Thursday, March 28, 2019

Improving Balance & Coordination with Proprioception Exercises

If you're not familiar with this term, "proprioception" is simply a more concise way of saying "the sense of knowing where your body is in space". For example, you don't have to look at yourself to touch your finger to your nose, you can pick up a glass without knocking it over, and you know where your feet go even when you're walking on an uneven path.
Proprioception is learned at a young age and it includes both gross and fine motor skills. It starts the first time you reach for your mum's face as she's holding you and continues to evolve through early childhood. By the time you're in primary school, you're already pretty good at most things like holding a pencil to paper or kicking a football, and as you mature into an adult, you'll no longer need to think consciously about how your body moves even if you're trying something new.
But an injury, illness or surgery can change all that. Anytime immobilization occurs, it's very common to lose some of your proprioception. This can range from feeling a bit unstable to experiencing a complete loss of balance.
The good news is, just as you did when you were young, you can better your proprioception again with practice. Proprioception exercises have been shown to improve sensorimotor function, and with the right therapy, it's possible to recover from injury or illness return to your normal activities.

The purpose of proprioception exercises is to improve balance and spatial awareness and therefore also your sense of position in space. Water therapy may be a part of your recovery, particularly if your range of motion has been severely impeded or your muscle mass is greatly reduced. Starting in the water is a great way to get reacquainted with your body as you begin to make strides toward your recovery. Learn more about how water therapy can improve your balance and muscle function here.

Which specific exercises you'll engage in will depend largely on which body part is affected. For example, if you've injured your shoulder, you'll likely not also need to re-learn how to put one foot in front of the other.
Below are some of our favorite general balancing and spacial awareness techniques, good for the entire body. If you find that your senses are mildly affected after an injury, or you'd generally like to increase your proprioception for strength purposes, try these exercises at home.
Anyone can benefit from increased proprioception, not just those of us who are a big more accident-prone. Whether you've had an injury or simply want to be more balanced and graceful for athletic purposes, these exercises can help you gain more confidence and awareness.

The major factors contributing to proprioception development are activities that focus on balance, strength and eventually plyometrics such as jumping. If you're already an advanced player and simply want to improve your kinetic awareness, plyometric exercises are a great place to start:


  • Squats & Lunges
  • Jump Squats & Lunges
  • Box/Vertical Jumps
  • Lateral Jumps
  • Balance Boards
  • Weighted Balls for Overhead & Side-to-Side Exercises
  • Stop-and-Go Drills
  • Hurdles



If you need help re-training your proprioception after an injury, it's important to start with the basics, no matter where you were at prior to the incident. Keep in mind that any training after an injury should remain under the care of a specialist, such as a physical therapist, unless otherwise recommended.

Balance

Anything from walking to shifting your balance from one leg to another will help you to improve your stability.
You may be noticing that it's a bit more challenging to gain equilibrium, and this is expected after a period of recovery. Engaging in balancing exercises every day will help re-teach your brain where your body is in space, helping to prevent further complications from additional injuries.

All of these exercises are adaptable to suit a range of needs and abilities. When performing an
exercise, think of all of the ways in which you can break down your movements into smaller steps. For example, if you're not yet capable of doing a standing leg lift, you can try simply shifting your weight from one leg to another. Once you've completed this action, you can think about bending the knee but keeping the toes on the ground. Once you feel comfortable here, try just flexing the toes on your bent leg to move them a few inches above the floor.
Giving yourself permission to feel accomplished each step of the way will speed up your recovery and help you to stay motivated. Here are some easy-to-modify balancing exercises we love:


  • Standing on One Leg
  • Standing on Tiptoes
  • Superman
  • Plank



Strength

Improving your strength requires proprioception and your proprioception will improve by practicing
strength training. It's a two-way street that's closely intertwined; without one, the other suffers.
Strength training will often naturally be a part of your recovery, whether you need proprioception retraining or not. Strength exercises will help to re-establish important connections between your muscles and brain, and as your strength improves, you'll also begin to increase your body's awareness in space. This, in turn, will give you the ability to train harder, improving strength and proprioception even further.



Lower Body
Exercises such as squats and lateral lunges are some of the most popular and effective ways of regaining leg stability.

Core
Core exercises are an essential part of whole-body stability, and their benefits reach far beyond injury recovery. A strong core is an essential part of injury prevention, and focusing your workouts to include your abs and back will allow you to take your fitness to the next level.

Upper Body
Improving strength and mobility after an arm, shoulder or back injury can range from simple movements such as rotation to active resistance training using weights or bands.


