Avoid seeing a physical therapist in Shelby by taking steps to prevent a fall this winter

Between snow, freezing rain, “wintry mix” and everything in between, winter weather can really interfere with our ability to get around. But perhaps worst of all weather conditions is the ice that may come after and precipitation. Ice on driveways, walkways and parking lots is a major danger that poses a serious risk for falls and slips, especially for the elderly and those who have difficulty walking over the next few months.

Slips and falls are actually the single largest cause for emergency room visits in the U.S. They are responsible for 300,000 serious injuries and 20,000 deaths each year. Though falls may occur for any number of reasons, many are due to icy winter conditions.

When someone experiences a fall, they often experience a long-term disability that can make walking and getting around in daily life extremely difficult. Some of the more common injuries sustained after falls are back muscle strains, head injuries like concussions, and fractures to the tailbone, hips, forearms, legs and ankles.

At Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates, we want you to stay on your feet and avoid any potential falls this winter season. By taking your time and following a few basic precautions, you’ll reduce your chances of slipping and avoid seeing a physical therapist in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC this winter. We recommend the following tips:

8 tips to help you stay on your feet this winter

  • 1) Take small steps, walk slowly and never run under any circumstances
  • 2) Keep both hands free (not in your pockets) for balance, use handrails whenever they are available and don’t carry any heavy loads
  • 3) Be sure you’re wearing proper footwear any time there may be ice: boots are best, but any pair of shoes with good traction and a rubber sole will do; if need be, wear proper footwear while traveling and bring a pair to change into
  • 4) Avoid icy surfaces and change your route accordingly to walk around it
  • 5) Don’t jump out of vehicles; instead, step out carefully and look for ice
  • 6) Test potentially icy spots by tapping the area with your foot first
  • 7) Remove snow and water from your shoes when entering buildings
  • 8) Shovel and salt your driveways and walkways (or have someone else do it)

Getting around in icy conditions often requires additional planning and may take longer than usual, but the extra time and effort will be worth it if it prevents you from slipping on ice this winter. For more information on avoiding falls or for any other aches or pains you may be experiencing, visit us at Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates at either of our two locations in Shelby and Kings Mountain, NC. Call 704-471-0001 to schedule an appointment.

Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain Recommends These Travel Tips for the Holidays

The holiday season is one of the biggest travel times of the year, and if you haven’t already done so, it’s likely your plans call for some traveling over the next two weeks.

Whether your travel plans entail flying across the country or driving a few hours from home, let’s face it: traveling can be difficult for many of us. Between crowded highways, packed planes and the general mania of the holiday season, the process of getting from point A to point B can be a dreadful one. Being in a confined space and sitting for long periods of time can also be painful for your back or neck.

The reason is that airplane and car seats are designed for comfort for the average back curve. However, many people have variations with flat backs or excessively curved backs. The typical contoured seat puts the average flat back on too much of a prolonged stretch. The average curved back is not used to the lack of support and get overstrained.

As a result, many people with back pain are hesitant about traveling. This can cause them unnecessary stress or prevent them from traveling altogether. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take while traveling that will reduce the chances of experiencing back pain. Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates recommends these tips for managing back pain while traveling by bus, car, train or plane:

  • Flat backs need to block the prolonged overstretch by creating a soft arch in the seat; many cars have built in lumbar supports; planes need a supplemental support, like an inflatable lumbar pillow, rolled towel or travel sweater
  • Stretch your entire body, especially your back, before departing, to prepare it for the prolonged stretch of contoured seats
  • Avoid hunching forward; keep both feet on the ground
  • Be sure your lumbar region is against the back of the seat and the headrest (when applicable) is supporting the middle of your head
  • Stand up and move around at least once every 30 minutes; if there’s enough space, do some stretching while standing; if not, do some basic seated stretches
  • Flex and straighten your legs and arms, move your knees up and down and make circles with your ankles
  • Pack lightly, check heavy bags and avoid overhead lifting of heavy luggage
  • When driving in a car, follow the same seating tips as above; also make sure you’re as close to the wheel as possible to avoid a hunched reaching posture
  • Take frequent quick stops every 45 minutes to take the constant stretch off the back; walk around and arch the back and side bend slowly to relieve the sitting strain; trade off driving duties

Traveling may seem like a pain, but that doesn’t mean it should actually cause you any actual back pain. Follow these tips and don’t let your back prevent you from seeing your loved ones over the holidays. For any additional back pain questions or other issues, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain and Shelby, NC is here to help. Call us at 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Shelby residents-physical therapists recommend starting good habits now and sticking to them over the holiday season

With the holiday season rolling right along, one thing many of us can’t seem to avoid is overindulgence. We know there will be holiday gatherings, office parties and big meals with the family, and at each of them we’ll be directly faced with temptation. Try as we might, we often let our willpower fall by the wayside and dig right in.

