Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

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common causes of lower back pain

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

If you are experiencing one of the common causes of lower back pain, you are not alone. Lower back pain will affect most of us in our lifetime. 

While some common causes of lower back pain will heal with treatment and time, others may not. The good news is that physical therapy can help treat or alleviate the pain from many common causes of lower back pain.

[Related Article: Three Stretches For Lower Back Pain]

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

If you are experiencing lower back pain, it may be due to one of these common causes:

  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Strained muscle
  • Ligament sprain
  • Herniated disc

[Related article: Sciatica Pain and What To Do About It]

Lower back pain can happen suddenly or gradually over time. Most of the time when you are experiencing a lower back issue it is due to the mechanics of your body and/or a soft tissue injury.

Those types of injuries can damage the discs, compress nerves and not allow the joints in the spine to move properly. All of these things cause you pain.

An example of this type of injury would be stretching muscles and ligaments too far, which can lead to sprains and strains. These types of injuries may be caused by lifting, twisting, falling, bad posture, and/or injuries. These you can heal from.

Others, are chronic causes of lower back pain, such as:

  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint dysfunction
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Scoliosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Compression fracture

There could be other causes of lower back pain related to other things happening in the body, although these are less common.

For many of these conditions, physical therapy can help to alleviate many common causes of lower back pain. Our physical therapists can help tailor a program that is right for you and help to alleviate many common causes of lower back pain. To get started, contact us today.

stay safe in the desert summer

Tips To Stay Safe In The Desert Summer Heat

Tips To Stay Safe In The Desert Summer Heat

Does summer feel like it is dragging on? Are you getting cabin fever? Are you tired of not being able to go outside and enjoy your favorite outdoor activities?

The dangers of the Arizona summer desert heat are real and keeping your entire family safe (including your pets!) this summer is important.

Effects of heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke can be dangerous. However, there are several things you can do to help everyone in your family stay safe in the desert summer this season.

Of course, stay inside as much as you can to stay out of the heat and stay cool, but also follow these tips to help everyone in your family stay healthy and safe this summer.

3 Tips To Stay Safe In The Desert Summer Heat

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated can mean more than just drinking water. There are some foods that can help you stay hydrated as well. Try watermelon, cucumber, coconut water or other foods that help you stay hydrated.

Go out early or late

Run errands early in the day or late at night. If you must go out, try to go early or late — not in the heat of the day.

Clothing matters

Wear light-colored that isn’t tight, but fits loosely around you. This will go a long way in helping to keep you cool.

Also remember to keep your pets out of the heat, keep them cool and keep them hydrated too. They are important members of the family!

The entire staff at Contact Physical Therapy is here to help with the health of your entire family. If there is more than just the desert summer heat keeping you indoors — such as injury or surgery recovery — and keeping you from enjoying your favorite activities, contact the team at Contact Physical Therapy

Our physical therapists can help tailor a program that is right for you and get you back to living the life you love. To get started, contact us today.

stretches for lower back pain

Three Stretches For Lower Back Pain

Stretches For Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints from patients. Almost all Americans will experience it in their lifetimes. In fact, statistics show up to 80% will experience it at some point in life.

It does not have to be something that you live with. Depending on the cause, you may benefit from physical therapy to help alleviate your lower back symptoms and pain. In the meantime, some gentle stretching at home may also help. Here are three stretches for lower back pain.

Three Stretches For Lower Back Pain

Knee to Chest

Begin this exercise by lying on your back on the floor with your legs extended and your arms on the floor at your side. Next, bend your left knee so that your left foot is flat on the ground next to your right knee. Wrap your hand around your left knee and slowly bring it in toward your chest. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute and then gently release. Repeat the same on the other side. Complete this stretch for each leg three times or as recommended by your physical therapist.

[Related article: Sciatica Pain and What To Do About It]

Forward Bend

Begin this exercise sitting on the ground with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Use an exercise band (or towel) to help you reach forward and wrap the band around the soles of your feet and grab the band on each side. This will support you as you then gently bend forward with the goal of putting your forehead toward your knees. Keep your back as straight as possible. Do not go to the point of pain. You should just feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and after a brief rest, repeat several times or as recommended by your physical therapist.

