Treating Ankle Sprains

If you have ever had an ankle sprain, you know how significantly the sprain affected every movement you made. Ligaments don’t have as good a blood supply as bone and muscle. Therefore, it takes them longer to heal. Knowing what to do once you get a sprain, all the way through until weeks after, will help to decrease any compensations and injury risk in the future. Because your foot is the first part of your body to contact the floor when you walk, any alteration in your foot mechanics will affect the entire body. As soon as possible after injury, be sure to ice and elevate the foot and ankle in order to decrease pain, swelling, and inflammation. Keep the foot in a brace to provide support and to decrease pooling of blood and fluid into the foot.
It is also a good idea to see your doctor to get any imaging and medication
prescribed. You may be provided crutches as well to help decrease weight bearing to the foot. If you use a cane or one crutch, be sure to use the crutch on the side opposite of the injured foot. Too often people place the crutch or cane on the same side as the injured foot. This, however, may lead the person to bend his or her spine towards the injury. I highly recommend getting an evaluation by a physical therapist to ensure that your gait is as normal as possible to prevent any compensation, and to know what range of motion exercises you should start doing right away to prevent your ankle from getting stiff.

By Ryan Kahanu, PT, DPT

Stretch Pro


Can your headache be caused by tight neck muscles?

If you are currently experiencing pain in the low back, there may be several reasons for your symptoms. There may be spasms in the muscles, you may have a problem with one or a few discs, you may have a pinched nerve, or your back may be simply moving and working more than it should be.
A common impairment I see in patients who come to physical therapy for low back pain is that their hips are both weak and tight. When we walk, run, bend forward to pick up an object, or stand for prolonged periods, there are certain range of motion and strength requirements from our hip muscles, such as the hip flexors and glutes. If these muscles aren’t supporting our body adequately during these tasks, our spine and spinal muscles will need to compensate. When these muscles work harder or our spine moves excessively, irritation or inflammation can begin, which leads to an onset of pain. This is also a reason why there are failed back surgeries or negative findings in MRIs or Xrays.
When a physical therapist performs an initial evaluation, he or she will perform tests for your back, of course, but will also test other joints, such as your hips, knees, and ankles. More often than not, the site of pain is not where the cause is. By improving flexibility and strength in the hips, you will help to decrease your risk of developing pain. If you currently have pain, I would suggest focusing on hip stretches and exercises. Better yet, set up an initial evaluation to get a full assessment by a physical therapist.

By Ryan Kahanu, PT, DPT

Stretch Pro

Your hip inflexibility or weakness may be contributing to your lower back pain

If you are currently experiencing pain in the low back, there may be several reasons for your symptoms. There may be spasms in the muscles, you may have a problem with one or a few discs, you may have a pinched nerve, or your back may be simply moving and working more than it should be.
A common impairment I see in patients who come to physical therapy for low back pain is that their hips are both weak and tight. When we walk, run, bend forward to pick up an object, or stand for prolonged periods, there are certain range of motion and strength requirements from our hip muscles, such as the hip flexors and glutes. If these muscles aren’t supporting our body adequately during these tasks, our spine and spinal muscles will need to compensate. When these muscles work harder or our spine moves excessively, irritation or inflammation can begin, which leads to an onset of pain. This is also a reason why there are failed back surgeries or negative findings in MRIs or Xrays.
When a physical therapist performs an initial evaluation, he or she will perform tests for your back, of course, but will also test other joints, such as your hips, knees, and ankles. More often than not, the site of pain is not where the cause is. By improving flexibility and strength in the hips, you will help to decrease your risk of developing pain. If you currently have pain, I would suggest focusing on hip stretches and exercises. Better yet, set up an initial evaluation to get a full assessment by a physical therapist.

By Ryan Kahanu, PT, DPT

Stretch Pro

Why you need to stretch your calves
if you have plantar fasciitis

If you’ve ever had plantar fasciitis, you know how debilitating it can be. Pain is usually on the underside of the heel that can be felt with the first few steps in the morning, when standing up after prolonged sitting, or when standing for a long time. The plantar fascia is a ligament that attaches to our heel and the balls of our feet, helping to support our arch. When people have excessive pronation, or flattening of the arch, the fascia experiences increased tension.

What causes pronation? When we talk about cause and effect in the human body, many debatable reasons surface. An impairment that I commonly see in patients who have excessive pronation is calf tightness. When we walk, our calves must lengthen a certain amount in order for our ankles to achieve a certain angle. If we have decreased flexibility in our calves, our ankles may not achieve that angle, and we are forced to move from another area of our foot. This area is the mid foot – exactly where our arch is located. Our joints begin unlocking in order to compensate from lack of movement in the ankle itself, and over time the lack of stability leads to collapsing of our arch.

To see an improvement in your pain, a good start is to stretch your calves very consistently. Although that is not the only treatment needed to eliminate pain completely, this is one of the best ways to help you get through your day with less pain. To get a full treatment plan, it is important to be evaluated by a physical therapist. In addition to increasing flexibility, you may also need to strengthen your foot, ankle, and hip muscles.

By Ryan Kahanu, PT, DPT

Stretch Pro