News & Blog

16Nov/17
How Cold Therapy Works

How Cold Therapy Works

If you’ve ever played a sport or taken up an active hobby, the chances are you’ve come face-to-face with cold therapy. Whether it’s the image of your favorite fictional athlete lowering himself or herself into a vat of icy water or the memory of sitting on the bench tightly clenching an ice pack to a recent injury, using cold to speed recovery is something every sportsperson has encountered. In this post, we take a look at how cold therapy works in three of its most common forms. We also examine what sports medicine and science tells us about their power to speed recovery from an injury.

How Cold Therapy Works With Ice Packs

Let’s start with the most common way athletes use cold therapy. Everyone, from minor hockey players to runners in their 80s, has relied on ice packs to help them with various injuries, aches and pains that occur because of their love for their sport.

The key to understanding how cold therapy works with ice packs is to understand its role in reducing swelling and numbing pain. Swelling and inflammation happens when fluid leaks from blood vessels, which in turn causes pain and tenderness. Cold causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing the amount of fluid reaching the injured area. And just like that, an injury starts to feel better soon after the application of ice.

Ice packs may be an effective way to reduce swelling and curb immediate pain. However, they are a short-term solution and play a small part in the overall process of injury recovery. Ice packs work best within the first 24-48 hours of an injury. After this time, inflammation can actually be beneficial as a way for the body to heal itself.

Sprays, Gels and Creams

You may have seen cold therapy sprays, gels or creams while watching your favorite team on TV. This is especially true if you enjoy watching soccer. A quick application of one of these products and the player is all ready to get back into the game after bumping their knee or over-extending their leg muscles.

Cold sprays work the best at providing a rapid, intense cold sensation and producing a short-acting reduction in skin temperature. The application of these products offers a distraction to the brain and blocks pain signals, which means they are very effective for acute treatment of sports injuries. Most cold sprays contain ethyl chloride as their active ingredient, which is what induces this quick, effective burst of cold.

Cold therapy gels and cream are similar, but have longer-lasting effects. This means that they are more suitable for prolonged treatment of chronic or nagging conditions, such as tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis or arthritis.

Whole Body Cryotherapy

Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) is a relative newcomer to the world of cold therapy, injury recovery and sports medicine. WBC consists of exposing the entire body to temperatures that sometimes reach below -100 degrees Celsius for a few minutes.

As with ice packs, but on a larger level and at a quicker rate, WBC constricts the blood vessels in your body to prevent inflammation, swelling and pain in the area of an injury. Some other claimed benefits of WBC are that it increases the body’s metabolic rate. This hastens recovery from injuries and all the little tears, aches and tweaks that athletes receive in training and during competition.

While the effectiveness of WBC is still largely unproven, most of the scientific data behind it points to its benefits for those with musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis, and its potential to help athletes with injury prevention rather than injury recovery.

News & Blog

16Nov/17
McDavid Elbow Support with Strap

Choosing An Elbow Brace For Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is the more commonly used name for lateral epicondylitis, which is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in your elbow are overloaded. Overloaded tendons are usually a result of repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. One example of this is when a baseball pitcher throws inning after inning of fastballs. Another could be a factory worker stationed on the assembly line hour after hour. A common approach to treatment of this injury is the use of a elbow brace for tennis elbow that can alleviate the pain and speed recovery.

Throwing a Baseball can lead to the need to wear an elbow brace for tennis elbow

Repetitive forces such as those caused by repeatedly throwing a baseball can result in the need to wear an elbow brace for tennis elbow

Tennis elbow pain occurs primarily where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. Pain can also spread into your forearm and wrist. This can range from a mild, but constant annoyance to a debilitating condition that will sideline you indefinitely.

We outline below the most common forms for tennis elbow brace and provide a description of how they work to alleviate pain and speed recovery. At the end of this post, you will be able to better identify the type of tennis elbow brace that should be used by individuals with different lifestyles and/or activity levels.

Epicondylitis Clasp

Epicondylitis clasps consist of a plastic clasp or clip which fits around the arm. The patient secures the clasp using a strap with a pressure point over the muscle and below the point of pain on the elbow.

The pressure on the tendon or muscle absorbs some of the forces that transmit through the tissues causing the injury. It will also change the angle at which the tendon works. This in turn alters the impact of different forces on your elbow and relieves the symptoms.

There are many advantages to the use of an epicondylitis clasp as an elbow brace for tennis elbow. They can be applied precisely to the site of the pain as they are specifically fitted to the individual. These braces are recommended for skilled athletes requiring precision support for high impact forces.

