Pop quiz: What musculoskeletal issue could result in chronic low back pain, chronic muscle strains, lower extremity tendinopathies, periscapular pain and tightness, glenohumeral and shoulder girdle pain, or tension headaches? I am sure you can think of a few possibilities, but few can result in all. Often, when a patient reports to our care with one of the aforementioned we immediately think locally. Unfortunately, the real problem could be pelvic upslip, anterior pelvic innominate, or both. Despite being oft-overlooked, these malalignments are not hard to identify if you know what to look for. Continue reading
When we think of running injuries we immediately think lower extremity, IT Band syndrome, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, Achilles Tendinopathy, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, Plantar Fasciitis, and the like. However, one of the most common and debilitating injuries in runners is low back pain. So why are runners so at risk of developing low back pain? Most musculoskeletal injuries are multifactorial, but more often than not many chronic injuries result from underlying movement dysfunction.
Vladamir Janda (1928-2002) revolutionized human movement dysfunction and rehabilitation in 1979 when he described three compensatory movement syndromes. These syndromes were a result of pattern overload (i.e. running) and static posturing. Janda recognized that certain muscles were prone to weakness while others were overactive. He continually investigated these movement syndromes and later learned that the muscle imbalances were systematic, predictable, involved the entire body, and a common cause of injury. Continue reading
In 2010, I left clinical rehabilitation and performance training. While I love my current job, I do miss the clinical aspect, which is why I seize opportunities to take on random clients with complex issues. I’ve never written about my clients, but this case is so common, yet complex, that I thought my readers might be challenged with similar clients/athletes, or might be experiencing similar issues themselves. Here is a runner’s story that went from marathon training, to painful walking and an inability to run. Her experiences with continued failed treatment and the road we have taken to get her back to training and setting personal records. Continue reading
Vladamir Janda revolutionized human movement and rehabilitation when he described three compensatory movement patterns as a result of pattern overload and static posturing. Since Janda’s introduction we have continued to learn about hypertonic / hypotonic muscles and the delicate interplay they have on integrated functional movement. Static stretching helps correct dysfunctional movement by elongating shortened tissue. Unfortunately, the manner in which many stretches are performed does not target tissue appropriately. Continue reading
I have been looking for something to blog. No idea surfaced that said, “Yes, that is a great blog idea.” That was until yesterday’s tragic Boston Marathon bombing. Runners are a rare breed. You cannot keep them down. A runner’s passion for sport, resilience to challenge, and unique characteristic to rise above is unparalleled by any other athlete. I am not a runner. In fact I am the antithesis of a runner. I go in to anaphylactic shock just hearing the word aerobic exercise, but have many friends who are passionate runners. I dedicate this blog to my running friends, competitors of the Boston Marathon, the friends and family of those impacted by yesterday’s events, and runners everywhere from the competitive to non-competitive. I will keep it true to my blog site and remain sports medicine focused. I hope you find the information useful.
Running is one of the most popular recreational sports in the US. Race events can be found in almost every town. My town – Champaign, IL – has 2 events in the next 4 weeks. Some estimates say 20% of the population is runners and 10% of these people participate in race events. The benefits of exercise are well documented. Running has shown to build confidence and character, reduce stress and improve mood. However, the due to their very nature – the unwillingness stop – running does bring about an increased incidence of musculoskeletal injury.
You don’t need to be an astrophysicist to know running injury is secondary to cumulative overload. Running injuries are multifactorial; neuromuscular imbalance, poor arthrokinematics and other things such as age, nutritional status and environment are to blame. From a biomechanical point of view frontal plane knee adduction moments play a significant role in lower extremity injury. Q-angle – a measure of knee alignment – can indicate risk for running injury. An increased Q-angle can be a result of many neuromusculoskeletal inefficiencies from poor muscular hip control to limited ankle dorsiflexion and excessive forefoot pronation.
Running brings about many injuries, but the most common are Patellofemoral Syndrome, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome / Tibial Stress Fracture, Achilles Tendinitis, Plantar Fasciitis, and Sacroiliac Joint Pain. What is interesting is that all of these injuries can be caused by biomechanical breakdown and neuromusculoskeletal inefficiency. The good is the dysfunctional patterns are identifiable, preventable and correctable. Below is a sample 15 minute injury prevention program from a blog I wrote in Sept 2012. Yes, 15 minutes is all you need to prevent many running injuries.
