So, you’ve hit the ground running in 2021 and are now looking to finish this year with a half marathon, or dare you even say it, a full one! You can the see medals hanging from your mantel piece in your mind’s eye, and you’ve already decided on the perfect celebratory meal to crown your momentous achievement. Life is good and you look forward to getting started. There’s just one thought lurking in the background, though… a thought you can’t shake, one that seems to replay over and over again no matter what: “what if I get injured and can’t do what I want to do?” Yes, there it is: the one fear that makes you feel almost as though it isn’t worth even trying. Running injuries can debilitate people for weeks, if not months, especially when the right treatment isn’t given. And so, worrying about what might happen seems to be a legitimate concern. However, it doesn’t have to be! Your training doesn’t need to suffer at the hands of anxiety and worry, and I’m here to tell you why. In this post, then, we look at tips for avoiding injury while running. We also dive into what you can do if you do get injured so as to have the least downtime possible. Are you ready? Are your laces tied? Let’s go.
You and your partner are expecting a little one… congratulations! Knowing that you’ll be bringing life into the world truly is a blessing; you’re probably counting the days until you meet the newest member of the family, right? Of course you are! But, then again… you’re also desperately counting sheep… night after night, after night. While your partner sleeps soundly next to you, you’re rubbing your belly and your back, trying anything short of whiskey to fall asleep. Hey… pregnancy is a rollercoaster, and falling asleep later in the process can be an uphill battle. Don’t be too hard on yourself! In this post, then, we have a look at why sleep eludes you the closer you get to labor, and we also dive into the ways in which you can overcome the discomfort, stop counting sheep, and get a good night’s rest. Sound good? Let’s get started!
Forget about the food cravings, aching feet, and bouts of tears – pregnancy can wreak absolute havoc on our hormones, bodies, and general wellbeing. We eat too much ice cream, find ourselves crying during Disney movies, and fight the urge to spend our entire salary on Amazon. In all seriousness, though, pregnancy is a very interesting time for the body, and one of the areas most affected during this time is sleep – this is particularly true during the last few months of pregnancy. In order to understand why, though, we need to have a quick look at some of the changes experienced whilst carrying a child:
I already mentioned the ice-cream, right? Well, pregnancy goes hand-on-hand with a bit of extra weight: not only do your hormones dictate that you increase your calorie intake in order to provide nutrients to your unborn, they also ensure that you’re maintaining a steady level of regulatory chemicals in the blood stream. Sometimes, though, the body craves unhealthy snacks and junk-food, all of which can cause imbalances and cause weight gain. Here’s the crux, though: weight gain can lead to disturbed sleep in the form of sleep apnea and general discomfort. The body isn’t used to rapid weight gain as experienced during pregnancy, so sleep quantity and quality may suffer.
While there is so much joy in the expectation of a baby, anxiety can often accompany pregnancy. The pressure of a child on the way often affects mom’s mood and behaviors, oftentimes leaving her feeling listless, down, and anxious. Of course, chemistry once again plays a role, here, with hormone levels fluctuating during pregnancy. The more anxious one is, the less peaceful sleep can be: disturbed dreams, nightmares, and general night-time anxiety can cause a wave of insomnia.
Alongside weight gain and depression, back pain can also surface as a result of pregnancy. Not only does the baby bump add a little more pressure on the back, but posture and gait are both affected, too. And yes, that’s right… back pain can easily cause disturbed sleep or, in many cases, no sleep at all!
Ah… you know what this feels like, right? You finally found a comfortable spot and then you get the unavoidable urge to move your legs… it’s annoying, right? Well, when you’re pregnant and trying to fall asleep, restless legs can be one of the worst afflictions out there. The pain associated with forcing yourself not to move is unbearable, but every movement drags you further away from dreamland. It’s a catch-22!
Because the digestive system slows down in the later stages of pregnancy, heartburn is a common issue for many women. The distinct burning sensation associated with heartburn can leave you feeling out of sorts, not to mention wide awake!
All these changes obviously directly affect the quantity, quality, and ease of sleep. And when sleep is neglected, the above issues become exacerbated: it’s a dangerous cycle. Happily, there is a way out. It stands to reason that, if the above changes are regulated via healthful, safe methods, then your sleep quality and quantity will return. So, here’s how you can make that happen:
Proper Pillows for Support
Be sure to be properly supported during sleep: use a pillow under your stomach and ensure that you place one between your knees so as to support your spine. Not only will you feel more secure during the night, but you’ll also be alleviating your back pain.
Stretches Before Bed
Stretching will help your muscles relax before bed; it will also ensure that you’re able to let go of the built up tension from the daytime hours. Stretching primes your body for bedtime and gives you a good foundation to tackle the night ahead.
Ensure that a strict routine is followed before bed; eliminate screen time, drink an herbal tea, and read or listen to a podcast. Repeat the same routine each night so as to form relatable, lasting habits that set you up for success.
Reduce sugar, fizzy drinks, and processed food – focus on healthy protein and vegetables. Opt for healthier snack where possible and satiate your cravings by getting creative in the kitchen.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is a must during your pregnancy and beyond! Not only does it help eliminate harmful chemicals from the body, but it regulates blood sugars and hormones, too. So, get drinking! You need to drink between 1.5L to 2L of water per day.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep and you find the idea of getting into bed for the night daunting, then we invite you reach out to one of our professional, friendly physical therapists, right now. You may be surprised to know that physical therapy is about so much more than aching muscles; in fact, with physical therapy you could be accessing the best sleep of your life, even during your pregnancy. During physical therapy, you’ll learn about the best posture during your slumber, the best ways to stretch during your pregnancy, and ways in which to exercise and stay active so as to tackle both mental and physical slumps. Physical therapy is the safest way to access restful sleep not only while pregnant, but well into the future, too.
