Shoveling SnowWinter is upon us and now our driveways and sidewalks are covered in snow. It’s a good time to consider how your snow shoveling routine may be impacting your physical health. The most common injuries associated with snow shoveling include sprains and strains, particularly to the back and shoulders.

There are a couple things to keep in mind as the winter season finally hits us:

  1. What snow shovel is best for me?

    • When purchasing a snow shovel a few things to look for include; the height of the shovel, the overall weight of the shovel, the width of the blade, and the shape of the handle.
      • Not too short and not too long: use a shovel that allows you to keep your back straight
      • A lighter shovel (plastic vs metal blades or fiberglass vs wood shafts) will also decrease the amount of stress placed on your back, as the snow can be plenty heavy on its own
      • A smaller blade will decrease the amount of snow removed at one time, but will lessen the load and the amount of strain on your back
      • Bent-shaft vs straight-shaft handle: a bent-shaft snow shovel can likely reduce lower back stress as it decreases the amount of motion required by the back
  2. How should I shovel?

    • When going outside to shovel, there are a few things to remember:
      • Warm-up before going out
        • A warm body/muscles work better. Your warm-up should include 5-10 minutes of light aerobic activity to get your blood moving, followed by gentle stretching.
      • Maintain good stable posture
        • Pay attention to your posture. Stand with your feet hip width apart and staggered. Hold your shovel close to your body.
        • Space hands apart to increase leverage. Bend from your knees and hips, not your back.
        • Make sure you tighten your stomach muscles and avoid twisting while lifting (push snow rather than lift if possible).
        • Preferably walk to dump snow, but if throwing, throw forward and step in the direction that you are throwing.
      • Pace yourself
        • Shovel for 5-7 minutes and rest 2-3 minutes. Start slow and continue at a slow pace. When snow is deep, shovel small amounts 1-2 inches at a time. New snow is lighter than packed/partially melted snow, so it’s better to get out early and more often.

Ultimately, TRY before you BUY. Make sure the shovel fits you and your body. And always warm up before going out! Try to avoid excessive motion to your low back by using your legs and hips more. And don’t forget to take rest breaks!


Sources

https://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resources/Detail/snow-shoveling

https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/public-safety-alerts/safety-tips-prevention/home-high-rise-school-workplace-safety/snow-shovelling/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23845725

My Knees HurtWe get this question all the time. “I’m in my 40’s and want to exercise but the next day I am miserable” or “I played tennis and basketball and now my knees are really sore” or “I can’t go upstairs easily, and I’m really sore when I’m sitting for any length of time.” You may think you need knee surgery or to have a knee replacement to get this pain to go away. But this is not necessarily true. Let’s take a look at your options.

Why do my knees hurt?

Before we talk about why we hurt, we need to talk about normal anatomy first. Our knee joint contains 2 parts: the tibial/femoral joint and patellofemoral joint. The tibial/femoral joint connects the femur and the tibia together and the patellofemoral joint is the kneecap in front. We have different ligaments that connect the bones together, and a meniscus that sits between the tibia and the femur. These can get injured with trauma. The biggest thing that we have on each part of the bone is called articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is usually what wears away with age and intense physical activity. It acts as a coating for our joints just like coating on our pots and pans when we cook to protect food from sticking. As we age the articular cartilage wears down and can start to cause pain. (Ahh=articular cartilage – that’s the reason why I hurt!) So, here is the question I always get: should I stop exercising? The answer is NO – that will do the opposite of help in this situation. Instead, there are things we can do to hopefully keep you from needing surgery. Staying active with Physical Therapy is very important. With the right treatment plan and exercises, we can help you get back on track.

What can PT do to help?

There are a number of things that Physical Therapy can do to help those achy knees. Here are a few:

  • Manual Therapy – our focus is on unloading the knee and taking pressure off your joints
  • Exercises that won’t aggravate the knee
    • these include hip drills: clams, clam lifts, band walks, RDLs, planks, etc (we give examples of these on social media and in our monthly recommended exercises)
    • try to avoid exercises that will aggravate the knee (deep squatting, stepping down from something, etc)
  • Wearing a Knee Sleeve – this can be helpful during activity to keep your knee warm and calm down your symptoms
  • Taping – this is a great way to help your symptoms as well
    • we can be specific to just your kneecap, or your tibial/femoral joint too, depending on the areas affected

If you have knee pain and have been avoiding getting treatment/diagnosis, come see us. Our job is to get you back to where you belong – as quickly as possible! Schedule an appointment here.

