There’s nothing like enjoying homemade fruit popsicles on a hot summer day. The problem with the store-bought variety, however, is that they typically contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Making homemade fruit popsicles are a great alternative, however, and an ideal way to add more nutrients into your day without using refined sugar (not to mention, a really fun way for kids and adults alike to experiment in the kitchen!!).
Cool off and take a "bite" out of summer by trying some of the following delicious popsicle recipes. They are low in calories and guilt free!
Peach Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles
Blackberry Lemon Popsicles
Chocolate Fudge Paletas
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
Pinch of sea salt
Cherry Lime Popsicle with Honey
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 cups cherries
1/3 cup lime juice
In order to help you get to know us a little better, we thought it would be fun to feature staff members from time to time. That said, please allow us to introduce you to one of our fabulous PT's: Chris Markham.
Holding a Doctorate in Physical Therapy (with concentration on Orthopedic and Manual Therapy) from the University of St. Augustine School for Health Sciences, Chris also has a Master's Degree in Exercise Science from Mississippi State University and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. When asked about his reason for choosing PT as a career, Chris stated, "The prospect of being able to help people get out of pain and improve their quality of life was something that really appealed to me. It was only natural that I entered the field of physical therapy. Through the use of proven, hands-on therapies and the many modalities available at The Smith Clinic, I am able to address a wide variety of conditions. I find that educating patients about their condition makes a positive impact on their recovery and can decrease their chances of re-injury.”
Chris is truly one of kind, with the unique gifts of compassion and a gentle spirit. We are so blessed to have him as a part of The Smith Clinic family!
The "rotator cuff" is the group of 4 muscles and their tendons responsible for keeping the shoulder joint stable. Injuries to the rotator cuff are common—either from accident or trauma, or with repeated overuse of the shoulder. Risk of injury can vary, but generally increases as a person ages. Rotator cuff tears are more common later in life, but also can occur in younger people. When left untreated, a rotator cuff tear can cause severe pain and a decrease in the ability to use the arm.
A recent study in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery looked at whether or not physical therapy can help avoid surgery on a rotator cuff tear. The MOON Shoulder Group, which is a multi-center network of research teams around the country, followed a group of 381 patients with atraumatic full-thickness tears of the rotator cuff for a minimum of two tears. The patients performed 6-12 weeks of nonoperative physical therapy focusing on basic rotator cuff strengthening, soft tissue mobilization, and joint mobilizations. At the six-week mark, patients were assessed and 9% chose to have rotator cuff repair surgery at that point. At 12-weeks, an additional 6% chose to have surgery, and, in total, 26% of patients decided to have surgery by the 2-year follow-up mark. That means nearly 75% of patients avoided rotator cuff repair surgery by performing physical therapy despite having full thickness cuff tears.
Physical Therapy can help you reduce the worsening of the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear and even decrease your risk of worsening a tear, especially if you seek assistance at the first sign of shoulder pain or discomfort. To avoid developing a rotator cuff tear from an existing shoulder problem, it is imperative to stop performing actions that could make it worse. Your physical therapist will help you strengthen your rotator cuff muscles, train you to avoid potentially harmful positions, and determine when it is appropriate for you to return to your normal activities.
To maintain shoulder health and prevent rotator cuff tears, we recommend that you:
If you are suffering from the symptoms due to a rotator cuff tear, call us today. We can get you the help and relief you need and get you back to doing the things you love without experiencing pain!
It’s that time of year again ... time to exchange your winter gloves and snow shovel with gardening gloves and watering cans! While the warmer weather brings on a sense of energy and desire to plant, we need to make sure to use proper body mechanics to avoid muscle aches and potential serious injuries. Below are a few tips to make gardening experience more enjoyable and less painful:
Lifting heavy objects such as bags of soil, planters and mulch improperly can lead to low back strains and/or sciatic pain. Alternative options include moving half of the soil/mulch to a separate pot before lifting the bag or planting in to smaller pots that are easier to maneuver. Another suggestion would be using a garden cart or wheelbarrow to assist with moving heavy gardening materials.
