APM Blog

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 07:45

Chronic Pain and Sleep

Chronic Pain and SleepThere are important healthy habits you can try to help reduce pain. One of the most important is trying to get a good night’s sleep. A good, restorative sleep, generally between six to nine hours, can help your body and muscles recover, helping to reduce back pain or general aches and pains. This will allow you to wake feeling refreshed.

Back pain can make it harder to sleep, reducing your body’s ability to recover, thus leading to more back pain. Talk to your doctor to learn helpful ways to sleep comfortably with back pain. There are a variety of pillows you can try, meditation or light stretching before bed, or even starting a bedtime routine to help your body wind down.

Also consider the importance of getting the right amount of sleep for your body. Too much sleep, as discussed in this recent article, can also cause you to wake feeling groggy and tired. Test out a few different sleep times (seven, eight, or nine hours) and see which works best for your schedule.

Published in Healthy Living
Thursday, 02 November 2017 13:06

The Shocking Truth behind Smoking and Pain

There are countless reasons to stop smoking – and you’ve no doubt heard them a thousand times. It’s the single greatest preventable cause of disease and death in the U.S. and is actually a factor in one in five deaths.[1] Yet it still remains a prevalent issue, especially among those with chronic pain – despite the fact that smoking has actually been found to make pain worse. Read on to find out the connection between the two and discover tips for finally kicking the habit.

Prevalence

The percentage of smokers among the U.S. population is roughly 15% - meaning that 15 out of every 100 adults have smoked cigarettes in the past year.[1] That number has actually declined over the past several years, coming down from 21% in 2005. However, according to a 2015 study,[2] the number of smokers among the chronic pain population has actually been increasing. In 2000, 24.2% of the pain population smoked, and by 2010 that number had risen to 28.3%, almost double the percentage of smokers in the U.S. at large.

Links to Pain

Research has shown that smoking as few as 10 cigarettes a day causes a noticeable increase in general pain, in addition to slowing healing, worsening surgical outcomes and leading to more pain and opioid use after surgery.[3][4]

Smoking damages both the heart and blood vessels and leads to dangerous circulation issues. This means that bones and tissues are deprived of the oxygen-rich blood and nutrients that they need.[5] This can lead to or worsen degeneration of the lumbar and cervical spinal discs, causing severe back pain and neck pain.[6]

Moreover, according to the Cleveland Clinic, smokers are 1.5 times more likely to experience headaches and 80-90% of those who experience cluster headaches have a significant history of smoking.[3] They’re also more likely to have issues when it comes to their bones, since smoking leads to negative effects on bone healing and leads to more complications. On top of that, among men with knee osteoarthritis, smoking has been shown to lead to greater cartilage loss, in addition to greater pain levels.[7]

Tips to Help Quit

The list of smoking’s effect on pain levels isn’t a short one. It can cause and worsen a plethora of painful issues. Yet, at least for some of these issues, quitting can make a big difference. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  • Change up your routine to break the association of smoking with certain places or times of day.
  • Stop carrying and hoarding cigarettes, whether at home, in your bag or at work. And don’t borrow cigarettes from anyone else. Plus, throw away your matches, lighters and ashtrays.
  • Get more active: Walk instead of drive and use the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise helps you relax and boosts morale.
  • Take it one day at a time. Each day without a cigarette is good news for your health, family and bank balance.

Quitting smoking is the first step to reducing your pain – and improving your health – but it’s not the only thing you can do. Consider visiting a pain management specialist to get more advice and ideas on how to effectively manage your pain condition so you can get back to being a healthier, happier version of you.

New Call-to-action

[1] CDC. “Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States.” March 14, 2016. Accessed November 30, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/.

[2] Orhurhu, Vwaire J., Thomas P. Pittelkow, and W. Michael Hooten. “Prevalence of Smoking in Adults with Chronic Pain.” Tobacco Induced Diseases 13, no. 1 (July 17, 2015).

