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Your PT Can Help You Keep Your Resolution

Your Physical Therapist Can Help You Keep Your Resolution

As one year comes to a close and another begins, people begin to set goals and make resolutions. Losing weight, getting to the gym more often or getting into “better shape” are all common. These all require increasing your amount of physical activity. More activity is great for your health, energy levels, sleep, and mood. However, ramping up your activity level too quickly after a holiday season of eating, drinking and being merry can lead to pain, injury and disappointment if your body isn’t ready for it.

Your physical therapist is an expert in human movement, and can help you safely reach your fitness goals. People think of PTs as the person to see after an injury, but a visit before you change your activity level could prevent injury in the first place. An evaluation by your PT will include assessment of your strength, range of motion, and functional movement patterns – think jumping, running, squatting, carrying. Some PTs even like to use a standardized assessment, such as the Functional Movement Screen.

Most common injuries from new fitness routines are caused by underlying weakness, range of motion deficits, or compensatory movement patterns. Your PT will find these during your assessment. They can then prescribe exercises or movements to address the issues found and get you safely moving into the new year!

The other common way people get injured working towards their resolution is with overtraining, or doing too much too soon. Physical therapists are also experts in exercise prescription and program design. Your PT can help you create a routine specific to your needs and goals that will progress appropriately and keep you out of trouble.

So stop only thinking of your PT after you’re injured. In this case, it’s true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Seeing your physical therapist before you start on your resolution can keep you on track, injury free, and help you reach your goals for the new year!

What’s a Movement Diagnosis?

Medical diagnoses don’t need much of an introduction. They’re what you get from your doctor when you’re sick. Examples would be influenza, diabetes, or hypertension. They describe the underlying problem that is causing your symptoms.

When people feel sick, they know they need to go to the doctor and find out what’s going on to get treated. We should treat movement the same way. If you’re having pain when you move, can’t do things you used to be able to – like get on and off the floor easily, or can’t do things you want to do – like go for a bike ride or pick up a grandchild then you need to get a movement diagnosis.

A movement diagnosis does the same thing as a medical diagnosis; it describes what’s causing your difficulty with movement. Some examples would be difficulty standing from a chair secondary to decreased force production, scapular down rotation syndrome, or lower crossed syndrome.

Diagnoses set the roadmap for treatment, so getting them right is crucial. Human movement is complex and is influenced by more than just your muscles and joints. According to the APTA, movement is impacted by the following systems:

– Endocrine
– Nervous
– Cardiovascular
– Pulmonary
– Integumentary
– Musculoskeletal

Because of the complexity and interplay between these components of the movement system, getting a movement diagnosis correct is often very difficult. Physical therapists are experts in human movement with doctoral level training and should be your first stop for movement issues. Not only can a physical therapist provide an accurate movement diagnosis, they will also design a treatment plan to correct the underlying issues and help get you moving well again.

References:

http://www.neuropt.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/movement-system-diagnosis-in-neurologic-physical-therapy-where-are-we.pdf?sfvrsn=0

https://journals.lww.com/jnpt/FullText/2018/04000/White_Paper__Movement_System_Diagnoses_in.9.aspx

http://www.apta.org/MovementSystem/

http://www.apta.org/MovementSystem/Template/

Are You a New Year’s Resolution Newbie, Master or Flunkee

Are You a New Year’s Resolution Newbie, Master or Flunkee?

Turning the page on the new year is a chance to wipe the slate clean—and to be better versions of ourselves. And when it comes to what we want to improve, goals that fall in the health and wellness arena top all other New Year’s resolutions. In fact, three of the top four resolutions in a 2018 YouGov poll were health-related: eat healthier (1), get more exercise (2) and focus on self-care, e.g., get more sleep (4).

There are three types of people who choose a goal from the health and wellness category as a New Year’s resolution: the resolution newbie, the resolution master and the resolution flunkee. Let’s see which category you most identify with—and how focusing on the right strategy can help you get healthier in the new year.

