Simple Movement Tests Can Predict Health

The American Heart Association encourages people to “know their numbers” referring to blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and weight. However, research is now showing that moving properly is also important for health.

Walking speed has been called the “sixth vital sign” in medical literature recently. Like blood pressure or heart rate, it is quick and easy to measure. It also tells medical staff a lot about your health. Walking speed has been shown to be predictive of future hospitalizations, functional decline, and overall mortality. Normal walking speed is considered to be 1.2 to 1.4 meters per second.

How many push ups you can do without stopping can also give a picture of your health. Researchers found that men who could do 40 or more consecutive push ups were at a 96% lower risk for cardiovascular disease than were men who could do less than 10. The push up test was also more useful in predicting future cardiovascular disease than aerobic capacity measured on a treadmill.

If you can’t easily get down on the floor and back up your health might be in trouble, according to a study that looked at more than 2,000 people. They found that if you need to use more than one hand to get up and down from the floor, you were 2 to 5 times more likely to die in the next 7 years than someone who can do it with just one hand, or even better, no hands at all.

Moving well is obviously important to overall health and longer life.

“Our clinics are seeing an increase in volume of patients that are concerned about their fitness level.  Patients are seeking out our physical therapy services to work on strengthening and balance deficits they are seeing in everyday tasks.  These patients have taken the initiative to improve their physical performance.  As physical therapists, we love to treat patients that have a passion to maintain their physical well-being.” stated Jim Mike Hinzman, PT at East Athens Physical Therapy. 

These tests can give a snapshot of how you’re doing. If you’re having trouble with any of them, considering seeing a movement specialist – your physical therapist.

Published on January 6, 2020 9:55 pm

Comeback Players: Jack Gibbons

We love to post Comeback Players! Comeback Players are our student athletes (from school or other places) that have worked hard to graduate from physical therapy following an injury and return to their sport. We wish them all the best in their upcoming seasons!

This post is dedicated to…

Jack Gibbons from Madison County Elementary School (with Rachel Nation, DPT)

Published on November 26, 2019 9:23 am

Get Back Into Balance

Your physical therapist can play a big role in helping you maintain or improve your balance as you age. Unfortunately, falls are becoming increasingly common in adults age 65 and over. Just because they’re common doesn’t mean they’re inevitable though. Research shows that falls are caused by a variety of factors, and many of them can be improved. Let’s take a look at some of them and some tips to help you get back into balance.

Lower Body Weakness

As we age, without resistance training we lose muscle mass every year. Weakness in your lower body has been shown to increase your fall risk. A physical therapist can design an exercise program to help you strengthen your legs and lower body safely.


Another reason we lose muscle mass and our balance decreases is inactivity and deconditioning. People who have fallen in the past often have a fear of falling again, which leads them to do less. As their activity levels decrease, they get weaker and even more fearful of falling.

This downward spiral can be stopped with balance training from a physical therapist to build your confidence on your feet and allow you to become more active.

Group exercise classes are another great way to become more active, work on your balance and meet new friends at the same time. Ask your PT for recommendations for a class near you.

Vision Problems

Many people don’t realize that your body uses your vision for balance. If you want to prove this to yourself, try standing with your feet together with your eyes open, then compare that to doing it with your eyes closed. Visual problems can also make you miss things like bumps and changes in the surface you’re walking on, or objects that you could trip over.

If you’re having problems with your vision, see your eye doctor for an exam and recommendations on what can be done.


Certain medications can increase your risk of falling and impact your balance by making you sleepy, slowing your reactions, or causing weakness. Some examples of medications that can increase fall risk are certain types of antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and water pills.

Your physical therapist can help you work with your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications and consider changes to improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling.

When it comes to helping you improve your balance, and reduce your risk of falling, your physical therapist is an important part of the team. They can evaluate you to determine where your problem areas are, and design an individualized program for you. They can also refer you to other professionals who can help like your eye doctor and your pharmacist. If you’re starting to feel out of balance, your PT can help you stop falls before they start.

