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Why do people touch their faces so often?  It has been reported that some people touch their face nearly two dozen times per minute on average.  There might be a science/psychology behind the act of touching our face. In this crazy time of Coronavirus and flu season, it is a habit that needs to be changed as quickly as possible.

The incidence of touching our face increases and correlates with the amount of stress that we experience at any given time.  The act has been shown in research to reduce that stress level.  The stressful situation often times deals with how and what cognitive information that an individual is processing.  The thought processing is referred to cognitive load and the amount of mental activity at a given time equals the total cognitive load.   When cognitive load is high, the stress level is elevated. Researchers have shown that touching the face actually reduces the cognitive load by changing the electrical potentials in the brain.

The increased act of touching the face more often has been linked to nearly any situation that elevates the stress level of the individual.  Males tend to touch their face, neck and arms where women more commonly touch their neck, clothing, jewelry (especially necklaces), arms and stroke their hair when they are involved in a stressful situation.

Obviously the big negative of touching your face is the transmission of germs from your hands to your face.  If you touch the area around your mouth, you have opened the door for the germs to enter your body via a warm, moist environment.  Everyone has to work on breaking the habit of touching their face so often throughout the course of the day.

Ways to prevent yourself from touching your face:

  • Keep your hands busy:  Occupy your hands with almost any object and you are less likely to reach up and touch your face.  Use a stress ball, rubber bands or simply clasp your hands together when you are not actively using them to perform a task.
  • Keep Kleenex handy:  When you absolutely have to touch your face to scratch an itch, adjust your glasses or rub your nose, be sure to use a Kleenex and not your bare hand.  Once you are done, throw the Kleenex away.
  • Address the root of the habit:  There are “triggers” to most problems and touching the face is not an exception.  Everyone has some sort of compulsive behavior that they deal with every day. If they can figure out what “triggers” that behavior, they can begin to work on stopping it.
  • Avoid stress:  Stressful situations lead to an increase in the number of times a person touches their face. The stress eventually will reduce your immune system’s ability to fight disease and touching your face repetitively can increase your chances of getting sick.
  • Keep your hands clean:  Finally, make sure to keep your hands clean.  Wash your hands frequently and with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.  If your hands are clean and free of most germs, when you touch your face you will be less likely to transmit germs into your body.

Touching your face is something that nearly every individual does throughout the course of the day.  Unfortunately, it is a habit that can spread germs through transmission from your fingers to your face.  The goal should be to stop touching our face with our bare hand. When you have to do it, make sure that your hands have been washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.


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by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute

In the 1960s, researchers discovered that focused sound waves could break down kidney and gallstones. Over time, scientists began studying the effects of generated shock wave therapy in other chronic conditions. Today, this same non-invasive technology is being used to treat some of the most difficult musculoskeletal conditions to heal.  Chronic tendinopathy conditions such as plantar fasciitis, patella tendonitis and lateral epicondylitis (Tennis elbow) have responded well to the “new” shock wave treatment.

shock wave therapy

The most common type of shock wave treatment is Extracoporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT).  This is a non-invasive treatment that utilizes shock waves to stimulate healing and reduce pain.  There are two basic types of ESWT, high and low energy.  Both have proven to be effective but, high energy treatment is “true” shock wave therapy.   This form of treatment can be very specific and targeted towards a particular portion of the injured tendon or bone.  These waves converge on the target site.  Low energy treatment is not “true” shock wave therapy because the waves are created by a device that produces pressure waves that diverge from the target site.  There is less energy delivered to the target due to the radially directed waves.

High energy shock wave therapy is touted as having an effect on healing of bone and soft tissue where low energy shock waves are used to reduce pain.  The high energy wave is thought to have a microscopic effect on the damaged tissue. The end result of the single treatment is an increase in cell wall permeability which stimulates cell circulation and metabolism.  Both needed for the damaged tissue to heal. These waves have been shown to stimulate osteoblasts which are needed for new bone development and fibroblasts which are needed for connective tissue formation.

