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Best Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease – Proper Exercise Program

Importance of exercise for degenerative disc disease

Degenerative%20Disc%20Disease_WebDegenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes for low back pain. The diagnosis of “degenerative disc disease” is not really a disease but a term used to describe the normal changes in our spinal discs as we age. All people experience the changes in their discs that are consistent with greater or lesser degree of degeneration, but not all people will develop symptoms like pain, sciatica or spinal stiffness.

Degenerative disc disease involves the intervertebral discs. Those are the pillow-like cushions between your vertebrae in your spine. They help your back carry weight and allow complex motions of the spine while maintaining stability. As you age, the discs can lose flexibility, elasticity, and shock absorbing characteristics. They also become thinner as they dehydrate. When all that happens, the discs change from the support that allows fluid movement to a more stiff and rigid state that restricts your movement and causes pain.

A regular routine of back exercises can prevent low back pain and/or reduce the severity and duration of any “flare-ups.” Controlled, gradual, progressive back pain exercises can help the back retain its strength and flexibility. Also, back movement promotes the delivery of nutrients to spine, keeping discs, muscles, ligaments, and joints healthier. Prior to starting a new exercise program, it is always advisable for patients to first see a spine specialist who is trained in developing individualized back exercise programs and in instructing patients in using a correct form and technique for each exercise. Low back pain exercise regimens varies widely depending on the patient’s diagnosis and level of pain.
The best treatment regimen is a proper Spinal Stabilization exercise program

exercise-therapyProper Spinal stabilization exercises with knowledgeable teacher or physical therapist is recommended for treating disc degeneration and the sciatica pain. Alleviating sciatic pain caused by degenerative disc disease includes finding the most comfortable position for the lumbar spine and pelvis (neutral pelvic) and training the body to maintain this position during activities. In doing this correctly, one can improve the proprioception (sense of movement) of the lumbar spine and reduce the excess motion at the spinal segments. This will in turn reduce the amount of irritation at these segments, relieving pain and protecting the area from further damage.

These dynamic lumbar stabilization exercises often require specific hands-on instructions because they offer much less benefits if done incorrectly, and they tend to be much more difficult than they appear. This type of exercise program is progressive, starting with the easier exercises and advancing to the more difficult exercises once the lower level program is mastered. The most important aspect of using these sciatica exercises is sensing and controlling motion in the spine. Once learned, the body can eventually take over and do this without the level of concentration it takes early on.

Pilates is a good way to back rehab

Pilates training in one-on-one settings is also a good way to rehab and prevent back problems. Pilates is a low-impact whole body exercise regimen. Pilates foundation stabilizes your core by contracting deep abdominal, back and pelvic floor muscles with proper breathing. If you are looking for Pilates to help your back pain caused by degenerative disc disease, as a physiotherapist I recommend you to work with a very experienced Pilates instructor. Doing Pilates by DVD’s, books or in group settings (mat and reformer classes) are not good ways to learn proper Pilates and may even cause more harm. You may need a instructor or physical therapist who has good hands-on skills and can correct you as needed. Once you find a good instructor you’ll be in your way to get rid of your pain – and that is PRICELESS!

For more about PhysioWise Back Therapy program for people with Degenerative Disc Disease, Sciatica and Lower Back pain in Carlsbad, California, Please visit our website and click HERE

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Kinesiophobia – The hidden reason why the back pain becomes chronic

Kinesiophobia – The hidden reason why the back pain becomes chronic

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Kinesiophobia is a disorder where a person believes that movement can cause more injury and pain. A constant cycle of pain, fear, disuse and depression can be a result of kinesiophobia and it definitely slows down a normal recovering process from injury. This can also lead to a long-term problems and chronic pain.

Persons with kinesiophobia tend to believe that the pain what they are experiencing may worsen if they do exercises and certain movements. They start to decrease their physical activity which unfortunately causes even more problems like joint stiffness, unnecessary muscle tension, supporting muscles weakness, etc. People with kinesiophobia are in a pain cycle (picture below), and getting out of this circle is very hard to do on their own.

pain cycle

As a Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor I have treated many chronic back pain clients who are terrified exercising but want to get better. Some of them have already had bad experiences on Physical Therapy and doctors care. Painkillers do definitely not help if the source of pain mostly comes from patient’s fear, compensations and guarding. In Physical Therapy the trend is to work on many clients at same time, so they probably don’t have any extra time to concentrate or realize your fear and compensations. It is not either a good idea to give home exercises to people who has a kinesiophopia because they find it hard to do them correctly. Fear of pain also effects negatively to neuro-muscle connection and muscle recruitment, so exercises may do more harm than good. However, the truth is that movement heals and it has a crucial role of chronic back pain treatment, but it really does matter what kind of exercises and instruction you get to actually help you.

