your hamstrings,” they ask me, “Is that the one on the front or the back?”  I can’t say that this is limited to adolescent athletes, either.  I have had just as many middle aged athletes, or those that may be called “weekend warriors,” ask me the same questions.

I don’t know why there is a knowledge gap between men and women when it comes to knowing which muscles are where and what they do.  The only thing I can think of is that men are usually introduced to weight training earlier and more often than women.

So, because of these experiences I have decided to write a short series on the basic muscle groups in the body and what they do.  I will try to keep it as basic as possible.  This first one will address the muscles of the legs, or what are called the lower extremities.  Let’s start from the top down. Read the rest of this entry »

Hypermobility is a huge problem among the female athletes I see in my clinic.  Frequently, this is partly responsible for the injuries that these athletes have been dealing with.  When I say hypermobile, I mean that their joints are naturally loose.  These people also tend to have very flexible muscles that easily move around their already flexible joints.  I like to refer to these people as floppy or Gumby (for those of you old enough to know who Gumby is).

Now, being hypermobile is generally not a problem for everyone.  In fact, hypermobility is one of the things that can make you excel at sports like gymnastics and dance.  In these sports, this hypermobility is needed to get into the incredible positions that these girls get into.  However, sometimes having that hypermobility without the proper amount of stability to balance it out, can lead to injuries.  These injuries might include patellofemoral pain syndrome, snapping hip, ankle sprains, and shoulder dislocations to name a few.  Let’s take a look at how you can tell if you’re one of these hypermobile athletes. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about concussions as of late.  It has become a very hot topic in sports from young children right up to the professional level.  I, for one, am glad that concussion information is being passed around because a concussion can be a very serious thing.  A concussion has been called many things throughout the years, but the bottom line is that it is a brain injury.  That’s why they have been treated so seriously lately.

The more people learn about concussions, the more they understand how big of a deal they really are.  Concussions can result in all kinds of symptoms including dizziness, headaches, visual changes, sleep disturbance, inability to focus and a whole host of others.  The last thing anyone wants is for a concussion to ruin a young person’s future.

Concussions also take an unknown amount of time to resolve.  Most of the athletes I’ve seen return to play within a couple weeks of the first concussion.  However, with subsequent concussions, recovery is less predictable.  It will often take longer and you may not be able to come back at all.  I’ve had young athletes quit certain sports like football and hockey because they’ve had too many concussions.

Obviously, concussions can affect anyone in any walk of life, but athletes tend to get them more regularly.  I’ve actually worked with a field hockey player who sustained a concussion because she got hit in the head by a water bottle the other players were throwing around for fun.  The question that this article will attempt to answer is if women are more likely to suffer a concussion than men and how does their recovery differ? Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve probably seen them.  If you haven’t been sentenced to wearing one, you may know someone who has.  Or you’ve seen someone walking around in one at school or at the store.  I’m talking about the knee immobilizer.  This is the ugly blue or green foam thing that they strap around your knee in the emergency room after a knee injury.  It has metal uprights that run along the sides of your knee that are supposed to give you support and prevent your knee from moving in any direction.  The whole thing runs from your mid thigh to your mid calf.  You usually get this with a complimentary pair of crutches.

When I talk about this, it’s important to understand that I’m only referring to acute knee injuries you might present to the emergency room for.  This does not include post operative care.  If your surgeon has you in a brace that immobilizes your knee, there’s a damn good reason for it and you should follow doctor’s orders.  But, rest assured, it won’t be the ugly thing I’m discussing here.  It will be a different brace meant to immobilize your knee for a period of time, but can be unlocked to allow movement when appropriate.

The emergency room staff sends you home with this thing with no other instructions but to follow up with your doctor.  Sometimes you’ll just go see your primary care provider (PCP) and sometimes they’ll be good enough to hook you up with an appointment with an orthopedist or sports medicine physician.  Either way, you’ll inevitably wait a few days to see them, all the while being stuck in the really awesome looking and fashionable knee immobilizer.

As you may have noticed by the title of this article, I hate these things, and it’s not just because they’re ugly and uncomfortable.  I have a few additional reasons that I’ll outline below and I’m sure I’m not the only one who hates them. Read the rest of this entry »

I already told you about my experience with shin splints while I was training for my half marathon.  I patted myself on the back for being smart and taking time off to let them heal so I only had to stop training for a couple weeks.  Well, I’m not always smart and now I’m going to tell you a story about how I was stupid during that same half marathon training. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m going to get on my physical therapist soap box for this post and talk about why it’s important to comply with what your physical therapist tells you to do.  I work with patients of all ages and activity levels and it always amazes me how many people come to physical therapy for help with a certain problem, but don’t think they have to actually do anything about it.  They think I’m going to wave some sort of magic wand and fix their problems without them having to invest any energy into helping themselves.  This applies to sedentary individuals and athletes alike.

The only people that seem to avoid this category are the older folks of my grandparent’s generation that had to work hard for everything they had.  Unfortunately, that excellent work ethic seems to be dying along with the people of that generation.

Here’s the thing…if you’re not going to go home and do anything I ask you to do that I think will help you, you’re not likely to get better and you’re wasting my time, your time, and taking up space on the schedule from someone that might want to help themselves.  Sure, there are the people that will just feel better with time, but who knows how much time that will be and physical therapy might be giving them ways to help themselves in the future or to prevent the injury from returning.  Too many people just aren’t invested in their own health. Read the rest of this entry »

When we build a house we start by creating a stable foundation.  We build the house on that foundation with the expectation that the house will remain sound for many years with minimal or manageable wear and tear.  We need to take the same approach with the human body.

There are people out there that work out with way too much weight and poor technique.  Sometimes they are doing a very advanced version of an exercise, but have not yet mastered the simple version of the same exercise.  A goo d example of this is people doing abdominal exercises on the TRX straps or yoga ball, but they can’t hold a plank properly for any length of time.  If you can’t master the basics, you’re probably not getting the most you could out of the advanced exercises.  You may even be doing yourself more harm than good.

You know you’ve seen these people working out in your gym, or maybe you are one of these people.  This is one of the reasons I stopped working out at the gym.  I hated watching people do horrible things to their body’s and not being able to do anything about it.  The reasons people have for doing this are usually something like “The more weight I can lift the stronger I am,” or “I’m getting a better workout doing it this way,” or even “This way is more exciting for me.”  In this article I’m going to tell you why advancing exercises without a proper foundation and form is a bad idea. Read the rest of this entry »