[3] Cleveland Clinic. “Do You Smoke to Cope with Pain? Research Finds Surprising Effect - Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic.” September 30, 2015. Accessed December 1, 2016. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/09/smoke-cope-pain-research-finds-surprising-effect/.

[4] Shi, Yu, Toby N. Weingarten, Carlos B. Mantilla, W. Michael Hooten, and David O. Warner. “Smoking and Pain.” Anesthesiology 113, no. 4 (October 2010): 977–92.

[5] National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “How Does Smoking Affect the Heart and Blood Vessels? - NHLBI, NIH.” November 4, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2016. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/smo.

[6] Science Daily. “Smoking Cigarettes Can Be a Chronic Pain in Your Neck.” February 18, 2016. Accessed December 1, 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160218062227.htm.

[7] Amin, S, J Niu, A Guermazi, M Grigoryan, D J Hunter, M Clancy, M P LaValley, H K Genant, and D T Felson. “Cigarette Smoking and the Risk for Cartilage Loss and Knee Pain in Men with Knee Osteoarthritis.” Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 66, no. 1 (June 30, 2006): 18–22.

Published in Smoking

As many people known, pets can bring joy, excitement and energy into a home. What’s less well-known is that pets may also improve your physical and mental health – and help to improve pain levels in the process.

Physical Improvements

Obviously exercise is a key component to healthful living (and pain relief), and pets – especially dogs – are a great way to help you get out of the house and start exercising regularly. Dog owners are actually 54% more likely than non-dog owners to get their daily recommended level of physical activity.[1] Going on walks, throwing the ball around and going to the park can not only serve to make your furry friend happy, but also loosen up your muscles, lubricate your joints and help you shed a few extra pounds, which can all serve to lessen pain levels.

Pets have also been shown to have various other physical benefits. Owning a pet has been associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as a lower likelihood of obesity.[1]

Social Improvements

The common adage “man’s best friend” belies an underlying fact about animals: They are a great means of social support. For more than half of pet owners, pets are considered as much a member of the family as a spouse or child. In fact, 35% of married or cohabitating people say their pet is a better listener than their spouse.[2] Plus, pets can help you meet other like-minded individuals, whether that’s on a walk, during a training class or at a doggy daycare.

According to APM behavioral health specialist Mary Papandria, surrounding yourself with supportive individuals – or pets – can help you stay positive when pain is at its worst. Without adequate social support, she says, individuals can often experience a worsened perception of pain, increased disability and lessened benefits from treatment.

Numerous studies have shown that having adequate social support can lead to better psychological and physiological health.[2] Greater social support can improve heart and immune system health – in addition to self-esteem – while poor social support has been found to correlate to increased mortality rates.

Mental Improvements

One of the main ways pets can help those in pain is through boosting their overall mood. Those experiencing chronic pain often deal with abnormally high levels of anxiety and depression, but pets can help combat that. For one, the social support that pets lend has been shown to help people feel more relaxed and less stressed.[3] Pet owners also tend to experience a higher sense of well-being. [2][3] This may be due, in part, to the responsibility of owning a pet. Researchers have suggested that taking care of an animal may give people a sense of purpose.[3] This may even correlate to better functional ability; in older populations, those with a dog or cat have been shown to better perform daily activities, like climbing the stairs or bending and kneeling.[3]

Pets also offer a source of distraction, which is often important for pain sufferers when pain is particularly bad.

Pets and Traditional Care

For those who are able to adequately take care of a pet, they can be an enriching – and sometimes pain-relieving – addition to your life. Like other kinds of social support, it’s possible that owning a pet can help people respond better to various types of treatments. Plus, an effective treatment plan can help relieve pain and restore function, meaning you can spend more time with your furry friend. Now that sounds like a positive cycle.

