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The Connection Between Core Strength and Better Balance

Physical therapy as an industry has been talking about the link between core strength and better balance for years. When the “core” muscles around your trunk are strong, they prevent chronic lower back pain and many other injuries, but they also keep you from losing your balance and falling down. A stronger core will help to keep you upright — especially as you age and start to become more at risk of falling. If you’d like to get started on a core routine to improve your balance, contact Babin Physical Therapy today to speak with a physical therapist!

How Core Strength and Balance Are Linked

There are three systems in your body that help to control your balance. One is the vestibular system; the liquid in your inner ear functions sort of like a “carpenter’s balance” to keep you level. If you’ve ever felt dizzy, it means the liquid in the vestibular system can be “off” a little bit. Another balancing system is your visual system. Your eyes send signals to your brain about your position in relation to the world around you. The final system is the proprioceptive system, which has to do with your core.

 

Proprioception nerves are sensory nerves situated throughout the body that make you aware of your posture and awareness of spatial things around you. To stay balanced, you have to have equilibrium in all three systems. A weak core is one element that can make you feel off balance and cause you to fall down.

Core Muscles, Core Stability & Core Strength

Your core muscles are more than just your abs! In fact, there are two groups of core muscles: Inner core and outer core. The inner core muscles are attached to your spine; they’re the muscles that stabilize your core. The outer core muscles work in conjunction with the inner core muscles when you need to move your body from point A to point B (or to do most physical activities).

Core stability relates to your inner core muscles. These muscles stabilize your spine. Core strength relates to the outer core muscles and is developed to help you move around better. Engaging in physical therapy will help you to train both inner and outer core muscles for better balance and movement.

Core Strength & Stability Through Physical Therapy

You don’t need a bunch of expensive gym equipment to start working on your core strength. In fact, here’s a quick exercise that many physical therapists will recommend if you’re just starting out. It’s called the “drawing in maneuver,” or if you prefer the less fancy term, “sucking your gut in.”

First, stand up straight and find the proper pelvic position. This is done by rotating your hips forward and back finding the comfortable “middle” position. Then, draw your belly button in toward your spine. Don’t hold your breath — it’s not a breathing exercise. You should be able to talk, breathe and slowly walk around with your belly button drawn in. It sounds easy, but if you’re older, out of shape or recovering from an injury, the drawing in maneuver will be a little difficult at first.

 

You want to build up your core muscles until you can hold your belly button in for 30 seconds before moving on to more difficult core exercises. Also, if you feel any pain from this exercise, stop immediately. It shouldn’t be painful. As you build up your core, your physical therapist will recommend moving on to more strenuous exercises that are appropriate for your age and ability. This can range from planks and bridges for the more athletic, to gentler workouts like a yoga routine for older folks. Your therapist will also work with you on specific core exercises to help your balance.

 

If you have a weak core or you’re struggling with balance, physical therapy can help! Contact our Kenner, LA office and schedule an appointment to get started with a physical therapist today.

5 Benefits of Therapeutic Massage for Athletes

As an athlete, you already know that you’ve got to maintain optimal health if you want to keep playing the sport you love. Physical therapy with an experienced physical therapist is a big part of that, especially when you’re recovering from an injury. One of the main parts of a good physical therapy regimen after an injury involves therapeutic massage. Below, you’ll learn five of the best benefits of therapeutic massage for athletes. Call BabinPT Physical Therapy now to learn more about how massage can help you live pain-free.

1. Improved Circulation

Regular massage during your physical therapy program can improve circulation considerably. Better circulation means that your muscles get the blood supply needed to prevent stiffness and tension. Your muscles will work and feel better after therapeutic massage.

2. Improved Immune System

Sickness can be extra hard on athletes. Just one bad cold or flu can keep you out of the game you love for weeks — and you might feel less than your best for quite a while after that, too. Fortunately, massage helps boost your immune system’s natural defenses. During massage, your body is prompted to power up its natural cytotoxic capacity, which basically means that you’ll be better able to fight off germs, bacteria and illness more effectively.