Step 1: Decrease neurological drive to hypertonic tissue – 3 minutes
- Self-Myofascial Release (foam roll) or Manual Trigger Point Therapy
- Gastrocnemius/Soleus – 60 seconds
- Adductors – 60 sec
- TFL/IT-band – 60 sec
Step 2: Lengthen hypertonic muscle or joint tissue – 3 minutes
- Static stretch or joint mobilization
- Gastrocnemius/Soleus Stretch – 1 set @ 30 sec
- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – 1 set @ 30 sec
- Adductor stretch – 1 set @ 30 sec
- Posterior joint mobilizations at the ankle – 90 seconds
Step 3: Increase neurological drive to hypotonic tissue – ~ 6 minutes:
- Exercise: Isolated Strengthening or positional isometrics
- Resisted Ankle Dorsiflexion – 2 sets x 15 reps (slow) (2 minutes)
- Resisted Hip Abduction and External Rotation- 2 sets x 15 reps (slow) (2 minutes)
- Resisted Hip Extension – 2 sets x 15 reps (slow) (2 minutes)
Step 4: Integrated Dynamic Functional Movement – ~ 3 minutes
- Box step-up with overhead dumbbell press – 2 sets x 15 reps (slow)
Beyond the correction of movement dysfunction there are alternatives to treat running injuries which are effective and gaining popularity. This table highlights a few.
|Prolotherapy||This has been around since the late 1800’s, but has since become popular. The basis of prolotherapy is that it expedites healing by increasing fibroblastic activity and collagen repair.|
|Autologous Blood||Blood is the medium that carries tissue repairing materials to injury sites. However, sometimes, blood cannot deliver adequate amounts of material to the injured area. Thus, injections directed right at the injury site deliver tissue repairing material.|
|PRP||Like autologous blood, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is injection of a concentrated mix of tissue repairing blood components, specifically platelets, which facilitate tissue repair healing.|
|Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate||Despite the negative press and belief that stem cells are only derived from an unborn fetus, stem cells do come from other sources – such as bone marrow. By taking stem cells from bone marrow and injecting in to damaged areas will facilitate tissue repair.|
|ESWT||Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy might best be known as lithotripsy. Lithotripsy is a procedure in which sound waves blast and destroy kidney stones. ESWT is the use of sound waves to destroy calcific tendons and ligaments.|
I prefer preventing and rehabilitating injury through correcting neuromuscular inefficiencies and dysfunctional movement. The problem with the above treatments is that they are treatments. If an injury is caused by dysfunctional movement patterns and those patterns are not corrected it is likely the above treatments will simply serve as a Band-Aid because the true problem was not fixed.
If the person(s) responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing were looking to put fear in people, they chose the wrong population to target. Runners are the most stubborn and prideful athletes. No means yes, and yes means do more. If you took a graphical representation of marathon registration numbers from last night through the end of this week I would bet you’d find a spike, rather than a decline. Social media is exploding with a rise of the runner. A quote from a friends Facebook page: “If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target” –unknown. Other movements like, wear a race shirt tomorrow, donations, and wear yellow and blue (Boston Marathon colors) have already begun. So, thank you runners for inspiring this blog post!
Each day we are bombarded with new data. My goal is to share a breakdown of what I have discovered and read this past month. There is a little something for everyone here. How do I choose which articles to share? Is it clinically relevant? Does the story share something new or raise an interesting question? Most studies have some internal flaw that can be poked and while I try to only share those having high quality, my number one goals is to share something unique, progressive or surprising.
In the recent release of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition there is a good article supporting the benefits of a high-protein breakfast. Data reveals that a high-protein diet alters ghrelin and peptide YY concentrations subsequently leading to decreased appetite and also curbed late night snacking. Is this study perfect – no. But it is pretty darn good – Yes. I have been blogging on this topic for sometime. Where, when and why did the public begin thinking high protein intake is unhealthy? Did you know quality of protein is measured by how it compares to egg protein? That is because the protein in egg, albumin, has near perfect amino acid distribution. Yet many consider eggs bad.
