Stretching Is NOT For Everyone!

Stretching is not for everyone! Yet, for most in pain seeking the help of an expert, it’s one of the first things that is recommended to do.

Why?

That’s the question you should be asking! Go to a PT or a chiropractor and you’re likely to get a handful of stretches recommended to you to increase flexibility. But why are you so tight?

Is it because you sit at a desk all day? Maybe it’s because you have been exercising a lot lately? These still don’t answer the question. Your body is telling you something is wrong!

You feel stiff and tight. There is a very good reason why (and its not because you haven’t been stretching)! You need to find out why and also what needs to be done! Here are the 2 most common reasons you feel the need to stretch and why you shouldn’t:

Adhesion: Adhesion is the most common, most misdiagnosed, and mistreated condition in the human body. Adhesion is like glue on the muscles. It makes them stick together. Adhesion forms most frequently from overuse, like sitting at a desk all day or doing repetitive activities (sound familiar?). When present, it causes decreased range of motion, weakness, and pain. In order to fix it, it must be broken down manually with very precise and specific treatment.

Nerve Entrapment: Nerve entrapment goes hand-in-hand with the adhesion. Nerve entrapment happens when adhesion wraps itself around a nerve. This can create symptoms of radiating, tingling, burning, aching type symptoms. Similarly, the adhesion has to be removed from the nerve(s) in order for symptoms to go away.

Stretching will not help these conditions! Trying to stretch these conditions may make you feel better temporarily, but will make you feel the need to do it more, and you will never see the long term benefit.

If you are healthy, a daily/weekly routine of stretching or yoga can absolutely be a benefit to staying healthier longer! But if you have symptoms of pain or stiffness, it serves very little purpose. You have a problem, and it’s a BIG deal! You deserve it to yourself to find out why you feel the way you do! If your provider can’t explain why, get yourself a new provider!

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At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of adhesion!  If you, or someone you know, find yourself in a continuous need to stretch, or struggling to get out of pain, you deserve a better answer!  Call our office today at 319-423-0925 or request an appointment below!

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5 Of The Most Useless Rehab Methods

Let’s face it.  Being injured sucks.  It’s no fun, and most of the time it stops you from doing the activities you love to do.  Some try to fix themselves, while others seek the help of experts to get them out of pain.  Far too many are left in pain with no answers on what’s wrong and how to fix them.

Unfortunately, there is a ton of misinformation in health care.  Fads in healthcare peak fast and shortly fall off the cliff when everyone realizes it doesn’t work.  Even worse, long standard rehab methods that are still being used, despite a wealth of information proving them insufficient!

Here are 5 of the most widely used and abused ineffective treatment methods, and what you should be doing instead.

5.  ICE

Despite what you hear, inflammation produced after an injury is a good thing.  We are far too concerned about reducing inflammation, when in reality we should be appreciating the fact the body is trying to heal itself and just let it happen!  Even Gabe Mirkin, the man who created the acronym RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), warns about the use of ice!

Ice does help for pain, but it will also reduce blood flow.  Blood flow is necessary for healing as it brings in nutrients and materials for repairing the injured area.  Inflammation increases blood flow to stimulate repair.  Trust me your body will do a fantastic job to make sure the inflammation doesn’t get out of hand.

Fix:  Stop icing and let the injury heal!  If you are in unbearable pain, then using ice will be fine.  Just make sure to use it until the area goes numb, then remove it.

4.  REST

This ties into the first useless rehab method, but rest rarely helps.  Of course, if you hurt yourself bench pressing, you shouldn’t go right back to benching, but those who get injured most often stop activity all together.  When muscles do nothing for extended periods of time, they get weaker, and create more pain when returning to activity.

Fix:  Keep active. Continue to use the injured area in pain free, ranges of motion.  Depending on the severity of the injury use lighter weights.  Training other non-injured muscles have also shown to increase the recovery process.

3.  NSAIDS/CORTISONE

Cortisone is the most misused and abused treatment, behind only NSAIDS.  Again, this ties back to the first section on ice.  Inflammation isn’t a bad thing.  It’s a sign that something is wrong!  You need to figure out what that is.

Most often inflammation is produced from overuse – either the body is doing more than what it can handle or your movement is limited.  Limited motion is the most common cause of pain and inflammation in the body.