3. Less Scar Tissue

When you’re injured, your body forms adhesions — bands of tough scar tissue — around the injury. These adhesions can restrict your movement, cause serious pain, and can delay your recovery for a very long time if they’re not treated. Your physical therapy massage can deal with those adhesions very efficiently. Your physical therapist can use specific targeted techniques that break up the adhesions, which unbinds your muscles. This is a very important component of your physical therapy program because being adhesion-free is important for both pain relief and for your range of motion.

4. Muscle Relaxation

While muscle relaxation is the best-known benefit of massage, it takes on a whole new importance for an athlete. Muscle soreness, tightness and pain are all things that you expect as an athlete — but the good news is that you can greatly decrease these issues with regular therapeutic massage. Even after you’ve completed a physical therapy program following an injury, you might benefit from regular massages with your physical therapist.

5. Improved Posture

Massage, when coupled with other kinds of physical therapy, can do a lot of good for your posture. Massage helps bring your body into an optimal place of alignment, which can naturally improve your posture. Better posture has multiple benefits for athletes. When you’ve got good posture, your body can move at its peak, all the time — and this means that you’re playing your sport with a bit of a natural advantage built in.

 

As an athlete, your body needs to be in the best condition at all times. This means that after an injury, you’ve got to recover with the help of a physical therapy program designed by an expert physical therapist. It also means that you need to recognize the importance of health maintenance. Something as simple as a therapeutic massage once or twice a month can help you feel your very best, and this means that you’ll be able to be at your peak for every game.

 

If you’re looking for noninvasive solutions for pain and injury or if you just want to be the best athlete you can be, contact our Kenner LA physical therapy team now to get started with an expert physical therapist.

5 Ways Physical Therapy Can Put the Spring Back in Your Step!

Do you currently have an acute or chronic pain condition affecting your daily life? Maybe you’re struggling with back pain, a sports injury or impairments following an auto accident. Perhaps you have someone in your family who is experiencing pain and dysfunction. Whatever you or your loved ones are facing, we encourage you to contact Babin Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist.

At Babin Physical Therapy, our physical therapists are experts in human movement and employ a wide range of drug-free, non-invasive techniques that benefit our patients in many ways — far beyond “just” symptom management. Check out these top five reasons why working with a physical therapist can help you reclaim the healthy, active lifestyle you want and deserve:

1. Pain-relieving techniques used in physical therapy have a low risk of side effects.

Unlike many medications and invasive procedures, physical therapy services have a very low risk of side effects while remaining highly effective for reducing pain, swelling, inflammation and other impairments related to injury, illness, and disease. Physical therapy techniques require less downtime and can be modified and safely used on everyone from infants to seniors.

2. Physical therapy services are completely customizable.

A standard physical therapy plan of care is completely individualized to the patient. The chief aims of any plan of care are to address the patient’s unique goals, resolve his or her impairments, and optimize his or her recovery, functional independence and long-term health. These outcomes can be achieved through physical therapy techniques such as:

  • Therapeutic exercises
  • Manual therapy, like massage and joint mobilizations
  • Neuromuscular re-education, like balance training
  • Modalities, like dry needling, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, diathermy, orthotics and prosthetics fitting, and kinesio taping

After undergoing a thorough examination with your physical therapist, you’ll receive an individualized treatment plan that can accelerate your healing. This plan is modified to meet your specific needs and lifestyle and relies on your feedback throughout the process, giving you a more active role in your recovery.

3. Physical therapy can help you avoid opioids.

The current opioid abuse epidemic in our country suggests that these potentially harmful drugs are frequently overprescribed. The CDC recommends physical therapy before opioids for the management of many types of chronic pain. Plus, treatment techniques used in physical therapy are “evidence-based,” meaning they are tested in scientific research studies in order to determine their efficacy, effectiveness and safety.

4. A physical therapist can identify hidden factors contributing to your dysfunction.

A physical therapist won’t just “mask” your pain. Our physical therapists identify and resolve underlying factors contributing to your current condition and increasing your risk of chronic issues. Common factors include shortened muscles, scar tissue, range-of-motion limitations, muscle activation problems, impaired ergonomics and body mechanics, and postural imbalances. If factors like these are left unaddressed, your symptom relief would likely be temporary at best.