Tennis Elbow Strap

These are simple strap-type elbow braces for tennis elbow that come in different varieties. The patient will usually wrap the strap around the forearm just below the elbow. Some tennis elbow straps have additional pressure pads which sit on the muscle, just below the point of pain.

Tennis elbow straps work by compressing the upper forearm and absorbing the forces transmitted through the soft tissues to the point of pain on the outside of the elbow. They also modify the angle at which the tendon works with the elbow. This reduces the forces applied to the point at which the tendon attaches to the joint. This allows the injured area time to recover without undue stress.

Advantages of a tennis elbow strap include their inexpensive price tag and the ability to adjust the fit and level of compression applied to the elbow. However, they can be less precise than an epicondylitis clasp. They also can’t be used for heat therapy like a tennis elbow sleeve. This type of elbow brace for tennis elbow is ideal for casual athletes or those in careers with repetitive motions/strains. It is also suited to other individuals who do not experience high impact or stress on the elbow, but still experience symptoms of tennis elbow.

Tennis Elbow Sleeve

Tennis elbow sleeves combine a simple elbow sleeve with a strap. The sleeve provides compression, support and warmth for the entire elbow. The strap is tightened around the upper forearm to provide additional compression. It will also absorb stress and irregular movement that may affect the soft tissues. This in turn relieves pain and further trauma.

One advantage of this kind of elbow brace for tennis elbow is that it provides light and regular heat therapy to the area of pain. This aids the healing process by reducing swelling and regulating blood flow.

The sleeve supports the whole joint, which is helpful for those individuals with more than one injury to the area. However, it is more cumbersome to wear, and tightening the forearm strap is less accurate than using a separate strap. This variation of elbow brace for tennis elbow is effective for most people with tennis elbow symptoms. It is also suitable for those with more serious, all-encompassing arm or elbow injuries besides tennis elbow.

News & Blog

13Nov/17

Dunbar Medical Forms Partnership With The Toronto Rock Lacrosse Franchise

Dunbar Medical is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement to be the official supplier of medical products to the National Lacrosse League’s (NLL) Toronto Rock.  As the official supplier, Dunbar Medical will be responsible for providing the Toronto Rock with the medical equipment and supplies needed to keep their players in peak condition and to ensure their rapid and complete recovery from any injuries they may experience.

The Toronto Rock are a professional lacrosse franchise based in Toronto, Ontario and are members of the East Division of the NLL. The Rock play their home games at the Air Canada Centre and have won six NLL championships in their 19-year history.

According to the President of Dunbar Medical, Michael Trotz: “We are proud and excited to have been chosen as a partner of the Toronto Rock and look forward to helping their trainers to keep their players in top physical condition. Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in Canada and is also regarded as Canada’s National Summer Sport. This partnership helps us towards our goal of supporting the involvement of Canadian youth in sports as a way to developing productive citizens of the future.”

Dunbar Medical is a premier supplier of sports medicine and home heath care products to pharmacies, physiotherapists and other clinics, and sports teams throughout Canada. The company distributes the leading brands in sports medicine to its customers through its national sales team and is known for its expertise in the field as well as its exceptionally high level of customer service and support. The brands distributed include Bio SkinMueller Sports MedicineMcDavidKinesioLP Support and many others. To learn more about the range of products carried, please call 1-800-265-7125, visit https://dunbarmedical.com or email sales@dunbarmedical.com.

News & Blog

29Oct/17

Four Benefits Of Using An Ankle Brace For Sprains

If you’ve had the misfortune of experiencing an ankle sprain, you know that it can wreak havoc on your body and quality of life. It is extremely important to pay special attention to properly recovering from a sprain, consult a medical expert and be diligent in your recovery program. We have divided the recovery process into four stages to help you recover quicker and more effectively while providing tips on recovery methods such as using an ankle brace for sprains and physiotherapy techniques.

An Ankle Brace Can Help Reduce Swelling

What This Does

Reducing swelling eliminates pressure on the foot and ankle to avoiding further damage and relieves pain in the short term. It will also help determine the severity of the sprain.

How To Do It

Using rest, ice, compression and elevating the ankle will help relieve swelling within the first 24 to 48 hours. Crutches, a supportive ankle brace for sprains and compression wraps will also help reduce the load on the injured ankle.

How Long It Takes

This depends on the severity of the injury. Swelling will recede within 2-4 days for a grade 1 sprain and within 1-2 weeks for a grade 2 sprain. Swelling in a grade 3 sprain will last 2-3 weeks. These timelines may be shortened by using a walking boot, cast or advanced orthopaedic ankle brace for sprains, which all immobilize the ligament and joint.