Here is another topic area I have been yapping about for some time – risk factors for hamstring strains. This systematic literature review was first published online and is now in print in the latest edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. This SLR included 34 articles for review, which is a pretty good number to include. Unfortunately, only 1 evaluated hip extension strength. Three found decreased hip extension ROM measures indicating shortened hip flexors. It baffles me as to why studies do not look at glute weakness and hip flexor tightness as a risk factor for hamstring strains. I’ve written about this and hope someday a good study will come out and study the correlation.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury – MTBI is getting a lot of media attention lately and rightfully so. NFL labor union disputes and an enormous amount of published research has athletes and parents taking MTBI seriously. If that wasn’t enough, Junior Seau’s suicide was linked to depression secondary to chronic TBI. In the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, April 2013 issue, an article discusses depression after TBI. It’s a nice short quick-hitting synopsis, with full-text available.
I subscribe to daily email updates from ScienceDialy. Two or three times per week they share something good that I get caught reading. Two articles they shared link positive benefits of Vitamin D. One shows that Vitamin D replacement improves muscle efficiency and another found Vitamin D may lower diabetes risk in children. Now I am not advocating to go overboard on Vitamin D, but I am saying drink Vitamin D fortified milk and cereals and get outside in the sun to ensure you are getting adequate vitamin D.
ScienceDaily also had an write-up that I loved regarding foods to help fight inflammation. The article states citrus fruits, dark leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, and foods high in omega-3s, such as salmon are anti-inflammatory foods. Notice none of these foods are grains, breads and/or pasta. All are earth foods and not processed. This supports and is similar to blogs I wrote previously: how the US Food Guide Pyramid and MyPlate could be to blame for our chronic disease epidemic, another which is very similar linking arthritis and osteoarthritis to diet. Finally two of my most popular posts written Stop Destroying Your Body and Is Your Diet Making You Sick discuss the link between diet and disease.
Must Read Blogs:
There are so many smart people out there and I enjoy learning from them all. Here are some good blog posts from this month.
The first is from Sport Injury Matt (@SportInjuryMatt – twitter handle). He had two posts about foot mechanics and foot wear. Part I shares good crucial information on foot mechanics. Part II of this post talks about what one should run in and considerations when selecting certain shoes.
My good friend Jay Barss (@sportsrehabtalk – twitter handle) is new to the blog and twitter world. He is a smart dude and deserves some following. His most recent post talks about the a new perspective on management on patellofemoral pain management. As we all know, correction of faulty movement patterns is critical in management of the oft-diagnosed PFPS.
Last is a series posted by Allan Besselink (@abesselink – twitter handle). If you have not followed Allan’s blog I highly recommend it. In fact his blog was recently nominated as top choice for health and wellness. Everything he posts is high quality. I particularly liked his three-part series titled the Low Back Pain Paradox. Low back pain effects 80% of the adult population and Allan does a great job covering all the bases in Part I, Part II, and Part III.
Stay healthy and well!
Do you have a patient with chronic low back pain, pelvic pain or lateral hip pain? The problem could be an oft-overlooked Anterior Innominate Lesion, commonly referred to as Anterior Iliac Rotation. This malalignment is hard to identify unless the clinician is specifically evaluating for body alignment.
Simply described, anterior innominate is anterior / inferior rotation of the ASIS when compared to the contralateral ASIS. This unilateral rotational movement of is often a result repetitive movement patterns. Repetitive movement results in hypertonicity of hip flexors (primarily the rectus femoris and TFL), hypotonicity of the abdominals, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as increased laxity of the sacrotuberous ligament. The force coupling caused by the hyper/hypotonic structures yields the unilateral rotary movement of the pelvis.
The result is a chronic, dull achy pain that is unrelenting at times. Pain is typically felt across the entire low back. Focal tenderness upon palpation is commonly unremarkable. The patient may also have complaints of thoracic pain, lateral hip pain and potentially groin. Pain maybe exacerbated with athletic activity, or static postures such as prolonged sitting and standing.
