One of the most infuriating injuries to deal with is chronic neck pain. When you’re unable to move your head from side to side without discomfort, it will undoubtedly drag down your quality of life. Fortunately, here at Island Sports Physical Therapy, our team has an answer to this problem. By administering physical therapy, we help patients get their neck and supportive structures back to full strength. After a few sessions, patients can play an active role in their recovery from their own homes.
What Causes Neck Pain?
When it comes to neck pain, various issues can be causing its occurrence. However, physical therapy can be used to treat and manage almost all of them. To determine what methods will work best for you, the exact cause of your neck pain must be diagnosed. Examples of the most common causes of neck pain a person can deal with may include:
- Muscle strains.
- Worn joints.
- Nerve compression.
- Neck injuries.
- Degenerative diseases.
When To Visit A Doctor
Sometimes, we can sleep on our necks the wrong way and wake up with pain and stiffness in the area. Circumstances such as this do not require visiting a medical professional. However, patients need to know when to seek physical therapy for their neck pain. Waiting too long to receive care increases the chances of permanent damage taking place. That is why if you find yourself dealing with the below, we recommend seeking care right away:
- Severe pain.
- Pain lasting several days with no signs of dissipation.
- Pain accompanied by spasms in the arms and legs.
- Headaches, numbness, weakness, or tingling sensations.
Taking preventive action is always a better option than waiting to sustain an injury. One of the significant benefits of focusing on prevention methods is that they can be done at home. Doing so means you’ll spend less time in pain and potentially avoiding the need to ever come in for sessions of physical therapy. While our team would be happy to treat you, if we can help patients avoid pain altogether, we’ll always go down that route. Examples of the most effective pain prevention methods include the below:
- Always use good posture. This involves standing up straight and not lurching your head forward.
- Make sure you avoid keeping your neck in one position for too long.
- Keep your work area ergonomically sound.
- Avoid carrying bags with heavy straps over your shoulder.
- When you sleep, try to keep your neck aligned with your body.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Neck Pain
If you are not familiar with this type of treatment, you may be wondering how it applies to at-home options. To understand that, we first must dive into what physical therapy is at its core. Physical therapy is an activity-based form of treatment that utilizes stretches and strengthening exercises to promote healing from within the injured area. In terms of neck-related issues, it will loosen up tight tissues and build strength in its supportive muscle, which will work to eliminate pain. Many benefits stem from physical therapy. However, one of the largest is that once you’ve mastered the exercises taught by our team, you can begin to perform them at home. This means spending less time injured. Additional benefits of physical therapy may include:
- Improved flexibility.
- Increased range of motion.
- Regained strength.
- Elimination of pain.
- Mitigated risk of injury recurrence.
Contact Our Team
When you’re dealing with neck pain, there is no need to let it linger. By contacting our team at Island Sports Physical Therapy, you’ll increase the chances of making a full recovery. For more information on how physical therapy can help, contact our team today.
When you’re unable to use your wrist comfortably, it can quickly drag down your quality of life. This scenario becomes more accurate when you find your wrist pain is nearly a daily occurrence. When this happens to you, our team here at Island Sports Physical Therapy will be there to help. We’ll help determine why chronic wrist pain has developed and work to create a proper treatment plan.Continue reading Why Do I Have Chronic Wrist Pain?
Winter is a season filled with snowfall and outdoor winter-activities. Even the most robust winter enthusiasts however need to understand the potential dangers this season can bring. With the snowy and icy conditions, slips and falls become a common issue. Our team at Island Sports Physical Therapy understands that a slip and fall can sometimes have devastating effects. That is why we’d like to offer some tips on preventing them from occurring this winter.
Slip And Fall Injuries
As previously stated, the amount of people who suffer from slips and falls during the wintertime can sometimes be more extensive than any other point in the year. That is because winter can bring with it some hazardous conditions. Icy and snow-covered walkways make finding traction difficult, leading to the potential for falls. When they take place, the injuries sustained will likely require the help of a trained medical team. Examples of the typical slip and fall injuries our team is well versed in treating include:
- Broken bones.
- Muscle strains and sprains.
- Hip fractures.
- Shoulder issues.
- Back problems.
