Shoveling Stinks

February is a time when the snow tends to pile up, and we all get ready for the winter activity those of us in upstate NY typically do not look forward to – snow shoveling. Although shoveling is not enjoyable, it can be a good form of exercise if performed correctly. There are many considerations to keep in mind to get the most out of the exercise, and avoid common injuries. Here are some tips:

  • A good guideline to do with any form of exercise is to keep your body warm. Wear warm clothes and cover your face if it is very cold outside. This is particularly important for anyone who has a history, or family history, of heart disease. If not adequately warm, your internal core will constrict, and make it harder on your heart to pump the blood all over your body.
  • Make sure you do a light stretch with your arms, and trunk for about 5 minutes. Something as simple as rotating your arms and twisting your trunk to loosen up will help.
  • Make sure to be very conscious of your body mechanics. You should be trying to push the snow, not pick it up and throw it. Keep your back as straight as possible and try to avoid twisting as you are moving the snow. Bend with your hips and knees to push the snow using your leg muscles.
  • Perhaps the most important thing: break up the activity if it is too large. Shoveling for 45 minutes with a break, is much better on your body than shoveling for 1 hour and 30 minutes without a break, especially if you are not used to the activity.

The most common shoveling injuries are low back pain, and shoulder tendonitis. The best way to avoid low back pain is to use the proper body mechanics mentioned previously. If you are feeling back pain, try to adjust your posture to see if it helps. If it does not help, break up the activity into smaller portions with rest breaks. Most shoulder injuries occur when people try to throw the snow. It is very important to try to push the snow instead of throwing it. If shoulder pain is felt, remember to stretch, and put ice on your shoulder when completed, and break up the activity. If pain is present lasting longer than 3 days after shoveling, you should see your physical therapist or physician. The quicker the injury is addressed, the quicker it will heal!

The above is intended as general information only. Be sure to contact your physician for advice or your own specific medical problems.


Preventing Falls

Did you know that more than 1/3 of adults age 65 and older fall every year? Falling is a major concern among older adults and should be taken seriously and prevented as much as possible! Falls cause over 39% of injury deaths among adults over 65. That makes falls the leading cause of those types of death – over 18,000 people (65 years or older) in 2007 died because of a fall. In 2009 over 2 million older adults were seen in emergency rooms for non-fatal falls!

What are some risk factors that make falling a real possibility?

  1. Muscle weakness and lack of lower extremity flexibility
  2. Difficulty walking or balancing & decreased coordination
  3. Medications and/or their side effects (like dizziness)
  4. Foot problems
  5. Having a heart issue – an irregular rhythm or faster/slower rate
  6. Vision problems

Just because this is a very common problem does not mean that this should be considered “normal” or just be accepted. So, how can you prevent falling for you or someone you love?  Here are a few tips:

  • Make an appointment with a Physical Therapist so they can screen you for problems and help get you set up on a program to reduce your risk of falling.
  • Assess the home for hazards. Many people trip over objects, or shuffle their feet and trip. Make sure there are clear pathways to walk and rugs and carpets are laying flat without bumps or creases. It’s also a good idea to add hand rails or grab bars in places like bathrooms or stairways where falls are common. Use non-slip mats in wet or slippery areas as well.
  • Start an exercise program. Please do this with help and supervision from a professional! Start out slow and with help to ensure it’s safe for you to participate and that you won’t fall or injure yourself. We recommend checking with your physician and then working with a physical therapist first!
  • Continue your program and remain consistent! Most programs can be done either at a fitness center or at home. Don’t slack off and skip a day – consistency is key!
  • Medication management! Always communicate with your doctor(s) and pharmacist so you are aware of possible side effects and they can be ready for dangerous combinations of medications or “red flags”. Always carry a list of your medications with you and only take them as prescribed! Never share medications!

We hope this helps you and/or a loved one to help reduce the risk or prevent falls! For more information check out the following sources:

Have a safe and happy New Year!!

Being Mindful for the Holidays

Before you close this tab and say “this spiritual junk is not for me”, give us 2 minutes of your undivided attention. That is the direction health and wellness is going, “undivided”…on your “self”, the whole self, including the body, mind, and breath.