As with many postural disorders, treatment for anterior rotation is best served through the use of manual therapy techniques. In my experience, there are two quick and easy treatments: muscle energy techniques (MET) and spray and stretch. Spray and stretch technique is a nice way to inhibit and elongate tonic musculature. Ischemic pressure massage to active trigger points of involved muscles followed the application of a vapocoolant spray, during a passive stretch works well. Although both treatment forms are effective, I prefer MET, as it is fast, effective, and incorporate a semi-functional component through contraction and relaxation of muscle.
When it comes to MET (or most manual therapy techniques for that matter) I often refer to anything by Leon Chaitow’s methods. In this particular instance, I have provided a video clip of a MET that can help both anterior and posterior pelvic rotation in one treatment session. I think the physiotherapists across the Atlantic do a great job of manual therapy, thus I chose a video that was made in the UK.
It is not uncommon to relieve patient pain with just one application of MET. For patients with significant malalignment this treatment may need to be performed twice daily for several weeks in conjunction with traditional functional rehabilitation designed to enhance neuromuscular efficiency.
So, if you have been a patient complaining of low back pain, be sure to observe for postural malalignment. You might find anterior innominate rotation. If so, you can utilize these techniques to resolve the problem quickly and restore optimal function.
If you read my blog before you are well aware that I am a big proponent of identifying human movement dysfunction and correcting functional imbalances to reduce chronic pain, such as knee osteoarthritis (OA), patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), and low back disorders such as sacroiliac dysfunction, facet arthropathy, or generalized lumbago.
A few years ago I read about a new neuromuscular technique called AposTherapy. For those unfamiliar, AposTherapy corrects gait abnormalities by retraining muscles to adopt an optimal gait mechanics. The primary goal of AposTherapy is to correct the foot center of pressure (COP) during gait. This is done by wearing a unique, foot-worn biomechanical device. At the time, I heard good results about the use of AposTherapy, but data was too young to consider valid just yet or share-able, just yet.
Recently, when looking at functional rehabilitation techniques for chronic knee pain I came across an interesting study in the Journal of Biomechanics the evaluates the benefits of AposTherapy, to correct kinetic chain dysfunction responsible for the development of knee OA (1). The results of the study were significant. Following the intervention patients demonstrated significant reduction in knee adduction (valgus) moment (KAM). Several authors have demonstrated KAM to be a primary cause of knee OA, including Miyazaki, who noted KAM correlates with the progression of knee OA (2). In addition, patients who participated in AposTherapy demonstrated increased walking velocity, reduced pain, and improvement of functional living (1).
The foot-worn biomechanical device alters foot COP, allowing for proper kinetic chain alignment neuromuscular efficiency. Clark and Lucett, noted that dysfunction at one joint precipitates altered movement patterns, at adjacent joints, both proximally and distally (3). This is the foundation of AposTherapy. By correcting foot COP during gait, altered joint mechanics up the kinetic chain are nullified and neuromuscular efficiency is enhanced. Overtime, strength gains occur allowing for optimal gait patterns. Sharma, stressed the role of neuromuscular ineffciency, suggesting that secondary to elevated joint stress with higher impact loads and altered joint mechanics facilitate the pathogenesis of the chronic joint disease (4).
Biomechanical interventions focusing on foot COP, neuromuscular development and agility, enhance functional ability, reduce pain and increase spatiotemporal patterns of gait (1). Working knowledge of human movement dysfunction and human movement compensation patterns are prudent to health practitioners. Health practitioners should emphasize and correct human movement dysfunction when treating clients with chronic joint pain such as and certainly not limited to knee OA, PFPS, SI pain, and other low back disorders like facet arthropathy. Training to enhance neuromuscular recruitment, force-coupling, as well as the correction of altered length-tension relationships and poor joint arthrokinematics will go far in reduction of pain, prevention of chronic pain, and improved functional outcomes.
What techniques do you implement to train for optimal neuromuscular efficiency?
1. Haim, A, et al. Reduction in knee adduction moment via non-invasive biomechanical training: A longitudinal gait analysis study. J of Biomechanics. 45 (2012) 41–45.