Tips For Avoiding Slips And Falls
At Island Sports Physical Therapy, our team will be happy to treat you for any injuries sustained during a slip and fall this winter. However, we understand that it’s always best to avoid an injury from ever taking place rather than seeking treatment after the fact. That is why we’d like to offer some tips on how you can stay upright, even in the most extreme winter conditions. By following the below advice, you increase the chances of getting through this time of year pain-free:
- Always walk slowly and carefully in winter conditions.
- Wear boots that are slip-resistant and offer firm traction.
- Be extra cautious when stepping out of a vehicle.
- When entering a home or building, inspect your walking area to see if it looks slippery.
- Avoid carrying items or walking with your hands in your pockets, as it reduces your ability to catch your balance.
- Watch out for black ice.
- Walk as flat-footed as possible over areas you think may be slippery.
- Steer clear of uneven surfaces when possible.
- If your walking path contains visible ice and snow, consider trying a different route.
Balance And Fall Prevention Services
Although people need to take extra precautions during the winter, the reality is that slips and falls can happen at any time. In some cases, falls may even be caused by a medical problem or just be a simple unfortunate effect of aging. Our team at Island Sports Physical Therapy offers balance and fall prevention therapy for patients in need to help people stay on their feet all year round. This is achieved through a variety of ways, including some of the below:
- Teaching the importance of body awareness.
- Using exercises to promote strength and flexibility in weight-bearing areas.
- Increasing coordination in the patient.
- Training to improve joint strength and stability.
Benefits Of Working With Our Team
Our main goal is to keep our patients healthy, no matter what time of year it is currently. Choosing to work with our therapists to help improve your balance and prevent slips and falls comes with an array of benefits. Some of the benefits of doing so can include the following:
- Preventing serious injuries.
- Allowing patients to keep their independence.
- Improving reaction time in patients.
- Having the ability to travel through wintery conditions.
Contact Island Sports Physical Therapy!
Patients should not let the fact that it is winter scare them from walking around and traveling. By following the advice we laid out, you significantly increase the chances of making it through this season without any issues. However, even after being careful, our staff at Island Sports Physical Therapy understands that slips and falls can still occur. If you become injured due to one, we’ll provide you with the treatment methods needed to get back to full strength. To schedule your first appointment, contact our team today.
While it is unfortunate, neck pain is something that most people will have to face at least once in their lifetime. For some, this means a few hours of discomfort as the neck muscles loosen up throughout the day. For others, it can mean the inability to turn your head from side to side due to excruciating pain. If you find yourself leaning more towards the latter category, physical therapy should be in your future. Here at Island Sports Physical Therapy, our team would like to discuss why this form of care can be so beneficial to treating neck pain.
Common Causes Of Neck Pain
When it comes to neck pain, many culprits can be to blame for stimulating this discomfort. This should be expected, as everyone from athletes to stay-at-home parents can be subjected to the issue. However, no matter what the cause, our team will work diligently to correct the problem. Below are just some of the catalysts that can cause neck pain to develop:
- Muscle strains.
- Joint issues.
- Nerve compression.
- Experiencing trauma to the neck.
- Conditions such as arthritis.
When To See A Doctor
As previously stated, sometimes neck pain will go away on its own. Just because you slept wrong the night before and woke up with pain, it doesn’t mean a trip to our facility is warranted. However, when you notice neck pain lasting longer and becoming a more regular part of your life, you shouldn’t wait to seek care. Getting treatment sooner rather than later will eliminate the chances of permanent damage taking place. Those dealing with any of the below symptoms should seriously consider scheduling an appointment with us for physical therapy right away:
- Severe pain.
- Pain that does not subside after days of rest.
- Pain that begins to spread down your arms or legs.
- Headaches, numbness, weakness, or tingling sensations accompany the pain.
- Being unable to turn your head from side to side.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Due to physical therapy’s nature, many doctors will have patients receive this form of care as the first resort for treatment. Physical therapy is non-invasive and utilizes therapeutic stretches and strengthening exercises to promote healing in the affected area’s structural and supportive tissues. By working with our team, you can find your neck pain being relieved without the need for invasive treatments. It also increases the likelihood that neck pain does not become a recurring issue.
The Benefits Of Working With Island Sports Physical Therapy
When faced with pain or an injury, patients should always seek out the treatment methods that offer the most benefits. That is one of the many reasons physical therapy is so popular. This form of treatment houses a plethora of benefits and can help patients dealing with all types of ailments get back to full strength. Should you decide to seek physical therapy for your neck pain, expect the below to take place:
- Elimination of pain.
