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Aug 31

Is One Running Surface Better Than the Other?

Asphalt, grass, trails, treadmills or track—runners have a variety of options when it comes to running surfaces, but is one really better than the other? The truth is, variety is much more important than choosing one “best” surface. Varying hardness, level of unevenness and incline all can help with speed, strength and efficiency, as well as help work different muscles in the leg lowering the chance of injury.  

Roads—while readily available—put a lot of strain on your knees, shins, and feet. Hard surfaces force our bodies into repetitive movements, putting strain on the same joints and muscles over and over increasing the chance for overuse injuries. However running on hard surfaces is important for practicing racing rhythm and working on speed. Softer surfaces like grass and trails are easier on the joints and help develop stabilizer muscles in the leg. Because more muscles are engaged while running on uneven surfaces the chance of overuse injury is decreased. On the other hand, soft surfaces do have their drawbacks. The chances of rolling an ankle or other injuries related to unpredictable terrain are much higher.

There is no “right” or “best” option for running surfaces. Just like your diet, variety and balance is key. So next time you head out for your daily run try switching things up, your muscles and joints will greatly appreciate it. 

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 

Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.

 


Aug 29

The Power of Dry Needling and Movement Therapy

For many people who are active, trigger points can become a concern, especially if injury or overtraining have occurred. These points, which develop in the connective tissue around muscles, have a number of causes but often lead to the same result: pain and limited mobility.

That's why effective treatment can be such a relief. By alleviating trigger points, you can get more oxygen flowing to the muscles, start the body healing itself, and recover quicker from exercise. Although massage can bring some benefits, you're more likely to see long-term results by combining dry needling and movement therapy.

Top Combo
Dry needling involves thin, tiny needles that are the same size as those used in acupuncture. A practitioner inserts a needle at a trigger point to release built-up lactic acid that's hindering the muscle. Once that occurs, oxygen can flow to the area and the body quickly begins to heal the irritation. Muscles that had been tight because of the trigger point often relax very quickly after even one treatment.

With movement therapy, the focus is on how you use your body to walk, run, reach, stretch, and do the other hundreds of movements that comprise everyday life. Our daily lives cause us to maintain prolonged postures or perform repetitive movements that lead to mechanical breakdown and development of trigger points. By training you to recognize and correct faulty movement patterns, a therapist can bring more variety into your routine and adjust any potential imbalances.

Major Advantages
By bringing together the release of dry needling with the physical re-education of movement therapy, you can handle the trigger points you have now while preventing others from forming. 

With that advantage, you're likely to see better athletic performance, including faster recovery timeframes, and fewer nagging and chronic issues. Alleviating trigger points isn't just about a quick fix, it's a recipe for being healthier overall because by eliminating pain and tightness, it can lead to better sleep, more energy, and even happier moods. 

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Aug 25

Ask PT Pete: Cracking Joints

Dear PT Pete,

Is it bad to crack my joints?

- Alec from Eden Prarie

Alec, commonly, joints make an audible cracking sound when the joint is stretched or manipulated due to normal gas inside the joint fluid called synovial fluid. As a rule, painless cracking of joints is not harmful especially occurring during normal range of motion or normal movements. However, I would suggest that the intentional and repetitive cracking of joints be left to the hands of a medical professional. Intentional cracking of your joints could be physically troublesome when it produces pain, but could even lead to long term issues.

If the body is moving efficiently and joints are supported by strong muscle groups your joints should generally not feel like they need to be cracked. 

If cracking is accompanied by pain, there could be underlying abnormalities of the structure of the joint, such as loose cartilage or injured ligaments. Some people with arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis notice “cracking” sounds due to the snapping of irregular, swollen tissues.

 

Pete Garber is Viverant's co-founder and resident Physical Therapist. What questions do you have for PT Pete? 
Ask them here 

The individual who submits the next chosen question will win a free Viverant t-shirt!

 

 The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.

 


Aug 24

The Benefits of Dry Needling

Despite its scary-sounding name, “dry needling” is a safe, effective treatment for all types of musculoskeletal pain. Dry needling can loosen stiff muscles, ease joint pain, and improve oxygen circulation within the body. Learn why this new treatment could be the answer to your pain. 


