Physical Therapy and Wearing a Brace Can Help Treat and Prevent Common Knee Injuries in Runners

By Carl Gargiulo, DPT

Getting regular physical activity is essential for achieving and maintaining good health, and that’s why we encourage all of our patients to get enough exercise every week.  One of the best possible ways to stay active is by running, which requires little more than a good pair of running shoes, some outdoor routes to follow—or a treadmill—and the motivation to get moving.  For these and many of its other attractive qualities, running has become one of the most popular forms of exercise in the U.S.  But unfortunately, common running injuries tend to prevent would-be runners from getting started and may also hold back experienced runners from returning.

Recent statistics estimate that more than 40 million Americans claim to be regular runners.  The reasons for this massive number of people being drawn to running may be different for everyone, but the wide array of health benefits associated with running is likely to be a major factor.  Of the seemingly countless benefits that have been identified by research, running on a regular basis has been found to:

  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Improve sleeping habits
  • Lower the risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Boost brain performance
  • Improve mood by reducing stress and anxiety
  • Help people better control weight and maintain good overall health

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BetterBraces.com is happy to introduce one of our newest product arrivals, Defender Skin. Defender Skin is a customizable padded adhesive second skin designed to defend the body against cuts, scrapes, turf burns, pain and bruising that are common injuries often associated with the impact and abrasion of rigorous sport.

When it comes to protecting your body during sport, you should never sacrifice comfort or performance. Defender Skin is the lightest, most flexible, and most versatile form of protection available to athletes today, no matter what game they play. It’s a uniquely engineered, protective padded athletic tape designed to defend the body against cuts, scrapes, burns, pain and bruising often associated with the impact and abrasion of rigorous sports

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tennis injuries

Tennis Elbow and Beyond: A Closer Look at Tennis Injuries

tennis injuriesThe 2014 US Open starts today. One of the major stories prior to the start of the tournament is that Rafael Nadal is sitting this one out due to injury. At only 28, Nadal has already won 14 Grand Slam singles titles but his aggressive playing style has taken a toll on his body. Nadal has suffered from many different injuries — mostly to his knee and wrist — over his career; this is the fifth tournament in his career where he has been sidelined due to injury. It leads many to wonder if Nadal would be the greatest tennis player of all time if he could only get his body to cooperate.

Whether you are a professional tennis player or you play for fun, injuries can always occur and ruin your game. In honor of the US Open, let’s take a closer look at tennis injuries and how they can be prevented.

Common Tennis Injuries

Overuse is the most common reason for tennis related injuries. Approximately two-thirds of all tennis injuries occur because of overuse. The other third is due to sudden injury or an acute event.

Tennis Elbow

You know an injury is common when it is named after the sport where it frequently occurs. Lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow, is a strain of the muscles and tendons in the elbow through repetitive motions. Tennis players can get tennis elbow by practicing their backhand swing repeatedly.

Shoulder Injuries

Swinging a tennis racket and firing off a powerful shot can put a great deal of stress on your shoulders. Tennis players often suffer from shoulder injuries.

Rotator cuff injuries are common. The rotator cuff helps position your shoulder in the socket. If you have a weak rotator cuff, it can cause irritation in the socket tissues as it moves around. This can lead to inflammation in the tendon or the bursa (Shoulder Bursitis), causing pain when you swing your racket overhead.

Lower Limb Injuries

Tennis is a full body workout and players must sprint from one side of the court to the other. The sudden pivot as a player takes off can put stress on the knee joints, tendons and ligaments resulting in knee injuries.

Any sport that requires running has the risk of ankle injuries. A sprained ankle is one of the most common tennis injuries. Even the greats like Roger Federer and Andrew Murray have suffered sprained ankles.

Preventing Tennis Injuries

With any sport, proper training and condition is crucial to injury prevention. This means warming up before a match as well as maintaining your fitness even in the offseason. Tennis is a fast paced sport that requires not just muscle strength but also endurance. You need to be able to sprint back and forth, backwards and forwards, throughout the match.

When strength training, focus on the shoulder muscles to help prevent rotator cuff injuries. Strengthen and stretch the wrist and forearm muscles to prevent tennis elbow, as these tend to absorb the most impact from the ball hitting your racket. Work on your core and back to further reduce the chance of injury.

For tennis, technique is extremely important not just to win but also to extend your career by reducing the risk of injury. Make sure you have the proper form for each type of swing. That said; try not to repeat the same swing too many times in a row. Mixing it up helps prevent overuse injuries but is also more in line with how a match will be played.

In addition, make sure you have the right equipment. Pay attention to the grip size of your racket. Make sure your footwear is supportive. If you are experiencing even minor pain, consider taping the area or wearing a brace for added support.