Cortisone was heralded as a miracle drug back in the 40’s.  Now we know its crap! If you’re lucky cortisone relieves pain in the short term.  In the long term, it degenerates muscles and tendons and leaves you more prone for injury.  Long term studies actually show that those who have used cortisone injections for treatment are WORSE off after a year than those who actually did NOTHING for pain.

Fix:  Stop using pain meds and cortisone injections, unless you are in unbearable pain.  Seek the help of a musculoskeletal expert to find out what is wrong and what needs to be done to fix you!

2.  KT TAPE

KT TAPE

Watching just about any sporting event on TV you will find at least one athlete wearing some brightly colored tape on some part of their body.  The sad thing is, is if you actually look at some of the research on these tape company’s websites, you will find that they actually link studies that prove their product doesn’t work!  Unbelievable!

If you remember in 2008, Olympian sprinter Manteo Mitchell broke his leg while running his leg of the 4 x 400 meter relay.  Why is that significant?  The leg he broke was the one wearing kinesiotape!

Now I get if you are running in the Olympics and are injured, by all means do what you need to do to compete.  Chances are you are not running in the Olympics anytime soon.  What kinesiotape does is override your body to feel pain.  This is why it has become so popular, but it does nothing to actually fix anything that’s physically wrong!

Fix:  Save yourself some money and stop buying tape.  If a provider you have been seeing is using the tape as treatment – you need to find a better provider!  Find someone that can figure out what is wrong with you and what you need to do to get out of pain

1.  STATIC STRETCHING

If you really think about it, static stretching is one of the most barbaric things you can do to yourself.  Take something that doesn’t want to move into that position, and hold it there for an extended period of time trying to force it even further into another position.

Study after study now shows that stretching is potentially harmful.  It will loosen up muscles in the short term, and even reduce some pain, but also decreases force production and moves your body into positions it doesn’t want to be in, opening it up for more potential injury.

Your body is very smart.  It will move as far as it needs to when healthy.  If you are tight or not flexible there is a reason why. Adhesion is the most common cause of limited mobility and pain in the body.  Unfortunately, it is also the most misdiagnosed and mistreated conditions, as well.  Fortunately, it is easily reversible by someone who knows how to identify and fix it!

Fix:  If you constantly find you are weak and tight, find an Integrative Diagnosis provider.  They are certified to find and fix adhesion.  This gets you back to moving properly and out of pain faster than anything else out there.  To find a provider, click here.

After fixing adhesion, dynamic stretching, moving while stretching, will keep your body moving properly and stay healthier longer!

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If you live in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area and find yourself using one or more of these methods to get out of pain, you deserve better answers and solutions to your problem!  We are the only full body certified Integrative Diagnosis providers in the state!  Call us today at 319-423-0925 or fill out an appointment request on this page.

Thanks for reading!

3 Rules For Staying Healthy

Unlike many of articles and blog posts we write, this one takes a different theme!  Instead of talking about how to get out of pain, we take a look at how to STAY out of pain!  It is important to note that this is not for those reading that are currently experiencing pain.  If you are reading this and are struggling to get out of pain, you need an expert diagnosis and the best treatment to fix your problem.  If you are looking to get to the bottom of your problem, I invite you to call our office at 319-423-0925 today for an appointment or find out if you are a candidate for our care.

Now for those of you still reading that are currently NOT in pain….CONGRATS!  You are most likely already doing a lot of things right to take care of yourself.  I think we can all agree that being in pain is a horrible, no good, very bad thing!  Pain either limits what we can do, or stops it all together, and when it is present, we want it gone just as fast as it came!  Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, as most cases of pain often contain layers of dysfunction that must be worked through.  Treatment is not always a “one hit wonder.”

Rule #1: STOP ABUSING YOUR BODY.  This isn’t just for the gym rats.  Sitting all day long has the same detriment on your body as grinding away at the gym for 3 hours every day at 100% effort.  In both situations it is only a matter of time before things break down!  At the office make sure to take frequent breaks (once or twice an hour).  Get up from your desk and move around!  At the gym it’s ok to back down the effort level sometimes or skip a workout if you are feeling beat up.  Feeling stiff and tight all the time is an early warning sign of a bigger problem.

