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Posted by on Jun 8, 2012 | 0 comments

“Look, Ma! No Injuries!” Five of the Most Common Bicycling Injuries and How YOU Can Avoid Them

Do your dreams of winning the Tour De France seem like a pipe dream?

Well, it doesn’t matter if you can best Lance Armstrong in a race (let alone your nephew!) – biking is STILL a great way to get out of the house and stay fit this summer.

But be aware – just like any other form of exercise, injuries can still abound from biking.

Before your wipe off the dust on your trusty ol’ bike and take ‘er around town, check out these five most common cycling injuries and what you can do to prevent them from happening to you!

Back/Neck Pain – If you experience pain in your back or neck, it could be an indication that your bike is not the correct fit for you or that you’re sitting on your bike improperly. Be sure that your handlebars are about an inch lower than your saddle on a normal bike and two-four inches lower than the saddle on a mountain bike. Also, make sure that you can reach the handlebars without much strain. To help relieve any tension in your neck, try doing shoulder shrugs and neck stretches.

Knee Pain – Pain in the knee is perhaps the most common ailment that occurs with bike riding. Sadly, this type of injury can be the cause of many different issues such as riding too hard or riding too many miles, improper positioning on the bike, or riding with low rpms (rotations per minute). Like the rest of your body, the knees need some time to get in shape and build muscle for longer durations of bike riding. If they’re pushed too hard too quickly, serious knee damage can occur.

If you aren’t used to bike riding, try not to go too crazy at first. Simply start slowly and build up resistance, stamina, and strength to go longer distances. Lay off the steep climbs, especially at a low rpm, if you’re not used to it. Remember – your body is NOT a machine; it needs time to heal and recover for subsequent workouts!

Cramps – Cramps are common in nearly every exercise in which one does not properly prepare for the activity at hand. This injury is a result of your muscles constantly repeating the same motion over and over and over again, which causes the mechanism that tells the contracted muscle to relax to tire out. Luckily, if you simply warm up before you bike or ride for shorter periods of time, you can easily prevent cramping from occurring.

Wrist and Forearm Pain or Numbness – Injuries to the wrist or forearm usually occur when the rider locks his or her arms while bike riding. Never ride with your arms locked! It’s best to ride your bike with your elbows slightly bent, that way when you hit bumps in the road, your bent elbows can safely absorb the shock and avoid injury. In fact, two common wrist overuse injuries 0 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Cyclist’s Palsy – can be prevented by simply alternating the pressure from the inside to the outside of your palms and by making sure that your wrists don’t drop below the handlebars. You can even try changing hand positions to reduce pain or numbness and stretch your hands out before you go riding.

Head Injury – Head injuries are probably the most serious sort of accident that can occur to a bike rider. Injuries can range from a simple cut or lesion on the cheek to traumatic brain injury. Riders can be prone to receiving concussions or head injuries that may even result in death. One of the best ways to prevent head injuries is by wearing a helmet, which can reduce the risk for head injury by a whopping 85%!

So what are you waiting for? Stretch, grab your helmet, and take your bike out for a spin today to stay fit and enjoy the sunshine! For further tips or questions, be sure to call Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 or visit our website at http://www.fitness4lifept.com to see how we can help you!

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Posted by on May 16, 2012 | 0 comments

You’d Better Slow Down if You Want to Avoid Swimming Injuries!

Summer is almost here, and when the temperatures rise, you’ll want to do an exercise that not only gets the job done but also keeps you cool.

Swimming is a longtime favorite summer activity for children and adults alike. Better yet, swimming has the reputation of being a low-impact form of exercise and is kinder on the joints. But just because it’s a low-impact exercise doesn’t mean that injuries never abound, especially when done incorrectly, in excess, or in speeds that you’re not used to.

Four major injuries can occur while swimming – swimmer’s shoulder, breaststroke knee, neck injuries, and lower back injuries. Here are some tips to help you avoid obtaining these injuries!

Swimmer’s Shoulder –This is probably the most common injury found in swimming. Usually, it’s caused by the user implementing bad technique or by working out too quickly or too much or simply by overusing the muscles. Sometimes the injury can occur when swim paddles and pull buoys are used.

To prevent swimmer’s shoulder, be sure that you are using the correct technique when you swim. A qualified swimming professional or even an experienced swimmer can help you pinpoint your mistakes and show you how to properly stroke.  Don’t over train or work out with tired muscles since the stabilizing muscles in the shoulder could be injured or over-fatigued. Additionally, avoid suddenly increasing your speed or workload in your workouts. Remember, slow and steady ultimately wins the race!