The high energy shock wave therapy has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a legit modality.  The wave is used to treat chronic conditions.  In an acute condition the primary focus is to reduce the inflammation, when the tendon condition is chronic the primary focus becomes to heal the damaged tissue.  There is very little inflammation at the damaged site.  There might be inflammation in surrounding tissue, but not in the damaged tissue.

High energy shock wave therapy can be painful when performed on certain sites.  At times a local anesthetic is used to reduce the pain.  Healing takes time and following the shock wave treatment most patients report feeling much better after 12 weeks.  Soft tissue and bone take a long time to heal.

ESTW has been around for a long time and has been used to treat musculoskeletal injuries during the 2000’s. The results are mixed but the treatment has shown promise on chronic tendinosis conditions like plantar fasciitis and lateral epicondylitis. There procedure is non-invasive and rarely causes lasting pain. It is one way to attempt to treat and heal a chronic tendinopathy without having surgery.

The contributor of this article, ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute has physical therapy clinics in Arlington / Clarendon, Alexandria, Falls Church / Merrifield, Fairfax / Fair Oaks, Herndon / Reston, Lansdowne / Leesburg and Tysons / Vienna, that provide Direct Access to treatment without a prescription from a Medical Doctor. 

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As athletes take to the fields and courts for high-intensity game play, there is a heightened awareness of concussion risks. Healthcare professionals have been focusing on brain traumas that result from a “blow” to the head during athletic competition.  A concussion diagnosis leads to temporary restrictions placed on affected players. How can we be certain if a player is suffering from a concussion?

Concussions occur when the head is traumatized and the brain is subjected to an impact force.  The symptoms of a concussion are numerous and include headaches, forgetfulness, sleep disturbances, fatigue, confusion and possibly pressure inside the head.  Unfortunately, there is not one objective test or finding that determines if someone has a concussion. As a result, a very comprehensive approach to evaluating a possible concussion must be employed.  The athlete might not have to be held out of competition or their sport if they do not have a concussion.


Diagnosing a concussion is difficult because the symptoms don’t always appear immediately and might take several hours to occur.  Secondly, many of the symptoms are mimicked by naturally occurring conditioning (i.e. headaches, forgetfulness, sleep disturbances and fatigue) that are present during everyday life in some people.  There might be an incident when an incorrect diagnosis of a concussion is given to an athlete who sustained a head injury and present with some of the symptoms but this is due to natural causes and not the blow to the head.

Healthcare professionals who witness the actual head trauma are better prepared to make a definitive diagnosis of a concussion. If they witness the forceful blow to the head, they are in a position to determine if the blow was forceful enough to cause a brain injury.  If the athlete sustained a blow to the head they need to be observed very closely if they present with no obvious symptoms.  Their condition might worsen quickly as they attempt to increase their physical and cognitive activity.

Improperly diagnosing a concussion can lead to a host of problems both physical and mental for the injured athlete.   The athlete that is incorrectly diagnosed with a concussion will become deconditioned quickly due to the standard removal from physical activity.  Physical activity has been shown to be one way to help manage the symptoms depression, ADHD and anxiety and “shutting down” an athlete due to an incorrect diagnosis can lead to an increase in the severity of the symptoms associated with these conditions.

Healthcare professionals owe it to the athlete to protect them from head trauma in any way possible, but the athlete should not be removed from competition simply because they were hit in the head.  Thorough evaluation techniques should be used and the injured athlete should be observed closely following a head injury.  Assessing their physical and cognitive status is a must and the results of many tests and measures should be summarized to determine if the athlete has suffered a concussion.  If their injury is deemed a concussion, they need to be removed competition and sport for duration of time that is appropriate for that individual’s condition.

Contributor of this article, ACE Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Institute has multiple clinics in Northern VA area, in Arlington / Clarendon, Alexandria, Falls Church / Merrifiled, Fairfax / Fair Oaks, Reston / Herndon and Lansdowne / Leesburg, Tysons / Vienna. 

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by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute

Tid Bits of Info

  • The height of an individual does not matter a great deal when it comes to generating clubhead speed.
  • The core must be strong to transfer the power from the legs and hips to the upper extremities.
  • Low back pain is one of the most common injuries suffered by golfers.  Core control and strength can reduce the frequency of these injuries.
  • Most major golf courses are much “longer” now that golfers are hitting longer and further due to conditioning and equipment improvements.
  • Seek the advice of a Physical Therapist for specifics of a conditioning program to prepare you for the upcoming golf season.

