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8 Steps to Relieve and Prevent Back Pain

13.02.2021 | Integrate Columbus
By: Dr. Stephanie Duffey • Mar 02, 2020
Experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives. While common among many people, back pain is NOT the norm and there are many steps you can take to relieve and prevent it from occurring. Today, I’ll break down 8 steps that I’ve implemented into my own life to help reduce back pain.
 
  1. Watch how you lift. Whether you’re lifting a squirming child or weights, be sure to lift with your legs, not your back. The quads and glutes are waaayyy stronger than your small back muscles, so be mindful.
  2. Take a posture check. How you sit (or stand) during the day is really important. Desk jobs in particular bring you forward and cause you to slump. Think of it this way: For every degree your head comes forward, your spine muscles have to work exponentially harder. Not sure what your posture looks like? Have a co-worker take a surprise picture of you sitting at your desk to get a good glimpse of your posture during the day.
  3. Use a lumbar roll, especially if you work at a desk or drive frequently. A lumbar roll is a squishy pillow that you can place behind your low back to create additional support. It also helps your posture when you’re seated. Here’s the one I use from Amazon.
  4.  Take a stress test. What repetitive motions do you do frequently exhibit throughout the day that cause aggravation? Maybe it’s reaching for something, picking up an infant, or some other movement. Make a tally of what’s causing irritation in your back on a daily basis.
  5. Strengthen your core correctly. By activating ALL the core muscles (not just the six-pack in the front) you take strain off your back. While strengthening your core isn’t the only way to resolve back pain, it certainly is a game-changer.
  6. Move your body. Incorporating movement into your daily routine can significantly reduce back pain. The next time you miss your workout, notice how you feel. Chances are, you’ll feel much better when the muscles are loose from working out.
  7. Stretch your hips, mid and upper back. Practice mobility work so you can move through these areas and you aren’t relying only on the mobility of your back alone.
  8. Use good pillow support when you’re sleeping. If you’re a belly-sleeper, you may try placing a pillow under your hips. You should also consider training yourself not to be a stomach-sleeper to take some of the pressure off of your back. If you’re a side-sleeper, put a pillow between your knees to keep your legs stacked. This helps take the twist out of the low back). Back sleepers should try placing a pillow under the knees for additional support.
 
It’s never too early to start taking preventative measures to protect your back and it’s never too late to start living a pain free life! If you’re experiencing back pain and need help from a professional, let’s chat!
How runners can relieve tight hamstrings

8 Tips For Tight Hamstrings

15.02.2021 | Integrate Columbus

Stephanie Duffey • Jul 06, 2020

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As a physical therapist, I hear complaints all the time related to tight hamstrings. In fact, the hamstrings get a bad rap for always being the problem muscle, but if we take a closer look, you’ll find that your hamstring tightness may just be a symptom of another issue. Here, I’ll break down my top 8 tips for relieving tight hamstrings and preventing future pain in this muscle group.
 
1. Don’t be a sloucher. 
Poor posture can be a huge contributing factor for hamstring tightness. When you arch your back, you’re actually putting more strain on your hamstrings to help hold you in that position. Instead, focus on stacking your ribs over your pelvis. Your hamstrings will thank you!
 
2. Be a belly breather.
Being a belly breather goes hand in hand with keeping good posture. When you stand properly, your diaphragm works more effectively, enabling you to breathe better while creating stability and activation through the core. 
 
3. Keep your core strong.
When you stay mindful of your posture and breathe through your belly, you’re activating your core. In addition to following tips 1 and 2, it’s also important to specifically target the core as a muscle group. Tight hamstrings could be compensating for a weak core, so make core part of your weekly training routine. Here are some of my favorite exercises to work those abs (Plus bonus side effect: You’ll look great in your swimsuit!)
 
4. Keep your glutes strong.
Remember in tip 3 when I said that your hamstrings could be compensating for a weak core? The same is true with your glutes. The more you train the glutes and core, the better off your hamstrings will be. So share the love with other muscles groups. Download my Runner’s Prehab Guide for some of my favorite moves for strong glutes. (These are great exercises even if you don’t run!)
 
5. Don’t be a “sitter.”
This one’s for all my peeps with desk jobs. When you sit all day, you put your hamstrings in a shorter, tightened position. Take advantage of this quarantine and break up your day by going for short walks so you don’t get stiff. It’s also a great way to take a mental break!
 
6. Remember the hammies in your strength routine.
Fun fact, tight muscles do NOT always equal strong muscles. If your hamstrings are tight, it could actually be a sign that you need to strengthen them. Try some of these moves for strong hamstrings.
 
7. Practice dynamic stretching before a workout
You’ve probably heard this before but it’s incredibly important to move while you stretch to prevent cramping and better protect your muscles. Try walking hips swings or some of these exercises to set yourself up for success before your workout.
 
8. Foam roll after a workout.
One of the best ways to release knots and trigger points is foam rolling. It’s an awesome recovery for your muscles after a run or workout and provides a deep release while preventing muscle tension and pain. Do your muscles a favor and show them some love after you make them work! Here’s my favorite foam roller.
 
Need help treating your tight hamstrings? Let’s chat!
Water

Bottom’s Up! How Much Water You Actually Need To Be Drinking

15.02.2021 | Integrate Columbus

Dr. Stephanie Duffey • Jun 15, 2020

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With summer upon us and the outside temp heating up, I thought I’d pop in with this blog post all about drinking water! Do keep in mind that it’s important to stay hydrated all year long (not just during the warmer summer months). Here, I’ll break down everything you need to know—from the important role water plays in keeping you healthy, to tips for meeting your daily intake needs.
 
What’s the deal with water anyways?
 
As crazy as it sounds, did you know that up to 60% of the adult human body is made up of water!? Check out this break down of the water percentages in your body:
  • Brain and heart = 73% water
  • Lungs = 83% water
  • Skin = 64% water
  • Muscles and kidneys = 79% water
  • Bones = 31% water
 
So why does all this matter? 
 
Water not only helps your body stay hydrated, but it also keeps your muscles and joints lubricated for maximum efficiency. Water is beneficial to other systems too because it:
  • Regulates our internal body temperature by sweating and respiration
  • Helps transport oxygen all over the body for a healthy heart
  • Assists in flushing waste and preventing constipation
  • Acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord
  • Forms saliva and aids in digestion
 
How much water should I actually be drinking?
 
Now, to answer the question you’ve all been waiting for! How much water should you be consuming on a daily basis? The amount varies per person but the easiest way to think about it is to aim for half your weight in ounces of water.
 
So let’s say you weigh 150lbs. Your water intake should be right around 75oz. Another factor to pay attention to is activity level. If you exercise often and sweat a lot, you’ll want to consume even more water to replenish yourself. You can perform a sweat test before and after exercise to see how much you’ve lost through perspiration. For every pound you lose, that’s an extra pint of water you need to drink.
 
Tips for getting your H20:
  • Sip your water throughout the day rather than chugging it all at once and always keep a bottle with you (Hint: If you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated).
  • Use water as your main source of hydration (Drinks that are high in sugar or caffeine can actually dehydrate you).
  • Check the color of your urine (It should be pale and clear rather than dark and odorous).
  • Try infusing fruit into your water for a fun and refreshing flavor.
  • Incorporate liquid-based fruits like grapes and watermelon into your diet (these provide hydration too!)
 
​I hope you found this post to be helpful. Questions or comments? I’d love to chat with you!