Child’s Pose

If you are a fan of yoga, you are probably familiar with child’s pose. Begin this pose on the floor on your hands and knees. Gently sit back, placing your glutes on your heels. Then, bend forward at the hips, extending your palms and arms straight out on the ground in front of you. Your forehead should be touching the ground and your torso should be resting on your thighs. Hold this pose for as long as you would like, although one minute is recommended.

Whether it is these stretches for lower back pain or others, the physical therapists at Contact Physical Therapy can help tailor a program that is right for you to help alleviate your lower back pain.

To get started, contact us today.

Family in airport

Healthy Happy Traveling

Traveling can be a lot on your mind and your body. Keeping it as smooth as possible is important to keep your stress down with all the other factors that could go wrong. Delayed flights, crowded planes and long lines everywhere, so investing in your health and wellbeing well traveling can make all the difference. A healthy traveler makes a happier traveler. Use these steps to stay healthy during all your future travelers.

 

Staying healthy can dramatically reduce your stress, which is always a beneficial factor when you’re traveling.

 

Take Stretch Breaks

Sitting for too long will cause stiffness and fatigue. Neither of which you want to bring to your destination. Take time to get up and walk around if room and flight conditions permit it. If you aren’t able to walk around, at least switch positions when possible.

 

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can lead to many ailments including headaches, muscle cramps, reduced attention span, fatigue and more. It also can make your skin look tired and aged, which no one wants to look back on in vacation photos. Drink plenty of water. When you think you have drank enough, drink more. Bring your own water bottles on the plane so you don’t have to rely on the little cups and the flight attendants to keep you hydrated.

 

Snack Wisely

Bring your own in-flight snacks. Think protein, healthy, and filling so the tempting, salty potato chips don’t bring you and your hydration down.

 

Wash your face, hands and seat

Traveling is a breeding place for germs. Wash your face and keep it clean during your flight. Try to avoid wearing your makeup. Keep your hands clean and wash them constantly. Transferring germs from your hands is the quickest way to get sick. Finally, keep sanitizing wipes handy so you can wipe down your seat, tray table, and arm rests. Wiping down these areas is one of the biggest tips from flight attendants- they must know something we don’t.

 

Watch your knees

Try to keep your knees at a 90-degree position. If you’re too short, use your carry on to rest your feet on. This will help your posture and blood flow.

 

Breathe

Find breathing exercises that bring you to a calm, relaxed state. When you are traveling you can call on these exercises to keep you calm, give you some resting time and allow you to clear the toxins from your body by breathing. You could also use these exercises if you experience any anxiety of fear from flying. These can help relax you and get your mind to a calm state.

 

When you are traveling for work or play, the last thing you want when stepping off the plane is the beginning of a sickness. Following these simple tips can keep you healthier while flying and traveling.

child and adult holding red heart with stethoscope, heart health

Staying Heart Healthy

During this month that is often times associated with love, we wanted to keep the love flowing and pumping in all the right places. This means taking care of your heart. Are you taking the steps for keeping your heart healthy? Let us help with these daily tips to give your heart the love it deserves.

 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. There are steps you can take to help lower your risk or prevent heart disease.

 

Eat Healthy- This is a common cure for many diseases and ailments, but very important for overall health. It is important to have a balanced diet filled with wholesome foods.

 

Get Active- Go outside, take walks, hit the gym or do whatever activity it is to keep your body looking and feeling good. Exercise not only helps you look good on the outside, but keeps you feeling good on the inside, as well. Remember that every time you are active you are doing good things for your body.

 

Stay at a healthy weight- Applying the above tips will help keep your body at a healthy weight, keeping your heart healthy along the way.

 

Manage your stress levels- stress can be a huge factor to many health problems, but is hard on your heart. Recognizing you may be stressed, what is causing that stress and managing it is important for a healthy heart and lifestyle.