2. Miyazaki, T., Wada, M., Kawahara, H., et al. Dynamic load at baseline can predict radiographic disease progression in medial compartment knee osteoarthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2002. 61, 617–622.
3. Clark, MA, and Lucett, SC. NASM Essentrials of Corrective Exercise Training. Lippincott, WIlliams and Wilkins. 2010.
4. Sharma, L., Dunlop, D.D., Cahue, S., et al. Quadriceps strength and osteoarthritis progression in malaligned and lax knees. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2003. 138, 613–619.
I have witnessed several incidents of individuals suffering from chronic pain getting stuck in the vicious cycle of medication. Take one medication to relieve inflammation, another to reduce pain, another to depress nerve action, then compound this with taking additional medications to control the side effects (i.e. acid reflux, sleep deprivation, constipation, etc).
Don’t get me wrong I appreciate Western Medicine. However, where have we gone? We have turned our back on the easiest and most beneficial thing we can do for our body – exercise. Start exercising and stop the dependency on drugs.
Injuries in golf occur as they do during participation in any athletic orientated activity. Research indicates injuries in golf relate to functions of age, skill level, and frequency of play. According to Gosheger et al., over 80% of golf-related injuries are due to overuse (1). The most common injury experienced by professional golfers is low-back dysfunction. Low-back golf injuries can be chronic in nature due to poor swing mechanics, poor conditioning, or overuse. Research has shown that golfers who have low-back pain demonstrate a decrease in range of motion for hip internal rotation on the lead leg, decreased lumbar extension, decreased activation and/or timing of the abdominal obliques, spinal erectors, and knee extensors (2-4). A common low back disorder of golfer’s is sacroiliac joint (SIJ) dysfunction.
When loads are transferred between the trunk and legs, the flat surfaces of the pelvis bones (sacrum and ilium) make the SIJ subject to considerable forces. If SIJ stability is not maintained, loads cannot be transferred efficiently between the trunk and legs, which may result in abnormal loading joint tissue and the development of pain (5). The transverse abdominis and internal oblique muscles play a significant role in resisting shear loads across the SIJ and maintaining stability (5). Proper execution of an abdominal drawing-in maneuver during performance should enhance the stability of the SIJ joint and allow for the most efficient transfer of forces between the trunk and legs.
Exercise is believed to be a vital component in preventing the occurrence of low-back pain and injury. What is unclear, however, is the type of exercises that should be performed as part of a low-back pain prevention and rehabilitation program. Liddle, et al. concluded that strengthening exercises targeting the lumbar spine, lower limbs, and abdominal muscles were the predominant exercises performed in successful exercise programs that decreased pain and improved function (6). Conversely, Hayden, et al concluded in a systematic review that programs that strengthened the trunk stabilizing muscles were most effective. A separate meta-analysis, (7) indicated that the most effective programs consist of a supervised, individually designed set of stretching and strengthening exercises.
I am in agreement with the observations and recommendations from the scientific literature noted above. The best approach to developing a low-back injury prevention program includes a variety of inhibitory and lengthening exercises aimed at improving flexibility of tight and overactive muscles, isolated strengthening exercises for weak and inhibited muscles, and improving neuromuscular control through integrated exercise is recommended.
Golfer’s with SIJ dysfunction commonly have overactive and underactive muscles. The overactive muscles include the Tensor Fascia Latte, IT Band, Hip adductors and Piriformis. Underactive muscles include the glute medius and minuimus as well as intrinsic core stabilizers (multifidus, transverse abdominus and obliques). Inhibiting and improving flexibility of the overactive muscles followed by strengthening of the underactive muscles will help reduce or prevent low-back pain and could improve your golf swing.
1. Gosheger G, Liem D, Ludwig K, Greshake O, Winkelmann W. Injuries and overuse syndromes in golf. Am J Sports Med. 2003;31(3):438-443.
2. Horton JF, Lindsay DM, Macintosh BR. Abdominal muscle activation of elite male golfers with chronic low back pain. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;33(10):1647-1654.
