May 9, 2022
The snow is gone and we can finally see dry(ish) ground on our roads, sidewalks, and trails. This means one thing for many Duluth athletes - it’s race season!
While many may have already been braving the cold and slush for the love of their sport, most Midwesterners are getting ready to finally bust out the new shoes and hit the pavement to start training for upcoming 5ks, marathons, bike races, and other competitions scheduled for the season.
Feeling prepared is the number one concern for most athletes, so we have gathered a few tips to follow to help you put your best foot forward in any upcoming race you’ve signed up for.
Set up a Routine
To enter a race confidently, a consistent training plan is key. This doesn’t mean pushing yourself to the max every day. Instead, create a plan that fits your goals and will benefit your body and mind to perform to the best of your ability come race day.
There are a plethora of resources and training schedules online designed for everyone from beginners to intermediate athletes. Amongst these, you can find a plan that matches the time frame you have until your race, allowing you to steadily and healthily build up your speed and progression to meet your goals. If you work better with a trainer, many local gyms also offer training sessions, schedules, and strategies to help you succeed. Work better in a group (we highly recommend this option!)? Find a local running, biking, or workout group to join - keeping you accountable and motivated along your training journey.
Switch it up for Well-Rounded Training
Most (if not all) good training routines incorporate a multitude of different types of exercises for the entire body. We all know that come race day you will want to be at the top of your aerobic capacity (how well your lungs and heart can get oxygen to your muscles). Building up this endurance and exercise tolerance takes time and patience as you gradually and continually increase your speed and duration of activity.
However, aerobic and cardiovascular capacity is not the only thing to think about when training. Strength training is highly beneficial in order to see progress and to avoid pain. It keeps your body aligned and functioning the way it is supposed to. When it comes to strength training, you may think you can skip your lower body since you are using your legs in other workouts, however this is not the case. Lower body is just as important to focus on as upper body or core strength to limit unalignment and injury.
While you are incorporating additional body movements into your routine, let’s add dynamic stretches into the mix. Flexibility and mobility exercises are a perfect way to maintain, and even strengthen, the health of your muscles, joints, and tendons. These are great to do at the beginning or end of your workout to warm up or cool down your body. We recommend lunges with rotations as well as other lower body focused stretches to prepare your legs for a long jog or brisk sprint.
Warm Up and Cool Down
This is a good place to speak about the importance of warming up and cooling down while training.
Warming up before a workout helps to gradually increase the body’s temperature and blood flow to your muscles, preparing them for exercise and reducing the risk of unnecessary stress or injury. Start by practicing some dynamic movements to elongate muscles and increase joint range of motion, as well as beginning any activity slowly and gradually building up your pace or intensity. In addition to improving performance, warming up also benefits mental preparation by allowing your brain to become more focused on your body and the activity it is about to perform. This focus can improve coordination and technique.
Cooling down allows your body to transition from exercising to a state of rest by gradually reducing your body temperature, heart rate, and breathing. It also helps prevent muscle soreness. Think of this as your warm up, but backwards. Begin to ease down, tapering off to a slow jog or walking pace. Also incorporate static stretches, holding each stretch in a challenging, but not painful position for 15-60 seconds.
Invest in Proper Footwear
Training puts many many miles on your feet, so you want to make sure they are taken care of with the right fitting footwear. Find a quality pair of shoes that fit properly, are supportive, absorb force, and have good ankle support. It is also important to make sure they feel comfortable for your foot type and will not cause blisters. Tip: there are a few athletic shoe retailers in the Duluth area that are happy to help make sure you are purchasing the correct shoe for the build of your foot. We suggest checking out Austin Jarrow, Duluth Running Company, or Tortoise and Hare Footware. Not only will a good pair of shoes help your feet, but they will also benefit your hips and back in avoiding pain and injury.
Ensure you are running correctly
You learned to walk as a young child, so you should be able to know how to run, right? Not always. We often form bad habits or are not optimizing good form. Orthopaedic Associates of Duluth offers complete comprehensive running evaluations, which include a formal physical therapy evaluation and a running form assessment. Assessments are designed to analyze a runner's performance in order to help provide and create personalized running plans - helping you more efficiently and effectively reach your goals.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
In order to keep up with a training routine, it is important to refuel your body appropriately. Eat about 40-60g of carbohydrates per hour during training and replenishing with at least 25g of protein and carbs after. It can also be beneficial to cut back on alcohol consumption and processed sugars, keeping in mind to increase whole fresh foods. Staying hydrated is also important before, after, and during training sessions.