Take a moment where you are, sitting or standing, and close your eyes (but first, read this). Let your shoulders relax. Without trying to change anything, just witness the body as it is. How do your feet feel? Is one slightly in front of the other? How are your knees and hips? Are they soft and tension free, or locked out and activated? Is your core engaged or resting comfortably? Are you clenching your teeth?

How is your breath? Is it up high in your chest and neck, or deep in your belly? How does it feel to breathe all the way down and just let it go?

That is mindfulness. Just witnessing. Not changing and not judging. Because how can we change if we do not know where we are right now?

So when you are doing 15 reps on the leg press machine, how is your breath? When you are driving 45 minutes to work, where is your head relative to the rest of your body? When you open a bag of potato chips, are you actually hungry?

Becoming mindful takes no extra time, just one thought; “Be present now”. This practice will improve your exercise routine, decrease areas of any present pain, and improve the totality of your emotional and social systems.

The holiday times can be extremely busy, with our personal health taking the back burner. You absolutely should enjoy the tastefulness of the holiday season, however here are some ways to incorporate mindfulness.

  1. Try eating distraction free. No phones, no TV, no computers. Enjoy the company you are with, or do this alone! Really taste the food. Chew it up and feel the texture. What sensations come up? What do you enjoy about this food (or maybe not enjoy?) Be a food critic and taste all the flavors.
  2. Take a moment to breathe, and put your fork down! Too often are we are eating on the go and cannot shovel food in quick enough, but in those moments where you can sit down (which should be at least 1x a day), breathe in between each bite.
  3. Change up the physical act of eating; flip your fork upside down or switch hands. This allows you to get out of your robotic routines and get the brain working. You can even change the utensil; chop sticks take a lot more time to eat carbo-loaded rice.
  4. Remember that eating is a gift and a process to fuel our selves for our day. We are lucky to have an abundance of food in this country. Appreciate every bite you take, and that act of kindness within your own self will spread to those you interact with.

We hope this helps you relax a little and take some time for you this busy holiday season. Remember to be thankful for everything you DO have and enjoy your loved ones and those little moments. Breathe it in and be present. Have a happy & healthy holiday season!

How to Have an Enjoyable & Healthy Holiday Season Without the Weight Gain

The holidays are a time to be near friends and family. It’s a time to celebrate, which for most of us, includes larger than normal amounts of food, more sugary treats, and busier schedules. This all is a formula for disaster when it comes to healthy habits. Here are 6 tips for you to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain.

  1. Stick to a regular schedule as much as possible. This goes for not only your workout schedule, but also your work and sleep schedules. When we get out of routine and don’t get enough sleep, our bodies can do funny things, well, not really funny. One of those things is to gain weight. We tend to crave sugar when we lack sleep which then makes us snack more on sweets.
  2. Watch what you drink! Alcohol has TONS of calories! More than carbs and protein, and almost as much as fat! Did you know 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories? Be very cautious of not only how many drinks you have, but also WHAT you are drinking. Drinks with mixers or creamier drinks tend to have more calories. You also have less self-control of what and how much you eat when you have more adult beverages. If you need to have something in your hand while socializing, carry a glass of water or other non-alcoholic beverage.
  3. Don’t show up to a holiday party hungry. Have a light snack before you go or fill your belly with a glass of water so you’ll be less likely to snack on not-so-healthy options when you arrive. Yogurt, salad, veggies, or even a small helping of pretzels are good options.
  4. Choose healthier snacks and eat slowly. Eating slowly helps you feel full sooner. Choosing snacks like veggies or shrimp cocktail are lower calorie options and are also more nutritious. Be wary of dips and dressings. These are sneaky ways to add un-needed calories to your snacks or meals. If you have to have those, be aware of portion size. Remember; self-control!
  5. Don’t stand by the food. This one is simple, but often forgotten about. When food is easily accessible, we tend to snack more consistently. Instead of standing and snacking for the whole party, take a small plate (of healthy snacks) and go away from the food to mingle and catch up with your friends.
  6. Walk it off. Many people do this, or say they will, but it’s really an easy step (literally) to help combat all the tasty holiday treats. Before or after your meal, take a friend or your family and go for a stroll to burn some extra calories and start a new tradition. If the weather isn’t cooperating, maybe have a dance party instead!

There are lots of fun things about the holidays and food doesn’t have to be the focus. Make sure you’re enjoying the company of your loved ones and soak it all in while you can. We hope you have a happy & healthy holiday season!