3. Lindsay D, Horton J. Comparison of spine motion in elite golfers with and without low back pain. J Sports Sci. 2002;20(8):599-605.
4. Vad VB, Bhat AL, Basrai D, Gebeh A, Aspergren DD, Andrews JR. Low back pain in professional golfers: The role of associated hip and low back range-of-motion deficits. Am J Sports Med. 2004;32(2):494-497.
5. Snijders CJ, Ribbers MT, de Bakker HV, Stoeckart R, Stam HJ. EMG recordings of abdominal and back muscles in various standing postures: validation of a biomechanical model on sacroiliac joint stability. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 1998; 8:205-14.
6. Liddle SD, Baxter GD, Gracey JH. Exercise and chronic low back pain: what works? Pain. 2004; 107:176-90.
7. Hayden JA, van Tulder MW, Malmivaara A, Koes BW. Exercise therapy for treatment of non-specific low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005:CD000335.
Complete Reference: Selkow NM, Grindstaff TL, Cross KM, Pugh K, Hertel J, Saliba S. Short-Term Effect of Muscle Energy Technique on Pain in Individuals with Non-Specific Lumbopelvic Pain: A Pilot Study. J Manual and Manip. Ther 2009; 17(1): E14–E18.
Low back pain effects nearly 80% of the adult population. It is the most costly injury in terms of workers’ compensation costs and indemnity. Oftentimes clinicians treat non-specific low back pain with unfocused rehabilitation, medications, or biophysical modalities. Hypertonicity of neuromyofascial tissue can be the primary cause of low back pain. This can be quickly and effectively addressed with manual therapy techniques.
Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) is a form of manipulative therapy that has been used to treat muscle imbalance and pain disorders. Clinicians have frequently utilized MET as a tool to treat lumbopelvic pain (LPP). Lumbopelvic pain is often associated with muscular imbalance which can cause unilateral anterior innominate rotation of the pelvis. The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of a single MET treatment for immediate lumbopelvic pain reduction and pain reduction 24 hours following treatment.
- Control group had a higher visual analog scale (VAS) for current pain than worst pain.
- Only 1 MET treatment intervention was used
- Subjects were selected from general population, not from health care settings.
- No measures taken to confirm if the pain was secondary to lumbopelvic disorder.
- Post-study measure pain but did not measure correction of anterior innominate rotation.
- 20 subjects taken from general population; 10 control and 10 treatment
- 16 male; 4 female
- Average age; control group = 29.7 years, treatment group = 24.1 years
- Subjects must have acute episode of LPP and demonstrated anterior innominate rotation of at least 2°.
- Subjects exclusions: LBP for > 6 weeks, radicular pain below the knee, history of back surgery, or have been diagnosed by a physician.
- Current pain
- Worst pain over 24 hours
- Pain provocation test yielded greatest pain
- Pain intensity produced by the provocation test
- Treatment Condition
- MET treatment
- Post treatment
- 24 hours post treatment
- Double blind, randomized, controlled trial
- Examiner #1 – performed 5 sacro-illiac pain provocative exams then notified in writing of physical exam findings to ensure treatment was performed on proper side for treatment group
- Examiner #2 – Performed MET or control treatment
- Visual Analog Scale (VAS) – used to measure subjective pain rating
- PALM – Palpation meter to measure relative anterior innominate rotation
- Baseline VAS current and worst pain measured by t-tests.
- 2X3 repeated ANOVA to analyze treatment and control groups for current VAS, worst over 24 hour VAS, and worst pain provocation VAS
- Mann-Whitney U test analyzed difference in the number of pain provocative tests pre and post treatment.
- VAS worst pain; significant difference with MET treatment group for worst pain over 24 hours (F=5.36, P= .03)
- No significant difference for VAS of current pain (F=3.93, P=.06
- No significant difference for VAS pain provocation (F=0.81, P=.46)
- Significant pain reduction for both groups (P=.04) between days
Overall, worst pain over 24 hours was significantly reduced following MET treatment when compared to the control. As a clinician working with clients and non-specific low back look for muscle imbalances that can be corrected with manual therapy techniques such as muscle energy, which inhibits overactive tissue then allows for elongation.