Download your free stretching exercises for pain reduction

[1] Levine, Glenn N., Karen Allen, Lynne T. Braun, Hayley E. Christian, Erika Friedmann, Kathryn A. Taubert, Sue Ann Thomas, Deborah L. Wells and Richard A. Lange. “Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association.” Circulation (May 9, 2013).

[2] McConnell, Allen R., Christina M. Brown, Tonya M. Shoda, Laura E. Stayton, and Colleen E. Martin. “Friends with Benefits: On the Positive Consequences of Pet Ownership.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 101, no. 6 (2011): 1239–52. doi:10.1037/a0024506.

[3] Casciotti, Dana and Diana Zuckerman. “The Benefits of Pets for Human Health.” National Center for Health Research (2016). Accessed September 13, 2016. http://center4research.org/healthy-living-prevention/pets-and-health-the-impact-of-companion-animals/.

Published in Pets

Toward the end of September and beginning of October, a plethora of crops are ready to harvest. Tomatoes, peppers, melons and squash, including pumpkins, continue to ripen and will fill our harvest baskets until the first killing frost, says gardening expert Melinda Myers. “And, even with cooler temperatures,” she says, “mid-summer plantings of cool crops like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale will mature. Their flavor actually improves after a light frost.” Even late plantings of things like greens, radishes, turnips and beets continue to grow and can be harvested as they mature throughout the fall season.

But before you head out to the garden to start gathering your harvest haul, make sure you know the best way to pick your plants in order to avoid doing damage – to both the plants themselves and to your body.

Grab the Right Tools

“Too often we head to the garden for a few minutes,” says Myers, “and an hour and a half later we are still out there, often without the equipment that protects our bodies.” Don’t fall into that trap. Without the right tools, you run the risk of hurting yourself and damaging your plants to the point where they will no longer keep producing

Consider investing in a sharp knife or garden scissors, which can make harvesting easier and do less damage than picking. For fruit trees, physical therapist Courtney Wack suggests using an apple picker to minimize repetitive hand motions.

When shopping for tools, “buy tools with wider handles, or bulk them up yourself with foam or a washcloth and some tape,” Wack suggests. This, along with stretching out your hands and wrists, can reduce the risk of hand pain later, especially for those suffering from arthritis.

And to reduce the risk of knee pain during prolonged periods of kneeling, a padded knee pad combined with a proper stance can go a long way. With the kneeler in position, drop down onto one knee and keep one foot one the ground to give your back more stability.

Carry Carefully

When it comes to transporting your haul to the house, make sure to do so carefully; fruits and vegetables can easily sustain damage en route, and so can you. “Stack veggies in a shallow basket or crate to minimize bruising,” says Myers. And empty the basket often, both to prevent bruising and because carrying too much weight in front of you can increase the strain on your back.

For greens like lettuce (on which you harvest the outer leaves when they reach 4 to 6 inches) and chard (8 to 10 inches), take a bucket of water into the garden and place the greens into it to keep them fresh.

To haul your harvest back indoors, squat to grab your basket of produce, tightening your core muscles, then lift with your legs. Don’t forget to keep the basket or crate close to you as you walk and avoid twisting at the waist. Or consider looking for a basket or bag you can wear on your back and use both straps to disperse the weight more evenly.

Protecting Perennials

Perennial plants like raspberries, strawberries and fruit trees, along with spring-harvested perennials like asparagus and rhubarb, require their own kind of care to protect them throughout the winter. “Do not fertilize them now,” warns Myers, since “fertilization stimulates late-season growth that can be killed in winter.” After a frost, she advises, remove any diseased or insect-infected leaves, but do not compost. Instead, contact your city for ideas on how to dispose of this type of material.

For protection from animals, consider erecting a fence around your fruit trees and bushes or use a repellent labeled for use on edibles. Scaring the animal away through the use of visual or auditory scare devices is also an option, although it’s not as effective in urban areas. In suburban and rural areas, noise-makers and motion-activated water sprayers may be useful. Or try visual items like reflective tape or predator statues to keep critters at bay. For the best results, use a combination of tactics, monitor them throughout the year and make adjustments as needed.

