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Bethesda, Maryland 20814

Speed Up Your Recovery From Back Pain

As anyone who has thrown their back out and needed physical therapy will tell you, bending over feels rough for several days after.

Putting on socks and even sitting down is uncomfortable as the body attempts to prevent the lower back from moving, especially into flexion.

Flexion of the spine is commonly the most aggravating movement for anyone experiencing an acute episode of back pain. In physical therapy we test this by asking our patients to touch their toes. Once the acute episode subsides, the next step is training and learning to tolerate slow, controlled movements of the spine.

When tolerated well, the reverse crunch is great drill to teach this quality and can be used effectively as a warmup in the gym.

Oftentimes this is where the injury rehabilitation process stops. At this point the body can tolerate all normal daily activities however it has not learned to manage rapid movements of the spine, such as those that occur in sport or in the gym.

The Med Ball slam is a great drill to train the spine to tolerate movements that involve rapid spinal flexion. This drill should be pain free before attempting any heavy Olympic lifts like a clean or a snatch.

Also, remember to avoid using a ball that bounces as we don’t want any broken noses from this drill!

Physical Therapy Didn’t Work…

I tried physical therapy and it didn’t work.

Many of our patients in Bethesda have seen other physical therapists prior to seeing us. In their previous physical therapy experiences, they did not achieve the results that they were looking for and are coming to us for answers.

Personally, I love working with these people because they continue to believe that our profession can help them. However, negative experiences in physical therapy often cause many others to lose faith in the profession.

Perhaps you are one of these people. If so, I don’t blame you as I once was in your shoes!

When I was in High School, I experienced a quadricep injury that was impacting my ability to play football.

I went to my local physical therapy practice searching for help in overcoming this injury and play in my junior season. It was going to be my first season starting on both offense and defense causing this injury to constantly remain in the front of my mind.

My introduction to physical therapy was not what I had hoped for, and I now realize that my physical therapists were not taking great care of me (to learn more about how you can determine if this is the case, see my latest blog here).

Luckily, I was still able to play in my season and was back to 100% by the middle of the year. However, I can’t help but wonder if I would have been fully healthy to start the season if I saw a different physical therapist.

Like all other professions, the physical therapy industry has great professionals and poor ones. Furthermore, some physical therapists specialize with athletes, some with cardiac patients and others with people living in nursing homes.

As a result, my hope is that instead of saying “I tried physical therapy and it didn’t work”, you say “This physical therapist or physical therapy practice didn’t provide the results that I was looking for and I need to find someone that is a better fit for what I need.” 

Do your running shoes pass the test?

You don’t need performance physical therapists like us to tell you that footwear makes a large impact on running performance. The correct running shoe can reduce your race times and lower your injury risk.

When walking into any running store in Bethesda or Chevy Chase, you will find many different shoe brands and several different models of shoes within each brand. Among this wide array of shoes, how do we determine which is best for you?

The answer is different for each person and is dependent on a multitude of different factors. However, any running shoe must meet a few requirements to be considered and these are the first things we look for when assessing any running shoe in physical therapy for runners.

The first is that it must have a firm and snug heel cup. Your heel sits at the base of the shoe, in a place called the heel cup. The heels cup should fit snugly around your heel and should not be much wider than your heel itself. This prevents your heel from sliding around within the shoe, which would negatively impact foot mechanics.

Next, the shoe must have a toe break that folds where your toes bend.  Place your shoe on the ground and hold it there. Pull the front of your shoe upwards from underneath. The folding point of the shoe should be located where your toes bend. If your shoe prefers to fold at another location, your foot is being encouraged to bend somewhere else. This alters foot mechanics and can lead to breakdown within the structure of the foot itself.

Finally, you should be able to feel the entirety of both feet on the ground as you are standing still in your shoes. People are often unable to feel their arches, which results in more stress on the areas that are receiving better ground contact.

There are 26 bones and 30 joints within the human foot. This results in a large number of ways that our foot can compensate, and therefore, a large number of factors that we need to be mindful of when choosing the correct running shoe.

The 3 factors outlined above are a good place to start when choosing the right shoe, however there are many other factors that may also need to be considered.

Please contact us for help assessing your foot and determining the best running shoe for you!