An Ankle Brace Can Help to Regain Range of Motion

What This Does

Increasing range of motion in a sprained ankle helps avoid the buildup of scar-tissue. Preventing scar tissue reduced pain and decreases the likelihood of developing lingering problems and recurring injuries.

How To Do It

Ankle exercises prescribed by a medical professional, such as movements with resistance bands and balls, will increase flexibility and strength in the ankle. A flexible ankle brace for sprains provides increased range of movement, reduces the risk of overuse and provides support for the weak ligaments and joint.

How Long It Takes

The length of step two depends on the severity of the injury and can take between two weeks and several months. This ensures a gradual increase in the range of motion of the injured ankle and makes certain that scar tissue is held at bay.

An Ankle Support Can Assist In The Return To Activity

What This Does

Gradually increasing the weight, distance and speed placed on the recovering ankle allows a sustainable return to health. Practicing sport-like movements in a controlled environment helps build balance and stability with minimal risk. This reduces the risk of chronic ankle pain, instability and arthritis.

How To Do It

Complete exercises or workouts similar to your pre-injury routine, modifying each to reduce stress on the sprained ankle. Go slowly, do fewer reps, use lighter weights and change challenging exercises. Slowly increase reps, weight and difficulty and only after mastering each step. Use an ankle brace for sprains to protect the ankle throughout this step.

How Long It Takes

The time period for this step depends on the severity of the injury, the length of time before returning to activity and your general health. It is crucial to develop strength and to be sure of each modified exercise/workout before progressing. This will help ensure the injury does not recur.

An Ankle Brace For Sprains Can Maintain Health and Prevent Reinjury

What This Does

Taking measures to protect the previously sprained ankle is essential to the recovery process. The effects of an ankle sprain can linger, ligaments can remain weak and a second injury may take longer to heal while increasing the chances of chronic pain.

How To Do It

Strengthen the ankle and surrounding structures with frequent stretching and strength training while protecting the ankle with an orthopaedic ankle brace for sprains. Ankle supports are especially helpful for athletes in sports requiring a lot of running, jumping and lateral movement, such as tennis, running, basketball and volleyball.

How Long It Takes

This step may extend a lifetime. Those who have suffered an ankle sprain must be diligent whenever they set foot in the gym or on the court, ice, field, etc. It is always easier to prevent an ankle injury than to recover from one.

An ankle brace for sprains can be effective in reducing the risk of injury while playing tennis

Using an ankle brace to play sports like tennis can be a great way to reduce the risk of injury or re-injury

News & Blog

21Oct/17
How Compression Wear Works

How Compression Stockings Work

In recent years, compression clothing has become the new buzzword in the world of sports medicine. Compression wear can take many forms including compression socks, compression stockings or compression shorts. In general, compression apparel is wearable gear specifically developed to help manage injuries such as muscle, ligament and tendon damage. Compression stockings and socks belong to a category of compression wear designed to treat blood circulation related conditions like deep vein thrombosis. We examine below how compression stockings work to treat problems related to poor blood circulation as well as conditions related to other injuries. Compression socks provide the same benefits as stockings in relation to the management of blood circulation problems.

Improved Blood Circulation

Any discussion of how compression stockings work has to begin with the impact on blood circulation. Compression clothing acts like an express toll route in a busy city. It provides an expressway for important elements for healing to reach the injury faster and be more effective once they get there. As described in our post on the science of kinesiology taping, the speed with which blood and other lymphatic fluids can flow through the site of an injury is an important factor in speeding up healing from the injury.

Studies have shown that with consistent compression, the walls of the arteries will dilate, increasing the blood flow through them. This means more oxygen and nutrients flowing through the body. The walls of the veins will also constrict under compression, increasing the speed of blood flow through your body. Increased blood flow through veins means that deoxygenated blood and lactic acid return to the heart quicker.

The American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) has recommended the use of compression stockings for those at risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). DVT is a condition characterized by the formation of blood clots within a deep vein, typically in the leg. A 2016 Cochrane study has also concluded that there is high quality evidence that the use of graduated compression stockings can reduce the incidence of symptomless DVT among long range airline passengers.

Reduced Muscle Vibration

Compression socks and stockings also help to stabilize the muscles and decrease the amount of muscular vibration. In so doing, they reduce the risk of muscle damage from overstretching or tearing during athletic training or competition. As tendons are structures that connect muscles to adjacent bones, this also reduces the risk of injury from tendon damage.

Less swelling

While inflammation and swelling have a hand in the healing process, they are uncomfortable. Additionally, if prolonged, they can actually inhibit recovery by preventing movement and the buildup of muscle strength. Compression stockings or socks help to reduce swelling and can give an injured athlete the ability to recover sooner.