Through services such as patient education, work-hardening programs and other techniques previously mentioned, a physical therapist can address both symptom and cause.

5. A physical therapist can help you maximize functional mobility, capacity and performance.

A physical therapist helps his or her patients improve endurance, core stability, coordination, agility, and other physical skills that can carry over into better performance in sports and everyday life. This is essential for young active people as well as the older population looking to avoid age-related debility.

In other words, our physical therapists can manage your injury or disease now as well as help prevent injury in the future.

Ready to find some long-lasting solutions to your pain? To schedule an appointment with a physical therapist today and get started on your journey back to health and healing, contact our physical therapy Kenner, LA clinic today.

 

Getting to the Root of the Problem! Don’t Mask the Symptoms With Meds

Chronic pain and other types of pain can put a dent in your lifestyle. If you’re suffering from pain, be sure to give our office a call to learn how our physical therapists can get you on the path to a pain-free life. Don’t make the mistake of relying on meds, as meds only mask the symptoms. Physical therapy is a natural treatment and a non-invasive treatment that works. Contact Babin Physical Therapy today and you won’t have to curl up with pain in bed anymore.  

Using Meds for Pain: It’s Really Just Masking the Problem

Taking painkillers to rid yourself of pain may seem like a good solution, but it’s really not. Over-the-counter meds like aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can have side effects. Taking a lot of aspirin can cause your stomach to bleed and can also cause kidney damage. Acetaminophen can result in kidney damage. Ibuprofen can cause both kidney and stomach problems. Prescription opioids like codeine, oxycodone and morphine can lead to addiction. Other possible side effects of pain meds include respiratory depression, constipation, anxiety and nausea. Not only does taking meds for pain just mask the problem, it may cause you another one.

The Natural Treatment of Physical Therapy

Sometimes even the thought of exercising may make you sweat but in reality, exercise is one of the absolute best treatments out there for chronic pain. By participating in a physical therapy routine you will see just how effective exercise can be for all types of chronic musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain.

 

Physical therapy is a natural treatment for a variety of root causes of chronic pain, including:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Disc degeneration disease
  • Disc herniation

 

A physical therapist has a wide variety of treatment options to offer for pain. Movement therapy, massage therapy, cold laser therapy, microcurrent stimulation and the manipulation of joints and bones are just a few of the methodologies that physical therapists have in their toolbox. All of these treatment modalities help reduce pain, reduce inflammation, accelerate healing and improve daily function.

From Diagnosis to Treatment: The Role of a Physical Therapist

Consulting with a physical therapist can reduce your recovery time. That’s because a physical therapist will treat your entire body by identifying the root cause of pain. A physical therapist will perform an assessment to determine where your pain is coming from. This healthcare professional will develop an individualized treatment plan that is designed to target the root cause of pain. Physical therapists include a comprehensive exam process, which includes a full medical history. Selected tests are done to identify movement-related disorders. For a specific diagnosis, all of the collected exam data is carefully reviewed.

 

Physical therapy entails both active and passive treatment. Active physical therapy treatment may include exercises, motions, stretching and aquatic therapy. Passive therapy treatment may include ultrasound, massage therapy, heat therapy, cold therapy and electric stimulation. You can feel confident that a physical therapist will develop a treatment plan that is just for you and your needs.

 

If you’re in pain, there is an effective solution other than pain meds or surgery. Contact our Kenner, LA office today to learn how our physical therapists can help you live a pain-free lifestyle. All of our physical therapists are seasoned and certified. Our goal is to get you back in the game, on the road to recovery and to help you live life to its fullest. 

5 Reasons Why You Need to Start Stretching

If there’s one thing that you can count on a Babin PT physical therapist introducing into every session, it’s stretching. Yes, building strength and endurance is important. But whether you’re an athlete, or someone coping with the aches and pains of aging, increasing your flexibility through stretching is crucial. Read on to learn more about some of the top benefits of stretching.

Range of Motion Improvement

How far your joints can move in all directions influences virtually every moment of the day. Arthritis or injury can hamper how far, and where, you can flex and extend your limbs and torso. From twisting your neck to see behind you when driving, to being able to move your knee freely, range of motion is crucial for both daily life and for fitness pursuits. Even if you’re fairly stiff now, doing more stretches each day will gradually reduce stiffness and increase flexibility.