- Improving flexibility and range of motion.
- Regaining strength.
- Increase the potential of avoiding surgery.
- Preventing the injury or condition from recurring.
Although physical therapy is largely activity-based, other aspects go into the sessions. Our team will perform a full evaluation of your neck to determine which additional modalities will work best for you. Any of the below may also be utilized to complement the healing activities:
- Massage therapy.
- Heat and cold therapy.
- Electronic muscle stimulation.
- Ultrasound therapy.
Contact Our Team
Constant and severe neck pain can quickly drag down one’s quality of life. To help prevent this from happening, consider working with our team at Island Sports Physical Therapy. Our expert staff will provide you with physical therapy sessions needed to help you make a full recovery. If you’d like to schedule your first appointment, don’t hesitate to contact our team today.
Did you know that October is National Physical Therapy Month? Here at Island Sports Physical Therapy, we do not want your quality of life reduced by any bodily pain. That is why it is important to seek out physical therapy treatment for any discomfort you may be experiencing, especially when involving your knees!
Your knees are two of the most important joints in your body. Not only do they bear a majority of your body weight, but they also allow for movements such as running and walking to take place. When you begin to suffer pain in this area, it can quickly drag down your quality of life. Our team can provide you with physical therapy sessions needed to correct any issue you may be experiencing including knee injuries and get you back to full strength.
Common Causes Of Knee Pain
Due to the makeup of the knee joints, various factors can lead to pain in this area. Our team is well versed in this and will perform a full evaluation to determine the problem you are currently facing. Doing so is the first step in the recovery process. Should you find yourself faced with any of the below complications, physical therapy sessions can likely be used to help:
- ACL issues.
- Knee fractures.
- Torn meniscus.
- Knee bursitis.
- Patella tendonitis.
When To See A Doctor
Sometimes, the pain we experience within our body can go away on its own with a few days worth of rest. Just because you’re dealing with knee pain, it doesn’t mean a serious issue has occurred. However, when you fail to seek treatment and are dealing with an actual problem, you put yourself at risk for developing long-term complications. To prevent this from happening, be sure to reach out to our team if you find yourself dealing with the following:
- Inability to bear weight on the knee.
- The knee continually feels as if it is about to give out.
- Limited mobility.
- A visible deformity in the joint.
- Extreme pain coincides with an injury.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Our team will likely suggest physical therapy as the first type of treatment that is tried for patients racked with knee pain. Physical therapy utilizes therapeutic stretches and strengthening exercises to promote healing from within an injured area. These physical activities could be just what your knee needs to begin healing. However, that is not the only thing that can go into sessions of treatment. The following may also be used to help facilitate the healing process:
- Massage therapy.
- Heat and cold therapy.
- Electronic muscle stimulation.
Why Choose Physical Therapy For Treatment?
When knee pain strikes, physical therapy is often recommended by medical professionals to correct the issue. This is because physical therapy brings so many benefits. Physical therapy is non-invasive, making it a treatment procedure that comes with little to no complications. It also allows patients to play an active role in their recovery process. Should you chose to work with our team for this type of care, you can reap all of the below benefits:
- Reduced swelling and inflammation.
- Elimination of pain.
- Restoration of knee functionality.
- Regained strength.
- Improved flexibility and range of motion.
One final benefit we’d like to call out that was not listed above is that physical therapy can also be used as a preventive care form. What this means is that physical therapy can stop knee pain before it even occurs. By coming in for regular physical therapy sessions, our team can ensure that this joint stays strong and flexible, which is precisely what it needs to be to keep the pain away.
Schedule An Appointment
Dealing with knee pain can be frustrating. However, it doesn’t have to last forever. At Island Sports Physical Therapy, our team will provide you with physical therapy sessions needed to restore your knee’s functionality levels to normal. Being that October is National Physical Therapy Month, it is the perfect time to tackle any knee pain you may be facing. To schedule your first appointment, contact our team today.
At Island Sports Physical Therapy, our mission is to combine compassion with state-of-the-art physical therapy care to help keep our patients healthy and active. There are many conditions our team can treat, one of them being Achilles tendonitis. If you believe you are developing this condition, don’t wait to seek out help. We’ll provide you with the sessions of physical therapy needed for you to make a full recovery.
What Is Achilles Tendonitis?
