Following up on my blog post last week (which you could find Here), in this blog post I put forth some Median nerve Neurodynamics home exercises. The general principle remains the same for me. Start slow, try to keep the exercises pain free/threat free if possible or at least to a minimum with head bend to the same side slowing progressing to head neutral and eventually away from the side that is being stretched. I start with sliders and then progress to tensioners.
If any of the exercises increase pain levels, I instruct my patients to either go gentler and if that does not help, I ask them to stop.
Enough said, here are some videos-
1. Unilateral exercises with nerve mobilization @ the wrist level-
2. Unilateral exercises with nerve mobilization @ the shoulder and the fingers-
3. Unilateral exercises with nerve mobilization @ the elbow with head neutral and slowly progressing to sliders.
(Starting position is shoulder abduction not flexion as mentioned in the video, sorry for the error but you knew that).
4. Unilateral exercises with nerve mobilization @ the elbow level with sliders and tensioners –
5. Bilateral exercises like the prayer stretch, butler’s busy bee-
I would love to know some of your favorite exercises, tweaks and variations. That’s all I got for this post. Keep fighting the good fight. Until next time.
(BPT, MS, CMP, FMT)
This blog post will be a quick one. I often utilize the upper limb tension tests (ULTT) to assess patients with pain and other radicular symptoms going down the arm. I check first the unaffected side and then the affected side to compare asymmetries and also use it for mobilization of nerve roots. However, as a reoccuring theme I have been aggressive with my tension tests in the past just like so many other techniques and have had less than favourable results. So in accordance with my ‘less is more’ thought process (in terms of pressure/force/aggressivness) I have made some tweaks in how I perform my nerve mobilizations. This is especially true for ULTT and LLTT tests and mobs because these are provocative manuvers and ‘I like lightning bolts running down my arms and legs’ said NO ONE EVER. Today we will discuss Median Nerve Neurodynamics.
Components of Median nerve neurodynamics involve-
- Shoulder abducted to about 60 degree. (Initially, I’d abduct to around 90-110. However, Butler and his colleagues at the NOI group have suggested that shoulder abduction at 60 degrees puts the most tension on the Median nerve root and my patients also seem to tolerate this a little better so I now do it at around 60).
- Shoulder depression (I have stopped pushing down on it too much as it can be very aggressive and threatening to some patients. I just try to avoid shoulder hiking).
- Full external rotation of shoulder.
- Full elbow extension.
- Full forearm supination. (In the past, I would often leave some slack here due to focusing on shoulder depression. Try to get end range supination).
- Full wrist extension.
- Full finger extension. (Important to make sure that the PIP and DIP do not flex).
Here is a video demonstration of the test with some variations.
Please note that in one of the mob variation with elbow movements, I do not press the wrist down into complete extension. That is because prior testing of this variation of nerve mobilization was very threat inducing and provocative and I didn’t want to be very aggressive.
What are your thoughts? Do you have some tweaks on hand placement, body positioning, force applied or different variations? I’d love to hear it.
In the next blog post we will discuss some home exercise programs (HEP) for self mobilization. Happy flossing (but go a little easy maybe). Until next time.
(BPT, MS, CMP, FMT)
The thoracic spine (T-Spine) is an interesting part of the body. In recent times it has taken the brunt of the modern sedentary lifestyle of being hunched over on a chair and working on a computer for hours in a day for many months and years. These modern sedentary lifestyle changes and new work/office setups have had implications on our musculoskeletal system. What is interesting is that the T-Spine itself presents only with a few symptoms like mid back myofascial pain, stiffness, loss of mobility etc. However, other joints in proximity of the T-Spine are affected adversely due to this. Here is a list of problems we often see in an physiotherapy office that our closely related to an excessively stiff kyphotic T-Spine.
- Shoulder impingement- An excessively kyphotic mid back places the scapula in a downwardly rotated, anteriorly tipping and protracted position. This position of the scapula has shown to decrease the sub acromion space in the shoulder when performing overhead activities leading to a common problem we see often; shoulder impingement/pain. Try this little test, try elevating your arm up to the maximum flexion elevation with a straight Tspine and shoulders pulled down and back and then with an excessive hunched over position. Which one feels better and which is worse? See the video below and try it yourself.
- Neck pain- A kyphotic hunched over posture tips the head (weighing about 10-12 lbs approx.) anteriorly and extends our line of sight downwards to the floor. For compensation, we tilt the head backward which increases Cervical lordosis and causes upper cervical spine to go into extension to have a regular straight field of vision. This causes increase tone/tension in the cervical extensors often compressing the greater occipital nerve and other important cervical structures causing symptoms like neck pain, headaches, radiating symptoms etc.
