As March Madness comes to a close, Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy reminds you that ankle sprains common in basketball can be prevented

For college basketball fans, March has been a whirlwind of a month.  As one of the more exciting and unpredictable NCAA tournaments in recent memory, after a number of upsets, barnburners and buzzer-beaters, the field of 68 has now been whittled down to the highly coveted Final Four.

The action picks back up again this Saturday in North Texas as Kentucky, Wisconsin, Florida and UConn battle it out to bring home a championship to their respective universities, and if the tournament up to this point is any indication, we’re in for a thrilling final weekend of basketball.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all the intense entertainment, injury risk is always present and can easily sideline a player or end a team’s run in an instant.  In honor of the conclusion of the tournament, we at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy would like to educate our patients on common basketball injuries, and most importantly, explain how they can be prevented at all levels of play.

While overuse injuries that occur from repeated stress like patellar (knee) or Achilles (heel region) tendinitis are fairly prevalent in basketball and can occur over time, traumatic injuries, especially ankle sprains, are one of the most common injuries for all basketball players.  Ankle sprains occur primarily due to the constant cutting and pivoting involved in basketball, so much so that the term “break one’s ankles” has become a popular way of describing a quick move past a defender.

Despite the fact that ankle sprains are so common, they can be prevented.  One of the best ways to prevent these injuries is by improving ankle stability through single leg stance/balance exercises.  Here’s an example anyone can perform:

  • Stand behind a chair and hold the back of it with both hands
  • Slowly lift one leg off the ground, then try to maintain balance standing on one leg for five seconds
  • Return the leg to the starting position, and complete this four more times
  • Repeat the same set of motions with the other leg
  • As balance improves, try integrating the following: holding the chair with only one hand, stand near but don’t use the chair for assistance, or raise your leg one inch higher than normal

Performing this single leg stance exercise on a regular basis will improve balance and lead to better ankle stability, which will reduce the chances of ankle sprains and other injuries.  If you play basketball and are concerned with your injury risk, Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City can offer a single leg balance test to predict your risk and also create a prevention program if your risk is high. Call 212-317-8303 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City offers these 8 tips to ski safely and reduce your chance of injury this season

Though snow usually brings to mind traffic delays and never-ending shoveling for most people, for skiers, it also means another season of fun on the slopes.

As a great form of exercise and a perfect way to experience the outdoors, skiing creates an opportunity to stay in shape without having to stay inside during the winter.  While improvements in equipment have made skiing a much safer sport than it once was, the risk for injury is still apparent and can easily ruin a vacation or even an entire season.

Due to the pivoting nature of skiing, knee injuries, especially to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are the most common of all injuries seen in the sport.  Injuries to the shoulder, including dislocations, sprains and separations, also occur frequently as a result of arms being put out to break falls.  Though not as prevalent, skiing can also result in other injuries to the hand, wrist, spine, lower extremities, and in some cases, head injuries like concussions.

If you’re eager to get in the snow but don’t want to cut your season short from an injury this year, ski smart and safe on the slopes by following these 8 pointers:

—  1) Be sure you’re using proper, up-to-date equipment; boots should fit snugly with no ankle movement, bindings should be adjusted, also wear a helmet

—  2) Warm up with some brisk walking or running and stretching for about five minutes before hitting the slopes; especially focus on your hamstrings

—  3) Take some slower runs on beginner-to-moderate trails to ease into the day before attempting more strenuous work on advanced trails

—  4) Stay hydrated and fueled all day, and take breaks when needed

—  5) Follow advisory signs, stay in-bounds, always ski with a partner and follow the rules (e.g. the person in front of you always has right of way)

—  6) Don’t ski above your ability level or try to keep up with too fast a pace

—  7) If you do start to fall, go with it instead of trying to resist; a rigid body is much more prone for injury than a loose one

—  8) If you’d like to get ahead of the game, try training a few weeks before and during the season to put yourself in optimal shape and reduce injury risk: Strength training (single leg squats or lateral lunges are recommended), flexibility training (increases range of motion) and aerobics training (increases stamina) will all help accomplish this

Most skiing injuries occur at the end of the day or after eating lunch when fatigue sets in and people aren’t as careful on the mountain, so be extra careful during these times and don’t continue skiing when you’re too worn out.

We at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City hope you have an enjoyable and injury-free ski season, and would be glad to assist you with any additional questions or concerns about a fitness program or how to best prevent an injury this winter.

Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy features therapists trained in the effective soft tissue mobilization treatment called Graston Technique®

Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City proudly features therapists trained in Graston Technique®, an innovative treatment form that uses instruments on afflicted areas of soft tissue to permit more movement and alleviate pain.  Using specialized instruments, Graston Technique® is designed to decrease overall treatment time, lead to a faster recovery and reduce the need for anti-inflammatory drugs.

