Health Tips

Health Tips

Scapular Winging

By PPSM Staff

Scapular winging is a condition wherein the shoulder blade moves excessively away from its normal position on the thoracic region of the back.  This can cause pain and weakness as well as loss of function and can be a problem cosmetically.  The causes of scapular winging are numerous.  The most common cause is weakness of the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder blade.  The scapula is the attachment site for many muscles which work in conjunction to move the arm in space and also to stabilize the arm for heavy lifting or weight bearing.  When these muscle are weak, damaged or out of balance, they can lose the ability to hold the shoulder blade in place.  The result is winging.  When the scapula is out of position, the shoulder cannot function optimally, leading to loss of strength and ROM and sometimes pain.

There are a few simple exercises which, if done regularly can help this condition.  Lying on your back with your arms straight up, practice punching your arms farther up towards the ceiling.  Keep your elbows locked out straight the entire time.  You should feel your shoulder blades moving up off the floor and the muscles along the sides of your mid-back contracting.  Repeat 20-30 times without pain and progress to a light hand weight when this becomes easy.

Next we will stretch out the tight pectoral muscles.  Find a corner of a room that has some free space.  If not, you can use an open doorway.  Bring your forearms or hands to the walls or to the door frame out to your sides.  Arms should be higher than shoulder height.  Now lean your body forward towards the corner or into the doorway until you feel a stretch across your chest.  Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

If done consistently, these exercises can reduce scapular winging.  See your MD or PT if symptoms persist.


Get Moving!

By PPSM Staff

After writing about managing neck and upper back pain while on an airplane, I decided to write about an unpleasant experience I had while on a long flight to prevent you from having the same experience! A couple years ago, I flew to Japan which was a 13 hour flight. I decided that I would sleep as much as I could to compensate for the time difference. When I wasn’t sleeping, I watched a movie on my personal entertainment center. I don’t think I even stood up to go to the restroom! When I finally landed and started walking, I noticed that my ankles felt really heavy. I rolled my pants up and noticed swelling in both of my ankles! Since that episode, I have made sure to get up and move around the plane. I even perform simple lunges and stretches in the aisles. Sure, I get some weird looks but it’s better than swollen ankles.

According to Dr. James Levine, co-director or the Mayo Clinic who has investigated health effects of sitting, sitting for long periods of time can cause many negative effects such as organ damage, slower digestion, slower brain function, increased muscle tightness, and poor circulation. Getting up and moving around is important. Within 90 seconds of standing up, cellular and muscular systems that process blood sugar, fat molecules, and cholesterol are activated. All by just carrying your own bodyweight.

We are meant to move as human beings, so set an example for other airline passengers and get moving!

Proper Sitting Posture for Crazy NJ Traffic

By PPSM Staff

Proper Sitting Posture for Crazy NJ Traffic

BY: Chris Lybarger, PT, DPT

If you live in New Jersey, and especially North and Central aspects, then you know a little about sitting in traffic. Whether it’s the daily commute to and from work or trying to head into Philadelphia or NYC for a day trip on the weekend, most of us understand all too well the struggle and time consuming beast it is. What most of don’t take into account though is the toll this takes on our bodies. Biomechanically, we are not designed to sit and especially for prolonged periods. It increases the load placed throughout the spine. If you have this increased load/weight placed through the spine for an extended period and repeat day after day, at some point the body will biomechanically falter. This leads to those all too familiar spinal disc issues we hear about, as well as hip/spinal mobility restrictions, soft tissue strains, trigger point irritations due to postural dysfunction, headaches, etc.

Several positioning tips for sitting in the car to maintain proper posture are as follows:

  1. Sit back and flush against the seat, including low back and head
  2. Use adjustable lumbar support to near full (or as tolerated), or if your car does not have the adjustable feature use a small rolled hand towel and place in the arch of low back while back against the seat
  3. Adjust seat distance from pedals (while still being able to reach steering wheel and pedals themselves) to allow knees to stay parallel or just below the thighs while still having low back against seat. In other words, do not sit so close to the wheel so knees are above the hips. If the car seat itself prevents this try placing a cushion or wedge under the buttocks to elevate the hips
  4. When adjusting the angle of back of the seat, it should be reclined no more then 10-20 degrees
  5. Tilt seat cushion until it evenly supports your entire thigh without pressure in any one particular area and it does not hit the back of your knees
  1. Adjust the seat belt to fit you instead of adjusting the seat to accommodate the seatbelt position
  2. Bring the steering wheel down and toward you to minimize reach23



Benefits of Endurance Exercise

By PPSM Staff

When you read the benefits of aerobic exercise, it’s a no brainer to include steady state cardio or circuit training between 120-130 bpm for 25+ mins in your workouts.

  • Decreased risk of injury (esp in late stages of games)
  • Less stress & anxiety
  • Better memory and recall as well as ability to learn new motor patterns
  • Increased ability to recover from bursts of activity
  • Improved heart health and efficiency
  • Lower rate of glycogen depletion during exercise
  • Better sleep quality

Try a heart rate monitor or measure easily using a watch and feeling your pulse for how many beats you have for 15s and then multiplying by 4.  Include this at least 2x/week and build on your endurance gradually and with at least a day in between bouts to avoid overuse type scenarios. Running, swimming, biking, rowing, a circuit of exercises, its really your choice so mix it up and have fun!


