Ever been lectured about the importance of stretching before physical activity? I know I have!
But what we may not realize or understand is how important it is not only before strenuous activity but also just making it a daily routine.
Stretching helps with keeping the muscles strong and flexible. We need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles and become tight and the chance of injury is increased.
Stretching before exercise: Stretching helps prepare your body for the exercise it's about to get so you won’t get injured. Make your pre-exercise stretching DYNAMIC.
Stretching after exercise: Reduces muscle fatigue along with helping your muscles recover faster after a difficult workout.
Benefits of stretching as a morning routine:
• Improve your energy levels
• Reduce soreness and increase blood circulation – Helps your muscles to relax and improves blood flow
• Relieve stress – Improving blood flow like I mentioned above can make you feel more at ease
• Enhance your flexibility - Increasing flexibility helps prevent injuries
• Improve your posture – Stretching your muscles in the lower back, shoulders and chest, can keep your back healthy and improve your posture
It may seem overwhelming to see all of this information and truly understand why stretching is important but if you just get into a routine, it may be hard at first, but it will pay off in the end to not get injured and feel better all around.
By: Rebecca Popma
Most of us have heard of shin splints, but I’ll bet than many don’t really understand what shin splints are. Typically if a patient describes pain in the front of the lower leg, it will be diagnosed as shin splints. Let’s talk about the causes and treatment of this condition.
This condition is common in people who do a lot of running, as well as with people who have jobs that involve excessive standing or walking. The pain is typically felt in the front of the lower leg bone, the tibia. It is often described as a throbbing pain, or a deep ache, but also can produce sharp pain as well. The interesting thing is that although the pain feels as if it is coming from the bone, it is typically produced by the soft tissues that attach to the bone. This includes the tibialis posterior muscle, which is attached on the posterior (back) side of the tibia bone. This muscle is active whenever we are bearing weight on our leg. It helps to keep the arch of our foot from collapsing during weight bearing. People who have flat feet/arches would be more prone to developing this condition, as the tibialis posterior muscle will work hard to try to support the collapsing arch.
In terms of treatment, there are a couple of things to consider. First, a precautionary X-Ray or bone scan is often a good idea, as repetitive stress on the shin (especially in long distance runners) can lead to a stress fracture. If this is ruled out, then we treat the soft tissue problem. As always, we want to identify the cause of the problem, not just treat the symptoms. Patients can take anti-inflammatory meds, or ice the painful area, but these will only provide temporary relief and will not address the cause of the pain. We first need to look at the lower leg and foot alignment to see if an orthotic is indicated. If a patient has poor foot structure (especially flat arches, but sometimes excessively high arches), a shoe insert to support the arch can relieve stress from the lower leg muscles (tibialis posterior) that have to work excessively to support the arch. We also want to make sure that the patient has full range of motion and flexibility in the lower leg/ankle/foot region, as well as good muscle strength in the lower leg/ankle/foot region. A gait evaluation and possibly a running assessment are also indicated to identify abnormalities which may be contributing to the condition.
If you have been dealing with shin pain, please give us a call so that we can help you! This can be a difficult condition to treat, but it is treatable, especially with the help of an excellent physical therapist.
By: Mason Riegel, PT
Meet the Therapist: Steve Bartz, PT
Steve founded Hudsonville Physical Therapy in 1994 and has been practicing physical therapy for 33 years, after graduating from Grand Valley State University. We asked him a few questions so you can get to know him better!
1. What is your favorite diagnosis to treat, and why?
I like treating complex patients with low back or neck problems, because we can often achieve dramatic improvements in a short period of time with physical therapy.
2. What is the McKenzie approach you sometimes use?
The McKenzie approach aims to diagnose people based on their movement preferences and symptoms. It’s a disciplined approach to try to identify types of tissue dysfunctions that would affect someone’s pain and limit his or her function. It’s becoming more widely used in rehabilitation because it is effective and efficient.
3. What is your vision for Hudsonville Physical Therapy?
My vision is for our clinic to provide the top quality, most personalized care to each individual we see. I want Hudsonville Physical Therapy to be a warm and friendly environment, especially with the changes in healthcare delivery that we see. Care is becoming more institutionalized, formalized, and less personalized. I want Hudsonville PT to be the best in the world at delivering highly effective, individualized, and caring physical therapy.
4. What are some of your hobbies or favorite activities to do outside of work?
My favorite hobby is spending time with my family, including my two new twin grandchildren. Outside of work you can find me hiking, biking, hunting, and backpacking – and running, although I’m not sure I actually like it!
1. What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a term many people are familiar with – it’s when one’s bones become weak and brittle from losing too much bone (becoming too “porous” – hence the term osteoporosis), or from making too little bone. It is dangerous because weak bones are more susceptible to breaking from falls, bumps, and accidents. Also, it can affect vertebrae and lead to hunched posture, often resulting in pain. Osteoporosis is especially prevalent in women and older populations.
There are MANY causes of osteoporosis, and it can occur in conjunction with dozens of different medical conditions and medications. This is an important conversation to have with your primary care physician to see if you are putting your bone health at risk.
