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Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain can help you survive Thanksgiving and the holidays without putting on extra pounds

Temptation awaits us next week, and it comes in the form of turkey, stuffing, sweet potato pie and just about anything else imaginable that can fit on the table. That’s right, Thanksgiving is almost here, and that means the first of many celebrations filled with food and spirits that are characteristic of the holiday season. We know the drill and expect it every year, but try as we might, for many of us this means falling victim to the many opportunities to let our taste buds run the show while neglecting our health.

If this sounds at all familiar to you, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. The holiday season is a dangerous time for weight control, as gatherings and feasts of all kinds take precedent over healthy eating and exercise. It all starts with Thanksgiving and the cornucopia of tasty and often calorie-filled treats presented to us. In fact, a typical Turkey Day dinner contains a whopping 4,500 calories, which is more than double most people’s daily calorie needs.

Thanksgiving may only be one day, but it’s also a chance to start a trend for the next few weeks of the holidays. Why not get the season started on the right foot by using self-control, practicing healthy eating habits and exercising regularly during this time and keeping it up into the New Year?

Better yet, try to focus on losing weight during this time while everyone else is gaining it. You’ll thank yourself for it down the line and will be ahead of the game when everyone else starts making New Year’s resolutions. Below are some tips to help you conquer the holiday season of temptation and actually lose some weight:

  • Begin a new exercise program now or increase the intensity/frequency if you already have one going; find a workout buddy to help you stay motivated during what’s sure to be a difficult time
  • Exercise will lower your blood glucose levels; this can lead to dizziness, nausea and increased appetite, which can cause you to overeat during your next meal; to prevent this, eat a well-balanced meal at least an hour before and/or a snack within an hour afterwards high in carbs or protein
  • Before big meals like Thanksgiving, eat a small breakfast high in protein and fiber so you’re not too hungry when you get to the table
  • Appetizers can be especially dangerous, so try to make safe snacking choices before the big meal; raw fruits and veggies and pretzels are smart
  • Survey the table or buffet before filling your plate, and go with small portions of healthy foods only available during the holidays; avoid seconds
  • Regulate your alcohol intake, which can also add to calorie intake quickly
  • Go for a brisk walk with family or friends after any big feasts

Regardless of how much willpower you have, there’s no denying that the next few weeks will be tough. But if you create a plan to exercise regularly and approach the big feasts carefully, you’re giving yourself a great chance of getting through the holidays without the extra pounds. For more information on weight control during the holidays or to schedule an appointment for any exercise guidance, contact Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain and Shelby, NC at 704-471-0001.

Shelby physical therapists encourage you to adopt healthy lifestyles with shorter days after Daylight Saving Time

The extra hour of time that we all grow accustomed on a yearly basis to from late spring to early fall has is now a thing of the past. November 1st marked the end of Daylight Saving Time, and with that, the days have once again become strikingly shorter.

Though people go through this process every year, that doesn’t mean it’s not still difficult to deal with the adjustment. Shorter days with fewer hours of sunlight can have a dramatic impact on daily schedules, as all the tasks that normally need to get done have to somehow be condensed. The result is a strong feeling of being overwhelmed, which is particularly troubling for people that like to exercise outdoors when the sun is still out, since the abridged days make this very tough to accomplish.

In addition to the overwhelming feeling of having to get things done more quickly while still finding the time to squeeze in exercise are the actual psychological effects of shorter days. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that usually starts with the end of Daylight Saving Time and leads to depleted energy and moodiness. About 3% of Americans experience SAD every year, and another 15-20% are so affected by the lack of sunlight that they seek out some treatment.

Regardless of how difficult the adjustment to shorter days is, the end of Daylight Saving Time somehow affects nearly everyone. This can mean losing all the hard work that was put in from regular exercise over the warmer months or more stress from not being able to cope with the shorter days. For patients that experience these problems to any degree, we recommend offering the following advice:

  • Create a new workout plan for the shorter days and stick with it; find a friend to be a workout buddy to help stay motivated
  • For those who normally exercise outdoors and who can’t do so safely with the shorter days, try exercising indoors or joining a gym
  • Exercise first thing in the morning with the extra hour of early sunlight
  • Alternatively, for those who have difficulty staying awake with the darker evenings, try exercising later in the day to keep energized until bedtime
  • Consider cross-training alternatives like swimming or cycling
  • Adjusting the number of days for working out doesn’t hurt if the same level of intensity and time are held up, so there’s freedom to modify accordingly
  • Spend a lot of time in the sun, which will help the body’s clock adjust
  • For SAD and those affected by the lack of sun, light therapy is very helpful; use a light box or other forms of extra lighting to extend light the evening

The shorter days that we’ll experience for the next few months can really wreak havoc on certain people’s lives, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless against these changes. Our Kings Mountain and Shelby physical therapists from Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates can help patients with an exercise plan or additional tips to keep you active during these shorter days ahead. Call us at 704-471-0001 to schedule an appointment or click here for more information.

Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain brings you “The Top 10 Preventable Causes of Back Pain”

Back pain is one of the most common physical ailments you can experience, and the likelihood of experiencing it at any point in your life is up to 80%. Though back pain can affect any region of the spine, in most cases the lower back is the area that tends to hurt the most. To complicate matters further, this type of back pain is usually considered nonspecific, which means no actual cause has been identified and it’s not known what originally led to the pain.

Low back pain is most prevalent in people between the ages of 30-60, which is mainly a result of the aging process. In addition, there are some habits such as sitting for too long or not getting enough exercise that can also increase the chances of developing low back pain. Though some cases of low back pain may come and go, up to 10% of people eventually develop what’s called chronic low back pain, which means it lasts for more than three months and is therefore a more serious concern.

For those familiar with it, low back pain can be a bothersome problem that can seriously interfere with your ability to perform normal daily tasks. Though the statistics suggest that many of us will experience low back pain at some point, that doesn’t mean nothing can be done to reduce our chances. While certain factors like genetics are out of our control, other common causes can be modified by your actions and habits, and in effect you can lower your risk for developing low back pain.

The top 10 preventable causes of back pain and what you can do to address them

  • 1) Being overweight: more weight will directly lead to more back problems, while slimming down will reduce pressure on the spine; work to maintain a healthy weight with a well-balanced diet and regular exercise
  • 2) Sedentary lifestyle: though related to #1, some people may not be overweight but still spend most of their days sitting, which is dangerous; take frequent breaks from sitting and move as much as possible every day
  • 3) Poor posture: adding insult to injury, excessive sitting and bad posture will exacerbate back pain even more; strive to practice good posture at all times, especially while sitting, and avoid arching the back and bending the neck for long periods
  • 4) Having a weak core: a strong core—not just abs, but side, pelvic and buttock muscles—will strengthen and support the back; work on these
  • 5) Stress/depression: emotional issues can always exacerbate physical ones; exercise and find other stress-reducing techniques that work for you
  • 6) Smoking: smokers have been found to be twice as likely as non-smokers to develop low back pain; on top of a plethora of other reasons, it’s best to quit
  • 7) Heavy bags: purses, backpacks, even wallets can change the curve of the spine and cause low back pain; reduce the load of any bag you carry, use two straps, and when possible, use chest and lumbar support straps, too
  • 8) Unsupportive bra: too much weight in the front can cause bad posture and low back pain; use one with the right support to keep weight close to the body
  • 9) Bad/old mattress: a mattress without uniform support or that sinks too much is also dangerous; replace old ones with at least a medium support mattress
  • 10) Improper footwear: shoes that are too worn and/or don’t provide good arch support can also cause back problems; be smart about your footwear

Just because low back pain is so prevalent doesn’t mean you’re powerless to defend yourself against it. If you find many of these common causes of back pain to be present in your life, it’s time that you take control and make changes to reduce your chances of developing it. If you’re already experiencing low back pain or any other pain, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain and Shelby, NC can address the problem and get you pain-free once again. Contact us at 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Cleveland Physical Therapists in Shelby don’t want you to ruin pumpkin picking with a lower back injury

Pumpkins and autumn. Autumn and pumpkins. The two are almost inseparable, and this time of year the bright orange globes start to become a fixture on nearly everyone’s front porch, making their way into Halloween other general decorations as the fall season marches along. The only possible problem is that getting those pumpkins from one place to another requires a fair amount of lifting—and in some cases, picking them up from a patch—and if you don’t take the proper precautions, the otherwise-innocent activity of pumpkin picking may go on to cause an injury.

Lifting and picking pumpkins may not sound very dangerous on the surface, and in most situations that may be true, but it’s the large and heavy pumpkins you need to be concerned with. Pumpkins come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and though most generally weigh between 6-18 lbs., larger species can weigh up to 75 lbs. in extreme cases, and these plumper ones may pose a problem if not handled properly.

