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511 Gordon Avenue
Thomasville, GA, 31792
USA

(229) 228-9019

THRIVE Physical Therapy and Fitness: Private Treatment Rooms, Manual Therapy, Women's Health, Chronic Pain, Spine Pain, Fitness Training, Weight Loss, Diabetes, Headaches, Sports Injury, Dance Recovery, Scar Release, Scoliosis, Balance Training, Vertigo, and more.

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Filtering by Tag: lifestyle

Traveling in Comfort

Dawn Muller

 

Summer is the time when we all pile into the car and hit the open road to travel over the river, through the woods, to Grandmother’s and the beach, and to camp.  While we look forward to vacation, many of us dread the hours spent confined to the small space allotted to us in the car or the airplane.  Basically long hours on the road can be a pain in the behind… or the back, or the neck.

Routinely throughout the summer, I have patients asking for ways to make their car ride less torturous.  It seems that the seat that was comfortable on mile marker one has become a concrete slab and the area meant for our bottom is a size too small.  However, if you know the right tricks, you can arrive at your destination feeling good enough to carry the luggage for the whole gang. 

You see, our bodies were made to move.  When we don’t, they start to squawk.  At first it is just a whisper, but if you don’t pay attention, that sciatic nerve or a joint in your spine is going to shout at the top of its lungs.  It talks in the form of pain.   But wait, pain is not the enemy.  Your body is trying to protect you.  If you continue to sit in that same spot, you may actually damage a vital body part.  So don’t shoot the messenger.  Do something about it. 

When you sit for more than 20-40 minutes, your muscles relax leaving the ligaments, joints, and discs in the spine to carry the load.  Did you know that sitting actually produces more pressure on the spine that walking or standing?  The ligament, joint, or disc will start to ache as it carries the extra load.  However, if you remind those muscles to give a little support, you will notice much less discomfort.  There are some simple, safe exercises that I recommend you do about every 45 minutes in the car.  They are called isometrics.   If you have back pain, you may need to do them more often.  If you are driving, be sure to do these in areas where there is no traffic or at a stop light. If you are the passenger, you can do them anytime you like.  Each exercise is done with good posture.  Maintaining normal posture will also reduce your body stress.  The exercises are held for 5-10 seconds and you will perform 10 repetitions. 

They are:

  1. Squeeze your shoulder blades toward the spine, making sure not to shrug the shoulders. 
  2. Press your shoulders into the back of your seat, keeping your head in line with your spine
  3. Pull in the abdomen, bringing the belly button toward the spine and pulling the abdomen up under the ribs.
  4. Squeeze your buttocks together to the point that it lifts you up slightly

One that is not an isometric, but that can safely be done while driving is to pull in the tummy and rock the pelvis forward and back slightly, which will round and arch your lower back.  This is a small movement, so that it does not affect your leg position.

If you are the passenger, you may also want to try these:

  1. Press your elbows into the seat behind you.
  2. Press your elbows into your sides.
  3. Press your thighs into the seat, as if you were straightening your hips.
  4. Press your feet into the floor and tighten the front of your thighs.
  5. Place your fist between your knees and squeeze your knees to the middle.

These exercises will also improve your blood flow, making you less prone to swelling in your feet and legs and reducing your risk of a blood clot (particularly on a plane). 

Give it a try and see if you don’t notice how much better you feel.  So travel in style….or at least in comfort.  

 

Dr. Dawn Muller, PT, DPT, MTC, Cert DN is the owner of Thrive Physical Therapy and Fitness, LLC.  She has been practicing 30 years.  To make an appointment, call 229-228-9019.

 

You Know You've Been Wondering...

Dawn Muller

You may not be talking about this at your next party or at lunch with your friends, BUT…

 

You may be wondering.  There are certain questions that are hard to ask.  You aren’t sure if your mom is up to speed.  You are way too embarrassed to ask your spouse and your best bud doesn’t need to know.  You probably need to ask your doctor, but even that may cause you to turn three shades of red.  So, maybe it would be so much easier if someone just wrote a column about it.  This way you don’t have to actually ask, but you get the skinny on the issue.

Well, it’s your lucky day.  I am going to answer some of those questions and still try to keep this family friendly article about all things south of the belt line.

 

Is it normal to have to wear protection for exercise? 