Rule #2: CHANGE THINGS UP.  Unless you’re training for competition changing things up in your training routine helps to keep you healthy.  Same goes for sitting all day and not getting up (see above).  The body needs variation of activities and movements.  Prolonged positions and frequent repetitive motions is the most common reason for all overuse injuries.  Change your activity up to avoid this.

Rule#3: SELF-MAINTENANCE.  Maintenance for your body should be no different than brushing and flossing for your teeth, or an oil change for your car.  Stretching, yoga, foam rolling, mobility drills, maintenance exercise, and self-evaluation to monitor your health are all great tools to use.  We recently wrote an article over some basic movements all runners should have – these same tests apply to everyone else.  I invite you to check it out here.  The other tools mentioned are all designed to increase blood flow through the body and allow you to move better.  It is VITAL to note that stretching, yoga, foam rolling, exercise, and mobility drills are NOT treatment and should not be treated as such.  Do these things regularly though and these decrease your probability of struggling through pain.

 

Thanks for reading!

Why Weak and Tight Doesn’t Mean Strengthen and Stretch

One of the most common misconceptions in health care is this principle – “weak and tight” means “strengthen and stretch.”  If there is one problem or complaint I hear the most it’s, “I’m always tight.”  Usually, in the same breath, the same person will report that they just need to stretch, or they don’t stretch as often as they should.  It usually comes as a surprise when I then tell this person that stretching won’t help them, and if you’re reading this and you always feel “stiff” it probably won’t help you either.

Stretching is the most overprescribed treatment in healthcare, and also the least beneficial.  Now, don’t get me wrong there is a time and a place for stretching – yoga is fantastic – but fixing your stiffness and pain, it’s not going to happen!

Allow me to explain.

Our bodies were not programmed to handle the modern day lifestyle. Whether you work in a 9-5 desk position or work in a factory doing manual labor 40+ hours a week, both will have the same thing in common.  Overuse.  Overuse happens when we sit in prolonged positions or do repetitive activities, if we are not taking care of ourselves.

When we overuse our bodies, and fail to take care of it with proper rest, recovery, nutrients, this will often create a phenomenon called protective tension.  Protective tension is created to help the body adapt to overuse.  The body will make muscles spasm and contract to help protect any overloaded structure from further injury.  Over a period of time, this gradually leads to adhesion formation.

Overuse Cycle

 

If you are unfamiliar with adhesion, adhesion is the most common problem in the human body, but also the most misdiagnosed.  Fortunately, it can be fixed easily with the right diagnosis and treatment.  When present, it acts like glue on soft tissue structures like muscles, ligaments, and nerves.  This glue then binds muscles and nerves together and decreases your flexibility and strength.  Overtime, adhesion leads to altered joint mechanics and pain.  Without the proper treatment, adhesion will eventually lead to chronic pain, chronic muscle sprain/strains, arthritis, and or spinal disc injuries (think herniation).

 

Adhesion

Check out this video below for a better demonstration and explanation.

We have been conditioned since elementary school days to think weak and tight means to strengthen and stretch.  In reality, weak and tight is often a result of a problem!  All of the stretches and strength exercises in the world will not help adhesion, in fact, it may make things worse.  The most important thing that you can do is figure out why a muscle is weak and tight!

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to get some answers!  At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are trained through the Integrative Diagnosis system to provide the most accurate and advanced diagnosis and treatment to chronic pain and overuse injuries.  Many patients of our office have tried numerous providers before finding relief in our office. 

Simply fill out the appointment request on this page, or call our office at 319-423-0925 to start feeling better today! 

Thanks for reading!

3 Reasons For Tight Hamstrings You Dont Know About

If your hamstrings are always “tight” there is a reason behind it – and it’s not because you’re not stretching.  In fact, if you are stretching, it may be making it worse!  While this may sound like crazy talk, allow me to explain.

The hamstrings are a group of 3 different muscles.  They originate on the pelvis and insert on the lower leg, just below the knee.  They are primarily responsible for extension of the hip and flexing the knee.  The hamstrings play a vital role in most of our daily activities, which include standing, walking, running, and jumping, but they also play a protective role for nerves and joints.