Return to SportPRO Physical Therapy is hosting its second Return to Sport/Athlete Development Program. This athlete development program is meant to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and sport. Additionally, it will prepare athletes for a step up in competition, because we are focusing on risk of injury.

The program will be coached by a former Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors strength and conditioning coach, and our very own Jeff Schleusner, Physical Therapist.

The class is limited to nine athletes. We are directing this towards female athletes who make up a higher risk category for injury. However, everyone is encouraged to participate if interested. The program will consist of 10 sessions that run from February 18th – March 15th. There will be two sessions per week on Mondays from 6-7:30pm, and Fridays from 4:30-6pm. The cost is $350 for all 10 sessions.

If you’re interested in learning more about our athlete development programs or registering for this course, please contact PRO Physical Therapy (608) 841-1290 to reserve your spot today!

Return To Sport

In-Season Training

Boys and Girls high school basketball seasons have kicked off and teams are into their conference schedules. Questions often arise concerning how often and how intense in-season training should be for teams. This is a topic that is worth hours of discussion.

Here are a few key things to consider:

  1. BasketballHopefully the players trained hard in the off season to build up strength, speed, and reactiveness. This will better prepare them for the season. Athletes need to be stressed in the off-season so they can adapt to handle the new workload once the season starts. It’s almost like building up a strength ‘reserve’. Players that stress themselves to the point of adapting in the off-season will likely have a larger reserve to draw from as the season begins. However, the qualities built during off-season training need to be trained in-season as well. In order to maintain qualities in-season, players need to train their bigger strength lifts every ten days. That means finding a time within the game schedule to program intense strength sessions. The players will need to lift > 90% of their maximum lifts.
  2. Recovery and response to injury drives everything. For the players getting lots of game time, overall volume needs to be lower. For players not getting as much playing time, coaches need to be careful not to let them become deconditioned. The individualization of workouts within the team will really spread out as the season progresses. There will be players who can continue to progress strengthening during the season, and others that need to be dialed down.
  3. Sleep, diet, academic stress, and mood should all be monitored for each player during the season. The best strength training plan in the world will fall apart if these four areas are draining a player’s reserve.
  4. Track RSI (4 hop test), maximum vertical jump, and even how players are handing some of their bigger lifts (squat, dead-lift). This will give a coach a decent measurement of where the team stands in terms of neuromuscular readiness. If these numbers start diving, workload needs to be adjusted.

Overall, teams that enter the season having been properly stressed to handle demands will be the strongest. Those that are given managed stress during the season to help maintain important athletic qualities are the ones who are most fresh in late February and March. They’ll likely be less injured and closer to their peak physical ability as tourney time begins.

Many clients come to us with back pain – and if you’re like 80% of Americans, you’ll experience some sort of back pain in your life time. A weak core is often the reason for this – and includes a fairly simple fix. Below we share our top 3 core strengthen exercises. Do these 3 times a week for a strong, healthy core and back!

Front Plank

Front PlankEveryone knows this move – and loves it right? Ok, front planks might not be your core strength favorite, but they are one of the all time best core exercises because they engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. They will tighten your tummy, improved your posture, help your balance, and even lessen back pain. For a strong front plank, make sure your hips and shoulders are in line with your ankles. Your shoulders should be pulled together and down your back, and your butt should be tucked. Neutral spine alignment is key! Hold for 10-30 seconds a set, and repeat as able.

Side Plank

A sister to the front plank, side planks are equally as important. When you shift from a front plank to a side plank, you are reducing your contact with the floor. This creates a more challenging balance. The extra effort required teaches you to use stabilizing muscles around your spine, hips, and shoulders. Make sure there’s a straight line between ankles, hips, and shoulders. Then, pull against the floor toward your feet with your elbow. You might begin to shake, but that just means it’s working! Hold for 10-30 seconds a set, and repeat as able.