Start improving your golf game early. When you step out on the course this year, you can be in shape to generate more force in your swings, reduce the likelihood of injuries, and have an overall better season. This is not about a secret technique, a magic pill, or some kind of mental conditioning. This is simply about developing a fitness program that will prepare your whole body for gameplay this year.

As we said last week, the golf swing is a correlated pattern of segmental movements throughout the entire body.  To perform it correctly and get positive results, the golfer must be in good shape.  The golfer’s body must be strong, flexible and have enough muscular and cardiovascular endurance to sustain practice and playing a round of golf.

How do you generate a forceful swing that produces greater clubhead speed? When the ball is struck, the speed of the club head upon impact determines the final distance that the ball will travel.  Obviously, the greater the speed the further the distance.  The key to generating clubhead speed is muscular strength and more pointedly hip and core strength.

“Offseason” training should focus on developing strength throughout the musculoskeletal system with heavy emphasis on the hip and knee extension musculature.  There are studies that correlate hip and knee extension strength to club head speed. Core strength is critical to provide adequate stabilization of the pelvis and upper extremities.

Studies indicate that the best form of strength training is in the form of multi-joint training.  There is a larger adaptation across a larger cross-section of muscle fibers when the multiple joints are strength trained at the same time.  Functionally, we move many joints simultaneously and don’t think about it.  A golf swing incorporates nearly every joint of the body and to avoid an injury and enhance the quality of the swing all joints need to be addressed during the workout routine.

There is no substitute to “good old fashioned” strength training when it comes to developing more muscle power to generate greater clubhead speed.  The musculature needs to be “overloaded” with resistance to be stimulated and experience a size and strength change. This type of strength training program incorporates heavier weights and lower repetitions.  The muscle cell damage that occurs with resistance training is referred to as DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.  The lower extremity muscles do not experience the damage as quickly as the upper extremities, therefore, the training program for the lower extremities must be performed for a longer period of time.

The following are specific exercise suggestions.  Seek the advice of a Physical Therapist or certified personal trainer if you are unclear of what exercises to perform or how to perform them with proper form.

  • Hip and knee extension development:
  • Squats, Lunges, Deadlifts, barbell hip thrusts
  • Core development:
  • Planks, side planks, bridges, therapeutic ball routine, sliders
  • Upper body strength development:
  • Push-ups, Dips, Rows, Latissimus pull-down, rubber tubing horizontal pulls

Fitness for improving your golf game must also include cardiovascular training.  There are studies that link good cardiovascular fitness to an improved short game and putting.  The ability to walk around the course without experiencing excessive fatigue can help with concentration and mental fatigue.  If the cardiovascular system is efficient all of the other systems work more efficiently, also.

improving your golf

While most “golfers” enjoy the leisurely aspect of the game, they should still consider a well-rounded fitness program. A lack of preparation can lead to an injury and sub-par performance.  Performing a proper training program that addresses strength, flexibility, muscular and cardiovascular endurance can help to improve your score and prevent an injury.

This article has been contributed by ACE Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Institute, with multiple locations in Northern VA in Arlington / Clarendon, Alexandria, Falls Church / Merrifield, Fairfax / Fair Oaks, Reston / Herndon, Great Falls, Leesburg / Lansdowne. 

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by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute

Tid Bits of Info

  • A golfer can walk more than 10,000 steps and burn 2000 calories by simply “walking” a round of golf and “carry” the clubs.
  • Club speed, during a swing of an amateur, averages between 70-80 mph and a professional 90-100 mph.
  • Injuries rate can be as high as 40% for amateurs and 90% for professionals.
  • Amateur golfers achieve approximately 90 percent of their peak muscular activity when driving a golf ball.
  • Seek the advice of a Physical Therapist if you experience an injury during golf season or need tips on how to prepare for it.

