Latest News & Blog

What is Cupping - aka... What Are Those Big Circular Bruises Seen on Peoples Back?

By Haley Leo - November 19, 2020

What is Cupping (aka those big circular bruises seen on peoples back)?

Have you ever seen those big bruised circles on your favorite athlete and wondered “what happened??” For many, the first experience with cupping was seeing Michael Phelps during the 2016 Olympics, covered in dark circular bruises.  Since then, the sports world has been taken with cupping.  


Historically, cupping has been utilized since ancient China. Originally it was used to help cleanse impurities and balance chi however since 2016, cupping has been used to help address imbalances in the body that are more physical in nature. In physical therapy, cupping is used to address muscle tightness, tissue adhesion and trigger points. In the body, the different muscles and tissues are layered on top of each other and, when there is an injury in the body, these layers can stick to each other.  This sticking, or tissue adhesions, can cause muscles to become tight, uncomfortable, and sometimes to even cause trigger points. Trigger points are irritable nodules that develop in the tissue, more often known as muscle knots. 


Cupping is the use of plastic or glass cups and a pump to create a vacuum over the area of issue in the body. The cup is placed on the area that is either tight, painful or restricted in motion and the pump is used to remove air from inside the cup. When the air is removed using the pump, the superficial skin and tissue is pulled into the cup. The act of pulling these tissues into the cup, this distraction of tissues, can cause a few different effects that can benefit the different muscles. Cupping can increase fluid between the layers and “break up” tissue adhesions. First, increased blood is pulled to the area of the cup and, therefore, increased fluid is able to flood these tissues.  This fluid can help to “hydrate” the tissue and to allow for better gliding between tissues. Second, this increase in pressure can cause tissue adhesions to break apart and improve the ability of the tissues to move and glide over one another.  


In the Physical Therapy field, the color of your marks do not correlate to greater issues in the tissue but most people will experience dark bruising from the cups. These bruises generally take 7-10 days to fade and often are tender, as bruises can be, for up to 0 days as well. Overall, your therapist can use cupping to help get rid of those nagging muscle knots and often, address the tightness and pain you may feel after an injury.


Come see your therapist today to see if cupping therapy is the right thing for you!


Is Your Weak Core Causing You Back Pain?

By Kylie Herzog - November 3, 2020

Is Your Weak Core Causing You Back Pain?

Have you ever had low back pain that just doesn’t go away or doesn’t seem to get better?
The first thing to look at is how strong and stable your core is.

If you have a weak core, your low back can compensate in order to complete different activities. Keep in mind that your core is not just your “six pack”, it goes all the way around your waist.

When lifting something off the floor while not activating your core, your low back will take over and you could risk a back injury. The most common lift people do wrong without the proper core engagement is a deadlift (a.k.a. picking something up off the floor). A poor deadlift is one that includes a rounded back which is the leading cause for possible strains/sprains in the tissues as well as disc issues. The same thing applies to rotating movements. 

You could also find yourself having back pain with walking. This could happen for many reasons but the most common seems to be excessive pelvic tilt, mostly anteriorly (pictured below).

What this means is that your back muscles are overactive or tight. This then causes your abdominal muscles to be lax or overly stretched and your front hip muscles to be tight as well. On the other hand, if someone demonstrates an excessive posterior tilt this would mean that their glute muscles and abdominals are going to be tight instead (pictured above). Low back pain can get complicated as it is one of those things that shows symptoms with a chain reaction down the body. Your low back could be tight due to hamstring, quad or hip flexor tightness which can all be addressed by stretching. 


One other reason that your back could be hurting is if your QL or your hip hiker muscle is overactive and is mostly seen as a “limp” when walking (pictured below).

Someone can also present with a hip hiking compensation walking pattern with other leg injuries; they do this to avoid using the injured area because of the discomfort associated with use. This compensation pattern will lead to back pain and as you can see in the picture it could radiate up into your shoulders as well.

Does any of this sound like it may fit your situation?
Check out this Instagram post for core strengthening exercises and if you still experience back pain, come see us at your local Peak Physical Therpy location so we can help!


The Shockingly Effective Results of Electric Stimulation in Rehab!

By Alex Nutter - November 4, 2020

Neuromuscular Eletric Stimulation shows rapid improvement in recovery and is shockingly effective!

Neuromuscular Electric Stimulation (NMES) and is a tool that can significantly improve the function of muscles in certain situations.  Following a surgery or injury, swelling and inflammation are common.  This swelling can affect the way that our nerves are able to control muscle movements and control.  This is especially common in knee injuries involving the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and Meniscus.

A Physical Therapist can use specifically directed electric stimulation in order to counter the effects of this impairment and improve the muscles ability to function.  This can lead to improved ability to stand, walk, squat, and decreased pain.  By appropriately activating a non-functioning muscle, our joints can move the way that they were intended.  Similar to a machine with a defective gear, our body cannot function appropriately when a muscle is not doing its job to the full potential.

NMES can show rapid improvements in muscular function that are visible immediately.  Usually this intervention is only required for a few sessions before the muscle is able to function appropriately without external help.  NMES can be used throughout the body on a multitude of muscles. 

If you're having feelings of instability, pain, or general dysfunction?  Ask your therapist if NMES might be right option for you!


Why Getting a Running and Gait Analysis From Your Aurora Physical Therapy Center Is a Good Idea

October 19, 2020

As a runner, you know that your stride sets your pace and controls your stamina throughout every run. When it’s great, you’re able to keep up your pace for long periods of time without taxing your body. When it’s less than ideal, your gait can leave you struggling to hit your times and keeps you from being able to go those long distances you used to handle with ease. Believe it or not, your gait can change as you age and as your muscles develop after you’ve established your running habit. By getting a gait or running analysis from your trusted Denver physical therapy provider, you’ll be better equipped to understand and address those changes for the long run. Here are a few key reasons why getting a running analysis is a great idea for both amateur and semi-professional runners of all skill levels.