How Exercise Can Help With Joint Pain

How Exercise Can Help with Joint Pain

            Most people know what arthritis is; simply put, “joint inflammation”. This inflammation causes pain in the joints and can be a very frustrating and painful condition to live with. Many people however, do not realize that exercise and moving can actually help decrease their level of discomfort.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and affects millions of Americans. This type of arthritis affects most people beginning around age 45 and is also sometimes referred to as “degenerative joint disease”. This type of arthritis is when the cartilage in the joints breaks down, the bones begin to touch and rub and cause pain and inflammation along with bone deformities. Click here for more details and information specific to this disease.

Exercise and physical therapy can help prevent, slow the progression, and remedy OA and it’s symptoms. Here’s how:

  1. If you are overweight or obese, you’re adding extra stress & strain to your joints – especially hips, knees, and ankles/feet. This extra stress (weight) adds to the already demanding job your joints do throughout your daily activities. This speeds up the breakdown process of your cartilage. If you begin exercising and losing weight, your joints will thank you!
  2. Low-impact exercises actually help to improve joint health. Gentle exercises can help increase mobility and increase muscular strength around the joint to help give added support. When you stop exercising, your joints can actually get even more stiff and sore. Don’t believe us? Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic. Try swimming, biking, or walking to start. **Please always check with your physician before beginning an exercise regimen!**
  3. Exercise helps fight fatigue, which can contribute to arthritis and joint pain. By exercising regularly, you’re building up cardiovascular and muscular endurance. This is needed for longer duration activities throughout your daily routine.
  4. Exercise helps increase and maintain bone density/strength. Weight-bearing activities and using weights while exercising actually strengthens your bones! So don’t just do cardio. If your physician approves, add in some moderate weight lifting to your routine.

While it may be difficult to start an exercise program when you are experiencing joint pain, if done correctly, it will improve your health and help to ease your joint pain! If you’re not sure where to start, make an appointment with your physician or one of our physical therapists to make sure you’re healthy enough to start a fitness routine. Then, come in with one of our fitness staff members to get set up on a program that’s right for you!

We hope this article helps you or a loved one find the motivation and courage to start a journey to a healthier more mobile lifestyle!

Athletic Trainer vs. Personal Trainer

When most people hear the term “Athletic Trainer” they think “Personal Trainer.” This is a very common and easily understandable mix-up, however these are two very different professions. Below are a few of the differences to help you understand each profession and who you should consult.

1. Education: Athletic Trainers require at least a 4-year degree at an accredited college. This requirement is in the process of changing to requiring a Master’s degree. Personal trainers do not require a degree of any kind.

2. Certification: Athletic Trainers are required to take a national certification exam. There is only one exam option and without acquiring this certification, athletic trainers are not allowed to practice and cannot use the term “Certified Athletic Trainer.” Personal Trainers have a variety of certification exams available to choose from. There is no regulation on the term “Personal Trainer” therefore anyone can refer to themselves as a Personal Trainer.

3. Training/Abilities: Athletic Trainers are allied healthcare providers required to be certified in CPR, First Aid, and AED use. They are often the first on scene and deal mostly with sports injuries. They specialize in the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. Athletic Trainers are also well-versed in strength & conditioning programs for athletes. Personal Trainers work with individuals to improve their overall fitness and body composition, and do NOT deal with injuries as they are not healthcare providers.

4. Job Settings: Athletic Trainers are able to work in a variety of job settings such as: youth sports programs, high schools, colleges & universities, professional sports teams, military, and more! Personal Trainers typically work in fitness centers or gyms as well as travel to clients’ homes in some cases.

Hopefully this helps you to understand what Certified Athletic Trainers do and what Personal Trainers do. For more information click here! If your child plays a sport at any of our affiliated high school programs, we have a Certified Athletic Trainer to help prevent and manage injuries!

7 Things You Should Know About Physical Therapy

We know many people don’t love coming to their physical therapy appointment. It’s work, it can make your muscles sore, and let’s face it, it’s one more thing to add to your already busy schedule. What most people may not know though is how much it can help with so many various physical ailments. Here are 7 things you should know.

