Motion Stability's Blog


The Pains of an Entrepreneur by Motion Stability

Brian Yee PT, MPhty, OCS, FAAOMPT

Did you know that 8 out of 10 people experience back pain sometime in their life?

image source: plywoodpeople.com

image source: plywoodpeople.com

Unresolved back pain leaves people feeling stuck, perhaps even losing hope with the belief that they may have to live the rest of their lives in pain, which often significantly impacts every aspect of their lives.

I can usually pick out the entrepreneurs as they walk through my door, even before I actually talk to them. You are a highly motivated, self-driven, and goal-oriented group. As an entrepreneur, you do not conform to the 40-hour workweek. Instead, entrepreneurs are obsessively focused on creating that one big thing. So you go through periods where you’re stuck on the computer for hours writing a business plan, or finding yourself traveling from city to city to make business happen, or eating a meal at odd hours of the night as you’ve lost track of time. What becomes of you is a person who puts a huge amount of stress on your body while you try to do what your entrepreneurial spirit drives you to do.

Ultimately your back pain occurs not only once, but starts to happen more often. Simple rest does not alleviate it anymore, and even injections or medications do not make a difference. Guess what? You now have unresolved back problems due to the lifestyle you live.

What’s different about the entrepreneur’s back pain than others is that it’s driven more by the mindset within you than a simple herniated disc that came from nowhere. The countless hours where you sit slouched on your sofa typing away on your laptop creates a physiological pathology called ‘creep phenomenon’. Think of a cold piece of salt-water taffy. If you were to warm it up in your hands and slowly mead it and pull it, slowly the taffy would stretch out. Essentially the same thing can happen to your back. As you sit there for hours upon hours, a slow ‘creep’ stretch of the ligaments and muscles of your back get stretched out. Over years they lose their inherent capacity to hold your back up. And just like a bending a paper clip back and forth, eventually something breaks and back pain occurs.

The entrepreneur in you also wants to exercise either for an outlet of stress or simply because you are goal oriented by nature. What ends up happening is that you perform at levels or distances that eventually your physical body may not be able to handle. There is nothing wrong with striving to achieve a goal, but many times the entrepreneur’s mind will tell them “do it anyways, even though I did not have the time to train” or “just keep going, like I always have.” Over time, your brain ends up outlasting your body, especially the structures in your back. Eventually too much compressive or shearing force happens and back pain occurs. Most importantly, your entrepreneurial spirit tends to have an all-or-none persona. Your mentality weighs more on the side of “it’s on me and no one else.” What becomes of it is an affective component that tells you to keep going, even if it hurts.

To see the conclusion of this article, read it on Plywood People.

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Can Strengthening your neck muscles prevent headaches? by charlestlee

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Brian Yee PT, MPhty, OCS, FAAOMPT
There are different types of headaches. One common type is called a cerivcogenic headaches or neck-related headaches. There is lot of research coming out of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia that has discovered how proper stabilization of the neck muscles can reduce neck pain, whiplash injuries, and cervicogenic headaches.

Proper stability of the neck muscles comes first from the smaller muscles closest to the spine. This includes a wafer thin muscle on the front of the cervical spine called the longus colli. A skilled Physical Therapist can instruct a patient how to contract this muscle in isolation and train its endurance. As the longus colli function improves it is important to incorporate strength of the larger muscles such as the sternocleidomastoid and posterior neck muscles to provide stability and strength for the neck to function during the day and in sport.

Cervicogenic headaches are typically generated from dysfunction of the upper neck vertebrae such as C1-3 vertebra levels. With poor postures or previous whiplash injuries the smaller muscles can weaken or inhibit leaving the joints vulnerable to injury due to lack of muscle support.

By improving proper muscle stability, the cervical vertebrae have better support and can last longer in prolonged postures and sporting activities. In turn, the prevalence of headaches can be reduced.



What conditions can lead to a ‘groin’ pull? by charlestlee

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Brian Yee PT, MPhty, OCS, FAAOMPT

‘Groin pulls’ typically are due to over-compensation and poor mechanics in the legs and core stability. Groin pulls comprise mostly of the adductor muscles of the inner thigh. These injuries usually occur with sports that requie cutting, pivoting and side to side movement  such as soccer, lacrosse, and football. It can also occur in runners and cyclists when the hip is required to be used in situations like uphill terrain.

Strength deficits with these injuries are not necessarily in the adductor muscles, but instead from the posterior hip muscles – gluteus maximus and medius. The gluteus maximus and medius are the key stabilizing muscles for the hip to be able to plant and pivot off the leg. When the gluteal muscles are not strong enough to stabilize the hip, the adductor muscles are used to compensate. Anatomically, the adductor muscles are primarily designed to pull the hip inwards, but many people do not realize that the adductor muscles also have a role in extending the hip. As the gluteal muscles should extend the hip to push off, run, climb, the adductor muscles can be used instead – and with time groin strains occur due to overuse.