Know When to Seek Help
If you are experiencing lasting pain while training, reach out to your healthcare provider or a specialized member of our team and schedule an appointment to ensure you are not straining any muscles, joints, or other parts of your body to injury or serious damage. We can also help figure out a treatment or supplemented workout plan to get you back on track with your goals, or if needed, new goals. Contact our team at (218) 722-5513 or fill out the contact form at https://oaduluth.com/contact.php with any questions, concerns, or to set up an appointment.
By following these tips and recommendations, you will be geared up and ready for a confident, injury-free, and successful race season! We are cheering for you every step of the way
February 8, 2022
Here at Orthopaedic Associates of Duluth we are committed to helping the members within our communities live in motion, not only after an injury but within their daily, healthy lives as well.
We are proud to offer various classes that teach how to be active in ways that will not hurt your body, take part in community events to get to know our neighbors, and by being able to provide support to causes we stand behind.
One of these causes we are passionate about and want to share with you is Growing up Chester.
Growing up Chester is a nonprofit organization that works to promote sustainable, quality programs for all users of Duluth’s Chester Bowl Park, in a healthy, positive and safe environment. Chester Bowl keeps our communities active by providing winter ski and snowboard programs, as well as summer day camps at affordable rates. Believing that anyone interested in skiing or snowboarding should be able to regardless of income, Chester Bowl awards scholarships, free lessons, and inexpensive concessions year after year.
This year, we were thrilled to contribute a $30,000 donation during Chester Bowl’s 2022 inaugural race held on Sunday, February 6. During this event, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Friendly Duluth, 93 skiers and snowboarders aged 3 to 16 took to the slopes. This year was especially inspirational for young athletes with the start of the Winter Olympics - many envisioning themselves getting to the medal podium in future years.
We were so pleased to be able to help and to have presented this gift during such a meaningful event, with the hope of continuation of development and expansion of programs and infrastructure - impacting families within our community for years to come.
Currently, the Chester Bowl Improvement Club is working towards expanding and updating the chalet, making it more ADA accessible and user friendly, as well as upgrading the HVAC facilities in order to make it a better year-round facility.
Many of our own doctors and staff have grown up or raised families in the Duluth area, and more specifically have spent time at Chester Bowl. We understand the huge role the park plays on the lives of those who live here. It is a great space for the community to move outdoors - making memories, learning new things, and staying active and healthy in ways they enjoy.
January 18, 2022
Living here in the Northland, we can typically expect to enjoy winter conditions six to seven months out of our year. While we pride ourselves on being hardy and able to navigate our day to day life through the cold, snow, and ice - it is also important to make sure we are aware of potential injuries and take caution where we can.
Watching out for ice and slippery walkways during the colder months may seem like common knowledge, however they lead to some of the most common winter injuries, bumps, and bruises, and even fractures.
Ice can be difficult to see at times, and can often be mistaken for pooled water or wet pavement. Take extra care and always watch your footing when pathways are not cleared or dry. Make sure the sidewalks, walkways, and driveway to your home are shoveled and clear of ice after each snow. You can also use de-icer or sand for the stubborn ice spots. This may be a tedious task, but ensures comfort and safety for you, your family, and visitors in the long run.
Make sure to take your time and don’t strain yourself while shoveling or removing snow for risk of causing injury, while working to prevent injury. The repeated twisting and lifting of heavy snow can take a toll on the body, causing pulled or tightened muscles, fractures, and more. Use the correct shovel and lifting techniques to keep your body in line and avoid pain. If you are starting to feel sore or tired, take a break to stretch your muscles. The same tips go for removing snow and ice from your vehicle. Warm up your vehicle ahead of time, watch your footing, don’t overreach, and not rushing will make removal easier and reduce injury.