The Hamstrings

While there can be many different reasons for “tight” hamstrings, the 3 most common I see in my office are the following:

Nerve Entrapment.  The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down into the foot.  This nerve moves and flosses through many different structures on its route.  Often times this nerve will get glued down, and stick to some of the muscles it comes into contact with in the hip and upper thigh – this includes the hamstrings.  When this nerve is prevented from moving properly, and we try to stretch, the body will engage the hamstrings sooner than it would if the nerve wasn’t glued down to protect the nerve from potential harm. This is give off the feeling of “weak and tight.”

Hip Joint Dysfunction.  Place your hand on the outside of your hip. Do you feel the bone there? Now, more than ever with our modern day lifestyles, this joint can become compromised by adhesion and scar tissue.  The femur is held into the hip socket by a group of ligaments.  These ligaments will often form loads of scar tissue after performing repetitive activities or keeping it in place for prolonged periods of time.  This scar tissue will then restrict hip motion.  With this reduction in movement, the joint is more prone to future injury, the hamstrings help to protect this joint by activating earlier than normal and reduces the range of motion.

Hip Capsule

Disc Injury.  Unfortunately, far too many people are walking around with disc injuries, whether they know it or not.  When a disc becomes injured, many simple day to day tasks become more difficult, like trying to stand from a seated position, or bend forward.  Any flexion movement, places more stress on the injured disc.  Part of the job of the hamstrings is to extend the hip and keep you upright.   If we have an injured disc, the hamstrings will try to keep you upright to protect the disc and avoid any unwanted load.

A Few Common Disc Issues

So what can you do?

Often the answer to your problem is simpler than you think.  “Tight” hamstrings are a common problem, but can lead to bigger, chronic issues. Catch all solutions like stretching are rarely ever the answer.  Start by contacting a local expert to get the correct diagnosis for your problem.   Only with the right diagnosis can you finally fix your problem!

If you live in Cedar Rapids or surrounding areas and are constantly struggling with “tight” hamstrings, we invite you to check out our office.  The experts at Thrive Spine and Sport can easily diagnose and provide you with the right plan to fix your problem!  Call our office at 319-423-0925 or fill out an appointment request by clicking here

Thanks for reading!

Will Stretching Help My Pain?

If you have ever been in pain, chances are you were told to stretch.  For some of us it helped, others it didn’t.  Why did it work for some, while others stay in pain and are left thinking they just need to stretch more? Could stretching actually make the pain worse?

To understand this topic, we have to talk about some complicated subjects; anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology.  Please don’t run away, we will make it easy for you to understand.

To start lets agree, that as humans, we all have the same parts, and should, therefore, all move the same and respond similar when exposed to common environments.  Let’s also agree that our modern day lifestyle leaves us in poor postures for most of the day.  Be honest with yourself right now and assess your posture.  Is your head forward into your computer or flexed down to your phone trying to read this?  Is your low back rounded and flexed while at your desk right now or on your drive home?  Chances are it probably is, and you’re like this for most of the day without realizing it. These positions are already lengthened or stretched positions, so why isn’t it helping?

We walk a very fine line everyday balancing between what our body was designed to handle, and what we actually put our body through.  We must understand that when we overload or overwork our body either through training, work, or sitting at a desk all day, the body will have to create compensations to better accommodate the stress being placed on the body.  In the initial phases of compensation, the body will feel “weak and tight.”  This serves as a protective role on the body, and is commonly referred to as “protective tension.”

Protective tension serves a purpose to protect the body from injury by providing stability to an unstable area.  While it may feel good to stretch really all that is happening during this time is that a bunch of stretch receptors are getting fired off and overriding the current symptoms.  This is why you may feel better in the short term but relief never lasts more than a few hours. This is also why it can lead to long term pain, as stretching often leads to more cumulative damage in already lengthened tissue!

If we fail to recognize why the protective tension is occurring and continue with our regular activity without modifications, friction, pressure, and tension, will eventually lead to the development of dysfunction in the body.

Having already agreed that as humans we will mostly have the same parts and respond similar given the same situations, we know that in muscles, or where nerves come into contact with muscles, adhesion will ultimately form in structures with continuous overload from repetitive motions or prolonged positions!  Adhesion is the most common pathology found in muscles, but unfortunately, one of the most misdiagnosed conditions in the human body.  I am going to go out on a limb and guess you haven’t heard this term before.  Fortunately, it can be easily fixed!

