Blog

Lazy Summer or Deconditioning?



The weather is hot, the gym is closed, and you’ve been relaxing – enjoying the lazy, hazy days of summer. Taking a day off here and there is no problem, but if you’ve been consistently missing your regular run, bike ride, or gym session and notice some aches and pains showing up, you might have the beginnings of deconditioning.

Deconditioning explained

Exercise creates many changes in your body – your heart begins to pump blood more efficiently, your muscles use oxygen more efficiently, they contract in a more coordinated manner, and your body gets more efficient turning food into fuel to name just a few. Deconditioning is the reversing of these changes. Exercise is a “use it or lose it” kind of thing, and deconditioning is the process by which we “lose it.”

How long does it take to decondition?

As with most things related to a system as complex as the human body, it depends. According to the ACSM, two weeks without exercise can lead to significant loss of cardiovascular fitness. Two to eight months of detraining can erase virtually all of your gains. As you detrain, cardiovascular fitness tends to decline first, with muscle strength declining later.

Other factors are your age, and your exercise history. If you’re younger, you’ll probably lose fitness at a slower rate than someone older. If you’ve been consistently exercising for a long time, or at a high intensity, your losses will probably be slower than for someone who just started.

Reversing the losses

If you’re just undergoing a period of increased time commitments at work or with family, using a shortened exercise routine can help minimize your losses. Even one session a week will help you keep most of what you’ve gained. Other options are to use shorter but more intense interval training sessions, or breaking up your activity into multiple short chunks during the day. If your layoff was longer, it may take just as long to retrain as it did to make the gains initially. If you’re having those aches and pains due to inactivity or need help designing a safe program to either maintain your fitness or gain it back after a layoff, your physical therapist can help. Injury and illness are other common reasons for detraining. Your PT can not only help you recover faster, but they can also find activities to maintain your fitness while safely working around an injury or illness.


Published on August 17, 2020 7:09 am

Why You Need a Physical Therapist on Your Healthcare Team



With health in sharp focus as a result of the pandemic, now may be a good time to look at the team of experts you have in place and see if there are any improvements you could make. You probably have a family doctor, dentist, and optometrist. Maybe you have some specialist physicians, a trainer, or a massage therapist. If a physical therapist isn’t a part of your healthcare team, you’re missing out on taking care of a big part of your health. To understand why you need a physical therapist, you need to understand what they do.

Physical Therapists Help You Do Things

The American Physical Therapy Association defines PTs as “health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.” So physical therapists help you do things that you have trouble with. That could be going for a hike, playing with your kids, or getting through a day of work without pain.

Physical Therapists Reduce Pain

Chronic pain is a huge problem worldwide. A big part of that is low back pain. Statistically, around 80% of people will have low back pain in their lifetimes. Physical therapists are trained to treat pain without surgery or medications. If you have back pain, an arthritic knee, neck pain, or an old injury that won’t go away, a PT may be able to help.

Physical Therapists Keep You Healthy

The APTA goes on to say that “PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.” That means that a physical therapist can help you determine your risk for injury, choose the right fitness program, and improve the quality of your life by improving your health and ability to move.

Physical Therapists Can Help You Live Longer

It’s well known that the risk of many of the leading causes of death can be reduced by exercise. Some of these conditions would include heart disease, cancer, lung disease, diabetes, and stroke. By helping you move better with less pain, finding the right exercise program, and helping you to make healthy lifestyle choices, a PT could help you live longer.

Physical therapists have a unique set of skills and expertise that can do a lot to improve your health and quality of life. If you don’t have one, consider adding one to your healthcare team.


Published on July 15, 2020 8:51 am

Get PT First During the COVID-19 Pandemic



Because of the closures of physician’s offices, stoppages of elective surgeries, and social distancing guidelines resulting from COVID-19, many people with pain or joint issues have had appointments or surgeries delayed. If you’re one of them and you haven’t seen your PT yet, you should. Here are some reasons why:

Early PT leads to better outcomes

Studies have shown that people who receive PT sooner have better outcomes, lower costs, are less likely to have surgery, use opioids or have unnecessary testing. Because back pain is so common, there is a lot of outcome data from people with back pain. A study of 150,000 insurance claims published in Health Services Research, found that those who saw a physical therapist at the first point of care had an 89 percent lower probability of receiving an opioid prescription, a 28 percent lower probability of having advanced imaging services, and a 15 percent lower probability of an emergency department visit. Unfortunately, only 2% of people with back pain start with PT, and only 7% get to PT within 90 days.

Early PT saves money

The rising cost of healthcare is well known and early PT is something that has been shown to reduce costs without reducing the effectiveness of treatment. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy showed that patients who obtained physical therapy via direct access had significantly lower medical costs—an average of $1,543 less per patient than those who chose referral from a physician. They also had significantly fewer visits and spent significantly fewer days in care.