Pace Yourself

Although it’s tempting, don’t try to harvest all of your plants in one day. Spread it out over multiple days to reduce the risk of overworking yourself and your muscles. If you do pull a long harvesting shift, though, make sure to take frequent breaks, walking around and stretching every 20-30 minutes.

You can also try to enlist the help of a friend – both to share in the work and take home some of the produce. Having a partner means being able to switch between strenuous tasks, like carrying or picking produce, and easier ones, or even allow you time to rest. Besides, says Myers, “most gardeners plant more than they can use.” You’ll be grateful for both the extra help in the garden and the fact that they take some of your bountiful harvest off your hands.

Weed Out The Pain Toolkit Download

Published in Melinda Myers

There are many ways relaxation supports pain management techniques. Here are a few relaxation practices that focus on breathing. After all, you take your breath with you wherever you go and it’s free of charge! No need for fancy electronics or other resources.

  1. It is important to cover a few breathing basics. Even though we breathe thousands of times per day, we rarely pay attention to it. We need to slow down. For most people, about 4-5 seconds per inhale and 4-5 seconds per exhale is a good pace.

    This technique can vary based on the practice. Practice breathing through the nose, and exhaling through the mouth or nose. Another method is to practice diaphragmatic or “belly” breathing. Imagine having a balloon in your stomach that is inflating and deflating as you breathe. You can test your breathing by placing one of your hands on your chest and the other on your belly.

    When you breathe, just notice which hand is moving. Try to have just the hand over your belly move. If this is difficult, you can lie down and put a pillow over your belly and practice moving the pillow as you breathe.
     
  2. One basic practice is to focus your attention on your breath. You just notice the sensation of air going into and out of your lungs. This is the practice of mindfulness. The challenge with this practice is to maintain attention on your breath while thoughts, feelings and sensations arise. The trick is to just notice these and return to your breath.
     
  3. People who prefer more structure can try 4-square breathing. In this practice you can imagine the shape of a square and move from corner to corner in a pattern.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 4.
  • Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 4.
  • Hold for a count of 4.

Get moving. Call (888) 901-PAIN (7246) or click to schedule a consultation now.

Published in Relaxation
Wednesday, 01 November 2017 01:19

A Healthy Harvest – For You and Your Plants

Harvest is a wonderful time, but for gardeners it can often be a (literal) pain in the neck – and back and knees. But, with a few easy changes, you can protect yourself – and your plants.

Get Into Position

Harvesting vegetables requires a lot of physical exertion. Carrots and most root crops, for instance, are first dug with a fork and then picked up by hand, either when bending or kneeling.

To reduce the risk of injury, avoid kneeling on both knees and keep one foot on the ground to give your back more stability, while making sure to change positions frequently. If possible, bending should be avoided. When it’s absolutely necessary, bend at the knees and hips and tighten your abs. Or bend at the hips and extend one leg back, keeping your back straight. And take frequent breaks, walking around every 20-30 minutes.

Gardening expert Melinda Myers suggests that next year instead of planting bush beans, which require a lot of bending and searching to find all the ripe beans, consider the taller and easier to pick pole beans. And to do less damage to your plants and ensure that they continue to grow and develop, use a sharp knife and scissors during harvesting.

Perfect Pumpkins

Pumpkin picking requires precision. “Pumpkins are harvested when the rind is firm and glossy, the fruit is full-size and the portion touching the ground turns from cream to orange,” says Myers. Don’t lift it by the stem, since it may break. Instead, squat with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the hips and knees and pick up from the base, lifting gradually.  

Pick Your Posture

When it comes to fruit trees, use a ladder or secure step stool to avoid looking up for long periods. Work at waist level whenever possible, looking and reaching in front of you rather than above you. When picking fruit, gently twist it instead of pulling it off. And don’t forget to harvest your plants regularly, says Myers, so there’s less to harvest at one time – and so your plants keep producing.