exercise-therapyOne-on-one Pilates with skilled Physical Therapist or very experienced Pilates instructor can help those who have kinesiophobia and chronic back pain. Well designed, slow, graded and progressive Pilates program which aims on practicing control of movement, breathing and proper muscle work will definitely help reduce fear of movement and also gradually overcome kinesiophobia. In Pilates every movement has to be PAIN FREE! Pilates with a good teacher helps you get your confidence in your ability to move. Returning to normal movement is an important step in breaking the kinesiophobia pain cycle. Pilates exercises help you rebuild normal movement and function which in turn relieve pain and improve your overall quality of life. Staying active is a critical component of chronic pain and back pain treatment. Don’t let your fear ruin your full potential recovery and stop you to do the activities that you love.

For more about PhysioWise program in Carlsbad California, please visit our website www.physio-wise.com

Benefits of Pilates for before and after knee and hip replacement surgery

 

Knee and hip joints replacements are becoming more and more common. These procedures improve the quality of life for those people who suffered from constant joint pain and loss of function. Pilates is a great training method before and after knee and hip replacement surgery. By getting into better shape before surgery with Pilates, it also helps you to recover faster. By adding Pilates to your post rehabilitation stages, it helps correct your faulty movement patterns and muscles imbalances.

One of the best part of Pilates in one-on-one training is that it addresses the body as a whole. It doesn’t only strengthen the particular muscles or muscle groups or increase range of motion just in the one joint, it also trains the whole body as it was designed. Due to the low impact form of Pilates and assistance of Pilates equipment, joint can exercise very gently and pain free while strengthening surrounding muscles.

Pilates is ideal before knee & hip replacement surgery

Pilates before surgery is a safe and effective way to prepare your body for operation. Pilates exercises maintain the joint range of motion and strengthen the surrounding muscles of affected joints, even when range of motion is limited and lack of cartilage of the knee or hip makes your movement more difficult. Pilates exercises address your deep spinal stabilizer muscles – your core – which is very helpful for your overall balance and body control. Better balance makes you more confident on moving and less afraid of falling. Strong core muscles as well as shoulder girdle strength and stability are also a big help after surgery to get around and being independent while you are using walker, crutches or a cane. The stronger and more well-balanced the muscles before surgery, the faster the recovery period. In some cases the Pilates training can even postpone your need for joint replacement surgery.

 

Pilates is even more ideal after knee & hip replacement surgery

There is more rehabilitation after joint replacement than a short initial physical therapy which concentrates to regain the function of your brand new hip or knee joint. The previous years of pain have created faulty compensation patterns in your body, and unfortunately, that won’t get fixed only by replacing your joint. Even when your pain is gone or mostly gone, the body is still used to moving as if you are protecting your painful joint. This moving pattern puts a lot of pressure on other joints and tissues by creating muscle imbalances and poor habits to walk and move. With Pilates, and with a skilled Pilates Instructor or Pilates trained Physical Therapist, you can identify and properly treat your faulty movement patterns and muscle imbalances. Pilates program also focuses on lumbar-pelvic stability and strengthening of hip abductors to improve the symmetrical gait and standing balance. In Pilates, the quality of movement is more important than quantity as well as integrating the whole body to working and functioning symmetrically as it is designed. This is the best and most effective way to rehabilitate your body.

Pilates is a viable alternative method of rehabilitation and very good continuation after physical therapy when your goal is achieving optimal recovery and overall well-being.

As a Physical Therapist I warmly recommend to start Pilates if you have hip or knee osteoarthritis or you are heading to knee or hip replacement. Before you begin Pilates you will want to make sure that the Pilates instructor has proper experience and knows your limitation and can modify the movements for you. After knee or hip replacement surgery, Pilates can be extremely beneficial but only if taught by a Physical Therapist or truly experienced Pilates instructor.

Exercise is part of Arthritis Treatment ( Pilates Wise, Carlsbad, Encinitas )

Exercise is an important part of arthritis treatment

When you have pain, probably last thing what you want to do is exercise. But did you know that disuse and inactivity can lead a muscle loss and joint stiffness by causing even more pain and discomfort? Researches have shown that proper exercise is crucial in managing arthritis and pain. It reduces stiffness and pain, builds strong muscle around joints and increases flexibility, joint stability and control.

