Slips and Trips Can Cause More Damage Than You Think

Senior citizen slips on slick linoleum in Portland OR

Slips and Trips Can Cause More Damage Than You Think

Our bodies are incredibly resilient and can bounce back from all sorts of illnesses and injuries. While this resiliency is great for keeping us healthy, it often causes us to shrug off minor injuries like trips or falls. Many people will ignore aches and pains, hoping that they’ll go away on their own. But, failing to properly care for your body after falling can result in long-lasting or worsening problems.

The best way to avoid lingering pain from falling is to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. And, now that we’re in the midst of the rainy Pacific Northwest fall, it’s extra important to be careful around slippery surfaces to avoid slipping or falling. Here are our top tips for staying safe in slippery weather:

  • Use handrails when possible
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes
  • Wipe your feet when coming indoors
  • Avoid distractions like phones when walking
  • Stick to well-lit and maintained pathways
  • Store wet clothes and items away from walkways

While these tips can help you avoid becoming injured, what should you do if you are experiencing pain from a trip or fall? Our recommendation is to receive immediate medical attention for any acute injuries, and then to seek physical therapy so you can avoid long-lasting pain.


Signs Physical Therapy Can Help Relieve Your Pain

It is so common to disregard lingering pain from slips or falls that most people aren’t even aware that they can find relief. With the help of physical therapy, you can reduce or eliminate recurring pain from minor injuries rather than suffering for months or years on end. Here are some signs that you should seek treatment after a trip or fall:

  • You notice swelling or other visible changes.
  • Medications aren’t helping relieve the pain. 
  • You are experiencing persisting, recurring, or sharp pain.
  • You have limited mobility or can’t perform some tasks.
  • You frequently suffer from headaches or traveling pain.

All of these are signs that your minor injury could have long-lasting effects if not properly treated. And, if you are still experiencing any of these signs from a trip or fall that happened a while ago, it isn’t too late to receive help! Physical therapy can help at any stage of the recovery process. 

If you recently fell or are experiencing long-lasting pain from a previous injury, the specialists at New Heights Physical Therapy can help! Our highly trained therapists are dedicated to helping you recover in a safe and caring environment, so you can get back to your daily activities in no time. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

What to Do When You’re in an Accident

Woman in car accident getting help. Blog post from New Heights Physical Therapy in Portland, OR

What to Do After a Car Accident

With school opening back up and new drivers taking to the roads, there has been an increase of car accidents throughout Vancouver WA and Portland OR. And, these accidents aren’t just impacting other drivers; motorcyclists, bikers, and pedestrians are also at risk of experiencing a vehicle-related injury.

Even seemingly minor injuries from motor-related accidents can cause serious pain for months, years, or even a lifetime. Over 75% of people who sought immediate medical care after a car accident reported pain 4 weeks later, making these injuries a leading cause of chronic pain.

What Are Common Car Accident Injuries?

Even a small fender bender can cause injury, which may linger long after the accident is over. The jerking motions of coming to an abrupt stop or being hit can lead to whiplash, muscle tears, and more. Without proper attention, these injuries can cause residual pain for years.

Thankfully, physical therapy can help reduce pain and increase mobility after an accident. Some of the most common car-related injuries that physical therapy can help treat are:

  • Whiplash and headaches
  • Back or neck strains
  • Shoulder strains
  • Wrist injuries

What to Do When You’re in an Accident

If you have been in an accident and endured a severe injury or suspect head trauma, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Some signs of head trauma include:

  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Sensory issues with light or sound.
  • Persistent or worsening headache.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Loss of coordination or speech issues.
  • Fatigue or drowsiness.

If you do not suspect serious injury, it is still a good idea to see a physical therapist as soon as possible – even if you don’t immediately feel any pain. Car accidents are traumatic and often trigger a large release of adrenaline, which can make it difficult or impossible to notice an injury right away. Additionally, any damaged soft tissue may take several days or weeks to swell up and cause pain.

