Women’s Health Physical Therapy

By: Laura Wong, PT, DPT, CSCS.

Why you may need women’s health physical therapy

Women’s health physical therapy is a form of care that is frequently overlooked. Many pelvic floor conditions and disorders are extremely common, but often women choose not to seek help. Why is this? ⁠Some say because they are embarrassed and others say that they don’t believe good treatment options exist. Needless to say, at AmeriCare we want women to feel comfortable discussing these concerns and we want to make sure you feel taken care of. We have listed some quick steps to help you determine if you could benefit from women’s health physical therapy.⁠

How to determine when you should get help:

Ask yourself if you are experiencing any of the conditions listed below. If you say yes to any of them, you could benefit from women’s health physical therapy.

  1. Peeing when coughing, sneezing, or exercising⁠
  2. A sense of urgency to use the restroom⁠
  3. Pre/postpartum⁠
  4. Low back pain⁠
  5. Bowel or bladder dysfunction⁠

Who should you see?

Women’s Health Physical Therapists

Specialists who evaluate and treat women with a tailored understanding of their physiological differences and the impact of hormones on specific conditions and recovery.

What your treatment may look like:

Women’s Health physical therapy encompasses a combination of biofeedback, manual therapy, relaxation techniques, therapeutic exercises, and neuromuscular training that can address a variety of conditions including incontinence, osteoporosis, prolapse, menopause, pregnancy, and pelvic pain.

Benefits:
  1. Strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor can reduce stress and urinary incontinence symptoms
  2. Core and lumbar strengthening can reduce low back pain during or after pregnancy
  3. Biofeedback can help to retrain contraction and relaxation of pelvic muscles
  4. Comprehensive home exercise programs and educational materials to manage symptoms at home

Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health

By: Brian Tababa, PT, DPT.

How does exercise impact mental health?

Now more than ever, it is important to highlight the benefits of exercise and physical activity on our mental health. Mental health involves an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Furthermore, there are many factors that contribute to the status of an individual’s mental health. As physical therapists, we focus on improving the brain’s natural chemistry through exercise.

How the brain responds to exercise

When we exercise, natural chemicals called neurotransmitters are released in the brain.

  1. Serotonin positively impacts mood
  2. Norephinephrine improves alertness and focus
  3. Dopamine increases motivation
  4. Endorphins are “feel-good” chemicals

The link between exercise and stress

Research shows that exercise decreases stress and reduces anxiety and depression.

  1. Improves confidence
  2. Encourages participation in positive social interactions
  3. Provides healthy coping mechanisms

Physical Therapy helps

Whether you are a beginner or a competitive athlete, being consistent is the most important thing. Physical therapists help by holding you accountable and working together to reach your goals.

Getting Started

For beginners, getting starting can be hard. But, we are here to help! Here are 3 tips that assist with getting started.

  1. Set a Goal: Understand what you want to achieve by exercising
  2. Pick an Activity: Make sure to have fun!
  3. Pro Tip: Exercise with a buddy! Pick a family or friend who will exercise with you

Advocating for Yourself in your Physical Therapy Session

By: Barbara Reuven, PT.

How do you ensure that you are getting the most out of physical therapy?

When you are seeing help from a physical therapist it is critical to make sure that you are advocating for yourself. Here at AmeriCare we want to make sure that all of our patients are cared for in the way that they deserve. Whether you have a new injury or chronic discomfort, we want to help you get the most out of your care.

Finding the Right Clinic for YOU:

Doing your research is extremely important at this stage. Many physicians have lists of physical therapy clinics that are close in proximity, but not all clinics or therapists are equal

  1. Look up clinic reviews on google/yelp
  2. Understand what others are saying about the clinic in regards to: cleanliness, friendliness, and staff credentials
  3. Visit the physical therapy clinic’s website
  4. Physically visit a facility and take a tour to ensure that the site is a good fit for you
  5. Ask the clinic if you can speak with your physical therapist before your first appointment to get an understanding of their style and criteria

Now that you have found the right clinic for you, what should you ask on your first day?

  1. How long is each therapy session?
  2. Will you be seeing the same therapist on each visit to the clinic? Remember, consistency of care is important.
  3. Who will be responsible for your daily care? Will it be the therapist or an aide? You definitely want to make sure that your therapist spends enough 1-on-1 time with you.⁠
  4. Do you need to communicate with your physician and how often you need to do so?

