When the Weather Gets Cold, Don’t Forget to Warm Up!

The man in sportswear is jogging through the winter country roadColder weather means some changes to how we exercise. Of course, it’s harder to motivate yourself to get outside for a run or bike ride when the temperature drops, and the shorter days compress our schedules, but there are changes in your body that affect your ability to exercise too. For many people with arthritis or other joint problems, cold weather brings more complaints of pain. To stay warm, our bodies narrow blood vessels to reduce blood flow to the skin, and more superficial muscles. That means that there is an increased risk of muscle strains in the cold. There is also an increased strain on the heart because of the narrowed blood vessels. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be active outdoors in the cold, it just means you may have to make a few changes to your routine. Here are a few to consider:

Warm up right

A good warm up is always important, but because of the tendency for joints to be stiffer, and blood flow to muscles to be reduced in the cold, it’s even more important that you do it right this time of year. To start, do something to get your heart rate up a bit, maybe a brisk walk or light jog. Follow that up with a dynamic warm up rather than static stretches. This could include walking or jogging while pulling your knees up high to your chest. Maybe some high kicks in front of you with straight knees to get your hamstrings loosened. A walking lunge with an upper body twist can get your whole body moving. Cater your warm up to what you have planned in your workout. If you’re not sure how it should look, ask your physical therapist!

Dress right

Dressing in layers allows you to adjust your insulation to your activity level. After you warm up, you might want to take off a layer to avoid getting too hot during your main activity. You’ll have it there later to put back on when your activity level drops and you start getting too cold.

 

Don’t forget about the sun either – just because it’s cold doesn’t mean the UV rays are gone. Sunscreen and sunglasses aren’t just for the summer. A lip balm with SPF can protect you not only from the sun but from the wind too.

Stay hydrated

Drink water before, during, and after your workout. The temperature may be down, but you’ll still sweat and you’ll still lose water vapor in your breath. The drier air in winter lets your sweat evaporate more quickly, so it’s easy to underestimate how much fluid you’ve lost.

Cool down

When you’re done, don’t rush to get inside and crawl under a blanket. Cool down properly. Keep moving with a walk or another form of active recovery to let your heart rate come down. After exercise is the right place for static stretching. You can also head inside for some foam rolling or self-massage.

The days being shorter and the temperatures being lower don’t mean you’re stuck inside for all of your exercise. If you follow these tips, you can safely keep moving outside. If you’d like a customized warm up or cool down, or have questions about your exercise routine, your physical therapist is a great person to ask!

Blood flow Restriction Training (BFRT)

Blood flow restriction training is becoming more popular in the training and rehabilitation world. It is a very useful technique that helps patients recover faster and more efficiently, especially for those who are limited in lifting heavier weights. This is great news for people who might not be able to tolerate heavy weight, such as the elderly, people with chronic diseases and those rehabbing from injury or surgery. BFRT has also been shown to decrease the effects of muscle atrophy (loss of muscle) for those who cannot lift heavy weights. When used correctly, BFRT can be a key component of any rehabilitation.

The Evidence: BFR training originates from the creation of Kaatsu training by Dr. Yoshiako Sato, and since then, a growing body of evidence has supported the use of blood flow restriction training. The theory behind BFRT is to partially occlude blood flow to a limb, as well as to allow blood pooling in the limb. This deprives the muscle tissue of oxygen, which may sound like a bad thing but this environment is similar to that of a high intensity workout. This reduction in oxygen leads to an increase in anabolic hormones, cellular swelling, and larger type II muscle fiber recruitment. Muscle tissue, blood vessels, and bones use anabolic hormones to facilitate repair, hypertrophy and increase strength. Muscle fatigue during BFR training stimulates the brain to release growth hormones which will circulate through the bloodstream, targeting anabolic receptors on all muscles that were used. This creates a “systemic response” and so BFR training will have a positive effect on all muscles in the area, not just those muscles below the level of occlusion. These hormones have a protective role for tendons and muscle collagen structures as it increases collagen synthesis. This makes BFR a great tool for recovery in athletes. For safety purposes, it’s important to understand we’re not cutting off blood flow all together for extended periods of time, as this would be dangerous.

Typically normal hypertrophy and strength gains are seen at lifting loads greater than 60% of a person’s 1 repetition max. BFR training hypertrophy and strength gains are seen at loads 20-30% of 1 repetition max. In other words, half the weight with similar results! With BFR training we are also able to see strength and hypertrophy gains in as little as 4 weeks, whereas normally it would take 8-12 weeks.

Would you benefit from BFR training?  Although we do not recommend replacing high load resistance training with blood flow restriction training, it can be used in the rehab setting to increase muscle strength and size when a person is unable to lift heavier weights. For example, after most surgeries there is a period in time when a patient is restricted from using heavier loads and low load exercises are not enough to stimulate muscle hypertrophy. Studies have also shown that BFR training increases sprint speeds and muscular power.

Although BFR training is very safe under a physical therapist’s supervision, it is important to take precautionary measures. Those with a history of vascular compromise, history/risk of DVT, pregnancy, and varicose veins should not try BFR training.

A Stay at Home Start Up Workout for Beginners

As we all spend more time at home during this pandemic, it is more important than ever to stay active to ensure our health and wellness.  While we all may be feeling a bit stir crazy throughout this time, what better time to get started with some activities at home?  You may surprise yourself and feel more energetic and less stressed as you progress!  This blog is meant to provide a few basic exercises which will constitute a Start Up Exercise Program.  Exercise is a wonderful thing for the body, mind and soul – try it, you might like it!

There are many things that you can do at home to get yourself moving without the need of a treadmill, dumbbells or weight machines.  A nice stroll around your house, while social distancing yourself from friends and neighbors, will allow you to enjoy some sunshine and the beauty of the spring season.  It would also be a great warm-up to the following suggested exercises.  If you’d prefer, some of the exercises herein can be done outside in a safe and level grounded area.

Start by selecting 7 or 8 exercises on the list to do throughout the day – if you choose, spread them out throughout the day.  Try 2 sets of 10 repetitions each, holding a squeeze for 5 seconds.   Perform the exercise SLOWLY and CONTROLLED.  As you ease yourself into this Start Up program, if you continue to feel good, consider starting to increase your repetitions or add some resistance.  Here are some simple household items that would work:

A can of soup = 1 pound
A half jug of water = 4 pounds

Start slowly to get your body used to these exercises slowly and gradually – there is no better time like the present!  Most importantly, have fun!

  • Laying on back on floor/bed/sofa – Core Marches (stomach squeeze and marching lying on back)
  • Laying on back on floor/bed/sofa – Ball/pillow squeeze between knees (Lying on back or seated position)
  • Laying on back on floor/bed/sofa – Butt Squeeze
  • Laying on back on floor/bed/sofa – Stomach Squeeze
  • Seated Chair Leg Kicks
  • Standing Heel Raises (at a counter top to hold onto)
  • Standing Hip Kick to side (holding on to secure object)
  • Standing Butt Kick (holding on to secure object)
  • Wall Pushup (Make sure it does not bother wrists)
  • Standing or seated Shoulder Pinches
  • Both Shoulder Flexion (1/2 to 1# wt…. can of soup 8oz-16oz would work)
  • Both Biceps Curl (1/2 to 1# wt…. SOUP)

CLICK HERE to view illustrations of these exercises

A couple things to always keep in mind:

  1. Form, Control and Slow progression are important.
  2. If you have any discomfort or pain with an exercise, STOP! The adage of “no pain no gain” does not hold true here.