When this happens, what many people do is let it all go and start fresh with a new plan of good habits for the New Year. While this cycle of events is incredibly common, it is undoubtedly the wrong way of going about it. Statistics show that only about 12% of people actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions for the entire year, setting most people up for disappointment and regret.

At Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates, we propose a different solution: don’t wait until the New Year to change bad habits, especially they’re not going to work. Instead, take some extra steps and set a positive trend over the next few weeks that will launch you into the New Year with your best foot forward and ahead of the game, while others scramble to undo all their splurging during the holidays.

Whether you’re looking to eliminate bad habits or maintain some of your good ones that might be affected by the holiday hecticness, the best way to go about it is to have a specific plan set out and stick with it. Below are some helpful tips to guide you on a path of good habits over the next few weeks of the holidays:

  • Accept that your schedule is going to be different than normal and figure out ways to work around it; this includes exercising early or whenever you can; multiple small sessions are acceptable over one large one if needed
  • Get a friend or family member to be your workout buddy; make a pact with them to stick to your exercise plan and help each other stay motivated
  • Keep fitness a priority over unnecessary shopping or other activities
  • Evaluate your progress with a scale or fitness tracker and try to continue improving over the next few weeks when other might get lazy
  • If spending too much is a bad habit that often adds to your holiday stress, set a specific budget and do your best to stick with it
  • If you’re trying to quite smoking, get a head start and do it now: you won’t be the one stinking like smoke at any of your holiday parties
  • If too much alcohol is a concern, try to limit that at events as well
  • No matter what your sleeping schedule is, aim to get 7-8 hours every night over the holidays; it’ll reduce stress and help you function during the day

The holidays should be filled with joy, but that doesn’t mean you should fill yourself and deal with the guilt that comes from overindulgence. Shelby residents-physical therapists recommend you start practicing good habits now and stick with them throughout the holidays. For more information or to schedule an appointment, at either or our two locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC, call us at 704-471-0001.

Physical therapists in Shelby, NC advise against the dangers of too much smartphone use and text neck

Last month we explained that text thumb is a real problem that can develop from repeatedly typing away on smartphones. In a day when smartphone use is constant and everywhere, it’s sadly not the only risk associated with excessive use. For over-users of smartphones that can’t seem to put them down, there’s also text neck.

Like text thumb, text neck is a repetitive stress injury that arises from continuously performing the same activity—namely, texting. In this case, though, it’s not the motion of the thumbs that can cause damage, but the craning of the neck to look at the screen that’s become so characteristic of most smartphone use these days.

Biologically speaking, our necks were not made for texting. Neck muscles and joints can handle our normal everyday movements, but they are not built to withstand being flexed for countless hours every day. In addition, the average human head weighs about 10 pounds in a neutral position (with ears over shoulders), but the further the head tilts forward, the more the pressure increases on the neck.

So when you spend a good chunk your free time belting out texts or watching the latest viral video on YouTube, you’re pushing your neck past its limits, and over time, text neck can result. Aside from pain or soreness in the neck, the condition can also lead to headaches, shoulder, arm or wrist pain. In severe cases, it can even cause muscles to adapt to fit the flexed position, which can reverse the natural curvature of the neck and make it painful to straighten it properly.

Though it’s far-fetched to recommend ceasing all or even most texting in today’s world, but as with text thumb, there are additional measures you can take to reduce your chances of developing text neck. Here are some basic steps you can take:

  • Keep your feet flat on the floor, sit up straight, roll your shoulders back and keep your eyes directly over them (so your head isn’t tilted forward); it also helps to hold the phone a bit higher to maintain good posture
  • Take regular breaks every few minutes while using your phone to look upwards or straight ahead while tucking the chin back towards the neck
  • Dictate messages instead of typing them out as often as possible
  • Use the app Text Neck Indicator (only available for Android), which alerts users if the smartphone is being viewed at a dangerous or safe angle
  • Perform strengthening exercises, which will build up muscles in the neck and shoulders to better prepare them for the strain from craning
  • Perform stretching exercises to increase flexibility and range of motion

Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates understands the importance of smartphones in today’s times, but we don’t like to see patients in pain from overusing these devices. If you’re experiencing pain or soreness that may be from too much texting, we can help with exercises and other advice on minimizing neck strain. For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists in Shelby, NC or Kings Mountain, NC, call us at 704-471-0001.

Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates recommends these tips while cleaning gutters to avoid a fall or injury

Very few people actually enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean cleaning your gutters has to be done anyways. Gutter cleaning is an essential job typically done before winter sets in to prepare houses from any future rain or snow, as a drainage system that doesn’t flow properly can cause significant damage to a house. Aside from the fact that most people aren’t particularly fond of this housework, the opportunity for falls and other injuries is also quite high, mainly because it’s performed off the ground.

Falls are the number one cause of accidental injury and death in homes every year, and other unexpected injuries may occur in the process of cleaning gutters as well. While this might make the thought of cleaning your gutters even more daunting, the truth is most of these accidents result from a lack of attention to possible dangers, and in the majority of injuries can be prevented if certain precautions are taken.

By being cautious and taking specific safety measures, you can help ensure you’re doing all you can to get the job done and avoid an injury. Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates recommends the following safety tips for gutter cleaning:

  • Partner: having someone else assist you by passing tools and holding the ladder will make the job both faster and safer; at the least, let someone know you’re cleaning gutters and have them check on you periodically
  • Gloves: wear a pair of gloves (a thick, suede pair is best), to prevent contact with mold and protect you from sticks and other sharp objects
  • Protective eyewear: use goggles or other eyewear to keep the eyes safe
  • Ladders: use a safe, sturdy ladder, preferably made of fiberglass or aluminum (avoid wood); four-legged step ladders are recommended for one-story and extension ladders for two-stories or more; always maintain three points of contact with the ladder (two hands and one foot, etc.)
  • Rubber shoes: if you happen to be cleaning the gutters from the roof, use rubber-soled shoes, which will help avoid slipping and reduce fall risk
  • Gutter scoop: a plastic gutter scoop (not metal) is recommended as the most efficient tool for cleaning out gutters
  • Bucket and rope: attach a bucket to the shelf on the ladder to clear debris and prevent too much reaching

You certainly don’t have to love cleaning gutters, but by making sure you’re using the right tools and taking appropriate safety precautions, at least you’ll know you’re reducing your chance of injury while doing it. For more guidance on gutter cleaning or for any other aches or pains, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates is here to help. Call 704-471-0001 to learn more or to schedule an appointment at either or our two locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC.

Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates speaks on text thumb, an actual condition arising from too much smartphone use

Smartphone use is everywhere, and practically unavoidable. On the bus, in the waiting room, at the sporting game, and just about anywhere else you could possibly imagine. It seems that the better they get, the more people seem to rely on them, and this process is likely to only continue. But did you know: aside from the fact that the nausea some people experience from seeing their excessive use, our obsession with smartphones can also lead to a medical condition called text thumb.

Whether you’ve heard of the term or not, if you happen to spend a large portion of your free time texting and typing away on a mobile device, you should be no stranger to text thumb. Most people who develop text thumb experience feelings of pain, soreness and sometimes cramping, primarily in their thumbs, but it can also radiate outwards to the elbow, wrist and forearm as they are all connected.

The problem is that our thumbs are designed for gripping and grasping objects, not for repeatedly pounding on a screen to send texts or play games for countless hours every day. For this reason, text thumb is classified as a repetitive stress injury, which can arise from performing any activity—like making espresso, flipping burgers or turning a screwdriver—over and over for an extended period of time.

In the case of text thumb, the repetitive, demanding motion of texting places too much stress on the ligaments and muscles in the thumb and surrounding area, which can lead to irritation. This can go on to negatively affect grip strength and range of motion, and in cases that aren’t treated properly, can eventually cause long-term damage and even tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon).

Eliminating all texting at all times is an unrealistic request, but there are some basic steps you can take to prevent and treat text thumb before it gets out of control:

  • Increase your phone’s sensitivity setting so you don’t have to type so hard
  • Significantly reduce or eliminate playing games from your daily usage
  • Keep texting to a minimal: send short texts, use autocorrect and make phone calls or send e-mails for conversations with multiple exchanges
  • If you do experience pain for a week or less, apply ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes; for lasting pain, apply heat with a hot towel or pad
  • Don’t grip your phone too hard while texting or during any other use
  • Stretch out your fingers, arms and wrist on a regular basis, especially if they’re feeling sore; you can easily use one hand to stretch the other back and forth or a stress ball to stretch and strengthen hand and wrist muscles
  • Maintain good posture, especially in the neck, which can impact the wrists
  • See a physical therapist for additional stretching and massage, which will improve flexibility and reduce discomfort in the affected area

You may not realize it, but too much smartphone use can actually be hazardous to your health. For any text-related pain or soreness, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates can help. Call 704-471-0001 to learn more or to schedule an appointment at either or our two locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC.

