Are your worries all perched on a pillow? And we don’t mean figuratively, but literally, are your worries all about THE PILLOW? Well, you are not in as uncommon a dilemma as you may think. Physiotherapists frequently get queries about pillow-related problems.
Sleeping on the wrong pillow, or one that is too worn out, not only leads to headaches, backaches, and neck cramps but also prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep. Lack of proper sleep can lead to many serious health issues, like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
It is imperative that you choose the right pillow for yourself but the kind of pillow you should pick will depend on your own unique needs as well. A physiotherapist is the best person to tell you exactly what you need. However, here are a few things that you can keep in mind while making a choice –
- Your usual sleeping position
- The shape and size of your head, neck and back
- Desired softness/firmness of the pillow
- Any neck pain, or backache you may have
- And your budget
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There are a plethora of pillows in the market – cotton, polyester, feather, down, memory foam etc. However, these don’t cater to specific support or pain needs. If you have been injured, or have a particular condition, you will need a pillow that caters best to not just your problem, but also the stage that you are in. There are three main stages –
For each of these three stages, you will need a specific kind of pillow.
Specialty pillows that are designed for the ‘Accommodation’ stage, are pillows that bring in comfort and ease by providing support and stabilizing the existing ailment or disorder. Such pillows are often called Displacement pillows and are often recommended by physiotherapists for short-term pain relief after an injury.
The next stage of an issue or injury is ‘Correction’. At this stage, a doctor or physiotherapist attempts to find a remedy for the cause of the problem, and thereby correct it. Pillows recommended in this stage are often designed to provide support, and sometimes to even change the sleeping position of the injured or ailing person. There are various ‘Supportive’ pillows to meet different support levels, firmness and neck lobe size needs of different patients. There are also specialized ‘Corrective’ pillows, which can reduce headaches, neck pain, joint pain, and whiplash discomfort and can even improve nerve function. A physiotherapist can tell you what is the ideal Supportive or Corrective pillow you need, based on your health and body needs.
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Pillows for the last stage, ‘Maintenance’, help to promote good health by returning and keeping the body in its natural alignment. At this stage maintaining the normal curvature of the neck and spine is of utmost importance. While the normal curvature of one person’s neck and spine may differ from another, there are some general guidelines that a physiotherapist can jot down to help you understand your needs better. Comfort and support are the most important of these.
There are also Aqua pillows, which perform all the 3 functions of a pillow:
- Accommodation: Since water is fluid, a person gets customized accommodation that happens in real time, as the individual changes their position on the pillow.
- Correction: The volume of water determines the firmness and density of the pillow, which means different amounts of water can be utilized to help correct the neck position of different people in different stages of healing.
- Maintenance: Since the volume of water remains constant until changed manually, it helps maintain the neck posture at all times while sleeping.
A lot of people buy a pillow, try it for a few nights, and then feel it isn’t right for them. Sometimes the pillows can be returned, but more often, people end up having a collection of pillows that they have hardly ever used. An Aqua pillow is a huge savior in this aspect, as it can be customized for each individual! The water levels can be modified to best suit the clinical condition, neck shape, and size, and preferred sleeping position of the buyer.
There are also specially designed Orthopaedic pillows for specific conditions like arthritis, fractures, and slip discs. A physiotherapist can enlighten you more about these.
Who doesn’t want to stay flexible, especially as they age? Well, stretching is one very good way to stay flexible! According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it’s good to stretch all the major muscle groups at least two times a week. Stretching is an integral part of physiotherapy, and a physiotherapist is the perfect person to guide you on how to stretch. Physiotherapists recommend stretching regularly, as it keeps one’s hips and hamstrings flexible later in life, which is very important for easy movement in old age.
Apart from this stretching has many other benefits:
- It increases muscle flexibility
- It improves posture
- It also improves performance in sports & other activities
- It provides relief from stress
- It helps prevent injuries
- It prevents Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS, which is the soreness and pain one suffers a few hours to a few days after hectic exercise.
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The first question that many wonder about, is what body parts should one stretch.
In physiotherapy, stretching the following body parts is considered essential –
- Upper Back
The next thing to take into consideration is if there is the right amount of time to stretch. While there is no particular amount of time that physiotherapists suggest you stretch, recent studies show that 3 sets of 30-second stretches, 5 days per week for 4 weeks help to strengthen hamstring muscles greatly.