Lastly, in terms of progression, perform these exercises 2-3 times per week at a gradual progression, assuming you are feeling good (hold for 5 seconds each):

Week 1: 2 sets of 8-10 repetitions
Week 2: 2 sets of 12 repetitions
Week 3: 2 sets of 15 repetitions
Week 4: 3 sets of 12 repetitions

We hope you enjoy this home workout!  If you feel you are ready for a more consistent workout regimine, we encourage you to consider our Medically-Adapted Gym, currently available at 90 Good Drive, Lancaster.

 

 

 

Practicing Mindfulness in Times of Uncertainty

The events occurring over the last several days have left many feeling anxious, worried, and unsettled. With worldwide news regarding the virus, COVID-19, changing so quickly each day, it can be easy to allow these emotions to dominate our daily lives. We resort to checking social media every few minutes for the latest updates, hoping to keep ourselves connected to the society from which we feel so isolated. We may feel as though we’ve lost control. This loss of control and uncertainty about what is to come can cause added stress which impacts your physical and mental health.

In times such as these, practicing mindfulness can help to calm the mind, comfort our spirits, and facilitate mental and physical well-being. But what is mindfulness? It has been described as drawing awareness to one’s present feelings and experiences, calmly acknowledging and accepting them, to better control our emotions and reduce stress or anxiety. The benefits of practicing mindfulness have been widely explored and include improved stress management, higher self-esteem, decreased anxiety and negative thoughts, and improved sleep, to name a few. In essence, mindfulness can help to balance our moods.

How-to practice mindfulness in less than 10 minutes:

  1. Find a comfortable position: often lying on one’s back in a dimly lit room.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Focus on slowing your breath, breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Your chest and abdomen should rise and fall together. This may last for several minutes.
  4. As you are drawing attention to each breath, you may notice that thoughts start to pop into your brain. When this happens, imagine your thoughts as a cloud moving through the sky. Acknowledge each thought, but then allow yourself to let it go by picturing each thought (or cloud) floating away.

This process allows you to gain better control over emotions and stressful thoughts through the process of acknowledgement and release. The more often you practice mindfulness, the better control you will have over your thoughts.

Other avenues to improve health and overall well-being during these times of trial include proper sleep hygiene, appropriate nutrition, and engaging in physical activity as is safe and appropriate. As we await a resolution to this crisis and send our best wishes to those who have been affected, remember also to engage in self-care measures to maintain our own health and wellness.

Heat Stroke: It can Happen to Anyone…A Personal Reflection

Every summer throughout my entire life I have heard the repetitive warnings that as the heat and humidity increases, there are dangers of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. With those warnings, I tended to shrug them off with the ignorant mindset of “that isn’t going to happen to me.” I wasn’t totally belligerent…I prepared myself as best I could with proper hydration prior to activity and avoiding direct sunlight during activity; however it was not unheard of for me to go out for a 20 mile run in >90 degree weather with no supply of water with me. I had gotten away with that mindset for years including multiple marathons/ultramarathon and a bike ride across the country which included crossing the Badlands in 120+ degree weather. However, in the summer of 2018  the effects of the heat got the best of me in a scary way.

Hindsight is 20/20 and thinking back on how this day went, I feel foolish sharing the mistakes I made, but understand I’m lucky the situation did not end worse and feel that this is a learning opportunity. To set the stage, myself and a friend that were both training for fall races decided to attempt to run around Blue Marsh Lake  in the afternoon on a 95-degree day. We both knew it was going to be hot, however with work schedules and other engagements, beginning at 1 PM was the only time we could run together. Rushing to the starting location directly after working in the morning I scarfed down a PB&J and drank a 20 oz bottle of water. We drove straight to the trail and each had 16 ounces of water with us. The heat that day was oppressive and there was a constant flow of sweat coming off of our bodies. Being the middle of the day, the sun was piercing through the tree canopy and we were running with a real feel topping 100 degrees. We both sipped our water, but only slowly in an attempt for it to last the entirety of the run. We both felt ok for the first 13 miles, however on the return trip my legs slowly began tightening, my vision got darker and body began to feel a cool sensation. Understanding this as the early signs of dehydration, I quickly consumed the rest of my water. Unfortunately, it was too late. Those initial symptoms began to worsen to the point I wisely began walking and taking breaks cooling off my body in small brooks; running was not an option anymore. It took over an hour to complete the last 3 miles with no water for re-hydration and the sun continuing to beat down on us as we walked back to the car.

When we arrived to the car, my vision had continued to darken, muscle cramps increased and speech began to slur. My friend helped me into the car and quickly began to drive me to Sheetz for replenishment and air conditioning. As we drove, every muscle in my legs began to cramp/tense, my vision was almost entirely blank and I began to lose voluntary control of my hands. We arrived at Sheetz and my friend got 2 Sheetz employees to aide him in carrying me inside as I was unable to do so myself. Laying on the floor at the entrance of Sheetz my friend got bags of ice and placed them all over my body. It felt like an eternity, while customers coming into the store stared at me while I lay unable to move, it was actually about 20 minutes.  As my body began to cool off, control of extremities began to return.  I slowly regained full control of my body. During that period a concerned patron of Sheetz had called 911 and an ambulance arrived. The EMT checked me out and cleared me.  The next few hours were kind of a daze with a dull headache, a fever and sporadic cramping of my legs and arms. After replenishing with solid nutrients and liquids and a good night sleep, I felt much better the following day.

I fortunately made it through this episode with no lasting impairments, but was humbled and learned a few lessons in the process:

  • A heat stroke can happen to anyone
  • To avoid heat related illness do not participate in activity on excessively hot days with high humidity
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun on days > 85 degrees
  • Replenish with fluids at 8 oz an hour
  • Be aware of signs related to heat illness: Headache, Dizziness, Nausea/Vomiting, Muscle Cramping
  • If any of these symptoms are present rest, replenish with fluids and seek medical attention if they persist.

For more information about Heat Stroke, please check out this post

 

Top Ten Tips to Avoid Injury while Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning is a great way to recharge and get your house back in order, however organizing closets and cleaning out the basement can create achy, stiff joints, and tight muscles. Here are 10 tips to help you avoid injury while cleaning this spring:

  1. PACE YOURSELF: It can be a long, and physically demanding task to clean out the house, so space it out and do not try to do it all in one day. A common reason that patients come in to see us at HARTZ is because they over-do it with housework. For example going up and down the stairs all day, cleaning for 6+ hours straight, reaching overhead wiping shelves for an extended period, etc.
  2. HAVE A GAME PLAN: For example, if you are going to clean out the basement, avoid unnecessary trips up and down the steps by being prepared. Have the trash bags and cleaning supplies handy, make piles of what to keep and to donate, and then start making the trek back upstairs. Work smarter not harder, your body will thank you!
  3. PROPER FOOTWEAR: While cleaning you will want to avoid wearing sandals, flip flops or slippers because of the poor traction each has. You want to wear athletic shoes or shoes that have a rubbery sole to avoid slips and falls!
  4. PROPER BODY MECHANICS: If you are planning to move heavy objects, be sure to use proper lifting mechanics: bend at your knees, feet shoulder width apart, item close to body and keep a flat strong back (squatting motion). Avoid repetitive movements, use cushions to kneel on, keep your shoulders relaxed when working overhead and avoid tensing your shoulders up to your ears.
  5. START SLOW AND WARM-UP: This may sound a little silly to warm-up before cleaning, but you will be bending and testing your muscles trying to reach every nook and cranny in your home. Doing some light stretching will help you avoid any muscle strains that may come with cleaning.
  6. UTILIZE PROPER TOOLS: Instead of getting on your hands and knees to clean your kitchen floor, use a mop with a long handle. Vacuum cleaners can be heavy and can cause people to have back pain from pushing and pulling them. If you have a history of back pain, try using a cordless vacuum cleaner as they are usually much lighter and easier to move around. When cleaning at a high height, whether it be a ceiling fan, or a high window, be sure to use a proper step ladder to reach those spots.
  7. TAKE BREAKS AND STAY HYDRATED: Cleaning is not a race! If you are someone who cleans every day, you can overuse certain muscles which in turn can cause injury to that muscle. To avoid these types of injuries, it is important to take short frequent breaks. While taking these breaks be sure to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated while cleaning. Keeping your muscles well hydrated is very important to avoiding injuries.
  8. BREAK UP A BIG JOB INTO SMALLER ONES: If you are attempting a big cleaning job, especially alone, it is important to tackle that job with a plan. Break the one big job down into more manageable smaller jobs and complete those one at a time.
  9. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: If you are having pain while cleaning, then stop and take a break. I know we are inclined to want to finish the job, but fighting through the pain could turn a small problem into a larger one. Cleaning can be a strenuous activity on your body and your body will tell you exactly how it feels. If it is telling you to stop, listen!
  10. PAMPER YOURSELF: After you are done cleaning for the day, take time to assess how you are feeling and pamper those muscles that are a bit sore: utilize a heating pad or ice pack to a trouble area and perform some gentle stretches. Here are recommendations to stretch three areas that commonly take a beating from cleaning:
    1. LOW BACK: may be hurting especially with heavy lifting or even just sitting on the floor for extended periods of time. Lay on your bed and perform some easy trunk rotations, pull your knee in towards your chest, and then trial some hamstring stretches.
    2. NECK/SHOULDERS: may be sore especially if you are hunched over sorting through old files or paperwork. Gentle upper trap and pec stretches will help to relieve neck tension and improve a rounded shoulder posture.
    3. FOREARMS/WRISTS: always work hard when cleaning. To help, perform wrist stretches by holding arm straight out and pulling fingers up (flexor stretch) and then down (extensor stretch). Hold 30 seconds each.
      LINK TO PHOTO ILLUSTRATION OF
      THESE RECOMMENDED STRETCHES

By following these ten simple tips you will help prevent any injuries that may come with spring cleaning. If you ever find yourself in pain that just won’t go away, consider having a physical therapist look at the problem area and give you some tips for reducing pain!  Call us at HARTZ PT anytime!  Happy Cleaning!

~ Alicia Leeking, PTA and Melissa Potts, PTA Student

Keep up the Pace: Why Gait Speed Matters

Gait is the medical term for the way you walk and includes not only the mechanics of walking, but the speed as well.

Why is Gait Speed Important?

  • Gait speed is an indicator of your overall health and life expectancy. Improving your walking speed is associated with improved survival rates.
  • Senior walking ability begins to decline past 65. As we age our walking can become slower, less coordinated, less stable, less efficient, and have poor timing. With potential decline in vision and hearing as well as our posture becoming less upright and flexible, it makes it harder for us to respond to our environment when walking.
  • In order to be able to cross the street safely in time before the light changes, you need to be able to walk 1.14 meters/second. People who have a walking speed of less than 1 meter/second have reported ceasing involvement in any regular physical activity
  • You can assess your own gait speed and a program including strengthening, stretching, balance training, postural improvements, and task-specific exercises can ALL help to increase walking speed!

How to Assess your own Walking Speed using the 10 Meter Walk Test

What you will Need: 10 meters of clear space measured. Add a mark at the first 2 meters and then a mark at 8 meters (see below).  You will also need a stopwatch and a friend or family member to help time you (optional)

How to Perform the Test:

  • Perform 2 trials of walking: One at your comfortable walking speed and another at a fast walking speed
  • Begin walking: Start the timer when any part of the leading foot crosses the 2-m mark. Stop the timer when any part of the leading foot crosses the 8-m mark.
  • The time will be measured for the middle 6 meters.
  • You can use any assistive device that you typically use to walk (I.e. cane, walker).
  • Your gait speed will be the time divided by 6 m

Ways to Improve your Gait Speed:

There are 2 primary approaches to improving your gait speed.
1. Address the physical changes that occur in the body as we age. This works on the “machinery” we need to walk. This includes working on strengthening and stability of our legs and trunk as well as flexibility of our joints so our limbs can move efficiently.  A review of research studies showed that resistance training to strengthen lower extremity muscle was the most effective way to improve gait speed.

Exercise Examples
Strengthen muscles of legs -Repeated standing/sitting from a chair
-Heel raises (Standing with support, rising onto toes and then back down)
Improve flexibility in legs -Calf Stretch
-Hamstring Stretch
-Hip flexor Stretch
Aerobic exercise -Cycling, elliptical, treadmill, etc.

2. Train your brain to walk more efficiently. Practice makes perfect – by practicing we restore and improve the brain’s pattern to engage muscles to better meet the demands of walking.

Task Examples
Practice walking -Increase gait speed for short distances
-Walk forward, sideways, & backwards
-Practice walking while carrying objects
-Practice walking in a figure-8 pattern
-Practice walking while counting or to a beat to make walking more rhythmical
Add obstacles to walking -Place objects on floor and practice stepping over and walking around them
Varied surfaces -Practice walking on various surfaces (I.e. grass, carpet, gravel)

A combined and individualized approach always works best! If you have any questions or concerns about your gait or would like advice on what exercises you can do to help, feel free to contact a Physical Therapist at one of our offices to make an appointment. We would love to help you achieve your goals and get you right out of the gate again.

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one”   ~ Dolly Parton

Blog written by Natasha Clarke, PT, DPT

 

Chair Yoga for Balance and Overall Well-Being

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We all know it’s true…cultivating a healthy lifestyle is a choice that we make on a daily basis.  But what if our bodies are making it more and more challenging to make that choice?  With age, our ability to participate in regular standing exercises can decline and  sometimes, just staying on our feet can be challenging enough!  This decline happens for many different reasons including pain from osteoarthritis or balance deficiencies.

However, the good news is, there are other options for those who have difficulty standing or balancing for prolonged periods of time.

Chair Yoga is one of those options.

Yoga is an excellent way for older adults to loosen and stretch painful muscles, reduce stress, and improve circulation. It also reduces anxiety, helps lower blood pressure, protects joints, and builds strength and balance.  Utilizing various modifications to traditional yoga poses and balancing exercises, chair yoga can achieve many of the same health benefits, while significantly reducing the stress on muscles and joints.  The chair provides support for traditional standing poses, which are modified to be performed while sitting in the chair.

A recent study on Chair Yoga conducted at Florida Atlantic University showed pain reduction, improved mobility and improvement of security and well-being.  This 8 – week program was the first to show Chair Yoga as an alternative treatment for lower extremity osteoarthritis.  In fact, the Arthritis Foundation recommends yoga to improve joint pain, improve flexibility, balance and reduce stress and muscle tension.

If you are someone who has osteoarthritis, trouble with standing exercise or are just looking for a new low impact alternative to regular exercise, you may want to consider adding a Chair Yoga program into your weekly routine.  Yoga adds not only a low impact physical component to your routine, but also a mental one by calming and relaxing participants.  Inevitably this can lead to a greater feeling of happiness and well-being…from which everyone can benefit!

If you’d like more information about Chair Yoga, please contact HARTZ Physical Therapy at 717-735-8880.  We are introducing a Chair Yoga class which will be held at 90 Good Drive, Suite 201 on Tuesdays from 12pm-1pm. The class will be led by certified yoga instructor and current PT Assistant at Lancaster-West, Michelle Newman!  We invite you to join us!  In the meantime, try some chair yoga stretches at home.  Be sure to avoid stretching beyond your comfort level.  Keep it gentle and breathe!

Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

It seems like with every new year, comes new fitness trends and work out programs. Over the past few years, High Intensity Interval Training OR HIIT has been at the forefront of fitness magazines and news headlines and is becoming an increasingly popular topic at universities and research facilities across the world. So, what exactly is HIIT and what is so unique about this approach to training?

While there is no universal definition, HIIT is characterized by working at high intensities (usually, > 80% of your max heart rate) for moderate amounts of time with short intervals of rest in between. Due to the “all out” nature of these workouts, HIIT workouts typically last around 30 minutes. What is so unique about these intense, focused workouts, is the increased cardiovascular and muscular conditioning benefits that can be gained in the same amount of time verses traditional workouts.

 Research has shown tremendous benefits by replacing 1 hour of steady state cardio per week with two 30-minute sessions of HIIT in healthy adults who exercise consistently.

In a study completed at Penn State University, Dr. Jinger Gottschall researched the effects of HIIT training on already active adults.  Over a 6-week period, she found that participants who replaced 1 hour of steady state cardio with two sessions of 30 minute HIIT achieved the following gains:

  • Improvement of their VO2 max (maximum oxygen consumption rate) by 6.4%
  • On average, a 14.5% decrease in triglycerides
  • On average, a 2.1% decrease in body fat
  • On average, a 15.7% increase in leg strength

For the endurance athletes competing at higher level competitions, research has shown similar results in improving overall endurance, most notably in long distance runners.

So, what does all of this really mean? For the already active adult who may find themselves in a fitness “rut”, replacing 1 hour of steady state cardio with two 30-minute sessions of HIIT training may offer diversity and efficiency to your workout regimen, especially for those with limited time.

 IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE: While the benefits of incorporating HIIT training into your daily workout routine are enticing, there are a few things to consider before starting. Due to the “all out” and often times high impact nature of HIIT, these types of workouts are generally not recommended for those who are just starting an exercise regimen. New types of HIIT programs are beginning to appear, incorporating cycling as a lower impact option to those seeking this alternative. While modifications can be made to reduce impact, it is best to consult with your physician or physical therapist to see if this type of exercise regimen is appropriate for you and your fitness goals.

While HIIT may not be right for you initially, a physical therapist can help prepare you for the increased physical demands of a HIIT program so that you can train intensely with reduced risk of injury. Hartz Physical Therapy also offers a Medically Adapted Gym program where you could initiate HIIT training, in a supervised setting to optimize your success. Happy training!

Sources:

Gottschall, J. , Bopp, C. and Hastings, B. (2014) The Addition of High Intensity Interval Training Reduces Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and Enhances Strength in Active, Healthy Adults. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4, 275-282. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2014.45034.

Metabolic Adaptations to Short-term High-Intensity Interval … : Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/Fulltext/2008/04000/Metabolic_Adaptations_to_Short_term_High_Intensity.3.aspx

Plogging: Jogging with a Dual Purpose

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, I am blogging about plogging. Well if that rhyme doesn’t convince you of the merits of this new trend, keep reading.

Plogging is a new spin on exercise that allows us to make the world a healthier place while making sure we stay healthy too. Originating in Sweden in 2016, this trend has generated increased attention over the past 2 years, and it’s easy to see why!

This activity turns a boring old jog around your neighborhood into a unique type of scavenger hunt, all while improving your community, one piece of litter at a time! Not a runner?  No problem! You can still participate with a simple walk while cleaning up the street, also known as plalking.

While jogging and walking are both fantastic aerobic exercises, plogging increases your workout potential by incorporating several functional activities, such as squatting, lunging, stretching, and maintaining balance. However, to avoid injury, follow these recommendations:

  • Ensure you maintain proper form as you bend to pick up items from the ground. This includes bending at the knees, not at the waist.
  • Be sure to come to a full stop before bending over, which will help avoid over-extension of joints and muscles.
  • Perform squats or lunges in a slow and controlled manner to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your back, knees, and hips.
  • When squatting, make sure you can see your toes past your knees, if you look down. Imagine you are sitting in a chair placed behind you.
  • Avoid motions that cause pain to reduce the chances of inflammation following exercise.

If plogging sounds like it’s for you, here are a few tips which will help ensure a safe and healthy experience before you set out to clean up your neighborhood:

GERM PROTECTION: A good pair of gloves are a must to ensure protection from bacteria and germs.  Some of stuff you’ll find can be pretty dirty!
PLASTIC BAGS:  This one is a no-brainer, but it might be a good idea to pack an extra bag or two…you never know how many “treasures” you’ll find!
WARM-UP/COOL DOWN: No matter your age, a light warm-up before plogging and brief cool-down afterwards are always a good idea.  Dynamic stretches (stretching as you are moving) before and static stretches (long holds in a stretched position) afterwards will help your muscles stay limber and healthy.
HYDRATION: Drink plenty of water! Our bodies love water and making sure you stay hydrated is an easy way to keep you energized and healthy.

The bottom line is, if you’re looking for a spin to your daily workout and would like to do your part to help clean up your community, get out and get plogging!  Interest in plogging is growing and you are likely to find others who are passionate about it in your community.  Check out the Lancaster Plogging Facebook page where like-minded people often plan group plogging outings for the community.  Happy Plogging!

Sleeping Away your Pain

We know your type, you go above and beyond to advance, progress, and accomplish. You are up at dawn and burn the midnight oil to get ahead. And when an injury presents itself, you work with your physical therapist to recover, whether it be attending every visit in the clinic or doing your home exercise program ten times per day!  However, something you may not have considered, is how sleep deprivation can play into your recovery.

Sleep deprivation is widespread. The CDC considers it a public health problem. It is estimated that up to 90% of sleep pathologies are undiagnosed! Think you sleep well and long enough already due to tracking your sleep? Don’t be too sure. In trials of over 80 sleep tracking devices (think Fitbit) worn by consumers, only one withstood a clinical trial. Most of the devices overestimated sleep duration and quality and underestimated awakenings at night.

Sleep helps you recover. A recent article in Physical Therapy, a professional PT research journal, reviewed the correlation of quality sleep to injury rehabilitation. Not only does sleep increase cognitive function as we’ve heard so often, but it also facilitates increased immune function and tissue healing as well as decreased perception of pain.  Imagine, get your 8 hours of solid shut-eye each night and feel no pain (well, OK maybe just less pain)

We can help maximize your comfort to get more sleep! Our professionals know how to make you more comfortable at night. While we are not sleep specialists, we do know how to position you for maximum comfort in that recliner after shoulder surgery or baby that back to get as much deep sleep as possible.

Daily exercise aids sleep as well. This article reminds us that regular moderate exercise has a positive benefit on sleep quality as well. A physical therapist can recommend specific exercises which will be safe to perform, even if you have some limitations. A HARTZ PT, we also provide our signature Medically Adapted Gym and our Better Bones, Better Balance Class designed to help you achieve your goals.  Improved sleep may be a side benefit of trying out these programs.

Sleeping is crucial to your recovery and quality of life. So next time you find yourself skimping on sleep, do yourself a flavor and get a little shut eye. It might help you more than you realize.

Works Cited: F.Al-dughmi, Catherine, et al. “Sleep Health Promotion: Practical Information for Physical Therapists .” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 18 May 2017, academic.oup.com/ptj/article/97/8/826/3831304.

Tips for Traveling after a Joint Replacement

The surgery is done and now is the time to get back to your life.  A joint replacement of any kind is not an easy surgery from which to recover. It takes time!  When the time comes to travel again via car or plane, here are some tips to help make the trip more enjoyable.