Prepping the soil can be a difficult and tedious task requiring prolonged forward bending and frequent changes in position. We suggest trying to prep the planting bed by using long-handled gardening tools, and, once the soil is ready, plant from a kneeling position using either a kneeling stool or a cushion. Those with known chronic low back pain may want to consider planting in to pots, flower boxes or raised flower beds to avoid further injury.
Most people dislike weeding their gardens and flower beds. An alternative to reduce the need to weed include using plants as ground cover or using mulch in your flower beds to minimize weed growth. If using a weed spray, look for bottles that have a sprayer hose to allow you to stand upright while treating your problem areas.
MOWING THE LAWN:
The action of pulling a cord to start your mower is the most common cause of low back injuries. If you must use a pull start mower, remember to bend at your knees and maintain the natural curve of your spine while reaching for the cord. Make sure you tighten your abdominal muscles just before pulling the cord in order to support your spine. If using a push mower, remember to maintain proper upright posture and take breaks as needed.
Stretching before you start gardening can help you from experiencing pain later. Here are some stretching techniques to help get you started:
1.) Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body, but this time extend your arms overhead. You should feel the stretch in your upper torso and shoulders to hand. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
2.) Place your hand just above the back of the elbow and gently push your elbow across your chest toward the opposite shoulder. This is a stretch for the upper back and shoulder. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
3.) Raise one arm overhead. Bend the elbow. Place the opposite hand on the bent elbow and gently push the elbow back further. This is a stretch for the triceps. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
4.) Extend an arm in front of you, making sure the elbow is completely straight. With your palm down, take the opposite hand and bend in the wrist downward. Then turn the palm up, and stretch the wrist backwards. This stretches the forearm and wrist muscles. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
There are many physical health benefits of gardening. In fact, it’s even classified as a physical activity! In fact, the simple activities of gardening, when done correctly, can strengthen bones and joints, keep your muscles strong, and help increase stamina and flexibility. Just make sure you listen to your body. Take frequent breaks and change positions when you start to experience aching, cramping or fatigue. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. And, if you do happen to experience low back pain or any other injury, please do not delay in contacting The Smith Clinic. We can help alleviate your symptoms as well as educate you on proper body mechanics!
Now that the weather is warming up, you might be thinking about adding some fresh new recipes to the mix! This article from EatingWell.com shares some yummy and HEALTHY options to spice things up AND keep you eating healthy this Spring!
Stretching of the joints, muscles, and nerves is very important to ensure there are no imbalances throughout the musculoskeletal system. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, in turn helping maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without stretching, the muscles shorten and become tight. Below are 5 stretches that may help relieve symptoms you may be having in your back.
LUMBAR EXTENSION STRETCHES
These are good for individuals who may have a disc herniation. They should be performed with caution for anyone who has spinal stenosis or any known fractures in their vertebrae.
Prone Press Up: Begin by lying on your stomach, elbows bent underneath you and palms flat on the surface. Keeping your hips and pelvis in contact with the surface, lift your upper torso off the mat with your arms, keeping your back muscles relaxed. Only go as high as you are comfortable. Perform 10 repetitions holding each one for 10 seconds each, working your way to 30 seconds.
LUMBAR FLEXION STRETCHES
Flexion based stretches are good for those with spinal stenosis or tightness through the lower lumbar musculature.
Single Knee to Chest: Begin by lying on your back with both knees bent. Bring one knee up towards your chest. Perform 2-3 repetitions, holding each one for 15-30 seconds. You may feel a stretch along the lower back or buttocks area. You may also perform this with both legs up towards your chest if it is comfortable.
Prayer Stretch or Child’s Pose: This stretch is for the lower back muscles along the spine and is a very common yoga pose. On your hands and knees, sit back with your buttocks is resting on your heels. Reach your hands forward to lengthen your spine and feel a stretch in your middle back. You can reach your hands to either side to focus the stretch on the opposite side of your spine. Hold for 10-30 seconds and perform 2-3 repetitions.