Muscle strains common in soccer can be prevented with some basic precautions

About midway through the season now, fall sports like soccer are beginning to pick up steam as the weather cools down but the competition heats up. A hallmark of the fall season, soccer is the fastest growing team sport in the U.S. and serves as a great form of aerobic exercise that helps athletes develop balance, agility, endurance and speed. But just like every other sport, soccer also carries with it a risk of injury.

At the top of this list, muscle strains are among the most common injuries seen in soccer at all levels of play. They are defined as a twist, pull and/or tear of a muscle, and are caused by stretching a muscle beyond its normal range or contracting a muscle too hard when it’s not ready to do so. Players often sustain strains from taking a longer stride than the muscle can handle or from cutting movements and quick stop-and-starts, all of which are a big part of regular soccer play.

Muscle strains are most common in the groin muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps, back and calves, and can be either chronic (lasting three months or longer) or acute (short-term). A player can identify a muscle strain if they experience any of the following symptoms: pain, muscle spasm, muscle weakness, inflammation, swelling or cramping.

Taking a few basic precautionary measures can prevent most muscle strains, and when they do occur, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates can guide athletes’ recovery so they can get back on the field in no time. We recommend the following important tips for coaches and athletes to prevent muscle strains this season:

  • Be sure to warm up adequately and stretch out any tight muscles, especially previously injured ones, before every practice and game
  • Engage in a prevention program that focuses on flexibility and strengthening, since keeping muscles strong will help them absorb the energy of sudden stressful activities
  • Wear well-fitted cleats with appropriate spikes (longer spikes in softer turf and shorter spikes on dry, hard turf)
  • Take breaks as needed and stop if you’re too tired to continue on, as tired muscles don’t respond well to stress and can more easily strain
  • If you do experience a strain, always remember the RICE method: Rest for a week or two; Ice the area for 10 minutes, several times a day; use an elastic Compression bandage; Elevate the affected area above the heart
  • For pain that doesn’t subside or for additional care, our physical therapists can provide specific strengthening and stretching exercises and offer guidance on proper movement techniques to use while playing soccer to reduce the risk of future muscle strain once return to play is deemed safe

Most athletes can make a complete recovery from a muscle strain so long as treatment is followed appropriately, but prevention is the best strategy, and Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates can help with this process. Call 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment at either or our two locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC.

Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates can effectively treat plantar fasciitis, a common cause of heel pain typical in runners

If you happen to be an avid runner that pounds the pavement on a regular basis, then you’re no stranger to pain and you’ve probably come to accept it as an inescapable part of your hobby. One of the many potential problems that may develop due to the repetitive strain of regularly logging significant mileage is plantar fasciitis, which is generally considered the most common cause of heel pain.

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your feet and connects the heel bone to the toes. It’s designed to absorb many of the stresses we put on our feet, but too much pressure or strain from running can go on to damage the tissue and lead to inflammation in that area.

This inflammation results in the most typical symptom of plantar fasciitis, a stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel that tends to be worse with the first few steps of the day in the morning or after extended periods of standing. It’s particularly common in long-distance runners, but can stem from repeatedly performing any weight-bearing activities or being on your feet for most of the day. People who are overweight, over the age of 40 or who have high arches or flat feet are also at an increased risk of developing plantar fasciitis.

As with any other painful condition, trying to push through or ignore plantar fasciitis can go on to cause chronic (long-term) heel pain and may result in pain in other parts of your body if you alter the way you walk. Most cases of the condition will resolve if certain actions are taken, and Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates recommends the following strategies to tackle plantar fasciitis:

  • Limit or completely stop the activity that led to pain in the first place
  • Avoid walking around barefoot, which puts more strain on the foot
  • Ice the bottom of your foot for 20 minutes, 3-4 times a day
  • Purchase a new pair of supportive shoes with good arch support
  • If your pain doesn’t improve within a few weeks after following these home remedies, see a physical therapist; treatment usually includes:
  •    Stretching exercises, such as the calf stretch and plantar fascia stretch, to improve the flexibility of your ankle and plantar fascia
  •    Strengthening exercises to build strength in your lower leg muscles, which stabilize the ankle and heel
  •    Deep tissue massage to release muscle tension and reduce pain
  •    Taping of the foot for short-term relief
  •    Education on preventing future issues, such as replacing shoes regularly, stretching before/after exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight

Plantar fasciitis can be a debilitating and bothersome condition for runners and non-runners alike, but it can be managed by closely following a treatment program from Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates. Call 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment at either or our two locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC.

