At POA, our entire staff is dedicated to helping our patients and people of all ages in the communities we serve maintain healthy, active lives – and our blog is intended to help us do just that. From sharing timely health information and tips from our team to giving you a glimpse into the impact we are making across the Delmarva Peninsula, we invite you to stay connected.
Cold weather is here and it’s more important than ever to warm up thoroughly before getting into your workout. When it’s cold outside, your muscles lose heat and contract, which makes everything in your body a lot tighter. Your joints get stiff and tight muscles can lead to decreased mobility. If your muscles aren’t at their maximum mobility, you aren’t using their potential strength and won’t be as ready for action.
In order to make up for these tight muscles and joints, your muscles have to work harder than usual in the cold weather, which can lead to increased soreness and potential injury to the muscle tissue. With limited mobility, your muscles strain and pull under the stress.
Warming your body up prior to your workout will help you:
- Increase your blood circulation
- Loosen up your muscles
- Increase your range of motion
To perform at your highest level and to help prevent injury, we encourage you to amp up your winter warm up. Muscles that have been properly warmed up can carry out exercises in proper form. This leads to better results from your workout and a decreased chance of injury. Warm muscles are more responsive, allowing all parts of your body work as a unified team during your workout.
Make sure you’re doing dynamic stretches and putting in enough time during your warm up. Static stretches aren’t going to help your workout and a recent study even showed that a 5-minute cardio warm up had the same results as no warm up at all. Do a low-intensity, 15-minute warm up for best results. Where warm ups are concerned, long and mellow is better than fast and intense!
While ankle injuries are common in sports, you don’t have to be an athlete to twist your ankle. The most common ankle injury is a sprain, but there are other injuries that can occur as well.
The ankle is where three bones meet: the fibula, tibia and the talus of the foot. The ligaments in the ankle connect the bones to each other and support and stabilize them. The muscles and tendons move the ankle. Take a look below at a few different ways the ankle can be injured.
Ankle sprain – A sprain is damage to the ligaments in the ankle. Oftentimes, sprains occur when the ankle rolls inward, leading to damage in the outer part of the ankle. Ankle sprains are very susceptible to re-injury. Initial treatment of sprains includes rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Most of the time, sprains will resolve in a few days, but severe sprains can last for a few weeks.
Ankle strain – Strains occur in the muscles and tendons of the ankle. They can either be inflamed because of overuse or torn from a trauma. Inflammation of the tendons is called tendinitis. Symptoms of a strain can be similar to that of a sprain, including pain, inflammation and limited ability to move the ankle.
Ankle fracture – An ankle fracture occurs when there is a break in one or more bones. To determine whether a bone has been broken, a doctor may want to take an X-ray. If a stress fracture is suspected, other imaging scans, like an MRI, might be taken. Scans will help the doctor determine if the ankle needs a brace, cast or surgery.
Many people deal with worsening joint pain in cold weather, while what causes this is unclear. Try the following tips to decrease joint pain during the winter months.
- Exercise – Cold weather can make any of us more sedentary, which leads to joint pain. Your joints need lubrication from exercise to prevent pain. Too cold to exercise outside? Come up with an indoor exercise routine. Join a gym, work out at home or exercise in a heated pool!
- Eat healthy – Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K and vitamin C can all decrease inflammation and the joint pain that comes with it. Eating healthy will also help you lose weight, which relieves some of the pressure you put on your joints. Avoid the temptation to turn to “comfort food” in the winter months – your joints will thank you.
- Wear layers – Keep your joints, muscles and ligaments warm by dressing in layers.
- Stretch – To combat joint stiffness, work in a good stretch every day. Try a hot yoga class during the winter to stretch and keep warm.
- Get a massage – Some of your pain might be coming from the muscles around your joints. Treat yourself to a spa day and it just might reduce your pain.
If your joint pain continues, schedule an appointment with POA to find out what’s causing your pain and to discuss the best treatment options for you.
Due to the structure of the hip, pain in this area can have many different causes. The location of the pain may give you some clues as to what is causing the discomfort in the hip. For example, if you’re having pain in the inside of your hip or in the groin area, it’s probably a problem with your hip joint. If you’re having pain in the outside of your hip, upper thigh or in the outer buttock area, it’s probably a problem with the muscles, ligaments or tendons that surround your hip joint. Bursitis, tendonitis, a tear, dislocation, fracture or inguinal hernia are potential sources of pain in the hip area.