Here are a few workouts to help get you started:


  • Leg Lifts
    • Standing
    • Sitting
    • Lateral
  • Squat
  • Lunge
  • Curtsy
  • Bicycle Crunch
  • Superman
  • Bridge
  • Resistance Band
    • Across chest
    • Behind back
    • Vertical



If you've suffered from an acute injury or are currently in recovery from an illness or a surgical procedure, it's important you talk to your doctor about how to get your physical health back on track. He or she may recommend professional physical therapy, at-home exercises or a combination or both.



Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Alleviate Post-Surgical Pain with the Abdominal Binder

Combating Swelling & Post-Surgical Discomfort with the Thermoskin Abdominal Binder

Abdominal surgeries are amongst some of the most common medical procedures, particularly for
women. Whether you need to have your appendix removed, are scheduling a c-section, or want to avoid future pregnancies, you will have to undergo abdominal surgery. While this may seem daunting as your abdomen is one of the largest and most precarious areas of your body, there are a variety of steps you can take to ensure the process from pre-surgery to recovery goes off without a hitch.  So you have your surgery scheduled for next month, next week or you are in the recovery stage even today, what now? Let’s discuss some common side effects of abdominal surgery, along with some products and processes to aid you in recovery.


What Are Some Common Abdominal Surgeries?

  • Abdominal surgeries are actually incredibly common, given that your abdomen is the most organ-dense part of your body. But the most common surgeries are the following: 
  • Appendectomy: removal of the appendix. 
  • Myomectomy: removal of uterine fibroids without the removal of the uterus to maintain fertility. Hysterectomy: removal of the uterus to avoid pregnancy. 
  • Caesarean Section: also known as a C-Section, the use of surgery to deliver babies. 
  • Any other type of surgery related to stomach or digestion issues such as a tummy tuck or a laparoscopic surgery.


What Side Effects Can I Expect? 

The most common side effects immediately after surgery will be nausea and possibly vomiting due to the anesthesia. But once this subsides, you are likely to experience a low yet uncomfortable level of pain. The easiest way to subside this pain is to apply compression to your abdomen. Other side effects can also include swelling and soreness, which can also subside through compression.

What Can I Use to Alleviate Pain? 

Using the Thermoskin Abdominal Binder applies a comfortable amount of compression to alleviate a variety of common side effects post-surgery such as swelling, soreness, pain and stomach discomfort. Its continuous design eliminates seams and provides an even distribution of compression, which increases the crucially needed level of comfort post-surgery. The abdominal binder even includes adjustable fasteners that allow you to easily determine which level of compression is most comfortable for your body. The design and build of the abdominal binder allows it to contour to your body for a more relaxed and comfortable fit that doesn't inhibit your natural range of movement. Its breathable knit lets you wear this product for extended periods of time while a stabilizing level of support combined with a low level of warmth helps reduce swelling. Furthermore, because your back will require additional support during this period of abdominal weakness, the abdominal binder assists the lower back area while applied.

What Else Can I do for a Healthy Recovery? 

Recovering after your surgery is a process that requires the right care and above all, patience. It’s best to not expect a speedy recovery so that you can give your body enough time to regain its strength. Here are some things you can do to nourish your body and avoid further complications in your abdomen area:


  • Follow directions to a T: Avoid baths and swimming, do not lift heavy items, clean your incision and go to your follow up appointments if your physician instructs you to do so.  
  • Fuel up: A huge part of your recovery for any kind of procedure or even just daily physical activity is making sure you are getting enough food and water. But it is especially important that you nourish your body after surgery. Make sure you are eating easy to digest foods and getting enough fiber above all since your body is prone to constipation during the recovery period.  
  • Care for the incision: It’s not only important to keep an eye on your incision, it is also paramount that you exercise proper hygiene. Just make sure to take a look at your incision every day after your surgery and know that it is normal to see some scabbing around the incision as it heals. As far as hygiene is concerned, don’t apply rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide unless your physician instructs you to do so. Just soap and water will do and make sure to wash your hands before you touch your incision! 
  • Watch Your Coughing: This may sound silly but this is especially important for abdominal surgeries. When you cough, it’s important to brace your incision by applying pressure to it. The Thermoskin abdominal binder helps with this but it wouldn’t hurt to simply brace your incision when you cough. It is normal for you to cough more than usual after surgery so you want to be very careful with your incision.


Having the right tools at your disposal is the first and most critical step in any kind of recovery. Now that you know what the abdominal binder is for and how you can use it, talk to your doctor about whether this could be an option for you while in post-surgery recovery.