Relief in Unexpected Places

When your calves start feeling a bit tight after a run, it’s obvious that more stretching is needed. But we sometimes forget the sheer interconnectedness of our bodies. If you’re experiencing lower back pain, for example, stretching your legs during physical therapy can be as important as stretching your back. In fact, your hips, upper thighs and your hamstrings can all play a big part in creating lower back pain relief. Likewise, improving your posture through stretching your torso can provide the kind of support you need to keep your spine from compressing, which helps you avoid shoulder pain and neck pain.

Enhanced Performance

If you’re an athlete, you know that the more conditioning your joints, ligaments and muscles get, the greater your advantage in your sport. Bodybuilders can recover from their reps more quickly by stretching tightened muscles as a cool-down. Golfers can get a longer reach by increasing range of motion through the hips and shoulders. Swimmers can keep their strokes even by perfecting their balance through physical therapy stretching moves. In fact, there are few competitive sports for which stretching doesn’t offer an advantage.

Injury Prevention

There’s a certain amount of debate in the sports world about the degree to which pre- or post-workout stretching protects you from injury. But few people deny those stretches can contribute to injury prevention. A tense, shortened muscle is often an injury waiting to happen because it doesn’t work at peak performance. When you stretch, you’re also increasing your range of motion, while improving your balance. All of these factors can prevent you from making the types of moves that lead to injury, whether it’s coming down too hard on one foot, or twisting your back further than you should to compensate for lack of shoulder range.

Improved Circulation

Stretching can reduce stress, but that isn’t the only reason it’s good for your heart and your musculoskeletal system. Tight muscles constrict available oxygen supply, essentially robbing themselves of the nutrients they need. Stretches help reverse the process. You’ll also get the benefit of increased blood flow to your joints and throughout the body. Your physical therapist knows that good circulation is key to every aspect of health, from sharp thinking to clear skin.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways that stretching can improve your life. Many people enter a Zen-like state as they stretch. Others get a sense of pride from being more limber. When you’re ready to add stretches to your daily routine, consider getting started through physical therapy. Our team can walk you through the best ways to tackle your situation. Static or dynamic stretching? Pre- or post-activity stretching? A Babin PT physical therapist can help you learn the basics. Contact BabinPT Physical Therapy today to learn more.

The Unexpected Benefits of Stretching

Many non-athletes — and even a few actual jocks — are guilty of either rushing through their warm-up stretching, or skipping the cool-down moves after the workout. Yet, along with cardio and strength-training, stretching also delivers significant health benefits.

You probably already know that stretching extends your overall range of motion, while also elasticizing your muscles and enhancing coordination. But those improvements, in turn, bring about other health benefits. We can discuss more of these during your visit, but in the meantime here are some of the frequently-overlooked benefits of stretching.

Increased Circulation

The act of lengthening and loosening your muscles through stretching means that you’re simultaneously opening up their interior blood vessels. This increased circulation is crucial for heart health and lowered cholesterol. It’s also a boon for the muscles themselves, because the improved blood flow results in faster recovery time, and less overall soreness after a workout.

Longer term, improving your circulation is a superior mood enhancer and energy booster. The physiological impact of increased circulation means that your bloodstream is carrying more oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, allowing for higher energy.

Reduced Tension

The most obvious benefit of a decrease in muscular tensing is, of course, that your pain and discomfort is greatly lessened. That alone is a smart reason to add more stretching into your life, because relaxing those contracted muscles will instantly make you feel physically better.

There’s an emotional component to “de-knotting” your muscles, as well. You’ll literally feel as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders, which can’t help but lift your mood. Optimism is also restored because relaxed muscles allow all-important endorphins to flow, which banishes pessimism — and that dreaded midday fatigue.  

Improved Flexibility and Posture

Enhancing both your flexibility and posture through stretching your joints and muscles are key to avoiding a range of pain-causing conditions.

Range of motion is vastly improved by regular stretching. Not only can you correct any joint stiffness you presently have through regular stretching as you’re extending your limbs as far as they can go, but you can also reduce the risks of future, motion-limiting injuries.