Weed Out The Pain Toolkit Download

Published in Healthy Living

HikingOutdoorsCases of cabin fever are widespread throughout the Midwest as temperatures finally start rising and people begin emerging from their homes in pursuit of fun, warmer-weather activities. If you are someone who suffers from a back or neck condition, it’s likely that you are familiar with the effect weather (or rather the change in weather) may have on your pain. While the change in weather may cause increased pain for some, it brings relief for others. The one common factor presented with warmer months is the increased opportunity to take part in low-impact, physical activities outdoors.

Not only does exercise stimulate endorphins which have been known to help reduce pain, it also provides greater pain-fighting benefits through strengthening bones, increasing flexibility, building muscle and diminishing stiffness and weakness. Spring is the perfect time to begin or continue a low-impact exercise routine including at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. 
Looking for a new activity? Try a few of these back and neck friendly outdoor activities. Find your favorites and enjoy in the warm months ahead!

Walking:
Did you know that according to the American Heart Association, walking has the lowest dropout rate in comparison to any other physical activity? This is because it can be done anywhere, anytime and with minimal gear needed. With a comfortable pair of sneakers and a safe path – you are well on your way to improved cardiovascular health and reduced pain. Additional health benefits from a regular routine of walking include:

  • Strengthened muscles in the feet, legs, hips, and torso - walking increases the stability of the spine and strengthens the muscles that keep the body in the upright position.

  • Nourished spinal structures - walking for exercise facilitates strong circulation, pumping nutrients into soft tissues and draining toxins.

  • Improved flexibility and posture – walking, along with regular stretching, allows for improved range of motion, can help prevent awkward movements and susceptibility to future injury.

If you are someone who is motivated by exercising with a friend, find a walking buddy, join a walking club and plan walks with co-workers over your lunch hour or facilitate “walking” meetings. 

Cycling:
When done on a well-paved, smooth surface, cycling can offer a number of benefits to for the back and neck as a non-weight bearing exercise. Riding a bicycle is less jarring to the spine than many other forms of aerobic exercise (specifically jogging or aerobics). Stationary bicycling is an additional option that is especially gentle on the spine, and with the many spin classes now available, can offer a vigorous aerobic workout.
Here are a few other cycling benefits and tips to consider:

Benefits

  • Riding a bike improves lower body muscular strength and overall endurance.

  • Biking is a non weight-bearing exercise, so it places less stress on the spine, hips and knees.

  • Cycling is a great cardiovascular and conditioning exercise.

  • Stationary bikes offer benefits when weather conditions prevent access to outdoor roads and trails.

Tips

  • Be sure to use the right kind of bike for the terrain on which you're riding—taking a street bike to off-road trails will be rough. In fact, if you suffer from back pain – avoid rough, off-road trails all together.

  • Have an experienced professional fit you for the proper type and size of bike in order to prevent accidents and injuries.

  • Ride with your back straight—this will prevent lower-back stress.

Looking for the perfect route? Check out these scenic bicycle paths in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Swimming:
For those who love water activities, swimming may be the best forms of low impact aerobic exercise for anyone who suffers from neck or back pain. Unlike other activities, swimming places virtually no impact or stress on the spinal structures. Water supports the body, relieving stress on joints, muscles and bones.
 
Here are a few other reasons why swimming may be the best form of exercise for you:

  • Buoyancy reduces the force of gravity on the body, making it easier to perform various movements. Buoyancy can improve range of motion for any part of the body because it allows for movement without having to battle with gravity.

  • With degrees in the upper 90s, heated pools allow tissues and muscles to relax and become more flexible.

  • While it may sound painful, hydrostatic pressure is actually a good thing. Hydrostatic pressure is the force that water applies to the body and can improve circulation and decrease blood pressure.

