As the weather cools off to comfortable fall temps, it's a great time to get outside for some exercise! Before you exercise, you can reduce the risk of injury (and make for a better exercise session) by doing a short warm up.
The old-school methods of a "warm-up" included a lot of static stretching, like reaching down and touching your toes. Think back to your gym classes or school athletics, is this what your warm-up looked like?
Research has shown that static stretching does not reduce the incidences of exercise-related injuries. Keep in mind that static stretching does have it's benefits (such as increasing range of motion), but it should not replace your warm-up.
So, what should a warm-up look like?
Think about your goal - you want to utilize the muscle groups that you will be working during your exercise session or activity, as well as gradually increase your heart rate. This will look different depending on what you're doing!
For example, if you are warming up for a run, your warm-up may look like a couple minutes of standing leg swings, some brisk walking/light jogging, or even some light exercises that target the muscle groups you'll be working (body weight squats, lunges, glute bridges, calf raises).
If you are going to play softball, a warm-up could include arm circles and several short bouts of jogging with acceleration. Basically, think about the movements you will be performing, and aim to use those muscles at a low intensity, and incorporate some exercises that will elevate your heart rate as well. Make your warm-up dynamic.
Lastly, planning your warm-up ahead of time will increase the chance that you actually take a few minutes to execute! Think through your activity and take a couple minutes to build a warm-up plan for yourself, to set yourself up for success in your exercise!
By: Lisa Pfotenhauer, Cert. Exercise Physiologist
McCrary JM, Ackermann BJ, Halaki M. A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. Br J Sports Med. 2015 Jul;49(14):935-42. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-094228. Epub 2015 Feb 18. PMID: 25694615.
Small K, Mc Naughton L, Matthews M. A systematic review into the efficacy of static stretching as part of a warm-up for the prevention of exercise-related injury. Res Sports Med. 2008;16(3):213-31. doi: 10.1080/15438620802310784. PMID: 18785063.
Woods K, Bishop P, Jones E. Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Sports Med. 2007;37(12):1089-99. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200737120-00006. PMID: 18027995.
We have all heard this phrase before - "I've fallen and I can't get up!" Many of us have probably even joked around with it! There is some seriousness to this phrase howevever - as we age there are many things in life that become more challenging. One of those that directly affects most people is BALANCE. Changes in balance, barring any significant injury or disease, come on naturally, and falls (including the subsequent recovery) can be very debilitating.
As we get older we are not as quick on our feet and cannot always catch ourselves if we "lose our balance." This often results in increased falls as we age. There are several reasons for this; the first and most obvious is that we lose strength and flexibility as we age.
The second reason is less obvious. These changes are harder to see and directly affect the three main components of our balance system. These are:
1. Inner ear or vestibular function
2. Eye sight
3. Join proprioception
These three systems decrease in efficiency as we age.
The good news is, that it is a slow process that happens very gradually in most people.
So now we must ask - what can we do to combat these natural changes, in order to prevent the chance of a fall?
No one wants to lose their ability to function at a high level. We all would love the agility and balance of a 10 year old, but that's not possible. The good news is there IS something that can be done: first, stay active! They say "use it or lose it," and that is very true when it comes to muscle and balance. The longer we stay active, the better shape we will be in.
Secondly, practice your balance. Like many things in life, the more you practice, the better you will get, and your balance is no exception!
We all see our ability to balance decrease as we age, however remember that there are simple steps that can be taken to slow or minimize this decline. For more information or exercise tips, come see your local physical therapist and get a customized program to improve balance and decrease risk of falls.
By: Brian Colvin, PT
We hear this saying almost every week in our clinic. We all want to be healthy, lose weight or be able to perform the activities we love.
But what does “getting in shape” mean? To some, it’s weight loss, to others it means running a marathon, or not be winded after what was once an easy activity. Being in-shape is unique to your needs and desires.
We are often hesitant to start because we have not defined what we want to achieve. Think about what would be a fulfilling goal and then write it down. Put your goal in front of you each day, and then take steps to accomplish it.
