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Monday, May 23, 2016

Changing Gait Pattern

Great strides have been made in running shoe technology over the past 40 years. While some prefer a fancy shoe with a thick, cushiony sole, others opt for a "barefoot" version with minimal layers so the foot can actually feel and grip the path or pavement. But can either shoe help prevent some of the common injuries runners frequently face?

A recent study in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) examined running strides and landing patterns associated with different types of shoes and whether or not they caused heel pain, such as plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures. Here is what they found:
  • Three of four active runners sustain injuries, typically in the knee and lower leg.
  • Runners who wear cushioned running shoes run heal-to-toe, or use a rearfoot strike (RFS) pattern. RFS is associated with longer strides and excessive load force--up to three times the runner's body weight--on the lower leg, knee, and hip.
  • Minimalist, or barefoot, shoes promote the front or middle of the foot striking the ground first, known as a forefoot or midfoot strike (FFS and MFS). This pattern reduces stress on the knee, lower leg, and heel.
Results suggest that changing gait patterns, from RFS to FFS, may help runners prevent some injuries.

While the shoes themselves though are not credited with preventing injury, the less-cushioned minimalist footwear may encourage runners to naturally transition from RFS to FFS pattern. A change in gait pattern can also be achieved with traditional, thicker-soled running shoes through a conscious effort and repetitious training.

Transitioning gait pattern should be a gradual one over many months, adhering to the 10 percent rule when increasing running distances.

If you experience any pain or have issues when running, please contact us for an appointment.

(Courtesy of AAOS)

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6 Reasons For A Strong Upper Body

A strong and toned upper body is definitely something to aspire to now that swimsuit season is upon us. But fit and fab arms and shoulders are not the only reasons you should consider amping up your upper body workout routine.

Here are six ways a strong upper body greatly benefits your overall health:
  1. Weight training is good for your heart.
According to the American Heart Association, strength training and lifting weights can boost heart health. A good amount of reps combined with even just a little resistance are highly beneficial.
2. A solid upper body helps improve posture.
Well-conditioned back muscles help you sit straighter and stand taller. A strong back also helps with balance and prevents you from slouching.
3. It can reduce injury.
Research indicates resistance training can help lower the risk of musculoskeletal injuries or reduce their severity. A strong upper body functions as sort of an “armor,” or shield, protecting some of the body’s most important organs, including the heart and lungs.
4. Strong muscles will enhance any physical activity.
Upper body strength helps the rest of the body perform more easily and efficiently. For example, in swimming, stronger shoulders and arms can help propel you through the water taking away some of the pressure on the legs to kick and do all the work.
5. Strength training protects your bones.
Experts claim that weight or resistance, “strength,” training of the upper body can help bones stay healthy and build density. Bone density is lost as you get older, leading to arthritis and osteoporosis. The stronger you keep your upper, and lower body, the better chance you have at avoiding both of these debilitating diseases.
6. It feels good!
Endorphins from exercise have long been credited with feeling good. Couple that with a fitness goal of a certain amount of pushups or bench-pressing a new weight, and you will feel (and look!) great from your achievements. And your body will thank you for it too. 
(Adapted from The Huffington Post)

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Dr. Bergin on Retirees in Tiny Houses

Texas Orthopedics' Dr. Barbara Bergin was recently quoted in an article on a financial website, Go Banking Rates, about retirees considering a tiny house for their twilight years.

When many people are on the brink of retirement, they often get the urge to downsize and scale back. Tiny houses are proving to be a popular option for those craving a smaller space and decreased cost of living.

Dr. Bergin cautions though that there may be a few challenges, from an orthopedic standpoint, that comes with tiny house dwelling.
  • Unexpected Mobility Issues
    • A change in mobility is a reality for a vast number of seniors, putting a damper on not only all the activities they had planned for in retirement, but also the simple tasks in everyday life. Getting around a tiny house in a wheelchair, or even with a walker, could be near impossible. "The potential temporary or even permanent need for a wheelchair is a reality, no matter how good your condition is when you retire," said Dr. Bergin. "You [might] need the space for doorways and bathrooms, especially around the toilet and shower, to accommodate a wheelchair or walker. A tiny home is not likely to have both a tub and a separate walk-in shower. It doesn't take much disability to render yourself unable to utilize a tub."
  • Difficulty Getting Upstairs
    • Tiny houses often feature a small loft space for the second story, accessible only by a very narrow set of stairs, or sometimes even just a ladder - creating a huge potential for falls and injury. "Even if you're healthy when you retire, the chance that you will someday have difficulty climbing stairs [is] high," said Dr. Bergin.  

Another obstacle is limited access to medical care. Tiny houses often need to be parked in rural areas or outside city limits, and this can be difficult if traveling long distances to regular doctors' appointments or for a medical emergency.

To view the full article, please visit

Scared of Sports After ACL Repair?

The decision to return to sports following an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury and surgical repair is a tough one. While it would seem that the desire to jump right back into doing what you love would be a no-brainer, it can be complicated.