Angry Cat Stretch: This stretch can incorporate both an extension and a flexion component. You may perform either way or just one way if that is more comfortable for you. On your hands and knees, let your belly sag towards the table to increase extension through your spine (lumbar extension picture). To increase flexion through your spine, arch your back upwards, bringing your spine away from the table (lumbar flexion picture). You may hold each position for 5-20 seconds and repeat several times.
Just as you can stretch a muscle, you can stretch a nerve. Nerve stretches are very important to perform if you have any radiating pain from your lower back into your buttocks or legs. Nerve stretches are also very important to perform after lumbar surgery to ensure that there is no scar tissue adhering the nerve to any internal structures.
Sciatic Nerve Stretch: This stretch should be performed if the majority of the radiating pain into the legs is felt in the buttocks, back of the leg, and/or through the calf and foot. This follows the pathway of the sciatic nerve. By stretching the nerve, it can help to desensitize it so that it will not cause as much pain. Perform this stretch by lying on your back with your hand behind one knee, preferable the leg with the sciatic pain. Straighten your knee then alternate flexing your ankle back and forth. Hold your ankle in each position for a few seconds. Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise or stretching program to make sure there are no restrictions in the type of stretching you should do (this is especially true if you have recently had spine surgery). Also, let your doctor know if you are experiencing pain when stretching, as pain may be an indication that your technique is incorrect or that you have an injury or some other medical problem. Over time and when done correctly, however, doing back related exercises and stretches can help reduce your back pain.
Spring is finally here, and with it comes a new and exciting season of outdoor activities! As soon as the first hint of spring arrives, we want to head outside to play golf, tennis, go for a walk or maybe enjoy a bike ride. Jumping into a new fitness routine too hard or too fast, however, can quickly result in injury if you're not careful. Stay safe and reduce your risk of injury while getting in shape this spring by following these tips for sports injury prevention:
Consult a Physician
Before you begin a new sport or jump back into an old one, visit your family physician. With a visit to your doctor, you can find out if old injuries have properly healed and/or ensure old injuries do not become chronic problems.
If it has been some time since participating in an activity, slowly ease into it to reduce the risk of an injury. Light exercise like leisurely walking can help build stamina. Gradually increase the intensity level before you actively jump into a new activity.
Warm Up & Stretch
Warming up and stretching go hand in hand, but it is important to remember that they are different from one another. Sports injuries are most commonly caused by improper warm ups. Warm up with a low-level activity like jump rope or jumping jacks before you stretch, then stretch to improve blood circulation and increase flexibility, and continue to raise muscle temperatures after a warm up.
Use Proper Techniques & Take Breaks
Many sports require the use of different techniques. Learn the correct technique that is associated with a sport to lessen the risk of sports-related injuries to tendons, bones, and muscles. It's also important to rest during physical activities, whether it is a leisurely activity, practice or a game.
Play Safe & Hydrate
When you participate in different sports or activities, it's important to know the rules to help prevent injuries from occurring. In addition, be sure to keep the body hydrated, which allows the heart to pump blood easily and helps the muscles work more efficiently. As temperatures rise, it's extremely important to drink plenty of water. Someone who sweats heavily requires more fluid than someone who does not perspire as heavily.
Take Time Off & Don't Play if You Are Injured
Give yourself at least 1 or 2 days a week to take a break from your sport or activity, and give your muscles a chance to repair themselves. Recovery time is crucial and, without rest, people are at risk for repetitive or chronic injury. It may be difficult, but do not continue to participate in sports or activities if you have sustained an injury. It is not safe to "play through the pain" and could result in a more severe injury or a chronic problem. Allow the injury time to heal before you return to practice.
If you start to feel some aches and pains after "springing back into action," follow up with one of our physical therapists at The Smith Clinic. This will give you the opportunity to assess whether your problem needs medical intervention or can be treated with a home exercise program. The sooner you address the issue, the faster you can get back to your favorite outdoor activities.