Aside from dropping a pumpkin on your foot or some other body part, the area with the biggest concern for injury is the lower back. The lower back is one of the most commonly injured areas of the body, and this is especially true when completing yard work and other tasks in and around the house. The lower back takes most of the brunt of force during lifting and twisting movements like picking up a pumpkin, and injury occurs when there is a disproportionate amount of motion between the lowest back segments and the rest of the spine.

Fortunately, potential injuries to the lower back can be prevented by closely following some general pointers for lifting objects. So if you’re simply planning on adding a wide array of medium-sized pumpkins to your front deck or if you intend to carve an extra-large pumpkin this year, be sure you’re lifting any weighty pumpkins carefully to avoid low back pain or other injury. We recommend the following tips:

  • Warm up and stretch beforehand if it’s going to be a big job that may take a while; also stay hydrated if this is the case
  • Never lift with your back; squat with your hips and use your legs only
  • Maintain good posture with your eyes straight ahead, keeping your shoulders and hips aligned with your spine
  • Use lifting gloves and get a good grip on the pumpkin
  • Test the weight of the pumpkin before lifting, and if you experience any low back pain, stop; if the weight of the pumpkin is too heavy for you to carry, get a friend or use a dolly to help you out
  • Be sure to hold the pumpkin close to your body; it should be positioned somewhere around your belly button
  • Stay wide and low: use your feet to lead the way and take small steps

Picking pumpkins and decorating your house this time of year should be strictly fun activities that add to the festiveness of fall. Follow these provided tips and don’t let a back injury ruin your fun. For more assistance, or for any other pain you may be experiencing, our physical therapists in Shelby and Kings Mountain can help. Contact Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates at 704-471-0001 to schedule an appointment.

Cleveland Physical Therapists in Kings Mountain help you determine when it’s time to replace your running shoes

When it comes to clothing, as difficult as it may be, there comes a time when we need to say goodbye and part with certain items after a while. The same goes with running shoes, and this choice has more to do with your safety than purely cosmetic reasons. But you may be asking yourself: just when exactly is that time to replace your running shoes, and we are here to help you answer that question.

Running in old or worn-out shoes is a common cause of running injuries, and should be avoided at all costs. Over time, running shoes lose shock absorption, cushioning and stability. When you continue to run in worn-out shoes for a long time, it increases the stress and impact on joints throughout your lower leg, especially the knees and ankles.

If you’ve been experiencing muscle fatigue, shin splints or pain in your joints—especially your knees—there’s a chance that it may be due to running in shoes that no longer have enough cushioning. The best thing you can do to prevent these types of injuries is replace your running shoes when they’re worn out. Here are some important tips to keep in mind when determining if it’s time to ditch your old pair for a new one:

  • Don’t use the treads on your shoes to determine when they should be replaced; the midsole—which provides the cushioning and stability of the shoe—usually breaks down before the bottoms shows any major signs of wear, so use that instead
  • A good rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles that you run; however, this will vary depending on your running style, body weight and surface that you primarily run on
  • Smaller runners are usually safe getting a new pair on the upper end of that range, so they should aim to replace shoes around 400 miles
  • Heavier runners should consider replacing shoes closer to 300 miles
  • If you run on roads and other rough surfaces, you’ll need to replace your running shoes sooner than if you run primarily on a treadmill
  • Mark your calendar when you buy a new pair of running shoes and try to keep a training log of the amount of miles you run, so you’ll know when it’s time to replace them
  • You can also consider buying a new pair of shoes about halfway through the lifespan of a pair and then rotating between the two so they both last longer

Running injuries are common and difficult to avoid entirely, but wearing a pair of running shoes that provides sufficient support and stability is one step you can take to reduce this risk. Keep track of when it’s time to replace your shoes and be sure you’re purchasing the right type for your size and running habits. For any pain you may be experiencing from running or any other physical activities, our Cleveland Physical Therapists in Kings Mountain and Shelby, NC, where we have two convenient locations, can help. Contact us at 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Prevent sports-related injuries in Shelby with our Athletic Development Program

If you’re an athlete of any sort, you know how important movement is. Movement, in essence, is the foundation of our ability to perform at our highest possible level. For this reason, a dysfunctional movement pattern not only reduces this ability to perform at your best, but also increases your chances of experiencing an injury.

The good news is that movement patterns can be evaluated, modified and improved, and that’s exactly what our new Athletic Development Program is designed to accomplish. Led by Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates staff members Dusty Quattlebaum, DPT and Jonathan Ahearn, DPT, who are both functional movement screen (FMS) certified, the Athletic Development Program explains what works, what doesn’t work and why, and gets to the root of any problems you might be having before they lead to an injury.