- Low back pain- An excessive kyphotic T-Spine pushes the thorax anteriorly and causes compensatory increase in the lumbar lordosis due to increased tension in the lumbar extensors causing pain at the low back. This is the classic presentation of the ‘Lower Crossed Syndrome’.
- Breathing- Along with the above compensation, the thorax lifts up due to inability of the abdominal muscles to provide inferior stabilization (lower ribs flaring) decreasing overall chest expansion and causing poor breathing quality and control.
Furthermore, if you follow the joint-by- joint model of training by Cook and Boyle, you can see that the thoracic spine is meant to be mobile but has a tendency to get stiff.
So, here our some strategies/exercises we can use to maintain general T-Spine mobility. The angles drawn in the video are not exactly accurate and are used for demonstration purpose only-
- Bench/chair thoracic spine extension with stick-
- T-Spine extension on foam roller
- T-Spine windmill rotation
- Cat Cow
- Four point T-Spine rotation
- Threading the needle
Closing thoughts, the mid back is meant to provide mobility but tends to get stiff and excessively kyphotic given our contemporary lifestyles. This can open the floodgates to a myriad of musculo-skeletal problems. It is paramount to keep working on its mobility.
To say that I wanted to write a blog post on hamstring flexibility would be incorrect. In fact, this is a issue I avoid like the plague. Why? I’ll tell you. I have pretty tight hamstrings. And since I make all the videos on this blog myself with my friends and not just throw in some you tube video of someone else doing these exercises, I’m nervous to look bad. And my hamstring flexibility makes me look bad, at least in my head. But then again, there’s also frustration. The frustration of doing repeated static stretching and not really getting much outta it. Not to forget, I have tried to be aggressive thinking if I yank on that muscle, maybe it will finally give. What it has often given me is pain instead of flexibility, and soreness. I’m sure many of you will agree with me, that for the subset of people who are on level 0 on path to becoming a yogi, this process is discouraging. So we avoid it. I can’t argue with the fact that if we keep up this torture, we might get better, but I know many people who have not made significant strides with this approach, myself included.
The reason I wrote this blog is because I had a few of my readers respond to my previous blog post reporting that one of the major reasons they were unable to hip hinge was due to those disobedient, stubborn hamstrings that were preventing people from hip hinging. So essentially this blog came from a need to hinge better. It would be great if one could touch their toes but that’s not up in the front on the priority list. The point is to hinge from your hips to learn correct lifting form so you don’t throw your back out.
If you have been part of my writing journey so far, you know that I don’t like interventions that are too painful. After all, a lot of ‘hands on’ intervention that we do is desensitizing the nervous system. Why cause deliberate discomfort (with good intentions of course) to ‘release things’ only to set the warning alarms off on the CNS. I’m not saying this is the only way, I’m saying its an easier, non/less threatening option. Hence I tread the path of lesser resistance.
So without much more blabber, here are some lesser threatening, novel approaches to improving hamstring flexibility. I like to wrap the mobility band on the hamstrings and do my neural glides, SLR’s, some hold relax etc. I will let you be the judge, practice these strategies and retest your hinge,dead lift, possibly toe touch etc.
Here’s the first one-
Here’s another strategy-
Worth a try?
Abhijit Minhas PT
(BPT, MS, CMP, FMT)
Ladies and gentlemen
Got a long drive ahead of you that you are dreading? Feel stiff and achy sitting all day. Below I present to you some simple exercises, stretches and strategies that you should try and incorporate if you know you would be behind the wheel for a few hours. Make them a non negotiable part of your drive (safety permitting) and more likely than not, your body will thank you for it.
Here you go-
1. While driving
(Disclaimer- do not take your hands of the wheel for more then 2-3 seconds and never both together, driving safety comes first. Do not let these exercises distract you from the primary activity of driving, I do these often and they are like second nature to me. Only perform them if you feel comfortable to do so safely depending upon your traffic conditions. Practice them at home or work first and then incorporate them carefully while driving. If you still feel unforgettable, avoid this and try the strategies in step two).
2. Take breaks often and move
Try holding the stretches in the above videos for about 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times. For neck, wrist, back exercises that are not stretches, try about 10 repetitions. Although you ‘might’ feel some discomfort due to staying in one place for some a few hours, none of these exercises should cause pain. If they progressively increase pain and/or discomfort every time you do it, STOP. DO WHAT YOU CAN.
Always remember, the body is not meant to sit in one position all day and ‘motion is lotion’ for your body. Consult your physio if you have pre existing conditions as some of these exercises might not be right for you.
Abhijit Minhas PT
(BPT, MS, CMP, FMT)