 

Quit smoking- Smoking doesn’t have any health benefits and this includes being hard on your heart. Quit smoking and stay away from second hand smoke. Your heart will thank you by lowering your risk for heart disease.

 

Control your cholesterol and blood pressure- Knowing and controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure is an important factor for being heart healthy.

 

Know your risk- Everyone is at risk, but if you aren’t following the above steps, your risk may be greater for heart disease. Your may also be at a greater risk if you are a woman older than 55 or a man over the age of 45. Family history could also put you at risk if your father, mother, brother or sister had heart disease.

 

The good news is, there are plenty of simple steps you can do to take control of keeping your heart healthy and reducing your risk for heart disease.

How to Boost Your Immune System

It’s that time of year. It seems like everyone around you is sniffing, sneezing, coughing and everything in between. It can make you feel like you’re walking around in a pool of germs. How can you avoid it? There are tips you can apply to your daily life to boost your immune system.

 

Your immune system is a complex function within your body composed of a lot of different things, so the idea of boosting your entire immune system as a whole isn’t scientifically correct, but you can take steps to improve your overall health and keep your system fighting germs.

 

Get enough sleep. Sleep is huge for your whole body to function correctly. It helps you manage stress, which could suppress your immune system with increased cortisol levels and keep your body fighting hard.

 

Avoid tobacco smoke. It undermines the basic immune functions and raises the risk of sicknesses in everyone, including children by secondhand smoke.

 

Drink less alcohol. Excessive drinking impairs the immune system. During the time that sickness is on a rise, it could be wise to ditch the wine and beer at dinner time to keep you healthy. You could try a Kombucha, not only are they healthy for your gut, it could give you a fix for craving an adult beverage.

 

Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. These will provide the nutrients your body needs to keep fighting illnesses. Avoid processed foods, fried foods and try eating at home more often.

 

Get some sunshine. A little time outside can increase your vitamin D levels. Lower vitamin D levels correlate with a greater risk of respiratory infection. Make sure you are properly protecting yourself from the sun, as well. If you have a risk of skin cancer, you could look into vitamin D supplements.

 

Add vitamins into your diet. Speaking of supplements, adding some beneficial vitamins can keep you going strong throughout cold and flu season. Vitamin C and Zinc are good vitamins to add to your daily routine.

 

Wash your hands. This may seem obvious, but it can be a very important reminder. When you’re out in public places, you never know who is sick and what germs are floating in the air. Anytime you come home, you should make it habit to go straight to the sink and wash your hands. Avoid touching your face and use antibacterial wipes at the stores before touching common areas, like shopping carts.

 

Drink water. Another simple, and maybe obvious reminder, but during the colder months people often forget about drinking enough water. You want to stay hydrated to keep your body functioning at full capacity to ward off any sicknesses.

 

Keep yourself healthy by applying these tips to boost your immune system and keep your sick days at a minimum!

Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Every year it’s the same thing. The ball drops and you have every intention to breaking all your bad habits. Then before you know it, your back to your old ways without realizing how you slipped back there. You can change that this year by taking these steps to making your new year’s resolutions stick.

 

Some people find the new year as a fresh start, a new beginning. Maybe that’s not you and you find it to be daunting, but you really want to be successful. You can be! Try these steps to make 2019 your best year yet.

 

Start Small

Make resolutions you can keep. If you want to start exercising and this is new to you, start with 3 days a week. Start with a commitment you know you can keep and won’t become overwhelming by jumping from nothing to thinking you’re going to get to the gym every day. You will become burnt out and it will be easier to stop all together- something you’re trying to avoid.

 

Change Your Outlook

If “new year’s resolution” isn’t working for you, try thinking of them as goals, or visions. Set a goal for yourself and check in every few months to see that you are on track with accomplishing those goals or tackling smaller ones, leading up to the bigger goal in mind.

 

Change One Behavior at a Time

If you have multiple “bad habits” you’re trying to break, you may not be able to accomplish them all at once. Take it one step at a time. You don’t have to go into the new year thinking you must change your entire life, at once.