A physical therapist can help you avoid or reduce pain after a car accident. With over 24 years of experience serving the Vancouver WA and Portland OR area, the experts at New Heights Physical Therapy can help. Our highly-trained specialists can identify and treat accident-related injuries to help keep you pain free – both immediately and weeks or months later. Call us today if you are facing an accident-related injury!

House Resolution Honors Physical Therapists

House Resolution Honors Physical Therapists

The American Physical Therapy Association is celebrating 100 years as a member association! To mark the centennial, The House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing the essential and valuable roles PTs and PTAs play in improving the health of society and in particular, the contribution they’re making in treating COVID-19 patients who are recovering from severe effects of the disease.

On this landmark occasion, we at New Heights Physical Therapy Plus would like to send a big thank you to the Representatives who sponsored the resolution.

Celebrating the American Physical Therapy Association

The American Physical Therapy Association began with a calling to serve military members in World War I. Today, it’s the largest community for physical therapists, physical therapists assistants, and students. We’re embracing our rich history and are excited for what the future holds.

Learn more about the history of APTA this interactive timeline of 100 milestones of our first 100 years!

Knee Pain Associated with Gardening

Woman gardening. New Heights Therapy talks about Knee Pain Associated with Gardening in Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA

Knee Pain Associated with Gardening

Tending to your garden can be a fun and relaxing hobby. It’s been shown to improve strength, memory retention, mood, and more. The benefits are nearly endless, but the repetitive stress on your knees can also lead to knee pain.

In this article, we’ll explain what gardner’s knee is and how to help prevent it.

What is Gardener’s Knee?

Prepatellar bursitis, commonly called gardener’s knee or housemaid’s knee is a condition caused by the inflammation of the prepatellar bursa–a small fluid-filled area that sits on the front of your knee cap. This condition is common in people who spend a lot of time kneeling. The most common symptoms of gardener’s knee include swelling at the front of the knee, redness, and tenderness. It may also be difficult to bend your knee or walk.

Tips to Avoid Knee Pain While Gardening

When you garden, you’re engaging in low-impact exercise so you’ll want to approach it like you would any other exercise: warm up and know your limits. Here are some more tips to help you garden with less pain.

  • Use knee pads or a kneeling pad to help protect your knees
  • Wear comfortable and supportive shoes
  • Take frequent breaks so you don’t strain your knees
  • Change your positions frequently to relieve stress on the knees
  • Apply ice on your knees after gardening
  • Use gardening tools with long handles
  • Consider a raised garden bed
  • Exercise to strengthen your legs
  • Purchase gardening supplies in light-weight quantities
  • Ask for help when gardening tasks are too difficult for you or cause you strain

Physical Therapy for Knee Pain

Many people brush off knee pain when it first occurs, thinking it will eventually go away. If you’re suffering with pain and swelling around the knee, don’t ignore it. There are several causes of front knee pain other than gardener’s knee which physical therapy may be helpful with.

We at New Heights Physical Therapy Plus in Portland OR can diagnose your condition and offer you the proper treatment so you can continue to do the things you love pain-free!

Tips for Properly Fitting a Bike

Person riding a mountain bike. New Heights provides professional bike fittings.

We don’t have to tell you this; bike riding is big in the Portland OR and Vancouver WA area. Cyclists ride bikes for recreation as well as transportation to work and school regardless of the weather. But did you know simply hopping on a bike and taking off may cause you to suffer pain later? In this article, we’ll talk about how to properly fit a bike so you can ride in comfort.

What is a Bike Fitting?

Before we dig into bike fitting, it’s important to know what a bike fitting is in the first place. A bike fitting is a process performed by a professional. Because everyone is different, they may ask how you use your bike and what your goals are. Then they’ll have you sit on the bike and adjust things like the frame and saddle so you and the bike work in synchronization.

Adjusting Your Bike For You

Cycling should be pain-free. Here are a few ways you can change your experience, so you can ride longer and harder.

Adjust the Saddle Height

This step is probably the easiest and most important one to set. You want the saddle to be at a height that when your leg is extended during a pedal stroke, your heel barely touches the pedal, and is not above your toes.