Many golfers are just starting to get in the swing of things again. After a hiatus for several months, they are enjoying the warmer weather by getting back in the game. This is the perfect time to get fit for golf. While some players with a low handicap may enter the season in better shape and more prepared for time on the course, they may also face problems later in the season without proper preparation.

Playing golf requires that the body moves in many ways to hit the ball.  The segmental movements that occur every time the ball is hit are complex and can cause major injuries to nearly any part of the body if they are performed poorly or too many times in a given time period. A thorough fitness program may not improve your swing, but it should help you prevent injuries and reduce your overall game.

The golf swing has six phases, address, backswing, transition, downswing, impact and follow through and an injury can occur during any phase but the most common is the downswing.  The specifics of a routine that can help will be published next week as the second part of this blog series on injury prevention during the golf swing. A well-rounded program prepares the whole body through strengthening and stretching exercises that will encompass the entire musculoskeletal system.

Injuries in golf are very common and it does not matter if you are a professional or amateur.  Some studies indicate that as many as 40% of all amateurs and 90% of professionals will experience some kind of injury during the upcoming season. The most common injuries occur to the lumbar spine in both amateurs and professionals.  Amateurs tend to injure their upper extremity in all joints where the professional is more apt to hurt their wrists and hands.  The lead side of the body i.e. left side of a right-handed golfer, is at least 5x more susceptible to suffering an injury when compared to the trailside.

Knowing that the entire body is involved in the golf swing, it would behoove all golfers to condition their entire body.  Strength and flexibility programs have shown very positive results in producing a better golf game while experiencing fewer injuries.  The golf swing is a series of stretch (load) and contract cycles throughout the musculoskeletal system.

fit for golf

Any conditioning program has to incorporate exercises that prepare the musculature for this type of activity or they are more prone to injuries.  The program needs to place a large emphasis on lower extremity, hips and core strength.  Exercises that strengthen the body in a straight line (squats, lunges) are fine but eventually the addition of drills and activities that incorporate twisting, turning and bending needs to occur.  Performing a daily stretching program will improve flexibility.  The type of stretching before playing should be dynamic which involves moving in a similar way that occurs during the actual event.

Seek the advice and treatment from a Physical Therapist for suggestions of specific exercises that will help you to get fit for golf, improve your game, and reduce the likelihood of injury while playing a round of golf. Personal trainers can monitor your routine throughout the season to help guide your progression of an exercise routine.   These professionals can design specific gym work outs that focus on developing strength and flexibility throughout the musculoskeletal system which better prepares you for the upcoming season. This article has been contributed by ACE Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Institute, with multiple locations in Northern VA in Arlington / Clarendon, Alexandria, Falls Church / Merrifield, Fairfax / Fair Oaks, Reston / Herndon, Great Falls, Leesburg / Lansdowne. 



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by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute

We’ve all experienced some type of pain in our lives, and some of us experience pain on a daily basis. It can range from a nagging irritation to a physical limitation to severe debilitation. There are both physical and emotional aspects of pain, and the challenge is finding an effective pain management solution that prevents further injury while also providing relief for those suffering. Physical Therapists focus on alleviating pain by assessing underlying symptoms and developing an appropriate treatment plan.

Pain can be understood as an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.  People can feel pain with or without tissue damage.  When the perception of pain occurs, it should be respected and managed but never ignored because it is the brain’s way of telling someone that they have tissue damage or are about to have it.

There are three main causes of pain in most athletes and the general public:

  • Acute Injuries
  • Over-use injuries
  • Sub-acute and Chronic Injuries

Acute injury leads to tissue damage, inflammation, bruising and onset of pain.  Over-use injuries are a result of healthy tissue or partially damaged tissue being exposed to too much force and not enough rest time.  Inflammation of the damaged tissue causes pain.  Sub-acute and chronic injuries are a result of damaged tissue that continues to be exposed to too much force. Often times these injuries occur at the same site and in most instances the damage gets worse with each incident.

Any injury can lead to the onset of pain and in many cases, the person involved is negatively affected to a point that reduces their functional capabilities to some extent.  Almost every aspect of their life can be adversely affected.