Originally developed by an Indiana athlete who was dissatisfied with his treatment options, Graston Technique® uses six specially designed stainless steel instruments to specifically detect and treat areas with soft tissue problems or chronic inflammation.  Soft connective tissue, or fascia, is a white membrane located just beneath the skin that wraps and connects muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels.  When muscles and fascia aren’t stretched properly, they get stuck or tear, which can lead to soft tissue injuries that restrict movement and lead to pain and soreness.

Here are some highlights on the tools and treatments used in Graston Technique®:

  • Instruments feature curvilinear edges and concave/convex shapes, which mold them to the contours of the body
  • Each instrument combs over the body until it “catches onto” fibrotic (scar) tissue when it resonates like a tuning fork, which immediately identifies the area of restriction
  • Once the tissue is identified, instruments are used to break up scar tissue so it can be absorbed by the body
  • Most treatment sessions include a warm up and both stretching and strengthening exercises in addition to Graston Technique®
  • Treatments are recommended twice a week for about 4-5 weeks

Following this protocol, Graston Technique® is usually effective by the third or fourth session, and its been clinically proven to achieve quicker and better outcomes in treating both acute and chronic conditions.  Graston Technique® has actually been found to lead to 75-90% positive outcomes for all conditions treated, some of which include: plantar fasciitis, golfer’s elbow, shin splints, tennis elbow, trigger finger, and pain in the back, neck, knee, shoulder ankle and wrist.

Trained therapists here at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City are glad to answer any additional questions you might have about Graston Technique® and if it’s the right treatment for your condition.  Feel free to contact us at 212-317-8303 for more information or to schedule an appointment, and we’ll help get you back to a life with less pain and more mobility once again.

Ensure you’re getting the most out of your golf swing by focusing on proper mobility and stability

If you happen to golf regularly, even if it’s on an amateur or professional level, chances are likely you’re not 100% pleased with your golf swing.  All golfers strive to continue improving their swing, and due to its numerous components and complexities, it usually becomes a career-long process.

Though not a single factor that affects the golf swing is to be overlooked, two of the most central components of the swing all golfers should focus on are stability and mobility, particularly in the shoulders, thoracic spine and hips.  In order to maximize the power and performance of your golf swing to its fullest potential, each of these parameters needs to be strengthened.  Improving these factors will not only give you the most from your swing, but will also reduce the likelihood of experiencing pain and other golf-related injuries.

Shoulder stability

  • Shoulder stability is essential for a powerful golf swing, and without it, flexibility and strength in this region won’t be nearly as efficient
  • Tip: Incorporate shoulder strengthening exercises into your exercise routine

Hip stability

  • Extremely important for both power and efficiency, as poor hip stability may cause a sway/slide and may cause the ball to hook or slice
  • Culprit is usually weak hip abductor muscles (outside of thighs), which will lead to unstable or excessive hip movements
  • Tip: Develop strength in core, especially deep abdominal, spine and hip muscles; also try to avoid side to side movement of the pelvis during backswing and follow-through

Thoracic (central back) mobility

  • Almost as important as the hips: poor thoracic mobility will decrease the power of your swing, and can cause issues in the lower back, shoulders, neck
  • Thoracic spine is built for rotation, flexion and extension, and proper form with good posture uses the spine correctly and rotates it a long way
  • Tip: Fully rotate thoracic spine at top of backswing, and extend it into follow-through

Good posture is key for a proper golf swing, so it’s also recommended to work on your posture throughout the day, especially while sitting or reaching down for something.

Though these tips are sure to help you, most golf swings need to be worked on individually, so come see us at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City.  All of our therapists are TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) certified, and will be glad to assist you in improve your swing for a better, more powerful game of golf.

Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City proudly offers Active Release Techniques for patients

Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City would like to proudly inform current and prospective patients that our therapists are certified in Active Release Techniques® (ART), a state-of-the-art soft tissue system/movement-based technique developed and patented by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP.  ART is primarily used to treat conditions related to adhesions or scar tissue in overused muscles, and its goal is to restore smooth muscle movement of tissues and release any trapped nerves or blood vessels to get you pain-free and back to moving properly.

Dr. Leahy developed, refined and patented ART after noticing certain patient symptoms were related to soft tissue changes only felt by hand.  By observing how patients responded to the techniques and making appropriate changes, he’s been able to effectively resolve over 90% of patients’ problems with these treatments.

ART is effective for treating a wide variety of muscle, ligament, tendon, fascia and nerve conditions, including headaches, back pain, shoulder pain, knee problems, tennis elbow, shin splints, sciatica and carpal tunnel syndrome.  Though these conditions derive from different sources, they are similar in that they all usually result from overused muscles.

