Thursday, December 21, 2017

Compression Therapy 101

Compression therapy is a preferred medical treatment for individuals suffering from a number of different ailments, including venous leg ulcers. A venous leg ulcer is a condition that can develop as a result of chronic venous insufficiency. Venous disease is fairly common, with some research suggesting that as many as 50 percent of the adult population will be affected by venous insufficiency during their lifetime.

Other conditions for which compression therapy is commonly prescribed by doctors include phlebitis and thrombosis, sclerotherapy (and other types of treatment for varicose veins), and a variety of conditions associated with chronic venous disease, such as varicose veins, leg ulcers, edema and heavy legs. Compression therapy may also be used to alleviate problems associated with pregnancy, during long-distance travel and for athletes undergoing injury rehabilitation or desiring effective injury prevention.

What Is Compression Therapy?

Compression therapy is the application of pressure on the body's limbs – usually the legs but sometimes the arms – through the use of special socks, stockings or sleeves. This compression apparel is designed to support the veins in your arms or legs and to improve blood circulation. It's usually worn during the day and then removed at night. The compression prevents the blood in veins from pooling in the extremities, helping to improve circulation and decreasing the tendency for the limbs to swell.

With compression stockings, graduated compression is applied to the leg with the greatest pressure occurring at the ankles and then gradually decreasing as the hosiery extends up the leg. This compression acts to provide support to the legs and veins, helping to control both swelling and discomfort. The gradually decreasing pressure provided by the garment works along with the calf muscles, which also assist in the improvement of blood circulation in the legs.

Venous Insufficiency 

Chronic venous insufficiency, also known as CVI, which can lead to the development of venous leg ulcers, occurs when the walls of the veins in the legs or the valves within those veins are not working properly and are ineffective at allowing blood to return from the legs back to the heart. This condition causes blood to pool within the leg veins, which can trigger swelling and discomfort and lead to more serious problems. The first treatment prescribed for this condition is the use of compression stockings as a means for improving blood flow in the leg veins.

There are a few expected results of the utilization of compression stockings:

Increased venous blood flow
Reduced venous blood pressure
Reduced reflux (backward flow) in veins
Reduced pathologically elevated venous blood pressure
The use of compression therapy is also meant to reduce edema and inflammation, sustain recuperative processes and improve the movement of joints and tendons.

Compression Therapy Effectiveness

Compression therapy has been well studied and proven effective in the healing of wounds. It has also been shown to improve the quality of life in patients. Not only have symptoms such as pain, swelling and skin discoloration shown improvement through the use of compression, but there is also documented evidence as to its efficacy in the increase of activity levels, decrease in depression and improvement of sleep.

In addition to wound healing and treatment for those suffering CVI, compression therapy may also be the treatment of choice for those with leg injuries or those who are recuperating from leg surgeries, those with excessive weight gain or obesity, individuals experiencing prolonged periods of non-movement, or those with venous blood clots.

Expected results of compression therapy are only achievable, however, when the garments are put on and worn as directed. Medical compression socks will only work when worn, and non-compliance with the doctor's directions is the main reason for their failure. Elderly, obese or other patients experiencing difficulty in putting on their compression stockings may require the assistance of a helper for proper donning.

Compression Levels

Compression stockings and sleeves are graded according to the amount of pressure they exert. It's important that a patient using this therapy is properly diagnosed by a qualified clinician and prescribed a garment appropriate to their particular situation. Pressure designations are expressed in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), similar to the scale used in a blood pressure reading. There are four generally accepted pressure designations used in compression therapy:

  • Mild - less than 20-mmHg
  • Moderate – 20-40-mmHg
  • Strong – 40-60-mmHg
  • Very Strong - more than 60-mmHg 

Strong compression is commonly prescribed for leg ulcers. Those suffering from severe arterial disease are not candidates for any level of compression therapy.

Sports Applications

Both athletic performance and tissue rehabilitation may be enhanced by the use of compression garments as a result of improved blood flow and muscular, tendon and joint support. Maximizing athletic performance and reducing recovery time are just two benefits of utilizing sports compression garments.

If you’re considering investing in your own compression garments, you can check out our wide range of options here!

Friday, December 1, 2017

How To Avoid a Back Injury

Back injuries are common in virtually every occupation and every walk of life. From students to nurses, construction workers to lawyers, body builders to computer programmers, high school kids to the elderly, back injury doesn’t discriminate, and its effects can be debilitating. Even a somewhat minor back injury can take you out of work, out of your exercise routine or make it extremely difficult to sleep at night. MMAR Medical provides numerous back braces and support in the event of an accident. But what proactive steps can you take to prevent yourself from ever having to suffer through a back injury ordeal? Read on for our back injury prevention strategies to keep your spine healthy and your life on track.

1. Work that core…

Core muscles are crucial to providing support for the lower back and avoiding injury. Try adding a few core exercises to your daily routine. Planks are a great option as they work your abdominals and your obliques, giving you solid support on the front and sides of your body. To do a plank correctly, place your palms or forearms on the ground at shoulder-width distance. Keep your shoulders above your wrists and step back to bring your body into a straight line, from the tip of your head all the way to your heels. Hold for 60 seconds. Never let your hips collapse out of the straight line. This will only strain your lower back and open you up to injury. When you’re done, bring your knees to the ground carefully.

2. …And that heart, too.

Low-impact aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the spine, which promotes healing and hydration to all of your vertebrae. Briskly walking your dog, light jogging, using an elliptical, riding a bike or swimming all count as low impact aerobic exercise. Doing any of these activities 3-4 times per week will benefit and protect your spine as well as your overall health. 