Most importantly, proper exercise can help lubricate joint surfaces, build and provide nutrition to cartilage and decreases inflammation. Motion is really a lotion!

One of the most suitable exercise forms for arthritis is Pilates. Pilates exercises strengthen deep stabilizer muscles which support your joints and provide joint protection. Pilates exercises taught by an experienced Pilates instructor can also help reduce your joint stiffness and maintain/improve joints range-of-motion and a proper joint alignment. Posture and proper spine and joints alignment are very important part of treating arthritis as well as preventing further joint degeneration. As you probably know, poor posture put excess pressure on your joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons by causing more pain and joint wear and tear or even arthritis.

Very unique about Pilates are Pilates machines (reformer, trapeze table, wunda chair) which are designed to work your body in a safe and controlled alignment. Those machines are spring loaded which makes them very “joint friendly”. Pilates apparatus together with a knowledgeable instructor help you  work your supporting muscles around your painful and inflamed joints without aggravating them. And the facts that Pilates works your body as a whole and all exercises are low-impact, low resistance and should be performed in pain free range, make it even more suitable for people with arthritis.

If you consider Pilates a part of your arthritis treatment plan, it is important to work with experienced Pilates Instructor or Physical Therapist. An effective Pilates program has to always be customized for your specific needs and conditions.

 More about PilatesWise program in Carlsbad village, California, please click HERE 

KNEE PAIN WHILE RUNNING? ( by Pilates Wise in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Oceanside)

Got knee pain while running ? Pilates helps.

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Knee pain is very common overuse syndrome for runners. Pain is our body’s alarm system telling us that something is wrong. However, many runners ignore this natural alarm system and just keep running. Some runners even look for help from pain medications or knee brace.

But did you know that running with pain changes your strike? You probably start shifting weight more to your non-pain side and maybe start limping a little. This compensatory movement pattern put uneven pressure to your other joints, muscles and ligaments and leads to muscle imbalances, and over the time pain and injury elsewhere.

Two Imagemost common injuries for runners are Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome and Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome. Many runners think that just wearing knee brace or band help them to keep running. Unfortunately, these two common knee injuries develop over time from overuse and knee brace or band doesn’t appear to provide additional. Knee brace may even inhibit your normal joint function causing the pain continue or move to the other areas of the body. The best brace is your own muscle brace.

If you are experiencing knee pain from overuse, something is going on and need to be fixed. The essential components of treating your overuse injuries are stretching, strengthening and stability exercises. Muscle imbalance between quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, IT-band and glutealis muscles, are very common for people with knee pain. Tight muscles like hamstrings , quadriceps (Rectus femoris) or IT-band are pulling the knee joint and knee cap out of their proper alignment by causing abnormal stress into the knee joint. Gluteus medius and Quadriceps (Vastus lateralis, Vastus medialis) muscles weakness, which is very common for runners, causes problem with knee joint stabilization. Unstable knee joint is more vulnerable to injury and also put unnecessary stress to ligaments, muscles and tendons around the knee joint.

One-on-One Pilates with experienced Pilates instructor, who has a good knowledge about knee injuries, biomechanics and anatomy, can help with typical runners overuse injuries. Pilates equipment are perfect for knee rehabilitation. They are spring loaded, and very gentle for the joints by putting less pressure for knee joint while strengthen the supporting muscle around joint. In Pilates training improves hip-knee-ankle alignment and muscle balance which often causes your knee problem in the first place. In Pilates we have great attention to whole body alignment from head to toe and we focus on gaining strength, stability and mobility – not only your the injured & weaker side but also the whole body. Besides as knee rehabilitation, Pilates is also very good as overall cross-training form for runners to prevent also from other injuries.

More about PilatesWise program at Carlsbad Village Pilates studio, please click HERE

Home exercises vs. Pilates training for Orthopedic Rehab

Home Exercises vs Pilates for Orthopedic Rehabilitation

Therapeutic exercises are a part of traditional physical therapy and they are a very important way to get the client more involved in their own rehabilitation process. Unfortunately, the home exercises should be given only if clients can do them with proper form by recruiting correct muscles. Unfortunately, when they are injured or have pain, they may compensate, which makes it harder to learn a proper form. The matter of fact is, if they repeat these home exercises with poor form and control, the exercises may do more harm than good.