Overused muscles and other soft tissues undergo changes such as small tears and insufficient oxygen, and these changes can cause the body to create tough, dense scar tissue that prevents patients from moving freely in the affected area.  Over time, as scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, which can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength and pain.

Every ART session is a combination of both examination and treatment.  Below are some highlights:

  • A certified practitioner will use their hands to evaluate texture, tightness and mobility of soft tissue
  • Using hand pressure, the practitioner will treat abnormal tissues with precisely-directed tension and very specific patient movements
  • The treatment protocol consists of over 500 specific moves unique to ART
  • The practitioner performs the first three levels, but the fourth requires the patient to actively move the affected tissue in prescribed ways while tension is applied; this is considered one of the major advantages of ART

If you’re experiencing any soft tissue problems and are interested in ART, visit us at Dynamic Sports in New York City, where we’ll be able to diagnose your condition and determine if ART is the right treatment for you.

How to identify hip impingement syndrome and avoid complications like labral tears

Hip impingement syndrome, or femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), can be a painful condition that results from too much friction between bones in the hip joint.  In a normal hip, the thighbone (femur) fits into a concave section of the pelvis (acetabulum) like a ball-and-socket, and a soft tissue called articular cartilage lines the two surfaces and helps them glide smoothly.  FAI arises when small bony projections (bone spurs) develop along either the femur or acetabulum, causing these bones to rub against each other directly without protection.

Strangely, some people have FAI their entire lives and aren’t affected by it, while others will notice the symptoms (pain or stiffness in their groin or outside of the hip), especially during turning, twisting or squatting motions.  If identified regularly over time, these symptoms usually indicate hip damage that will likely progress, and it’s imperative that you modify your activities and/or seek advice from a medical professional.

Unfortunately, FAI does not heal on its own; however, it’s entirely possible to manage FAI with certain strategies and prevent further complications like labral tears.  Labral tears occur in the labrum, a piece of cartilage that can be seen as the gasket of the acetabulum that holds the femur tightly in place.  Symptoms are similar for the two conditions and labral tears can often be caused when FAI worsens, but may also develop through repetitive motion in sports like hockey, golf and soccer, or as the result of a single injury to that area.

Due to their common characteristics, treatment for both conditions is generally similar:

  • Try to identify the source of the problem and lay off that activity until pain subsides
  • Conservative treatment, particularly physical therapy, is considered the best initial course of action, with exercises designed to improve range of motion and strengthen muscles in that area
  • Though many cases will improve with conservative treatment alone, in extreme situations when pain persists, surgery is sometimes recommended

If you happen to experience any hip pain and suspect FAI or a labral tear, please see your physical therapist at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City.  We will find what works for you, such as Active Release Techniques and hip strengthening exercises to tend to the problem and avoid further complications.

Make these final preparations to get the most out of your New York City marathon

The New York City Marathon is right around the corner, and as the Sunday, Nov. 3 date approaches, marathon runners can take solace in knowing they’ve already done most of the hard work in their training, and all that’s left to do now is make a few final preparations before taking the 26.2 mile plunge.

While each runner should prepare in their own way with whatever works best for them, Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City provides some tips below to help ensure all runners are ready to go on race day:

  • Taper
  • Tapering is a controlled decrease in mileage and intensity that allows the body to repair itself and restock its fuel supplies before racing
  • It’s usually recommended to start tapering 3-4 weeks before a marathon, so if you haven’t started already, begin tapering now
  • Reduce mileage gradually to the point that you’re running 30-40% of your peak mileage during the final week before the marathon
  • Diet
  • Staying fueled before and leading up to the big day is essential for a successful race
  • Focus on certain foods and avoid others, and as a rule of thumb, try to consume 50-65% of your calories as complex carbohydrates (e.g. whole grains), 20-25% as lean protein and 15-25% as unsaturated fats
  • If you’re hungry in between meals (which is completely normal for marathon runners) eat healthy snacks like mineral-rich fruits and vegetables and stay away from processed foods and sugars
  • Hydration
  • Be sure to stay properly hydrated before, during and after the race
  • Drink at least an entire bottle of water on race day before it starts
  • Be careful not to overdo it, however, as over-hydrating can lead to hyponatremia (water intoxication)
  • Miscellanea
  • Trim your toenails a few days before the race to avoid blisters and other foot problems
  • Check the forecast and prepare your clothes and shoes appropriately; make sure shoes and laces are in good shape and dress in layers if necessary
  • Eat a light meal about an hour before the race (e.g. bagel, toast, banana)

To work out any last-minute aches or pains, feel free to visit us at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City.  We wish all marathon runners a healthy and successful race.