Yoga:

Yoga appeals to many back and neck pain sufferers because it is an excellent combination of physical movements, breathing and meditation. The many movements, poses and stretches incorporated into yoga practice has many practical applications for treating chronic back and neck pain conditions.

Classes are easy to find in both Wisconsin and Minnesota and if you are new to yoga, pick a style1 that most appeals to you:

  • Iyengar yoga - Iyengar yoga stresses proper alignment and precise movements, yet it incorporates modifications that often benefit back and neck pain patients whose mobility may be limited as a result of their symptoms.

  • Ashtanga yoga - Emphasizing powerful flowing movements like push-ups and lunges, Ashtanga yoga is appropriately described as "power yoga," and it often appeals to patients who have previously rehabilitated from a back injury.

  • Bikram yoga - Also known as "hot yoga," Bikram yoga is especially popular in cold areas because it takes place in a hot room. The benefit of this type of yoga is that the heat helps increase stretching and flexibility, but you should be careful to stay hydrated and avoid over-stretching muscles that have become looser than normal in the warm environment. Bikram yoga should not be performed by patients with cardiovascular disease. 


  • Viniyoga - Breathing is the focus of viniyoga, with each movement coordinated with an inhale or exhale. Viniyoga is easily adaptable for each person, making it a good option for many types of back pain and neck pain patients, especially those who are just beginning to practice yoga.

Paddle Boarding:

During warm months, have you noticed more and more people standing up on surfboards, paddling to and fro? Paddle boarding is a water activity that has become very popular in recent years. It’s a low-impact exercise that can help improve strength, core stability and balance. It also boasts an added benefit of relieving stress because of the relaxing nature of the activity.

Other benefits include:

  • Variable level of intensity depending on where you are paddling. If you are in the ocean and experiencing waves and current, your workout will be intense. If you are simply drifting on a relatively placid lake, the intensity level will be lower.

  • Paddle boarding engages almost every muscle in the body including leg muscles, arms, back and shoulders to propel the paddleboard in the water. The core and abdominal muscles are constantly at work to maintain your balance.

  • As a low impact physical activity, paddle boarding is relatively easy on the tendons, ligaments and joints.

Ready to jump on a board and get paddling? Check out these great places in Wisconsin and Minnesota to rent boards and start paddling away!

Hiking:

For many of the same reasons walking is such a fantastic physical activity for people who suffer from neck and back pain, hiking can provide many of the same health benefits. One important consideration for those who love hiking is to have good familiarity with your intended route and the terrain’s expected level of difficulty. Pick a distance and surface that are the best fit for you. Remember that if you are embarking on longer hikes, carrying a pack and necessary supplies is a must. The added weight of supplies will increase the level of difficulty for most hikers. Other considerations include:

  • Pick the best type of hiking boots to reduce jarring on your knees, hips and back.

  • Choose a backpack that will fit snug to the body and high on the back to minimize stress on the spine.

  • When calculating intended mileage, account for regular stops.

  • Consider using walking poles or sticks to aid along uneven terrain.

Popular Wisconsin and Minnesota Hiking Trails:

-Travel Wisconsin

-Wisconsin Park System

-Explore Minnesota

-Minnesota Park System

 Warm weather in the Midwest brings opportunities for increased physical activity and fun in the great outdoors. However, if you are someone who is currently experiencing a neck or back condition that causes a moderate to severe level of pain, it is best to consult with your healthcare provider or pain management expert before beginning any new activity. In addition to consulting with your physician, considering easing in to any activity by taking it slow, taking breaks and taking proper precautions such as warming up, stretching, staying hydrated and wearing appropriate clothes or equipment.

Coming soon: Part two of our warm weather guide featuring activities pain sufferers should avoid.

Sources:

 http://www.spine-health.com/blog/yoga-back-pain

New Call-to-action

Published in Acute and Chronic Pain
Sunday, 15 October 2017 10:51

How To Start A Spring Walking Program

**If you are at all unsure of whether a walking program is safe for you, please get medical clearance from your doctor before getting started with the tips below.