3. Stand up straight.

Bad posture can have lots of negative effects on your body. In the short term, poor posture causes pain and discomfort from unnecessary pressure on the vertebrae. In the long term, sustained use of poor posture can cause muscle and tissue damage. Practicing good posture while walking and sitting up straight at your desk can help prevent these injuries – and it also works your core. To find your natural posture, stand with your back up against a wall and your heels about 2-4 inches away from the wall. Notice how your body creates a straight line, from the crown of your head down through your pelvis. To maintain this stance without a wall, focus on keeping your abdominals pulled in and your shoulders relaxed back. It might feel strange at first, but with practice, good posture will become second nature in no time. 

4. Stretch your hamstrings.

A little known cause of back pain, especially in the lower back, is extremely tight hamstrings. If you’re experiencing back pain and can’t remember the last time you stretched, try some gentle hamstring stretches, like reaching for your toes or propping your leg up on a chair. If you already have a diagnosed back injury, use special caution here – not all stretches are good for all back conditions. Always check with your doctor or physical therapist before starting a new regimen. 

5. Drive carefully.

Unfortunately, a very common cause of back injury is automobile accidents. Driving carefully is smart, courteous and can help you avoid months of pain and discomfort from a back injury. Make sure to always leave yourself enough travel time to avoid reckless driving, and if you’re guilty of serious road rage, try listening to some soothing music while you’re on the road. You’ll save your back and reduce overall stress!

6. Lift with your legs.

Heavy lifting is a classic cause of back injury. But when you’re moving, you’ve got not-so-small children or your job requires it (looking at you, maintenance and construction workers), lifting heavy items is unavoidable. If you’re caught in one of these situations, squat down, grab the item, engage your core, and stand up. By concentrating the pressure in your legs and not your lower back (“lifting with your legs”), you’ll avoid back injury, and carve out some killer buns & thighs too. 

Back injury isn’t completely unavoidable. But following these tips and doing these lower back exercises will help you take preventative action by keeping your back strong and healthy. For more information on back pain, back injuries, back care and answers to questions like “How do I shower with a back brace?” take a look at the back injury page of our website.

We hope you never endure a back injury; but if you do, MMAR Medical is here to help you along the road to recovery.  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How To Safely Start a New Workout Regimen

Whether you’ve never set foot in a gym but want to become more active or you’re just getting back into working out, you are on the right path to a healthier and happier lifestyle. There are numerous benefits to regular exercise, most notably weight loss, a healthier heart, more energy and improved mood. However, if you’re starting from scratch, a small mistake at the gym can turn into a much larger injury. Below are a few workout tips for beginners to help you create healthy and safe gym habits for a new workout regimen.

Know Where You Stand
While it may not be fun to step onto the scale or take other measurements, it is crucially important to ensure you don’t injure yourself at the gym. Starting a new fitness regimen is going to involve pushing yourself and challenging what you think you’re able to physically do. And while it’s admirable to want to take your routine to the max, everyone has a limit, and taking these measurements will help you determine what yours is so you don’t literally push yourself to the breaking point. For example, before you begin a new workout regimen, you should know what your maximum heart rate should be so you don’t push yourself too far. A good way to estimate this number is to subtract your age from 220.

Warming Up and Cooling Down
Regardless of how new you are to a workout routine, be sure to let your body warm up before a
workout routine, be sure to let your body warm up before a workout and cool down afterwards. These warm ups and cool downs don’t have to take a long time, just five to 10 minutes of moderate movement and stretching should do the trick. These extra few minutes are a small price to pay and well worth it. If you plan to do any sort of intense exercise to shed pounds, not letting your body adjust to the intensity of your workout could result in muscle (and other) injury that could prevent you from working out at all for quite a while. Additionally, if you don’t do some light exercise to let your body slowly come back down to its normal level of activity after a workout, you risk fainting from the abrupt change of pace.  

Practice Patience
As a culture, we have come to expect instant results no matter what is we’re doing. However, when it comes to starting a new workout regimen, you have to be patient and set realistic goals if you want to see healthy and sustained success. You shouldn’t be discouraged if you don’t see noticeable changes within the first few weeks of your routine – to do so would not be natural. If you push yourself too hard because you want faster results, you risk seriously injuring yourself and rendering yourself unable to work out at all. So, keep at it and be patient. You’ll be rewarded down the line with healthy and sustainable exercise habits.

Play by the Rules
While it seems obvious, it is paramount that you follow the rules and instructions of your gym’s equipment if you choose to lift weights or use one of their aerobic exercise machines. Be sure you are following all necessary safety precautions, whether by having a spotter for a bench press or knowing how to use the emergency stop function on a treadmill. It is easy to ignore these precautions; however, the injuries you could get from not properly using these machines might put you out of the gym for a few days, weeks or even longer.

Congratulations! By reading this blog, you’re already taking the first steps to starting a new healthy lifestyle. These tips may add a few minutes and a little extra work to your overall routine, but the benefits of healthy and sustainable exercise habits far outweigh the costs. And as always, MMAR Medical Group is here to help along the way as you work toward your health and fitness goals, and we have a wide range of orthopedic products and accessories if you do have an injury to mend.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

All About Foot Fractures

Foot fractures can happen for a variety of reasons. In athletes, these bone fractures typically occur from a sudden trauma or as the result of untreated bone stress reactions. Whatever the cause, bone fractures in the feet are serious injuries that usually require a lot of down time for healing. Here, we’ll cover the different types of bone fractures and how to prevent them.