Paloff Press

A lesser-known core strength workout, the Paloff Press is one we should all be talking about. Many people believe that great abs result from movement-based exercises, like crunches, leg raises, etc. Instead, the core muscles are actual stabilizing muscles. Rather than just being the 6-pack we often think about, your abs extend from just below your chest all the way down and around to your glutes. Known as a “corset of muscle”, it not only gives people a defined, tight core, but also stabilizes the spine and disks, and protects them from unnatural bending or twisting. The Paloff Press works your entire core, not just the front section we often focus on.

To perform this exercise, attach a band to a door handle or table leg. Clasp both hands, palms together, on the end of the band. Place your feet hip-width apart, and make sure your knees are slightly bent. Bring the band up to the center of your chest, and keep it taught. Extend your arms slowly and fully. Your body will want to lean toward the band – don’t let it. Return your hands to your chest, and repeat for 8-12 reps on each side.

There’s a few things to keep in mind with the Paloff Press. Make sure you aren’t locking your knees. Aim to fully extend your arms, and move slowly in both directions. And brace your entire core to resist the pull from the band. Don’t forget to do both sides!

FamilyDinnerToast

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone. Not only do all your work projects seem to suddenly need to be wrapped up before you leave, but then there’s travel plans, meal plans, gift shopping, and of course – family plans. Finding balance during the holidays can come in many forms, and is different for every person. Below are our favorite things we recommend you keep in mind as you enter the holiday season.

Vacation PlanningTake Vacation

This is very important, and often overlooked. Even from the time you start planning a vacation, your mood lifts. Studies show that adults who haven’t taken a vacation in several years have a 30% higher risk of heart issues than those who have taken a vacation from work. Get as much work done as you can before the holidays, and then take a break!

Stay Active

This is a big one. The holidays can involve a TON of sitting. Here are some fun ideas for you and your family – instead of watching TV all day!

  • Go for walks with family. You can take breaks between movies or shows on the TV and take a lap around the block. Even better, find a place nearby to hike for an hour – getting outside brightens your mood, and fresh air is refreshing! Plus, the endorphins released in physical activity will definitely come in handy later when your great uncle so-and-so inevitably tries to bring up politics over dinner…
  • Sign up for a charity run/walk as a group! Again, this will get you outside, and provides a fun social activity to do as a group. And these charity walks generally support a good cause.
  • Volunteer for a local charity. Food pantries often need help packaging holiday food baskets for local families in need. Some stores look for gift wrappers, or help with food/toy drives. Or, you can set up a caroling group and visit a nursing home! Any way you slice it, helping others while spending time with your loved ones will only make you feel better. We should all try to brighten others’ holidays.
  • Attend a donation-based yoga class. Or, if you can’t find one near you, get everyone in the living room in stretchy pants and put on a YouTube yoga video. Getting everyone up on their feet and moving will feel good, and you might even find it giggle-worthy. Light stretching and twists are helpful for those tight muscles after all the travel you might have done, and it’s also great for digestion!

Maintain Your Sleep Schedule

AlarmClockIt can be very tempting to stay up till all hours of the night catching up with family and friends that you haven’t seen in a while. However, maintaining your sleep schedule is important. Our bodies crave consistency. With regular daily activities, our various body systems are able to prepare for and anticipate events. We naturally become more alert closer to our wake-up time. Our digestive systems become activated in advance of regular meal times in order to more efficiently process food. We start to relax and become sleepy prior to bedtimes. It turns out that these regular daily events serve to anchor our underlying daily rhythms. Maintaining a normal sleep schedule will help all of your body’s system run at peak efficiency.

Say No

It’s as simple as that. Whether said to your coworkers or to your friends and family, saying “no” is an important act to practice. Only you know what’s too much for you during the holidays. Don’t be afraid to decline more work, turn down responsibility, or move meetings that will push you over the edge. You’ll actually have more to give if you’re taking the time to care for yourself and your family! Set your limits and say no as needed,

Cook Together

ThanksgivingDinnerThis one may not be for everyone, but it can still be a fun activity that doesn’t involve sitting, the TV, or being distracted by cell phones. It’s a great way to save money, and you’ll probably feel better than when you go out to eat. If you have nephews or nieces, this can be a fun way to bond and involve them. Google some recipe ideas and get started!