The Achilles tendon is a band of fibrous tissue that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. When this tendon is subjected to repeated stress and strains, it can become inflamed and lead to Achilles tendonitis. This tendon tends to weaken with age, meaning those of older ages who participate in sports or other physical activities are likely to develop Achilles tendonitis. However, anyone who overuses the tendon may be at risk.
Symptoms To Watch For
Just like with any other injury, knowing when Achilles tendonitis is taking place will play a role in increasing the odds of you making a full recovery. Should Achilles tendonitis go unchecked for too long, there is a chance that the tendon completely ruptures. When this takes place, surgery will be required to correct the issue, which will increase the amount of time you spend recovering. To avoid a severe issue like this from happening to you, we recommend visiting our team should you develop any of the below symptoms:
- Limited range of motion when flexing your foot.
- Tighten calf muscles.
- Discomfort and pain towards the back of your heel.
- Worsening pain when you walk or run.
Most Common Causes
As previously stated, the Achilles tendon weakens with age, which leaves people more susceptible to develop Achilles tendonitis, as they get older. This however is not the only way this condition can develop. Understanding the common causes of this condition may help you to avoid it in the future. Examples of the most common causes that lead to Achilles tendonitis include the below:
- Exercising without warming up first.
- Continuously straining your calf muscles during physical activity.
- Working out in poorly fitting shoes.
- Suddenly increasing the intensity of your training.
- Living with bone spurs.
What Is Physical Therapy?
When you choose to work with our team when dealing with Achilles tendonitis, one of the more common treatment methods we’ll recommend is physical therapy. Physical therapy is a non-invasive form of treatment and can help prevent the tendon from rupturing in the future. Recovery is achieved by using therapeutic stretches and strengthening exercises to promote healing from within the affected area. Our staff will teach you how to perform these healing exercises, which include the below:
- Runner’s stretch.
- Toe-to-wall stretch.
- Heel drop.
- Seated heel raises.
- Resistance band calf exercises.
Benefits Of Physical Therapy
Due to the nature of this form of treatment, physical therapy comes with many benefits. Our team at Island Sports Physical Therapy knows this, which is why it is one of the most popular rehabilitation services we offer at our facility. It can be used to treat a wide range of treatments, including Achilles tendonitis. Additional benefits that come through sessions of physical therapy include:
- Improved range of motion.
- Increased strength.
- Reduction of swelling.
- Elimination of pain.
- Regaining strength in the injured area.
- Mitigating the chances of needing surgery.
Contact Our Team
Achilles tendonitis can quickly dampen your quality of life. When you’re unable to move around without experiencing pain and discomfort, everyday tasks can feel like they are now impossible to complete. Fortunately, our team is well versed in this issue. We can provide the sessions of physical therapy needed to help you make a full recovery. For more information on this form of treatment and how it can help with your Achilles tendonitis, be sure to contact our team today.
Staying fit is not an easy process for everyone. However, whether you are an athlete or someone who is sedentary, you must do your part in maintaining your health levels. Failing to do so can lead to injuries taking place. At Island Sports Physical Therapy, we do not want to see this happen to our patients. That is why we would like to share the importance of creating a fitness program, and the benefits that come along with following this program.
What Is A Fitness Program?
Trying to improve your fitness levels blindly can quickly prove to be a difficult task. When you don’t have a plan, it makes it much easier to lose motivation and give up on your workout habits. That is what makes fitness programs so beneficial. A fitness program allows you to take an active role in your health by choosing the goals you want to hit and how they can be accomplished. You can come up with your program on your own, or you can work with our knowledgeable physical therapists to help create one that best suits your needs.
Determining Your Goals
The first step in creating a fitness program is to determine the goals you’d like to achieve. Make sure the goals are not too extreme, as failing to meet them can drain your will to keep with your program. Setting reasonable, achievable goals with the help of our physical therapists improves the chances of long term success with your program. Examples of goals can include the following:
- Losing weight.
- Building muscle.
- Improving your athletic performance.
- Eating better.
Achieving Your Goals
Once your goals have been set, you can begin working toward achieving them. The exact aspects of your fitness program will vary depending on your health levels and what you are trying to accomplish. However, you can rest assured that our team will work with you to create the most optimal path to reach your goals. Below are some examples of what can be worked into your fitness program:
- Daily cardiovascular exercises, such as running or walking.