Although many people think of bone as an inanimate thing, bones are actually made up of living tissue that is constantly undergoing changes. Bone can grow stronger when stress is placed upon it, but only if done in the right way. Whenever we stress our bones through repeated physical activity, exercise or sports, the bones initially become weaker. However, this initial weakening triggers the bone to grow a thicker outer layer. The additional growth that occurs makes the bone stronger over time.

Foot fractures can occur when an individual continues to place more and more stress on the bone without giving it enough time in between to rest. As a result of the repeated stress placed on it, the bone can eventually succumb and break.


Now you know what exactly a foot fracture is – but with 26 bones in each foot, not every fracture is the same. There are a few main types of foot fractures:

Full Foot Fractures

A full foot fracture is a break in one or more bones of the foot and is the result of a traumatic injury to the area. A motor vehicle crash or dropping a heavy object on the foot are common causes of these severe fractures.

Stress Fractures 

Stress fractures also involve one or more broken bones but are the result of repeated overuse and stress to the bone(s) rather than one specific incident. This type of fracture is common among athletes who often mistake the pain for a less serious injury and don’t take appropriate precautions. Stress fracture symptoms include swelling and pain that increase over time if not treated. While foot stress fractures may sound less severe than breaks resulting from trauma, they still involve a broken bone and may require surgical treatment.

Simple Fractures

Calling a foot fracture simple doesn't necessarily mean that it's not a severe break. A simple fracture simply refers to one that occurs without breaking the skin overlying or tissue surrounding the bone. In this type of full fracture, only the bone is damaged. Simple fractures most often result from repetitive use rather than traumatic injuries.

Compound Fractures

Compound fractures are the other type of full fracture that involves a broken bone in addition to damage to the surrounding tissues or overlying skin. These are usually more serious simply because the break is often worse given that it has caused additional injury other than just the bone. Since the skin itself is also no longer intact, infections can also be another potential complication with this type of fracture.


While the traumatic injuries that cause full foot fractures can't always be prevented, it’s important to practice caution when possible and stay aware of your surroundings. Alternatively, stress fractures usually come with warning signs that allow an individual to correct the underlying problem before the bone actually suffers a fracture. In athletes, for example, repeated overuse of the bone without giving it enough rest can result in pain that gradually worsens. If this pain is ignored, the bone can continue to weaken; if the pain is ignored long enough, an actual stress fracture may occur and require months of rest in order to heal. 

To avoid stress fractures, we advise you to pay attention to the signs your body is giving you. If pain persists during workouts or continues to get worse over time, take a step back and allow the area to heal before continuing with placing additional stress on the bone. A few days’ rest is usually far better than spending months with your feet up. If you do find yourself with a fractured foot, there are a wide range of foot and ankle braces available to facilitate the healing process.

During the healing period of foot fractures, it’s important to keep pressure off the affected area, meaning you’ll be seriously restricted in your mobility. Be aware of this common injury so you don’t have to put your life on hold! Listen to your body and take proper precautions to avoid getting hurt. If you’ve experienced a foot fracture and have any tips to share, feel free to comment below!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Clavicle Injuries and Symptoms

The clavicle, whose name is derived from the Latin term Clavicula, is a small, but important
bone in our body. Clavicle injuries are especially prominent during the summer months, when
people tend to be more active. Over activity and hyperextension are often the cause of
clavicle fractures and other health related issues. Despite how pervasive clavicle-related
injuries are, many medical professionals continue to struggle with understanding where these
injuries stem from and how the bone itself functions due to a general lack of medical-related
data. Although fractures tend to heal regardless of treatment, complications may very well
arise from clavicle-related injuries.

There have been several attempts to devise a classification scheme for these types of
fractures, and after lots of careful consideration and deliberation, clavicle fractures have come
to be classified by their location. There are three main types of clavicle fractures:

  • Group/Type I Fractures: Middle third injuries
  • Group/Type II Fractures: Distal third injuries
  • Group/Type III Fractures: Medial (proximal) third injuries

While several people experience one of the three types of injuries, Type I fractures are by far
the most prominent. It is not difficult to spot symptoms of clavicle fractures, as they can cause immediate pain and readily impact upper extremity movement and overall mobility. Some common signs of a fracture include:

  • Swelling, ecchymosis and tenderness around or over the clavicle
  • The shoulder may appear shortened relative to the opposite side and may droop
  • The patient may cradle the injured extremity with the uninjured arm
  • Difficulty breathing or diminished breathing sounds may indicate a pulmonary injury
  • Palpation of the scapula and ribs may reveal a concomitant injury
  • Abrasion over the clavicle may be noted, suggesting that the fracture was from a direct mechanism

If any of the aforementioned signs can be observed in a patient, it is vitally important that you
seek medical attention immediately. Diagnosis can be done through a variety of laboratory
studies and typically takes very little time to do. A Complete blood count (CBC) may be
mandatory is a vascular injury is suspected. This procedure checks the patient’s hemoglobin
and hematocrit values. An Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) may also be necessary if a pulmonary
injury is suspected or identified. There are also a wide variety of imaging studies that may
assist in the diagnosis process. These studies include chest radiography, which obtains an
expiration poster-anterior (PA) chest film (along with the aforementioned ABG test) if a
pulmonary injury is suspected or identified. A CT (Computed tomography) scan,
ultrasonography or radiography of the clavicle and/or shoulder may be needed to better
understand the fracture, where it came from and possible solutions to the injury, as well.