Published on October 28, 2019 9:43 am

Research Shows Physical Therapy Should Be the First Stop for People with Back Pain

Most people who end up seeing a physical therapist for back pain do so after seeing their family doctor, getting an x-ray or MRI, and maybe seeing an orthopedist. Current research says that this is the wrong order and that people should be seeing a physical therapist first for back pain.

Studies have shown that people who receive early PT have better outcomes, lower costs, are less likely to have surgery, use opioids or have unnecessary testing. Current clinical practice guidelines for treating low back pain support the use of manual therapy and exercise – two things that physical therapists are experts in. “Patients who seek out PT early after encountering LBP have a high success rate in our clinics.” stated Jim Mike Hinzman, PT, Cert. MDT at East Athens Physical Therapy.  Unfortunately, only 2% of people with back pain start with PT, and only 7% get to PT within 90 days.

What’s wrong with the other options? Stories about the opioid epidemic that the country is currently experiencing are everywhere, and the number one reason for opioids to be prescribed is back pain. The CDC has recommended against the use of opioids for back pain since 2016, and supports the use of non-drug treatments like PT.

“Surgeries for back pain are common, but can often be avoided.  Finding a PT that sees many LBP diagnoses and can use a focus approach to treatment is important.  All of our PTs at East Athens Physical Therapy are trained in the McKenzie Method for treatment of LBP.” stated Hinzman.  Locating the origin of the problem and putting a plan together with the patient to effectively treat the problem is crucial early on.  “After our patients complete their plan of care and are pain-free, it is imperative for the patients to have a home maintenance program to ensure the return of LBP is reduced.” stated Hinzman.

Despite the data showing that PT is the most effective, safest, and lowest cost option to treat low back pain, most people take far too long to get there. In the State of Georgia, patients have Direct Access, meaning that you can go directly to a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral.  If you see your doctor for back pain, and PT isn’t one of the first treatment options, ask for it!

Published on October 22, 2019 7:04 am

Schedule a Yearly Physical Therapy ‘Checkup’ to Take Charge of Your Health

Yearly visits to the primary care physician and the dentist are often scheduled six months to one year in advance, and have become non-negotiable annual health “checkups.” The impact of these visits on your health cannot be underestimated, however, you might be overlooking the health of other parts of the body that are vital to proper function and form. When you make the healthcare rounds this year, consider adding a trip to the physical therapist to the list.

Physical therapists are trained to address the specific needs of your musculoskeletal system, which is comprised of your muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and other connective tissues. An annual PT “checkup” can ensure that these essential internal structures are working together to support, stabilize and move your body. During an annual visit, a PT will gather the patient’s health history and perform a series of test and measures, including a screening of the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular and cardiovascular systems.

“At East Athens Physical Therapy, our previous patients often will seek out help with any physical concern that comes up.  We enjoy being an integral part of their over-all health and well-being.  By contacting us before a physical ailment becomes severe, our physical therapists can assist our patients back to return of sport or to prior level of function.”  stated Jim Mike Hinzman, PT, Cert. MDT.

Research shows that by performing several types of movement screens, including Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen, physical therapists can more fully assess their patients’ functional movement patterns and interpret their strengths and weaknesses. According to a study called “Assessing movement using a variety of movement screens,” it’s important for PTs to combine several movement screening tools to capture a complete picture of the patient’s abilities and limitations.

Whether you’re an elite athlete or just getting started with an exercise program, clinical screening tools help PTs understand how your body performs during a series of movements. Based on the information gathered, the PT is equipped to design an individualized program to prevent injuries.

“In our experience, patients that take control of their health have less long-term physical limitations.  Our physical therapists make a point of never being too busy to screen or talk to our current or previous patients regarding their well-being.” stated Hinzman.

The tests and screens that a PT might perform during an annual checkup to assess your strength, stability and mobility are not all that different from what you can expect during an annual exam with your primary care physician. Just as PTs do, physicians follow a checklist: Check your blood pressure, listen to your heart and check your oxygen level, and then collect blood and urine samples to identify or rule out health issues like high cholesterol or metabolic disorders like diabetes. The information collected can be compared with last year’s results to reveal any inconsistencies that could signal problems. Similarly, during an annual physical therapy appointment, your PT captures an overall picture of your musculoskeletal health that can be compared from year to year.

Published on September 17, 2019 7:43 am