In terms of your muscle groups, stretching keeps the muscles supporting your spin lengthened and in perfect position. This proper alignment improves posture, and usually reduces any incidences of neck and back pain.

If any of these health issues sound familiar to you, please contact Babin Physical Therapy today. We’ll work together to put together the stretching routine that’s best for you!

Still hurting? Your Diet Could Be Why  

What you put in your mouth can make your aches and pains worse. Like they say, “You are what you eat.” There are many foods that can cause inflammation and actually result in pain. Eating a healthier diet can help you feel better, without those nagging aches and pains.

Foods To Say “No” To

While it may be difficult to resist sodas, chocolate bars, pastries, and desserts, it’s smart to just say no. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, processed sugars release inflammatory messengers. The culprits are known as cytokines. To be on the safe side, avoid any ingredients that end in “ose.” That includes sucrose and fructose.

Saturated fats also trigger inflammation. Cheese and pizza are a mainstay of the American diet, and Americans should definitely reduce their intakes of these foods. Other culprits include full-fat dairy products, pasta, red meat and grain-based desserts.

Harvard School researchers sent out the alarm on trans fats in the 1990s. Trans fat triggers systemic inflammation. You’ll find plenty of trans fats in fast foods, snack foods, cookies, donuts and frozen breakfast products. Be sure to read the ingredient labels and avoid those listed with partially hydrogenated oils.

Skip the white flour products that have refined carbohydrates. That includes white rice and white potatoes. Processed carbs increase fats and fuel the production of advanced glycation, which causes inflammation.

While you may think mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) is only found in soy sauce and Asian food, it can be found in deli meats, fast foods, salad dressings and prepared soups. MSG is known as a chemical that triggers pathways for chronic inflammation.

Foods To Say “Yes” To

Think of a more natural diet like veggies and fresh fruits. And start drinking water. By just switching to water, you can reduce pain caused by inflammation. Greek yogurt is a good choice and so are foods with natural probiotics. Just by making better food choices can put you on the road to less pain and less need to rely on medications. Be a part of the solution instead of the problem by changing up your diet. Another plus to eating better is that you just may wind up losing a few of those stubborn pounds. So, the next time you feel a nagging ache, do some thinking about what you’re actually putting in your mouth. It just may be a food that you should say no to or contact Babin Physical Therapy to see how we can help assess your aches and pains!

 

The Amazing Benefits of Stretching

Everyone knows that exercise is a part of healthy living, but do you consider a stretching routine part of your exercise program, or as an afterthought that gets done if time permits? Since no one ever has enough time, you may want to reconsider how you view exercise, as there are so many benefits to a stretching program. Everyone can learn to stretch, regardless of age or flexibility. Stretching should be a part of your daily routine, whether you exercise or not. It does not have to involve a huge amount of time, but stretching can end up giving you huge results!

 

Five Important Benefits of Stretching:

 

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased range of movement in the joints
  • Enhanced muscular coordination
  • Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
  • Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)

How Do These Benefits Help You?

 

An abundance of research explains that there can be many benefits of stretching on a routine basis, even if you are not an avid runner or athlete. Stretching can benefit you in the following ways:

 

Infuses You with Optimism

 

People who are stressed often have contracted muscles. In turn, these muscle contractions give a physiological and an emotional feeling of tenseness and overall unease. When you feel these sensations, try stretching to loosen tight and simultaneously increases blood flow. Stretching has also been shown to aid in the release of endorphins, a natural body substance that helps you attain a feeling of joy and serenity. Stretching when you wake up is a great way to start your day and stretching before bed can optimize your sleep.

 

Stretching is a Great Midday Pick-Me-Up

 

Most people feel a little lethargic around mid-afternoon. If this describes you, try some stretching at your desk. Often, people who suffer from mid-afternoon fatigue find that stretching gives them a boost of energy. When we feel lethargic, our muscles tighten; stretching loosens up these muscles. Stand up and stretch to combat your midday fatigue!