Less edema

Normal swelling is bad enough, but a buildup of excess fluid, called edema, can also slow down the healing process by inhibiting movement. Edema usually occurs around joints. Compression socks or stockings can aid in reducing this excess fluid and stopping the painful, limiting effects.  This is especially the case when the patient combines their use with elevation of the injured area.

More nutrients

Everyone knows that nutrients are essential to a healthy body, but this is especially true when battling an injury. Compression helps stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluids that carry vital nutrients to the damaged tissues surrounding the injury. These fluids also remove waste from cells and body tissues. As mentioned earlier in connection with blood flow, this is key to how compression stockings work to facilitate the recovery process.

More oxygen

Oxygen, carried through the body by blood cells, is a crucial ingredient that helps injured tissue repair itself. Swelling, the body’s first reaction after an injury, restricts blood flow to the injured area and deprives it of oxygen. Compression socks and stockings open up the pathways and accelerate the delivery of oxygen to the injured area.

Compression Socks

Compression socks can provide relief from the same blood circulation problems addressed by the use of compression stockings

News & Blog

29Sep/17
How To Choose The Best Knee Brace For Running

How To Choose The Best Knee Brace For Running

Knee pain is a familiar foe to most avid runners. In fact, about 40 percent of running injuries are knee injuries and 13 percent of runners have experienced knee pain in the past year, according to a survey by Runner’s World. In this post, we take a look at four of the most common knee injuries from running and how to choose the best knee brace for running after suffering each of these injuries. Together with strategies like physiotherapy and active recovery, the correct knee brace can help runners overcome their injuries and return to the starting line.

Knees are one of the most critical elements in maintaining an active lifestyle. However, the joint takes on a special importance to runners. A strong set of knees is essential to handle the ups and downs of trail running, kick your body into high gear to achieve a personal best or to simply guard the body against the stresses of mile after mile of routine training runs.

Runner’s Knee

What It Is

Runner’s Knee, or as it’s technically called patellofemoral pain syndrome, is the irritation of the cartilage on the underside of the patella (kneecap). It typically flares up during or after long runs, after extended periods of sitting or while descending hills and stairs. Anyone with biomechanical factors that put extra pressure on the knee is vulnerable to this injury. Risk factors include overpronation and weak quads, hips, or glutes.

What To Do About It

The first measure to take is to strengthen weak hip and glute muscles. Taking crouched lateral side steps using a resistance band works perfectly to achieve this goal. Icing your knee after a run also provides relief in the early stages of this injury while heat works best once the injury is healing. Athletic tape can be used on the knee to reduce pain and help correct improper tracking of the kneecap. Shortening your stride length and landing with the knee slightly bent will help to reduce stress on the joint. To aid in supporting your knee, reducing pain, supporting weak areas and training your body to shorten its stride, invest in a knee brace designed for running. The best knee brace for running after incurring this injury is one that helps maintain proper patella tracking as this will reduce the likelihood of recurrence of the injury.

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Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

What It Is

The iliotibial (IT) band lies along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee. When you run, the IT band can rub on the side of the femur, causing irritation if you increase your mileage too quickly, especially with lots of track work or downhill running. Iliotibial Band Syndrome makes up 12 percent of all running injuries. Runners who develop ITBS may overpronate, have a leg-length discrepancy or suffer from weak hip abductor and gluteal muscles.

What To Do About It

Much like Runner’s Knee, it’s important to strengthen the hip abductors with lateral side steps, side leg lifts and one-legged squats. Use a foam roller before and after you run by rolling the outside of your thigh from the knee to the hip. Swap out hiking and cycling for swimming, and elliptical training. If you run on a track, change directions every few laps and limit runs on hilly routes. IT band issues often get better if you can learn to shorten your stride so that your weight centers on the front of the heel or the midfoot as you land. The best knee brace for running while afflicted with ITBS is one that will apply compression precisely to the injured area in order to reduce pain and accelerate healing.

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Meniscus and Cartilage Injuries

What It Is

Meniscus and knee cartilage injuries are not exclusive to runners. There has, however, been a recent uptick in the number of runners experiencing these injuries. Most meniscus and cartilage tears are the results of a slip, fall, sudden twist or age-related degenerative tearing. The meniscus sits between the femur and tibia and serves as a shock absorber. Damage from a meniscus tear compromises the ability of the knee to handle the impact of running. Pain and joint swelling along the joint line on one side of the knee are the hallmarks of a meniscus tear.