Adjust the Saddle Setback

To avoid pain in your pelvis, your saddle setback should be adjusted as well. This involves moving the saddle forward and backward until your knee is over the pedal spindle.

Change Bike Stems

The bike stem is the piece that bridges your handlebars to your steerer. It shouldn’t be too long or too short because your reach to the handlebars is important for weight distribution. When reaching for your handlebars, your elbows should have a slight bend.

If you travel and take your bike apart often it’s a good idea to measure and record these adjustments. Keep them somewhere handy so you can use them for a quick and easy reference.

Signs Your Bike is Not Properly Fitted

If your bike is not properly fitted, your body will tell you. Below are some of the common symptoms you may experience.

  • Knee, hip, and ankle pain: if you’re experiencing pain in these lower extremities, it is likely due to your saddle’s position.
  • Shoulder and neck pain: if you suffer pain in these areas this is likely from your stem or handlebar position.

Your Local Source for Bike Fitting

Want help with your bike fit? At New Heights Physical Therapy, our highly-experienced therapists provide professional bike fitting for patients whether it’s a road bike, mountain bike or hybrid bike, we can help. So contact New Heights Physical Therapy today for your professional bike fitting in the Portland OR and Vancouver WA area!

Negative Effects of Inactivity

New Heights Physical Therapy reveals the negative effects of inactivity in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

Physical activity, anything from doing chores to running, is key to improving health. But what happens to your body when it’s sedentary? In this blog post, we’ll dig deeper into the effects caused by inactivity.

Health Risks of Inactivity

According to The Department of Health and Human Services, 80% of all Americans are not meeting current physical activity recommendations. They say this contributes to several chronic health conditions and that physical activity, especially moderate-to-vigorous activity, can help offset these risks.

Short Term Effects

Health experts say people who lead an inactive lifestyle put themselves at more risk of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight Gain
  • Weakened immune system
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Poor blood circulation
  • A decrease in skeletal muscle mass
  • High cholesterol levels

Long Term Effects

Lack of inactivity also has long term effects. Over time, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to more serious health conditions including:

  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Type-2 Diabetes
  • Certain cancers which can lead to death

Physical Activity Guidelines

To acquire the most health benefits from physical activity, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends.

  • Adults: perform at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. This can include anything from a brisk walk to vacuuming, and mopping.
  • Older Adults: if possible, perform 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity including balance training and muscle-strengthening exercises.
  • Children and adolescents (6 to 17 years old): get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity both aerobic, and muscle-strengthening exercises like walking, running, playing basketball, and jumping rope.
  • Preschool-aged Children (3 to 5 years old): be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development for at least three hours a day. HHS recommends adults encourage active play that’s light, moderate or vigorous intensity.

Simple Activities You Can Do to Prevent Issues in the Future

If you’ve been inactive, you may want to start slow to prevent injuries. Here are some simple activities you can do in your daily lives:

At home

  • Housework, cleaning, yard work, and gardening.
  • Stand up while on the phone
  • Stretch or lift hand weights while watching TV
  • Go on a walk around the neighborhood
  • Exercise using a workout video

At work

  • If you sit, get up and move around at least once an hour
  • See if your company can get you a stand-up desk
  • Take the stairs
  • Use your break to walk around the building

Monitored physical exercise and activity can help inactive patients. At New Heights Physical Therapy, we help our patients lead a healthier life through movement and education. You owe it to your body to lead a healthier life! If you’re interested in learning more ways to get active, give the professionals at New Heights Physical Therapy a call today!

Why Do You Experience Swelling After an Injury?

New Heights Physical Therapy answers questions about injury swelling in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Have you ever suffered from a mild injury and noticed that the affected area has swollen up by the next day? Swelling can be so inconvenient and uncomfortable that it often feels worse than the initial injury. It is useful to figure out why exactly your body reacts to injuries, so you can properly deal with swelling.

What is swelling?

To understand why you encounter swelling after an injury, it is important to learn what the response actually involves. Medically speaking, swelling is fluid collecting in between the individual cells that make up your tissues. This fluid can be almost entirely water, or it can contain white blood cells, amino acids, hormones, and nutrients.