We don't know about you, but we're about ready to fast-forward to warm spring days and patio dinners. Fortunately, we have lots of fresh and cheerful seasonal recipes to carry us through the remainder of winter. One recipe we are really excited to try is Avacado & Citrus "Ceviche" . Loaded with oranges and grapefruit, and combined with perfectly ripe diced avocado, this recipe makes a cheerful party appetizer or dip. It’s healthy, too!
This recipe is simple to make; you’ll just need a cutting board, sharp knife and serving bowl. The produce preparation is a bit labor intensive, though, so don’t plan on making this in a big hurry.
Avocado & Citrus “Ceviche”
*Recipe and photo credit goes to www.cookieandkatie.com.
This month we are pleased to feature Michael Graves, Junior, in our Patient Spotlight. A recent knee injury brought Michael to The Smith Clinic, and what a joy it has been getting to know him!
A student at Germantown High School, Michael is a native Memphian, and his favorite thing about living in Memphis is the pyramid. In his free time, Michael enjoys playing football and spending time with his family.
Speaking of family, after experiencing great success through physical therapy at The Smith Clinic, Michael's father, Michael Graves, Sr., became a patient as well! When asked about his experience at the clinic, Michael stated, "They have treated my father and I with such good care and have helped me get back to doing what I love."
In discussing his biggest challenge in doing PT, Michael mentioned staying motivated and continuing to push himself was his biggest hurdle. He also expressed, however, that the process led him to gain more confidence in himself.
Michael's favorite part about coming to The Smith Clinic is, "The loving and welcoming of the staff." The admiration is mutual, Michael! We have loved having you and your dad as patients! You are a kind, bright and determined young man. It has been an honor to work alongside you and a thrill to watch you thrive!
It's fitting that, in the month of Valentine's Day, comes another reason to turn your attention to the heart, as February is also American Heart Month. Did you know that The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S., killing even more Americans than cancer?
The good news is making small changes to your daily life can improve your health, in turn lowering your chances of heart disease. These changes can include: adding exercise to your routine, quitting smoking (which you should do regardless) and (probably the easiest change to make) improving your diet by incorporating heart-healthy foods.
When it comes to incorporating heart-healthy foods, below are some of our favorite foods that both taste great and improve cardiovascular health:
Fish: Fish such as salmon and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your blood flowing and lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, which, in turn, lowers your risk of heart disease. Not a fish person? Try taking fish oil supplements instead.
Oatmeal: This breakfast staple is high in soluble fiber that helps eliminate "bad" LDL cholesterol from the body. But, be sure to eat whole or rolled oats as opposed to instant oat that can contain high amounts of sugar.
Nuts: Walnuts, almonds and cashews are full of healthy fats that can improve cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fats. Avoid salted varieties, however, as they are high in sodium. Also, consume them in moderation, as they are very calorie dense.
Berries: Berries are nature's super fruits. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are full of rich vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients and soluble fiber, all of which help decrease chances of a heart attack. They can also decrease inflammation, which is crucial to one's health and well-being.
Potatoes: This food is high in potassium and fiber that lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain lycopene that helps to rid the body of bad cholesterol.
Dark chocolate: Make sure you look for dark chocolate made up of at least 70% cocoa. It contains flavonoids called polyphenols that help to reduce blood pressure, inflammation and the chance of clotting.
In addition to a healthy lifestyle, another key component to fighting heart disease is awareness. Tell a friend or a family member and get as many people as you can to join the new healthy you! It's proven that, when you team up with a group of people living a healthy life with you, the easier it will be for everyone to maintain this lifestyle by encouraging each other.
While you can't change things like age and family history, even modest changes and actions can improve your heart health and lower your risk by as much as 80 percent. By striving for a healthy lifestyle, building awareness and encouraging others, together we can help prevent heart disease. Don't wait until it's too late...start your journey to a healthy heart today!