Here’s how the program works: first, physical therapists Dr. Quattlebaum and Dr. Ahearn screen each athlete using the FMS, which breaks down the specifics of the movements of their upper body, lower body and trunk. Based on this evaluation, they will look for any areas of deficit that may lead to pain, injury or overall dysfunction when performing their respective sport. Depending on the sport that the athlete participates in, they will also look for specific movement patterns that are necessary in that sport, and will help to ensure that they are being performed safely and correctly.

From there, Drs. Quattlebaum and Ahearn will create an individualized program that will address any issues with movement patterns while also improving athletic ability. The goal of the six-week program is to advance each participant’s overall athletic capabilities, particularly focusing on strength, power, speed and agility. At the end of the program, each athlete is also given a home-exercise program that will allow them to continue on with their athletic training and development so they can carry on all their improvements beyond the span of the course.

If you’re an athlete that’s performing at a high intensity, your risk for injury is elevated, and that’s why it’s best to get evaluated to ensure that everything checks out and you’re not executing any movements that increase this risk even more. Upon completing our program, you’ll be more educated and physically prepared to excel in your respective sport as safely as possible.

To learn more about our Athletic Development Program to prevent sports-related injuries in Shelby and Kings Mountain, NC, or for any other aches or pains you may be experiencing, contact Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates at 704-471-0001 to see when our next program will be starting up.

Be sure to stay properly hydrated in the hot weather this summer from Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain

Winter, and all the complications and disturbances that come with it, may feel like a distant memory now as we hit the hottest time of year. But getting caught up in the summer sun, we may tend to forget that there are also some dangers that come with the warm weather, too. High up on that list is dehydration, a common problem in summer.

Water accounts for approximately 60% of our body weight, and every cell, tissue and organ relies on it in order to function properly. Water is essential many important biological tasks, some of which include maintaining temperature, removing wastes and lubricating joints. Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to muscles, and in turn, helps muscles work more efficiently.

Of the large amount of water in the body, only about 10% of it is in the bloodstream, and much of this water can be lost through sweating, our body’s natural cooling mechanism. Exercising in any environment causes the body to sweat, and in warmer temperatures, more sweat is produced. Performing intense exercise in hot and humid conditions can lead to sweating up to three liters, which is more than half the water in our bloodstream.

Sweat evaporates quickly in dry weather, so only a small amount of sweat is needed to lower the body’s temperature, but in humid conditions, it takes much longer to evaporate. This causes you to sweat more, and if you don’t replenish the amount of water your body loses, it leads to dehydration. The main symptoms of dehydration are little or no urine (or urine that’s darker in color than usual), dry mouth, intense thirst, confusion, nausea, sleepiness/fatigue, headaches and dizziness/lightheadedness.

The best way to prevent dehydration when exercising is by not waiting until you’re thirsty or notice symptoms to start drinking water. On hot days—especially if you’re exercising—it’s imperative that you drink plenty of water at all times. Below are some additional tips to help you stay hydrated while exercising in the summer sun:

  • Get in the habit of drinking lots of water throughout the day
  • Drink cool rather than very cold water, which your body will absorb better
  • Water is the best option, but if you’re exercising at a high intensity for longer than one hour, a sports drink with electrolytes may also be necessary
  • The exact amount you need to drink depends on your body weight, body temperature, type of exercise and weather conditions, but as a general guideline, drink several glasses of water spaced throughout the day; you are usually well-hydrated if your urine is very light yellow or clear
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that will allow air to circulate
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, as it’s a diuretic and will make you lose more fluids
  • Try to exercise in the shade and avoid direct exposure to the sun if possible

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and savor the sun with your favorite exercise, but it also requires a bit of caution while doing so. Keep these pointers in mind throughout the summer and avoid any heat-related complications like dehydration. For any pain you may be experiencing, come into Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain and Shelby, NC for an evaluation. Call 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Cleveland physical therapists in Shelby can treat your swimming injuries

If you’re a dedicated, competitive swimmer, then your season likely runs throughout the entire year. As the most popular low-impact fitness activity in the country, over one million Americans are involved in recreational or competitive swimming, and more than one third of them practice and compete all year long. Competitive swimming is definitively one of the best possible ways to stay fit all year, but it’s also important to realize it carries with it a risk for injury. Fortunately, these injuries can be treated by our Cleveland physical therapists in Shelby and Kings Mountain, NC.