What To Do About It

For smaller degenerative tears or injuries to the meniscus and cartilage, a conservative set of treatments can help runners recover successfully. By combining rest from running with a comprehensive cross-training program, a runner can build strength in the supporting muscles around the knee, meniscus and cartilage until the pain and swelling have subsided. For more severe injuries or tears, a runner may require a heavier physiotherapy routine to strengthen the knee, develop correct range of motion and repair damage. The best knee brace for running after suffering a meniscus tear is usually one with a hinge and providing mild to moderate medial and lateral support and compression to fully surround the meniscus and protect it. An offloader brace can be the best knee brace for meniscus injuries that require surgery to repair the most severe damage.

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Patellar Tendinopathy/Tendinitis

What It Is

The patellar tendon connects the kneecap to the lower leg bone.  Patellar tendinopathy can be differentiated from kneecap pain as the pain is directly on the tendon or its connection to the bone, while kneecap pain is usually located around or underneath the kneecap. Patellar tendon pain is commonly experienced as an overuse injury but is also often related to an abrupt change in training. Research reports also cite forefoot running (running with too much weight on the forefoot) as a major factor in the development of patellar tendinopathy. In other words, a barefoot/minimalist style of running may be a risk factor for developing patellar tendon pain.

What To Do About It

Runners recovering from patellar tendon injuries should focus on strengthening exercises, particularly of the quads. A partial rest from running should also factor into a recovery plan, but be aware that complete rest may actually make the problem worse. Overtraining – running too many miles, too fast, too soon – is a major risk factor for patellar tendon injuries. When recovering from patellar tendon injuries, make sure to increase your running volume and intensity gradually; never more than 10 percent over the previous week or month. The best knee brace for running while afflicted with this condition will extend up the leg to protect the quads and the other structures supporting the knee. It will also offer compression to help reduce pain and inflammation associated with patellar tendon injuries.

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News & Blog

20Sep/17
Four Ways Wearing A Back Brace Now Can Save Pain Later

Four Ways A Back Brace Can Prevent Future Back Pain

When most people hear the phrase ‘back brace’ they usually associate it with aches, pains and misery, but it’s time this negative connotation ended. Investing in a back brace and wearing it in certain everyday situations can prevent future injuries and save you from becoming one of the seven million Canadians that experience back pain every year. The following are four common scenarios in which wearing orthopedic back braces can save you and your back. We also suggest which back support is best for the activity in which you are participating.

Back Brace For The Nine-To-Fiver

Muscle pain is often caused by repetitive movements and for the majority of people in today’s workforce, one of these repetitive actions is sitting at a desk for seven to nine hours a day. Sitting in a desk chair for much of the day can be extremely uncomfortable and potentially damaging to your back. Even if you don’t suffer from back pain after a long day at work right now, the odds are that you will at some point. It’s important to maintain good posture and use a proper back support to prevent back pain as the weeks, months and years go by. A back brace can change all that. Back braces can support your back, help you achieve and maintain proper posture, and reduce pain.

Maintaining good posture is one of the most essential, but often one of the most difficult, elements when sitting at a desk for most of the day. Utilizing a back brace for posture can do wonders to the small aches and pains you may experience throughout the work day and can keep them from becoming big aches and pains. Back braces that strap around your shoulders (almost like a backpack) and run down your back can help you to retrain your posture and keep you from hunching over your keyboard. This kind of brace will correct rounded shoulders and tight chest muscles and keep back pain away.

Back Support for the 9 to 5 er

A Back brace can reduce pain for someone spending long hours each day sitting at a desk or bent over a computer

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Back Brace For The Athlete

Most sports lay a beating on the back. Even if you play hockey, basketball, golf or any other sport recreationally, all that running, jumping, bending, hitting, twisting and sudden stops and starts can wear out your back and leave it vulnerable to injury and pain. A back support for athletes can provide maximum support and reinforcement for the player’s spine while also allowing flexibility.

The lower back typically takes the brunt of the stress that an athlete’s body receives as the core is most often activated in any sport. That is why it is certainly worth it for athletes of all skills levels and abilities to invest in a back brace belt. This is a back support for lower back pain and it can also prevent that pain from developing in the first place. It can also provide stability to the lower back and help to evenly disperse any stress on the back muscles. This in turn reduces the risk of injury or re-injury among athletes.

Back Support For The DIY Enthusiast

If you’re the type who likes to get your hands dirty working on household projects, a brace is a must in order to protect your back and ensure that you don’t fall prey to bad habits, pain and injury. The primary reason for back injuries among the general population is improper posture and technique when bending and lifting. This improper physical exertion puts undue stress on the back, particularly the lower back, causing strains, sprains and long term damage. It’s important to get ahead of these injuries with a back brace as a preventative measure.