Groin pulls can also happen due to poor foot contact. Especially if someone is more flat footed or pronated, it causes the knee to draw inwards when you step through it. In this position, the adductor muscles are in a better mechanical advantage to stabilize the hip than the gluteal muscles. Again, groin pulls can occur due to repetition in a poorly aligned position.

Differential diagnosis of ‘sports hernia’, nerve referred pain – primarily from the obturator nerve, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, internal pain from the hip such as arthritis, or referred pain from your internal organs should also be considered as they all commonly refer to the groin.



Are there alternative treatments for back pain? by charlestlee

image source: backpainreliefdaily.org

Brian Yee PT, MPhty, OCS, FAAOMPT

Even though Physical Therapy is not considered as an ‘alternative treatment’, what a specific Physical Therapist provides may be alternative to the ‘stereotypical’ regimen of hot/cold packs, electrical stimulation, traction, and basic exercises to improve core stability.

At our facility, we determine the type or category of pain the patient is experiencing as well what factors are contributing to the pain. This can include joint, nerves, or soft-tissue tissue pathologies. We also assess muscle and movement control patterns that can cause undue stress on the back. We then investigate if there are other factors such as vitamin / hormonal deficiencies, food allergies, or other systemic issues that could potentially be a source of back pain.

Once this is determined a treatment plan is implemented that encompasses the best evidence-based research to correct the contributing factors. This can include ‘alternative’ techniques such as trigger point dry needling, nerve mobilization techniques called neurodynamics, and utilizing real-time ultrasound imaging to visualize proper muscle control around the spine.



What are natural treatments for nerve pain? by charlestlee

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Brian Yee PT, MPhty, OCS, FAAOMPT

In Physical Therapy, nerve pain can be treated naturally through techniques called ‘neurodynamics’. According to Michael Shacklock in Australia, a worldwide leader in nerve pain and rehabilitation, there are three major areas to address. This includes the mechanical sites that can compress a nerve, the nerve itself, and the tissue the nerve innervates.

First, nerve pain can be caused by a tissue that pinches on it. This could be a herniated disc, a muscle spasm, or arthritic changes in the spine. Such treatments as mechanical traction or soft tissue massage around the pinched area of the nerve can alleviate the nerve pain.

Second, the nerve itself can become injured. Physical Therapists use manual therapy techniques to mobilize the nerve itself to reduce its pain and improve it mobility. Similar to having a knee surgery, it is important to calm the swelling and pain down in a nerve while progressively improving the range of motion back to its normal length. Nerve is just as much of a connective tissue as ligaments or tendons are.

Lastly, when nerve pain occurs it becomes inflamed, a term called neurogenic inflammation. Like a hose spraying with water, when the nerve is inflamed it sends inflammation to its termination sites – such as muscle, joint, or ligaments. It is important to improve muscle or joint restrictions that surround the nerve to fully treat the nerve pain and its residual effects.



Why is back pain such a medical mystery? by charlestlee

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Brian Yee PT, MPhty, OCS, FAAOMPT

Many patients are fixed solely on what medical imaging says structurally about their spine and how it causes their back pain. This includes disc herniations, joint degeneration, or stenosis. Patients should understand that other factors can cause back pain as well. This can include poor muscle control and movement patterns, nerve pain, referred pain from muscle trigger points, and even the fascia around the back can cause pain. Food allergies or internal organ dysfunction can also cause referred pain in your back. 

Even pain itself is a mystery. Over the last decade there has been growing research on what pain is and how it presents itself, what the medical community calls Pain Sciences. Although we have a better understanding of what pain is, there is still much more we need to know.



How is a Pinched Nerve Treated? by charlestlee

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Post by Brian Yee PT, MPhty, OCS, FAAOMPT

When treating a pinched nerve it is important to take pressure off the nerve so the nerve can conduct properly. In Physical Therapy, we can use mechanical traction or hands-on techniques to reduce the nerve compression. With these techniques we look for a reduction of pain and intensity. Typically, the further the symptoms go down the arm or leg, the worse the nerve symptoms are. Therefore, any treatment that the patient feels their symptoms are lessening further down the leg or arm means that the nerve is being pinched less.

The nerve itself should also be treated. When the nerve is pinched it can become inflamed and irritated. We use techniques called nerve mobilizations or ‘neurodynamics’ to improve the nerve’s mobility. Think of a nerve being like a bungy cord. Normally the nerve has enough elasticity to lengthen with the arm to reach and stretch. But when the nerve is irritated, it loses its elasticity and ability to lengthen the way it supposed to. It is important to improve the mobility of the nerve back to its normal length, like you would with an elbow that just had a cast removed from it.  With improved mobility of the nerve it has the ability to heal and have less pain.