What your first visit should look like:

  1. Thorough intake of your medical history including medications, special tests, previous therapy, and living situation
  2. Your therapist should demonstrate good listening skills and ask you what your goals are for physical therapy. Team work is dream work!
  3. You will get a home exercise program on day 1. All exercises should be done with the therapist’s supervision at the clinic and then a written or video format of the exercise will be given to you.
  4. At the end of the session, you and your therapist should come up with a treatment plan including the frequency of sessions and the length of treatment. Bring your calendar with you to schedule your appointments.
Always keep in mind that as the patient, you are an integral part of your physical therapy experience and outcome. Quality care is a partnership between the your skilled physical therapist and consistent hard work and effort outside of the clinic from you.

Physical Therapy for Breastfeeding

By: Amita Mali, PT, OCS, FAAOMPT.

How does Physical Therapy Help with Breastfeeding?

Supporting women during breastfeeding is not easy. A lot of new moms struggle with it and often feel that other people don’t understand their story. Here at AmeriCare, we want to make sure all mommas are heard and feel good through their breastfeeding journey. ⁠ It is #WorldBreastfeedingWeek and we want to share some insights from our very own Women’s Health and Pelvic Floor specialist, Dr. Amita Mali. She has learned a lot about this topic through her vast physical therapy experience and fellowship as well as through being a new mom herself.

Common Encounters During Your Breastfeeding Journey:

  1. Neck and mid back pain with nursing

  2. Position and duration while nursing can determine the frequency of pain episodes

  3. One sided breast pain with discharge from the nipple is not normal and may warrant physician consult

  4. Occasional engorgement and associated discomfort and pain in a breast may indicate blocked duct

  5. A consult with a Physical Therapist trained in Women’s health conditions can help you identify and resolve aches and pains

Can Physical Therapy Enhance your Breastfeeding Journey?

YES! Physical Therapy can help with the following things:

  1. Optimize Positioning for Baby and Mama:⁠ Always bring the baby to you with the use of pillows or propping. You want to avoid slouching down to the baby. Keep your shoulders and back supported. Maintain a neutral neck position (we say adore that scrumptious baby, but also make sure you look back up every few minutes). Lastly, make sure those arms are supported by pillows as well.⁠ ⁠
  2. Identify Signs of Infection:  You can develop mastitis more easily when your milk ducts are backed up. Physical therapists can help to ID, treat, and determine when meeting a physician or lactation consultant is necessary. ⁠ ⁠
  3. Help with Any Pain or Discomfort:⁠ Looking down too much can definitely cause strain on your neck and back. Luckily, we are able to help you with managing your pain and utilizing exercises that can really help decrease it. ⁠ ⁠
  4. Relaxation Advice:⁠ Now that we have covered positioning, infection, and pain/discomfort the next thing to focus on is relaxation. You and your baby are all set up, so try to allow your muscles to relax and soften in places where you feel tension. Try doing some deep breaths while simultaneously focusing on relaxing specific areas of your body. This time for you and your little one will be true bliss.

Low Impact Bodyweight Workout in 10 Minutes!

By: Michelle Zaffuto, PT, DPT

Quarantine making you feel sluggish?

Don’t let being stuck in quarantine keep you from your exercise goals. Here is a quick and efficient 10 minute workout that is low impact on your joints and will improve your total body muscle strength. The CDC recommends to perform muscle strengthening activities a minimum of 2 days a week.

Strengthening in combination with aerobic exercise can achieve even more health benefits. 

Do each movement for 20 seconds for 4 rounds and 30 seconds rest in between each round. 

  1. Push ups

    • Technique: Start with hands directly under shoulders and slowly lower chest to ground then return to starting position.
    • Muscles Strengthened: pectoralis major/minor, deltoids, serratus anterior, triceps, abdominals
    • Modification: perform with knees of the ground 
  2. Squats

    • Technique: Start with feet hip width apart, stick your butt back and slowly lower as if sitting on an invisible chair.
    • Muscles Strengthened: glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves 
    • Modification: use a smaller range of motion and perform “mini” squats within tolerance
  3. Plank

    • Technique: Start with forearms on the ground, directly under your shoulders, keeping your spine in alignment and head/neck in neutral. Be sure to keep your core and glutes engaged and maintain position for 20 seconds. 
    • Muscles Strengthened: transverse and rectus abdominis, erector spinae, deltoids, quadriceps 
    • Modification: perform with knees on the ground 
  4. Tricep Dips

    • Technique: Start seated at the edge of a sturdy chair or low table and slide your butt off of the edge of the chair so that only your hands are on the chair. Keep your legs straight in front of you and begin to slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself towards the ground before straightening your arms to lift back up. 
    • Muscles Strengthened: triceps, pectoralis major/minor, deltoids
    • Modification: keeps legs bent rather than straight out 
  5. Stationary Lunges 