Healthcare professionals have taken a different approach to treat pain in the past decade.  In the “old days,” the treatment focused on the biomedical causes of pain.  The treatment approach was to deal with the physiological aspect of pain and very little consideration was given to the psychological or social aspect of pain.

In “today’s world” there is significant emphasis placed on both of these factors when treating someone who is experiencing pain.  Addressing the anxiety, fear, and uncertainty that is associated with an injury that causes pain is a major step in managing the symptoms and rehabilitation efforts.   Healthcare professionals cannot assume that their patient understands what has happened to their body when an injury occurs.  Discussing everything that is associated with the injury helps to relieve all of the physical and mental symptoms that are present with an injury that causes someone to experience pain.

Pain should not be ignored and when dealing with it there are some ways to speak to the patient that will better prepare them to deal with the symptom.  Explaining to the person who is experiencing pain that it is the brain’s way to inform them that damage has occurred or will occur to a specific body part if they continue to perform the same activities that have produced the symptom in the first place.

Pain should be considered a warning symptom and attempting to defend against further damage. Treating the symptom immediately is important.  The specific protocols for treating pain might include a reduction in activity for a period of time.   Eliminating the cause that lead to the onset of pain is the ultimate goal of rehabilitation but addressing and treating the symptoms should be the first phase.

pain therapy

Physical Therapists are great at treating pain.  It is the number one symptom that is treated in every Physical Therapy center in the world.  These healthcare professionals can develop a treatment plan that will control and usually eliminate the symptoms and address the true cause of the problem.  They will use modalities, hands on techniques, exercise and education to help the patient experience a reduction in their painful symptoms. The final goal of treatment is to restore someone to their pre-injury status as soon as possible.  Visiting a Physical Therapist does not require a doctor’s prescription for therapy but your insurance plan might require a referral from your family doctor.

Pain is a part of life and it should be treated and managed to prevent further damage to a particular body part.  Addressing the symptom from the physiological, psychological and socio-economic aspect will better prepare the injured person to handle the adverse effects of living in pain.  The time that is required to eliminate the symptom can be drastically different in everyone and the patient should know that this is perfectly normal. Read more at

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by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute


The new year is pressing close and will soon replace the previous year. For many people that mean time to pick up those abandoned New Year’s Resolutions from years past. Sadly, this usually means more disappointment as they tend to drop resolutions in a few weeks.  There is another way! Why not set moderate, achievable goals and work toward larger goals in increments? Just as you invest in work, family, and friends, you also need to invest in yourself.

Here are several common resolutions made every year by millions of people with tips for improved success:

Lose Weight –   Stay focused on moderate lifestyle changes in your eating habits. Avoid fad diets. While these usually produce drastic results in a short period of time, the severe alteration in your diet is very difficult to maintain. Most people end up “falling off the wagon” and gaining more weight than they lost.

Get in Shape – Increasing fitness levels has been linked to many positive health outcomes. Improved fitness has also been associated with reduced stress levels, decreased the onset of some forms of cancer, enhanced mood, helps to maintain the desired body weight and reduce the effects of osteoarthritis. You should incorporate both cardiovascular and strength training exercises into your fitness program.  Seek the advice of a Physical Therapist or personal trainer regarding a proper regimen to accomplish your fitness goals.

Quit Smoking – If you’re still smoking, this is a perfect time to quit. Smoking damages your body on many levels. There are carcinogens in cigarettes and cigar smoke.  The carbon monoxide that is found in the smoke “steals” vital oxygen from the red blood cells, and oxygen is needed for every bodily function.

Reduce Stresses in Your Life – The non-stop pace of our culture is full of stress. Stress can be devastating to your body, causing the body to release the hormone cortisol. While this hormone can save your life in an emergency by stimulating the “fight or flight” reaction of the nervous system, it can be detrimental to all bodily functions when it is too high. Regular exercise can help reduce cortisol levels over time.

Maintaining the changes in your life is difficult.  Here are some overall suggestions that will help you and can help to create the “new you” are the following:

Be Specific:  Don’t generalize what you want the results of your exercise efforts to be and set measurable goals.  Most goals that are set in a fitness setting can be measured quite easily.  Be sure to get your baseline and record your progress as you go.