The majority of clavicle fractures are able to heal correctly with nonoperative management,
which includes the use of a simple shoulder sling or brace. However, this doesn’t mean that
surgery is never required. If the patient experiences a complete fracture displacement, tenting
skin. Fractures with 2 cm of shortening, comminuted fractures, neurovascular compromises,
or open fractures, for example, may indicate that surgery is necessary in aiding the healing
process. When surgical fixation is required for a mid-shaft clavicle fracture (type I & III), the
most commonly performed procedure involves open reduction of the fracture, which is then
followed either by insertion of an intramedullary device or fixation with a plate and screws. In
a distal clavicle (Type II), stable fixation may be achieved in several different ways, including
combinations of coracoclavicular screws, Dacron or Mersilene tapes, tension banding, a
Kirschner wire (or, K-wire), and clavicular plates. Regardless of the technique used to fix the
fracture, the same basic principles of fracture reduction and stabilization apply.

The key to avoiding clavicle-related injuries and fractures is remaining diligent in injury
prevention, regardless of how strenuous your exercise routine may be. If you are in need of a
clavicle splint or support item, please visit our Ossur Clavicle & Rib store. If you have any tips
on how to aid the healing process of clavicle fractures, please share your thoughts in the
comment section below!

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Summer Skin

Ahh, summer. This sunny season usually bears fond memories of long days at the beach, amazing backyard barbeques, and perfectly warm weather. With all the great things summer entails it’s no wonder why it’s a personal favorite among many. However, not everyone is so quick to jump on the summer bandwagon. For many of us, summer means intense sun exposure, dehydration, and painful burns. It may come as no surprise that summertime is the most dangerous time for your skin. With high UV levels and the tendency to expose more skin, the summer is when most people develop skin cancer, severe burns, and even cataracts! Bummer, right? While it may seem like these problems are unavoidable during the hot season, fear not, there are several methods to avoid skin damage and repair areas that have been overexposed. Your skin is your biggest organ and one of the most important, so remaining adamant on proper skin care during long sunny days is crucial for your short and long term health. Follow our tips below and be on your way to enjoying a pain-free summer in minutes! 

Wear Sunscreen! This has probably been drilled into your head since you were a little kid, and rightfully so, as wearing sunscreen is the best way to prevent burns and other sun-related skin damages. It’s important to remember that while we may love being out in the sun and how we look with a golden-brown tan, there are serious health consequences that result from overexposure to the sun. Sunscreen is noted to be the single best way to combat Melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer and the leading cause of death from skin diseases. Melanoma spreads extremely fast and although it is less common than other types of skin cancers, the rate of it is steadily increasing every year.

Sunscreen protects your skin from ultraviolet rays (UV rays), as well as similar sunrays like UVA, UVB, and UVC. Try to apply just the right amount of sunscreen before heading out in the sun. As a general rule of thumb, use an ounce (about a handful) to cover your entire body. Pick a sunscreen with an SPF that best suits your skin type: if you have naturally darker skin, opt for SPF 5-15. If you have sensitive or fair skin, go for SPF 30. There are a wide variety of sunscreen types to choose from today. With dry-sprays, to unscented lotions and even water-resistance formulas, finding the perfect sunscreen has never been easier. Applying sunscreen may be an annoying process, but trust us—your skin will thank you later!

Drink lots and lots of Water. Dehydration is extremely common in the summertime and can affect everyone, regardless of age, psychical activity, or skin sensitivity. Dehydration is often brought on by feelings of dizziness or fatigue and often prompts diarrhea, vomiting, severe headaches, and fevers. This means that making sure you get enough water throughout the day is vital to your overall wellbeing. It is key to drink plenty of water before, during, and after long periods of exercise, especially if you are outdoors in the direct sunlight. Try to take a swig of water or a sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes during periods of activity. Drinking a sports drink, like Gatorade which is chuck-full of electrolytes, is recommended if you plan on exercising for more than an hour. Refrain from using salt tabs during exercise routines. While many athletes use these tabs as a way to replenish the salt they lose through your sweat, they can easily dry-out your body and cause dehydration. Sports drinks offer an effective solution for replacing the minerals and salt you lose during intensive workouts. Another way to prevent dehydration is by avoid high-protein diets. Foods that are high in protein tend to make you thirstier and soak up a large portion of your body’s water. If you do choose to adhere to a protein rich diet, make sure you are consuming at least 8 to 12 glasses of water every day. Most importantly, always stop working or exercising outdoors if you begin to feel dizzy, lightheaded, or fatigued.

It is also a good idea to drink plenty of water if you get a sunburn. Burns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body, so dehydration tends to be very common among sunburned individuals.

Treating Skin Damage. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there—you’re spending a relaxing day at the beach and somehow sunscreen didn’t make its way into your beach bag. Now you’re stuck with a lobster-red back that is sore to the touch. Before you panic and start figuring out ways to cover you crimson tan, consider the tips listed below to help you on your path to recovery!

Cool showers. When you get a sunburn, heat gets trapped inside your skin. By taking cool showers, you can temporarily lower the temperature of your skin. Not only will the water provide relief from your burn’s stinging sensation, but it may also help the burn heal faster! First set your shower to a normal temperature—one that is not too hot, but not too cold. Gradually adjust the temperature lower and lower until you feel comfort and relief. If your sunburn starts to itch, do not continue to take cold showers. In this event, switch back to warm showers. The warm water will help greatly reduce itching.

A&D cream. While this multi-purpose ointment is typically used for babies with diaper rash, A&D cream is also a miracle worker for sunburns. This cream is formulated with vitamins A and D and helps soothe the skin from cuts, scrapes, and burns. Not only does this cream prevent your sunburn from itching, but it also provides your skin with the nutrients it needs to recover from the burn quickly. Evenly coat the burned area with the cream and wait until it dries. After it dries completely, re-apply the cream as often as you’d like!