4-6 weeks post-surgery:  The majority of surgeons will recommend that you wait a minimum of 6 weeks post-surgery before traveling, however some say you can travel as soon as you are comfortable sitting down, but a minimum of 4 weeks.  This decision depends largely on the length of time you will be traveling, and what mode of transportation you will be utilizing.

Pick your Seat: If you are traveling by air, it is best to select what seat you have on the airplane.  Upgrading to first class is the best solution, but many times not financially possible.  The row of seats behind the partition (between first class and economy) tend to have a little more leg room.  Emergency exit rows also have a little more leg room but since you are traveling after a major operation you might not have the ability to move fast enough to perform the duties required in those rows in case of an actual emergency.  It would also be best to obtain an aisle seat if the other options listed are not possible.

Frequent Breaks: Sitting for long periods of time is very common when traveling. The affected extremity tends to grow tight and stiffen up.  If possible, while on the plane, attempt to get up every 15-20 minutes.  If your travels by plane take you across the country, try to split the trip up and make a stop along the way (at least one layover) to give yourself the opportunity to get off the plane and walk around until your next flight is called.

Security Woes: Going through security at the airport is challenging for anyone. Getting through security after a joint replacement may require a little more preparation. Some physician’s offices may give you a letter stating you have had a joint replacement surgery.  You should also inform the TSA agent upon your arrival at the security checkpoint, that you have received a joint replacement very recently.  You should be prepared to go through extra screening.  Wear loose fitting clothing in the case that you are asked to show your surgical incision.  The more prepared you are, the smoother the process.

Car travel does not have security component, but you still want to plan your trip with frequent stops to give yourself time to get up and walk around. This will help avoid stiffness and tightness at the surgical location and surrounding extremity.  Some knee replacement patients prefer to sit in the back seat to keep their leg elevated across the seat, while others prefer the passenger seat pushed back all the way leaving as much leg room under the dash as possible.

Traveling after a joint replacement is possible, it just takes a little more planning.  It is always a good idea to consult your surgeon or physical therapist prior to your trip for additional recommendations specific to your state of recovery.

Staying Active Outdoors this Winter

winter runner cropped

Old man winter has officially made his appearance over the past few weeks! The roads are covered with snow and this deep freeze just doesn’t want to go away. This often makes it much more challenging to get outside for a run or walk.  However, with the right preparation and proper cold-weather gear, you will be able to break the cabin fever of winter and get outside for some fresh air and exercise! Here are a few tips and tricks to keep you enjoying outdoor exercise throughout winter.

SEE AND BE SEEN: Because the winter days have short hours of daylight, the most important factor is safety.  If you must go outside during the low light hours of the morning or evening, it is extremely important to wear a headlamp, which will help you see the road and allow others to see you. Secondly, wear neon or glow-in-the-dark apparel to further enhance your visibility.

CHOOSING THE CORRECT AMOUNT OF CLOTHING: To put it very generally, layers are your friend!  While each runner’s preferences are unique, consensus on clothing choices can often be summarized into a few key tenants:

  1. You should feel slightly chilled for the first ~10 minutes of your run, then reach a comfortable level.
  2. Documenting the weather conditions, your clothing choices and your overall comfort level in your running log is a great way to refine your preferences.
  3. Be sure to cover all extremities! Gloves, a hat, and warm socks are great investments!
  4. Base layers should be breathable. Consider investing in performance clothing, commonly sold at local running stores, that allows sweat to be removed from your skin, keeping your body at comfortable temperature.
  5. Zippers are great features on windy days. Increasing/reducing ventilation when running with/against the wind are key to maintaining proper body temperature.

ENSURE FOOTWEAR HAS PROPER TRACTION: When snow and ice are a factor, ensuring proper traction is imperative.  Many runners use Yaktrax, however, another option runners are beginning to use are sheet metal screws affixed straight into the perimeter of a pair of old running shoes. To affix properly, place 3/8 inch sheet metals screws: 3 in a triangle in the back, 5 in a horseshoe shape in the front. Screw then in from the bottom up. There are multiple online resources which provide step-by-step instructions.

PREPARE YOUR BODY WITH A THOROUGH WARM UP: Freezing temperatures increase the possibility of slippery pavement.  Combining that with the need for quick leg movements during exercise, can be a recipe for disaster.  Therefore, be sure to add some dynamic stretches to your warmup, allowing the blood to start flowing. This will decrease the possibility of an injury.  Focus specifically on leg muscles, spending 5-10 minutes warming up hamstrings and quadriceps.

Hopefully these tips will motivate you to continue your outdoor exercise routine throughout the winter months.  Lancaster County is a beautiful place to explore by foot, with something new to discover every season, including winter!

Fitness after Fifty

Senior Couple on the BeachSo now you just turned fifty, sixty, seventy or more!!  You may notice that you can’t easily do what you used to anymore or possibly it takes you a little longer to do it.  As we age, we experience a 10% decline in muscle strength and a 3-5% reduction in our resting metabolic rate with each decade!  To retard this decline, staying active and exercising is key.  Good health doesn’t just happen for most people. You need to take charge of what you eat, how you exercise and how to unwind and relax.  Jack LaLanne, an exercise and nutrition celebrity, once stated, “You need to work at living. Dying is easy!”

A well-designed exercise program should address strength training, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility.  In addition, eating a nutritionally-balanced diet, getting enough sleep and ensuring a healthy mind though stress management techniques are also extremely important to an overall healthy body and mind.  This all may seem a little overwhelming, especially considering the busy schedule that most of us maintain each day! But this is especially important to make time for this as we get older.  Here are some tips to remember:

1. MAKE EXERCISE FUN: Exercising to some people is foreign and to others it may be second nature. Choose a form of exercise that you like and you’ll be more likely to stick to it. For instance, walking is good for cardiovascular health and leg strength and requires only a good pair of sneakers and possibly a friend! Consider choosing a method that is easier on your joints, such walking, jogging, biking, swimming or elliptical machines.

2. NO WEIGHTS REQUIRED: Strength training doesn’t have to mean lifting a heavy bar full of weights. Resistance training can be accomplished in many forms, including machines, exercise bands or just our plain ‘ole body weight!  Aim to complete some type of resistance training at least twice per week, just be sure to keep good form, or you’ll find yourself susceptible to an injury!

3. BE FLEXIBLE: Flexibility also declines as we age, so be sure to include proper stretching at the end of your workouts. We tend to sit more than we used to which causes the muscles to be tighter and stiffer. You may notice this when it becomes more difficult to put on and take off your socks and shoes! Stretching properly following weight training or cardiovascular exercises allows the muscles to be warmed up so that they will be better able to stretch.

4. NUTRITIONALLY SOUND: Good nutrition is an essential part of any healthy lifestyle plan. Consider an anti-inflammatory diet with more fruits, vegetables, less dairy and simple carbohydrates, and less red meat and added sugars. Stay hydrated, as dehydration is a major factor in muscle cramping, low blood pressure and fatigue.

5. REST AND RECHARGE: This should be the easy part!  We have noticed that our bodies don’t recover quite as quickly anymore. Rest plays a major role in your body’s ability to recover from daily activities, so take time out to ensure you aren’t overdoing it.   Sleep should be at least 6 to 8 hours each night. Rest throughout the day when you’re tired. In addition, meditation or breathing exercises help many people to reduce stress.

Educating yourself about healthy living is a major factor when creating a commitment to a healthier lifestyle.  Consider scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist who can identify strengths and weaknesses and answer any questions you may have about how the muscles and joints in your body work.  This is especially helpful if you have an underlying orthopedic, joint, or muscle problem and would therefore need a modified exercise program. As an expert in the musculoskeletal system, a physical therapist will help you create a plan that will get you on track toward better health, while minimizing any injury risk…and often in only one visit!