First, write down the ways you think you could achieve this goal. Today, let’s talk about weight loss. Weight loss requires considering both calories you take in and energy you expend to burn off those calories. You probably know what foods contribute to your gaining weight and if you are adverse to any types of exercise. List those areas, then list other options that may achieve the same goal. If you are not a jogger, then walking or bicycling is an option. If you have a sweet tooth for ice cream every night (like I do!), then try halving the amount or substituting a sweeter fruit instead. Think about an appealing option that may work for you now, BEFORE you are faced with the dilemma of choosing. That will make it easier when you are faced with the decision.
Determine to have at least one “victory”, that is choosing a better option when you want to go back to your usual habits. Typically, that success feels good. Remember that you were able to make a positive change. Plan for the next time you know you will be tempted to eat more or skip exercising. It will make it easier if you anticipate your decision ahead of time!
By: Steve Bartz, PT
Over the past year, Covid has turned all our lives upside-down! Every aspect of our lives has been affected – including our work environment. Our jobs and the way we perform them has been significantly changed.
A large amount of the workforces has transitioned over the last year to working from home, and in the world of physical therapy we have seen some of the consequences. We have experienced an increased amount of work-related injuries – not the normal sprains and strains, but rather in the form of neck injuries as well as upper- and lower-back injuries.
Many of these spine-related injuries involve a person’s home work station that it not optimized for hours of sitting. Lots of people are using a laptop or mobile device, sitting on the couch or at the kitchen table. Although the return to work movement is happening already for some people, others may never go back to the office 100% of the time. So, how do we solve these types of issues when it may be negatively affecting your health? Here are a few simple steps to try to improve the situation and avoid aches and pains while working remotely:
1. First, improve your work station. Try to work from a chair that fits you better. Sit up straight, and use a separate monitor if available so that you aren’t looking down at the monitor (creating neck tension over time).
2. Take frequent breaks. Your body is made for movement, and the worst thing for you to do (even is your posture is great) is to stay in one position for too long.
I recommend getting up and moving around every 30 minutes or so – that does not mean going for a mile walk every time, just take a minute or so to move around and get the blood flowing.
3. Lastly, throw in a few exercises to break up the work day. Here are three quick and easy to help improve posture and prevent back and neck pain:
1. Shoulder blade pinches: Simply squeeze the should blades together 10-15x.
2. Backward shoulder rolls: Roll the shoulders backwards while sitting, repeat 10-15x.
3. Standing back bends: Stand up, place hands on hips and bend backwards 5-8x.
If these simple steps are followed, we can all work more effectively from home and stay injury-free! If you have a work from home injury, don’t hesitate to call your local physical therapist! Let us know if we can help you: 616-662-0990.
By: Brian Colvin, PT
It’s amazing how golfers have transformed the modern game by focusing on their bodies. Today’s golfers are much more physically fit and athletic than they were even 20-30 years ago. Back then it was often hard to discern a professional golfer from an “average Joe” just by their physique. Current golfers, however, are typically fit and athletic, and are very devoted to working out and eating right. The emphasis on fitness has resulted in massive gains in yardage. Golfers such as Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau look more like linebackers, and they hit the ball a country mile.
So, you might ask, how does that apply to all of the non-professional golfers out there? Well, most golfers would love to hit the ball further, and the good news is that we can, simply by devoting more time to our bodies. However, it doesn’t mean that we have to become massively muscular. Probably the most important factor in producing optimal speed to hit the ball a long way is flexibility. This includes being flexible in the spine, shoulders, & hips. A golfer such a Will Zalatoris, who recently nearly won the Masters, is a good example. Despite being very thin, he is incredibly flexible and has great mechanics, which enable him to be a big hitter.
One of the main reasons that people lose distance as they age is that they become much less flexible. As a result, their swing becomes much “shorter”, and they cannot produce nearly enough speed to hit the ball far. Even if they were strong, the lack of flexibility prevents the production of a full swing with lots of rotation. The optimal situation is to be both exceptionally flexible and very strong.