  1. Physical therapists are specialists in musculoskeletal injuries and issues. Through manual testing and a complete history provided by you, we can figure out the best course of treatment for your specific ailment, whether that’s with us, or referring you to another specialist.
  2. Physical therapists don’t just work with injuries, stretching, and strengthening muscles though. We diagnose and treat other problems like chronic headaches, vertigo, carpal tunnel, and more! The sooner we can evaluate you, the better as this will help remedy an issue before it becomes a more serious health problem. Not sure what’s going on? Schedule an appointment with a physical therapist!
  3. You don’t always need a script before you make an appointment. Most insurance companies do not require you to see your physician before you come to us, so now you can skip a step and come right in to get to work on feeling better! Don’t forget that YOU get to choose where you go for your physical therapy needs! If you do get a script or a physician instructs you to go to a specific location, you aren’t forced to go to that one facility. You can do your own research and choose your own physical therapy facility!
  4. Contrary to popular belief, physical therapy is not painful, but actually helps chronic pain patients! The opioid epidemic in this country has skyrocketed and believe it or not, that’s mostly due to prescribed drugs after surgery and for chronic pain. Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to manage your pain without the risk of highly addictive drugs.
  5. Did you know that lower back pain plagues nearly 80% of Americans at some point during their lifetime? Almost everyone who experiences an episode of low back pain will suffer another occurrence, and lower back pain is one of the costliest medical problems in America. Physical therapy treatments are designed to ease pain, improve mobility, strength, posture, and function. We also teach our patients how to control their symptoms and protect their spine for years to come.
  6. Most older adults report having problems with walking and standing. About one in three older adults (65 or older) in the U.S. falls every year! Physical therapists are trained to help improve movement and balance so we can help prevent falls and reduce the risk of hip fracture!. Talk to a physical therapist if you or someone you know is at risk for falls. (Get more information here.)
  7. Not all physical therapists are the same! Many PT’s specialize in different areas. For example, some are in pediatrics, some with geriatrics, and others with much more specialized areas like pelvic floor rehab. If you have had a bad experience with one, don’t think everyone else will be the same!

We hope that this blog has helped you understand the role that physical therapists can play in your life. Hopefully you stay healthy, but if you run into issues, stop in and see us. We would love to help!

5 Tips to Start a Fitness Routine You’ll Actually Stick With

We all know that working out usually isn’t the first thing you want to do when you wake up. Nor is it the first thing that comes to mind when it’s time to go home after work. We get it. That’s why we’re here to help you be successful on your journey to health and well-being. Here are 5 tips to help you start a routine and stick with it.

  1. Get help from a professional. This may seem scary or expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either of those things! Think about it. This is your health we’re talking about and that’s not something you should mess with. Be cautious about searching for fitness programs on the internet. You may have restrictions that those online programs don’t address and that could end up hurting you in the long run. Click here to check out personal training prices & packages. Don’t forget, new members get 2 complimentary sessions to use just for this reason!
  2. Pick a time and block it off. Seriously, schedule your workouts! Put them in your planner, your phone, on your family calendar on your fridge…anywhere and everywhere. Seeing it written down and having that time set aside means that you will have fewer scheduling issues and interruptions. Writing it down on family or work calendars also means that others will know you’re not available. Make yourself a priority!
  3. Find a Friend. Get a friend to workout with you and you’ll be more likely to stick with it and you’ll be more successful (honestly, we aren’t making this up, there’s research to back it up)! You won’t be able to come up with a lame excuse to not go, you can help push each other, plus it’s just more fun with a friend!
  4. Choose exercises you like. This may seem silly, but if you HATE the exercises you’re doing, how long do you really think you’ll stick with it? Not long. You can still get a good workout in AND enjoy it. Burpees not your thing? No worries, there’s lots of other exercises to choose from! This is where the professional help comes in handy too!
  5. Be Realistic. Set your goals, but be real about it. You’re not going to lose 30 pounds in a week, and that’s good because that wouldn’t be healthy! Set short-term and long-term goals that you can actually achieve. Your personal trainer can help with this too. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you reach one of your goals. Now, when you lose 10 pounds, don’t go get a dozen donuts or cupcakes, because that would be counterintuitive. Instead, maybe take yourself to get a new workout outfit. Then you won’t be able to wait until your next workout to wear it!

Good luck on your fitness journey! We would love to hear from you and if these tips help you! Come back here next month to check out a new post with more helpful information!