Be prepared! It is important to dress for the weather; this could mean dressing in layers. It is also important to wear comfortable shoes that offer support, as well as moisture-wicking socks. Don’t forget to use sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses if needed.describe the image

Want to take it a step further? Utilizing a fitness app can help keep you on track. There are several apps you can find on your smartphone for free, or you can purchase a pedometer or Fitbit.

It is always a good idea to bring a bottle of water. We recommend purchasing a reusable water bottle.

Ready? Set yourself up for success by setting goals and choosing a realistic route to start. Have you been sedentary all winter? If so, start slowly with a goal of five minutes, or choose a distance like” to the neighbor’s driveway and back”.  If you know you able to tolerate more, set a higher but still very achievable goal to start… you have all summer to progress!

Here we go. Walking mechanics - Aim for upright posture, gaze straight ahead, shoulders down and core stabilized. You should have a reciprocal arm swing – opposite arm and leg move together. Don’t’ forget to breathe! Your gait may be altered by injuries, use of walker or cane, obstacles, or Fido pulling you. That’s okay; just do the best you can.  If your walks are less than ten minutes, you may stay at a relatively steady pace, but as you walk longer, think about doing a slower warm up, a more intense middle phase, and then a slower cool down. It is important to stretch after your walk – ask your physical therapist for ideas.

Other ideas- Find a walking partner. This will help keep you accountable and may make your walk more pleasurable! If you prefer some time to yourself, you may want to find a (safe) nature area with trails to do your walking. As you get stronger and more conditioned, you can walk in areas with hills or add weights.

Everyone has different goals, but a walking program can help you feel better emotionally and physically. Walking can help improving balance, lose weight, and fend off chronic diseases. So start today!

What tips do you think will be most helpful to you as you start a spring walking program? Did we miss any important tips? Let us know in the comments! 

**If you are at all unsure of whether a walking program is safe for you, please get medical clearance from your doctor before getting started with the tips below.

Be prepared! It is important to dress for the weather; this could mean dressing in layers. It is also important to wear comfortable shoes that offer support, as well as moisture-wicking socks. Don’t forget to use sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses if needed.describe the image

Want to take it a step further? Utilizing a fitness app can help keep you on track. There are several apps you can find on your smartphone for free, or you can purchase a pedometer or Fitbit.

It is always a good idea to bring a bottle of water. We recommend purchasing a reusable water bottle.

Ready? Set yourself up for success by setting goals and choosing a realistic route to start. Have you been sedentary all winter? If so, start slowly with a goal of five minutes, or choose a distance like” to the neighbor’s driveway and back”.  If you know you able to tolerate more, set a higher but still very achievable goal to start… you have all summer to progress!

Here we go. Walking mechanics - Aim for upright posture, gaze straight ahead, shoulders down and core stabilized. You should have a reciprocal arm swing – opposite arm and leg move together. Don’t’ forget to breathe! Your gait may be altered by injuries, use of walker or cane, obstacles, or Fido pulling you. That’s okay; just do the best you can.  If your walks are less than ten minutes, you may stay at a relatively steady pace, but as you walk longer, think about doing a slower warm up, a more intense middle phase, and then a slower cool down. It is important to stretch after your walk – ask your physical therapist for ideas.

Other ideas- Find a walking partner. This will help keep you accountable and may make your walk more pleasurable! If you prefer some time to yourself, you may want to find a (safe) nature area with trails to do your walking. As you get stronger and more conditioned, you can walk in areas with hills or add weights.

Everyone has different goals, but a walking program can help you feel better emotionally and physically. Walking can help improving balance, lose weight, and fend off chronic diseases. So start today!

What tips do you think will be most helpful to you as you start a spring walking program? Did we miss any important tips? Let us know in the comments! 