Peppermint Oil. Sunburns HURT. Luckily for you, Peppermint oil provides instant relief for even the most painful burns. Peppermint oil is an essential oil that can be found at a variety of retailers who regularly sell oil kits, vitamins, or other health-related supplies. To use, simply apply 2 or 3 drops onto the affected area and gently rub it into the skin. Upon completion, you will immediately feel a cool sensation run over your burn, reducing the stinging sensation and allowing you to carry on with your everyday tasks with ease!

Take Advil or Ibuprofen. When you first start to feel your sunburn sting, try taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, like ibuprofen or Advil. Taking these drugs will help diminish feelings of discomfort and can greatly reduce skin inflammation. The effects may be subtle, but anti-inflammatory drugs like the ones listed above are guaranteed to offer some form of relief from mild to severe burns.

Aloe Vera. If you’ve ever gotten a sunburn the chances are you are well acquainted with Aloe Vera. A popular choice among many sunburned beach bums, Aloe Vera is a cactus plant that grows in dry climates such as those found in Africa and India. These plants have been used medicinally for centuries and are widely recognized for their clear gel that heal wounds and soothe skin. Aloe Vera helps with sunburns through its powerful healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin, which is the layer of cells that cover the body. The aloe acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish the moisture it loses when burned. Because of its nutritional and antioxidant properties, this plant extract helps the skin heal quickly and efficiently.

Skin protection is vitally important all year-round, but especially in the summer. Make sure to keep all of these tips in mind as you head out on various outdoor activities and expose your skin to the sun’s powerful rays! Have another sure-fire method of preventing skin damage in the summertime? Share your ideas in the comment section below!

Monday, June 5, 2017

5 Ways to Treat Plantar Fasciitis Pain

Have you ever woken up to an intolerable foot pain? Perhaps a stabbing-like pain in your heel
that starts in the morning and then increases throughout your day? If you have experienced
some of these symptoms, then you might be dealing with a cold case of plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis, similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, is a type of inflammation injury. It is caused
by the the over-stretching or degeneration of the arch of the foot due to excessive strain. In
other words, it is a type of repetitive strain injury causing foot arch and heel pain.

Common causes of this chronic inflammation can be due to excessive jumping, standing for long periods of time, wearing high heels, high impact activities or sports. It can be found mostly in middle-aged people, runners, overweight people, or individuals who have flat feet or spend large amounts of time standing on their feet.

Here are 5 easy ways to ease the pain caused by plantar fasciitis:

Foot stretches. A very popular exercise that is often recommended for people suffering from plantar fasciitis is foot rolls. Foot rolls are an excellent and practical way to stretch the arches of your foot. Most people tend to use anything from a frozen water bottle and a tennis ball to a foot/hand massage roller. Rolling your foot over a frozen water bottle can give you both the benefits of icing and stretching in a single exercise. Here is an excellent guide to foot rolls and other easy exercises to alleviate foot pain.

Orthotic Insoles. Using orthotic insoles or inserts in your shoes can help greatly in removing stress from your plantar fascia while adding comfort to your feet. There are a wide variety of brand insoles that might help, click here for a helpful list. Also, when you are experiencing pain from plantar fasciitis, you want to have shoes that provide the most cushion and comfort to your feet. Unless you are spending the day at the beach, it is very important to avoid using flip flops. Many doctors highly discourage the use of flip flops, even amongst people that don’t have plantar fasciitis. The reason for this being that their super thin and flat structure can cause your feet to overgrip, putting a large amount of stress on your foot arch and plantar fascia.

Medical Splints. A lot of doctors highly recommend medical splints to be used in the evenings. Medical splints can stretch the arch and calf, managing to lighten pain and loosen the muscles of the foot. Here is a great list of medical splints and braces that are specifically designed to deal with plantar fasciitis pain.

DonJoy Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint by MMAR Medical

Ice Packs. Ice, which is known to reduce inflammation and provide relief, is a very inexpensive way to treat plantar fasciitis pain. According to professionals , ice can cause blood vessels to temporarily constrict and slow down the flow of blood, reducing nerve sensations of pain. Using ice cubes wrapped in a cloth or engaging in frozen water bottle exercises, such as the one mentioned above, are good ways to use icing for plantar fasciitis pain. Here are more examples of how you can use icing.

Acupuncture. A very well known type of alternative medicine, acupuncture, has been a popular approach to alleviate pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Acupuncture, the insertion of needles into specific nerve points of the skin, can help reduce inflammation, relax tissues and improve blood flow. Here is more detailed information pertaining acupuncture treatment for plantar fasciitis pain.

While there are many different at-home ways to treat pain associated with plantar fasciitis, it is highly recommended to first speak with your doctor about your particular medical case and treatments. We hope this guide was helpful, please list your questions or comments in the section below!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How to Keep Healthy Hamstrings

At one point or another in our lives, we have all experienced the excruciating pain that
comes with a leg cramp. Why does it hurt so much? Oftentimes, this pain is due to an
involuntary muscle contraction of the hamstring muscles from the back of the thigh.

If after experiencing pain in your hamstrings, your first instinct is to stretch them, you might want to stop. The nervous system controls tension in the hamstrings and stretching them to alleviate pain or make them “longer” can be dangerous. Hamstring muscles are connected to the rest of your body and play an important role for knee and hip motion. Stretching them might put you at risk of injuring your spine or lower back, tearing your tendon, or rupturing discs.