- A strengthening program using free weights or your body weight.
- Circuit training or high-intensity interval training.
- Creating a food journal to hold yourself accountable for what you are eating.
Keep Your Program Fluid
Just like with anything else in life, aspects of your fitness program should always be changing. When you meet your goals, you shouldn’t just stop your program. You should set new goals to meet so you can constantly improve your fitness levels. Changing the workouts you perform will also be beneficial. Those who stick to a routine for too long increase their chances of plateauing, making it harder to make progress. By keeping your body guessing, you’ll ensure that your fitness needs are always being met.
The Importance Of Fitness
Some people fail to realize that fitness is about more than just looks and athletic performance. While those two things are certainly perks that come with going through with a fitness program, they shouldn’t be your priority. Our team at Island Sports Physical Therapy knows about the benefits that fitness can bring. When you regularly partake in physical activity, you’ll be able to improve the below:
- Metabolism and brain function.
- Bone density.
Working With Island Sports Physical Therapy
If you’re a novice to working out, the beginning phases can often be the most stressful. Not knowing where to start can doom your journey before it truly begins. That is why we want to stress that there is no shame in asking for help when creating a fitness program. At Island Sports Physical Therapy, our team is highly trained and can help patients and clients reach their goals. Our team will perform the necessary fitness evaluations required to create a launching point for your fitness program. To learn more about how we can help, and why fitness programs are so important, contact us today.
Although most offices have reopened, many of us are still working from home some days of the week to maintain safe social distancing. While the elimination of a daily commute may be positive, if you do not have the right setup, working from home will cause more harm than good. Fortunately, our team at Island Sports Physical Therapy can help with this. We’d like to share some tips on how to make your work from home setup more ergonomic, so you can avoid injury.
The Importance Of Posture
It’s easy to overlook how important posture is when it comes to the workplace. Whether it be at your office, or from your own home, when your setup is not ergonomically sound, issues are not far behind. Having poor posture while you’re working can lead to a wide array of issues, which include:
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Spinal misalignments
- Limited range of motion
Focus On Eye Level
The first step in improving your work from home setup is to focus on having your computer screen at eye level. Many have traded desks for living room tables as a sudden shift in the workplace was not expected. While this may seem like no issue, your tables at home were likely not designed for work. To make up for this, our team recommends stacking books under your laptop to raise it to eye level or purchasing a laptop stand.
Avoid The Bed
The urge to spend your workday in bed or lying on the couch can be great, but you must do your best to avoid this. Working while lying down offers little to no support for your body. It also puts your body in awkward positions when trying to look at and type on your laptop. Doing this will be detrimental to your posture potentially leading to pain or discomfort.
Pillows And Rolled Up Towels
Just like the tables at your home were not designed with work in mind, your seats more than likely were not designed to be sat in for an entire workday. Trying to do so will lead to many bouts of pain. If you’re not willing to purchase an office chair for your home, there are ways to make your current chair more suitable. Below are two examples of how to do so:
- Place a thin pillow underneath you to make the chair more comfortable.
- Place a rolled-up towel behind your lower back to help keep your spine straight.
Make Sure To Take Breaks
Even when you’re working from home, it’s important to remember that you’re entitled to breaks. These breaks should become a part of your workday routine to help prevent pain. Taking a three to five-minute break every 30 minutes to move around will allow you to remain healthy and avoid complications.
Schedule An Appointment
Unfortunately, even if you take all the steps to make your work from home setup ergonomically friendly, issues can still arise. If this happens to you, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment for physical therapy with our team. By allowing us to evaluate and treat your bodily discomfort, you’ll find the relief you desperately need. Some of the benefits you’ll receive from working with us include:
- Regained strength
- Improved flexibility
- Increased range of motion
- Elimination of pain
If you’re unsure how to make the most out of working from home, our team at Island Sports Physical Therapy is here to help. We’ll provide you with advice on making your home more ergonomic, and can offer treatment should pain ever arise. For more information or to schedule an appointment for treatment, contact us today.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is caused by an abrupt, forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck, most often caused by car accidents. When whiplash occurs, intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots may become damaged.
Physical therapists at Island Sports Physical Therapy are able to diagnose and treat your whiplash so that you can return to your comfortable, everyday life! Our staff has plenty of experience working with patients who recently experienced a car accident and have suffered whiplash, soft tissue damage, and other ailments.