 



Lower Your Cholesterol

 

Stretching on a routine basis and eating a healthy diet can help reduce cholesterol. In turn, reductions in cholesterol can prevent, and may even reverse, hardening of the arteries. Stretching also serves to aid in avoiding heart disease.

 

Better Blood Circulation

 

A stretching routine increases blood flow to your muscles which can help with the following:

 

  1. Reductions in post-exercise soreness and recovery time
  2. Improvement of overall health

 

Makes You More Flexible

 

Did you know that improved flexibility results in an improved range of motion, making your body work less while moving? Also, stretching lessens the likelihood of injuries during exercise or other sports activities.

 

Stretching Improves Your Posture

 

When you stretch, you lengthen tight muscles that tend to pull parts of your body away from their intended positions. It is important to keep your muscles loose, especially in the back and torso. This helps to keep your spine in alignment and to relieve backaches and back pain. When back pain is alleviated, you tend to have better posture. Contact Babin Physical Therapy today!

 

Sources

https://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/top-10-ways-avoid-high-cholesterol/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931

https://www.nbcnews.com/id/21489011/ns/health-fitness/t/stretching-may-offer-extended-benefits/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/358507-what-are-the-benefits-of-stretching-yoga/

What you eat can make you hurt more…

How Your Diet Can Make Your Aches and Pains Worse

Do you suffer from chronic aches and pains? If so, then you’re not alone. Often times, “mystery” aches and pains are actually caused by localized inflammation in the body, which can occur as a result of overuse or even injury. And while there are anti-inflammatory medications available to help relieve pain, these come with their own potential for adverse side effects. What many people fail to realize is that inflammation can be hugely impacted by your diet and nutrition. By avoiding certain foods, you can prevent inflammation from occurring in the first place. And by eating the right foods, you can not only rid your body of toxins, but reduce inflammation as well.

Top Foods to Avoid

There are numerous foods and drinks that you should actively avoid if you’re suffering from pain caused by inflammation. Caffeinated beverages rank among the top of the list due to the affect that it can have on your body; specifically, caffeine can alter your body’s pH balance, resulting in an increase in acidity. This increases inflammation by changing your body’s natural chemical processes.

Sugar and artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame) should also be avoided. Sugar, for example, causes your body’s insulin levels to spike and thus makes you even more sensitive to pain. Aspartame has a similar effect on the body. This means you should avoid any foods and beverages with added sugars and artificial sweeteners (including diet sodas). Even some seemingly healthy fruit juices have sugar added, so it’s important to avoid them.

Nightshade vegetables are another type of food worth avoiding if you face pain caused by inflammation; unfortunately, these vegetables are known to increase the inflammatory response in a person’s body. Some examples of these include eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes.

Some other foods and drinks to avoid include:

  • white breads
  • coffee creamer
  • alcohol

Tips for Reducing Pain Through Nutrition

Now that you know which types of foods you should avoid if you suffer from pain due to inflammation, what kinds of changes can you make in your diet to promote a healthier and pain-free lifestyle? For starters, opting for a more natural diet of greens, fresh fruits, and certain vegetables (not nightshade) is a great way to reduce inflammation and pain. And perhaps one of the best things you can do for yourself is to simply drink more water. If you’re the type of person who drinks a lot of juices, sodas, and other questionable beverages, you might be amazed at how much better you feel just by switching to water. That’s because water can help flush toxins out of your body, which can in turn reduce pain caused by inflammation.

If you’re not doing so already, now is also a good time to start working to improve your gut health. Consider, for example, taking a daily probiotic, which will help balance out the bacteria in your gut. There are also foods you can eat that contain natural probiotics, such as yogurt. Just be sure to avoid yogurts that have a lot of added sugar and flavoring. Plain, Greek yogurt is typically your safest option here. You can always add a little granola or even fresh berries for more flavor.

Dealing with pain due to inflammation is something nobody should have to deal with. Unfortunately, this is a problem that plagues a large portion of the population. By understanding what foods worsen your inflammation and how you can reduce it through a healthier and more natural diet, however, you can find ways to reduce pains without the need for medications.

https://www.prevention.com/food/10-foods-that-make-inflammation-worse/slide/8

https://kriscarr.com/blog/5-tips-to-reduce-inflammation/