Monthly Archives: October 2012

Sit Ups are Dangerous? Pilates “Hundreds” Exercises Can Damage Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?

By Marianne Ryan PT, OCS
Clinical Director MRPT Physical Therapy

Think twice before you crunch!

For most of us, abdominal crunches are on life’s list of things we know we really should do, but are not really that much fun – like flossing our teeth or eating psyllium husks.  Well, maybe what I am going to tell you will be good news – ABDOMINAL CRUNCHES CAN BE BAD FOR YOU!

The problem is not so much what these types of exercises are doing to your six-pack abdominal muscles, but the effect they are having on your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is shaped a little like a hammock. It is composed of a group of muscles whose job it is to support our abdominal contents, maintain bladder and bowel control and support healthy sexual function.

When you do a sit up, an abdominal crunch, or even a Pilates “hundreds” exercise,  the pressure in your abdomen rises. Your pelvic floor should contract strongly and automatically to match the increasing pressure.  If you have weakness in your pelvic floor, the increased pressure will hone in on that area, and can worsen the weakness and cause serious problems, including problems with bladder and bowel control, organ prolapse and pain in the pelvis and lower back.

Also, performing sit ups or the Pilates “hundreds” can cause your upper abdominals to become over trained and much stronger than your pelvic floor muscles; resulting in muscle imbalances. If this happens, each time you perform a sit up, the upper abdominal wall tightens and causes funnel pressure which presses down on the pelvic floor muscles.

Take a toothpaste tube; make sure it’s fairly full. Now make it do a crunch – go right ahead and bend it in half! Okay, now do it again with the lid off. Get the picture?

Now, some of us are more at risk of pelvic floor weakness than others. Some high risk groups include:

  • Women who are pregnant or have ever had a baby
  • Women who have had gynecological surgery, especially hysterectomy
  • Women who are post-menopause, or going through menopause
  • Men who have had prostate surgery
  • Elite athletes (eg. marathon runners, gymnasts, dancers, athletes of high impact sports )

There are other risk factors causing pelvic floor weakness as well; (like chronic cough, being overweight, chronic back pain), which mean that abdominal crunches should really be off the exercise list for most of us. This doesn’t mean you get out of exercising your abdominal muscles altogether!  In the next post you will learn a great way of working out your abdominal muscles while keeping your pelvic floor safe.


Easy Headache Prevention

By Marianne Ryan PT, OCS

Are you waking up in the middle of the night with a stiff neck and a headache?

Before going to sleep there are a few things you can do to prevent waking up in pain.

Take 15 minutes to sooth your tired and stiff neck muscles. First use a moist heating pad for 12 minutes while lying on your pillows in bed. You can do this while catching up with your favorite night time reading.
Then try performing the following stretching exercises:

1. NECK ROTATION:  Turn head slowly to look over one shoulder. Hold  5 seconds while breathing softly. Repeat toward other shoulder. Do this 5 times towards each shoulder.

2. NECK SIDE BENDERS: While looking straight ahead, bend head towards one shoulder and hold for 5 counts. Breath softly and then bend head towards your other shoulder. Repeat this 5 times to each side.

3. SIDE BENDERS WITH ARM HOLD: Grasp right arm above your wrist, tilt your head towards the left while gently pulling down on right arm. Hold for 5 seconds while breathing gently. Repeat on the other side. Do this stretch 5 times on each side.

Note: Physical Therapy exercise pictures copyright VHI

In Paris, An Inflatable Trampoline Bridge

For our weekly Happy Hump Day post we take you to Paris.
Just imagine, jumping your way over the River Seine on your way to work. Not only do the French eat better, but they have a better way to travel to work! Click Here to read more.

iSick: How Cell Phones Can Harm Your Health

Think you can’t live without your iPhone or smart phone?

With hidden health dangers such as chronic headaches, neck, shoulder pain and E. coli, the question for mobile phone users may be: Can you live with it?

To read more click here

You Don’t Need a Lump to Have Breast Cancer

Well written article by Liesl Voosen who shares her experience with a little known and aggressive form of breast cancer.  She discusses how she found out she might have breast cancer by doing a google search and her path of treatment.

“A little over a year ago, I had never heard of Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). It’s not surprising though. Most people — including many in the medical field — have never heard of this type of cancer. IBC is a rare form of the disease, accounting for only 1-5 percent of all breast cancer cases. But this 1 percent cancer quickly became much more than that for me and my family”.                                     To read more click here

Are Your Headaches a Pain in the Neck?

Ouch! It is 3am and you woke up with another headache. As you reach for your neck you realize you can hardly move your head.

And now it happens every night.

Headaches can be caused by many things including sinus dysfunction, emotional stress, hormonal changes sleep dysfunction, and a reaction to certain types of foods.

A type of headache commonly overlooked or misdiagnosed is the cervical headache, (cervicogenic origin) which originates from soft tissue and bones in your neck. These headaches usually respond very well to treatment by a manual physical therapist who can release the stiff muscles and get your vertebrae moving optimally. Your therapist will assess you closely to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

How do I know if I have headaches coming from my neck?
How do I know if a manual physical therapist can help me?

If you can say yes to 2 or more of the following questions, manual physical therapy can help you:

  • Do you feel tightness, tension or pain across the base of your skull, your forehead, temple area or base of your jaw?
  • Do you feel pain or tightness behind or around your eyes?
  • Are your symptoms made worse by remaining in the same posture for extended periods of time (especially sitting)?
  • Do you sometimes feel light headedness or dizziness with your headache?
  • Do you feel neck pain on the same side as the headache pain?

Comprehensive physical therapy treatment for cervicogenic headaches include:
– mobilization of your bones
– massage to release trigger points and stiffness in your muscles and other tissues in the neck
– specific exercises to both help to stabilize and stretch out those stiff neck muscles.