Braces like a back support belt, back brace with lumbar support or a back brace vest work by compressing your abdomen rather than ​your back. By holding the stomach in and increasing the pressure on the abdomen, the brace increases the support and reduces the load on your lower back. The brace activates deep-lying ​core abdominal muscles as you bend and lift, making your spine more rigid and providing support for the structures in your back. When you are consistently bending, lifting and hunching over for a project, this subtle support makes all the difference between a sore aftermath and pain free one.

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Maternity Belt For The Expectant Mom

An estimated 50 to 80 per cent of women experience hip and back pain during pregnancy. This leads to extreme discomfort and, in some cases, lasting damage to the muscles and joints. Back braces for women who are pregnant provide optimal support to the abdomen and back as the belly grows during pregnancy. A maternity belt takes away the stress and added weight that often causes back pain and soreness. Maternity belts can also help improve posture in pregnant women, which can also reduce lower back pain.

Pregnancy back pain typically occurs where the pelvis meets the spine at the sacroiliac joint. To relieve pain associated with aching and aggravated sacroiliac joints, a pregnancy sacroiliac joint belt is a great tool. Through direct circumferential compression, the belt stabilizes and relieves pressure in the lower back, reducing swelling and relieving aches and pain in this area. These belts are normally available in plus sizes and are adjustable. This adjustability makes it great for women as they progress through pregnancy, and for those carrying twins. It is important to note that you should only wear maternity belts for a few hours each day.

A maternity belt can be a great investment in pain reduction for pregnant women

A maternity belt can be a great investment in pain reduction during pregnancy

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News & Blog

10Sep/17
Elbow Injuries

Young Athletes And Elbow Injuries

It is no secret that children are becoming involved in high-level training and sports at younger ages than previously. Kids are also beginning to specialize in their chosen sports at younger ages than earlier generations. There are many potential consequences to this trend, both positive and negative. One of these is a higher injury rate for young athletes.This is particularly true of shoulder and elbow injuries.

The statistics on injuries to young athletes (under 18) in this age of increased specialization and training are startling. This is especially true when it comes to elbow injuries. For example, since 2000, there has been a fivefold increase in the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries among youth baseball and softball players. Additionally, more than a third of children ages eight to 14 will have arm pain during a single youth baseball season.

Not only is the number of injuries increasing, but so is their severity. According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), young athletes are experiencing injuries traditionally seen in adults at increasingly younger ages.

Physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals are in a unique and critical position to help curb the tide of increasing rates of elbow injuries among young athletes. We suggest below three ways for young athletes to recover from elbow injuries or prevent them in the first place.

Cross-training

As we mentioned above, sporting injuries are on the rise for young athletes. Overuse injuries, especially to the elbow, are a main culprit. There are two main ways to prevent and recover from these injuries. One of these is cross-training and another is rest, which we will cover in detail in the next section.

Elbow injuries from overuse, such as strains, tears and sprains, occur when young athletes participate in a sport in which repetitive motions cause increasing stress on the joint, such as pitching a baseball or shooting a basketball. This leads to inflammation, pain and a lack of mobility. These issues, if not addressed with short and long term solutions, can plague a young athlete into their adult years.

Cross training, including strength training, cardio and plyometrics, helps to reduce the stress on the elbow while improving overall conditioning. This is also true of rotating positions played on a team. Encourage them to increase cross-training in an effort to prevent and recover from elbow injuries attributed to overuse.

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Rest

Rest is the second of the two-part recipe young athletes can follow to prevent elbow injuries caused by overuse. It’s a key factor when recovering from injury as well. The elbow requires time away from the stresses of the repetitive motions required by sports. However, rest for a young athlete is even more important because of a perception that they may be losing ground to their rivals while they rest.

The simple act of resting the elbow can help a young athlete remain healthy and active into adulthood due to several factors. One of these is that the body of a young athlete is still growing. Consequently, major stress on the elbow when it is not fully formed can lead to permanent damage. Rest allows the elbow to heal and grow properly.

As was mentioned previously, resting is not as easy as it sounds to a young athlete. It is important to explain the long term benefits of rest. Additionally, the athletes should be aware of alternatives to constant training during the rest period. These activities can include gentle activity like gentle yoga or walking, breathing exercises, stretching and visualization. These activities include rest but also maintain a level of activity and focus on their particular sport.