Swimming is regarded as an excellent form of physical activity, primarily because it strengthens multiple regions of the body while also improving flexibility and endurance. The lack of impact makes it a safe choice for avoiding lower-body injuries that are more common with land-based exercises, but its intense involvement of upper-body muscles increases the chances for overuse injuries. The risk for these types injuries is even greater in elite swimmers, who may train more than five miles per day. This puts lots of strain on joints from extreme repetitive motions and can lead to pain or injury.

Overuse injuries occur gradually over time and primarily result from fatigue and failure to adhere to proper stroke techniques. Unsurprisingly, about 90% of complaints from swimmers relate to their shoulders, and the most common injury overall is called swimmer’s shoulder. More of a general term than a specific injury, swimmer’s shoulder describes any shoulder pain that swimmers experience, but it’s usually due to rotator cuff tendinitis, which is a group of muscles and tendons that surround and stabilize the shoulder. If left untreated, swimmer’s shoulder can go on to cause more pain and other injuries that can interfere with a swimmer’s overall performance.

Though the shoulder is by far the most common site for injury, some swimmers may also experience other types of injuries. Swimmers that primarily perform the breaststroke are prone to a breaststroker’s knee, which describes knee pain from injuries to ligaments or tendons. Foot and ankle issues, hip pain and even back pain may also occur for some swimmers in certain circumstances.

The best way to reduce injury risk is to ensure that you’re practicing and competing with the proper technique, but at Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates, we recommend the following for treating and preventing swimming-related injuries:

  • Warm up and stretch—especially the shoulder—before every swim
  • Avoid overuse injuries by mixing up strokes and spending less time practicing those that are causing pain; also be sure that sufficient rest is taken
  • Practice good communication between coaches, swimmers and sports trainers
  • Take some time off rather than pushing through pain, which can make it worse
  • Our physical therapists can help with a training program that will likely include core-strengthening exercises, shoulder-strengthening exercises, hip-strengthening exercises and flexibility exercises to increase shoulder range of motion

Our physical therapists in Shelby and Kings Mountain, NC are experts in treating all types of sports-related injuries, including those experienced from swimming. For any pain you be feeling from swimming or any other activities, contact Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates at 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

How to stay on your feet and avoid a fall from Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain

Falls are the leading cause of injury for older Americans. As a result, they threaten seniors’ safety and independence in major ways. Approximately one-third of Americans over the age of 65 falls each year, which results in more than 2.4 million injuries treated in emergency rooms. Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls, with over 95% of hip fractures resulting from a fall of some sort. Other common fractures include the spine, forearm, leg and ankle, and the risk for these increases even more when bone-weakening osteoporosis—also common in older adults—is present.

Older adults fall for a number of reasons, but they are often due to a combination of internal and external factors. Poor vision and/or balance in an environment with bad lighting, bad footing or slippery surfaces can be a recipe for a fall. Environmental hazards are responsible for at least one-third of all falls, both in and out of the house.

When a fall does occur, many people unfortunately go on to develop an even greater fear of falling, even if they’re not injured. This can cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness. Worst of all, this process can become a vicious cycle that actually increases the risk for falling rather than lowering it.

This may lead to the notion that falling is an inevitable part of aging, but this is wrong. By being aware of your risk and making lifestyle adjustments both in and out of the home, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling for you and/or a loved one. Below are some fall-prevention tips to help older adults stay on their feet and injury-free:

  • Wear shoes with nonskid soles, consider getting Velcro or spyrolaces if needed
  • Install handrails on both sides of all stairways, avoid clutter and putting any items on the floor, remove throw rugs and make sure your home is well-lit
  • Conduct a walkthrough of your home (with someone else if you’re uncertain) to identify possible problems that may lead to a fall, then make necessary changes
  • Get physically active on a regular basis, as keeping up with your physical fitness is one of the best ways to keep your body strong and prevent falls
  • In bathroom, use nonskid mats, a raised toilet seat and grab bars as needed
  • If you’re supposed to use a walking assistive device, be sure you’re using it properly and at all times, both in and out of the house
  • Get your eyes checked once a year, and get adequate calcium and vitamin D
  • If you’re taking numerous medications, learn the side effects and if there are any interactions that can increase your risk of falling

These are just a few of the many adjustments you can make to reduce the risk for a fall. By taking charge and making necessary changes, you won’t have to live with the fear of falling and can go about your day feeling much more confident. For more guidance on how to prevent a fall, or for any other aches or pains you may be experiencing, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain and Shelby, NC is here to help. Contact us at 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.