Resolution Newbie. Maybe this is your first time making a commitment to your health and wellness. Good for you! Did a recent event like a health scare or loss of a loved one make you see the light? Or perhaps you want to be more active to enjoy activities with your grandchildren or to carry your own bag on the golf course. Whatever your goals are, taking that first step is a big one so you’ll want to be sure that you’re prepared for the challenge. Particularly when exercising for the first time or returning to an active lifestyle after a long hiatus, it’s important to have the proper information and tools to be successful. And that means tapping the healthcare resources available to you: Clinicians like nutritionists and physical therapists can make sure that your body is prepared to take on new challenges and work with you to a design a program that will help you achieve your goals.

Resolution Master. Perhaps you fall into a different camp: You vowed to get healthy in 2018 and you achieved it! For 2019, your resolution is to continue the work you’ve begun. After all, living a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment; it’s not something you do for a while and then revert back to your former habits. As you prepare to embrace the new year, are there any small tweaks you can make to advance your goals? Maybe you’re thinking about training for and running a half marathon, but don’t know where to begin. A physical therapy evaluation is a great place to start—PTs are trained to assess your movement patterns and identify any limitations or weaknesses. Based on that information, the PT can design a personalized exercise program to help you safely and effectively prepare for the grueling half marathon course.

Resolution Flunkee. Let’s say your plan for 2019 is to get in better shape and improve your overall health (we support that resolution!), but this isn’t your first rodeo. Your 2018 resolution was pretty similar but it’s one year later, and you’re in the same place you were on New Year’s Eve 2017. What stood in your way—was it time? Affordable options? Access to healthy choices and activities? If any of these barriers sound familiar, then along with your resolution, you need an action plan. Without planning ahead, you’ll find yourself staring down the year 2020 with the same goal in mind. But let’s not focus only on the negative—what went right last year? Maybe you made sleep a priority, which in turn helped you to make better food choices at breakfast but by afternoon, you found yourself choosing to energize with a soda and candy bar when all you probably needed was an apple and a 15-minute walk. Take some time to think about the previous year—good and bad—and take with you what you need, and leave the rest behind. Afterall, you can’t plan where you’re going without understanding where you’ve been.

Which resolution type are you?

Your Smart Phone Could Be Rapidly Aging Your Spine

Your Smart Phone Could Be Rapidly Aging Your Spine

Chances are that you probably haven’t given much thought to how your neck and back are faring in the
era of the smart phone, but studies show that you most certainly should. It’s practically a reflex these
days to pull out our smart phones when we’re standing in line, sitting at the airport or riding the
subway. And while it’s great that we rarely need to venture beyond our pockets for entertainment, our
bodies are beginning to retaliate—and mourn the pre-texting days.

So, what exactly are these contemporary conveniences doing to our bodies? A surgeon-led study that
published in Surgical Technology International assessed what impact surgeons’ head and neck posture
during surgery—a posture similar to that of smart-phone texters—has on their cervical spines. With
each degree that our heads flex forward (as we stare at a screen below eye level), the strain on our
spines dramatically increases. When an adult head (that weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position)
tilts forward at 30 degrees, the weight seen by the spine climbs to a staggering 40 pounds, according to
the study.

How pervasive of a problem is this? According to the study, the average person spends 14 to 28 hours
each week with their heads tilted over a laptop, smart phone or similar device. Over the course of a
year, that adds up to 700 to 1400 hours of strain and stress on our spines. As a result, the number of
people dealing with headaches, achy necks and shoulders and other associated pain has skyrocketed.
Trained to address postural changes and functional declines, physical therapists are well-versed in
treating this modern-day phenomenon, widely known as “text neck.”

Over time, this type of poor posture can have a cumulative effect, leading to spine degeneration,
pinched nerves and muscle strains. Scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist can help people
learn how to interact with their devices without harming their spines. The PT will prescribe an at-home
program that includes strategies and exercises that focus on preserving the spine and preventing longterm damage.
Exercise is an important part of taking care of our spines as we age, but what we do when we’re not in
motion matters, too. So next time you pick up your smart phone or curl up with your e-reader, do a
quick check of your head and neck posture. Your body will thank you for years to come.