When ice or snow does cause a fall, assess the situation and pain to determine the severity. Some falls can be minor, simply resulting in a bruise and slight soreness after the incident. Other injuries can be more intense, including broken or fractured wrists or hips from catching oneself, ankle twists and sprains, muscle strains, and back, spinal cord, or brain injuries.
While anyone can suffer an injury caused by snow or ice, seniors and people who have previously had an injury are more at risk.
Prevention and preparedness are the best methods to avoid slips and falls on winter days. There are quite a few actions you can take to limit the potential for accidents.
- Wear proper footwear for the conditions. You can also invest in Yaktrax or other traction cleat products used to grip and ease walking on ice.
- Use a walking pole or stick to help with balance.
- Avoid long steps, keeping your stride short and slow.
We emphasize the importance of removing snow build-up on walkways, however all that snow can be moved to one of our favorite winter activities - the sledding hill! Winter has some of the best seasonal activities and seeing how fast you can get down a hill on a sled is one of the best ways to bring out the child in all of us!
That being said, safety measures should be taken during this wintertime adventure to ensure the hill stays fun! Did you know that 25,000 children are treated for sledding injuries in the United States each year? Head, neck, and abdominal injuries are the most common.
There are many easy precautions to take when sledding.
- Wear a helmet. Ski helmets are ideal, but hockey or bike helmets also help.
- Make sure your sled is high quality and in good condition.
- Use sleds correctly, never go head-first and follow weight/passenger guidelines.
- Make sure the hill is safe - away from roads, frozen bodies of water, and clear of obstacles.
- Have sledders walk up a side of the hill instead of the middle and always be aware of their surroundings.
Following these tips will reduce solo crashes as well as running into other people or objects. Also, always remember to wear proper outerwear to stay warm and free of frostbite while outside.
For tips on avoiding winter sports-related injuries, check out our blog post from last winter here.
Although some winter injuries may seem small or unnoticed at first, monitor how you are feeling after a fall or unpleasant incident in case issues arise later on. Injuries can range from mild to severe, for the more severe or pain that is not subsiding, reach out to our team for an appointment. Stay warm and safe this winter season!
December 14, 2021
Do you seem to know when colder weather is coming because you can “feel it in your bones”? Many patients experience flare-ups of joint pain at the start of the winter season. While there is no one explanation for this link between the change of temperature and joint pain, we do know of a few possible reasons why you may be feeling these effects.
Barometric Pressure and Weather
Barometric pressure is the measurement of air pressure in the atmosphere. This measurement changes constantly and is dependent on where the reading is taking place. Weather also changes with barometric pressure, meaning that the pressure reading will often fall before cold weather sets in. Aspects of the weather, including precipitation, humidity, and temperature are all at play here, making it difficult for scientists to be sure what exactly causes the additional pain.
One theory is that when the cartilage that cushions the bones inside the joint is worn away, like for those with arthritis, nerves within the exposed bones feel the changes in barometric pressure.
Another theory is that changes in barometric pressure can make tendons, muscles, and scar tissue expand and contract - creating pain in the joints.
Dropping temperatures can also make the fluid inside of your joints thicker, making them feel stiffer. Joints may also stiffen up due to a lack of movement, which often happens when people stay indoors and are inactive due to colder weather.
How to Ease Joint Pain
There are multiple methods that you can use to ease weather related joint pain.
As the weather becomes colder, keep yourself warm by using electric blankets, wearing warm clothing and layering, keeping your house well heated, and making sure you are warming up your car before use.
You can also help prevent your joints from swelling by wearing well-fitted gloves that keep fluid out and by wearing knee braces. To help relax muscles, apply heating pads to painful areas when necessary.
Trying to stay active will also help to reduce joint pain. Keep joints limber and strong by practicing a few stretches and gentle exercises like swimming or yoga every day.
A doctor may also recommend taking pain medication. Consult with your doctor before taking any medications to ensure correct type and dosage.
When to See a Doctor
Consult your physician if you experience unusual or new symptoms. These may include swelling, redness, or difficulty putting pressure on or using a joint.
If you are unable to ease joint pain, contact our physical therapy team or your physician for alternative suggestions or treatments.