If you’re tired of counting sheep and staring at the same spot of wallpaper night after night, then it’s time to make a change. We hope the above tips have given you a good place to start from, and should you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact us. We want the best for both you and your child, and we certainly want you to sleep well! So, we look forward to hearing from you!
How many times have you run that mile? How many times have you looked at your stopwatch and sighed at the missed minutes or seconds on the clock? Sport performance is an incredibly powerful driving force for athletes, and when minutes and seconds become indicators of success, making the most of every movement, every muscle, and every intentional stride, means the difference between winning and falling short. Fitness, strength, flexibility, mobility, and precision… these are but a few of the things involved in sport performance. In this post, we’re looking at the ways in which physical therapy can exponentially boost your sports performance. That’s right! It’s not all about back disks and joint pain… physical therapy can be the different between a good run, length, ski, or jump, and a great one. Let’s see how!
Back pain is an elusive beast… it can strike at any moment and can often leave us feeling debilitated for weeks, months, or even years if nothing is done about it. In fact, back pain is so widespread it’s now considered one of the most common issues around the globe. What’s truly interesting is that, while so many people suffer from back pain in one form or another, no pain is similar – how about that? Yet, while no individual is the same, one thing may very well be a common denominator in all cases: poor quality and quantity of sleep. Yes, that’s right. Poor sleep may in fact directly contribute to back pain in various ways. In this post, then, we look at why sleep is important, how a lack of sleep can cause and/or aggravate back pain, and ways in which you can get back to getting some shut eye so as to alleviate your discomfort. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Why is sleep so important? Well, during the hours of sleep our bodies have a chance to heal and to reenergize – muscles, nerves, and joints all have time to re-set and take some time to regroup. Sleep regulates blood pressure, mood, alertness, brain responses, immune system responses, weight control, and so much more. And for these reasons, it’s clear that a lack of sleep may adversely affect you… not least when it comes to back pain.
But why is a lack of sleep particularly bad when it comes to back pain? Well, as mentioned, sleeping hours give the body a chance to recover from the exertions from the day before: muscles relax, blood flow is regulated, and the immune system is given an opportunity to see to any nagging issues that are present. If sleep quality and quantity is disrupted, therefore, the body is unable to do many – if any – of those things, and your tissues, joints, muscles, and nerves are neglected. Because the back and spinal cord are the veritable epicenter of your nervous system for the majority of your body, it stands to reason that a lack of sleep will eventually culminate in back pain – the body has a unique way of centralizing stress placed on it in the back, and in very few ways is this less obvious as when it comes to being tired.
In addition, being tired means you’re less aware of your posture and movements, thereby constantly placing your back in vulnerable and compromising positions. You may be unaware of the way in which you’re walking, sitting, or carrying heavy objects. You may also not be particularly aware of twisting in the spine or pressure placed on it in the form of carrying a backpack, for example. Mental alertness – gained from a good night’s sleep – will help you make positive decisions for your back. The opposite is true if you’re tired and fatigued.
And let’s face it: back pain is very rarely centralized – over time, your back pain may very well turn into neck, shoulder, or even hip pain… not to mention headaches! It’s an ongoing, often debilitating cycle… all of which is facilitated by poor quality sleep.
So, what can be done? The first thing to do is to take a serious look at precisely why you are getting sub-par sleep quality and quantity. You ought to aim for a good 8 hours of sleep so as to reap the most benefits possible. If you’re falling short of this, try thinking about the following:
Are you stretching enough?
Stretching before bed can make all the difference: from lubricating your joints to easing the pent-up stress in your muscles, a good bedtime stretch routine is essential for a good night’s rest.
Do you have the proper pillow?
Ensure that your pillow supports your neck and spinal cord correctly – if you’re unsure, please reach out to a physical therapist for help and information.
Are you sleeping in the correct position?
Stomach sleepers, beware! Avoid sleeping on your stomach at all costs, as the pressure placed on your back can be immense. Instead, sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees and ankles to support your spine.
What’s your bedtime routine like?
Ensure that the hour or so before bed is dominated by a healthful routine: read a book, drink some herbal tea, listen to some music, or mediate. Avoid screens if possible – all this will mean you have a much better quality of sleep simply because you primed your body to relax.
Are you drinking enough water?
Avoid stiffness and aches by drinking enough water throughout the day: dehydration can cause disturbed sleep, whilst an increase in blood pressure caused by a lack of water may very well add to your back pain in the long run.
Are you dealing with your stress?
Stress can and will affect your sleep quality and quantity if you let it: be sure to meditate, practice yoga, walk, or read so as to relieve some of the stress of the day. Never take your stress to bed.
Back pain can spell the end of a successful training routine, the beginning of bad moods, and the potential ruin of your relationships and activity levels. It’s absolutely vital that you find the root cause of your back pain so as to start getting back to the things you love. One way to do this is to take a good look at your sleep patterns. Physical therapy is a fantastic option if you’re ready to get to the bottom of your sleep problems and back pain. By finding and treating the root cause, assessing your sleeping patterns, giving you exercises and stretches to do at home, and advising you on the best sleep-posture and bedtime routine for you, physical therapy will make all the difference. If you’ve not considered physical therapy, now’s your chance!
Don’t let a bad night’s sleep steal one more day from you. For more information and for advice on how we can help you with your sleep and back pain, why not contact one of our professional, friendly physical therapists right now? We look forward to hearing from you!
"We Help Active Adults & Athletes Get Rid of Frustration, Get Off The Couch, & Get Back to Running, Lifting, & Playing The Sports That They Love, Without The Need Of Painkillers, Injections, Or Surgery."