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Three Reasons Movement Matters 1

Three Reasons Movement Matters

You don’t need Physical Therapy just for rehabilitation from injuries alone. Physical therapy also impacts people’s lives to help people move and live better!  That’s what people deserve right?

When it comes down to it, physical therapy is all about experiences. It’s about making it possible for people to live and experience life to the fullest. Movement – not just exercise, but the overall ability to work, play and LIVE WELL – just so happens to be at the center of so many of our greatest life experiences.”

And with October being National Physical Therapy Month, Jones and other physical therapists across the country are highlighting the many ways physical therapists are uniquely positioned to improve lives and experiences for people of all stages in life.

Physical therapists are highly educated medical professionals who are trained and licensed to help people both improve and maintain the ability to move optimally and with reduced pain. Often, physical therapists can help people do this without the need for surgery or prescription medication.

This includes people who are hurt, injured or who have had surgery, of course, but this also includes athletes looking to improve performance and avoid injury, older adults looking to remain active and independent, workers who want to improve production and comfort while on the job, women who are pregnant … all the way to people who simply just want to be healthier and less sedentary so they can better enjoy the things they love.

And, while strength, cardio health, balance and flexibility are critical for maintaining functional abilities throughout life (i.e., walking, climbing stairs, lifting, reaching, getting out of bed), the ability to move optimally and be active, is something that can equally benefit the body, the mind and the soul.

Why does movement matter?  Well here are some great ways that movement will help you:

Reduced pain – It’s no secret that being active and exercising regularly can benefit the body in seemingly countless ways, from improving cardiovascular health to reducing the incidence of chronic disease. But beyond maintaining great health, specific exercise as prescribed by a physical therapist can benefit people in numerous ways, from helping reduce chronic pain to strengthening bones and joints in older adults. Don’t get caught in the cycle of pain, then less movement, then more pain from not moving.

Improved focus and memory – Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise can sharpen and improve memory. But for those with mild cognitive impairments, exercise can also help slow the rate at which                people with such impairments decline. Exercise has also been linked to greater focus, improved learning for children and adolescents, and a reduction in anxiety and stress.

Overall Happiness – Research has also shown that those who exercise regularly tend to be happier and more social than those who live a more sedentary lifestyle. Not only that, but maintaining a stronger, healthier body with an eye toward optimal movement helps remove barriers that may stop someone from experiencing life to the fullest, whether that includes exploring new places or trying new things.

The best part about being a physical therapist is helping people get to a place in their lives that they thought was either in the past or was unattainable. Whether it’s helping a person complete their first 5K or making sure someone’s able to still pick up and hug their grandkids, our job as a PT is to help people experience life and be the greatest possible versions of themselves – all through better, more optimal movement.

Don't Let The Heavy Lifting Hurt You 2

Don’t Let The Heavy Lifting Hurt You

Digging out boxes of holiday decorations, hauling packages to and from the car, hiding gifts away on the higher shelves at the back of your closet … the Holiday Season certainly requires its fair share of bending, lifting and reaching. This,coupled with the cooler weather, makes December the ideal time for a refresher on proper lifting methods.

Back pain and injury can put a real damper on the Holiday Season, yet it’s one of the most common conditions we treat as medical professionals. Fortunately, it’s also a condition that’s very preventable, and one of the ways to keep the spine healthy is learning – and practicing– proper lifting techniques.

Around 80 percent of all Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives, making it one of the top causes of disability in the U.S. And while preventing back pain is of key concern when one does a lot of bending and lifting, it’s not the only concern.

When we talk about proper lifting techniques, we’re talking about protecting the back, yes, but we’re also looking to minimize strain on the entire body. The goal is to put yourself in a position that allows the body’s musculoskeletal system to work as one cohesive unit, without putting too much strain on one area, such as the lower-back or shoulders.

So without further ado, here are a few tips for proper lifting:

Warm Up: Don’t ever assume your body’s ready to lift heavy objects without first being thoroughly warmed up. Take the time to stretch your lower back as well as your legs and hips. Give a few jumping jacks a try to get the blood flowing to the muscles in your body.