Achievable Goals:  Goals have to be set and the “bar” should be high enough to make you work for a positive outcome, but not so high that you fail to achieve it. You should work with a personal trainer initially to learn the proper techniques and form needed during the routine that will produce the best results and prevent injuries.

Relevance: Your exercise routine and goals need to be relevant to you.  A personal trainer can help you formulate your plan but you are the ultimate decision maker.  You have to decide the most important aspect of the exercise routine that you are going to begin and then have your trainer develop a program to help you achieve your goals.

There is nothing wrong with setting New Year’s resolutions, but all too often these are forgotten within a few weeks.  Take a new approach and create the “new you” and enjoy the positive changes in the quality of life. 

Compliments or Comments: EMail ACE Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Institute  at

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Here’s how to Avoid Holiday Pounds by : ACE Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Institute

For most of us, the holidays are a time of mixed emotions. You’re excited and anxious to spend time with family, and you’re dreading the extra weight that you know you’re bound to gain. Are these holiday pounds inevitable?

Lean in close to catch these seven secret ways to help you fend off extra weight through the holidays. And once you’re done, don’t keep it a secret. Go tell somebody!

Holiday Secret #1: Listen to Your Body

It may not speak quickly enough all the time, but you know your body is constantly telling you things. Sometimes it tells you to stop a certain activity before you get hurt. During the holiday season, it tells you to put the brakes on your eating before you go beyond the point of no return. When your body tells you it’s full, listen up! A single bite after you’re full will lead to extra calories and eventually, extra pounds.

Holiday Secret #2: Confine the Holidays

For some, holidays become weeks and even months of poor eating. Be careful to avoid this pitfall by digging into your holiday foods only on the actual holiday. Treat the other days like normal days—even if you’re off of work. And when the holiday is over, let someone else take the leftovers home and go to your own house without any pudding or gravy in tow.

Holiday Secret #3: Eat First, Party Second

You read right—it’s good to eat before heading out the door. Have a healthy, well-rounded meal at home with fruits, vegetables, and your protein source of choice. And drink a tall glass of water. Why? So when you get to that holiday party that is overflowing with cookies, cakes, candies, and calories, you’re not hungry for it. Your stomach is full of healthy goodness and has no room for the fattening stuff.

Holiday Secret #4: Plan Your Escape

Getting away from food isn’t easy. If you expect to be able to walk away from delicious thigh- and gut-growing foods without any forethought, think again. Before walking into a potentially fattening situation, plan out what you’re going to eat and take your own dish to share if necessary. Any time there is a particularly difficult eating situation, make plans an hour or so after the dangerous-to-your-diet event begins and excuse yourself.

Holiday Secret #5: Exercise Everywhere

One of the best excuses to gain weight is that you have to travel to visit family and don’t have access to your personal trainer. Well, guess what? Just because your trainer isn’t staying in the hotel with you doesn’t mean you aren’t accountable! Scope out the area where you’ll be traveling and take advantage of whatever exercise opportunities are available. There may be a gym or pool at your hotel, a pay-as-you-go gym, or a nice park nearby where you can walk or run with or without family members.

Holiday Secret #6: Pay Attention to People

Holidays are about family and friends…right? Then stop focusing on food! When you go to a party, there is no need to hang out by the food table when there are people all around you! Ignore the grub and go for the meaningful stuff that you’ll remember and cherish. Besides, it’s much easier to talk without munching and you even listen better when you’re not stuck thinking about how good the next bite is going to be.

Holiday Secret #7: Drink Instead

No, this isn’t a license to drink as much alcohol as you can find. Doing that will add lots of useless calories to your waistline. Instead, do your best to make friends with a glass of water everywhere you go. As you mingle with your water glass, you’ll find it challenging to grab more than a couple of finger foods here and there, and the fact that it is water will help you remember to watch what else goes in your mouth!

ACE Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Institute with locations in Arlington / Clarendon, Alexandria, Fairfax / Fair Oaks, Falls Church / Merrifield, Herndon / Reston, Great Falls, Leesburg / Lansdowne, Tysons Corner / Vienna, wishes you very Happy and Healthy Holidays. 