If the surgery was successful and appropriate time was dedicated to rest and rehab, then usually there are no physical limitations for returning to sports. There are, however, mental road blocks that often pop up.

It is estimated that between one third and two thirds do not return to their pre-injury level of activity, despite an okay from their doctor. The fear of pain or getting hurt again is very real for many patients, and sometimes can be too tough to overcome... resulting in participating at a lesser intensity than what they are used to or giving up their sport altogether.

ACL patients who do choose to return to their pre-injury level of activity typically report:
  • Better knee function
  • A positive surgical and rehabilitation experience
  • Improved outlook on their overall physical well-being 
 For athletes who have successfully completed rehab and been given the green light from their doctor, the following can help to get their head back in the game:
  • Positive self-task and mental imagery
  • Goal-setting with specific dates and timelines to ease back into previous sports routines
  • Enlisting a friend or teammates to help with motivation 
If you have suffered an ACL injury and/or had surgery to repair it, yet are unsure about returning to sports, please contact us for an appointment.

Adapted from STOP Sports Injuries

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Tennis and Shoulder Injuries

Tennis enthusiasts in Central Texas are fortunate to be able to play the sport year-round. And with spring/summer here, and lighter hours late into the night, hours logged on the court are at an all-time high.

While tennis is an excellent form of aerobic exercise and great for developing upper and lower body strength and coordination, it does have a downside...if you play too much of it.

Tennis is a common culprit of many "overuse" injuries of the shoulder associated with the repetitive motion of swinging a racquet.

Here are some of the most frequent shoulders injuries to watch out for:

Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles located at the top part of your shoulder that can easily become overworked or even torn if not careful. When you reach up for a high ball or serve, painful irritation and rubbing within the muscles and shoulder joint can occur. This is known as impingement, and can eventually lead to a full tear.

Bicep Tendon Tear

Pain in the front of the shoulder is most often associated with the biceps tendon that is used with groundstrokes. The elongated sweeping motion used to make contact with the ball can cause the tendon to become stretched out or torn.

Superior Labrum Tear

The superior labrum (SLAP) is where the ligaments attach into the socket of the shoulder. It can become torn simultaneously along with a rotator cuff injury. SLAP tears cause deep pain throughout the shoulder and may cause a "dead arm," or numb sensation, as well as a clicking or catching feeling when trying to use the shoulder.

Treatment for these injuries may include:
  • Modification of serve or strokes
  • Physical therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Dedicated time to rest and heal between matches
  • Surgery, in severe cases
If you are suffering from shoulder pain due to a tennis injury, please contact us for an appointment.

(Adapted from

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Dr. John E. McDonald Joins AOSSM Research Committee

Texas Orthopedics is proud to announce that Dr. John E. McDonald has been invited to serve as a new member of the prestigious American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) Research Committee. This is a four-year term beginning in August 2016.

Dr. McDonald and fellow committee members are tasked with developing programs to facilitate research knowledge and skills of the society's membership. Additionally, he will serve on various subcommittees and review applications for research awards and grants.

The AOSSM is a global leader in sports medicine education, research, communication and fellowship. The organization works closely with other sports medicine specialists, including athletic trainers, physical therapists, and family physicians, to help improve the identification, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports injuries.

Dr. McDonald has been with Texas Orthopedics for 5 years and specializes in sports medicine, including hip, knee, and shoulder arthroscopy as well as general orthopedics.

Please join us all in congratulating him on this well-deserved honor in his new role with the AOSSM!

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Monday, May 2, 2016

High Heels and Arthritis

Summer is fast approaching, and women are starting to break out their strappy sandals and stilettos. Letting your toes breathe and get some fresh air after being bundled up in the cooler months is a great idea, but wearing sky-high sandals and stilettos--known for their spiky, slender heel--is another story.

Sporting stilettos or other high-heeled shoes has long brought forth the questions as to weather or not they cause arthritis--a disease of the joints causing pain, stiffness, and immobility. Medical experts agree that high heels are bad for posture and can pose a safety risk, due to tripping and falls, but do they actually contribute to arthritis?

A recent study analyzed the effects of high-heeled shoes on knees using 3-D gait analysis technology. Here are the results:
  • Stilettos (averaging 2.5 inches high) amplified the twisting force in knee joints while walking.
  • This twisting force, known as torque, places the joints at risk for the development of knee osteoarthritis, where the cartilage between bones wears away and results in painful rubbing back and forth.
  • Higher heels put great stress on the foot and ankle to maintain stability when walking, but it is ultimately the knee that suffers and is left susceptible to injury and potentially even arthritis.
The American Podiatric Medical Association claims that the best shoe for women is a simple walking shoe with laces, but if you just can't give up the high heels, here are some tips:
  • Limit how long you wear them, such as for a special event in the evening, then opt for sneakers or flats earlier in the day.
  • Try out shoes with a wider, chunkier, or platform heel for more support but still with the added height.
If you ever experience any suspicious pain or discomfort in your feet or knees, contact us for an appointment.

(Adapted from Healthgrades)

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