 

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Miss a week at the gym? Don’t stress. Start new, without feeling guilty. Guilt will ruin your progress. Don’t spend too much time stressing on things you have stumbled over. Move on and keep moving forward.

 

Talk About It

Let your friends and family in on your goals or resolutions. They may be likely to share theirs and you can keep each other accountable with following through. You may even find they have a similar resolution and you can do them together!

 

Ask For Support

A friend or family may have accomplished a goal you have, in a previous time. Ask them how they got there! Don’t be shy when asking for help. Other people can have a step by step process to reach the end goal and this process could be beneficial to you.

 

Plan Ahead

Mark your calendars with workouts. Plan your computer and phone time during the week, so you can follow through with spending less time online on the weekends, or whatever your resolutions are. Think about how you will accomplish them and make a plan rather than saying you want to change something and winging it. This could make you much more successful in the new year.

 

This could be your year to shine. This could be the year you accomplish everything you set out to do. Just remember speed bumps are just that- small bumps, plans can lead towards success and take it one day at a time! Happy New Year, everyone!

Couple jogging

Fitness Lover Gift Guide

Have a fitness lover in your life? You know the type, someone who will stick with their New Years Resolutions? Well we have a gift guide for you. Give them something they are sure to love and keep them healthy in the new year!

 

Gifts for Runners

 

New running shoes- This requires a little sneakiness to find their shoe size if you don’t already know it, but there’s nothing better and more inspiring to hit the track than slipping on your new running shoes. And don’t think a gift card goes unnoticed. This gives them the freedom to pick out their favorite brand and maybe get something they wouldn’t have gotten themselves.

 

Wireless Headphones- Anyone would love this gift, but a runner will especially appreciate not getting tangled up in their headphone wires when they’re pushing themselves to go that extra mile.

 

Gifts for the Gym-Goer

 

A Duffel Bag- Make their trips to the gym easier. A nice, new and clean bag that they can use to hold their extra clothes, water bottle, protein bars, shoes, etc. is great for the loved one that hits the gym before or after work. They need something to tote all their stuff in everyday. Every time they pack it up they will think of you!

 

Leggings- Is your gym goer a girl? I bet she would love a new pair of leggings. They have everything from plain black to ones with crazy patterns. You can even find cheap options on Amazon. We’re talking $20 cheap! A new pair of leggings could mean more motivation to hit the gym with them, so pick out a new pair for yourself too!

 

Foam Rollers- Someone who loves to workout needs this in their life. Help them relieve their sore muscles with a foam roller. You can often times find this as discount store like TJ Maxx. This will help them prevent injuries and keep their bodies lose. It is also light, so they can throw it into that new duffle bag you got them!

 

Gifts for the Yogi in your Life

 

Yoga Mat- Do you know someone who never misses a yoga session? All that yoga could mean it’s time for a new mat. Get them a gift that will get plenty of use and keep them calm in the new year.

 

Grippy Socks- Looking for something to slide into a fitness lover’s stocking? Grippy socks could be just the thing. These will help keep their bare feet from slipping in yoga, barre and Pilates classes. Not to mention keep their toes warm in the cold winter months!

 

Finding the perfect gift can be challenging, but finding a gift that will keep them healthy and active in the new year is something you can feel good about giving. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your families! Stay warm, stay safe and stay healthy!

Holiday Stress

How to Deal with Holiday Stress

Do they holidays have you stressed? Between parties and finding the perfect gift, it can tend to become overwhelming and the real meaning behind the season gets lost in the hecticness. Don’t let this happen to you this year. Stay calm and happy throughout the season with these tips of how to deal with holiday stress.

 

Be realistic about gift giving. Have a big family and every year it seems to get bigger? Talk with them, maybe instead of finding the perfect gift for all your extended family suggest doing a secret Santa and only focus on one member. This will save you both time and money and you dedicate more time to one gift than searching for your cousin’s aunt’s sister who will be joining you this year.