Identifies Potential Problems
When you undergo a running analysis, you’ll run in front of an experienced physical therapist that knows what the human body is supposed to look like at all paces. They’ll ask you to run on a treadmill and will analyze how you run. Through that analysis, they’ll be able to identify certain parts of your stride that may cause problems down the line. This allows you to prioritize your training and make adjustments to avoid problems before they have a chance to develop. Over time and over the course of your running career, you’ll be able to improve and avoid injuries that other runners might succumb to.

Helps You Find the Right Shoes
There’s a lot to be said for running shoes. They control the amount of impact your muscles experience during each footfall and can reduce or cause pain the longer you run. Unfortunately, many runners end up choosing the wrong shoes for their running style, body, gait, or foot type and that can lead to serious problems down the line. The last thing you want to do is be in so much pain that you have to give up the sport you love. Part of your running analysis will involve looking closely at the shoes you wear on your runs and making sure they’re the right fit for your stride. If they’re not, your therapist will be able to assess the way your foot lands with each step and make the appropriate recommendations to help you find the best shoe possible. 

Pinpoints Your Weak Areas
Every runner has things they need to improve on. This helps them increase their pace, stamina, and avoid pain. When you’re running on your own, you may be able to identify certain weak points and make the necessary adjustments to improve them, but you won’t be able to seem everything at once. This makes it hard to fully improve your gait and your running style. When you schedule a running analysis, you’ll be able to pinpoint where your weaknesses lie. Even better, you’ll be able to use their knowledge to identify the exact exercises that will help you strengthen your weak areas so you can be a better and healthier runner in the long run.

Lets You Know What You’re Doing Right
Many running analysis appointments focus almost entirely on what you’re doing wrong and what you need to improve. Though those are important factors, you also need to know what you’re doing right so you can keep doing it on all of your runs. During a professional running analysis, you’ll find out exactly what you’re doing that’s working for your body and find ways to make sure you don’t alter those movements when you address the weaknesses in your gait. This can make a huge difference when you’re trying to maintain or improve your pace. 

Helps You Break Through Plateaus
If you’ve been running for a while, you’ve likely encountered at least a few plateaus on your journey. Plateaus happen when you can’t seem to improve your pace, your gait, your stride length, or your general performance when you run. And they can happen without warning. If you’ve ever burst through a plateau on your own, you know just how hard it can be. When you schedule a running analysis, you’ll have an expert working to help you overcome those plateaus quickly. With their analysis and advice, you’ll find out what you can do to make improvements even if you feel like you’ve been stuck for months. Sometimes, all it takes is an outside perspective to find a different way to help you improve.

Improves Your Time
If you’re a competitive runner, you know that the clock matters. When you can increase your pace, you’ll edge out the competition and place higher in every race. On your own, you may find that improving your time is almost impossible. You’re limited to making the changes that you can identify. With a running analysis, you’ll be able to leverage someone else’s experience to improve your time and make a huge difference in your performance.

Reduces the Risk of Injury 

Nothing derails a running career like an injury. Unfortunately, injuries can happen when you least expect them and when they do, it can take months for you to fully recover. That means months that you’ll have to stop running and, worse, months of progress that you’ll lose by being less active. When you work with a running analyst, you’ll identify the movements that you need to change to avoid injury in the long run. This means you’ll be on the road more often and won’t have to worry about spending months on the couch dreaming about your next run.

Schedule an Analysis Today
Your running career is important whether you race or just do it because you love the feel of the wind in your face. Make sure you can enjoy the sport for years to come. Contact us to schedule a running analysis today and let our experts show you what you can do to improve your gait, lengthen your stride, and reduce your risk of injury so you can keep pounding the pavement without pain.

Shoulder Pathology - What is Causing Your Shoulder Pain and How You Can Remedy It!

By Koren Lavi - October 16, 2020

What is causing your shoulder pain and how you can remedy it!

Many types of shoulder pathologies are contributed to by decreased subacromial space. Thats the space between your arm bone (humerus) and shoulder-blade bone (scapula). The soft tissue of our body can get impinged or "pinched" between these bones causing irritation. The soft tissue that most frequently get impinged is the biceps tendon, the supraspinatus (a rotator cuff muscle), and the subacromial bursa (a fluid filled sac that acts as a cushion). Very commonly, when there is an issue with the shoulder joint, our patients often complain of aching or sharp pain in the shoulder joint. Often times these symptoms occur during overhead reaching, forward reaching, and reaching behind the back. 

Seeking timely medical attention from your orthopedic doctor or physical therapist is critical to prevent permanent damage of these soft tissue structures. Additionally, lack of timely treatment may cause secondary issues such as stiffness, weakness, and instability of the shoulder. A lot of the time, pain and inflammation after an initial injury persists with lack of shoulder motion. 

With these kinds of injuries the old "no pain no gain" adage DOES NOT APPLY.

First, the goal is to reduce inflammation through a combination of anti-inflammatory medications and pain-free motion. Initially physical therapy should include soft tissue mobilization to relax tight or "guarded" muscles. PT should also start by including exercises such as pendulum or Codman's exercises to temporarily increase the subacromial space (check out this post for those exercises).

During this time it is crucial to work on range of motion to combat stiffness. After inflammation and stiffness begin to subside, it is important to work on strengthening (pain-free!) to begin regaining stability in the shoulder joint.

To seek a more specific plan of care tailored to your specific needs, come in and get an evaluation from one of our licensed doctors of physical therapy!