Get Close: Avoid reaching for a heavy or moderate-sized load. Get up nice and close to the box or object to minimize the force (in the arms, shoulders and back) needed to lift, and always hold it close to your body.

Bend & Lift with the Knees: We’ve all heard this before, and it’s true. But in doing so, keep your back straight and your body upright as you lower yourself to the object in question, then use your legs to rise back up.

Get a Grip: This seems to go without saying, but if you can’t get a strong, comfortable grip on the object in front of you – even if you know you can carry the weight – don’t try to be a hero. Find someone to help you or an alternative way of getting the object from A to B, such as a hand cart or dolly.

Reverse the Steps: When you get to where you’re going, set the item down just as you picked it up – but in reverse. Keep it close to the body, lower with the legs and move slowly and deliberately. You can just as easily injure yourself setting objects down as you can picking them up.

During the process of lifting, keep from twisting or reaching while carrying a load. Don’t rush through the process of lifting, and if you’re tired, put it off until later.

Whatever you do, protect your body and prevent injuries and enjoy the holiday season.

Why Kids Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport 3

Why Kids Shouldn’t Specialize in One Sport

Most medical experts in agreeing that young athletes generally remain mentally and physically healthier, achieve greater success, and learn to enjoy a lifetime of physical fitness when they opt to play multiple sports.

Specializing in a sport is fine, but we should be aware that allowing youth to specialize in a sport year-round can lead to burnout, a greater risk of experiencing overuse injuries, and less long-term success.

While this path has worked out for some, these stories are very rare and overlook the fact that the risks of specialization far outweigh the rewards, especially when it comes to youth athletics.

It’s been estimated that up to 60 million U.S. youths ages 6 to 18 years participate in some form of athletics. More than 5 million of these athletes experience an injury each year. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 50 percent of athletic injuries are related to overuse, the types of injuries for which one-sport athletes are particularly prone.

An overuse injury happens when a bone, muscle or tendon has been put through repetitive stress without being given a sufficient amount of time to heal or repair, leading to microtraumatic damage.  Think sore pitching arms or pain in a swimmer’s shoulder that doesn’t go away, possibly keeping the athlete from competing.

The same repetitive motions year-round can, in other words, lead to such overuse injuries as strains, sprains, stress fractures, and even tears in muscles, tendons and ligaments. Playing multiple sports, in contrast, allows young athletes to challenge their bodies in different ways, developing new sets of physical traits and skills and that offer more universal performance benefits.

To help young athletes reduce the risk of developing overuse injuries and overall burnout here are a few things for parents and coaches to consider:

Encourage Diversity: Especially at an early age, encourage kids to try out and play different sports throughout the year. Some of the most successful athletes (up to 97 percent of the pros) believe being a multisport athlete was beneficial to their long-term success.

Seek Rest: Young athletes should take at least one to two days off from practice and/or structured sports participation each week. Some experts suggest limiting weekly practice to the age (in hours) of the athlete. Long-term, athletes should take 2 to 3 months off a particular sport each year to help refresh the body and the mind.

Specialize Later: Wait until at least high school age – better yet, around the ages of 16 or 17 – before considering specializing in any individual sport. At this point, the body is more prepared for such rigors.

Watch for Signs: If a young athlete complains of nonspecific problems with muscles and/or joints, physical fatigue, or grows concerned about poor performance, visit a physical therapist, who can fully evaluate the issue and offer treatment (if needed) for any potential injuries or deficiencies.

Two Fitness tips we learn from the Winter Olympics 4

Two Fitness tips we learn from the Winter Olympics

While we watch Alpine skiers speed through difficult downhill courses and figure skaters bound balletically across the ice during these Winter Olympics, I can see the importance of two oft-overlooked elements of good fitness and training routines: of balance and flexibility.

When we work to prepare our bodies for a certain activity, or simply for the rigors of living an active lifestyle, we shouldn’t only be focusing on strength and cardio. It’s a good start, but if your balance and flexibility are below par, performance will be limited and the body will be more susceptible to injury.

