Friends stretching together in the park, knowing the benefits of stretch before and after working out.

Why It’s Important to Stretch Before and After Working Out

When you’re focused on getting to the gym or hitting the road for a jog, sometimes the last thing on your mind is stretching. All you want to do is feel the burn and strengthen your body without anything getting in the way, but the best thing you can do for your health before working out is to carve out a few minutes to stretch.

Taking the time to stretch before and after your workouts has incredible benefits for both your exercise regimen and your body. To learn what those advantages are, keep reading.

Benefits of Stretching Before Working Out

  • Reduces Risk of Injury: One of the major reasons to stretch before working out is to reduce your overall risk of injury while exercising. When you stretch before jumping into cardio or before lifting a weight, your muscles become more flexible. This increased flexibility will give you a more efficient workout. Usually, when an injury occurs while exercising, it is because the muscles are not properly stretched beforehand.
  • Prepares the Body: In the same vein of thought, stretching and getting your body slowly moving before the intense part of your workout prepares the body for what is coming next. As mentioned, your muscles loosen up and strengthen prior to be able to handle whatever exercises you put it through.
  • Improves Overall Performance of Workout: Loosening and strengthening your muscles before the workout boosts overall workout performance. Looser muscles require less energy to work, plus a more flexible body can go further in your exercises. If you want a better burn with your workout, then stretch before you get started.
  • Improves Posture: A key component of working out properly is using the right posture. That means squatting correctly or moving in the right manner when running. Stretching helps to maintain those healthy poses and keep your body in that posture while working out.

Benefits of Stretching After Working Out

  • Promotes Circulation: When you stretch after an intense workout, you’re encouraging your blood to flow more. This means increased circulation and more blood to the muscles that you just worked on, helping to create the below benefits.
  • Relieves Aches and Pains After Working Out: The best benefit of stretching after you work out is that it helps to minimize the pain and soreness in the muscles that you just used. Stretching them out helps to reduce the tension they were holding onto, encourages them to relax, brings back their full range of motion quicker, and frees up any stiffness in the area. This means you won’t have to be as sore the next day and can get right back to the gym quicker.
  • Decreases Pain, Especially in the Lower Back Area: If you ran for quite some time or did a lot of weight lifting, this usually puts a significant amount of strain on your lower back. But when you stretch after working out, you are reducing that strain and helping to put back mobility and flexibility into that region, plus all the other areas of your body that you stretch.
  • Reduces Stress on the Mind and Body: Stretching is a fantastic self-care strategy that not only reduces the stress your body might be carrying after an intense workout, but it also helps to reduce any stress your mind might be harboring onto.

If you’re struggling with managing pain while working out, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are here to help. Give us a call at 770-929-9033 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Young athlete woman hurting from a knee injury on a cold winter day in the track of an urban park, wondering How Your Pain is Affected By Cold Weather.

How Your Pain is Affected By Cold Weather

Colder temperatures have arrived in the south, finally! For a lot of people, the change in the weather means the start of an incredible season and plenty of joyous occasions, such as the holidays, time to play out in the snow, or evenings spent by the fireplace. 

But, sometimes, the winter season isn’t as fun. The cold weather can increase everyone’s pain. If you’ve ever experienced more intense or frequent pain during the colder months, keep reading below to learn how your pain is affected by cold weather.

How Cold Weather Changes Our Pain

  • As extremely cold temperatures arrive, our body’s natural reaction is to tell the brain that we are in pain as a form of protection. It is trying to keep us out of the weather conditions that are not good for us.

  • When the colder weather hits, our bodies begin to store heat by sending more blood to the organs in the center of the body, such as the heart or the lungs. The blood vessels not in those areas constrict and experience less blood flow. It kickstarts stiffness, discomfort, and pain, especially in the arms, legs, shoulders, and knees.

  • Cold weather increases the barometric pressure in the air, which also affects our bodies. This leads to circulation changes and increased nerve fiber sensitivity, causing joint pain and discomfort.

  • If you spend a lot of time outdoors, such as working outside or going on lengthy runs, the cold weather can add more pressure to the weight-bearing joints and cause pain in those areas.

  • In general, cold weather usually means less exercising and time spent outside for most people. Because more exercise and movement is good for our bodies, the change in activity during the winter can have our bodies feeling worse. In general, we all experience a decrease in strength and a lack of flexibility.

  • For many people with chronic illnesses, the extreme cold can make the pain even worse because our bodies are much more sensitive during this season. A great example of these conditions is rheumatoid arthritis.

Whether you’re experiencing pain because of the extremely low temperatures this winter or because a previous injury never healed properly, the experts at Alliance Spine and Health Centers are here to help you manage all of your pain needs. Click here to schedule an appointment with us or give us a call at  770-929-9033 if you have any more questions about how your pain is affected by cold weather.

Cheerful man standing outside in nature with a prosthetic leg, wondering about phantom limb pain.

Phantom Limb Pain 101

Losing a limb is hard enough, but sometimes the process can be made even worse by something called phantom limb pain, also known as PLP. This condition makes the person who recently had something amputated still feel pain in that area, even if it’s gone.