Published in Acute and Chronic Pain

In part one of our post on recommended warm-weather activities, we touched on the pain-fighting benefits of strengthening bones, increasing flexibility, building muscle and diminishing stiffness. We provided some back and neck friendly outdoor activity recommendations to enjoy in the month ahead. In this piece, APM experts share insight regarding activities to avoid if you are experiencing back or neck pain. Be sure to use caution when: Golfing with back pain can be easy with these tips.

Golfing:

The Midwest is home to some of the most beautiful golf courses in the country. Whether you are waiting for the perfect spring day or if you’ve already played your favorite course - consider these important tips before you tee off.

  • Warming up is critical – especially for those first couple of rounds early in the season. Do adequate stretching and warm up to limber back and neck muscles that have likely not been used in a while.
  • Take a lesson — whether you're a golf newbie or an old pro who's been experiencing some back pain, you might want to take a lesson on swing mechanics. These classes emphasize proper form that is imperative to back and neck pain and injury prevention.
  • Bend from the hip — when bending during your game, be sure that you're bending from your hips and knees and not your back.
  • Focus — concentrating on the biomechanics of your swing will help ensure that you don't suffer a back or neck injury. Think about the motion of your body and don't lean forward.

Waterskiing / Motorized Water Activities:

Waterskiing and other motorized water sports are activities that someone with a back or neck condition should approach with extreme caution. Consider these important factors before hitting the waves:

  • Due to the high speeds involved with these types of activities, potential falls can involve significant momentum, leading to direct pressure on the neck and spine.
  • It is always best to slowly build up confidence and expertise before trying more advanced moves.
  • Stay in close communication with the person in control of the boat or other motorized water equipment.  

Amusement Parks:

Popcorn, corn dogs, tilt-a-whirl and games… what’s not to love about an amusement park during the warm spring and summer months? In addition to all the fun activities involved with taking kids to an amusement park, you may want to keep the following thoughts in mind for back and neck care:

  • Relax — if your pain management physician has given you the approval to get on a ride, be sure you do so with caution. Relax your muscles and do a few stretches to loosen up. Tensing up and holding your neck and back in place may cause additional pain.
  • Follow instructions — if you encounter a ride that advises guests who suffer from back and neck pain to abstain from riding, then you should definitely pay attention to the warning.

Camping:

 Camping is a popular warm-weather activity throughout the Midwest as a way to experience nature, relieve stress and bond between family and friends. However, if you suffer from back pain, sleeping on the hard ground may be a less than desirable scenario. Follow these tips to prevent pain from getting in the way of your enjoyable outdoor adventure.

  • Use an air or foam mattress — your sleeping bag on the hard ground may not be the best situation if you have back or neck pain. Investing in an air or foam mattress will make sleeping easier.
  • Wear good shoes — if you plan on hiking or walking from campsite to campsite, make sure to wear shoes that prevent jarring. Shock absorbers can wear out in shoes, so if yours are well worn, consider getting cushion inserts.
  • Drink water — being outdoors in the elements can take a larger toll on your body than you may think. Lack of hydration can cause sensitivity in the neck back muscles - so be sure to drink up.

There are many great opportunities for increased physical activity and fun in the great outdoors. However, it is best for most individuals – especially those experiencing a neck or back condition – to consult with your healthcare provider or pain management expert before beginning any new activity. In addition to consulting with your physician, start new activities slowly, take breaks and always warm up, stretching, stay hydrated and wear / use appropriate clothes and equipment.

What warm weather activities do you enjoy? Please share in the comment section below.

New Call-to-action

Published in Activities
Page 3 of 3

Popular Posts

Categories

Advanced Pain Management Near You

Our diverse physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants provide patients with the most comprehensive approach to pain management. We have convenient locations across Wisconsin and Minnesota including Appleton, Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Mankato, Milwaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Waukesha, Wausau and many more.

bbb-black-seal-wht-txt-2018.png
© 2020 Advanced Pain Management. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use & Notice of Privacy Practices