If you are trying to alleviate pain in your hamstring muscles or simply trying to keep them healthier, try one of these methods instead:

Walk it Out

Walking, even if done in a leisurely manner, is the fastest way to stretch your legs
without doing any heavy exercise. Research suggests that walking can improve blood
circulation and strengthen your muscles. This can even be done while taking a lunch
break or by frequently taking 5-10 minute breaks during the middle of the workday. Try
to find as many reasons as you can to get up from your working area, so you can be as
active as possible.

Drink Water

Drinking water during the day can help you stay hydrated and aid in the delivery of rich
nutrients from your body to your muscles. Doctors recommend to drink anywhere from
8-16 cups of water per day, depending on your body type and needs. However, keep in
mind that drinking too much water can also dilute the level of sodium in your blood
stream and cause severe muscle spasms.

Do Light Stretches

Doing a couple of easy and simple stretches can help loosen up your hamstring
muscles. For example, many experts recommend starting the day by stretching in the
morning. A good exercise provided by Health Magazine involves “a slight bend in the
knees, core flexed and weight in the heels, reach your rear backwards while lowering
your chest toward the ground.” Other good exercises that are light and easy for your hamstring muscles are hamstring door way stretches and chair hamstring stretches

Heating Pads

Using a heating pad under your legs can help loosen your hamstrings, particularly when
they are feeling too tense or tight. While heat can be a great way to loosen a sore or
cramped muscle, it is often advised to avoid using it for more serious muscle injuries.
Using heat for serious injuries may cause swelling and increase pain.

Get More Sleep

Getting your full 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night can be very important when trying to heal
any type of muscle pain. During sleep, the body undergoes a restorative and biological
maintenance done by the brain. Therefore, sleeping the recommended hours by your
doctor can give your brain the opportunity to do this correctly and heal your body.

In all, leading a healthy and active lifestyle is the biggest key to having healthy
hamstring muscles. This might be especially true for individuals that spend too much
time sitting down in an office environment or in their daily lives. Listening to the tips
mentioned above and taking frequent walking breaks or stretching while you sit may
help more than you think. We would love to hear your thoughts, so please let us know in
the comments section below! 

Monday, April 3, 2017

5 Simple Strategies to Get Rid of Cramps on Game Day

After pouring countless hours into your game day preparation, it can be incredibly frustrating (and a little embarrassing) to limp off the field with a case of the cramps. Usually, cramps are a signal that your body is not ready for the increased stress and exertion of an actual head-to-head competition. If your coach is particularly hot-headed, they may “encourage” you to rest by sitting on the bench for the duration of the game!

Thankfully, there are a few easy alterations that can be made to an athlete’s routine that can significantly decrease the likelihood of cramping. In addition to eliminating cramps, these small changes should improve your overall well-being and boost your performance on the field too!

To help you transition seamlessly from a practice scrimmage to a heated rivalry game, we’ve compiled a list of tips that will keep you from missing any in-game action. Read on to discover a few simple ways to preempt debilitating cramps and recover from muscle spasms.

Understand the Importance of Food
You are what you eat. That phrase is a common cliché, but food is truly one of the most vital factors in sustaining performance. If you’re constantly cramping on game day, the cure might be a simple switch up of your pre-game diet. While fatty and sugary foods are delicious, you need to be giving your body the right nutrients that can be metabolized into fuel.

What kind of food should you choose? Ideally, your pre-workout meal should consist of an assortment of items that are high in sodium, potassium, calcium and carbs. Whenever your body sweats, salt is secreted from your glands and it needs to be replenished. In order to ensure a healthy supply of sodium on game day, try sipping on a sports drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) or eating some lightly salted nuts.

For potassium, try eating foods like bananas, yogurt, broccoli and legumes. Most diets don’t naturally provide sufficient levels of potassium, so it’s important to go out of your way to achieve the required intake. Potassium works alongside sodium to reduce muscle spasms and to ensure that your muscles are receiving the correct signals from your brain.

When eating, you should also keep the two “C”s in mind (calcium and carbs). While most weight-watching diets suggest that you limit your carb intake, it’s important that you carbo load before physical exertion. By eating grain based foods like bread, oatmeal or pancakes, you can create a healthy store of energy that your body can use as fuel. Calcium, like potassium, is an electrolyte that your muscles need to perform at their peak. To ensure adequate levels of calcium, try to eat a small serving of a dairy product like yogurt, milk or cheese. If you’re lactose intolerant, you can also get calcium from eating fish, greens and seeds.

Take Vitamin Supplements
If altering your diet isn’t enough, try adding a few vitamin supplements to your daily routine to get rid of cramps. The first supplement you should consider taking is vitamin E. This vitamin fights free radicals that are a cause of cramping—specifically cramps in legs. By taking 400 units of vitamin E each day, you can effectively reduce cramping. Magnesium is the next supplement that you should be taking. It can be found naturally in nuts, figs and seeds, but you can also ingest this electrolyte in pill form.

Drink Water but Not TOO Much
The average adult requires six to eight cups of water daily, but your body will need even more if you’re playing a sport. Cramps are directly caused by dehydration, so it’s vital that you increase fluid intake before you exert yourself. If you’re just starting to drink as you hit the field, it’s already too late. To ensure that you’re adequately hydrated, begin drinking about an hour before your game and make sure that it’s 16 to 24 ounces. However, there is such a thing as overhydration. If you drink too much water, it dilutes the level of sodium in your blood stream and could cause severe muscle spasms.

Warm Up and Cool Off
Whenever you’ve been playing sports competitively for a long time, it can be easy to disregard the importance of warming up and cooling off. You’ve probably been told that it’s essential, but stretching before or after a game isn’t very glamorous. If you neglect pre-game stretches, your body will likely cramp from the shock of sudden physical exertion. It’s important to ease yourself slowly into the heightened speed of a game. Simple stretches will ensure that your range of motion will comfortably allow you to flexibly extend muscles during a workout.

