Alternative Treatment

October 1 2017

Several months ago, I received a call from an advertiser who wanted to sell ad space in his publication. He gave me the normal spiel of how they reach X number of consumers in X square miles from your business, so your ad really only costs X dollars per potential customer, etc, etc. But then he went for what he thought would be his home run closer: “If you purchase an ad today, I’ll give you an exclusive,” he said. “You’ll be the only alternative treatment in the publication!”

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Stretching: Static or Dynamic?

June 27 2014

Even if you’re not a yoga aficionado, pretty much everyone knows how good stretching can feel. Whether it’s that first stretch after waking up in the morning or that epic stretch after working for too long at the computer, stretching relaxes muscles, releases tension, and makes us feel better. It makes sense to think, “Hey, I like stretching! I should do more of that!” If you want to incorporate stretching into your daily life and reap benefits like increased agility, reduced risk of injury, and improved circulation, you’ve made a great decision. But where do you start?

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Understanding Concussions

June 5 2014

Last year, over 4,000 retired NFL players (many suffering from memory loss, depression, and other issues) sued the league, claiming it had concealed the dangers of concussions and pressured injured players to quickly return to the game. Since news of the lawsuit broke, concussions have become the hot button topic of the sports world. How do you protect players without compromising the fun and excitement of the game? Should kids be allowed to play contact sports? What are the real risks? In order to understand the issues surround this subject, it’s first important to know what a concussion is.

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H.I.I.T. & Crossfit

May 30 2014

You’ve probably seen them at the gym or the park – people sprinting back and forth, banging out sets of squats and pushups, maybe flipping big tires or running with logs in their arms. These are people engaging in high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) or its cousin Crossfit, the trend which has taken the fitness world by storm. H.I.I.T. is an exercise strategy that alternates short bursts of anaerobic activity (anaerobic is defined as “without air,” meaning the activity is intense enough to create an oxygen debt in the body) with recovery periods of more moderate activity. Crossfit expands upon this foundation, adding elements like weight lifting, calisthenics, and plyometrics into the workouts.

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Get Back On The Treadmill

December 14 2012

If you’ve been paying much attention to the news lately, you’ve probably noticed an increasing number of articles popping up that question whether cardiovascular exercise will damage your heart. These stories are in response to studies that appear to show heart damage occurring in veteran marathon runners (you can find two such pieces here and here). Although studies on this subject have been around since the 1970s, the media have become more interested in them since the sudden death of ultrarunner Micah True (the “Caballo Blanco” of Born to Run fame) from heart disease earlier this year.

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Why Can’t I Just…?

October 5 2012

October is National Physical Therapy Month! There are so many people who only have a vague concept (or no idea at all) of what physical therapy is, so it’s a good time to explain what it is that I really do. In a nutshell, physical therapy helps you move. When injury or illness takes away your ability to turn your head, bend over to tie your shoes, swing a golf club, walk to the bus, or any of the other thousands of activities you do throughout your day, physical therapists utilize exercise, education, and pain reduction techniques to help build your body back up so you can do the things you need to do.

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My Thoughts On The Olympics

August 17 2012

I love the Olympics! Watching the world’s finest athletes compete in not only your favorite sports, but also many other sports you never really get to see (how cool was the handball?!) is a once-in-a-lifetime-type experience that just happens to repeat itself every four years. Plus there’s great drama – the winners exude elation while everyone else runs the gamut from quiet disappointment to utter agony. And for many athletes (such as Tahmina Kohistani of Afghanistan), just being at the Olympics is the real prize.

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Ready, Set, Recover!

July 20 2012

In my nearly 30 year career as a physical therapist, I’ve seen this scenario countless times. Two people will start therapy at the same time. A few weeks later, one person will be completely recovered (in fact, they’re usually stronger and more flexible than they were before their injury) and ready to return to the activities they love. Meanwhile, the other person feels that they have made little progress in their therapy. They’re frustrated and thinking about quitting. So why do some patients recover faster than others? What factors determine how long your recovery will take?

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For the Record

June 22 2012

If you’ve ever been a patient of mine, chances are you’ve heard me talk about how important it is to have a physical therapist as a part of your medical team. Most people don’t think of their health care that way, but it’s true. The various physicians who provide services to you – including your primary care doctor, your dentist, any specialists you may see (such as an ophthalmologist or dermatologist), etc. – are a group of people working together towards a common goal (in this case, your optimal health). They are your medical team, and you are the team captain.

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The Power of Suggestion

March 23 2012

I’m not known for quoting Buddha, but I do like his statement, “We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think.” People really do underestimate the power of their mind. What we think will happen tends to be what actually does happen. We call these “self-fulfilling prophecies,” but in the medical world, they’re known as the “placebo effect” and the “nocebo effect.”