Aug 22

Is 10,000 Steps a Day Enough?

It has become almost common knowledge that the average person should take 10,000 steps a day thanks to the influx of tracking devices on the market. The default goal for most tracking devices is 10,000 steps, but where did that number come from? Is there a medical reason to embrace that number or is an arbitrary goal that just has been accepted?

The history of 10,000 steps actually goes back to Japan in the 1960s. The 1964 Olympics were taking place in Tokyo, which caused the locals to take a deeper concern for their health. Soon after the first pedometer named the man-po-kei was created. Man-po-kei stands for man=10,000, po=step and kei=meter or gauge. It turns out 10,000 is a very favorable number in the Japanese culture and no real medical science informed the number. 

Today, 10,000 steps has become adopted globally partly because it is a nice round number and because generally walking 10,000 steps burns 2,000-3,500 extra calories every week.  Typically a pound of body fat equals 3,500, therefore walking 10,000 steps, in theory, would help you lose a pound a week. The problem is 10,000 is just too simplistic of a figure and only works on paper. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. While 10,000 steps is a good goal, especially since the average person only gets about 3,000 steps a day, it does not guarantee good health and weight loss. You cannot out-walk an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle.  

Without a doubt, there are great health benefits to increasing your activity through walking and other low-intensity activities, even if they don’t lead to weight loss. But it is important to understand, although 10,000 steps is an easy number to remember and is a great goal to get people moving, it is the not the magic number to being fit and healthy. An overall healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet is the best way to ensure good health. 


Aug 17

The Danger of Specializing in Sports Too Soon

An increase in sports specialization in young athletes has led to the drastic rise of injuries in youth sports. The pressure on athletes from parents, coaches and the athletes themselves to reach the pro ranks is pigeonholing kids as young as 10 years old into a single sport. Camps, travel teams and off-season practices are packing on the hours for young athletes whose bodies are not ready to be practicing all-year-round like the professional athletes they look up to. Kids are not just playing one sport for a few months anymore, rather they play that same sports for over 3/4 of the year. Injuries that were once only seen in elite athletes are now becoming common among many young athletes such as ACL tears.

The facts: 

  • A study at Loyola University found that young athletes who specialize in one sport are 70%-93% more likely to be injured compared to those who play a variety of sports. 
  • Ohio State University found that young athletes who specialize too soon are more likely to burn out and quit as well as have a higher rate of adult physical inactivity.
  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reported they treated 400% more ACL injuries in 2012 than they did in1999. ACL injuries used to be a fairly uncommon injury in young athletes, but they are now one of the most prevalent. 
  • Dr. Micheli, the Director of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, reported that nearly 25 years ago only 10% of youth sports injuries he treated were overuse youth injuries. Today however, overuse injuries represent 70% of all youth injury cases he sees.

Recommendations for young athletes:

  • Athletes should take a 2-3 month break from their sport. The break could be spread throughout the year (i.e. 1 month break 2-3 times a year) or take place all at once.
  • Athletes should avoid specializing in one sport before they reach puberty.
  • 1-2 days off per week is necessary to help prevent injury and allow time for muscle recovery.
  • Unstructured free play is important for young athletes throughout the year.
  • A variety in activity is key as the athlete stays active all year.

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Aug 15

Top Causes of Trigger Points

Although it might seem like those knots in your neck or back just appeared out of nowhere, most likely there's a specific cause for these issues. 

Called trigger points, these problem spots occur in the connective tissue that's part of your musculature, and they can wreak havoc on athletic performance or even everyday activity.

Knowing the top causes can help to prevent them, or to keep minor trigger points from becoming a chronic irritation. Here are some common ways that these points get triggered: 

Repetitive movement: Whether you always hit a golf ball the same way or you sit at your desk typing all day, the repetition of movement can cause tightness, leading to trigger points.

Poor posture: We all slump occasionally, but if you have less-than-ideal posture, it's often the same as repetitive movement. It creates constant pressure on certain parts of your body, particularly your shoulders, neck, and back. 