No. While one in four regular female exercisers wear some sort of liner or pad, it is not normal and it is correctable without medication in 80% of cases.  Typically a combination of pelvic floor exercise, biofeedback, and a few lifestyle changes keep you dry as a bone.

  

Out of my way! I gotta go! Why do I have to rush to the bathroom like a running back on steriods?

There can be more than one reason for this urgency, but usually it is a combination of an overactive muscle around the bladder combined with a weaker than normal pelvic floor muscle group.  It can also be related to going to the bathroom too frequently, which can confuse the bladder reflexes.  The good news is that with some behavioral training it can often be corrected in less than two weeks.  Of all the things I do related to incontinence and pelvic floor training, this is usually the quickest and easiest.  Most of my clients are astonished that they have had to deal with this for years when the answer was so quick and easy.  Lots of you may be on medicine for an overactive bladder.  While for some of you that may be necessary, most of you could resolve this issue without the medicine.  The right training could save you the money, time, and side effects that come with these medications.  The most concerning side effect to me is the memory loss.  Most of us need all the brain power we can muster.  Another side effect of overactive bladder meds is constipation, which puts more pressure on the pelvic floor, making you more likely to leak!

 

How often should I have to go to the bathroom?

Most of us should be urinating every 3 to 5 hours.  If you have a history of frequent urinary tract infections, it will be less.  Also, you may need to go shortly after taking a diuretic, but the 3 to 5 hours is a good rule of thumb for most people.  If you are going more often, we can teach you how to get your timing to a more normal level and ensure that your urine is nearly clear, odorless, and exits in a steady stream.  It is not difficult; it just takes a little education, a watch, and some techniques to correct the pelvic floor to detrusor balance.  This process usually takes 2-4 weeks depending on how frequently you go to the bathroom.  Patients with benign prostate hypertrophy also get results with treatment though it may take a little longer.

  

What to do about #2?

Over the years, I have treated all kinds of #2 issues and the good news is that most people get REALLY good results.  Some of you swing from diarrhea to constipation, which is uncomfortable and makes it very difficult to make plans to go out.  There are others that are very constipated, often going days or weeks between bowel movements.  Not only does this increase your risk of colon cancer, it can be painful or at the very least, distracting.  Usually, improving your hydration and fiber is helpful.  Sometimes it is helpful to work with your doctor on your medicine and dosing, as pain medicines and anti-cholinergics (like for overactive bladder) can cause constipation.  Most often, it requires manual therapy to treat the muscles of the pelvic floor.  Specialized techniques relax the muscles and allow the sphincter to open with greater ease.  Occasionally, visceral mobilization is required for people who have had multiple abdominal surgeries.  Depending on the situation, we may use biofeedback to teach relaxation for the pelvic floor muscles or the muscles around the anus.  The biofeedback involves about 6 weekly sessions to retrain the muscles.  The training for the other treatments usually take 4-6 sessions.

 

Ok, here’s the big one.  What can be done about painful intercourse?

This is more common than you might think.  The reasons can be as varied as the patients.  Very often it is the result of post-menopausal changes.  Post-menopausal women usually respond to a combination of lubrication options, pelvic floor training (most often the person is weak in the pelvic floor, has muscle loss, and changes in sensation), and manual therapy to deal with trigger points, muscle spasms or tenderness.  Biofeedback can be used for both strengthening and relaxation.  For some patients, your doctor may recommend hormonal replacements in combination with other treatments.  Other patients may have solely muscle spasms.  This could be from weakness (believe it or not), injury, pregnancy, hormonal changes, or low back problems.  The treatments will be very individualized.  Every patient will need to be instructed in ways they can improve their symptoms based on the cause.  The goal is to get everything working normally.  Seventy percent of patients with painful intercourse can return to normal “activities” with proper treatment.

 

So while you may not be talking about this at your next dinner party or over the water cooler, there are options and treatments that are safe and effective.  Ask a lot of questions, do your homework, and get the relief that is available.

 

 

Dr. Dawn Muller, PT, DPT, MTC, Cert DN is the owner of Thrive Physical Therapy and Fitness, LLC.  She has been practicing 30 years.  She has been treating men’s and women’s health dysfunction for 18 years.  She is a frequent provider for these issues for Mayo Clinic, as well as many local physicians and surgeons.  To make an appointment, call 229-228-9019.