Massage and Heat Therapy 
What if all of your preventative measure aren’t enough? This is where massage therapy, cold compression and heat therapy factor into the equation. The easiest way to heal spastic muscles is to gently massage the ailing areas with a foam roller. By targeting the cramps with a roller, you can relax your muscles and get back on the field. Another effective cramp alleviator is a simple heating pad. High temperatures are great for making pain disappear and should be effective within mere minutes. On the opposite end of the thermometer, ice is also a great way to relax ailing muscle groups.

With each of these five tips in mind, you can effectively prepare for your next physical activity and ensure that your muscles will perform at peak condition. By eating right, taking supplements, staying hydrated, stretching and enjoying a post-game massage, you’ll stop feebly limping off the field from muscle exhaustion.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Conventional & Alternative Medicine Can Work Together

The primary focus of medical care is to provide the most appropriate care to patients given their presenting conditions and the availability of resources at the physicians’ disposal. Modern medical practices have evolved through the years due to an increasing body of knowledge made possible through research, worldwide collaboration and information-sharing processes. Regardless of their field of specializations, many doctors are open to studying and applying treatment protocols that may be outside the standard practices of western medicine. Some of these practices may complement existing protocols while others may offer alternative treatment pathways.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies

Medical professionals aim to deliver the highest quality of care to achieve the best outcomes for their patients. To this end, health pros take their oath seriously, striving for positive doctor-patient encounters for both well and ill visits. While mainstream medical practices typically define the treatment plans for all patients, there has been a steady movement toward integrating complementary and alternative medicine therapies, or CAM, with conventional practices.

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 40 percent of adult patients already integrate CAM therapies as part of their lifestyle choices, and doctors are certainly paying attention to the impact of CAM practices on their patients’ health and quality of life. The integrated approach may be associated with other terms such as whole medical systems, mind-body medicine, biologically based practices, manipulative and body-based practices and energy medicine. These classifications are the from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, but it must be emphasized that comparisons may not always be clear-cut as the therapies may have overlapping elements, and practices may fall under more than one category.

Overview of CAM Therapies

Mainstream medicine is evidence-based and highly regulated under the auspices of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies associated with the National Institutes of Health. CAM therapies may be regulated under a different set of guidelines and monitoring agencies.

Whole Medical Systems

This category refers to a system or a collection of medical remedies and treatments focused on a specific philosophy or a belief system such as the presence of internal energy in the body or the relationship of the human body to nature.

  • Traditional or Ancient Healing Practices
    • The healing arts have been practiced in one form or another in ancient cultures. Many of these procedures are based on knowledge of anatomy and physiology coupled with insights on medicinal properties of herbs and other available materials.
  • Naturopathy
    • The practice of Naturopathy involves using noninvasive treatments to encourage the body to heal itself from trauma and symptoms of various diseases. Techniques include acupuncture, massage, exercise, ingestion of herbal remedies and lifestyle counseling.
  • Homeopathy
    • This is a system that attempts to trigger the body’s self-healing response by dosing with small amounts of natural substances known to have beneficial properties.

Mind-Body Medicine

For optimum health, it makes sense to make sure that the mind and the body are in harmony. Mind-body techniques tap the connection between these two systems to encourage relaxation and positivity that can help conventional medical therapies to be effective. These techniques include:

  • Meditation
  • Art therapies
  • Other relaxation therapies

Body Manipulation Techniques

As the name suggests, human touch is used to apply pressure and manipulate a specific body part or the entire body. Targeted areas may be directly affected by a disorder, or that area may be connected to a body system affected by ill health. These techniques include:

  • Massage
  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Osteopathic manipulation

Practices Based on Natural Supplementation

Western medicine has borrowed and adopted many medical remedies from traditional eastern practices. These are remedies based on natural ingredients formulated into teas, syrups, tablets or similar formats. Herbs such as ginseng, Echinacea and gingko are among the ingredients that are now part of mainstream dietary supplements.

Integrating Complementary Medicine Techniques with Conventional Practices

Conventional medicine is based on practices that have been found safe and effective through research and stringent trials and testing. These tests are typically backed by pharmaceutical companies, university or hospital-based research efforts and other corporate support. Remedies considered as complementary or alternative may lack solid research backing primarily because large and extended trials are expensive. However, many complementary practices have become part of mainstream medicine due to their popularity and the absence of any reports of harmful effects.

Some complementary practices are easily integrated into a treatment plan based on conventional medicine practices. Techniques such as meditation, massage and relaxation therapies can be integrated into your plan of care or as part of lifestyle changes for optimum health. In general, it is best to let your health care provider know about any health and lifestyle choices you have made or plan to make to limit the potential for unintended reactions. Be wary of jumping on trending alternative practices without researching first or consulting a health care professional because treatment plans are customized to individual needs and conditions.

Use of CAM techniques in conjunction with conventional medicine is widely accepted according to a study spearheaded by the National Institutes of Health. More than half of adults surveyed reported that they had included one or more CAM techniques in their treatment plans, and their physicians approved of the integrated strategy. Medical professionals support the use of some CAM practices along with evidence-based mainstream medicine because it empowers patients to take charge of their health care options.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What Is Shoulder Subluxation and How Is It Treated?

What is shoulder subluxation?