Why did my injury swell?

Your body starts swelling because it’s trying to keep you safe. It senses that there is potential damage to the area, so it collects a lot of fluid there to pad the area. This can have a number of benefits, including:

  • This keeps the healing process from being impaired if you bump it again.
  • Swelling prevents you from moving a joint easily, so you do not cause more damage by moving around while injured.
  • Swelling also helps with healing, because it sends useful items to the damaged area.
  • The fluid involved in swelling can contain white blood cells that help prevent damage and infection.

Can I do something for a swollen injury?

Once you understand the reason that swelling is happening, you can treat it more easily. As you have learned, swelling is the body’s attempt to heal and protect an area from more injury. This means you can treat it through the following methods:

  • Rest: Avoid putting any pressure or weight on the area to help it heal faster.
  • Ice: Chilling the area constricts blood flow, reducing inflammation.
  • Compression: A compression bandage keeps fluid from building up.
  • Elevation: You can keep the injured area raised above your heart to help fluid drain.
  • Diuretics: These are medications that encourage the body to remove excess fluid from its system.

Recovering from an injury is an important part of managing swelling. At New Heights Physical Therapy, you can get the help and advice that you need to recover from your injury. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

How to Warm Up for a Run

How to Warm Up for a Run with New Heights Physical Therapy, serving Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

Warming up before a run is important in two ways: it prepares you mentally for the exercise ahead, and it’s a great way to protect your body against injury. A warm up will do several important things for your body, including:

  • Improve blood flow throughout your body
  • Make your muscles more flexible
  • Get your heart and lungs ready for the increased workload to come
  • Improve your body movements and coordination

The best way to warm up before a run has long been debated by runners, doctors, trainers, and many others involved with exercise. At New Heights, we want everyone to feel comfortable with their chosen form of exercise. We’ll work with you to figure out exactly how your body prefers to warm up!

Do I need to warm up before exercise?

Warming up your muscles before you use them vigorously during a run or other physical activity significantly reduces the risk of joint and muscle injury. Your body needs to be limber and flexible before doing any intense movement, and a warm up is not a matter of personal preference. It’s a necessity!

Can you warm up with stretches?

Many people opt for basic dynamic stretches for their pre-running routine. Dynamic stretches keep you moving, helping to warm up your body while lengthening your muscle fibers. Prior to a run, focus on stretches for your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Don’t forget your arms! Do some shoulder rolls and arm circles.

Can you warm up with a light jog?

Some experts in the field disagree with stretching before a run, arguing that because muscles are still cold and inflexible, stretching before working out is a terrible idea. Instead, they prefer to walk or jog slowly for a few minutes. A slow start with your run can prepare your body for larger movements. By mimicking the same movements during your warm up that you plan to use for the main part of your exercise, you will be prepping your muscles with minimal impact. You could also try jumping rope or performing walking lunges.

Which warm up option is right for you?

As long as you are safely performing dynamic stretches or light cardio, either option can be the right choice for your warm up. You might try doing one warm up for a week or so, paying attention to your body, and then switch methods for another week.

Choose the option that most appeals to you. The longer you run, the more easily you will be able to tell what feels best, and which type of warm up decreases soreness both during and after your run.

A physical therapist can help you develop habits and goals for exercise that will work with your body. At New Heights Physical Therapy, our specialists can watch you run, examining your stride and looking at previous injuries to help you make changes to your running pattern. With our help, you can start running more comfortably and create a lifelong healthy habit!

Cycling for Mental Health

New Heights Physical Therapy offers bike fittings in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Cycling is a popular pastime for many. A lot of people even rely on biking for commuting to work and school! Whether you take advantage of cycling for your health, or simply as a cheaper way to get to work, you’ll be happy to know that you are doing more than strengthening your body, burning calories, and saving on gasoline. When you choose to cycle regularly, you may be significantly improving your mental health!

