5 Tips to Shop for the Right Athletic Shoe

In order to avoid injury in a sport, it’s important to have the right gear. Football players wear pads right? And softball players wear batting helmets? Well almost all sports require the right athletic shoe.  Injuries related to inadequate foot gear can range from blisters and ankle issues to knee and hip pain. But how do you go about finding the right shoe? Here are tips to take with you on your shopping trip for the perfect gear for your feet.

1 – Find a Specialty Store

The first step in finding the right shoe is finding a shop that specializes in the activity you are looking to do so you can benefit from their expertise. For example, if you are looking for a running shoe, your best bet is visiting a running store. The sales professionals are not only more knowledgeable on the best fit for you, but the stores themselves usually have a treadmill to test out the sneakers.

2 – Save Your Trip for the End of the Day

If you were to try new shoes on first thing in the morning, they’ll likely be uncomfortable by nighttime. That’s because, as the day wears on, our feet naturally swell. So the end of the day the best time for that shopping trip for new shoes.

3 – Come Prepared

It seems simple, but many people forget this step: bring the same socks you would normally wear with your athletic shoe. Any sock thinner or thicker that what you plan to regularly wear is going to affect your fit.

4 – Check Your Fit

Once you’ve arrived to the shop and start trying on athletic shoes, how do you know if it’s the right fit? Think Toe, Heel, Feet. Look for ½ an inch of space between your longest toe and the front of the shoe, with room enough to wiggle your toes. Take some steps and make sure your heel isn’t slipping in and out of the shoe at all, otherwise you can count on blisters. And make sure to try the shoes on both feet as many of us have differences in width and even length between our left and our right.

5 – Take Them for a Spin

Take your time moving around the shop to test how comfortable the athletic shoes are. Try to mimic some of the moves you’ll be doing, like jumping for basketball. Understand the return policy of the store as well, as you may have the opportunity to test your new shoes outside the store. Some specialty stores have generous policies, allowing you to return used sneakers if they don’t work out within a month.

With these tips in mind, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect shoe to match your activity and avoid unnecessary injuries. Have more questions? Feel free to contact us at neosmteam.com/contact-us.

What is Tommy John surgery? (And why the name?)

If you follow sports, baseball in particular, you may have heard of a star player being out for Tommy John surgery. No, there isn’t a part of the elbow named “Tommy John” – the surgery is a reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and a baseball player named Tommy John was the first to undergo the procedure successfully, thus the common name. So what causes the injury that necessitates this type of operation? To answer, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the elbow and the function of the UCL.

Source: OrthoInfo

As shown in the diagram, the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) attaches the upper arm (humerus) to the forearm (ulna). The UCL stabilizes movement of the elbow when throwing, but the more stress it endures through repetitive motion or force, the greater the risk of the ligament deteriorating. That is why UCL tears are particularly common in baseball pitchers, who contort their elbows in a series of different angles during a single hard throw, then repeat these motions over and over. 

Symptoms

There are different signs that you may have an injury of the UCL. These include:

  • A sudden ‘pop’ sensation in your elbow
  • Pain when in a throwing motion
  • Limited ability to throw
  • Tingling in the hand or fingers
  • Weakened grip strength

Treatment

Once non-surgical options have been exhausted, like physical therapy, rest or medication, your orthopedic may recommend surgery. Thankfully, since Tommy John first had his surgery, countless athletes have benefited from UCL repair or reconstruction surgery to get them back on the mound. During the operation, an orthopedic surgeon will either repair the tear in the ligament or reconstruct using a donor tendon from elsewhere in the body to graft a new ligament. Rates of return to sports 9 months after surgery are high for this type of treatment – 85%-95% of throwing athletes returning.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms outlined above, remember, ignoring the issue can lead to further complications. The team of specialists at NEOSM are here to help you overcome your injuries and make the most out of life. Reach out to us anytime for a consultation.

All About “Text Neck”

Smartphones. They’re an incredible invention. They bring us connection to others and to information. They are our alarm clocks, calendars, phone books and more. They definitely make life easier, but with all good things there’s a bit of catch.

Image Credit: Veritas Health

You probably have already experienced it – the need to roll your neck or your shoulders to relieve tightness after looking down at your device for a long time. That gaze down produces undo stress on the spine and neck. In fact, bending your head down 45-60% can put as much as 60 lbs of force on your upper spine. Your neck can not sustain that amount of pressure for long, and that’s when problems can occur – commonly called “text neck syndrome” – which can lead to prolonged spine damage. An evaluation with one of the spine specialists at NEOSM can provide a medical diagnosis and here are symptoms to look out for:

Symptoms of Text Neck Syndrome

  • Pain in the neck, upper back or shoulders
    • This pain can be localized to one specific spot or more broad in the overall area. Pain can also radiate down the spine or arms.
  • Change in posture
    • A shift in your posture with head forward (ears not aligned over the shoulders) or rounded shoulders. This can even lead to balance issues.
  • Pain when Looking Down
    • Increased pain when gazing down to use your device
  • Headache
    • Tension headaches from neck pain are common

Treatment

First step in treating text neck syndrome is to undo the habits that caused the condition to begin with. Raise the phone up to eye level to relieve the pressure on your spine and take breaks from use. Stretch out your neck, shoulder and upper back to ease the muscles. Be conscious of your posture and straighten out when you feel a forward tilt of your head. In addition, to ease pain try sleeping with a cervical pillow to provide additional support. Add neck, shoulder and upper back strengthening exercises to your workouts.