How Physical Therapy Helps Retirees Keep Dreams Alive During the Golden Years

How Physical Therapy Helps Retirees Keep Dreams Alive During the Golden Years

Are you among the millions of Americans who have high aspirations for how you’ll spend the extra time during your post-retirement years? Whether you plan to travel the world, pick up fly fishing, spend more time woodworking or sign up for a golf league, your physical fitness level will be a factor.

A 2010 study suggests that the fitness declines we typically attribute to advancing age are largely caused by living sedentary lifestyles—which are on the rise due to the prominence of desk jobs in the workplace and activity-limiting personal technologies including smart phones and voice-activated remote controls in the home. Still, this runs contrary to the widely held belief that any declines in our physical abilities are caused solely by biological aging. Do we really have control over how active we’ll be in our “golden years”?

In a word, absolutely. The study—which examined 900,000 running times of marathon and half-marathon participants aged 20 to 79—found no significant age-related performance declines in those younger than 55 years old, and only moderate declines among the older cohorts. In fact, more than one-quarter of runners aged 65 to 69 were faster than half of the runners aged 20 to 54.

And for those thinking that these runners must have been lifelong enthusiasts of the sport, the study revealed that 25% of runners aged 50 to 69 were relative newcomers—and had started marathon training within the previous 5 years. The researchers concluded that even at an advanced age, people in the “non-athlete” category who engage in regular training can reach high performance levels.

If this revelation is intriguing, then perhaps it’s time for you to get moving! If you aren’t currently active, then you likely have questions and concerns about where to start. And if you regularly engage in physical activities, then you’ve probably set goals that you’d like to achieve. Either way, there’s no shortage of tools and resources to help you live a more active lifestyle but one reliable place to start is with a physical therapist.

The benefits of beginning with a physical therapist consultation are many: PTs are trained to assess your abilities and limitations, consider your health concerns, demonstrate safe exercises and build a plan to increase strength, function and mobility. Whatever your passion is, physical therapy will help you be fit and injury-free so you may enjoy life’s many pursuits.

Ready, Set, Refresh! How Physical Therapy Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

When the calendar year comes to a close, we often find ourselves physically and mentally depleted from the holidays and the end-of-the-year rush. It’s no wonder that three of the most common self-improvement resolutions uttered as the clock strikes midnight are: eat more healthily, lose weight and commit to a regular exercise program.

January is a great time to press the restart button and revisit our ongoing quest to be better versions of ourselves, and not just because the longstanding New Year’s Eve tradition tells us to. Each year, however, Americans struggle to turn the goals they’ve set out for themselves into long-term change. In fact, according to Statistic Brain Research Institute, of the 41% of Americans who make resolutions each year, just 9.2% successfully achieve their objectives.

When it comes to committing to a regular exercise program, don’t become a statistic! For those looking to make exercise a regular habit, enlisting help in achieving your goals is one way to ensure success. You might consider recruiting an exercise buddy (to make you accountable), using a calendar app to schedule workouts (to dedicate time in your day) or consulting a healthcare professional (to supervise your program and keep you safe).

Physical therapy is a great resource for those interested in beginning a new exercise program or overcoming a nagging injury. Rehab professionals are trained to assess limitations and dysfunction, teach proper body mechanics and prevent—and treat—injuries. Your physical therapist will ask about any issues you’re encountering, evaluate your functional abilities, gather a thorough medical history and discuss your fitness and activity goals.

One rule of thumb is to start slow—particularly if you’re trying a new form of exercise or haven’t been active for some time. And once you start to form the habit of regular activity, mix it up by engaging in multiple activities rather than focusing on one. Many lingering injuries occur because of overuse or repetitive stress, most often at the hands of participating in one activity—such as running or biking—exclusively.

If you’re experiencing pain, inflammation or weakness, make an appointment to be evaluated by a physical therapist. The movement specialist will assess and identify the cause of the nagging injury and teach you how to modify your behavior to distribute stress to different parts of the body and reduce the repetitive nature of your movement patterns.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean putting your resolution to exercise regularly on hold. Your PT can work with you to identify an appropriate fitness program, including the safest frequency, intensity and duration of each workout session. The best part? There will be no excuses because you’ll have all the tools you need to be make this your most fit year yet.