• By Hand and Ortho
  • Posted January 24, 2015

Benefits of Walking

Finding an exercise program that fits your endurance, time commitments, and style is so often elusive. That gym membership, a shiny new treadmill, P90X, a road bike, a Pilates reformer, and set free weights aren’t paying the dividends anticipated. Instead of shelling out money for your next exercise program consider integrating good old fashion walks into your routine.

Walking 30 minutes a day 5 days a week not only improves your overall health but also prevents disease. Walking has been shown to decrease symptoms of diabetes and depression, increase bone density therefore preventing cancer, and the list goes on. Plus walking is FREE, it does not collect dust, and can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle permanently.

Here are some ideas to incorporate walking into your daily life forever:

  • Go for a walk while you talk on the phone
  • Park further away and walk to your destination
  • Walk on your lunch break
  • Take a break from sitting and walk around
  • Schedule walking meetings when possible
  • Walk your kids to school/ sporting events/ lessons when possible
  • Go on a walk with friends and chat instead of sitting
  • Go for a family walk after dinner and enjoy the scenery and time together
  • Plan activities like hiking and exploring new areas on foot
  • Take the stairs It is amazing what small, sustainable changes like walking can do.


Everybody Walk, is a national initiative and has a great website of all the tools and information to get going.


  • By Hand and Ortho
  • Posted January 24, 2015

Understanding Pain

It is effortless to know you are in pain, but when pressured to describe your pain or talk about when it occurs and how it feels, it becomes much harder. It is much easier to simply ignore the hurt and try to carry on the best you can. While this is one coping mechanism, a more powerful approach is to take some time to learn the behavior of your pain and how to briefly, accurately describe it. Here are some questions paired with an example to get your mind churning about how you feel.

Answer the question “What brings you here” as briefly as possible: I am having dull pain in my low back.

Describe the onset and timing of your symptoms: I have had back pain off and on for the past 2 years, but in the past 4 months it has grown particularly painful, especially when I sit for long periods of time and as the day progresses.

What makes the pain better or worse: Standing up and stretching decreases my pain.

Describe your symptoms with adjectives such as (sharp, dull, on the surface, deep, etc): The pain I feel is like a dull ache.

Point to the location of your symptoms: My back pain originates from this circle around my spine.

Rate the severity of your symptoms: (I know this is extremely difficult to quantify, refer to this post for more about the pain scale) I would rate my back pain as 3 of 10. It is more annoying than anything because it keeps me from sitting when I am trying to get something done.

List other things happening at the time of your symptoms: I recently moved to an apartment with a flight of stairs- so I am often carrying my son up the stairs which may contribute to my back pain.

Describe when the symptoms occurred (if acute the setting and your condition): Three months ago my low back pain became significantly worse.

Although difficult, understanding the nature of your symptoms can be incredibly advantageous and lead to better care. Reflecting before your next appointment about these questions will allow you to present your symptoms in the most accurate and efficient method possible- enabling your therapist to gather accurate information quickly, get you going on a treatment plan and give you in return the best results.

Questions Source: How to Describe Medical Symptoms to Your Doctor


  • By Hand and Ortho
  • Posted January 24, 2015

Harnessing the Power of Ice and Heat: When to use ice and heat

To ice or not to ice, to heat or not to heat- that is the question. Especially when plagued with a recent injury or struggle with a chronic ache or pain. Ice and heat can both provide inexpensive and powerful pain relief; so what is the difference, does it matter, what will help the most? To answer these questions here is a brief physiology lesson on what ice and heat do.

ICE

  • Constricts or slows down blood flow to the injury
  • Decreases the amount of blood in the muscle
  • Slows circulation
  • Reduces swelling, muscle spasms, and pain

HEAT

  • Warms and opens blood vessels
  • Increases blood flow
  • Supplies oxygen and nutrients to reduce pain in joints and relaxes soreness
  • Stimulates the healing process
  • Decreases muscle spasms
  • Can increase range of motion

Understanding what ice and heat do to alleviate pain makes it easier to understand when you use each. Most often, if you have swelling you have pain. Generally, it is best to ice a new or acute injury and heat a recurring or chronic injury. Icing an injury for the first 24-48 hours helps decrease swelling and inflammation allowing your body to start the healing process quicker. Chronic injuries on the other hand will benefit from the increased blood flow and healing that heat brings.

APPLICATION

  • Don’t apply ice or heat directly to the skin, wrap in a thin towel first
  • Apply ice or heat for no longer than 20 minutes at a time

There are instances when ice and heat may be used alternately, the physiological response of which is to decrease inflammation. If you are ever questioning if you should use heat or ice, your physical therapist is a great resource to help you maximize the healing benefits of heat and ice.