Pain can also come from a disease or condition. Arthritis, some types of cancer, osteoporosis and pinched nerves can all lead to hip pain, as well.
Since there are so many potential underlying causes of hip pain, you should get it checked out by a doctor. When you first notice pain in the hip, you can try rest, pain relievers, ice or heat. If you have intense pain, are unable to walk or have signs of infection, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Injuries to the fingertip are really very common and can happen almost anywhere – from using a hammer or saw to pinching your hand in a door or smashing it while moving something heavy. These everyday injuries can result in damage to part of the fingertip, including the bone, nail bed, your skin and soft tissue.
So, why does it hurt so much?
Our fingertips are full of nerves that make them extremely sensitive, which results in the pain you feel when they are injured. Without prompt and proper treatment, a fingertip injury can cause problems with hand function and may result in permanent deformity or disability. To ensure the best outcome, it is important to have a hand specialist examine your finger after an injury.
Remember, if you have injured your fingertip and something just doesn’t feel or look right, call us to make an appointment with our hand specialist, Dr. Kang.
Cross-training is when an athlete participates in training activities that are different from those of their main sport. This well-rounded exercise regimen is important because it builds strength and flexibility in muscles that the athlete might not use in their regular training. Adding in different activities such as jogging, biking, swimming and rowing can prevent repetitive injuries that come from practicing the same sport over and over. Cross-training can also prevent athletes from burnout or getting bored with their training.
So, what about in regards to children?
Cross-training is important for children because their bodies are still growing. Children have bones and growth plates that are immature and more susceptible to injury than mature bones. While adults can train harder by adding miles and additional weight, there is a limit to what children can face without injury from overuse.
Injury to the growth plates can cause serious complications, such as shorter or crooked limbs and reoccurring injuries. When children are training, we must pay attention to the fact that their musculoskeletal systems are still developing and need the chance to rest, even more so than in adults. Cross-training allows their muscles a break, instead of falling victim to overuse.
Another reason to cross-train with children is to make them more well-rounded athletes. Your children may think they know what sport they want to specialize in, but giving them exposure to other activities might open their eyes to new opportunities.
Moderation and variety are both important, allowing kids to be safe and have fun!
Do you have numbness, tingling and pain in your hands and arms? If so, you could have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve (one of the major nerves in your hand) is squeezed or compressed as it travels through a passageway on the palm side of your wrist (actually called the carpal tunnel). This nerve is responsible for movement and feeling in your thumb and first three fingers.
So, what causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
The condition could be hereditary, but there are other factors that can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive hand movement can cause inflammation of the tendons and swelling that puts pressure on the nerve. Illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, arthritis and diabetes can cause the syndrome, as well as the swelling from pregnancy. Women and the elderly are more likely to develop the condition.
A lot of times the symptoms first appear in the hands at night. Symptoms will gradually increase as the condition worsens, but shaking the hands and wrists might relieve the pain.
Once diagnosed by a doctor, there are a variety of treatments to try. Wearing a brace or splint, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, changes in repetitive hand and wrist activities, nerve gliding exercises and steroid injections are all treatment options. If the condition has progressed, surgery might be another option.
Playing tennis is a great way to get outside and exercise for people of all ages. Like with any sport, however, there is a risk of injury when playing tennis. Shoulders, wrists and elbows are easy targets for injury from overuse.
Tennis elbow is common among tennis players. It is the inflammation of tendons connecting the muscles in the forearm to the outer part of the elbow. Rotator cuff tears can also happen in the shoulders, typically gradually and over time as the player serves and swings. Because of the hard surface of the court, ankle sprains and back pain are also common complaints.
So, what can you do to prevent these tennis injuries?
- Get the right gear – Choose a racket that is the right size and weight for you. Having the correct grip size and string tension can help prevent tennis elbow. Also, make sure you choose tennis shoes and socks that have cushion to reduce the stress of pounding on the court.
- Focus on your technique – Work with a professional to make sure your technique is not leading to habits that cause injury. Don’t arch your back too much while serving and pay attention to how you’re landing on the court.
- Warm up – Do dynamic stretches to warm up your muscles. Shoulder strengthening stretches can also prevent common tennis injuries.
- Rest! – Take a break when you’re tired and make sure you’re giving your body rest in between playing. Overexertion can lead to overuse and injury.