Despite the fact that PLP happens to about 80 percent of the amputee population, it’s not commonly talked about. That’s because those who don’t experience it themselves often associate it with mental health problems. But phantom limb pain isn’t just in the brain. It’s a real, physical experience.

To help spread awareness, we’re discussing phantom limb pain in the blog below.

What is Phantom Limb Pain?

As mentioned above, PLP occurs when feeling returns to a limb that is no longer there. Scientists believe this occurs because of mixed signals being sent to the body from the brain and the spinal cord. For those experiencing it, the sensations can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.

Most commonly, PLP happens within the first six months of the amputation and tends to lessen after that time period.

What Causes Phantom Limb Pain?

There are a few known triggers for PLP. A small portion of the full list is included below:

  • Physical touch
  • Feeling cold
  • Changes in the atmosphere and the level of pressure in the air
  • Using the restroom
  • Smoking
  • Other diseases like herpes or angina
  • Sexual intercourse

For those who do have PLP, it’s important to keep track of when it happens and if it commonly occurs after the same thing. Being able to identify your personal triggers makes treatment easier down the road.

What’s the Treatment for Phantom Limb Pain?

Speaking of treatment, there are a handful of treatment options available for phantom limb pain. Medication is extremely common, as it will interrupt the pain signals that your brain and spinal cord are sending, stopping the pain from happening in the first place.

However, there are also several other non-medication treatment options. The most common of those are massage therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback, music therapy, dorsal root ganglion stimulation, and even virtual reality therapy.

If you or a loved one needs assistance with PLP, the pain management specialists at  Alliance Spine and Pain would be happy to assist. Give us a call at 770-929-9033 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Photo of the Alliance Johns Creek office.

Future of Pain Relief Comes to Johns Creek

Beginning November 19, patients can experience the latest technology and innovation in pain management by visiting the new Johns Creek location of Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, the largest interventional pain management company in the Southeast. Conveniently located near several local medical practices, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers will perform minimally invasive procedures in a state-of-the-art facility.

As with all Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, the new location (6920 McGinnis Ferry Road, Suwanee) will specialize in non-opioid treatments. The practice leads the way with a balanced approach to real relief through innovative, integrated, evidence-based treatments. This gives patients the opportunity to live fuller, more functional, and fulfilling lives.

“Furthering our practice’s mission in Johns Creek is certainly a privilege,” says Dr. Preetesh Patel. “Our breadth of services allows us to have an impact on patients with a variety of needs.”

The new Johns Creek location will offer an array of interventional pain management procedures with Dr. Patel and Dr. Will Epps. This ambulatory surgical center will offer minimally invasive procedures, including spinal cord stimulation, radiofrequency ablations, nerve blocks, and other non-opioid interventions. The staff sets groundbreaking quality standards in the field, carefully tracks clinical outcomes, and develops evidence-based best practices. Alliance Spine and Pain Centers is in-network with 90 percent of insurance payors.

Appointments can be made by calling 770-929-9033.

An xray photo of a man showing the anatomy of the spine.

A Breakdown of Spine Anatomy

The spine and the central nervous system, where the spine lives, is a complex piece of our human anatomy. There are many bones, ligaments, and muscles to know if you are a specialist working in this field.

However, it is useful to know the basics in case you ever find yourself with spine issues and problems later down the road, even if you aren’t a physician. That’s why we’re breaking down the basics of spine anatomy below, just enough to keep you in the know of how things work back there.

Curves

A healthy spine will normally have a natural S-shaped curve. It helps our spine absorb shock, keep balance, and have a full range of motion.

That spine actually consists of three main types of curves. The first curve happens at the neck, and it is called a cervical curve. The second curve is at the middle back and called a thoracic curve, while the third curve is the lumbar curve that occurs at the lower back.

Bones

The spine is made up of 33 different bones, called vertebras. These bones are broken down into five different regions: the cervical region at the neck, the thoracic region at the mid-back, the lumbar region at the low back, the sacrum which connects the spine to the hip bones, and the coccyx region which is where the tailbone is located.

In between all of these bones is something called the intervertebral disc, a cushion that keeps the bones from rubbing against each other and breaking down. Unfortunately, while we age, these discs begin to break down naturally and can eventually cause issues, such as pinched nerves and decreased mobility.

Alongside the discs are facet joints, and each vertebra has four of them. These allow the range of motion that our back if capable of doing.

While there is more information available about all of the vertebrae that make up the spine, this is the basic knowledge you need to know to keep yourself educated.

Muscles

There are two major groups of muscles in the spine. The first is called extensors, which are attached to the back of the spine. They allow us to stand up and lift objects. The second group, called flexors, is in front of the spine. They allow us to flex and bend forward.

Ligaments

Ligaments are defined as strong, fibrous bands that hold the bones together in the spine. There are three main types of ligaments: ligamentum flavum, anterior longitudinal ligament (ALL), and posterior longitudinal ligament (PLL).

Nerves

Almost as numerous as the number of bones in your spine are the number of spinal nerves that branch off from them. There are 31 pairs in total and cover the entire body.  They are in charge of the feeling and movement in your body and spine.

The above information is a basic summary of all of the complex medical elements of the spine and the back. If you would like to learn more, call the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers at 770-929-9033 or click here to schedule an appointment.