Medically-Adapted Gym

MAG

Do you want to exercise for health reasons, but have a genuine fear of starting a fitness program – fear of the unknown, fear of the intimidation in a commercial gym, or just plain fear of doing something new?  Physical activity can improve health. People who exercise tend to live longer and lower their risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers.  Ready to make some changes?

If you have shied away from the typical commercial gyms and would like a different type of fitness experience, we’d like to introduce you to HARTZ Physical Therapy’s Medically Adapted Gym (MAG). This is a one-of-a-kind facility – just for you.  We offer an individualized exercise program designed to meet your fitness needs in a non-intimidating facility. The MAG boasts:

  • Customized fitness plans to fit your individual goals.
  • Supervision at all visits by an Exercise Science Specialist (4 year degree).
  • Thorough PT Evaluation at first visit (billed to insurance).
  • Month-to-month membership fee with no long-term contract or initiation fees.
  • Appointment-based sessions ensure accountability and personal attention at each visit.

The benefit of scheduling an initial evaluation with a physical therapist allows our team to consider all existing health factors which may impact your ability to exercise.  In addition, we can identify any imbalances or weaknesses that could contribute to a future injury.  We are then able to customize your fitness plan to ensure we address any concerns, thereby minimizing the reoccurrence of injury and maximizing your ability to achieve your fitness goals.

During your sessions, you will be working with our MAG Director, Aaron, who is our fitness expert!  With his degree in Exercise Science and passion for fitness, he is one of a kind!  Your exercise program will be modified as needed, and supervised at all times.

We should be exercising MORE, not less, as we age. And we know, it’s hard…but once you get yourself on that exercise cycle, it is amazing how energized you feel! A regular exercise routine will keep you looking and feeling younger and healthier. Our priority is setting up and keeping our clients on a path to better health and fitness. Stop by and see how exercise can change your life!

 

Baseball: Pitching Tips

Zach baseball pic-smallEvery spring, many people look forward to the crack of the ball hitting the bat and the sound of the fans cheering on their teams at the baseball diamond. Locally, Little league coaches are ramping up for the warmer weather, preparing their game schedules and getting themselves educated about the new rules and regulations of the game.  Practices for the little leaguers have begun and the players are anxious to get back to throwing the rawhide in their first games of the season!

In the sheer excitement of the season, safety and prevention of injuries is not usually at the forefront. However, injury prevention techniques are essential for players who want to continue running the bases until the last game of the season.

Common injuries we see among baseball players revolve around the shoulder ,elbow, knee and ankle. Many problems stem from throwing too much or too soon. In fact, 45% of pitchers under the age of 12, complain of chronic arm pain, called medial epicondyle apophysitis, also known as “pitchers elbow”. In this scenario, pain and swelling inside the elbow can limit range of motion.  Common causes include overuse of the arm and the forceful and repetitive nature of throwing.  In particular, the act of pitching places intense stress on the bones, growth plates and ligaments.  To complicate the issue, in the case of the young and adolescent player, these structures are not fully developed yet.  Pitchers ages 9 to 14 are at greater risk of injury from over-use.

Here are some tips to help coaches and parents prevent injury in younger pitchers:

  1. PITCH COUNT:    It is essential to monitor the total number of pitches per game. Coaches must watch for fatigue and other signs that the pitcher may be having pain, such as pitch speed and accuracy.
  2. FANCY PITCHES: Young pitchers, who can throw an accurate curve or breaking ball, tend to be hard to find.  Therefore, once identified, someone with this ability will quickly become a popular choice in the games.  However, these types of pitches tend to place greater stress on the elbow, and therefore, should not be thrown prior to age 14.  For pitchers ages 15 and older, these specialty pitches should be closely monitored to ensure they are not overused.
  3. MECHANICS: Proper throwing technique helps avoid undue stresses and injury.  Remember to keep the elbow even with the shoulder during the wind up and initiation of the pitch. This will help the kids avoid throwing side-arm.  Sometimes young pitchers need frequent reminders about proper technique.

If you do sustain an injury, or are having pain and don’t want it to get worse, we can help!  Physical therapists are the experts of the musculoskeletal system.  Utilizing a personalized, one-on-one approach, we can help restore mobility and strength as well as eliminate the pain.  In addition, we always spend the time to educate our patients and instruct the coaches and parents, as needed, in the proper strengthening techniques for prevention of a future recurrence.

As a Direct Access provider, patients do not need a referral to access physical therapy and we often have same day or next day appointments available.  Save time and money by calling us first.  As a locally owned and operated clinic, we care about our community and strive to exceed our patient’s expectations every day!

Golfing Tip

golf net-smallWarmer temperatures are here!  For many people, this means it is time to dust off the golf clubs, call your buddies, and hit the links!  A lifelong sport, golf offers players a great low impact way to exercise and stay active as we get older, especially if we forgo the cart and walk the course. With the following tips, not only can we help to prevent injuries, but also, to improve our overall golf game.

Golfing Injuries
As we age, the prevalence of injuries increases due to a number of factors. These factors include skeletal changes (arthritis, osteoporosis), muscular changes (weakness), sensory changes (decreased visual acuity, balance deficits), and cardiopulmonary changes (decreased endurance). These physiological changes can lead to changes in our swing technique. This could potentially place undue stress on different muscles in various ways leading to fatigue and overuse injuries.

Injury Prevention
We can be proactive in preventing injuries by focusing on three areas:
1) Always performing a sufficient warm up
2) Improving our flexibility through dynamic and static stretches
3) Strengthening, beginning with our “core” muscles

Warming-up before hitting the golf course or driving range. Warming up can include activities such as brisk walking, calisthenics or even jogging in place. These activities will elevate the heart rate, increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, and allow you to get the maximum benefit from stretching.

Improving flexibility can be performed through dynamic and static stretching.

Dynamic stretching (stretching as you are moving) is preferred before beginning an activity.  Check out this link for some great golf-specific dynamic stretches.

Static stretching (long holds in a stretched position) is more beneficial after the activity is completed.  Below are a few examples of static stretches which will foster healthy muscles post-18 holes:

OneTouch 4.6 Scanned Documents

Strength training programs go a long way in reducing injuries in addition to improving strength and power. Core strengthening is critical as the trunk muscles are active in all parts of the golf swing. Poor trunk muscle or core endurance is highly correlated to the incidence of low back injury. Here are a few Core Strengthening exercises to have on your radar:
OneTouch 4.6 Scanned DocumentsSeeing a Physical Therapist
If pain is significantly affecting your golf game, a visit to a physical therapist can help. Due to Direct Access a physician’s referral is not required with most insurances.  Through a thorough evaluation, an individualized program can be created to address a golfer’s specific strength and flexibility deficits.  This will help you get back on the greens quickly and pain-free!

Basketball:Tips

basket ball court

Basketball Injuries Can Keep You from Playing Your Best. Here are some great tips to keep you in the game and to help you avoid injuries.

Basketball season can be grueling….4-5 months, hours upon hours of practices, a schedule full of hard fought games against rivals, stressful situations where you feel like the world depends on whether you make this foul shot, not to mention trying to get some extra shooting practice whenever possible. It is absolutely essential that players take steps to avoid performance deterioration throughout the season, so they can ensure they are running with the team and not riding the pine. Here are six helpful reminders to help your basketball lover stay in the game this season:

(1) Don’t Neglect the Before and After: Dynamic stretching prior to practices and games and a period of cool down including prolonged held stretches post-workout are essential to keeping those muscles and ligaments limber and healthy. Put a reminder on your calendar to allow time for this both before and after you play.

