Physical Therapist Recommended Self Care Products for Reducing your Pain

I find myself repeating product recommendations on a daily basis for common ailments. I’ve spent a lot of valuable treatment time looking up these same products for different people, sometimes multiple times throughout the day. I’ve told them what to look for, written down pertinent details and printed out pictures of the items so that they know what to look for. Unfortunately I frequently hear that they went to multiple stores searching for a product that fit my recommendations, couldn’t find anything, and ended up buying something else. They show me what they got and it is often not even close to something that I think will help them. This leaves everyone confused and frustrated.

Well, NO MORE! I want to make this process easier for everyone. In an effort to save my patient’s time and money, provide quality care during their treatment with me, and ensure that everyone is getting what they need, I have decided to link some of my favorite products in one location. I hope you find it helpful!

Toe Spreaders

Toe Spreaders can be used for helping people with conditions that involve constriction of the fascia in the feet. If you have hammer toes, plantar fasciitis, bunions, Morton’s neuroma, or just tired/tight feet, these may be just the thing for you. I recommend them to my patient’s with these conditions all the time.  While they are in Physical Therapy, we do things like joint mobilizations in-between the toes and in the ankles, and myofascial release and soft tissue work to spread the tissues in the feet and lower legs. Toe spreaders like the Yoga Toes listed below are a passive way for you to take that stretching/myofascial work home with you. All you have to do is put them on while you are watching TV or reading. I advise my patients to wean into wearing them because when the body is used to being tight, it can be a painful experience to be stretched out for a long period of time. To avoid the pain that can ensue from getting that intense stretch all at once, I suggest that you wean into using these slowly, in bite sized amounts. For example: 5 minutes a day for the first few days working up to 10 minutes a day and then ultimately 2 hours a day.

*Of note: We also complete stretching, strengthening, and stabilization exercises for many parts of the body for these conditions in physical therapy- which is an integral component to lasting pain relief and return to function. I am recommending these devices as a part of your home care regime as an adjunct to a well crafted home exercise program and skilled manual therapy.

The Original YogaToes listed above are specifically made for sitting to stretch the toes while relaxing. Do not walk in bulky toe spreaders like these. It will be painful and may throw you off balance. 

Some of my patients have informed me that after bunion surgery they have pain on the top of their great toe with the pressure of the traditional style of yoga toes that encloses the whole toe. For people with this issue, I would recommend the open top style of these YogaToes Gems.

YogaBody Naturals Awesome Toes for active wear are a little different. They are made to wear while you move- It’s like step 2 in the process of regaining proper alignment in your feet. Starting with these will be too painful for many people, so I advise any toe separator that is suggested to be worn while walking to be used after the passive types of toe separators, like the two YogaToes styles listed above, become painless after 2 hours of use while sitting.

Knee Braces

There are a ton of knee braces out there for all different kinds of issues with the knees, but I find myself advising most of my patients with generalized, mild to moderate knee pain, to get a simple neoprene sleeve brace that is easy to slip on and off and isn’t too bulky. (If you are a post surgical patient, or have a recent patellar dislocation or severe instability you may require a more stabilizing device for protection. I am not advising that you forego what has been prescribed for you by your physician). I do find though, that sometimes when people are prescribed heavy, bulky, knee braces they end up never wearing them because they are too cumbersome. So then they go around wearing nothing at all, having no support, and getting no relief. It has to be user friendly, practical, and easily attainable to make my list! I recommend neoprene sleeves because of the compression type support it provides- it’s like wetsuit material. Some of the cloth ones at the drug stores don’t provide enough support or have confusing velcro straps or holes for the knee cap that slide around and never seem to be in the  right place. There are different thicknesses to these neoprene knee sleeves. Typically you will see 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm choices. Be advised, the thicker the material, the more compression it will provide and the more restricting it will feel. I frequently recommend something like this mid range Rehband Rx 5mm for its ease of use:

*Be advised- these come in different sizes. Be sure to check the size chart before purchase.

Mobility “Voodoo” Floss Bands

Another way of using compression is to trap the tissue and floss through the area of pain with active movement of the joint. When people come to therapy I will frequently have them use this device to help loosen up all the tissue that surrounds a painful joint and teach them how to use it effectively for the body part that is ailing them. This is like having your own private massage therapist in your pocket at all times. (Yes please!) I personally use the 7 foot Voodoo Floss Band from Rogue Fitness, but there are many to choose from and they look a little something like this:

*This product may not be suitable for someone with thin skin, vascular compromise, or who is on blood thinners and bruises easily. It is wrapped tightly around the joint and may cause damage to delicate tissue. This device is typically advised for athletes with generalized joint pain and musculotendinus dysfunction.

Compression Socks

There are so many brands of compression socks, and so many things they can help with. BUT, there are some important things to know about how they work, and what effects they can have on your circulatory system before you know if they are right for you. Compression devices were confusing to me for a long time. I used to think, “Why would I put pressure around an area that was trying to get blood flow while I am walking/running?! Wont that just make it harder for the muscles to get the blood and oxygen they need to work!?” Well, it turns out, the calf muscles are like a second heart for the body. They are responsible for pumping the blood back up, against gravity, to the heart. The compression socks designed for “working” compression (to be used when you are walking/running) are providing an increased pressure for the muscles to pump out against which assists the muscles in getting the blood flow back up to the heart. BUT, for someone who has cardiovascular complications (ie. uncontrolled high blood pressure) or vascular issues (varicose veins) or lymphedema this may challenge the cardiovascular or lymphatic system too much and put it on overload. WE DON’T WANT THAT. Make sure that, if you have any kind of health condition that may raise concern, you check with your physician about the use of compression devices before clicking the link below.

*More products to come!

*Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase. This is, of course, at no cost to you, and I only link items I truly recommend to my own patients.

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