October 21, 2021
October is National Physical Therapy Month, and in celebration we would like to take this opportunity to raise awareness in regards to the benefits of physical therapy and the pride Orthopaedic Associates’ therapists have in the work they do and help they provide.
Physical therapy helps patients get back to their active lifestyle after an injury or illness by assessing and diagnosing their physical deficits in combination with mechanical restrictions then putting together a personalized treatment approach in conjunction with working directly with a physician. Physical therapists aim to ease pain and help you move, function, and live better by working by your side through all stages of healing - from diagnosis through recovery.
Patients may seek physical therapy for numerous reasons including; to relieve pain, to improve movement or ability, to rehab after a stroke, accident, or surgery, to prevent or recover from a sports injury, to manage a chronic illness, as well as many other health problems. People of all ages are proven to benefit from physical therapy.
If a patient has a serious injury or illness, a physical therapist does not take the place of a doctor or surgeon, however they can work closely with other healthcare professionals to create and guide treatments to better outcomes.
The therapists at Orthopaedic Associates enjoy getting to know each patient. Building that relationship and rapport is important so that they can learn what progress the patient wants to make and what kind of activities they want to get back to.
During the first session, your physical therapist will examine and assess your needs by asking questions regarding pain or other symptoms, ability to move and do everyday tasks, as well as other medical history that is relevant. They will also administer a series of tests. Doing this helps to diagnose a condition, understand why you have the condition, and develop a treatment plan that works for you.
At OAD, patients typically meet with their therapist and their surgeon at the first appointment. From there we can talk about the plan of care and what the expectation of the patient and OAD’s team is.
Treatments could include guided stretches or exercises, massage, cold or heat therapy, practice with canes, walkers, or other items to help with movement and balance, or rehab to help learn the use of an artificial limb. A therapist will assess progress and adjust treatment when necessary.
One advantage a patient will experience at Orthopaedic Associates is our offering of a one-on-one treatment approach. Patients will be generally seen from start to finish of treatment by one physical or occupational therapist - so that they aren't bounced around from one to the next.
Another advantage is the direct access OAD therapists have with their physicians. This connection bridges the gaps where things could potentially slip through. It is important for patients to know that this connected loop does not get dropped and care team members are continually in communication. From day one the therapists are well aware of what occurred in surgery and can have that communication with the surgeon being literally steps away from each other. This communication goes both ways where if there is a question on the physician's end they can come speak with one of the physical therapists and vice versa.
Orthopaedic Associates of Duluth has several specialized programs including a sports metrics program which works with athletes both in preventing injuries specifically with the ACL and preventing reinjury with the ACL. Another program is our return to sport testing which can be for any injury whether it is a lower or upper body injury to make sure the athlete is safe to return to their sport. We also offer a running assessment, which is also meant to prevent running injuries or can treat runners who have had an injury in the past and get them back to their love of running.
Learn more about our team of therapists, each having extensive education in the areas of orthopedics, manual therapy, sports rehab, and injury prevention by visiting www.oaduluth.com/therapy.php. Please request an appointment if you feel your life and health would benefit from physical therapy.
September 23, 2021
We understand the appeal you might see in putting off a surgery. Maybe your life is busy and you are waiting for a quieter time, maybe you have fears about the procedure or are concerned about the recovery process, or maybe you just haven’t made the time to call to schedule your appointment. Studies show that up to 90% of individuals who need a knee replacement wait too long, however delaying the procedure could deprive patients of a surgery’s full potential or cause greater pain.
When a patient waits too long for a knee replacement, the osteoarthritis creates continued deformity of the knee joint. This causes the body to compensate and places additional stress and strain on other parts of the body. This compensation can affect your muscles and ligaments, skeletal system, hips, and even your good knee.
Deterioration of function can also lead to the inability to be active, which can lead to additional problems due to weight gain, low endurance, cardiac conditions, or emotional health. This can also slow down the recovery process and can make post-operative procedures, like physical therapy, more challenging.
As the joint deteriorates while delaying a total knee replacement, the overall replacement process can become more complicated. The surgeon will need to navigate the increased deformity of the joint while operating. This leads to a longer surgery, resulting in a higher risk of postoperative concerns including blood clots or infections.
Patients who wait longer also do not tend to get as much function back after surgery as someone who had it sooner. A good indicator of expected motion after surgery is the mobility of the knee before replacement.
While one reason patients put off a surgery is to postpone an unpleasant experience, by delaying you are ultimately dealing with chronic pain for a longer period of time, which affects your quality of life. As months or even years go on, you are also aging. With age comes longer and more difficult recovery times as well as other health issues that may affect a surgery. The younger and healthier a patient is at the time of surgery is typically a good indication of how well surgery and recovery will go.
When hesitant to schedule a joint replacement surgery, remember that knee replacement is one of the most successful surgical procedures. At Orthopaedic Associates, we use cutting-edge, minimally invasive techniques in a comfortable setting with the best team in the region to ensure the best possible experience, recovery, and outcome. Learn more about our joint replacement services at www.oaduluth.com/joint-replacement-specialists.php.
It is important to stay proactive when it comes to a total knee replacement. Make an appointment by calling (218) 722-5513 to consult your doctor or orthopaedic surgeon and talk about your best options to help you live in motion.
August 20, 2021
According to data from the National Safety Council, young people aged 5 to 14 account for 50% of football injuries, 45% of soccer injuries, and 40% of lacrosse and rugby injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2017. Another statistic to note is that each year about 1.35 million student-athletes suffer injuries while playing sports. With this data in mind, it is important that while students are practicing for their fall sports, they should also be practicing good habits to prevent injury, especially after the long summer break or even longer break due to the pandemic.
Many fall sports including soccer, football, and cross country have running at their core. Other sports like tennis, lacrosse, and volleyball focus more on strong, repetitive motions. Both strength and cardiovascular training are essential before and during the fall season to ensure safety and to decrease the chance of injury.
Types of Injury
One of the most common injuries seen during fall sports is concussions. In a recent study, the Brain Injury Research Institute estimated that 1.6 to 3.8 million athletes suffer from concussions annually. In sports like football where there is a high level of contact and soccer where the head is used in play, any hits to the head should be taken seriously due to the possibility of a brain injury. Playing through a concussion can lead to a more serious injury, so if an athlete is showing signs of headache, nausea or vomiting, confusion, ringing in the ears, fatigue, or head/eye pain when exposed to bright light they should seek help. If an athlete has had more than one concussion, they may also need to discuss further safety measures to avoid long-term brain distress.
Fractures, or a bone break, are also common and can include several different types, including:
Open Fractures - the bone pokes through the skin
Comminuted Fractures - a bone that has been broken more than once
Complete Fractures - the bone breaks in two
Bowing Fractures - the bone bends but doesn’t snap, typically limited to children
Greenstick Fractures - one side of the bone is cracked, while the other remains intact
These require immediate attention and often need a long break from play.
Strains happen from sudden strange movements or overuse of a muscle. Symptoms of a strain include swelling, stiffness, cramping, trouble moving, or feeling a pop. Strains should be given rest so that athletes don’t experience a worse injury from overexertion, as well as elevation and icing.
Sprains often occur in the ankle, wrist, or knee and are partial or complete tears of the ligament within a joint. They typically happen when a part of the body is twisted in an awkward way, for example, if landing incorrectly when kicking a ball. Signs of a sprain are a popping sound at the time of injury, pain in the area, swelling or bruising, difficulty walking, or a limited range of motion.
Most sprains are minor, however, an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is a common and severe injury that requires rehabilitation and surgery. An ACL tear affects the ligament that stabilizes the knee.
Strains and minor sprains are similar injuries and can be treated and healed with appropriate Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation - PRICE.
Tennis elbow doesn’t only occur in athletes on the tennis courts, repetitive use of the elbow in any sport can create small tears in the ligamines, leading to pain and inflammation.
Runners often can experience shin splints from overuse. Shin Splints is an injury of the soft tissues that hold the muscle to the bone and is caused by a rapid increase in intensity or frequency of running, improper shoes, training on hard services like concrete, or flat feet. While most commonly seen in cross country runners, shin splints can show up in any sport that involves a high amount of running like soccer or field hockey. Stretching before practice and making sure to rest between sessions can help prevent shin splints. Making sure to replace shoes regularly, about every 300-500 miles is also beneficial.