Physical Therapy can be very helpful with both of these areas. We are trained to assess your flexibility and prescribe exercises to improve it. Becoming more flexible in the spine, shoulders, and hips will allow you to create more rotation with better mechanics. Most golfers develop compensations in their golf swing because they lack the flexibility to produce the proper mechanics that they strive for. For example, you to take a lesson with the best golf instructor out there, and he could tell you exactly what you need to do, yet you may not be capable of doing it because you lack the flexibility to do so. So improving your flexibility is the most important first step that you can take. Once you have made those improvements, then an investment in lessons can be much more effective.
The other key component to address is strength. Interestingly, many people would think that improving their upper body strength would produce the best results. However, improving core strength and lower body strength is the key. Once you have completed your backswing, the downswing should be initiated by your core and hips, not your arms. A strong core will result in a fast, powerful swing. Unfortunately, most people do not have a strong core, which limits their distance potential.
This article is obviously just a glimpse of the overall picture. But if it is interesting to you, we would love to help you out. The best starting point is a Physical Therapy Evaluation to assess your flexibility, strength, and movement patterns. From there we will be able to focus on the areas that you need to work on to make the gains that you desire. Give us a call if you would like to explore this further!
By: Mason Riegel, PT
Low back pain has become one of the largest causes of pain and disability in the United States. Billions of dollars are spent on trying to care for and remedy this issue. People are advised by friends, coworkers, and physicians to seek out certain types of treatment such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, medicines, diets, or other newfound treatment approaches.
So what to do? If your back is hurting which track do you pursue?
While pain can be a very complex problem there have been ways that consistently show how someone can at least better manage their pain if not altogether get rid of it. The Journal of Pain Research has proposed factors to consider when deciding how to address your pain.
Another area can be more of an environmental factor such as work satisfaction, perceptions or demands at your job or even the attitudes of your employer. These can cause a higher risk or predictability of pain.
Some people also say, “I have a ‘high’ or ‘low’ tolerance for pain.” These pain-related beliefs and attitudes can have a real effect on someone’s ability to recover from a painful condition. Often time someone’s expectations, beliefs, or perception of their condition can have a direct effect on their ability to overcome the condition.
Our attitude as physical therapists is to educate each individual on their specific condition, so they understand what will positively and negatively influence their symptoms. Also, we promote that the person have an ACTIVE involvement in trying to manage their care. Many studies have shown that individuals who actively participate in managing their condition do better than those who passively receive care.
You may be faced with many recommended options to help take care of your back pain. We would recommend that you first understand that there can be many causes of your back pain and especially many things influencing the level of your perception of pain. We feel a conservative approach such as physical therapy often helps people to manage or alleviate their symptoms. If physical therapy doesn’t work for you, there are other options that you can pursue as well.
Give us a call to sign up for a free consultation if you'd like one of our physical therapists to sit down and talk with you about your low back pain, and discuss what PT can do for you.
By: Steve Bartz, PT
It's been a cold week! Often times the freezing temps lock us up indoors and we become less active.
Staying active during the colder months not only helps you stay physically healthy (think cardiovascular benefits, lowers blood pressure, helps with weight management, lowers risk of developing osteoporosis, strengthens bones and muscles and lowers risk of falls), but regular exercise also has many psychological benefits, including:
1. Stairs: Go up one flight of stairs 2x.
2. Rows: Bend at the hips with a slight bend in your knees. With weights in hand (use light weights or soup cans/water bottles), slowly lift weights straight up and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift. Repeat for 15 reps.
3. Skaters: Find some space to jump side-to side, focusing on pushing laterally and stabilizing yourself as you land (make sure you have good shoes and a non-slippery surface for this one!) Repeat 10x each direction.
*Modification: if this is too high-intensity, take it down a notch with side steps - step right, gather feet, then raise you left up and down. Step left, gather feet, then do a right knee raise. Repeat 10x.
