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6 Reasons to Start Running Today

Someone once told me the only way they would run was if a dog was chasing them.  Ironically after more than nine 5K races and two half marathons, they have become a recreational runner.  They started with just walking and then slowly adding short periods of jogging into their walk.  Over some time, they began to enjoy the benefits of running.  You have often seen individuals running in the community seemingly so graceful and with ease.  Somewhere deep down inside, you wish you could do that, but if you’re like many people, it seems almost impossible.

You can do it anywhere.

Unlike lifting weights or basketball or skill related activities, no equipment is needed to take a jog (or even a brisk walk).  Running is an activity that is always accessible.  That means you can start anytime and anyplace with just a regular walking routine.  Over time, you can add short bouts of jogging until the short bouts become longer. The more you do this, the better you will become.  The great thing about this is you can practice anytime and anyplace you choose.

It reduces your blood pressure.

No reasons to fret when you see your physician and they bring the blood pressure cuff out.  You can gain control of your blood pressure with a regular running routine. The top number of your blood pressure (systolic) is typically reduced by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm HG) for those who get regular exercise.  Better yet, regular aerobic exercise can prevent rises in your blood pressure as you get older.  Tired of those blood pressure medications?  Why not have a conversation with your physician to work together towards running those pills away?

It reduces stress.

There are chemicals in the body that are called stress hormones (ex. adrenaline, cortisol), but there are also some that are mood elevators or “feel good” hormones (ex endorphins).  A good run gives that moment of escape, the mental relaxation and the release of endorphins to help reduce your stress.  Very often, the stress relief that you need is not only in finishing the last part of that project or task you are working on, but in taking a break from it, going for that run, and then coming back to it.

It gives you more energy.

The same hormones that reduce your stress also give you more energy.  As you gain the benefits of better sleep from running, you will wake up with more vigor and more focus.  Regular running has multiplying effects.  Every time you use energy to do it, you gain more energy back than you used to do it.  If you feel like you are tired all of the time, why not giving running a try.

You can meet new people.

Runners of all levels often create communities.  This is a great opportunity to meet someone new with an already established common interest.  Companies such as Fleet Feet often have training programs to help people learn to run in small groups.  Even signing up to walk or jog during a local 5K event brings a great opportunity to experience the fun of meeting new people in a pressure free setting.

You live longer and healthier.

The National Institute of Health did a research study that shows that even those who start running at middle age, can reduce future disability and live longer, healthier lives by running.  Running is a great investment in your health.  Whether you start young or old, your body can adapt to the positive changes of running so that you get better and better at it.  There is nothing like maintaining your mobility that makes you feel free as you age.

So give it a try! Start out with a brief walking program that will progress over time to get you on track to be a regular runner.  Of course, it is always advisable to consult your physician or physical therapist when starting a new program.

 

6 Reasons it Hurts When You Exercise

It’s a new year and many of us have made the commitment to get healthy by getting in shape and exercising more.  Perhaps you’ve tried this before and it didn’t go so well.  We all have our reasons for falling short of our goal in the past but there is one reason that is all too common… It hurts when you exercise!  There are many different reasons you might feel pain when you exercise.  Here are a few common reasons that it hurts when you exercise.

  1. You don’t have enough motion.

Flexibility is an important part of exercise.  It’s often times skipped because most of us see either aerobic exercise or resistance training as the most important parts of exercise.  However, with many of us working in jobs where we are sitting much of the day, our hip muscles are often tight, and our necks and back and shoulders are often stiff.  Try some basic stretches first thing in the morning or prior to going to bed. It will not only help you maintain your flexibility but it will help you sleep better as well.  A good yoga class never hurts.  Some of the top athletes in America make this a common practice

  1. You forgot to warm up

A good warm up has many benefits.  It helps to gradually increase your body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.  There is nothing more discouraging than doing the first exercise or two and feeling like you are already out of breath.  A good warm can help your body ease into the activity.  Your muscles appreciate the extra blood flow as well.  As you warm up, the extra blood flow to your muscles is like the first dip of a dry sponge into a bucket of water.  It’s just more useful and pliable when it’s wet.  Likewise, your muscles are easier to move when there is sufficient blood flow.

  1. You did too much too fast

If you are doing resistance training, a good guideline is to increase your resistance no more than 5 lbs for upper body exercises and 10 lbs for lower body exercises from week to week.  For aerobic exercise (especially for jogging) aim to only increase your time or distance by 10% per week.  As you get more comfortable, you can adjust how you see fit.

  1. You don’t know how

There is no shame in not knowing how to exercise.  The only shame is not asking for help. Even if you don’t have a personal trainer, group fitness can be a good source of training when learning how to exercise.  Youtube videos and websites (from credible sources) can be helpful as well.  Don’t be shy asking for an orientation to the equipment in the gym.

  1. It’s normal

During exercise sometimes the muscles will feel full and even burn a little.  This is what is called the pump and burn effect.  As your body repeats muscle contraction, hydrogen ions can get trapped in the muscle creating a burning sensation (sometimes an itching sensation) in the muscle.  This usually goes away once the exercise is stopped.  Don’t worry, this is normal.  The more you exercise, the less you will feel this.

