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MICROBREAKS - Saving muscles from overuse

8 July 2018

Muscular pain is one of the most common pathologies of today's society. Muscle pain occurs as joints degenerate over time and become arthritic. It is associated with nearly every musculoskeletal injury and is responsible for most of the dull and achy pains felt throughout the body that "happen for no reason". With a steady rise in desk jobs, time spent on devices (computers, cell phones, tablets, etc.), we are seeing more and more patients with muscle related pain in physical therapy. Even doing household chores like vacuuming, folding laundry, hanging clothes, and unloading groceries from your car can create muscle pain. Although there are many things that happen in life that cannot be controlled, there is still much that can be done to minimize and prevent muscle pain due to overuse injuries, posture, and repetitive movements.

When working at a desk or computer for extended periods of time there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from postural and repetitive strain on your muscles. Ensure your work station is set up ergonomically with the top of your monitor at eye level. Keep things you use frequently closer to you on the desk. Have your mouse and keyboard positioned at elbow height.  Find a chair that allows you to sit comfortably with your feet flat on the ground and good lumbar support. The most important thing, however, is to not stay in any one position for too long. Set a 20 minute timer on your computer, mobile device, or use a kitchen timer, and when the alarm sounds stand up and stretch out or walk around for 1-2 minutes. This "microbreak" will allow your muscles that have been working to rest, your vascular system to bring fresh oxygen while taking away lactic acid build-up, and restore your posture before it inevitably falls into "bad posture".

Microbreaks can be used in any situation. There is research that shows more than 20 minutes of any repetitive activity can cause myofascial restriction, called trigger points, to form in the part of muscles that contract. Accumulations of trigger points and restrictions in the muscular and fascia system are what can contribute to muscle pain over a period of time. So, no matter what kind of work you are doing, if it is repetitive, remember to take microbreaks every 20-30 minutes to allow your muscles to rest and not be overworked

Dr. Jonathan Cole, DPT, CMTPT

Pelvic Floor Discussion

6 February 2018

In today’s world, any condition within the pelvis especially about bowels, bladder, or sexual organs has become a very sensitive and uncomfortable topic to discuss medically. Patients tend to ignore or avoid discussing any issues with their medical providers that involve using the bathroom or difficulty during intimate relations. The unstated fact of pelvic health is that a pelvic condition or disorder is actually very common in men and women of all age groups. A study, by Harris Interactive and published in Urologic Nursing, found that 32% of Americans between the ages of 30-70 have urinary difficulty (Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, 2017). Also, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, approximately 17% of men have experienced some sort of pelvic floor dysfunction (Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, 2017). This population needs to feel comfortable talking about these things and get the diagnosis and treatment they deserve because the majority of cases are treatable. Physical therapy can diagnose and treat these conditions. So…. Let’s talk about the pelvic floor.

The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles that expand across the bottom of the pelvis. They play a key role in controlling the passage of urine and feces, supporting the spine, and sexual function. These muscles also work together to maintain proper positioning of internal organs as the body changes positions. Due to the pelvic floor’s many distinct functions, several problematic issues can arise. The most common conditions are incontinence, sensation changes, over-activity, prolapse, pain during urination, and menstrual cycle difficulties. Each of these conditions can be embarrassing, painful, and debilitating. The thing to remember is that the pelvic floor is still a group of muscles that can be strained, in spasm, torn, over-active and/or even underactive causing these conditions. Similar to other muscles in the body, they can be treated and improved with physical therapy. A therapist can diagnose and treat with stretching, strengthening, and other specialized interventions to improve function and reduce pain.

This was an introduction to the pelvic floor and the physical therapy specialties of both women’s and men’s health. Stay tuned to our blog for more in depth pelvic health topics and articles addressing specific conditions.

References:

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14459-pelvic-floor-dysfunction. Accessed January 9, 2018.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: 6 Myths Busted! The Kaplan Center. https://kaplanclinic.com/articles/pelvic-floor-dysfunction-6-myths-busted/. Published May 8, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018.

Pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscles · The facts · Continence Foundation of Australia. https://www.continence.org.au/pages/how-do-pelvic-floor-muscles-help.html. Accessed January 9, 2018.

Let’s Talk Pelvic Floor

Katherine Caramante, PT, DPT


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