Rest and icing typically heal shin splints, however, in some cases, athletes need further treatment. These cases include: when a doctor suspects a stress fracture, tendonitis develops, or if shin splints are incorrectly diagnosed for a chronic exertional compartment syndrome where pressure builds up in the muscles.
It is estimated that about 40% of all sports injuries are knee injuries. Runner's knee or Patellofemoral Syndrome is an injury that causes pain when the cartilage in the kneecap becomes irritated, worn, or soft, leading to a shifting of the kneecap’s position and poor alignment. Volleyball players can experience this due to their repetitive crouching or squatting motions, however, any athlete who repeatedly moves in a way where the kneecap rubs against the leg bone can experience damage to the tissue. Other symptoms include the knee-buckling or making grinding and popping sounds. The PRICE method can also help with these symptoms, as well as kinesiology taping or bracing and physical therapy focusing on strengthening the knee, core, and surrounding muscle groups.
Simple things can help decrease the chance of a fall sport-related injury including getting a physical before the season starts to ensure health, stretching and warming up, cross-training to strengthen all muscle groups, investing in good footwear and proper protective equipment, and fueling an athlete’s body correctly. When possible, it is also beneficial to avoid concrete and to exercise on well-maintained grass or soft track surfaces.
It is also important for every athlete to remember to speak up when they are feeling pain, rest after an injury, and enjoy downtime.
Following these guidelines can prepare the body and keep young athletes off the bench this season.
If your student-athlete is experiencing pain or an injury due to a fall sport, or if you have any questions about keeping them healthy, reach out to our team to schedule an appointment!
July 14, 2021
The carpal tunnel is a narrow pathway surrounded by ligaments and bones on the under side of your hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when there is pressure on the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel from your forearm to your hand. This nerve provides sensation to the palm side of your thumb and fingers, excluding the little finger. It also provides nerve signals to move the muscles around the base of your thumb, helping with motor function.
When something squeezes the median nerve in the carpal tunnel, it can cause irritation, swelling, and create issues. Often, there isn’t one single cause of carpal tunnel syndrome but instead a combination of risk factors contributing to the development of the condition. However, health problems and repetitive hand movements can contribute to experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome. Studies also show that women and older people are more likely to develop the condition.
Usually starting gradually, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness, tingling, shock-like sensations, or weakness affecting the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. These sensations may travel up your arm and are often noticed while holding something for a prolonged period of time like a steering wheel, phone, or book. Experiencing symptoms at night is often common due to people often sleeping with their wrists bent. The feeling of weakness may cause people to drop objects. This is due to the weakness of the thumb’s pinching muscles, which are also controlled by the median nerve.
To relieve caused pain, some people find that “shaking out” their hands briefly helps, however the pain or numb feelings may become more frequent and eventually constant over time. These symptoms may also wake you from sleep, interrupting good sleep patterns.
To reduce the chance of getting carpal tunnel syndrome, there are many methods you can use to minimize stress on your hands and wrists. These include, reducing force and relaxing your grip, taking short and frequent breaks when completing tasks, watching your form and improving posture, changing your computer mouse, and keeping your hands warm.
When normal activities and sleep patterns become interfered, it is time to schedule an appointment with your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.
Your doctor will look into your history of symptoms, as well as do a physical exam if you fear you may have carpal tunnel syndrome. They may also decide x-rays, an electromyography, or a nerve conduction study is necessary.
It is important to treat carpal tunnel syndrome as early as possible since there are simple things you can do to make the problem go away while in the early stages. These simple actions include taking more frequent breaks to give your hands a rest, avoid activities that make symptoms worse, and apply a cold pack to reduce any swelling.
Other nonsurgical therapy options include wrist splinting and medications. Alternative options like yoga to help strengthen, stretch, and balance the body or hand therapy may reduce symptoms as well in some patients. Proper treatment typically relieves the tingling and numbness and restores hand and wrist function.
If pressure on the median nerve continues, it can lead to nerve damage and worsening symptoms. When symptoms are severe or don’t respond to treatments, surgery may be appropriate.
If you have concerns or think you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, request an appointment with one of our hand and wrist specialists: https://www.oaduluth.com/hand-and-wrist-specialists.php.