 

Money have you stressed? Set a budget and stick to it. An easy way to do this is have a list of people you would like to get gifts for and start writing ideas down, then you can cross them off or refer back to your ideas when you are out shopping, instead of mindlessly piling things into your cart. Another tip is to set your budget and use cash. Have an envelope dedicated to present money. Seeing the money physically dwindle will help you make better gift decisions.

 

Get outside and exercise. Clear your mind and let it wander to things that aren’t holiday related and your growing to do list. Don’t forget about your health and happiness this season. If you start to feel stressed, take a walk, get some fresh, brisk air and relax.

 

Eat healthy and wholesome foods. The holidays are often back to back parties and celebrations which can be fun, but also bloating. Keep your healthy eating habits on track when you can. Bring snacks, like vegetables, when you’re out shopping so you don’t become starving and pull up to a drive thru window. Don’t forget your greens, they will give you energy and when you’re indulging in an extra cookie you won’t feel as guilty. Don’t forget to drink your water. When it becomes colder outside, sometimes we forget about water, but keeping up with water intake is important.

 

Learn to say no. This could mean saying no to another party or saying no to yourself when thinking you need to get someone another gift. Be mindful this holiday season with all your decisions and it will leave you happier come the new year.

 

Get plenty of sleep. Don’t let late night wrapping, baking and cleaning keep you up. Get to bed so you feel rested and have a clear mind come morning time. Plan out your days and evenings so you don’t get to the end of the month and have too much to do and start pulling all-nighters to get it done. Sleep is important for health and happiness. Plus, Santa only comes if you’re sleeping.

 

Happy Holidays, everyone! We hope you all have a wonderful time with your families over the season and with these tips, it can be a calm relaxing time with your loved ones.

woman stretching in bed after wake up.

Why it Pays to Stretch Before Getting out of Bed

Does that morning alarm clock go off and the instant dread set in? Changing your morning routine by adding some relaxing techniques instead of constant rush and chaos can get you a little more excited to start your day. Too many of us wake achy and tired. Start your morning routine with stretching and see why it pays to stretch before you get out of bed.

 

Start by setting up your morning, at night. Sitting all day at the office, then the dinner table and then off to bed to do it all over again can quickly lead to a sore and achy morning. While laying in bed at night, do a few stretches to help promote better sleep and leave you feeling less achy and tight in the morning.

 

Short on time in the morning? Aren’t we all… The investment of time doesn’t have to be outrageous to help you feel better throughout your day. Even a short, simple routine can set you up to feeling better throughout your day. Give yourself a few extra minutes for your morning stretches, that’s it! You can do it, all it takes is one less push of the snooze button.

 

Speaking of the snooze button, some light stretching before reaching the coffee pot will give your body extra energy and have you feeling less sleepy before placing your feet to the ground. So, maybe you will go for one less cup of coffee by adding a few morning stretches.

 

Here are a few stretches you can add to your morning routine to get your day off on the right foot.

 

  1. Single-leg knee hug. Start by lying flat on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on your mattress. Bring one knee to your chest, wrapping your arms around your leg in a hug. While breathing, slowly straighten the alternative knee, until your leg is flat against the bed. Repeat on the other side.
  2. Wake up your body. Many of us, with little time in the morning and in a constant rush, jump out of bed before our body has had time to fully wake up. While your still lying in bed- on your back- start by circling your ankles for a few deep breaths. Then flex and point your feet a few times. After your ankles feel slightly warmed up, it’s time for the wrists. Lift your arms straight up towards the ceiling and circle your wrists in both directions for a few breaths. Finally, bring your hands by your sides and slowly rock your head from side to side. These moves will help wake the body up before you even have to sit up!
  3. Spine stretch. Start with your right leg lying straight on the bed and bringing your left knee to your chest. Cross your left knee over your straight, right leg, towards the mattress. Straighten your left arm out to the side, away from your body. Slowly look away from your left hand and back to it, holding this stretch for a few breaths. Repeat on the other side.

 

Starting with one or all of these simple stretches can help you feel less tight and achy before your day even gets started. Allow yourself to slowly wake up with these stretches, giving your morning a calming start. Try it tomorrow and see if it helps your aches and pains!