Shoulder subluxation, more informally referred to as shoulder instability, occurs when the upper arm partially dislocates from the shoulder socket. Many people confuse shoulder subluxation with a shoulder dislocation, but there are a few key differences. Think of your shoulder joint like a golf ball sitting on a tee. The golf ball is the humerus and the tee is the socket, or glenoid. When the shoulder dislocates, the humerus or “ball” becomes dislocated from the shoulder socket and requires a professional to reset it. A subluxation, however, is when the humerus is partially dislocated but naturally pops back into place. It can occur during sports that involve throwing like football and baseball, and it’s usually accompanied by a weak, numb feeling as well as a sharp pain in and around the shoulder.

Causes of Shoulder Subluxation

The most common cause of shoulder instability is a traumatic injury to the shoulder. This is one of the reasons why this injury is most common among boxers and football players. For non-athletes, it is usually a hard fall or accident. However, there are also people who have naturally looser ligaments in their shoulders and are more susceptible to injury. No matter the cause, many people suffer from shoulder instability and do not appropriately take care of it.


Similar to a twisted ankle, once a person suffers a dislocated shoulder the chances of it happening again are very likely. The recurrence rate in patients under 20 is 95% and 40-50% in patients 40 and over. The reason for this is that when the injury occurs, the tendons and ligaments in the shoulder socket are torn and then heal back in a stretched position. This gives the shoulder a wider range of motion as well as less stability. If not treated properly, the shoulder can continue to sublux and lead to multi-directional instability (MDI), which can be especially harmful. This is why treatment and rehab are absolutely key in preventing further injuries.

Treatment Options

The first action one should take is to ice and rest the shoulder to help with the swelling and pain, as well as taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory. Immobilization of the shoulder is important in helping the muscles and tendons heal. A shoulder brace of some kind, like our DonJoy Ultra Sling, will be beneficial in this regard. The brace should typically be worn for about 3-6 weeks to allow the ligaments and tendons to heal properly and to prevent re-aggravating the injury. If the shoulder does not heal and chronic pain persists, surgery may become necessary, but this is not common.


Because of the nature of the injury, it is difficult to say when one should begin rehabilitation for shoulder subluxation. On average we recommend at least 6-8 weeks after the injury before beginning rehab, but prefer up to three months to be on the safer side. After you have allowed the shoulder to rest and the pain has subsided, you will need to start strengthening the muscles in and around the shoulder socket. Begin lightly and slowly increase the weight and intensity until the shoulder begins to feel strong and secure. It may take several months until the shoulder is fully healed, so remember to take care and abstain from activates that could re-aggravate the injury such as contact sports or movements that exert extreme torque on the shoulder like tennis or golf. Proper treatment and rehabilitation will greatly reduce your chances of recurring injuries and complications. However, the shoulder will most likely never be as strong as before so remember to treat it accordingly when performing physical activities going forward.

If you are currently suffering from shoulder subluxation, we offer a fact sheet about this injury as well as a wide line of shoulder braces that can be helpful with your recovery. Leave a comment below with further questions or your own experiences dealing with shoulder subluxation!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Identifying & Treating Seasonal Depression

What Is Seasonal Depression and How Is It Treated?

Taking care of your physical body during the winter months is important, especially if you tend to become more sedentary or indulge in too many holiday treats. However, your winter behaviors aren’t the only concern. Seasonal changes can directly impact your mental and emotional health, and this, in turn, can impact your physical health in many ways.

The Winter Blues

If you find yourself feeling a little down in the dumps as the temperatures begin to drop, you’re not alone. It’s common to experience moodiness, apathy or diminished energy levels during fall and winter. Some people even develop a serious form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Making your mental health a primary concern and addressing seasonal mood changes can help you live a fuller and healthier life year-round.

What Is Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is associated with a change of seasons. It usually begins and ends at approximately the same time each year. Most people with SAD start to experience symptoms in the fall that continue through winter. Experts believe that between four and six percent of people have SAD. Another 10 to 20 percent may have a milder form of the disorder. It’s more common in women, and usually begins after the age of 20. As you age, your risk of developing SAD drops.

Symptoms of Seasonal Depression or SAD

Seasonal depression is different for each person, but it’s common to experience one or more of the following symptoms:

Feeling sad, agitated or depressed for most of the day
Low energy levels or fatigue
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
Being unable to enjoy your favorite activities
Insomnia or early waking
Sleeping too much
Weight gain or loss
Appetite changes
Difficulty concentrating or remembering
Preoccupation with death or suicidal thoughts
Frequent arguments or relationship problems
Overindulging in food or alcohol
Substance abuse

What Causes Seasonal Depression?

SAD that occurs in winter is related to the reduced level of natural sunlight that accompanies the season. The reduction in sunlight can affect your body in several ways. It can disrupt melatonin production and your internal biological clock, leading to changes in your circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle. A lack of sun is also believed to trigger depression by reducing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is closely linked to mood and general well-being. Chemical changes in your brain can be responsible for many depression symptoms such as insomnia or food cravings, and the resulting symptoms can themselves perpetuate the cycle and deepen depression.

Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Treating seasonal depression often involves an integrated approach. Lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting as much sunlight exposure as possible can sometimes resolve mild cases. If you can’t access enough natural sun to reduce your symptoms, consider light therapy; it simulates sunlight exposure using a special lamp or light box. Managing stress levels is also important; cognitive behavioral therapy or counseling may be effective in helping you cope. If conservative measures fail or your depression is severe, antidepressant medications can help correct the chemical changes caused by insufficient sunlight.

When to Seek Help

Mild seasonal depression is temporary and often tolerable, but if symptoms start to interfere with your daily life or well-being, ask your doctor about treatment options. Seek help immediately if your symptoms include suicidal thoughts, substance abuse or an inability to sleep or eat normally. With a little help from your doctor, you can stay afloat and even thrive until warmer days arrive.