Sleep problems: Many people wake up with a stiff neck or simply feel misaligned, and they claim to have "slept wrong." When this happens frequently, it can lead to trigger point development. Sometimes, it's a chicken-and-egg problem to determine which came first: poor sleep as a result of pain from trigger points, or trigger points as a result of tossing and turning all night. 

Injury: When muscles become damaged or tense up without warning — as is the case in an accident — it causes stress to resonate through the body. That trauma and the ensuing tightness can lead to trigger points, either immediately or over time. For instance, getting in a car crash and having whiplash can create stress to the neck that might prompt trigger points to develop.

Referred pain: In some cases, a trigger point in one part of the body actually causes pain in another area. For example, if the muscle on the top of your shoulder has a trigger point, it can refer pain up the side of the neck, and create tightness that causes a headache. 

When it comes to treatment, there's been ample success with combining physical therapy and movement assessment with dry needling. Not only can this address the trigger points you may have, but it can aid in preventing them so that you're on track when it comes to optimal health and performance.

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Aug 10

Blow-By-Blow: The Facts Behind Concussions [Infographic]

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Aug 09

Dynamic or Static Stretching, Which Is Better?

Often times stretching is seen as an option before a workout, something we are supposed to do but is not necessarily essential. A quick little routine of touching your toes for a few seconds or pulling your arm across your chest, and you are good to go right? Unfortunately not, your stretching routine can actually make or break your workout.

Dangers of static stretching
Stretching is essential before a workout, but holding static stretching poses is not going to help you achieve your fitness goals. Research suggests static stretching hurts athletic performance. Strength, power, and explosive muscular performance all are affected negatively with a static stretching session before a workout or training session. Even if your muscles feel loose after static stretching, they will actually be less elastic and powerful.

Static stretching puts you at a higher risk of injury. Holding a stretch for several seconds will not raise your heart rate or body temperature, keeping your muscles cold and possibly leading to injury. 

Why dynamic stretching is the better pre-workout option
Some people shy away from dynamic stretching because it seems like a mini-workout session before the actual workout, but it truly is the best way to prevent injury and boost performance. Dynamic stretching means your body is continually moving while stretching. It prepares your joints and muscles through continual repetitive motion, with each repetition stretching the muscle further. Because you are constantly moving, your body temperature will rise, warming up your muscles and lowering the risk of injury. 

Another benefit to dynamic stretching is that it can be individualized for specific sports. Unlike static stretches that have no relevance to the actual activity about to be performed, dynamic stretching prepares you for the specific movements that will be performed. For example, dynamic stretches for a long run versus a basketball game will be very different due to the different movements needed for each activity. 

The bottom line is take the extra 5-10 minutes before your workout for a dynamic stretching session, your muscles will thank you. 

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Aug 04

Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture: What's the Difference?

As treatment options, dry needling and acupuncture have some aspects in common. Most notably, they both use small-gauge needles and are focused on alleviating physical issues that range from annoying to chronic.

But despite the seeming similarities, they're very different when it comes to why they're done and how they work. Here's a quick overview:

Dry needling: Due to injury, repetitive motion, or muscle overuse, people sometimes develop tight bands within a muscle, called trigger points. Once a practitioner locates a trigger point through an assessment, a thin needle is inserted to cause the point to release lactic acid that has built up. This often brings immediate relief in loosening stiff muscles, easing joint pain, and improving oxygen flow to the muscles so that the body can heal itself.

Acupuncture: A key component of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is a way to balance the flow of energy within the body, called qi or chi. This energy is believed to flow through specific pathways in the body, and by inserting thin needles, a practitioner can correct any stagnation or improper flow. Many Western practitioners also view acupuncture as a way to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue and increase blood flow as a result.

Major differences: In addition to the fundamental difference in the basics, it's important to note that dry needling is used as part of a treatment plan that also incorporates physical therapy, movement analysis, and other interventions. 

Acupuncture is often considered a lone treatment in and of itself. A practitioner may bring in complementary options like herbal supplements or cupping, but in general, acupuncture stands alone while dry needling is just one aspect of a multi-pronged plan.

Like any treatment, it is important to talk to your physical therapist to outline your goals and determine if dry needling would be a good option to add to your treatment plan. 


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