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TIGHT HAMSTRINGS AND LOW BACK PAIN by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute

When treating low back pain, healthcare professionals first seek to diagnose the primary cause of symptoms. There are a variety of causes for this type of pain such as muscle strains and physical weakness. If a patient experiences both tight hamstrings and low back pain, the treatment protocol usually includes some type of stretching exercise for the hamstring muscle group. This may not be a good idea. A strengthening regiment may be more effective.

The hamstring muscle group is positioned on the back of the thigh bone. Hamstring muscles are part of a muscle group that stretches across most of the leg. The muscles start at the bone where we sit called the Ischial Tuberosity.  Then they continue down the back of the thigh bone (femur), cross the knee joint, and attach (insert) into the back side of the shin bone (tibia).  The hamstring muscles are active during nearly every motion that occurs in the lower extremities.  They are able to extend the hip and flex the knee joint.  During these motions, the muscles contract and pull on the bony attachments.

Almost all healthcare professionals will tell you that tight or shortened hamstring muscles can cause low back pain.  The misconception is that anyone with tight hamstrings is pre-disposed to low back pain. There is very little concrete evidence or data that links “tight” hamstrings to being a cause of low back pain or pre-disposing someone to it in the future. Recent theories actually encourage clinicians to reduce the intensity and frequency of hamstring stretching.

Many people have shortened hamstring muscles that are not too tight and do not have a negative effect on the lumbar spine.  When healthcare professionals evaluate a patient complaining of low back pain, they usually assess the patient’s ability to flex the hip.

When the total amount of flexion is less than 80 degrees, patients are deemed to have shortened, tight hamstrings.  This is often times listed as a primary cause of symptoms.  The hamstring is most likely not tight but is taut which limits motion in a similar manner.  The tension within the muscle cells is elevated in either condition, but the treatment should be significantly different.

Taut hamstring muscles can be caused by overactive or tight opposing musculature which in this case are the hip flexor and adductor muscles. If these muscles are shortened and tight (oftentimes due to sitting too much) they can change the static position of the pelvis.  They can make the hamstring muscles be lengthened and taut.  Prolonged lengthened positioning leads to high tension levels in the muscle cells. Stretching these lengthened muscles leads to an increase in pain.  In many instances, the pain that occurs when someone stretches a “tight” hamstring muscle originates from the nerves that occupy the same area of the buttock and leg. Nerves are not very elastic and can become irritated if they are stretched too far or too often.

Treatment for hamstrings that present as “tight” should include a thorough strengthening routine and a minimal amount of stretching.  The high tension that develops can lead to a weakened muscle mass.  If the muscle is not strengthened, it will not be able to handle the force that is generated by the opposing muscles that have become truly tight and short.

Seek the advice and treatment from a Physical Therapist.  They will assess your condition and then devise a treatment program that will address all of your needs.  The program will include exercises that will strengthen any tight or taut muscle and stretch any tight muscle that have become too short.  Visiting a Physical Therapist does not require a doctor’s prescription but your insurance company might require that you get a referral from your general practitioner.

If you have been told that you have “tight” hamstrings and it is the cause of your low back pain, you might want to seek out a healthcare professional who can assess your condition differently.  There is slight chance that these muscles can be a primary cause for low back pain, but it would be highly unlikely.

The contributor of this article ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute has Physical Therapy offices in Arlington / Clarendon, Alexandria, Fair Oaks / Fairfax, Falls Church, Herndon / Reston, Great Falls, Leesburg /Lansdowne and Tysons / Vienna . If your back Hurts, contact ACE PT  First! 

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An awesome Self Defense class is being held at Elite Fitness Concepts.

Scott from Disciple MMA will be taking over the studio Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 7 pm to share some valuable tools with you! You will learn effective ways to get out of or handle dangerous situations. Please join us for a fun and informative night!

If you or someone you know is interested in attending this event, please follow the link a register below! (men and women ages 12 and up)
Looking forward to seeing you at Elite Fitness.
Any questions, you may call Elite Fitness at 703-759-7820.
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