By PPSM Staff


  • When buying an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.”
  • When buying a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are difficult to pull from branches, and needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The sawed end of the trunk of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut an inch off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly


  • Check all tree lights–even if you have just purchased them–before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
  • Don’t use the same extension cord for more than three strands of lights and turn off all lights before going to bed.
  • When lighting candles, remove flammable materials from the area and never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Space heaters are involved in 79% of fatal home heating fires. If space heaters are in use, there should be a 3-foot open zone around them. Always turn off and unplug when unattended.


  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials, such as tinsel, to trim a tree
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
  • Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.
  • Keep potentially poisonous holiday plant decorations, including mistletoe berries, Jerusalem cherry, and holly berry away from children.

Machine vs. Free Weights: How do I choose?

By PPSM Staff

The topic of conversation you will most likely have at the gym is to choose between weighted machines or free weights. A question you may ask yourself is: How do I choose? or Which one is better for me?

My answer is it depends on the individual.

  1. The question you would have to ask yourself is how many years have you been lifting?
  2. What goals are you trying to meet?
  3. Are you lifting for rehabilitation purposes, aesthetics, or functional fitness?

To determine between the two (WM vs. FW), here are basic suggestions for each.


When working with weighted machines they are commonly easier to use than their counterparts. Most machines have picture or descriptions on how to use the machine and what muscles the machine targets. Machines allow you to train with heavier weights without a spotter to reduce the risk of injuries. Additionally machine weights are useful for the elderly population or rehabilitation purposes.


When using free weights it allows you to train movements more specific to your needs/goals. You are not stuck to a specific motion which allows your body complete freedom to move. It places a greater demand on your stabilization muscles when training, using FW causes your body to recruit more muscle groups than WM. Overall, there is an endless variation of exercises you can do with FW and you can pretty much train anywhere!!

So, when it comes to the question of, “Which is better?” As I stated beforeIt ultimately depends on the person and their goals.

Thanksgiving Health Tips

By PPSM Staff

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! It is that time of the year were people are okay with unbuttoning those pants by one notch. That sweet scent of all those thanksgiving dishes being placed on one table just makes your mouth salivate with happiness. The typical stuffed turkey, mash or sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry and gravy sauce all in one day! Here are some tips to get moving to stay healthy and move.

  • H20 Hydration is KEY!: Drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated will prevent you from mistaken thirst as hunger pains, This will prevent you from attack the salty sweet foods so aggressively
  • Slow Mastication (Eating): How quickly one eats matters. Research suggests, fast eaters consumed around three ounces of food per minute, while the counterparts only ate about two ounces. Chewing slowly could mean less calories consumed.
  • Grab the small plate: Stick all those Thanksgiving sides on a smaller plate. Research suggests it can help with portion control and you will most likely consume fewer calories, while a bigger plate will equal more calories and force you to consume more than you need to. So DO NOT LET YOUR EYE BE BIGGER THAN YOUR STOMACH!
  • Thinking of Round 2?!?! Skip the seconds wait at least 20 minutes,this amount of time will usually provide enough time for your stomach to communicate with the brain that you are full, before filling up the dinner plate again.
  • Beware of Side Dishes: Be careful with foods that aren’t as healthy as they seem. Green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and cranberry/gravy sauce usually have ingredients high in fat and sugar.
  • Watch out for liquid calories: Calories from alcohol can sneak up on you during the holidays. Go easy on the booze and stick to water.
  • Room for Dessert anyone: Moderation people! Stick to one slice of pumpkin/apple pie instead of going cold turkey at the dessert table.
  • Be the social butterfly at the family gathering: Walking around and talking to family members will help burn calories more than being sedentary at a chair. Calories burned = more food you can consume.
  • Plan a post-meal walk: As soon as you arrive at your Thanksgiving dinner, plan for a post meal walk with the family. The more people that join the more social and less exercises focused it will be. People will scum to peer pressure and it will be harder to not be involved. A brisk walk will help you burn some calories and likely put you in the right mindset to turn down a second helping!
  • TURKEY TROT: Even though thanksgiving is a day to stuff your face full of delicious foods. You can find yourself a local Turkey Trot. A Turkey trot is a run/walk activity outside that can range from one mile to 10K. The best idea is to GOOGLE search!

Spilling the Fall Tea

By PPSM Staff

Now that the colder weather is upon us many will be indulging in their favorite hot beverages. Many people are tea drinkers and with good reason. It’s one of the healthiest drink options out there and one of the few that is just as enjoyable cold as it is hot so you can enjoy it’s health benefits year around if you so desire. Here’s a breakdown of some common types of tea and some of the health benefits you can get from consuming them regularly:

  1. Green Tea: The catechins in green tea are an excellent source of antioxidants. Green tea also contains a compound that helps to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
  2. Chamomile Tea: Commonly used the world over as a sleep aid chamomile tea is also a source of antioxidants that help reduce the effects of diabetes such as vision loss, nerve damage and renal damage.
  3. Oolong Tea: In addition to being delicious Oolong tea is also good for your teeth as its antioxidants prevent tooth decay. It’s also a good source of niacin which helps to detoxify the body as well.
  4. Echinacea: That’s right, the same Echinacea that they put in some of the cough drops you see in the drug store. Echinacea tea will help with your immunity fighting off that common cold and respiratory infections.

Lemon Ginger: This type of tea has a powerful combo of compounds that effectively fight bacterial infections; including salmonella.