Breaststroke Knee (a.k.a. Swimmer’s Knee) – As the name may suggest, this injury is generated by the stroke mechanics of the breaststroke kick. Whenever you extend your legs and then bring them back together during the propulsive phase of the kick, your knees are subjected to external rotation and the lower leg bending outward. Additionally, your inner ligament in your knee (known as the medial collateral ligament) is also put under stress.

Don’t want breaststroke knee? Try alternating your swimming strokes. Try doing butterfly strokes, backstrokes, or even freestyle. Perhaps give yourself rest periods during the year in which you don’t use breaststrokes. During that time you could engage in strengthening exercises for your quadriceps and your hamstrings. Additionally, try using swimming fins and they will help with resistance. And, most importantly, warm up and stretch before you swim!

Neck Injuries – Usually neck injuries occur because the swimmer is using incorrect technique while swimming. Neck injuries can be easily avoided in nearly all the different forms of swimming.

If you are using the freestyle stroke, be sure to keep your head in line with your spine as much as possible with your eyes looking straight down. Try not to look forward or lift your head to breath, and avoid over-rotating your head when you inhale. Instead, rotate your BODY more so that your head won’t have to do so much of the work!

When you use the butterfly stroke or the breaststroke, keep your head aligned with your spine at ALL times. Breathe while looking down so your head stays in a neutral position and is much less prone to injury.

Lower Back Injuries – These injuries are typically obtained due to incorrect technique. If you aren’t certain of how to properly use the correct technique while swimming, consider taking swimming lessons or talking with an experienced swimmer.

While using the freestyle stroke, you can get lower pack injuries if you swim with a high head position or if your hips and legs tend to sink and you kick hard to keep your legs up, overarching your back. Try working on your position and balance so you can find a relaxed horizontal position and provide relief for your lower back.

When using the butterfly stroke, poor technique and lifting your upper body out of the water with your back strength can lead to lower back injuries. If you happen to swim like this, try working on your body undulation and dolphin kick so that it’s the body wave, not your back, that lifts your upper body out of the water. And as always, warm up and stretch properly before doing the stroke.

What’s that? Want some more tips on how to prevent injuries? We’ve got you covered!

*Warm up/cool down and stretch before and after swimming.

*Take swimming lessons and swim under supervision. Never swim alone as this could lead to more serious injury or even death.

*Don’t swim if you’re overheated, too cold, too tired, have a fever, have an upper respiratory infection, or have an ear infection.

*If you’re diving, be sure that the water is deep and safe enough. NEVER dive in the shallow end of a pool (this also goes for lakes and rivers)!

*Not up to full-fledged swimming? No problem! Pool walking is an excellent form of water exercise, and you are much less prone to injuries!

For more tips or if you have any further questions, contact Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 or visit www.fitness4lifept.com!

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Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 | 0 comments

Always Having a Hard Day’s Night? Try Working Out in the Morning!

Sometimes we simply don’t have the time to work out in the afternoon, at lunchtime, or even in the evening. We work long hours and work ‘em hard, come home, cook dinner, take care of the kids if we have them, and finally, after doing all of our daily chores and duties, crash in bed (usually at a late hour).

Besides, who in their right mind would actually WANT to get out of bed in the morning to go exercise, especially when it’s so dark or gray or rainy out there? (Oh, gosh, I think we feel a nap coming on!)

Well, truth be told, it’s recommended that we get at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise at least 5 days out of the week. So if you’re not getting enough exercise during the week and you find yourself unable to get to the gym after your working hours, then you should probably consider filling in time in the morning to do your exercising.

If you find yourself cringing just thinking about trying to transition to working out in the morning, fret no more! Here are five tips to help the transition go a bit more smoothly:

Go To Bed EarlierWe know, we know. No one wants to go to bed at the proper time. People want to catch late night shows, have time with their spouses after putting the kids to bed, or get more work done. And if you think that you can simply go to bed at the same time as you normally do (let’s say midnight), you are sadly mistaken! If you’re used to sleeping from midnight to 8 a.m. and then rushing out the door to get to work at 9 a.m., you won’t be able to make it through the day by getting up at 6 a.m. to exercise, shower, and all that jazz. If you want or need to get up to exercise at 5 or 6 a.m., you should get to bed by 10 p.m. at the absolute latest. Trust us – you’ll thank us later!

Get Up, Stand UpJust because you’re going to work out in the morning doesn’t mean you need to get straight out of bed, put your running shoes on, and exercise hardcore. That’s actually a good way to set yourself up for failure! Instead, why not simply stand up for a few minutes and do menial tasks? Make your lunch for the day, read the morning paper, take the dog outside to do its business. Simply stand up and start your day slowly so that you can adjust to doing more physical activities and not pass out while doing so!

