Cycling for Fun and Fitness
- Written by Paula Hoffman, PT, MPT, MS Paula Hoffman, PT, MPT, MS
- Published: 16 June 2017 16 June 2017
Cycling is a popular and fun way to spend time enjoying the outdoors now that the summer weather has arrived. The benefits to our cardiovascular (heart and lungs) and musculoskeletal systems are numerous and include muscle strength and flexibility, increased blood flow to muscles, improved heart function, strengthened bones and improved mood, to name just a few. There are some things to keep in mind when beginning your cycling program since it is a new activity for your body’s muscles, joints and, in particular your sit area, to adjust to if you are new to it or have not been riding all winter.
Begin slowly, gradually increase distance to your ride each week. Progress from flat terrain to more hilly terrain. Take extra caution if it has been awhile since you have ridden a bike. Choose low traffic roads and ALWAYS wear a helmet.
Proper bike fit is essential to preventing soreness and injury and the overall enjoyment of your ride. There are numerous resources on the web, such as www.competitivecyclist.com , to properly fit your bike. However, a trip to your local bike shop to allow the professionals there to make the adjustmens or offer necessary safety or fit accessories, may be a great place to start. Paula Hoffmann, PT, MPT, MS here at Advanced Physical Therapy and Fitness (717-790-9994) is also able to assist you with fit, especially if you are having muscle, joint or spine pains.
Try out some of the local rails to trails (www.railstotrails.org/experience-trails/ )to enjoy vehicle free trails and the company of other riders. Get outdoors…stay active…be safe…and have fun!
Pilates and Lower Back Pain
- Written by Ann Dennison Ann Dennison
- Published: 11 May 2017 11 May 2017
Back pain is a major health issue in our country. It is estimated that 60-80% of adults will experience low back pain (LBP) at some point in their lives and low back pain accounts for millions of dollars in health care costs. According to research studies, core stabilization programs have been shown to significantly reduce chronic LBP by 39-76% and muscular strengthening programs can reduce it by 61.6%. According to recent research studies, Pilates was found to significantly improve back pain, as well as hamstring and low back flexibility for patients diagnosed with non-specific chronic low back pain.
The Pilates method of exercise was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900's when he was interned in England. He named his exercise "Contrology" and defined it as "complete coordination of body, mind and spirit." The focus of his exercises was on developing the core stabilizing muscles of the abdomen, which then provided the rest of the body the ability to move freely and with increased ease and flexibility.
Today, Pilates exercises are taught in a variety of settings including; private studios, gyms and even physical therapy facilities.
Benefits of Pilates:
- Mind-body workout
- Development of a strong core
- Improves overall flexibility
- Increases postural awareness
- Creates a more balanced and efficient body through the use of whole body activation
- Gentle, low impact activity which can be modified for all different individuals
Pilates exercises emphasize core stabilization training and proper recruitment of the transversus abdominis, oblique muscles, multifidus, and pelvic floor muscles. The transversus abdominis and internal oblique muscles attach to the thoracolumbar fascia and help to increase the stiffness of the tissue, which helps to enhance core stability. These muscles also help the spine to resist various stresses which aides in reducing low back pain. Pilates exercises also stress proper breathing techniques, as well as, correct spinal and pelvic alignment by teaching the client a neutral spine position and improving postural awareness. Exercises are performed with a strong emphasis on the quality of the movement, proper control and coordination of whole body movements.
As with any exercise program, before starting it is best to ensure that the instructor is certified in the Pilates exercise method and has an understanding of specific back problems. It is also best to start with several one-on-one sessions, in order to learn proper form and technique for the exercises.
Talk to your PT today about whether Pilates is right for you!
Jennifer Buono, PT, DPT and certified Pilates instructor
Siler, Brooke. Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge. New York, 2006.
www.mdpi.com/journal/healthcare : A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain (2016).
Osteoporosis - What is is?
- Written by Ann Dennison Ann Dennison
- Published: 21 March 2017 21 March 2017
What is it?
Osteoporosis is a progressive disease in which decreased bone strength increases the risk of bone fractures. It is the most common cause of broken bones in the elderly. Unfortunately, it is a nearly silent disease until a fracture occurs. Bones may weaken to such a degree that they can break with minor stress or even spontaneously. Chronic pain and reduced function often occur following a break.
Who and Why?
Osteoporosis affects approximately 70% of those over age 80 and 15% of Caucasian people in their 50's. It tends to affect more women than men and is seen more predominantly in people with Caucasian or Asian backgrounds. Bone loss increases after menopause which is seen as the major cause in women, however, bone loss may occur as a result of a number of other diseases or treatments. This includes alcoholism, anorexia, hyperthyroidism, surgical removal of the ovaries and kidney disease to name a few. Additionally, not getting enough exercise and smoking are also risk factors.
Often there are no symptoms until a fracture occurs. The wrist, hip, shoulder and spine are the most common fracture sites. Compression fractures of the spine may result in back pain, radiating nerve pain as well as the often seen stooped posture.
Prevention and Treatment
Efforts to prevent the disease and fractures include a good diet, proper exercise (including resistance training and weight bearing exercises), fall prevention education, lifestyle changes (i.e. smoking cessation) and sometimes medications.
Physical Therapy can play an important role in the management of your osteoporosis, whether it is in the form of prevention of injury or in the healing process after an injury. PT's can assist in helping you be maximally active in a safe manner with proper exercises, teach you proper bending/lifting techniques as well as fall prevention strategies. They may also help treat symptoms after a fracture in order to relieve pain, improve postural habits and help prevent future fractures. A Physical Therapist can be one of your best allies in your efforts to have a long, healthy, active life.