Diastasis Recti

How to Prevent & Recover from Diastasis Recti During & After Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a tough nine months, but even when it's relatively routine and easy, it's still bound
to wreak havoc on your body. Although many women will bring their babies to term without any major complications, most new mothers report experiencing one or more bodily changes lasting longer than the average recovery period.
One of the most common and under-discussed post-pregnancy symptoms women experience is diastasis recti. This is the separation of the abdominal muscles in a way that the midline is left vulnerable and exposed. This separation is required in order to allow the baby to grow, but also results in a more prominent pooch after pregnancy, persistent lower back pain and some degree of urinary incontinence.

A good majority of women see their diastasis recti improve naturally once their hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, however, about a third of all women who have delivered simply don't spring back and the gap remains.

The best treatment for diastasis recti is prevention. Working on your ab strength before pregnancy and engaging in appropriate abdominal exercises throughout your term will allow you to recover faster. However, if it’s too late for prevention, there are still plenty of things you can do.

While many fitness magazines have recommended ab exercises to correct this condition, crunches, sit ups and planks can make abdominal separation even more severe. Using force to push the belly outward, for example during a sit-up, when lifting heavy objects, or when in the bathroom, can actually make this matter much worse. Even standing up suddenly from a lying position can be detrimental for someone with ab separation. Instead of focusing on traditional ab workouts geared toward pre-pregnancy abs, you'll benefit from engaging in gentle movements that use your breath to guide you. You’ll recognize a quality at-home workout programs designed for new moms because it pays close attention to avoid traditional ab exercises in favor of smaller, more deliberate movements.

While your abs are in recovery, practice sensible movements all around, such as rolling over on your side and propping yourself on your elbows when getting out of bed. Additionally, using a brace to protect your abdomen during this time will keep your vulnerable abdominal parts protected and support your lower back. However, be mindful that wearing a brace will not result in automatic abdominal repair. Simply telling the muscles where you'd like them by holding them in place will unfortunately not cause them to grow back together.
For that, you'll need to engage in appropriate diastasis recti exercises, designed to repair post-pregnancy muscles. Once the connective tissues are healed, engaging in deep core exercises with yoga or pilates can improve this situation even further. Using your finger or a soft measuring tape, measure how far apart your abdominal muscles are today and whether or not they are improving with time and exercise.





Combating Pain & Soreness with Anti-Flamme

You’ve suffered from occasional soreness, stiffness and pain, but when these symptoms become a part of everyday life and keep you from your favorite activities, you need relief fast. Whether you've overdone new exercise regimen or you suffer from pain due to chronic inflammation, such as arthritis, Anti-Flamme can help you.

Other topical analgesics such as Icy Hot aren’t for everyone; they can cause stinging and burning, and
the long-term use of over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen can lead to gastrointestinal and liver complications. Unlike these other pain treatments, Anti-Flamme contains only four active ingredients:
arnica montana, hypericum perforatum, calendula officinalis and peppermint.

Let's break down these ingredients to learn more about how Anti-Flamme works to soothe and relax sore or strained muscles and aching joints.

Arnica montana has a long history of medicinal use across Siberia, Europe and in the temperate climates of North America. This is where the flowering herb readily grows, and when applied to bruising or sore muscles, the analgesic effects are quick and powerful. That's because arnica contains chemicals that are known to naturally decrease pain and reduce swelling associated with a variety of conditions from arthritis to overuse. In addition, arnica has antibiotic properties, which means this herb is also effective in treating cuts, sores or insect bites.

You've likely heard hypericum perforatum called by its common name: St. John's wort. Like arnica, St. John's also has a long history in alternative medicine, both for internal and external applications. Externally, its topical preparations have been used for millennia to treat everything from cuts and burns to muscle pain. St. John's wort has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Calendula officinalis, the calendula flower, helps to decrease swelling and regrow new tissue after a wound's been inflicted but as trouble healing. Calendula extracts on their own have been used in a wide range of scenarios, from the treatment of menstrual cramps to use as an insect repellent. Their chemical properties have applications in sports medicine as they help to prevent muscle spasms, reduce pain and swelling and more.

Peppermint oil is a natural analgesic with anti-inflammatory properties to help alleviate joint pain and stiffness. This natural ingredient can soothe muscle cramps, pain, spasms and tightness.

Using Anti-Flamme in conjunction with trigger point massage and stretching helps to alleviate pain, rightness, stiffness and general soreness quickly and effectively;
Anti-Flamme smells like relaxing peppermint, not like medicine. Use it to treat sports- or exercise-related injuries, joint pain, bruising, aching, tightness, knots and more.