  1. Something else is wrong

The American Council on Science and Health estimates 50 million (20%) of Americans are in pain.  Never ignore the symptoms of pain.  It’s one thing to cover up the pain but it’s better to know how to fix the problem.  Pain is the “check engine” light for your body.  If you are having constant pain, consult with your physician or physical therapist before exercise.

 

Why Everyone Over 50 Should Do Resistance Training

To the 43 million Americans who have low bone density, putting them at high risk of osteoporosis, there is great news for you… Exercise is good medicine. But not just any exercise – weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercise.

As people get older, bone density certainly becomes an issue for many people (women more than men), which can lead to unexpected falls, broken bones and even the onset of osteoporosis. But studies have proven that doing regular, weight-bearing exercise like jogging, walking, aerobics, dancing and resistance training can actually strengthen your bones. It’s a true ‘use it or lose it’ scenario.

And while this benefit of strength training for older adults is a powerful one, it’s simply just one in a list of proven reasons why seniors should make strength training a part of their lifestyles and fitness regimens.

While a reduction in strength is often considered an inevitable part of getting older, it is important that people of all ages should feel empowered to take charge of their overall health (including strength training) as they age. Along with diet and regular check-ups with both a physician and a physical therapist, an exercise regimen that includes elements of strength and resistance training can help slow some of the effects of aging – this, while also allowing one to maintain a high quality of life through activity and independence.

Here some of the many proven benefits of weight-bearing and resistance exercise:

Rebuilding Muscle: People do lose muscle mass as they age, but much of this can be slowed and even reversed through strength and resistance exercise. And of course, a stronger body has a direct impact on issues related to balance, fall prevention and independence.

Reducing Fat: We also tend to more easily put on weight as we get older. Studies show, however, that while older adults gain muscle mass through strength training, they also experience a reduction in body fat.

Reducing Blood Pressure: Studies have also shown that strength training is a great (and natural) way to reduce one’s blood pressure, even for those who “can’t tolerate or don’t respond well to standard medications.”

Improving Cholesterol Levels: Strength training can actual help improve the level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the body by up to 21 percent, while also helping to reduce to levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Strengthening Mental Health: This goes with all exercise, including strength training. Maintaining a high level of fitness can combat anxiety, depression, issues with stress, etc. Exercise is also great for memory!

Whether walking, jogging, hiking, dancing, etc., we recommend 30 minutes of weight-bearing activity every day. It’s also necessary to set aside another two to three days of strength and resistance training each week, which can include free weights, weight machines, Pilates, yoga, and so on.

Why Knee Surgery is Not the End of Physical Fitness

Being the largest joint, the knee is one of the most important features in the human body. It is made of different bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Aside from a complex anatomy, the knee also absorbs the weight of our body and the shock from our movements, making it very vulnerable to injury.

As we pointed out on Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness, damaging the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most common injuries. A Grade 1-2 sprain will recover through a regimented physical treatment but a Grade 3 sprain or a complete tear of the ACL will not heal without rebuilding the ligament through surgery. The same holds true for other ligaments, with the medial collateral ligament (MCL) the second most commonly injured. One athlete that comes to mind is NBA player Kevin Durant, who suffered a Grade 2 sprain to his MCL last year. Since it was a partial tear, no surgery was required, and physical rehabilitation helped him achieve a full recovery.

Another anatomical feature that commonly gets injured is the meniscus. Each knee has two menisci, the medial and the lateral. A meniscus is a cartilage that acts as padding that protects the ends of the bones and prevents them from rubbing together. Dr. Nina Jullum Kise explains that performing surgery on a patient with a meniscal tear depends on whether it is degenerative or traumatic in nature. Degenerative tears normally occur with age, wear and tear and conditions such as arthritis. In this case, Dr. Kise states that exercise is a preferable treatment for patients to minimize further complications. She references a study that found physical therapy showed more success in reducing pain and improving strength and mobility than patients who underwent surgery.

On the other hand, surgical treatment is recommended for traumatic knee injuries caused by playing sports or accidents. Many well-known athletes have sustained injuries to their menisci and required surgery to recover. In 2016, Roger Federer announced his withdrawal from major tournaments due to a torn meniscus. The irony is that his injury happened at home in the bath and not while playing tennis. Nonetheless, the tennis pro underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and made a full recovery. It didn’t take long for the Swiss ace to reclaim his rank as #1 in the world, and Federer enjoyed a resurgent 2017 which also earned him the title of the highest paid tennis player that year. It’s a difficult decision for a professional athlete to take a long break from sports, but as you can see from Federer’s case, it is one that paid off in the long run.

However, injuries that require a total knee replacement (TKR) will most likely force you to choose a gentler form of exercise. It’s most commonly performed in people with knee arthritis where symptoms become too severe and painful that they affect a person’s mobility. Very Well Health lists down low-impact activities such as cycling, swimming and calisthenics that people who’ve had TKR can still do. On the other hand, sports such as basketball, football and jogging are not recommended.

It’s natural for athletes or active individuals to ask whether they’ll be able to return to an active lifestyle after a knee surgery. Depending on the type of injury and appropriate surgery, there are positive chances of making a full recovery. With time and care, you will be back on your feet and have the chance to rebuild yourself.

 

Blog post for kineticptgreenville.com by Millie Miles

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.

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!

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