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Orthopedic Supports and Braces For Elbow Injuries

There are many other factors when it comes to helping young athletes avoid elbow injuries in particular, including practicing proper technique and wearing the right equipment. However, if they actually suffer an elbow injury, an elbow brace could be an excellent way to help these athletes recover.

Orthopedic braces can help young athletes with elbow injuries in several ways. In the short term they reduce inflammation and pain while helping support and heal the injured areas. Over the long term, they can help the athlete by increasing mobility and range of motion while promoting proper technique. These factors are important to a young athlete with an elbow injury. Their bodies are still growing together with their knowledge of a particular sport. The multiple purposes of braces and other supports, such as athletic tape, make them excellent options to include in any prevention or recovery plan for young athletes.

In prescribing an orthopaedic support to a young athlete, it is important to take account of their faster growth rate. Sports medicine professionals must also be ready to explain the risks and benefits of these supports. The patient will also need to know how to properly use and maintain their supports.

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News & Blog

01Sep/17

The Benefits And Risks Of Wearing A Wrist Brace

There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to guiding an individual through the injury recovery process, especially when it comes to the wrist. What may work for one person and his/her wrist injury may not be as effective on another person with the same or a similar wrist injury. Educating yourself and your patient on the benefits and risks of wearing a wrist brace is an important step to establishing whether these orthopedic supports are helping or harming.

Below we examine a few of the benefits and risks of wrist braces of which patients should be aware in order to make injury recovery a faster, more effective process.

Benefits Of Wearing A Wrist Brace

Wrist braces offer many benefits to the wearer and can help patients recover from an injury or improve their quality of life if they suffer a chronic condition such as arthritis. Patients should be fully aware of these benefits and how wrist braces work to help them recover.

Wrist Stabilization

There is a wide variety of wrist braces for a wide variety of injuries and ailments. However, most orthopedic supports for the wrist address injuries in a few key ways. Wrist braces help stabilize the joint, ensuring there is no excessive movement relative to the surrounding structures. This allows the patient to function and complete daily tasks without interference with the healing process.

Swelling Reduction

Immobilizing the wrist with a brace also allows helps to reduce swelling and pain from inflammation.

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Post Surgical Healing

Patients who have undergone wrist surgery may wear a wrist brace to protect the surgical site and allow more rapid healing.

Fewer Restrictions On Daily Activities

It’s important to stress to patients that a wrist brace will offer one of the most flexible wearing experiences of any orthopedic brace. Many patients are anxious that orthopedic supports will hinder their daily activity and will shy away from proper use or even avoid wearing a brace altogether.

Certain wrist braces allow movement of the finger and thumb joints, enabling the wearer to perform regular activities. People often use them for activities that place greater demands on the wrist and hands. These braces can also improve sleep by protecting and immobilizing the joint with a subsequent decrease in pain.

In fact, one recent study published by the journal of the American College of Rheumatology  found that patients who wear working wrist braces as much as possible during the day for four weeks had a significant (32%) decrease in wrist pain and a small (5%) increase in grip strength.

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Risks Of Wearing A Wrist Brace

There is a variety of reasons for patients to consider a wrist brace when recovering from an injury or managing a chronic condition like carpal tunnel syndrome. However, there are also some risks of wearing a wrist brace of which the patient should be aware. It’s important that physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals not only understand these often nuanced risks, but that they properly convey them to their patients. Many of these dangers pertain to wearing habits and the need to communicate the proper use of the brace.

Failure To Wear The Brace

One risk of prescribing a wrist brace for a sprained wrist, arthritis or any other problem is that the patient will simply not wear the orthopedic support, thus hindering the healing process. There are many reasons individuals may not wear a wrist brace, but it often due to the level of discomfort many people feel when wearing them. Braces may make some activities more difficult and hard splints in particular may cause active resistance to wearing the recovery aid.

One way to counter this possibility is to ensure the wrist brace is fitted correctly so that it does not rub, strain, pinch or squeeze the area. This goes for the hand and arm as well as the wrist. Communicate thoroughly with patients to ensure they are comfortable and follow up with them to ensure nothing has changed in the proceeding days and weeks. If there is discomfort, work with your patient to target the source and come up with a solution, such as extra padding around bony areas or a different type of brace.

The material of which the brace is made can be an important factor influencing patient compliance. Supports that are non hypoallergenic or latex or neoprene free may yield significant benefits if the patient has a neoprene allergy or other similar condition.

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Wearing The Brace Only During Periods Of Discomfort

Another of the common risks of wearing a wrist brace is the tendency for some patients to limit its use to only short periods of acute swelling, tingling or pain. At other times, the individual may stop wearing the support.  Ultimately, he or she may then abandon the brace too early and put an obstacle in the way of recovery.