Do I Have Whiplash?
If you have recently been in a car accident, or suffered from an involuntary hyperextension of the neck, and are experiencing strain or pain in your neck, you may have developed whiplash. The symptoms of whiplash are usually delayed up to one day after the accident. These are just some of the common symptoms associated with whiplash:
- Stiff neck.
- Neck ache.
- Lower back pain.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Shoulder pain or pain between shoulder blades.
- Irritability/Trouble sleeping.
- Tingling or numbness in the limbs.
- Memory problems.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consulting with one of our expert physical therapists could be your solution. Of the many services that we offer, strength training and fitness programming could be an avenue for you to pursue.
How is Whiplash Diagnosed?
In order to determine whether or not you are suffering from whiplash, the doctors at Island Sports Physical Therapy will do a physical examination of your head, arms, and neck. They will assess where your pain or discomfort is and which movements trigger this discomfort. In diagnosing whiplash, your physical therapist will assess just a few of the following:
- Your range of motion in your neck and shoulders.
- The degree of pain and tenderness in your neck, shoulders, and back.
- The strength of your muscles, reflexes, and sensations in your limbs.
Next, your therapist may provide a further evaluation with the use of image testing. X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are tests that may be used.
If it is determined that you are suffering from whiplash, your physical therapist will construct a treatment plan of special exercises to ensure that you recover properly.
How Physical Therapy Helps With Whiplash?
Whiplash can cause severe and, at times, debilitating pain. If left untreated, there is a risk for chronic pain and soreness in the neck for extended periods of time, and over-exertion of the muscles affected. While over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen may help to temporarily relieve pain, it is important to get the proper treatment to ensure a healthy recovery, and most doctors recommend seeing a physical therapist.
At Island Sports Physical Therapy, we will assess your pain and the extent of your injury. With whiplash, our main goal is for you to return to your normal range of motion, and to alleviate your pain. We will use a variety of exercises like neck rotations or bending to help stretch and strengthen the damaged muscles, as well as deep-tissue massage to help soothe them.
With some whiplash cases, doctors will use hot-and-cold therapy. The heat helps to get increased blood flow to the affected area, which brings needed oxygen and helps to remove waste byproducts. When cold temperatures are introduced, inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain are reduced.
Additionally, your physical therapist will recommend certain at-home treatments like icing, heating pads, proper rest, and at-home exercises.
Where to Get Physical Therapy for Whiplash?
With six locations across Long Island, Island Sports Physical Therapy is here to help. Our dedicated team at Island Sports Physical Therapy has been treating patients who suffer from whiplash and guiding them to recovery for years. Proper treatment is essential to relieving neck pain and ensuring healthy muscle and nerve recovery.
Don’t continue to suffer and don’t leave your whiplash untreated! Visit our website for more information on our treatment plans, or give us a call to make an appointment today!
The team at Island Sports Physical Therapy encourages a healthy lifestyle. As spring blooms, the outdoors beckon us. The longer days, ample sunshine, and warmer temperatures provide us with an excellent opportunity to follow that calling. Add a good friend or spouse to your session and you’re primed for success. Walking is an excellent starting point to get re-adjusted to an exercise routine. Studies have shown that simply walking creates both physical and psychological benefits, such as improving cardiovascular health and increasing mood. Walking does not require equipment or special skill and can be performed at any time.
What are some factors I should consider before taking a walk?
As with any exercise routine, be sure to have your physician clear you to begin. Next, having goals, both short-term and long-term, are key. It’s even more important to progressively plan each of your sessions so that it leads to the achievement of the ultimate goal. Here are some factors to consider:
Distance and Pace
How far and how fast your walk should be is a matter of personal choice and your goals. While many studies advocate for 30-minutes of brisk walking (3-4 mph), five days per week, others look to heart rate as the primary factor. Typically an individual’s heart rate, or pulse, can be detected with two fingers just below the jawline. Activity that raíses heart rate within 55%-70% of an individual’s maximum heart rate or beats per minute is effective in developing physical benefits. The maximum heart rate can be determined using the equation: 220 minus age = maximum heart rate/minute. For example, a 55-year old’s maximum heart rate is 165. So, ideally, their walk should elicit a heart rate range of 90 – 115 beats per minute. Wearable technology, such as watches, monitors, and bands, has been a tremendous help in accurately detecting proper heart rate ranges. Physiologically, an increase in heart rate also leads to an increase in perspiration, increased blood flow and increased breathing rate. That means, if you’re engaged in a conversation, you may have some level of breathlessness. An inability to talk most likely means your pace is too vigorous. Lastly, the number of steps can help determine the level of intensity. Studies indicate that a walking pace of 100 steps/minute is moderately intense.