(2) You Are What You Eat: Neglecting your diet could play a major role in your energy level. Don’t underestimate the importance of a well-balanced diet! General guidelines suggest 25% protein, 60% carbohydrates (fruits and veggies fit in here) and 15% fats. Aim for 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day if possible. (larger meals require a lot of energy to digest, therefore leaving less energy for the hardwood)

(3) Water is your friend: Although sports drinks claim to be the end-all-be-all, the truth is they carry a lot of excess sugars that aren’t necessary. In moderation, no problem, however, water is best to keep you ready to play. Aim for 8-10 twelve ounce glasses of water daily.

(4) Maintain Your Muscle: Although you won’t be completing intense strength training sessions during the season, it is important to continue some strengthening exercises to ensure you don’t lose muscle throughout the season. Utilizing your own body weight or simple hand weights is your best bet and ensure you allow 2 days rest between weight sessions.

(5) Sleeping rocks: 5am wake-up calls for school are not uncommon. However, ensuring players get enough sleep will help ensure solid performance on the court. 7-8 hours should suffice for most, with younger players 16 and under frequently requiring a little more. If you want to soar with the eagles, you can’t hoot with the owls!

(6) Maintain Conditioning When Injured: If you do suffer an injury, talk to your health care providers about what you can continue to do in order to maintain some degree of conditioning. Better yet, contact a qualified physical therapist first for an evaluation (No, you don’t need a physician’s referral!). As highly trained musculoskeletal experts, PTs will usually be able to tell you what’s going on at the initial evaluation and will be able to start your rehabilitation program right away. In addition, he or she will be able to advise you about what you can and cannot continue to do. This quick access to care will often decrease wait time and help you get back to the court most quickly.

Hopefully these tips will help parents and players alike be smart throughout the season to ensure lots of playing time and less down time! If you ever have a question about an injury or pain you are having, please call our office for a quick phone consultation with a physical therapist. We can answer your questions, or refer you to someone who can if it is beyond the scope of our expertise. Good luck this season to all baskeball players. Stay healthy and play hard!

Winter Running Tips

winter run by physical therapist drew nesbitt running in snow - winter running tips

Winter Running Tips: Embrace Old Man Winter

Old Man Winter is right around the corner!   We all know what this means: Snow covered roads make it much more difficult to gather the motivation to get out the door for your run. However with the right preparation and appropriate gear, running outside during winter can be a good way to get some fresh air and break the cabin fever of winter. Here are a few tips and tricks to get out and actually enjoy those cold weather runs!

1.  Neon Colors are Your Friend: With shorter days, it may be difficult to run during the daylight hours. Just because it is dark outside does not mean you need to stay indoors. A reflective neon vest and a good headlight are essential if you plan to run at twilight or after dark.  For added safety, try to select a route that has ample berm or a sidewalk and is not too busy with traffic.

2.  Layers, Layers, Layers: While each runner’s preferences are unique, consensus on clothing choices can often be broken down into a few key tenants:

  • A little chilly…at first – You should feel slightly chilled for the first ~10 minutes of your run, then reach a comfortable level.
  • Running Log: Utilize your running log to record clothing choices, weather conditions/temperature and your body comfort level during the run. This is a great way to refine what works best for you!
  • Keeping extremities warm is key; hat, gloves and warm socks are great investments!
  • Base layers should be breathable: Tech clothes allow sweat to be removed from your skin keeping your body at comfortable temp.
  • Zippers are great features on windy days; increasing or reducing ventilation depending on whether you are running with or against the wind. This is a key to maintaining proper body temperature.

3.  Temperature Guidelines for Clothing (referenced and adapted from Runner’s World):

  • 30 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 1 bottom. Long-sleeve base layer and a jacket keep your core warm. Wear Compression Underwear with tights
  • 10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms. A jacket over your base layer, and wind pants over the tights.
  • 0 to 10 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops and a jacket. Windbrief and two pairs of tights.
  • Minus 10 to 0 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of mittens/socks, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava.
  • Minus 20 degrees: 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 extra pairs of mittens, 1 balaclava, sunglasses.

4.  Snow Runs: With the right equipment, snow running can be a blast! Many runners use Yak-Trax, however here is a little trick we have learned over the years. If you have an old pair of running shoes, another option runners have used are sheet metal screws affixed straight into a pair of running shoes.

5.  Enjoy the Run: This winter’s successes will have lasting effects on your running. So get out there and enjoy what Old Man Winter has to offer!

Written by Drew Nesbitt, DPT

 

About Drew

Drew Nesbitt, DPT started his running career at Hempfield High School where he was a two time PIAA state medalist, then went on to NCAA Division II East Stroudsburg University where he won multiple conference championships, and is currently still competing with the F&M Track Club notably winning the 2015 Hands on House Half Marathon.

 

 Inspiration for Your Winter Runs

“A guy who has run twenty Boston Marathons was once asked, ‘Don’t you feel like skipping a day when it’s raining?’ The old road warrior replied, ‘If you start skipping runs because the weather’s too lousy, pretty soon you start missing runs because the weather’s too nice!'”
– John Hanc, excerpted from 1,001 Pearls of Runners’ Wisdom

“When it’s pouring rain and you’re bowling along through the wet, there’s satisfaction in knowing you’re out there and the others aren’t.”
– Peter Snell

Post-Surgery Fitness

Dumbells over white background and with reflections

Most of us have been there – we pulled a muscle, broke a bone, or had to endure a surgical procedure. Getting back into a fitness regimen can be more difficult than we think. Our habit of going to the gym is no longer a habit, our cardiovascular capability is lacking, and our strength is half of what it used to be. But what to do? Ease back into it! Follow these guidelines to help you stay on track, minimize the likelihood of burnout, and dwindle the chance of re-injury.

The whole idea behind “easing” back into something means to start slowly. You can still do (most of) what you did before, but take it down a notch. Set the machine at a lower intensity, or start at a lower weight. It’s suggested to reduce the weight used to about half of what you lifted prior to your exercise “break.” Also, extend your warm-up and cool down time to help protect your muscles as they strengthen. As your workout becomes less exhaustive, you’ll know you’ve turned the corner!

That being said, this hypothetical corner is different for everyone. You have to be patient. Just like losing a few pounds, the change doesn’t happen overnight. Slow and steady wins the race. Try to pay special attention to your body. Are you feeling fatigued? Stop if pain increases or if you feel weak. Pushing yourself before your strength is there will only elongate your recovery time.

Our Medically Adapted Gym (M.A.G.) program is ideal for people who need to get back into exercising but are recovering from an injury or surgery. As the Director of M.A.G., I assist you in your journey and create an individualized workout regimen that fits your needs, while also being accessible to answer your questions. Curious to learn more? Call me at 717.735.8880.

-Aaron Brustad, B.S.

 

Winter Workouts

IMG_1956Feeling like you just aren’t ready for another New Year’s resolution? Here are a few ways to get back at it in the new year.

Find a friend.
Whether it is a running group, a dog that needs to be walked, or a Zumba class, we all need others to remind us of our commitment.  Finding a group or friend in your area who will keep you in check, will not only keep you motivated, it will help them with their workout regimen as well.

Try something new!
Go for a hike, try a spin class, or just find a new running route. Variety is the spice of life, and it can also spice up your workouts.  Sometimes the littlest things can add some fun and adventure to your workouts.

Reset your goals.
Do you find that you forget about your resolution after a few months, weeks or days? Put your goals in writing and make them small.  Huge, unattainable goals will make it more likely that you will quit your resolution before it really gets started.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Make an appointment with a physical therapist as you start your new plan. They can offer advice on how to get past your workout plateau and show you how to relieve the little aches and pains that come with a new workout plan.