It’s important to stress that in this scenario, physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals must be vigilant, both in communicating to their patients the importance of letting the brace run its course and following up to ensure the patient is using the brace correctly and for the prescribed period of time. It helps to talk to the patient and determine several goals and benchmarks with them regarding the wearing of the brace. Patients may find that weekly progress reports and clear communication of times when their brace may not be needed (e.g. at night or during rest) are helpful. This helps the patient to focus on not just the outward physical symptoms, but also all the other elements that go into a successful recovery.

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News & Blog

21Aug/17
How does Kinesio Tape work?

How Does Kinesio Tape Work?

In this post, we briefly trace the history of Kinesio taping from its origins almost 40 years ago. We also briefly examine the principles behind the use of traditional athletic tape, which is often an alternative treatment option for repetitive stress injuries. In the main part of this text, we then explain the way in which Kinesio tape works to reduce the pain of these injuries and to accelerate the healing process. We highlight the contrasts between the traditional and kinesiologist approaches to taping. At the end of the post, you will be able to answer the question “How does Kinesio tape work?” if you encounter it in the course of your professional work or other activities.

The Traditional Approach To Treating Repetitive Stress Injuries

The traditional approach to the treatment of repetitive stress injuries has been to restrict the movement of the affected joints or muscles. Therapists believe that this restriction is necessary to permit the injured ligaments or other soft tissues to recover normal function. During the recovery process, the therapist allows the patient to gradually resume normal use of the joint or muscle until recovery is complete. At that point, the therapist will remove all restrictions.

Traditional athletic tape and orthopedic braces both function on this principle with some variations. Rehabilitative braces, for example, are designed to be adjusted during the period of treatment. The therapist adjusts them to gradually increase the range of motion of the injured joint as recovery progresses. Traditional athletic tape also uses this approach and will generally restrict the range of movement throughout the period of recovery.

The Origin Of Kinesio Taping

Kinesio taping was originally invented by a Japanese chiropractor, Dr. Kenzo Kase, in 1979. During the next 10 years, a growing number of Japanese chiropractors, orthopedists and other health care practitioners began using the method.

The method began to acquire international exposure initially through its use by Japanese Olympic athletes. It has also been popularized  by other famous athletes such as Lance Armstrong.

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How Does Kinesio Tape Work In Comparison To Traditional Treatments?

Kinesio tape works by gently lifting the layer of skin over the affected body part as the patient moves. This allows the flow of blood and other lymphatic fluids through and around the injured muscles and ligaments. There are two critical differences between Kinesio and traditional taping. The first of these is the extent of encirclement of the site of injury and the second is the range of motion permitted for the injured joint or muscle.

Extent Of Encirclement

As explained above, the objective of traditional taping is to restrict joint and muscle motion to prevent further injury. To achieve this, the therapist would normally encircle the entire joint with tape.

Kinesiologists believe that this complete encirclement impedes the flow of bodily fluids through and around the site of injury and thus slows down the natural healing process. As a result, they will apply Kinesio tape on top of the injury site but in general will not completely encircle it.

 

How Kinesio Tape works - 2

As demonstrated in this image, Kinesio tape is normally applied on top of the injury site, but never in such a way as to completely encircle the joint.

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Range Of Motion

The second critical difference between the two approaches lies in the range of motion permitted for the injured joint. In contrast to traditional taping, kinesiologists will tape in such a way as to leave the patient with as normal a range of motion of possible. The reason for this lies in the result of the patient performing his or her normal range of movements. As the patient moves, the tape, skin and the tissues below it will also move in such a way as to pull the skin away from the muscle. This allows lymphatic fluid to flow around and cleanse the injured muscles or other tissues, thus promoting faster healing.

To facilitate a full range of normal motion for the patient, Kinesio tape is extremely thin and porous. This permits the skin to breathe under the tape. In addition, the tape has an elasticity comparable to that of human skin and muscles. Further, to ensure the tape stays connected to the skin in its original position, the manufacturer will normally use a powerful medical grade adhesive. The adhesive is water resistant to permit the patient to perform normal daily activities. For example, the patient can shower or bathe without affecting the tape.

Conclusion

In this post, we have briefly described the principles behind the operation of Kinesio tape. We also compared these principles to those governing traditional taping approaches. Should you encounter the question “How does Kinesio tape work?” in any situation, you should now be able to provide a detailed and knowledgeable response.

In a future post, we will delve further into the principles behind the operation of Kinesio tape. We will also examine the implementation of these principles via the Kinesio Taping method designed by Dr. Kenzo Kase, the original inventor of the method.

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