    • Technique: Start with taking a big step forward with your right foot and lower so that your right knee is at 90 degree angles before pushing back up into the starting position.
    • Muscles Strengthened: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves 
    • Modification: do not bend as far into lunge position; 10 second hold each side 
  6. Abdominal Bicycles

    • Technique: Begin on your back with your knees in a tabletop position. Use your core strength to bring your elbow towards your opposite knee before extending the leg back out. Be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the exercise so that your lower back does not lift off of the floor. 
    • Muscles Strengthened: rectus abdominis, internal/external obliques, quadriceps 
    • Modification: alternating crunch with hand to opposite knee 

Check out our recent  instagram post to see videos on these workouts!

 

Tricks to Maintain Good Sitting Posture

By: Michelle Zaffuto, PT, DPT.

Tricks to Maintain Good Sitting Posture While Working From Home

With the COVID-19 Pandemic “Stay at Home” guidelines, many of us are working from home until further notice. Working 8+ hours on the computer while sitting in a chair can significantly impact posture and increase lower back pain, neck pain, as well as increase the frequency and duration of headaches. It is important to develop good posture when working from home, this will help alleviate pain and promote an active lifestyle without discomfort. 

4 Tips to Remember:

  1. Keep your hips and knees at a 90 degree angle with the floor and make sure that your feet are securely on the ground.
    • Pro Tip: If your feet just don’t touch the floor, grab a stool and place it underneath your feet to ensure that your hips and knees are in proper alignment
  2. Keep  your computer screen level with your eyes and an arm’s length distance from you to avoid excessive eye strain and headaches.
    • Pro Tip: If you are working on a laptop, you can place it on a stand or some books in order to maintain the height at eye level
  3. Keeping your wrists in neutral and in line with elbows will take pressure off of the wrists and fingers which can reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow
    • Pro Tip: Stretch out your wrists every 1-2 hours to reduce stiffness and further pain.
  4. Take breaks!
    • Pro Tip: Walk around every 1-2 hours, do some jumping jacks, and if you absolutely cannot take a standing break be sure to look away from your screen and stretch for at least 20-30 seconds.

Reminder: If you are experiencing low back pain, neck pain, or headaches and would like to prevent such pain in the future, physical therapists can perform a full postural assessment and provide exercises that will relieve pain and bring you back to the lifestyle you enjoy. 

Note: Assessments can be completed through online services.

Postpartum Pain Relief – Do you get back pain while lifting your child?

By: Amita Mali, PT, OCS, FAAOMPT.

Postpartum Pain Relief in Mothers with Back Discomfort

Low back pain has various causes, it is crucial to take note when a postpartum mother complains of low back pain. There are a multitude of things that we can do to help.

Changes in the Body During and After Pregnancy

Lower Back Pain during pregnancy
Lower back pain during pregnancy
  1. Postural
  2. Spinal Alignment
  3. Altered muscular control
  4. Hormonal Shifts that can result in joint laxity in the body

Demands of a New Mother

Breast feeding, Diaper changes, bathing the baby with transfers is a continuous demand that is placed on the new mother’s body. All of which may result in back pain.

Breast feeding several times a day in a slouched position is a tremendous source of upper back pain. There are several positional changes that can be made to prevent pain of the upper back from breastfeeding.

Child rearing activities like diaper changing, picking them from the floor, and carrying them around are potential sources for low back pain since the muscular system is not ready to work along with the skeletal system to lift the load. 

Happy Mother Father and Child

How Can we Help?

Physical Therapists trained in treating patients during pregnancy and after childbirth can assess core strength, alignment, posture during breastfeeding, lifting mechanics, and leg strength. This examination helps them understand the specific treatment that would benefit you the most and help you get stronger and have back pain relief.

At AmeriCare Physical Therapy we can help treat your postpartum back pain. Our certified Physical Therapists are specialized in pelvic floor Physical therapy

It’s all about the Foot

By: Barbara Reuven, PT.

Physical therapy and foot pain

Our feet are a tremendously important part of our body and they encounter a lot of daily stress.

Plantar fasciitis impacts up to to 2 million Americans per year, therefore making it the most common cause of foot pain.

Foot discomfort can be debilitating and we want to help you reduce your pain and get back on track to hitting those daily step goals.

Anatomy of the Foot

Before we dive into plantar fasciitis, we want to explain a bit about the anatomy of the foot. It has 3 segments forefoot, mid foot, and hind foot

Forefoot contains five toes (phalanges) and 5 longer bones (metatarsals)

Mid foot is a collection of bones that create the arches of the foot

Hind foot  is formed by the heel and ankle

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is defined by foot pain which is located in front of the inner part of the heel. So, this is impacting the hind foot.