2. How is it treated, and how is it prevented?
Half of women over 50 who have osteoporosis will break a bone. If you know you do have osteoporosis, is your condition hopeless or is there something you can do to take care of your bones?
Osteoporosis cannot be “cured”, but there are measures one can take to treat it. Doctors sometimes prescribe medications (bisphosphonates, prolia, forteo, estrogen-like drugs, fortical, and more) that work either by preventing the breaking down of bone or by increasing the building of bone, but all come with side effects. Depending on the severity of your osteoporosis, a medication treatment may be worth discussing with your doctor. Each person is unique, and a different treatment may work better for one person than another
Nutrition is another key component of treating (and preventing) osteoporosis! Calcium is the “building block of bone”, and your body needs vitamin D to help absorb the calcium. Daily multi-vitamins are one way to ensure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D, but here are some foods that are calcium-rich and vitamin D-rich (and don’t forget good old sunshine!) Most adults should aim for 1000-1200 mg of calcium, and 400-1000 IU of vitamin D daily.
Lastly, exercise is key for keeping your bones strong. Proper and consistent exercise not only strengthen your bone density but also will strengthen the muscles and tendons that connect to and support your bones, relieving pressure from your joints. Exercise for treatment and prevention of osteoporosis should include two types of exercise: weight-bearing exercise, and muscle-strengthening exercise.
Weight-bearing exercise puts stress on your bones - "good stress". This stress increases production of bone - increasing your bone density and mass or reducing the loss of bone mass. (If you want to learn more about how bone production and loss work check out this video on bone remodeling!) To exercise and use this "good stress" on your bones, do activities like running, walking, tennis, dancing, or anything repetitive on your feet. The impact on your bones actually makes them stronger. HOWEVER, if you suffer severe osteoporosis, you should consult your doctor about what exercises are safe for you to participate in. Running may not be the best exercise for someone with severe osteoporosis who is at a high risk of breaking a bone.
Muscle-strengthening exercise (“resistance” exercise), should be done for the whole body. If you’re just going to do a little bit, focus on complex movements and large muscle groups. Strengthening the legs, hips, and glutes are going to give you the support you need and this lower body strength may help prevent falls! Core and upper body strengthening are also important. If you already have osteoporosis, consider adding some fall-prevention exercises to your day, like balancing on one foot.
If you do not have osteoporosis now, remember that the best solution is prevention!
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP
National Osteoporosis Foundation: What is Osteoporosis and What Causes It? 2018;
The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research: Response to New England Journal of Medicine Study: “Biphosphonates: Where Do We Go From Here?” 2012;
Endocrine Web: The Role of Calcium and Vitamin D in Bone Health: Nutrients for Osteoporosis Prevention, P. Camacho, MD, D. Toft MD, PhD
WebMD: Osteoporosis: Diagnosis and Treatment, 2017
We all know someone who complains their joints start to hurt when it gets cold, so let’s figure out exactly what that means.
Fact or Myth: Cold weather causes your joints to hurt.
Trick question! Cold weather itself actually does not make your joints hurt but it is the drop in barometric pressure that causes your joint pain to worsen. For those who may not know, barometric pressure is just another term for atmospheric pressure or “weight of the air.” So it is not just the imagination causing people to think their joints are aching due to cold weather.
So how do we help this problem?
1. Ease the shock of cold weather on your body – dress in layers
2. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on your joints
3. Apply heat pads to the painful areas to relax the muscles
4. Stretch before going outside to loosen stiff joints so they don’t become even more stiff
5. HYDRATE! – staying hydrated helps keep inflammation away
Another important tip to focus on is not losing what you have gained in the summer and fall, try to keep working out and staying active even if it’s difficult. You will get even stiffer and it will be harder to get back to the place you were in when the weather was warmer and it will also reduce the frequency with your flare ups.
It is that time of the year again! As the leaves change and the temperature drops, those of us who hunt head off into the woods. Whether you’re a meat hunter or after that allusive trophy buck, there are a couple things to keep in mind as you prepare for hunting season. We see hunters for two different types of injuries.
The first group are the over-use or “over doing it” group. Let’s not forget what we have done for the 11 months prior to hunting season. If you are a sedentary person you can’t expect your body to respond well when you put on an extra 10-15 lbs. of gear and try to head thru the woods for miles at a time. Or more insane, trying to drag that 150 lb. deer out of the woods all by yourself. We see a lot of muscle strains and sprains from over use. Worst of all, a couple of hunters each year suffer from a heart attack while trying to overdo it. So be smart if you want to do a fair amount of walking during the hunting season. Get out and do some walking before you step out into the woods for the first time. Second, if you get that deer, get help and don’t try to drag it out of the woods by yourself.
The second group is the fall out of the tree stand group. This group is the one we see the most of in the clinic. It usually results in multiple serious injuries. There are a couple of things to keep in mind to reduce these incidents. First, inspect your equipment. For example, make sure your stand is solid, and make sure you have a safe way to get in and out of your stand. Inspect your tree, and don’t wait until the leaves are off. Check it out early in the season and make sure the tree you are using is alive, healthy, and does not have a bunch of dead limbs. Lastly, and most important, wear a harness. This is a simple thing that can save your life and prevent serious injury.
