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!
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!
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!
October 19, 2020
By Koren Lavi - October 16, 2020