Surgery may not be as effective as you think

Many patients look to surgery as the fix for their pain, but surgeries aren’t always as effective as patients believe. A large study looking at worker’s comp patients with back pain found that people who have surgery have a 1 in 4 chance of having a repeat surgery, a 1 in 3 chance of a major complication, and a 1 in 3 chance of never returning to work again. Recent large studies of arthroscopic surgeries for meniscal tears have shown no difference in outcomes between people who have surgery and those who don’t. Other procedures with questionable effectiveness include kyphoplasty, vertebroplasty, and injections for nonspecific back pain.
So, if you were planning on seeing your PCP or a specialist for an orthopedic condition or pain and you haven’t seen a PT yet, you should consider making PT your first stop. You could end up getting better faster for less money and you might avoid riskier treatments like opioids or surgery.


Published on June 1, 2020 11:51 am

Physical Therapy and Quarantine – Managing Your Physical Health



The coronavirus has changed the way many of us go about daily personal, social and work routines. The CDC is recommending social distancing and depending on where you live you may have lost access to in person visits with your physical therapist. While our daily lives have changed, good physical health should remain a priority and your physical therapist can help you stay on track with the following guidelines.

  1. To not lose progress, it is recommended you stay in touch with your physical therapist and continue with home exercise programs which you and your physical therapist have discussed. This way, you can pick up again where you left off when access to your physical therapist returns. 
  2. Checking in with your physical therapist via telephone on a weekly basis will make sure you stay on track and your home exercise program is adjusted based on your status.
  3. Many people have been asked to work from home. You may have to adjust to a new workstation which is not set up the same as your desk at the office. Poor ergonomics can lead to decreased productivity, decreased motivation to work and increased neck pain, low back pain or shoulder pain. Making sure your computer and desk chair are set up at the right height are initial adjustments your physical therapist can help you with. Neck and upper back exercises such as chin tucks and rows can help you offset pain created by poor posture.
  4. Due to social distancing and many health clubs temporarily closing their doors, you may feel lost with how to get daily exercises in. By contacting your physical therapist, you can get recommendations to keep up with your health goals or just to stay active.
    1. Walking: Walking 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week has been shown to improve cardiovascular endurance, reduce blood pressure and weight
    2. Physical activities you enjoy: Exercise causes the brain to release chemicals that can lead to a feeling of accomplishment and relaxation. Research shows exercise can be very effective in the treatment of depression and elevating your mood. In addition, exercise can boost your immune system.
    3. Eight minutes of strength training per day can lead to many health benefits and can all be done without any equipment. Always check with your physical therapist if these exercises are right for you. A routine could consist of planks, pushups, the bridge, lunges, heel raises and squatting.

It is important to stay active during these uncertain times. Exercising will help improve your mood and stress from the coronavirus. Your physical therapist can help you enhance an exercise routine with creative exercises to keep you engaged and excited. 


Published on April 20, 2020 8:19 am

Are Your Workouts Giving You What You Want?



How much thought have you put into the exercises you’re going to use for your next workout? Did you choose them yourself, or did you find them on the internet or in a magazine? What’s your workout designed for? Do those goals match yours? Are the exercises even safe for you? Using the wrong program can lead to wasting time in the gym, frustration, plateaus in progress and injury. Let’s take a closer look at what goes into program design and the cost of getting it wrong.

Exercise Selection

There are many things to think about when choosing specific exercises. Machine vs. free weights, isolation vs. compound lifts, number of reps and sets, etc. Each one of these factors affects the results, so making the wrong choices could lead to wasting time working on the wrong things, limit your results or lead to injury.

Technique

If you choose the right exercises, but don’t know how to do them properly you will again limit your results, or worse, end up injured. Poor technique leads to inefficient movement and limits the power your muscles can create. It also changes the load on your muscles, joints, and ligaments which can lead to pain and injury.

Volume

Volume is a way of thinking about how much work you’re doing during a workout. Doing a few reps with a heavy weight or a lot of reps with a light weight could end up being the same volume. Same goes for running a shorter distance quickly uphill vs a longer run at a slower pace on flat terrain. If your volume is too great you won’t recover well between workouts and create the possibility of injury. Too little volume and you won’t see results.

Progression

If you’ve been doing the same exercises with the same weight and the same number of reps and sets, you’re not progressing. Same goes if you jump on the treadmill for the same amount of time with the same settings each time. To make progress, things have to change and the program that works for your first 6 months won’t work for you 2 years down the road.

Designing an exercise program is a complex challenge with a lot of factors to consider. Most people have a history of injuries and don’t have perfect movement in every joint which further complicates things. If you’re not making progress or just want to make sure your workouts are as effective as they can be, have your physical therapist take a look at your program. Your PT can help design an individualized program to help you reach your goals while keeping you safe and injury free.


Published on March 30, 2020 7:35 am