Take a Hot Shower BEFORE Exercising – You might think that we’re crazy, but a quick hot shower in the morning could really help you get into exercise mode quickly and efficiently. Think about it – most people turn the heat down (or the air up) when they go to sleep, and well, it’s colder outside for the most part at night or in the early morning. If you simply take a short hot shower for about a minute, you will heat up your body and will be ready to go! Just be sure to take a “real” shower after your workout, lest you repel people around you for the rest of the day!

Warm UpThat’s right – stretch out those muscles before you go running off into the sunrise! You might be wise to add some more time to your warming up sessions since you’ll have just gotten out of bed and your muscles will need some stretching. Try warming up for ten to fifteen minutes before you start your workout. That may seem like a long time to warm up, but really, it’s better to spend an extra five or so minutes warming up than much longer time in physical therapy from an injury you sustained because you didn’t warm up!

Ask Someone to Work Out With YouIt’s easier to work out with a partner than solo, and this rings true even in the wee hours of the morning. Having a friend there to work out with you will give you another reason to get yourself out of bed early in the morning to exercise. You’re less likely to hit that snooze button if you know your friend is outside ready to go for a run with you or at the gym.

If you’re ready to start exercising in the morning, try using these strategies to help you easily transition to your new workout regime. And if you want more tips or need any assistance, don’t hesitate to call us here at Fitness4Life at 1-618-656-5433 or visit us at our website at www.fitness4lifept.com. Let us help you be the healthy, strong person you want and deserve to be!

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Posted by on Jan 19, 2012 | 0 comments

Sometimes You Get Worse Before You Get Better

It’s that same old pain again. When you sit down after a long, arduous day of work and finally relax, you feel the pain shooting through your knee. Why on earth is your knee hurting again? Maybe you did too much work today… or this week… or this month. Your knee has been hurting you for at least a week, so you think that maybe it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.

Before you pick up your phone or turn on your laptop, wait a minute and listen up! Your knee very well might not be the actual problem. The issue could lie elsewhere, perhaps in your ankle or in your hip. But how can you find out exactly what’s going on?

Mark Slaughter, PT, has a unique approach when it comes to treating pain. He takes what he calls a “joint-by-joint” approach to the body and tries to find out what the REAL issue could be.

Did you know that pain doesn’t have to just stem from the source? Just because your foot hurts doesn’t necessarily mean that your foot is the culprit and is causing you the problem, believe it or not!

When it comes to joints in the body, there are two different types – those that stabilize you and those that bend and help you to move. And joints tend to work in pairs together, too. For instance, your feet are there to stabilize you, but your ankle is the joint that is responsible for moving you. Your knees help stabilize you while your hip does the moving and shaking. Moving higher up on the body, your lower back is there to make sure you stay stable while your mid spine helps you to move, and your scapula will stabilize you while your shoulder does the work moving.

Unfortunately, because of poor posture or incorrect movements of the joints and body, the stabilizing joints switch roles and become mobile, and the mobile joints become stiff and try to act as stabilizers. This odd role-reversal can cause quite a bit of pain and should be corrected!

Think of your body as a massive, intricate machine. If one cog wobbles, loosens, and eventually flies off into oblivion, the whole beautiful machine breaks down and falls apart, becoming useless.

Mark Slaughter doesn’t treat the symptoms you experience; he treats the PROBLEM. He looks at the whole body, not just the source of pain, to find what truly ails you. He accomplishes this because he listens to the patient and what he or she tells him about the pain they’re experiencing. By using cutting-edge methodology, Mark can pinpoint what ails you, and by training your MOVEMENT, not your muscles, you can help yourself avoid injury and pain more easily and more frequently.

Are you experiencing any pain? Call us up here at Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 and ask for Mark or Sharon! They will help get you on the right track to getting better!

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Posted by on Nov 22, 2011 | 0 comments

PT Time With Mark Slaughter

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” –George Harrison

As a patient, it is your right and obligation to know and learn as much as you can about your pain complaint. Your health care provider should use words you understand, pictures if necessary, and whatever else it takes to help you understand your particular complaint. Only by you, the patient, understanding what is causing your complaint, can you develop a better understanding of how to manage that complaint.

A patient’s complaint should first be managed by controlling pain, then restoring ROM (range of motion), correcting faulty movement patterns and then strengthening the appropriate body parts. It is at this time that the goal shifts to teaching you how to maintain your health and help prevent future episodes of the same problem.

Last but not least, make sure what your health care provider tells you makes sense to you. A person knows his or her own body better than anyone else. Listen to what it tells you. You know more about yourself than you might think. It takes two, the patient and health care provider, to help you get better. Help your health care provider by giving feedback as to the effectiveness of your treatment.

Remember, it is your body; you have a right to know, understand, and help in your care.

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