Overuse Cycle

Adhesion, or scar tissue, when present, acts like glue on the muscle and nerves.  This further leads into the continuous cycle of feeling “tight” but will also start to cause pain and injury.  If left untreated, this relatively easy problem to fix only gets worse and leads to bigger complications down the road.  Weakness, pain, and even tingling, burning, and numbness, when present along a nerve, can all be caused by adhesion.

Adhesion

Stretching, unfortunately, will not fix adhesion.  In order to fix adhesion, adhesion must be broken down through manual therapy by a certified practitioner that is trained to diagnoses and treat adhesion.  When adhesion is removed, the “need” to stretch is removed.  By removing adhesion, the body can then move better, and function better on a day to day basis without the need to stretch!  Stretching can help to prevent adhesion from coming back in the future, and keep you healthier, but will not fix adhesion in the present.

At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are currently the only full body Integrative Diagnosis provider in the state of Iowa.  Integrative Diagnosis providers are trained to find faulty movement patterns, diagnose, and treat adhesion to fix your pain or movement problem! If you are constantly feeling “tight” or having pain, weakness, or numbness and have failed to find anything that has fixed the problem, I invite you to get to the bottom of your problem! Simply fill out the appointment request on this page or call our office at 319-423-0925 today!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

What’s Wrong With My Shoulder?

Raise your hand if you struggle with shoulder pain!  Well, at least, raise it as high as you can.

Shoulder pain is one of the most frequently hurt and injured extremities in the body.  If you were to survey 10 of your friends, how many of them would report a shoulder issue?  Seriously think about this for a minute.  While the research can vary greatly with incident rates of shoulder pain, you can expect on average 2-5 to report shoulder pain and problems!  That is an incredible stat right there!

When you look into the mechanics of the shoulder, it is no wonder why pain is so often found there.  The shoulder joint consists of 3 bones, creating 4 joints.  13 muscles are involved in the movement of the shoulder which is responsible for almost 360 degrees of motion.

While there are many different kinds of problems associated with the shoulder (dislocations, fractures, etc), most complications arise from overuse, or repetitive strain injuries over time.  Shoulder pain may start up overnight, but it took weeks, months, even years to get to the point of pain.  Manual labors and athletes alike are no stranger to shoulder pain.

In cases of shoulder pain where overuse, repetitive strain, or previous injuries are present, the shoulder pain is almost always due to a lengthening issue.  The joints have become stiff and the muscles have become tight.  The most frequent cause of this stiffness is from adhesion.

Adhesion is a build up of scar tissue through repetitive motion, prolonged position, or as a result of previous trauma or injury.  Think of adhesion as glue on a muscle.  It binds things together and prevents the muscles from moving correctly.  When the joints and muscle get stiff and tight, it creates friction, pressure, and tension in the area.  This then creates decreased blood flow and sometimes swelling, which promotes the body to lay down scar tissue, or adhesion, to help stabilize the problem area.  Adhesion is one of the most common problems in the human body and fortunately one of the most easily reversible with the right care!

To see if your shoulder pain could be caused from adhesion at-home, there is a very simple test you can do at home.

Stand upright, with your arms and hands to your side.  Raise your arms up to your ears by moving your shoulders in an arc similar to that of a jumping jack.  The bicep should be able to freely touch the ear without any increased tension or pain.  Anything short of this, adhesion is a strong possibility, and may be playing a large part of your shoulder pain.  Regardless of previous injuries, or even surgeries, adhesion needs to be removed.

Stretching and exercises do not correct adhesion unfortunately.  When adhesion is present, it only gets worse without proper treatment, and could lead to bigger issues down the road.

If you are struggling with shoulder pain, try the test right now.  Look in the mirror if you can’t get your arms up to your ears and see how restricted it is.  The further away from the ear you are the more likely you are to suffer a serious injury down the road.

If you are in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area and struggling with shoulder pain, call our office today at 319-423-0925 or fill out the appointment request on this page.  If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at dr.cody@thrivespineandsport.com.

Thanks for reading!