Typically, pain is worse in the morning and improves after a few steps. However, the pain worsens with prolonged walking or standing.  Thus leading to reduced usage of the foot and more time spent seated. The under use can then cause secondary leg weakness and decreased flexibility.

Not to worry, Physical Therapy Helps!

Physical Therapists perform a biomechanical evaluation of your foot to assess the root of the problem, and reducing the likelihood of this pain to become chronic.  We offer a slew of non-surgical treatments including the following:

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises to the legs
  • Taping and orthotics to change the mechanics of the foot
  • Soft tissue mobilization to the plantar fascia
  • Ultrasound and Electrical Stimulation
  • In addition, your therapist may recommend a night splint and a change in foot position
Physical therapists are experts in understanding the biomechanics of your body. We address the symptoms of foot pain prevent re-occurrence.

5 Exercises to Get Rid of your Headache

By: Laura Wong, PT, DPT, CSCS.

How Does Physical Therapy Help with Reducing Headache Pain

Headaches are common and often debilitating, they can be very painful and lead a decreased quality of life. Fortunately, headaches can be treated with physical therapy. Physical therapists take a thorough history to better understand you and the source of your headaches, then they determine a personalized treatment and exercise plan that is most appropriate for you.

According to the International Headache Society, there are 14 distinguishable headache disorders. Headaches can be caused by tension, migraines and neck dysfunction, but also head injury, jaw disorders and neck trauma. Depending on the disorder, physical therapy can help with several of these types of headaches.

The most common types of headaches

Tension Headache:

Have you ever felt a headache that felt like a deep, aching pain that often feels like tightness around the forehead or around the sides and back of your head? You are most likely experiencing a tension headache. The most common trigger for this headache is, you guessed it, stress. Shoulder and neck muscles are often tight and tender. Headaches that originate from jaw pain can also result in tension headaches.

Cervicogenic Headache:

On the other hand, cervicogenic headaches usually originate from an underlying neck problem that referred pain to the head. Pain is typically on one side of the head and headache symptoms are usually accompanied by neck pain. You may feel symptoms at the base of the skull, behind the eye or towards the face or eye.

 

5 Exercises to Relieve Your Headache

Remember, consult your physical therapist if you have any questions!

1: Chin tucks

This is one of my favorite exercises to give to my patients. Almost everyone who works in an office at a desk is guilty of hunching over their desks and hiking up their shoulders. Chin tucks are a great way to align your head, neck, and shoulder posture.

How to: Sit up tall with your buttock against the back of the seat and back straight against the back of the chair. Bring your chin towards the front of your throat without tilting the head. A funny analogy I like to make is “give yourself a double chin without tilting the skull down”. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat this 10 times each hour.

2: Upper trapezius stretching

From hiking up our shoulders when sitting, our upper trapezius often become stiff and tight. This stretch will help loosen the tops of your shoulders.

How to: Start by sitting or standing upright. Bring your right ear down to your right shoulder. Do not let your right shoulder hike up to meet the ear and make sure the left shoulder does not hike up either. Staying in this position, take the right hand and bring it up and over the top of the left side of the head. Gently pull the head to the right, and you should feel a pull along the left shoulder and neck. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then return to mid-line. Repeat this exercise on the other side. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.

3: Cat cow stretch

This is great for improving back and neck mobility among those who find themselves sitting for long periods of time at work.

How to: Begin with hands and knees on the floor, with knees under hips, and wrists under shoulders. Begin in a neutral spine position, with the back flat and abdominal muscles engaged. Inhale and let your back arch, lifting your head and tailbone. Then exhale while rounding your spine up to the ceiling, pulling abdominals towards the spine and simultaneously tucking the tailbone in and tucking the chin towards the chest. Repeat between these two positions while inhaling and exhaling. Repeat for one minute.

4: Turn head side to side

This is great to improve your neck mobility, especially if you feel stiff when turning your head from left to right.

How to: Begin by standing straight. Turn your head to the right and look over your right shoulder until you no longer can then hold this position for 10 seconds. Return to facing forward then repeat on the left side. Repeat this sequence 3 times on each side.

5: Scapular retraction

Bored at your desk? This is the simplest exercise to perform when sitting at work. It helps combat the forward head and rounded shoulders posture that we often see in the office.

How to: Start by relaxing the tops of your shoulders, pretend there is a tennis ball located between your shoulder blades, then pinch your shoulder blades together to squeeze the “ball”. Repeat 10 times every hour