Few things highlight this more than winter sports and activities, such as those featured during the Winter Olympics because they provide the ultimate challenge to balance and flexibility.  Both balance and flexibility work together to keep these athletes upright while they adapt to new terrain, changes in position, etc. The importance of this is obvious on snow and ice, of course, but the same concept applies in everyday life.

Whether your personal goals include competing better athletically, getting outdoors more for hiking, cycling or (yes) skiing, or simply feeling safer and more confident playing in the backyard with the kids, good balance and flexibility are key.

To help improve balance and flexibility in your life check out these three tips.

Take an Exercise Class: Yoga, Pilates, step classes … they all strive to strengthen your core muscle groups, which are essential in achieving good balance. Plus, these classes often complement indoor cardio and resistance training – training that may do little to help with your balance.

Stretch Every Day: Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to stretch, either in the morning or just before bed. A stretch right before an activity will do little to help you out unless you’ve worked to establish a higher level of flexibility over the long term.

Perform Single-Leg Balance Exercises: Get your body accustomed to relying on one side at a time. Practice standing on one leg while tilting your body forward, back and sideways. Place your hand on a wall, countertop or piece of furniture if you need help balancing. Other single leg balance ideas include ball bounces, standing on a foam pad, and practicing with eyes closed … all in a safe setting, of course.

For a more individualized approach of our course, a physical therapist can help but in the meantime, give one of the tips a try.

How to Give New Year's Resolutions Another Try 5

How to Give New Year’s Resolutions Another Try

A typical New Year’s resolution is doomed to fail – that is, if you believe in statistics alone.

Did you know that around 80 percent of people who make resolutions on the first of the year have already fallen off the wagon by Valentine’s Day. That includes two of the most popular resolutions made throughout the U.S. each year: to work out more and to lose weight.

Fortunately, statistics don’t control the success or failure of any life change. Medical professionals across the spectrum agree that success comes through methodical goal setting that helps you ‘see the change.

One way to achieve “revolutionary success” is to mirror the process of goal setting and achievement long held by the disciplines of physical therapy and rehabilitation. Why?

Physical therapy is a health profession that’s results-driven based on processes that depend on setting individual goals that are specific, clear and personal to each patient.Even the most earnest and motivated person can fall into the trap of setting goals that are too vague. So in physical therapy, we opt for and practice a method of goalsetting that focuses on being incredibly specific.

The method (maybe you’ve heard it before) is the SMART method of setting goals.

A simple acronym, SMART advocates for the setting of goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, and timed. Here’s how each step breaks down:

Specific: Don’t just throw out a general goal; be sure to include all the important W’s in your goal: who, what, where, why and why. Rather than saying, “I’d like to lose weight” be more specific by stating, “I want to lose 30 pounds by summer so I can go backpacking without experiencing joint pain.”

Measurable: Always set concrete marks that allow you to measure your goal. Include a long-term mark (e.g., lose 30 pounds by summer) as well as benchmarks along the way (e.g., lose 8 pounds by the end of January, 13 pounds by the end of February, etc).

Attainable: Your goal shouldn’t be easy to achieve, but you must have the attitude, ability, skill and financial capacity to achieve it. Starting with a solid foundation, attainability is something that can develop over time.

Realistic/Relevant: Anyone can set a goal, but are you willing and able to work toward this goal? In other words, are there any irrefutable road blocks that can and will hinder your progress? Typically, if you believe it, then it’s more than likely realistic.

Timed: Don’t just set your goal for “whenever.” Set a challenging yet realistic timeline, be it to lose a specific amount of weight by your sibling’s wedding or to be in shape by the spring’s first 5K race. Make your goal tangible.

Along with utilizing the SMART method, share your goals, benchmarks, successes and failures with others. Surrounding yourself with a circle of support can help you stay the course and battle through difficult stretches.

I believe this will be the year that you meet your goals.  Remember to Live Well, Move More, and Hurt Less!