As mentioned, it is best to consult with a spine specialist for an examination and to diagnosis any causes of pain. The team at Northeast Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is here to ensure you receive the highest level of care and attention.

How to Train Like an Olympian

Inspiration is all around us. Watching the winter Olympics, there’s plenty of athletic inspiration to feast our eyes on. Yes, we may not have the time or natural talent to compete at the highest level of sport. But what we’ll find when taking a look at the training habits of the elite athlete, is that there’s a lot we can apply to our everyday physical goals.

TRAINING LIKE AN ATHLETE

Training Team

The professional athlete doesn’t train alone. There’s a team in place to help advise, encourage and support the athlete. Build your team! Consult with your primary physician before you start a new exercise program and stay current with your physicals. Stay on top of unusual aches and pains before they progress into serious issues by reaching out to one of the skilled specialists at Northeast Orthopedics. Bring a friend along to your workouts to help you stay accountable. Reach out to others with the same athletic goals as you on social media and join a community. Your team is out there waiting to support your journey.

Diet/Hydration

When you’re an athlete in training, your body needs a lot of fuel. That’s why diet is so important. Fuel your body with enough carbs to provide energy and protein to support muscle growth. And don’t forget the importance of hydration. Aim for drinking half your body weight in ounces per day. If you’re new to consuming a lot of water, start at a tolerable level and build up your intake each week.

Strength Training

You may think strength training is only for sports that require a lot of power, but building muscle strength is key for endurance sports as well. Strong muscles create an overall structure that is less prone to injury. For the non-professional athlete, a strong frame makes you less vulnerable to falls and related injuries.

Rest/Recovery

Every professional athlete knows the importance of rest/recovery days. Taking a break from intense training allows the body the opportunity to heal and make the next training session more effective. At home, rest days can look like a leisure walk instead of a HITT cardio class, or some simple yoga flows rather than hitting the weights hard.

Sleep

We’ve all experienced sleepless nights and the feeling of uselessness the following day. Imagine being sleep deprived and expecting your body to perform at an Olympic level. It’s a recipe for injuries to occur. That’s why top athletes prioritize sleep, and so should you. Restfulness isn’t something your body would like to have, it’s something it needs in order to allow healing and restoration.

Your level of training may not mirror that of an Olympian, but the formula is there for your success. And, as always, the providers of NEOSM are there to support you all the way!

All About Osteoporosis

Did you know your bones are continually remodeling? Small amounts of bone tissue are absorbed by the body while small amounts are replaced. When more bone is lost than replaced, the density of the bones diminishes, weakening the bone structure. This condition is called osteoporosis and is the reason for over 2 million related fractures each year. There are ways these can be avoided and treated. In this post, we share how.

Healthy Bone v. Osteoporosis

What Causes Osteoporosis?

There are many risk factors that lead to increased bone loss. Family history and age are catalysts for a physician to prescribe a bone density test. Other factors include physical health/strength and excessive smoking or alcohol intake.

Higher risk for women over 35: Generally women are prone to lose more bone mass than men as their age, particularly during menopause, when bone loss is accelerated. It’s important to speak to a primary physician or gynecologist for recommended treatment to preserve bone mass.

How to Prevent Osteoporosis and Related Fractures?

Strong body means strong bones and good balance prevents falls, so engaging in even simple training exercises on a regular basis will reduce your risk of fractures.  Try weight-bearing activities like sit-to-stand exercises, walking or hiking, or stair climbing. Balance drills like standing on one leg (using a chair for support) and bending down then back up. Yoga and Tai-chi are also great activities to include in your routine. Along with adding regular exercise to your week, ceasing smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are key to preventing bone loss. These lifestyle changes allow your body to better support bone building cells.

How is Osteoporosis Treated?

Aside from fracture prevention methods detailed above, medications are available to help decrease the amount of bone being lost. Through testing, a physician can determine your bone strength level and prescribe a treatment accordingly. Medications include different hormone therapies and twice-yearly injections. These methods focus on suppressing ongoing loss, not restoring lost bone – therefore good prevention methods are paramount to curbing osteoporosis.

The strength of our bones, especially as we age, can make all the difference in the quality of life we lead. We hope you incorporate good habits into your everyday life to prevent unnecessary fractures. The specialists at NEOSM are here to support you when you need us.