4. Squat + Shoulder Press: Complete a squat (send hips back, watch for knee to stay over toes). At the top drive light weights (or soup cans, water bottles) overhead aiming to get your elbows near your ears. Repeat for 10 reps.
5. High Plank Hold: Pushing through your shoulder, hold a plank position - aim for 30 seconds (if this is easy, bump it up to 1 minute!) Make sure you are not sagging your hips - to avoid this, squeeze your abs. Complete one 30-60 second plank per round. (Or combine multiple planks to add up to 30 second if this is difficult!)
Like this workout, or have other exercises you like to do in your house? Leave a comment below, we love to hear from you!
By: Lisa Pfotenhauer, Cert. Exercise Physiologist
Kredlow, A., Capozzoli, M., Hearon, B., Calkins, A., Otto, M. (2015, January 18). The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. J Behav Med.
Slentz, C., Houmard, J., Kraus, W. (2019, December). Exercise, abdominal obesity, skeletal muscle, and metabolic risk: evidence for a dose response. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2009.385
Booth, F. W., Roberts, C. K., & Laye, M. J. (2012). Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases. Comprehensive Physiology. https://doi.org/10.1002/cphy.c110025
Sharma, A., Madaan, V., and Petty, F. (2006). Exercise for Mental Health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
We are happy to announce that we have begun to perform telehealth evaluation and treatment sessions. For those individuals who are not able to come into our physical therapy clinic because of concerns of COVID-19, we are able to set up an easy remote link with you via your phone or computer.
You do not have to have computer expertise to do this. If you can check your emails or a phone text, all you have to do is click on a link. We can walk you through the process and it only takes a couple of seconds.
If you’re continuing to have pain and have been unable or not wishing to go to physical therapy because of the current health climate, please give us a call and we will schedule you a telehealth visit! 616-662-0990
By: Steve Bartz, PT
This year we are bringing physical therapy to your home!
We are now delivering the same great one-on-one care that patients receive at the clinic to your home!
Our goal is to provide people who are having difficulty getting to our clinic access to physical therapy. In some cases the patient will be seen entirely at home, while in other cases it can be used as a bridge to get them mobile enough to come into the clinic. In either case, the goal is always the same, to make sure that our patients are getting high quality one-on-one care from a licensed physical therapist and helping them reach their goals and return to their favorite activities.
By: Brian Colvin, PT
Did you know that you can come to physical therapy without a referral from your doctor? Just a few years ago the law changed in Michigan from requiring a doctor’s referral for all physical therapy, to being able to begin physical therapy without a referral from your doctor, and continue for 21 days or 10 visits (whichever comes first).
One question we often get about direct access is “Do I need a referral for my insurance?"
In MOST cases, no. Insurances that allow direct access (21 consecutive days of PT) include Medicare, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Priority Health, PH-Medicare, United Health Care, and more.
Some insurances that DO require a referral for all physical therapy visits (including the first 21 days) include Blue Care Network, Medicare Plus Blue, and ASR.
If yours is not listed here, call and ask us, and we can check for you.
If your insurance is one that does require a referral and you are not able to obtain one, you can always come at our self-pay rate.
Why is direct access helpful to you?
Michigan has some of the most limiting laws for direct access (given that it’s only for 21 days/10 visits, compared to most states that have unlimited direct access), but it is still very helpful. You may choose to use direct access to PT because:
• Getting into the doctor might take days or weeks and your pain is a problem now
• You want to save money on the office copay
• It’s an injury you’ve had before and know the musculoskeletal and movement experts can help you (that’s us!)
• Some injuries and conditions may get worse over time, and you want to get it looked at right away
• It allows YOU to take control of your health and take steps toward finding out what could be causing your pain, and how to treat it
If you have any questions about direct access, give us a call and we can help answer them: 616-662-0990.
We want to make physical therapy readily available to you, with a goal of helping you recover fully and be independent!
By: Lisa Pfotenhauer
Steve Bartz, PT