Female athletes are more susceptible to ACL injuries, but a prevention program can help reduce their risk this soccer season

Soccer season is starting to pick up, and due to the many cutting motions that are so characteristic of the sport, a noteworthy risk of injury comes with it as well.

High on this list are injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which are extremely common for male and female athletes in all age groups, as about 150,000 occur every year in the U.S. For a number of mainly anatomical reasons, female athletes are at a significantly elevated risk for these injuries, and in certain sports like soccer, they are 4-8 times more likely to suffer an ACL tear than males.

The majority of these ACL injuries (~70%) in female athletes are noncontact, meaning they result from landing, pivoting or hyperextending incorrectly during play. ACL strains and sprains usually only lead to a short period of rest and recovery, while tears are much more serious and can have a significant long-term impact on a player’s career. Therefore, it’s imperative that efforts are made to try to keep female athletes safe and reduce their risk of ACL injuries.

As mentioned, the female anatomy is the main reason they experience a higher number of ACL injuries. Females have weaker and wider hips, higher ligament laxity and are more quadriceps-dominant than males, all of which contribute to movements that make an ACL injury more likely. Studies that evaluated functional knee braces to prevent ACL injuries have found no conclusive evidence to support their use; however, multiple studies have shown significant benefits of prevention programs that are focused on addressing these anatomical factors through training.

One of these, the PEP (Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance) Program, has been found to lead to drastic reductions in ACL injuries for young female athletes and it’s now even being considered as a tool for use in college and professional athletes.

Coaches and trainers can quickly learn the PEP Program and instruct players on how to effectively carry it out for optimal results. Here are some highlights:

  • —Consists of 19 warm-up, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics and sport-specific agility exercises to address deficits in strength and coordination
  • —Requires no specialized equipment
  • —Can be completed in only 15-20 minutes
  • —Recommended to be completed three times per week
  • —Coaches must emphasize correct posture, straight up and down jumps without excessive side-to-side movement, and reinforce soft landings

While the high risk of ACL injuries in female athletes may seem daunting, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done about it. Click here for more information on the PEP Program, and for any additional guidance with injuries to the ACL or anywhere else, visit Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates at either of our two locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC. Call 704-471-0001 for an appointment

Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates can treat your ankle sprain and help you avoid chronic issues in the future

If you’ve ever played any sports that involve regular cutting like basketball, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with ankle sprains. You may have experienced one yourself, or if not, perhaps you’ve seen a teammate or opponent experience a sprain at some point in your career. This is all due to the extremely high prevalence of sprains, as ankles have the big task of supporting the weight of our entire bodies.

Ankle sprains come about from the stretching or tearing of ligaments in the ankle and lead to pain, swelling and tenderness. They are the most common injury in sports—accounting for 45% of all sports injuries, especially seen in basketball—but they can occur any time the ankle moves beyond its normal range of motion.

On the bright side, the prognosis for most ankle sprains is quite good. By following a treatment program that includes rest from physical activity and protecting the ankle from further damage, most sprains will only need 4-6 weeks to heal; however, in some situations, an ankle sprain can become a chronic (long-term) problem.

In cases when the ankle sprain is not properly rehabilitated or the patient returns to sports too soon, the ankle does not heal right and can lead to a condition called chronic ankle instability (CAI). This results in regular pain and discomfort, and causes patients to feel like their ankles are unstable or “giving way” at any time. If not managed properly, CAI can cause these patients to repeatedly sprain their ankles and eventually becomes a long-term disability.

The good news is CAI can usually be avoided by following a rehabilitation program and not aggravating the ankle when it’s vulnerable. Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates recommends the following treatments to prevent CAI:

  • Use the RICE method, one of the easiest and most effective home remedies:
  •    Rest: rest your ankle and avoid putting any pressure on it
  •    Ice: immediately apply ice for 20 minutes, 3 times/day for swelling
  •    Compression: immobilize and support ankle with bandages/wraps
  •    Elevation: raise injured limb above heart for 2-3 hours/day
  • Follow a physical therapy program, which typically consists of:
  •    Range of motion exercises: designed to restore ankle movement
  •    Strengthening exercises: these will help you regain your strength and prevent any long-term ankle disability
  •    Balance training: to help you get more stable and learn to deal with any potential hazards you may encounter
  •    Functional training: learn to complete activities you might have difficulty with like walking, running or jumping

If you’ve recently sprained your ankle and don’t want to experience long-lasting pain and repeated injuries in the future, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates can help. Call 704-471-0001 for more information on ankle sprains or to schedule an appointment either or our two locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC.