Orthopaedic Associates Articles

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Orthopaedic Associates and Duluth Harbor Monsters Partner to Create the Strongest Team

June 25, 2024

Our team is passionate about working with the athletes in our community to ensure healthy movement, reduce risk of injury, and promote top performance. We are so proud and excited to have the opportunity to be the official health partner of the Duluth Harbor Monsters! 

For those who have not heard yet, the Harbor Monsters are Duluth’s premier arena football team. These athletes bring unmatched athleticism to the Northland through fast-paced, high-scoring football at the highest level possible. Our team is looking forward to supporting them on and off the field. 

A member of our Sports Medicine team, Betty Pollock, is acting as the Harbor Monster’s Certified Athletic Trainer. She will be taking care of the athletes when it comes to injury prevention, assessment, and rehabilitation. She will be on site during practices and games to tape and wrap injuries, respond to any acute injuries that happen on the field, provide hydration, help stretch, answer questions, and provide any additional support the team may need. 

She will also be in constant communication with the coaches, other staff at Orthopaedic Associates, and management when it comes to new injuries, status of an injury and how recovery is progressing, and any other updates or concerns that need to be addressed. 

Being the inaugural year, our athletic trainer helped cover the tryouts last April and was able to begin introducing herself to the team to get to know them and gain trust for the upcoming season. After tryouts, athletes were able to reach out to her with any questions they had pre-season about injuries and how they could make sure they were at peak performance once games started. The team at Orthopaedic Associates also conducted physicals for all athletes to ensure everyone was healthy and there were no minor issues to kick off the season. 

Want a look behind the scenes of game day? We got the inside scoop. 

“Game day prep for me involves arriving before the team(s), getting water and Gatorade ready and set out by each bench, making sure my med kit is stocked, setting up an area for taping, and doing any pregame taping/wrapping,” described Pollock. “Once the team takes the field, I'm right by the door watching the game with our team doctor. If an injury occurs on the field, I go out and assess the situation, determine if it's safe to move them back to the bench, and then continue further evaluation. I also might be doing a quick tape or bandaging between when a player goes back out on the field. After the game, I may re-assess any injury if needed, provide ice, and once everyone is gone, I can get all of my stuff put away. One of the best parts about game day is not only being there as a healthcare provider, but also as a supporter. I very much look forward to cheering them on.”

“On game days, it’s not only me, we have the Orthopaedic Associates team available. The team doctor and event staff have to be ready for emergency situations where an ambulance may need to be called or perform immediate lifesaving measures. For away games, I typically reach out to the athletic trainer of the opposing team and let them know what I’m sending down in terms of supplies, how many athletes typically are taped, and if there’s any tapes/wraps out of the ordinary they should be aware of.” 

Orthopedic Associates’ goal throughout the entire season is to keep the athletes as healthy as possible! We look forward to offering the Harbor Monsters a high level of healthcare, limiting the amount of injuries and keeping all players on the field and in the game. 

You can check out the Harbor Monsters and support them at an upcoming game by visiting www.duluthmonsters.com/.

An Athletic Trainer’s Guide to Preventing Sports Injuries

June 3, 2024

Preventing injury during a sporting season is crucial for athletes in order to maintain peak performance and avoid setbacks. Here are some tips from our Athletic Trainers to minimize the risk of injury: 

Strength & Conditioning 

Incorporate strength training programs into conditioning routines that are tailored to the specific needs of the sport you are playing and your goals. Strengthening muscles around your joints helps to provide support and stability, preventing injury. 

It is important to develop and execute preseason conditioning programs to gradually prepare for the physical demands of your sport. Easing into the exertion of movement and reaching peak performance during the most important time of your sport’s season will lead to the best results. 

Flexibility & Mobility

Including regular stretching exercises into training sessions increases your flexibility and mobility, reducing the risk of muscle strains and joint injuries. Our past April blog The Role of Stretching and Flexibility Exercises gives a detailed picture of the benefits, types, and how this topic relates to sports.

Warm Up & Cool Down  

Engaging in dynamic warm-up routines before practices and games increases blood flow to muscles, improves flexibility, and prepares the body for activity. Cooling down properly after exercise can also help to prevent injury. These are great bookends for productive training sessions. 

Correct Techniques & Equipment

Make sure you are using proper form while training and competing. Incorrect movements put strain on the muscles and joints, leading to injury. Same goes for use of equipment. Proper fitting and appropriate footwear, protective gear, etc. minimizes injuries. 

Rest & Recovery

Get adequate rest between high-impact workouts to allow your body time to recover. Over-training and overuse increases the risk of fatigue and injury. Also ensure you stay hydrated and get proper nutrition. Nutrition supports muscle recovery and overall performance. 

Monitoring & Communication

Keep track, or make sure someone else is, of your physical condition and any signs of fatigue or injury. Report any pain or abnormal discomfort early on to ensure prompt intervention and to stop an injury from happening altogether. 

If you have been injured in the past, implement rehabilitation goals and future protocols to make sure you are fully recovered before going back to your sport. This will also benefit you when you do participate again, decreasing your risk of injury.

Education & Awareness

Make sure you know about the common injuries in your sport, their causes, and preventative strategies so that you are empowered to lower your chances of season-ending injury. 

You want to stay on the field, court, arena and we want to keep you there. Incorporating these strategies into training programs and day-to-day workouts is a stride in the right direction in staying in the game. 

If you have any further questions for an athletic trainer regarding sports injury, reach out to our team! 


 

Exercise and Arthritis: Low-Impact Exercises for Joint Health

May 20, 2024

Everyone needs exercise, but it can be especially important for people living with arthritis. Regular exercise and movement is necessary for managing symptoms - increasing flexibility and strength, as well as promoting weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. 

A lack of physical activity increases joint inflammation, due to weakening muscles that support the joints, creating stress and stiffness. However, overdoing a workout or participating in high-impact exercise can also risk damage to your joints and pain. 

It is important to listen to your body and choose low-impact exercises that work for you and are easy to maintain in your schedule. In this blog we will share a few of our suggestions to help alleviate joint pain and keep you living in motion. 

Walking 

Convenient and easy to work into your schedule, even a short walk a day can benefit your arthritis symptoms and reduce joint pain. Regular walking can also help you lose weight, which reduces the strain and pressure on joints. 

Biking

An excellent cardio and strength workout, biking limits the impact placed on joints that a higher-impact exercise like jogging would do while giving you all the benefits. Plus any excuse to be outside and in nature is great for your physical and mental health!  

Swimming/Water Aerobics 

 

Water provides a natural resistance on your body, aiding in muscle building, while its buoyancy eliminates the pressure on your joints. Lap swimming and aerobics are great ways to remain active with arthritis, and many gym facility memberships provide access to a pool! 

Strength Training 

The use of resistance bands, free weights, and weight machines strengthens the muscles around your joints which leads to reduced joint pain. Make sure your lifting program targets different large muscle groups and start slowly, gradually increasing your intensity in order to reduce the risk of injury. 

Yoga

 

A symptom of arthritis can be impaired coordination. The practice of yoga improves balance, flexibility, and body awareness. Regular practice can help with joint functionality. Additionally if you are unable to hold a certain pose, it is easily modified through different movements or chair yoga. 

Incorporating movement and exercise when you have arthritis is important, however it is even more important to make sure your actions are safe. Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercises or adding a workout program into your routine to ensure you are not taking on any movements that are too high-impact or will do damage to joints. 

Living with arthritis should not keep you from living in motion! We hope we have given you a few ideas to add into your routine, keeping you moving and healthy. 

 

Managing your Arthritis Pain

May 8, 2024

Arthritis is one of the leading causes of pain and disability not only in the United States, but worldwide. With so many individuals in our community dealing with the effects of arthritis daily, May was named as National Arthritis Awareness Month in support and to educate those who live with Arthritis as well as those who care for and about them. 

First, What is Arthritis? 

Informally, it is a way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. More specifically, there are two most common types of arthritis: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

Osteoarthritis is degenerative, caused by wear and tear of a joint’s cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder where the immune system attacks the tough membrane that encloses every part of the joint, eventually destroying the cartilage and bone within the joint. 

Common arthritis symptoms include joint pain and stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased range of motion. These symptoms can worsen with time and age, making it difficult to do daily tasks.

If you would like a more in depth view of these types of arthritis, diagnosis, and treatment read our past blog Understanding Arthritis

Managing Pain and Maintain Mobility

Knowledge is the first key in managing daily discomfort and being able to continue your normal routine. Talk to your doctor about your diagnosis and learn all you can about your specific condition. This will help you to move forward with a treatment plan as well as strategize a daily routine that works for your lifestyle. 

Movement

It is important to keep your joints moving. Do gentle stretches and movements that utilize your joints through their full range of motion. Movement can decrease pain and stiffness as well as strengthen your muscles and increase endurance - helping you to maintain mobility. 

You will need to choose the right kinds of activities that build up your joint strength but don’t push the limits and cause more damage to them. A physical or occupational therapist can work with you to develop an exercise program customized to your goals. We will discuss Exercise and Arthritis in a blog scheduled for later this month! Be on the lookout for more detailed information. 

Healthy Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also crucial in managing pain. Being overweight can increase complications and pain. Manage weight through the daily movement we previously discussed and by eating a well balanced diet. Check out Our Recipe for Joint Health

Smoking also causes stress on connective tissues, increasing arthritis pain. Quitting this habit can ease pain and contribute to a healthier lifestyle in general. 

Medication 

If you are noticing more pain, there are many types of medications available for relief. Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and creams containing capsaicin can help relieve occasional pain triggered by overdoing an activity. Don’t ignore severe or prolonged pain, you may be experiencing joint inflammation or damage requiring daily medication. Talk to your doctor about incorporating a medication plan for your specific pain symptoms.

Pay Attention to your Body

Making sure you are using good posture can also help to keep arthritis pain down. Good posture helps develop the correct alignment between our bones and joints, minimizing wear and potential pain. A physical therapist can also show you how to stand, sit, and move correctly. 

Pay attention to your joints and know your limits. Balance movement and rest so that you do not overdo any activity. If you are feeling pain, rest with heat and cold. Applying heating pads or taking a hot bath or shower can relieve pain temporarily. Applying an ice pack to overused and inflamed muscles will also relieve pain and inflammation. 

Relaxation therapy like gentle yoga, meditating, and deep breathing are also great ways to rest your body as well as being positive for your mental and emotional state. Keeping your mood positive and mental health high are integral in your physical health and can help ease pain.

Talk to a Doctor

Our goal and the focus of arthritis treatment is to reduce pain, minimize joint damage, and to maintain or even improve joint function and our quality of life. By following the treatment plan created by your doctor and utilizing the tips from this blog to manage pain, you can take control of your arthritis. 

Safety Tips for this Gardening Season

April 16, 2024

Planning on using your green thumb this spring and summer? Gardening has both physical and mental health benefits, however there can be some risks to be aware of when helping your outdoor flowers and veggies bloom.

Warm Up

Spending long periods of time weeding, planting, digging, and reaching is considered physical labor and can be hard on the body. Take a little time warming up and stretching beforehand to avoid issues like low back and shoulder soreness. Gardening without proper rest and stretching can also lead to more than just pain - injuries including pulled muscles and tendon issues are common. 

Utilize Tools

To reduce the amount of stress on your body during gardening season, select your tools wisely. Choose ergonomic tools that will work with you instead of against you. Tools with thicker, padded handles work to protect the joints in your hands. Arm support cuffs, extension rods, and grabbers are also great tools to reduce pain and strain. 

Focus on Posture

Remember to focus on having good posture. Move slowly to make sure your posture is correct and you are never feeling uncomfortable. Chores in the garden often require a lot of kneeling and bending. We recommend using knee pads instead of bending over when possible. Utilizing a stool or chair can also ease the stress on your knees. If you do need to bend to complete a task, hinge at the hip instead of the waist. 

When it comes to lifting heavy objects like bags of soil and large planters, avoid strain on your back by engaging your legs, knees, and core. Hold items close to your body and avoid lifting, twisting, and throwing heavy or wet materials. To reduce the risk of injury, use equipment or ask another person for help instead of moving forward solo with heavy lifting.

Break it Up

Avoiding prolonged repetitive movements can also help to limit the chances of tendon or nerve irritation. To minimize strain, vary tasks and rotate movements so that the same muscles are not used over and over again without rest. 

Take breaks when you are feeling tired, especially on hotter days. Make sure to drink water to stay hydrated. This will not only help to prevent injury but will also improve your ability to work and your productivity. 

Protect your General Well-being

For your general health, make sure to wear personal protective equipment to protect yourself from the risk of cuts, scrapes, and skin irritants. Apply sunscreen and insect repellent when necessary. Watch the weather conditions and layer appropriately. Use chemicals and harmful materials carefully. Making sure your general well-being is taken care of will also benefit physical aches and pains later.

If an injury does occur when working in the garden, don’t ignore it. Even if it is small, tend to it immediately before it becomes a larger issue. If you are experiencing any issues with your joints or muscles, contact us so we can help make sure your lifestyle (and gardens) continue to bloom! 

 

The Role of Stretching and Flexibility Exercises

April 8, 2024

When it comes to physical fitness and athletic performance, flexibility can be just as important as strength and endurance. In addition to lifting weights and keeping up on cardiovascular fitness, incorporating stretching and flexibility exercises into your routine will benefit your overall performance, as well as helping with injury prevention. 

The benefits of maintaining flexibility are not limited to only athletes. Every person’s well-being is enhanced by taking a few minutes in our days to focus on moving our bodies and stretching our muscles. 

Benefits of Stretching 

Stretching keeps your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. These deliberate movements work to elongate muscles, tendons, and ligaments which increases their elasticity and range of motion. 

A lack of flexibility results in shortened, tight muscles. When your muscles are tight they become weak and unable to extend as they are supposed to when used for physical activity. This puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, muscle injury, and damage. 

In general, flexibility: 

- Improves performance in physical activities
- Decreases risk of injury
- Helps joints move through their full range of motion
- Increases muscle blood flow
- Enables muscles to work most effectively
- Improves the ability to do daily activities

Regular stretching and flexibility maintenance are important for those who are active daily playing sports as well as those who sit for most of the day. For one example, sitting in a chair while working all day causes the muscle located at the back of your thighs, the hamstrings, to become tight. Then, when you attempt to use these muscles they are weak and unable to extend all the way, leading to a higher risk of pain and issues. 

How to Stretch

There are about 600 muscles in the human body, so the thought of stretching them all can seem daunting. Luckily, you don't have to stretch EVERY muscle you have. We recommend focusing on the lower extremities: your quadriceps, pelvis, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves are critical in your daily mobility. Your neck, shoulders, and lower neck should also be kept in mind for healthy movement. 

There are two main types of stretching that can be incorporated into your routine. 

Dynamic Stretching: controlled movements that mimic activities of daily living or sports motions, used mainly to prepare muscles and joints for subsequent activity.

Static Stretching: holding a position to elongate a muscle without movement. The pose is held where you feel tension but not pain for 15 - 30 seconds.

Muscle flexibility doesn’t happen after just one stretching session, it takes weeks to months to achieve and then maintenance to keep. It is important to include it with your daily movements and workouts, so that when it comes time to take on physical exertion there won't be too much force placed on the muscle being used. 

Flexibility and Stretching During Sports

Ideas on the importance of stretching before participating in sports have gone back and forth. Currently, it is not advised to consider stretching your warm-up. Stretching cold muscles can cause harm to them. Instead, warm up with a ten minute light walk or jog to get blood flowing to the muscles, then stretch them before doing higher-intensity activities like soccer or football. These sports require muscles and tendons that are compliant to high amounts of energy absorption. 

However, some sports may require less flexibility from their athletes. Runners, for example, can become too flexible before they compete and over accentuate their muscles and their movements, ruining form. Work with your coach, physical therapist, or trainer on a custom stretching and flexibility plan for your activity level.

Flexibility is one piece of the puzzle to keeping our bodies working correctly and moving for us - whatever our age, physical activity level, or body composition. We encourage you to find breaks in your day for routine stretching and to find movements that feel good for your lifestyle. A few minutes in your daily schedule or alongside your workout goes a long way in helping you continue to live in motion. 


 

Hydration and Orthopaedic Wellness: Why Water Matters

March 25, 2024

We’re told to make sure to drink enough water, stay hydrated, keep a water bottle with us to make it a habit. But what is the actual importance of consuming enough water? Read on to learn how H2O benefits the body, how much to consume, and some tips to staying hydrated. 

In short, water transports nutrients to cells, gets rid of waste in the body, and protects joints and organs. Let’s dive further into it all to see how hydration helps keep you in motion! 