Tune out.
Make time for yourself at least once a week.  Unplug the laptop, turn off your cellphone and just enjoy the little things that life has to offer.  Enjoy exercising without the need to have music, email, and TV.  It might make you remember why you started in the first place.

Most importantly, remember that every day is a new day and a new chance for a change.  Have a happy and safe New Year!

-HARTZ PT

Staying Fit During the Holidays

Image courtesy of cuteimage at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cuteimage at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here’s our team’s compiled list of crafty ways to stay fit during the holidays!

Get movin’.

Wear comfortable shoes throughout the holiday season. Take a walk on your lunch break or run around your block before starting dinner.

Use the weather to your advantage.

It’s snowing? Perfect. Get outside (with or without kids) and play! From skiing, to snowball fights, to pulling your neighbors around in a sled, there’s lots of unique exercise to be had.

Start a tradition.

Every Thanksgiving, grab the family and do a family race. (It doesn’t have to be far.) Add a twist: you only get to eat Turkey if you join in on the fun!

Clean.

No, like really clean! Who said you can’t make the spring cleaning task a little less daunting? From dusting the baseboards to vacuuming the corners in your basement, cleaning will get you moving.

Youtube.

Have a date with YouTube. No, not with just any Youtube video, with an at-home workout video. That little 10 minute living room workout just burned extra calories and got your blood moving (you just saved on your heat bill, too!).

Be an antsy traveler.

At times the holidays require us to travel. Rather than sitting still before your flight, walk around the airport, visit the shops and keep moving. (Just set an alarm so you have plenty of time to head back to the gate before your flight boards.)

Drink a cup of tea.

At any holiday gathering, reach for the tea before every meal. You will not only get a taste of sweetness, but you will likely eat less if you’ve already filled your stomach with liquid.

Happy Holidays – and cheers to health!
HARTZ PT

Swimming

poolSwimming is unique. It’s the one aerobic exercise that offers benefits without the jolt on our joints. In fact, when immersed in water to the waist, your body only bears 50 percent of its weight. Talk about reduced impact! Swimming and aquatic therapy is not only great exercise, it can be a significant tool in aiding with recovery from an injury, assisting you with getting back into shape.

We all know exercise can improve our mood and also help us live a longer and healthier life. For some, this may be difficult with age, based on decreased mobility. Arthritis, for example, is a condition seen widely across America. Over 49% of adults 65 and older suffer from some form of Arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation recommends swimming as the best exercise for those who suffer. Swimming with arthritis can reduce pain while also increasing strength and flexibility.

As we age, we also become concerned about our bones. Another benefit of swimming is its link to improved bone strength, especially in pre-menopausal women. When bones are strong, the risk of breaks from falls are less frequent – keeping you moving.

Looking for a pool? HARTZ PT offers aquatic therapy for strengthening and rehabilitation at our Lititz, Lancaster-East and Mount Joy locations. Give us a call for more information, today.

Brian Hartz, DPT, OCS,CSCS 

Returning to the Track

Copyright: myroom / 123RF Stock Photo

If you’re a runner, odds are you’ve dealt with a running-related injury. Don’t make the mistake of returning to your regular running regimen without proper recovery; this could potentially increase the severity of the original injury. When in recovery, take these steps to ensure proper treatment – getting you back on the track in a jiff.

Take off the mask.

We tend to make the mistake of covering up the symptoms of an injury, rather than treating the core root of the problem. Using over-the-counter pain relievers as your go-to daily pain management will not pay off in the long-run when dealing with the most common types of running injuries often referred to as overuse injuries. In order to get back on track, you must address the root of the problem and often times this is accomplished through strengthening, stretching, rest, and may require physical therapy.

Start slowly.

If you went through the trouble of staying away from running and also received physical therapy to help heal an injury, then be wise about getting “back into it.” You can’t expect your body to be in the same shape it was when you decided to take some time off. To prevent sparking the irritation of the injury, ease into your running program: starting with 25 percent of what was previously “normal.” Progressing from this point often involves following the 10 percent rule (i.e., add only 10 percent to your weekly mileage when returning to your normal program).  For many returning runners it is beneficial to incorporate softer surfaces such as grass, trails, and the track to reduce forces being put on the body.

Mix and match.

There are many ways to get exercise that will still enable you to receive cardiovascular training without re-injuring yourself. Try alternating between low mileage runs, biking, power walking, swimming, and elliptical use. This cross training can help get your body back in gear for hitting the pavement. (It is advised to ask your physical therapist what exercises are recommended.)

Drew Nesbitt, DPT

Football Safety

Copyright: nyul / 123RF Stock Photo

Summer is over and the smell of fall sports is strong. Make sure the athlete in your family is prepared, minimizing the likelihood of injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012) high school athletes account for an estimated two million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year. What’s more, the injuries are unlike those of the past. Sports now require more extensive training, more intense practices, and added game time. With the inevitability of overuse, it’s important to know how to prevent injury.

These easy steps can help you avoid injury, ensuring longer play-time and a painless season. Well, bad pain at least!

Pre-participation exams:
Many schools require pre-participation exams, or “sports physicals.” These assessments of health can catch a medical condition that could ultimately end in injury. Start the season off on the right foot.

Off-season prep:
Without regular exercise, your muscles and joints will not be adequately prepared for strenuous physical activity. Rather than risking over-exertion, a pulled muscle, or complete exhaustion, keep physically active. (For you winter sport players, start now!)

Warm-up:
The warm-up. We’ve heard it’s important, and it’s not joke. Starting any exercise regimen without a proper warm-up can give you a one-way ticket to injury town. Warming-up helps break down the chemical complex of oxygen, which enables it to separate from the blood (allowing its delivery to the muscle for better performance). Warming up also helps you avoid exercise induced cardiac abnormalities by increasing blood flow to the heart. One last take-away, warming up helps your muscles get used to the idea of being pushed to their limits. This can help minimize muscle soreness.

Don’t be a hero:
Stop when it hurts. Your body is telling you something if you’re in pain. If you don’t listen to the pain receptors, you could be making the situation worse. Say you have a stress fracture. Odds are that with a little TLC and physical therapy you’re en route to a speedy recovery, getting you back in the game. What’s unfortunate is when you don’t take this warning sign seriously, and continue to play. Consequently, your bench time just increased, and your injury worsened.

Let’s go team!

 

Heat Illness

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Waves of heat may come and go, but the need for hydration remains constant… Especially when the heat is high. With seasonal summer temperatures, and pre-season training underway, planning ahead can save you or your child some unnecessary discomfort.

It is more difficult for young individuals (children and teenagers) to expel heat through sweat as effectively as adults. Because of this, it’s essential for young athletes to hydrate prior to practice, or engaging in strenuous physical activity, in the outside heat. A good way to ensure hydration is to take frequent (they can be quick!) breaks.

Heat illness is nothing to scoff at. It is a medical emergency that can be fatal if not treated with urgency. If you have a child in a sport, or if you are an athlete yourself, here are some symptoms you need to be aware of:
-Nausea
-Headache
-Fatigue
– Muscle cramps
– Faintness
Avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks. In fact eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will naturally hydrate you. In addition, drink enough liquid (preferably water) throughout the day, well before game time. It can also be beneficial to wear layers, should the weather be warmer than what you anticipated. Lastly, getting plenty of exercise outside can help acclimate you to warm temperatures.

Should you or your child reach the point of heat illness or exhaustion, stop the activity with which you are participating immediately and drink up. You may not feel thirsty, but it’s very important to rehydrate. A cool compress or a cool wet towel can also help lower your heightened temperature more quickly. Lastly, it’s wise to call your primary care physician for expert advice.

Stay safe and gulp away –

HARTZ PT