Back Pain Blog

Back Pain In Golfers

by Mike Marcin, PT

Back pain is common with many golfers.  Physical therapists can help diagnose factors limiting a golfer’s performance, as well as develop exercise programs to help manage the increased stress on the spine during the golf swing.
Research has shown the golf swing puts increased pressure on the spine.  To be exact, the golf swing can place eight times your body weight through the lower back.  With golfers who experience low back pain, the abdominal muscles fatigue quickly.  Without good core strength, more stress is placed on the ligaments, vertebrae, and discs. 
Strengthening the abdominals and low back muscles, safely and effectively, is key in controlling low back pain and improving performance on the golf course.  Working with a physical therapist initially is important for a number of reasons:
1)      Many people need to learn how to properly perform exercises, especially for the abdominals.  There is much more to it than just crunches and sit-ups.
2)      To properly train muscles, exercises need to begin with positions, in which the back is kept straight.  This may involve theraball exercises as well for more challenge. 
3)      Over time, more movement will be integrated into your exercise program to involve more muscle groups and simulate the golf swing. 
By learning exercises initially to help strengthen the back properly, you will be able to perform the golf swing with less stress on your spine, and most importantly, with less pain. 

Knee Pain and Osteoarthritis

by Kristy Carpenter, PT, DPT
Osteoarthritis, also referred to as “degenerative arthritis”, is a painful condition that causes a breakdown of the cartilage that surrounds joints.   The knee joint is a common site for this condition.    This can occur over a course of months or years. Without this healthy cartilage in the knee joint, bones can make contact and grind away at each other, causing pain. Other symptoms can include stiffness, loss of motion, swelling, and tenderness.  Whether your symptoms are mild pain after a long walk or severe pain after standing for only a few minutes, physical therapy may help.   
What you can do to help alleviate or minimize your pain:
  1. Wear good supportive shoes. Avoid wearing heels greater than 1 inch or flat shoes without good arch support.   
  2. Apply moist heat or ice, or both. Moist heat can be helpful to improve circulation and decrease stiffness. Ice can be beneficial after vigorous activity or when swelling is present. Alternating moist heat and ice for 5 minute intervals can also help with pain.   Make sure to sit down and elevate the leg while doing this.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. Reducing weight can decrease the amount of stress on your knee joint.
  4. Strengthen your muscles. Strong muscles surrounding your knee joint can take some of the load off your knees.   Hip muscles and ankle muscles are also important to strengthen, so don’t forget about them.
  5. See your physical therapist.    We can give you an individualized program directed at your impairments and functional restrictions. Physical therapists can provide a variety of interventions that may include therapeutic exercise, aquatic therapy, manual therapy techniques, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, taping techniques, and a home program to continue with your success at home. 
Most importantly, see your physician. There are other conditions that may also cause knee joint pain, so getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in determining the most appropriate treatment.  

Advantages of Aquatic Exercise During Pregnancy

By Karen Woodman, Obstetrics PT
I love to take advantage of our large therapy pool for treating pregnant patients. Why? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends immersion as one of the most effective forms of exercise during pregnancy. ACOG states there have been no reports of harm to the fetus during aquatic exercise.
Benefits include:
  • Buoyancy: The belly floats relieving pressure and pain in the groin and back with immersion. Usually exercise in the pool is pain-free.
  • Hydrostatic pressure: Are your feet and ankles swollen? The hydrostatic pressure of the water pushes edema (extra fluid) right back into your cardiovascular system reducing swelling.
  • Decreased weight-bearing: Working at hip level in the water takes 30% of the pressure off your spine, while working at chest level reduces gravitational pressure by 60%!
  • Thermodynamics: Your body temperature adjusts 25 times faster to water temperature than air reducing the risk of overheating. During pregnancy, your core body temperature (usually 98.6°F) can increase quickly during exercise to dangerous levels with associated risk of fetal deformities. Our pool temperature averages 88°F, warm enough for a comfortable workout while cool enough to be safe for exercise.
  • Resistance: Water provides gentle resistance in all directions, challenging your balance and building muscle with every step. The harder you work, and the deeper the water, the greater the resistance.
  • Hemodynamics: Immersion immediately lowers maternal blood pressure and heart rate promoting cardiovascular fitness. Studies suggest immersion also decreases risk of increased fetal heart rate during exercise.

What Does A Prenatal PT Do?

By Karen Woodman, Obstetrics PT
What's the difference between your traditional exercise instructor and a prenatal PT? While both may be beneficial, there are significant differences between the two. Studies have shown that individualized physical therapy treatment programs with specifically designed stabilization exercises are more beneficial than traditional exercise or group exercise classes in reducing back and pelvic pain during daily activities.
Here's why: A prenatal physical therapist has the experience and training to identify impairments during pregnancy and differentially diagnose the culprit(s) causing the problems. This is done through a thorough postural and musculoskeletal examination, in addition to gait analysis and physical exam of the lumbar spine and pelvic girdle. The patient is educated in how their body is changing, why they are in pain, and what to do in order to manage their symptoms and improve their functional strength for daily activities, labor and delivery, and recovery afterwards.
If you are having problems with back, pelvic or sciatic pain that are keeping you from participating in exercise and daily activities, ask your physician for a referral to a physical therapist trained in obstetrics to see if prenatal PT is a fit for you. With the right help, you can regain your life, reduce your pain, and then rejoin that fun exercise class to stay in shape!