Depending on the location of your walk, the option to choose the type of surface or terrain will play a role in your exercise intensity. Often, running up hills will increase the exercise intensity. Further, the ground surface plays a role in the stresses that are placed on the body.
Here are some options for your consideration:
- Road/Sidewalk: Perhaps the easiest and most convenient location to start walking is right outside your door. Roads and/or sidewalks, while convenient, do pose a traffic safety concern. As an alternative, many Long Island golf courses allow residents to walk the circuitous cart paths during certain hours. Be aware that continual walks on hard pavement may exacerbate lower-body injuries, like shin splints, or lower back pain. The Island Sports Physical Therapy team is available to provide an evaluation of those injuries before implementing a walking exercise routine.
- Track: Another safe option for many is an outdoor track. Local Long Island communities have athletic facilities that often include a 400-meter track open for public use. Four laps total one mile. This flat, forgiving surface is ideal for beginners.
- Grass/Trails: Long Island has diverse landscapes and a multitude of parks that allow you to enjoy scenery and nature. As a benefit, the softer terrain creates less impact on joints.
- Beach: Whether it’s the North Shore or South Shore of Long Island, the beaches can enhance the benefit of your walks. Sand will challenge your balance and increase the amount of work your muscles and joints, especially your calves and ankles, require to propel your body over the ground.
Spring weather can be fickle with temperatures changing quickly. Be sure to layer both your upper and lower body. Choose lightweight, moisture-wicking materials that are closer to your skin with a breathable, water-repellent or water-resistant layer atop that. Hats and gloves are still advisable for brisk mornings. Opt for reflective clothing when walking during the dawn or dusk hours.
Consider your shoewear. The foot and lower leg distribute the forces that the ground places upon them during activity, especially when on the pavement. Properly fitted and appropriate shoewear is a vital extension of your foot. It helps correct any biomechanical abnormalities that your foot and lower body may have. Your shoe selection may be dependent on the terrain, but should probably include:
- The proper outsole, the undersurface of the shoe that makes contact with the ground, should only bend at the ball of the foot, also known as the transverse metatarsal arch. Rubber is usually the best. Trail walking shoes may incorporate a more rigid outsole.
- Mid-sole: This gel, air or foam portion is responsible for the distribution of forces from the ground. Some shoes incorporate a reinforced medial layer for those individuals who tend to overpronate and/or have flat feet, also known as pes planus.
- Lacing system: How you tie your shoe may help the shoe fit better, ultimately preventing overuse injuries. Be sure that the toe box (the front portion of the shoe) fits snuggly but isn’t too tight, which may cause blisters and neuromas.
New Activity Considerations
Proper walking cadence and patterns are key to incorporate efficient muscle sequencing. The muscles located in the rear of your lower body – calves, hamstrings, and glutes – should work as a unit to control effort, balance, and stability. Thus, as the walking pattern progresses, consider these tips:
- Foot and Ankle: Land on the heel, rolling through the foot and push off the inside two toes.
- Knee and Hip: When landing, maintain a “soft” knee and hip to aid in your body accepting the ground forces. When pushing off, focus on contracting the gluteus muscle (buttock). It’s the primary muscle group responsible for forwarding movement.
- Shoulders, Head and Neck: Maintaining a head straight, eyes forward posture will keep your spine aligned. Focus on keeping the shoulder blades (scapulae) pitched backward, yet allow for a natural swing. To increase the walking pace, bend the elbows to a 90-degree angle and swing the shoulders comfortably. This technique is especially useful on hilly terrain.
Self Care after Activity
As with any new activity or increase in exercise intensity, there may be some initial soreness or discomfort in the stressed areas of the body. While this is usually temporary, gentle stretching and the use of a cold application for 20-30 minutes (no longer) every 60-90 minutes can help alleviate this discomfort. Should the pain or discomfort last longer than 24-48 hours, the Island Sports Physical Therapy team can help identify the cause and create a physical therapy plan to get you back on track.