The Rise of One-Sport Injuries

As a parent, it’s easy to go “all-in” on a sport your child really enjoys or excels in. But studies are showing that playing the same sport for three or more seasons of the year is resulting in a spike in overuse injuries in young athletes. While sudden trauma injuries are immediately apparent, overuse injuries appear gradually and can be easy to miss. What can you do to prevent serious injury if your son or daughter has become a “one-sport” athlete and how do you spot trouble? The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) have created The One-SportTM campaign to answer that question and to guide parents and coaches.

Preventing Injuries

Following the guidelines below will help kids get the most out of their sport while reducing risk of injury.

PHYSICAL – It’s a good idea to have your child visit their doctor for a physical before their season starts to screen for, diagnose and treat any conditions.

WARM UP & COOL DOWN – Gradually increasing the heart rate before exercise and allowing a gradual decrease after is important. During warm up and cool down, give a proper amount of time to stretch muscles gently.

HYDRATE– Taking a water break at least every 30 minutes (or more often depending on weather and activity) is key to preventing cramps and muscle spasms.

PROPER EQUIPMENT – Always use proper equipment when participating in a sport. Be sure all gear fit well, are in good condition and are checked on a weekly basis.

GRADUAL TRAINING INCREASE & INSTRUCTION – You wouldn’t jump in the deep end at your first swim lesson for the same reason you shouldn’t train to extremes from the start. Allow your child to gradually increase the intensity of their training as their skills and strength grow. Look to coaches and trainers for guidance on correct form and appropriate exercises suited to your athlete’s ability.

BREAKS AND REST – The most important lesson to teach kids during training is how to listen to their bodies and take a break when necessary. Until they learn how, adults should encourage scheduled rests during training or competition, plus rest days during the week to allow their bodies to recover.

Spotting Trouble

Don’t miss the signs of overuse. Early action can prevent long term effects on performance or quality of life. Take action if you notice any of the following:

  • Isolated pain when using a body part
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Preference to put weight on one side of the body rather than another
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities
  • Headaches during or after training or competition
  • Stiffness in joints or muscles
  • Unusual weakness
  • Presence of blisters or irritate skin

If you see the presence of any of these signs, call one of our orthopedic and sports medicine specialists as soon as possible. With early evaluation and intervention, you can prevent injuries that can have life-long implications.

For more information on The One-SportTM campaign, visit www.stopsportsinjuries.org.

How to Care for Your Cast

We know it’s not the best news when you or your child need to be placed in a cast. But your orthopedic knows it’s the best course of action for your injury to heal properly. For however long it needs to remain on, we have some tips on how to make sure your time in your cast is successful.

When You First Get Your Cast

When first injured, the swelling that occurs can make the cast feel tight and uncomfortable. It’s important to take measures to treat the swelling to help the healing process by doing the following in the first 24-72 hours.

ELEVATE – Prop the injured arm or leg with support so that it is above the heart to allow fluid and blood to drain.

MOVEMENT – Move uninjured fingers and toes to prevent stiffness.

ICE – Apply ice to the injured area. Be sure to place loose ice in a plastic bag to keep the area dry and loosely wrap around the cast.

Caring for Your Cast

KEEP IT DRY – It’s important to keep the cast, and the injury, dry. When bathing or showering, cover the cast in two layers of plastic and seal with a band or duct tape. Avoid submerging in water, even when covered. Some injuries can be treated with a waterproof cast, so ask your doctor if yours is safe to get wet.

KEEP IT CLEAN – Dirt and sand particles can not only irritate the skin, but can hinder the healing process.

ITCHINESS – It’s common, but don’t try to relive any itches with an object or powders into the cast. If it continues and is unbearable, contact your doctor.

DON’T DIY – Don’t mess around with your cast. No pulling at the padding and no trimming of any rough edges without consulting your orthopedic. Never remove the cast on your own.

SPEAK UPIf you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, be sure to let your physician’s office know.

  • Increased pain or tightness
  • Numbness/tingling in the casted area
  • Burning or red/raw skin around the cast
  • Inability to move toes or fingers
  • Crack or soft spot on the cast

With proper care, you can ensure the time needed in a cast isn’t unnecessarily extended. And, as always, the specialists at Northeast Orthopedics and Sports Medicine are here to answer any questions and guide you through your treatment. We welcome your call any time. 

Backpack Safety Tips

School’s back in session. And we know kids can be weighed down, literally, with school work, leading to back and neck pain. The help minimize the risk of injury, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons shares their guidelines to carry books and school work around safely.

But what can parents do to ensure kids are safe from injury?

  • First, ensure your child is following the guidelines above, and remind them throughout the school year.
  • Pay attention when your child picks up their backpack – are they struggling or look off balance? If so, help them adjust the items in their bag or remove some heavy items.
  • If your child is complaining of back pain, keep in mind that their backpack may be the cause. Should their discomfort continue, ask if keeping a second set of textbooks at home is an option or consider purchasing a rolling backpack.

With these tips, we wish all students a safe and successful school year from all of us at NEOSM!