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5 Things That Make Us Old

January 27 2012

Yesterday I was out making a purchase when I noticed a sign advertising the store’s senior discount. I asked the cashier what age qualified you for the price cut. Good news: I’m not there yet, but it did get me thinking about getting older. It’s happening to all of us, continually, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Yet why do some people seem to age better than others? Genetics surely has something to do with it, but are there other factors besides the clock and our genes? The answer is…yes!

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Something New To Stand For

January 20 2012

Did you know that in the 1940s, doctors recommended Camel brand cigarettes? With all we know about tobacco use today, that seems pretty incredible, but science has come a long way in the last several decades. By now, it’s no surprise to anyone that smoking, eating too much junk food, drinking too much alcohol, and being overweight are detrimental to your health. If you haven’t read about it yet, scientists have recently named another health hazard – too much sitting.

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A Different Kind of Budget

January 6 2012

We’re now one week into 2012! How are your resolutions going? If you’re like many Americans, you’ve vowed to lose weight and get in shape this year. Even though these goals are closely related (it’s a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone kind of resolution), they can still be overwhelming. As it turns out, sticking to an exercise plan is not unlike sticking to a financial budget.

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Another PT Christmas

December 23 2011

Happy Friday and Happy Holidays, everyone! Last year, I posted some physical therapist-approved gifts to get that hard-to-buy-for person on your list. I’ve decided to continue the tradition. Here are five more physical therapist-approved gifts. And the best part? Each of these items has a low price, and one only costs your creativity and time!

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National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September 9 2011

The media love buzz words, and one of the major ones being thrown for around the last several years is “obesity epidemic.” We’re in one, and unfortunately, it’s not just a grown-up problem. Our poor eating habits and lack of exercise are showing up on our kids too, often around their waists. I’m not a doom and gloom kind of guy, so I won’t go into all the negative statistics here. The bottom line is that healthy, active kids have a better chance of growing into healthy, active adults who are less at risk for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and all the other ailments associated with being overweight.

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Good Muscle Memories

September 2 2011

What did you do this morning? Maybe you buttoned your shirt and tied yours shoes while getting dressed. Perhaps you walked the dog. After scrambling eggs or flipping pancakes for breakfast, you probably brushed your teeth. Although you may not have realized it at the time, your muscle memory has been busy from the moment you woke up.

Muscle memory (also called motor learning) is a type of procedural learning wherein an action is repeated until the movements required for it can be performed with little conscious effort or attention. Despite its name, muscle memory doesn’t reside in the muscles themselves, but rather in the complex neural pathways that are formed in our brains when the task is learned. The more the task is repeated, the more well-formed and efficient that pathway becomes.

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The Dangers of Dehydration

July 22 2011

I used to coach a fast pitch club softball team. During the summer, we’d travel to tournaments where we’d play two to five 7-inning games every day. While these tournaments were always tons of fun (all softball, all day, right?!), dehydration was a constant threat. Sweat, heat, lack of shade, exercise – the other coaches and I had to constantly monitor not only the players but also ourselves for signs that we needed more fluids. I’m thankful we never had anyone become dangerously dehydrated, but there were a few close calls.

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Sleep On It

April 29 2011

I’ve never been a good sleeper. When I was in high school, I had a paper route that got me up at 3:30am, seven days a week, in addition to after-school sports and working on my family’s mint farm. In graduate school, I survived on three hours of sleep a night as I balanced my studies with a full-time job and three kids. Now I do a little better; I average about five or six hours of shut eye. In the mornings, I always tell myself I need to get to bed earlier, but fast forward 18 hours or so and it’s easy for me to find excuses why I can stay up a little later.

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Pronation or Supination?

February 25 2011

One of the wonderful design features of the human body is that we can do nearly any kind of activity without having to think about the functions in our body that must coordinate to make that activity happen. Even something as simple as walking or running is a complicated ballet of several structures – the muscular, nervous, skeletal, respiratory, and cardiac systems all must work together for you to keep your balance as you transfer your weight from one foot to the other.

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Pre-habilitation

October 22 2010

In my career as a physical therapist, I’ve spent most of my time helping people rehabilitate AFTER – after surgery, after an injury, after an illness – and I can say without a doubt that the people who recover best were the ones who prepared their bodies BEFORE the event. This is called pre-habilitation.

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Exercising with Issues

August 27 2010

If you’re like most people (myself included), it’s really easy to find excuses why you should skip your workout. I overslept, I didn’t sleep enough, I’m hungry, I ate too much, my favorite show is on, there’s nothing good to watch while I’m on the treadmill – the list goes on and on. But when you combine these everyday distractions with real physical ailments, it can be even tougher to convince yourself to lace up your sneakers and get going. The good news is that with a few precautions and some common sense, it’s possible for almost everyone to be physically active.

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