Muscle

Our muscles are energized by water. Inadequate hydration can compromise blood flow to working muscle, causing the cells to shrivel and fatigue. This may result in our muscles not working to the most of their ability and becoming more susceptible to injury. 

Joints

Water lubricates your joints. Cartilage, which is found in joints and the disks of the spine, contain about 80% water and acts as a cushion to reduce friction and promote smooth movement. Dehydration can degrade this cushion, reducing the joints’ ability to absorb shocks, causing stiffness and pain, and making you more susceptible to conditions such as arthritis and injuries like dislocations and ligament tears. Staying hydrated also helps maintain the strength and elasticity of our connective tissues, reducing strain and enhancing our range of motion. 

Bones

Our bones are made up of about 25% water and need a constant supply to maintain their structural integrity and limit the risk of becoming brittle, making them more prone to fractures. 

Our latest blog addresses the importance of nutrient intake for musculoskeletal health and care. (Read Here!) Crucial nutrients dissolve in the water we consume, making it possible for them to reach the parts of the body that are in need of them. Dehydration limits this ability for nutrient transportation. 

Water Intake

We lose fluid continuously throughout our day from skin evaporation, urine, and breathing. If your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. 

Water should always be your go-to beverage. The amount you are recommended to drink in a day depends on your activity level, height and weight, and health conditions. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables that consist of water can help in your daily intake. 

The overall general recommendation is to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. However, for guidelines specific to your health, ask your doctor or dietitian for their recommendation. 

Not a fan of the taste of water? Try adding a lemon wedge, cucumber slice, or fresh mint for a healthy add-in and additional flavor. 

People will often drink sports drinks in place of water. Most sports drinks contain electrolytes including sodium, potassium, calcium, as well as simple sugars. This can be useful for athletes doing intense exercise for a long period of time and sweating, so they need a replenishment of electrolytes. However for non-athletes or those doing typical workouts, they are mainly just a sugary beverage and water is sufficient in hydration. 

Additional Tips 

- Make a goal on how many glasses of water you want to drink a day. 

- Drink water before, during, and after exercise and physical activities. 

- Include water-rich foods into your diet to help with fluid replenishment. 

- There is such a thing as overhydrating, listen to your body’s cues.

Now, with the knowledge of why water is such an integral part of your health, pour a glass and let's cheers to hydration! 

Fueling your Body: Using Nutrition to Benefit Musculoskeletal Health

March 12, 2024

Nutrition helps create the foundation of your health - so much so that in March we celebrate National Nutrition Month! Specifically to orthopaedics, consuming a variety of nutrients is important in maintaining your musculoskeletal system and keeping you in motion. Read more to learn about which nutrients to look for in your foods to aid in bone, joint, and muscular system health. 

Bones

Calcium helps in the structure of bones with vitamin D aiding in calcium absorption. Vitamin K helps with bone mineralization. Magnesium and phosphorus contribute to bone density and strength. These nutrients are found in dairy products, leafy greens, fish, nuts, and seeds - all coming together to maintain strong bones.  

Joints

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, and healthy fats are full of antioxidants that work to reduce inflammation and promote joint health. Tumeric and ginger are also rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. 

A balanced diet aids in maintaining a weight that is healthy for your body. Access weight adds additional stress and strain on your joints, which increases the risk of arthritis. Check out our past blog regarding the best foods to fight inflammation - including some fun and tasty recipes!  

Muscular System

Good nutrition also is required for building muscles and strength. Proteins, unrefined carbohydrates, and fats provide the nutrients and energy required. When it comes to athletes, a balanced diet is a large requirement for enhancing sport performance. 

Nutrition After Surgery

When it comes to recovery after a surgery, balanced nutrition can also help in recovery. Your diet impacts your recovery time, infection risk, and energy levels during rehabilitation. 

Protein is beneficial in building and repairing tissue. Vitamins C, E and minerals like zinc support wound healing. In addition to being essential for bone health, calcium and vitamin D are especially important to retain after a procedure. Staying hydrated aids in nutrient transport and removal of waste products. 

While it is important to maintain a lifestyle of eating healthy foods, throughout this month try to add in a source of nutrients you may not be getting enough of. Being mindful of fueling your body so that you can keep living in motion.