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Daily activities can sometimes, literally, be a pain in the back or neck. According to the NIH, Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain. And while overloading the back can certainly cause pain, how the spine is used is more often the culprit.

We’ve listed a few common activities below and some tips to help you avoid hurting yourself and needing someone like us.

Sweeping, Vacuuming, Mopping

Move your feet. Too often people plant their feet and push & pull with their arms. This can
not only create redance stepspeated twists and torques on the spine, but lends itself to bending forward and twisting too far, especially while reaching. Combining a forward bend and twist can injure a disc or strain a muscle, sometimes resulting in nerve pain and sciatica. So, dance. Put on some music and move your feet. If you keep your shoulders and hips pointing roughly the same direction while staying upright and keeping your feet moving, you are much less likely to end up painful, sore or injured.

Cooking and Washing Up

Hinge at your hips. We all know that cooking and cleaning up is not a static job. There is walking, turning, reaching and bending, even if you’re just going from the fridge to the microwave. So, as above, keep those feet moving. If you have to stand still for more than a few minutes, place one foot on a low stool, or on the bottom shelf of an open cabinet.

And when you need to reach under the counter, bend at your hips and knees, keeping your back straight. And don’t confuse vertical with straight. A proper squat should keep the knees at or behind the toes and have you hinge at your hips, not hunching forward in your back and neck. And proper squatting technique has an awesome side effect; it uses your glutes and will help keep your bottom firm.

squat

 Working on a Laptop or Tablet

Sit up and straighten your neck. People are working from home more often and spending a great deal of time looking at screens these days. Raise them up. If you spend more than 30 minutes a day working on a laptop, consider raising it up and getting a wireless keyboard and mouse to separate the screen from your hands and to allow you to keep your neck upright. If you’re reading this on a tablet (or a ‘gasp’ phone), lift that puppy up! Get your head upright, look down with your eyes and give your neck a break. It has to hold the equivalent of a bowling ball up for over 16 hours a day. At least give it a fighting chance!

Other Stuff, like Straightening Up, Doing Laundry and Making Beds

There’s a theme. We could go down a list of other activities and break them down, but you’re probably already noticing a theme. Keeping your spine straight (not necessarily vertical), avoiding twisting & reaching, moving your feet and changing positions are all going to come up again and again. So whether you are picking up for guests, washing clothes, making beds, adjusting your car seat or writing thank you notes, maintaining good posture and changing your position frequently are good ideas.

You’re planning to use that spine of yours for quite a few more years, so take care of it now. It’s never too late to start. And your older self will thank you for it.

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Our Run Clinic with One Medical is happening for the first time January 21. Appointments start at 4pm.

Do you want to increase your mileage, improve your speed, train for a marathon, or just make sure you’re on the right track? Give us a call at 415.318.8138.

The Run Clinic lasts about 1 hour 20 minutes and provides a medical review with Arnold Lee, MD, a 30 minute running, strength and flexibility assessment with one of our physical therapists, and a 20 minute nutritional review with a nutrition expert from One Medical Group.

A spot in the Run Clinic may also serve as a great gift for that special someone! Call us at 415.318.8138.

There remains some confusion around Medicare’s coverage of maintenance physical therapy. The general idea is that if a skilled service is required to prevent decline in a person’s condition, then the service is now covered under Medicare.
The following is from the Center for Medicare Advocacy website:

SERVICES FOR BENEFICIARIES WITH CHRONIC CONDITIONS

A chronic condition requiring skilled care services can take many forms and is not limited to a particular set of disease, diagnosis, or disabling conditions.

COVERAGE REQUIREMENTS

The Medicare program recognizes the need for skilled care and related services for chronic, long-term conditions.  For care to be covered, the patient must require skilled services which may be designed to:

  • Maintain the status of a medical condition or the functioning of a body part; or
  • Slow or prevent the deterioration of a medical condition or body part.

WHERE ARE SERVICES PROVIDED?

Services can be provided in a variety of settings – at home, through Medicare certified home health agencies, in Medicare certified outpatient facilities, rehabilitation hospitals and centers, and in Medicare certified skilled nursing facilities.

WHO PROVIDES SKILLED SERVICES?

Skilled services are those services provided by (or under the supervision of) technical or professional personnel such as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and audiologists. Services must be a type that are not ordinarily performed by non-skilled personnel.

More information may be found at

http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/medicare-info/chronic-conditions/#Coverage%20Requirements