You May See Mood Improvements With Cycling

As you exercise, your body produces special hormones called endorphins, which are the “feel good” hormones of the body. Your brain also produces serotonin and dopamine, two of the hormones within the brain responsible for mood stability and happiness. All three of these can surge in your brain with regular exercise. They may help your mood remain stable and elevated, making cycling a great way to maintain your mental health and even combat your down days.

Cycling Can Decrease Stress

Not only will your “feel good” hormones rise, but the stress hormone cortisol will decrease with aerobic exercise. Stress reduction decreases your chance of developing other ailments that are tied to raised cortisol, such as inflammatory diseases. Biking can help you relax and let your worries go.

Cycling Can Improve Brain Growth

Riding a bike can improve blood flow throughout your body, including to your brain. As blood pumps more vigorously into your brain, new capillaries slowly grow, helping your brain receive more oxygen and nutrients, which in turn can help grow new brain cells. Over time, this habit can help you think more clearly and may even decrease memory loss.

Take Advantage of a Bike Fitting for the Best Results

As you get healthier through continued cycling, your body will start to reflect this positive change, and you may feel your self-confidence rising. You will feel great about doing something so good for your body.

Of course, cycling also benefits you physically. Science has proven that it is good for your heart and lungs, while also strengthening your bones and muscles. However, if your bike does not fit you well, you may end up with aches and pains rather than with a strong, flexible body.

At New Heights Physical Therapy, we offer professional bike fitting to help you get a comfortable ride that aligns your body, helping you and your cycle work together. We can look at your bike size, frame, and handlebar setup, as well as the way you ride your bike, to get you the right adjustments. We have a physical therapist who specializes in bike fittings and cycling injuries, so you’ll get expert care, as usual! Contact us today to schedule your fitting, and discover what cycling for mental health may do for you!

Benefits of Pelvic Floor Therapy

Explore the benefits of pelvic floor therapy with New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR!

Over the years, women may notice that their pelvic muscles are just not as strong as they once were. They may feel pain in the pelvis, overall weakness, decrease in sexual pleasure, or leaking of urine during normal daily activities. Other symptoms could include the following:

  • Painful urination
  • Constipation
  • Back pain
  • Pelvic muscle spasms
  • Pelvic pressure

If you have been suffering with symptoms like these, you may benefit from pelvic floor therapy.

Is Pelvic Floor Therapy Right for You?

When pelvic floor therapy is used with the guidance of a physical therapist, you may feel more comfortable, eliminate some symptoms and get back to the activities that you love. There are specific circumstances when a woman can really benefit from pelvic floor therapy.

Pelvic Floor and Postpartum Therapy

This therapy is perhaps best known for being used in women who have given birth. The pressure that occurs as you push a child through your vaginal canal can stretch and even tear pelvic muscles, leading to weakness. The pelvic muscles, which are meant to hold up the bladder and uterus, soften and sink. Therapy tightens and lifts these muscles again.

Post-Abdominal Surgery and Pelvic Exercises

Therapy is also very beneficial after pelvic surgery. When the muscles are cut, it takes a while for them to grow back together correctly and to regain their former strength. Healing from surgery can also involve scar tissue and flexibility issues, and pelvic floor therapy can help to address these issues. Physical therapy is an excellent choice after a hysterectomy, episiotomy, colorectal surgery, or C-section.

Pelvic Floor Therapy and Incontinence

If you are aging, you may be noticing some bladder weakness. Instead of turning to an incontinence pad, assuming that this is a normal part of aging, choose pelvic therapy. It can strengthen and lift your pelvic muscles, providing better support for the bladder and ureters.

Therapy for General Pelvic Health

Women may also need physical therapy for the pelvic muscles for a variety of other generalized concerns, including the following:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Abnormally tight pelvic floor muscles
  • Obesity
  • Nerve damage

While you may need months of therapy, and will continue pelvic muscle strengthening exercises at home, you can turn around the health of your pelvic floor and experience great muscle tone in the area. At New Heights Physical Therapy, we believe in taking care of your total health and well-being. If you think you could benefit from pelvic floor therapy, give us a call today!