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There are many kinds of Stretching that physiotherapists recommend.
Stretching a muscle to its full extent and holding it for 15 to 30 is known as the Static Stretch. You can exceed this time frame a bit but don’t stretch until it hurts, as you can end up doing more damage to your muscles than good by over stretching. However, don’t do Static Stretches before a run or sprint, as this can slow down your speed by tiring out the muscles.
Before warming up for a run or other sports, doing Dynamic Stretches is more suitable. Dynamic Stretches are stretches that you do, as you are moving, and hence are called dynamic.
Another effective way of stretching, often used in physiotherapy, is Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching.
PNF stretching is an advanced type of stretching wherein the targeted muscle or muscle group, is stretched, contracted, and finally relaxed. This process is repeated at least 2 to 4 times before moving on to the next muscle group. PNF stretching helps to elongate one’s muscles and was first developed as a muscle therapy by athletes, but is now often used in physiotherapy as a means of increasing flexibility.
Stretching can be used as a preventative precaution, but also to help correct and recover from more serious issues. A physiotherapist can guide you more regarding the stretching exercises that will be best suited to your needs. So visit any of our locations in Etobicoke, Oakville, North York, Mississauga & Toronto, and find out how you can get the most out of stretching!
Summer is here, and with the sun on one’s face and a cool breeze, everyone feels like going out and enjoying some fresh air. Be it an early morning run or a quick swim, a game of tennis with your buddies or you just dribbling the ball all by yourself at the basketball court; this is the season when even the lazy ones find some energy to be active. Kids in particular love to go out and play in the summers. But with an active lifestyle, or an energetic kid, there is always the chance of sports-related injuries or foot fatigue.
Maybe you twisted your ankle while playing tennis? Or did your kid get hurt while playing football? Maybe too much running is affecting your feet? Or your friend is having pain in his or her legs post-cycling?
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Orthotics might just be the answer to your woes!
The type of Orthotics recommended to you will depend on not just your ailment or injury, but the shape of your feet as well. A physiotherapist can tell you what kind of orthotics you need, by evaluating your injury and the shape of your feet.
The most popular kind of Orthotics include:
- Casual Orthotics – These are inserts or pads that can be worn with regular shoes.
- Custom Orthotics – these are inserts that are specially designed, keeping the shape of your feet and your particular needs in mind.
- Sports Orthotics – these are inserts or pads that help to absorb shock while doing high-impact activities. Be it running, jogging, cycling, or playing a sport. There are even specialized Orthotics that slip easily into athletic shoes for professional athletes.
- Dress Orthotics – These are inserts that can be put into heels and other fashionable shoes, and are particularly made for women.
- Accommodative Footwear – this refers to special footwear, which can accommodate the Orthotics.
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If you don’t have a sports injury but are just very active, orthotics can still come to your aid. But do seek your doctor’s advice before using any kind of orthotics.
At Triangle Physiotherapy our health professionals cater to your needs and specifications. With the help of our professionals, you can figure out what is the best solution for you, based on your activities and the needs of your feet. So visit any of our locations in Etobicoke, Oakville, North York, Mississauga & Downtown Toronto, to stay active with Orthotics!
Initial symptoms of patellar tendonitis can be:
- Anterior knee pain over the patella tendon
- Pain increased from jumping, landing or running activity, and on occasion prolonged sitting
- Onset of pain can be gradual and commonly relates to an increase in sports activities
- Localised tenderness over the patella tendon
- The tendon feeling stiff, mostly first thing in the morning
- The affected tendon may appear thickened in comparison to the unaffected side
Typically, tendon injuries occur in three areas:
- Musculotendinous junction (where the tendon joins the muscle)
- Mid-tendon (non-insertional tendinopathy)
- Tendon insertion (eg. Into the bone)
Treatment of Jumpers KneeTreatment of this condition has two objectives: to reduce inflammation and to allow the tendon to heal. Rest is a must when the knee is painful and swollen. Avoid stair climbing and jumping sports. Keep your knee straight while sitting, and avoid squatting. Icing the knee for twenty minutes two to three times a day is recommended, especially after any sporting activities. Exercises can also be used to stretch and balance the thigh muscles. It is advisable, however, to contact a physical therapist & approach proper physical therapy before you attempt any of these remedies, to avoid any further damage. Happy Healing!
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