Sources:

http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/tennis-injury-prevention.aspx

http://www.physioworks.com.au/Injuries-Conditions/Activities/tennis-injuries

The Benefits of Sleep

Benefits of Sleep for Injury Prevention

Sleeping, snoozing, getting some shut-eye; there are lots of names for what we do when we go to bed and close our eyes. It’s widely known that the average person should get about eight hours a sleep a night. However beyond just feeling rested, sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle.

Your brain never sleeps, even when you do. This is one of the reasons sleep is so important. While you’re asleep, your brain works to strengthen memories and go over skills you learned while you were awake. This is called consolidation.

While your brain is making sure all the information your absorbed over the course of your day is properly filed, your body is at rest. This can lead to a reduction in inflammation, which is linked to conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging. Studies have shown that people who get less than six hours of sleep a night have increased levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood than people who get more than six hours of sleep.

Getting enough sleep can also prevent injuries, particularly in teens. According to a study of 112 high school athletes by Matthew D. Milewski, MD, young athletes who get less than eight hours of sleep a night (on average) were 1.7 times more likely to incur injuries than their peers who got eight or more hours of sleep a night.

This is all well and good but for many people, sleep does not come easily. Whether it’s stress, insomnia, noise, etc. many people have a difficult time getting enough sleep. For those who just can’t seem to get enough shuteye, here are some tips:

Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bed and skip that afternoon coffee

Spicy and/or big meals before bed can cause digestive issues that keep you up. Having coffee can affect your sleep even if you drink it six hours before your go to bed. If you’re really dragging after lunch and need a bit of caffeine, consider half the amount of your morning coffee.

Get into sleep mode by relaxing

Start to wind down an hour or so before hitting the hay. Read a book, watch a movie, take a hot shower, whatever helps you low down and unwind.

Move distractions like laptops and/or TVs out of the bedroom

Working from bed might seem like the most efficient way to get work done until bedtime, but it can affect your sleep. For some people, the light from the screen of their laptop / tablet / phone can activate their brain, making it hard to fall asleep. If you can’t sleep in silence, try purchasing a white noise machine instead of falling asleep with the TV on. Try to keep your bed primarily for sleeping; it will help your brain associate going to bed with going to sleep.

Sleep is important to function but remember, even though around eight hours is the standard, some people need a little more or can deal with a little less. In order to get the benefits of sleep, figure out the amount of sleep that’s right for you to feel rested and alert.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more

http://www.healio.com/orthopedics/pediatrics/news/online/%7B84d0db29-ea4c-4ee7-9503-83d8ceb943e9%7D/more-sleep-may-help-prevent-athletic-injuries-in-adolescents

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips/page/0%2C1/

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/myths-facts

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20459221,00.html

Preventing Football Injuries

The Best Ways to Prevent Football Injuries

football-gearSummer is coming to an end and that means it’s almost football season! Football is America’s favorite pastime, but for the athletes themselves, the sport can be brutal on the body. Whether you’re a professional football player or enjoy throwing the ball around with friends, properly taking care of injuries is important. However, the best way to deal with football injuries is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Most Common Injuries

Football is a heavy contact sport, and injuries are more of the norm than not. Around half of the injuries that occur happen in the lower extremities. A knee injury is one of the biggest complaints that players report. Cartilage tears and ruptures of the ACL are extremely common, as are tears of the PCL and MCL. Other injuries include sprains of the ankle and hamstring, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and turf toe.

In the upper extremities, shoulder injuries may include separation, fracture of the clavicle, dislocation, and a torn rotator cuff. Broken fingers, and tendonitis and sprains of the wrist are also common.

Head injuries, especially concussions, are quite common, as are fractures, contusions, and dislocations.

Because of the long-term damage sustained from football injuries, particularly with concussions, there has been increased attention on preventing injuries from professional football leagues.

Causes of Football Injuries

Every move in football can cause injury. Injuries can be acute from a sudden blow, or cumulative from overuse. The different moves that are involved with playing football include running, passing, catching, and tackling. All of these pose a threat to the players’ body parts and can easily lead to injury.

In football, there are many sudden changes in direction and bursts of speed, which leads to many of the sprains and pulled muscles. When it comes to preventing football injuries, a lack of training, weak muscles, and structural abnormalities all lead to injuries as well, and are highly preventable.

How to Prevent Football Injuries

 Preventing football injuries is imperative to keep injuries at a minimum.

  • Before each season, the athlete should get a physical, to ensure that there aren’t any conditions that could limit participation.
  • Warm ups should occur before, and after, every practice and game. This ensures that the muscles stay loose and ready to handle the physical demands of the game.
  • Check the field before play to make sure that there are no potential hazards, such as debris or holes.
  • Proper equipment is a must. Pads, helmets, and mouth guards need to fit properly and be worn correctly. Along with the basic equipment, certain players should also wear additional supports and braces for the different extremities. These help players with instability issues, injury recovery, pain, and prevention.
  • Practice healthy living. This includes eating a nutritious diet, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep.
  • Many future injuries also result from returning too soon after a previous injury. Make sure that you are completely recovered before you go back on to the field.