These are just a couple simple ideas to make your hunting trip safer and more enjoyable. Good luck this Fall!
By: Brian Colvin, PT
Physical therapy has been shown to be an effective means to help manage chronic pain. With today’s increasing dependence on opioid medication, there has been significant concern about dependency and addiction to these drugs. The American Physical Therapy Association has developed a white paper titled: Beyond Opioids: How Physical Therapy Can Transform Pain Management to Improve Health. The study shows how a physical therapist can identify and intervene.
Some of the risk factors that physical therapist can help identify include:
Once the contributors to someone’s pain is identified, the physical therapist can design an individualized treatment program combining the most appropriate techniques including exercise, manual therapy, and patient education.
If you’re dealing with persistent pain, whether you’re on pain medications or not, give us a call to see if we can help you manage, reduce, and eliminate your pain: 616-662-0990.
By: Steve Bartz, PT
Unfortunately, knee pain is common. The good news is, many cases of knee pain can be prevented, treated, and reduced or eliminated with proper treatment and exercise!
Here are a few tips for dealing with you knee pain. Remember, knee pain has many causes, and if you’re dealing with acute pain, severe pain, or knee pain from trauma, you should see your doctor or physical therapist to find the cause of your knee pain.
Air squats Backward lunges
Glute bridges Single leg balance
Calf raises Donkey kicks
Calf stretch 1 Calf stretch 2
Quad stretch Hamstring stretch
When should you see a doctor? If your pain is new, very painful, or persistent, it is a good idea to see a doctor or physical therapist right away and get advice on what treatment you may require or what your next steps should be.
By: Lisa Bartz, Certified Exercise Physiologist (C-EP)
In this day and age we are so used to a pill to help us “heal” anything and everything. For many injuries and pain, pills can minimize the discomfort but do not take care of the real issue. When you don’t want to rely on medication and want to take care of the real problem, there is physical therapy.
So what is physical therapy exactly?
Physical therapy is noninvasive treatment for the body using movement, stretching, and strengthening to rehabilitate. Your therapist works with you to improve your flexibility, strength, and function.
What are the benefits of physical therapy?
Why would people choose physical therapy over surgery or medication?
A lot of the time, people just want a “quick fix”. Physical therapy can be as quick as one or two visits, or in some cases can take a 2 or 3 visits per week for a couple months. It is not a magic pill and it can take time and putting in the work, but in the end it is often quicker and less expensive than the alternatives. A few reasons to consider physical therapy include:
Dealing with pain? Give us a call to set up a FREE consultation to see if physical therapy is the best option to effectively treat and eliminate the source of your problem. You may be able to avoid surgery, medications, and the discomfort of living with your pain or issue. 616-662-0990
By: Becca Popma
It is interesting to walk into a gym and watch how people exercise. Some people hurry through their reps, while others are very slow and precise. Some look as though they are using their entire body when exercising, while some are very still and have few moving parts. The common theme is that people can look very different when performing the same exercise. So, you might be asking, which is the best way?
I’m glad you asked, because I am very passionate about performing exercises correctly. First of all, it’s important to do things correctly so you do not injure yourself. Using poor form, or too much weight with an exercise (which will create poor form) will often lead to injuries. Secondly, using incorrect form involves compensation, which we will discuss further. Third, if you hurry through your reps, you will not get nearly as much benefit as if you do slow, controlled reps.
Let’s examine each of these points further. In terms of form, we want to not only perform the exercise correctly in order to achieve the desired results, but we also don’t want to injure ourselves. Proper exercise technique not only maximizes the benefit of the exercise, but it puts you in the safest position to perform the exercise. Using the proper amount of weight will allow you to use correct form and avoid compensation, which can lead to injury.
People often compensate when they have a weak muscle or group of muscles. The body is very good at compensating, but unfortunately long term compensation will lead to dysfunction, which leads to pain. An example would be someone with shoulder weakness. Say they are performing shoulder presses, and the shoulder cannot handle the amount of stress that is being placed upon it. The brain will tell other muscles to help, which could include the neck muscles or even the low back. Continued performance of this compensation can lead to issues in other areas of the body.
Tempo of exercise is also important. The most common error is to perform the exercise too fast. This often involves using momentum to swing the weight upward, and allowing the weight to fall back down. Proper technique involves controlling the weight; lifting it slowly and precisely, then lowering it down slowly and precisely. Slow, controlled exercise is much more safe and effective. I would much rather see someone perform 10 slow, controlled reps than 30 fast, uncontrolled reps.
That is just a quick summary of the importance of exercise form. If you would like more information, or would like to have us check out your exercise form, we have the PT’s for you! Give us a call at 616-662-0990 and we’ll make sure that you’re getting the maximum benefit from your exercises!
By: Mason Riegel, PT
FMS Level 1 & 2 Certified, SFMA Certified
Steve Bartz, PT