Many physical therapy practices seem to use their physical therapy aid to teach home exercises to clients and that is not ideal. Physical therapy aids usually have very little knowledge about body biomechanics and anatomy, even when PT aids are trained and supervised by a Physical Therapist. If those home exercises are not taught well, they are not going to help either. Furthermore, home exercises are usually isolated to strengthening and stretching the muscles around injury, and that may sometimes be too much to tolerate, especially when clients have pain or fear of pain. So, in home environment clients may not repeat their home exercises correctly which may lead them to compensate and add even more muscle imbalances than they have already.

If you were injured and think that you are fully recovered, you may still have 50% chance to get the same injury again or create a new one. Why? Because your brain may develop faulty movement patterns during your injury and pain. You start to compensate and your brain adapts to that faulty way of moving. Sometimes, even though you feel better and don’t have pain anymore, you may still have those compensatory faulty movement patterns. These faulty patterns can lead to new injury by placing abnormal stress and load on joints and soft tissues.

You need to re-program your neuro-muscle system to correct these faulty movement patterns. It may sound easy, but it is not. Unfortunately, your short visits to Physical Therapy and doing home exercises, is probably not helping to correct these faulty movement patterns and muscle imbalances, because they focus more on your injury, not on how you may compensate it. The ideal rehabilitation program should focus on your whole body alignment and how your body parts are working together.  Traditional Physical Therapy may still help at your acute stage but after initial physical therapy it would be very wise to continue your rehabilitation process with Rehab Pilates.

Pilates as a Rehabilitation is a missing link in your recovering process from injury and pain. Pilates Rehab works for many reasons. Great attention to detail and form is a perfect way for clients to gain strength in their weaker and injured muscles and joints as well as the whole body. Pilates develops a smaller muscle group that works to support joints and body structures. It is a great way to complete your Physical Therapy. It works also as an alternative rehabilitation method for people with orthopedic issues and dysfunctions. Pilates one-on-one training with experienced Pilates Instructor or Physical Therapist can help people with their real underlying problems such as correcting those muscle imbalances and faulty movement patterns (which may have caused your injury in the first place). It is pretty much re-educating your body to work more optimally, economically and ergonomically with proper alignment, control and coordination. With Pilates you will get long-term solution about how to take care of your body as a whole – and the best part, being injury FREE! It’s all about PREVENTION!

For more about PhysioWise after Physical therapy program, please click HERE

IS YOUR BACK PAIN CAUSED BY MYOFASCIA? (by Pilates Wise Carlsbad, San Diego)

Fascia covers whole body and it provides structural support around our organs, muscles, joints, bones and nerve fibers. Fascia helps prevent and minimize localized stress in particular muscle, joint or bone. It is always under tension as long as gravity is present, and it also provides stabilizer components that helps our posture and allows us to perform movement automatically.

Fascia has been viewed clinically as a potential source of dysfunction. The research has found that chronic pain patients have some pathological changes in their thoracolumbar fascia. The thoracolumbar fascia is a tough fibrous sheet covering the back. It is tensioned by the muscles above, side and below. The fascia works as an attachment to several muscles and plays an important role of stabilization of the thoracolumbar and pelvic regions (as well sacroiliac joints). The thoracolumbar fascia attaches to the external obliques, internal obliques, transverse abdominals, latissumus dorsi and gluteus maximus. Because these muscles are connected through the same fascia, myofascia chains may contain restrictions and dysfunction in one area that influence another remote area. The thoracolumbar fascia also contains three nerve endings and may play a neuro-sensory role in lumbar spine pain mechanism.

Thoracolumbar fascia’s role as a cause of back pain is something that it is not shown by x-ray or MRI and is often underestimated by doctors. Chiropractors and spinal specialist treat spinal pain as a pain from vertebras or disc, but that is not always the underlying problem and may be a big reason why the back pain becomes, and continues, chronic. In most cases of back pain, especially in sub-acute or chronic back pain, the cause of the underlying problem may be more in muscle imbalances, poor posture or even myofascial dysfunction than spinal structure itself.

 

There are many specific stretching techniques about how you can release and mobilize the thoracolumbar fascia yourself, for example rolling with the foam roll. Besides releasing fascia, it is still very important to take care of your (deep stabilizer) muscles strength around your spine. Spinal stabilization training is specifically designed for people with back pain. It is scientifically proven to be very helpful exercise method for rehabilitating your back more safely and efficiently. For more information about Active Back Pain Rehabilitation, please click HERE