Take Breaks

If you’re around too many family members that you aren’t used to, this can stress anyone out, especially those with heightened anxiety. Take a walk by yourself or go to the gym if you know that might help. You’d be surprised what getting a few endorphins and some exercise can do for your patience. If you know that 2 days with your in-laws is all you can handle, plan to stay only 2 nights. Setting rules that you know fall within your limits isn’t just beneficial to you – it’s also respectful of everyone else. You’ll be more pleasant in your time together, and they’ll enjoy you more because of this.

More important than all these warning signs, have FUN! The holidays are a wonderful time for families, especially those with children. Enjoy every moment!

Exciting news!

At PRO Physical Therapy, we’re happy to announce that we have a new state of the art piece of equipment available for your runners – the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill! We pride ourselves in using cutting edge treatments and technologies to provide the best possible care for our patients. As we near the end of this cross-country season, many of your athletes are trying to get through their final races. Consider the use of the Alter-G treadmill to help them stay in the game. If you’ve got an athlete fighting through nagging pain but still needs to train, please click here or give us a call today. We’d love to help you finish out the season strong.

AlterGWhat’s the Alter-G?

The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill is revolutionizing fitness by allowing you to run or walk with reduced impact.

Through patented NASA technology, the Anti-Gravity Treadmill provides up to 80% body weight support to reduce the stress and strain on your body. The benefits of controlling gravity and reducing your body weight while you walk or run allow you to:

  • run without discomfort or pain
  • burn more calories by going farther or faster than you normally can
  • train through injuries
  • feel the joy of running without the impact on your joints

Give us a call to learn more about the AlterG or to schedule your first session today.

We are excited to announce that we are hosting a Lower Back Pain and Sciatica workshop at our Cross Plains location! The class is on naturally healing back pain and sciatica.

Pop Quiz:Back Pain Workshop

• Do you suffer with back pain or leg pain when you stand or walk?
• Do you have pain when sitting for long periods of time?
• Do you experience pain, numbness or tingling into your butt, groin or down your leg?
• Does your back ever “go out” if you move the wrong way?
• Are you afraid your pain will get worse if you don’t do anything about it?

If you have answered YES to any of the above questions (or have a stubborn spouse who is in denial) – the Lower Back and Sciatica Workshop may be a life changing event for you…

If you’re confused about what to do and looking for answers, here’s some of what you’ll learn:

• The #1 biggest mistake back pain and sciatica sufferers make which actually stops them from healing…
• The common causes of Lower Back Pain and Sciatica
• How to pick the right treatment for the cause of your pain
• How a problem in you back can cause pain, numbness or tingling in you leg

Each attendee will receive a special gift, and there is no cost to attend the workshop. We are limiting the attendees so please call to reserve your spot! It’s FREE! And food and beverage are included. Register today with the link below, or call 608-413-0550.

Register here


Workshop Details

Where: PRO Physical Therapy – Cross Plains
Date: October 18th, 2018
Time: 6pm
Address: 1118 Main St Suite A, Cross Plains, WI

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the workshop!

 

PRO Physical Therapy is co-hosting a Return to Sport/Readiness for Competition program. This program is meant to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and sport. Additionally, it will prepare athletes for a step up in competition, because we are focusing on risk of injury.

The program will be coached by a former Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors strength and conditioning coach. It will also be coached by two former D1 strength coaches, and our very own Jeff Schleusner, Physical Therapist.

The class is limited to nine athletes. We are directing this towards female athletes who make up a higher risk category for injury. However, everyone is encouraged to participate if interested. The program will consist of 10 sessions that run on Tuesday and Friday evenings from October 2 – November 2, 2018. The cost is $350 for all 10 sessions.

If you’re interested in learning more, please contact PRO Physical Therapy (608) 841-1290 to reserve your spot today!

URGENT: Our Cross Plains clinic is currently closed due to flooding. We are asking that all of our patients come to our Middleton clinic if possible, or call us to reschedule. We will try to be in touch as we know more. Thank you for your understanding, and we hope everyone is safe out there!

UPDATE: We are back open in Cross Plains (since September 4th 2018) and we appreciate everyone’s patience and support through all this!