Ask a Physical Therapist To “Screen” Your Movements This Spring

Let’s talk about the last time you—or someone close to you—interviewed for a new job. Chances are that the first step was a phone screen with your potential employer, and when you passed that portion of the process with flying colors, you were then invited for an in-person interview. At that stage, the employer probably asked you to answer a series of questions and to demonstrate your skills through a test or two. The process is set up in a way that narrows down the options until the most suitable candidate is found. Makes sense, right?

Just as job recruiters screen applicants to find the best fit for
an open position, your PT will ask you to perform a series of exercises so that she can observe and understand your body
mechanics to uncover any issues or limitations. Used in combination with a full evaluation and assessment, these so-called movement screens are just one tool in identifying the most appropriate treatment or prevention program for you. But unlike that test you may have taken during a job interview, the screen is not testing your skills or abilities, it’s simply a way of identifying how your body functions during a variety of movements.

Now that spring is in full swing, it’s the perfect time of year to make an appointment with a physical therapist for a movement screen. The warmer weather means more time spent outdoors participating in sports and other recreational activities that may be physically demanding. A PT checkup that includes a movement screen will ensure that you’re physically able to engage in popular spring and summer adventures, whether it’s exploring in the woods, tending to your garden, or swimming at your family’s lake house.

Physical therapists perform movement screens for a variety of reasons, including:
• To identify areas of strength and weakness
• To uncover issues or rule them out
• To determine readiness to begin a safe exercise program
• To improve sport performance (for both novice and elite athletes)

A movement screen is something that you can have done whether you have a nagging injury or are simply ready to kick-start your activity level after a long hiatus. Gaining
an understanding of how your body performs during basic exercises such as squats and lunges helps your PT ensure that you can safely jump on a bike or into a pool this summer. And just like an employer screens candidates to identify the one individual who is likely to thrive on the job for many years to come, a movement screen can help you
develop a lasting and fulfilling relationship with the activities you enjoy most.

Call us today to schedule your FREE screening!

Injury Prevention Begins with Physical Therapy, but Program Adherence is Key

For the average person, the hassles associated with an orthopedic injury add up quickly: expensive healthcare bills, time out of work, difficulty completing everyday tasks and discomfort associated with the injury itself. The good news is that common orthopedic injuries like ACL tears, ankle sprains and tennis elbow can often be prevented— as long as a properly trained healthcare practitioner is involved.
Whether you’re a college athlete, an occasional runner or a senior looking to be more active, look no further than your physical therapist. In addition to helping patients who already have injuries, physical therapists are trained to spot and treat injuries before they happen on the field or in your home.
Physical therapists are trained to make recommendations and educate patients following a thorough examination and assessment. Physical therapists use a variety of screenings and tools to evaluate a patient’s balance, posture, aerobic capacity, strength, flexibility and movement patterns. Based on the findings, the PT will share a detailed exercise program that’s tailored to the patient’s specific needs.
However, injury prevention doesn’t end with a trip to physical therapy. Once a physical therapist has explained and demonstrated an exercise program to continue at home, the onus is on the patient to follow the recommendations. In fact, according to a study in Sports Medicine titled “Are We Having Fun Yet? Fostering Adherence to Injury Preventive Exercise Recommendations in Young Athletes,” the key to an effective injury prevention strategy is ensuring that the patient understands, adopts and adheres to the recommended program.
The burden of preventable injuries extends beyond the individual and is wreaking havoc on our nation’s healthcare system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that hospital emergency departments treat more than 2.6 million children for sports and recreation-related injuries each year. And the National Council on Aging reports that every 11 seconds an older American is treated in the emergency department for a fall.
Many of these trips to the hospital—and to other medical providers—can be avoided all together by visiting a physical therapist at the first sign of pain or weakness, before beginning a new exercise program or participating in a new physical activity.
So come visit Freedom Physical Therapy, and talk with one of our amazing therapist, so that you
can begin or continue to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle with little to no pain!

Your Smart Phone Could Be Rapidly Aging Your Spine

Chances are that you probably haven’t given much thought to how your neck and back are faring in
the era of the smart phone, but studies show that you most certainly should. It’s practically a reflex these days to pull out our smart phones when we’re standing in line, sitting at the airport or riding the subway. And while it’s great that
we rarely need to venture beyond our pockets for entertainment, our bodies are beginning to retaliate—and mourn the pre-texting days.

So, what exactly are these contemporary conveniences doing to our bodies? A surgeon-led study that published in
Surgical Technology International assessed what impact surgeons’ head and neck posture during surgery—a posture similar to that of smart-phone texters—has on their cervical spines. With each degree that our heads flex forward (as we stare at a screen below eye level), the strain on our
spines dramatically increases. When an adult head (that weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position)
tilts forward at 30 degrees, the weight seen by the spine climbs to a staggering 40 pounds, according to the study.

How pervasive of a problem is this? According to the study, the average person spends 14 to 28 hours each week with their heads tilted over a laptop, smart phone or similar device. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 700 to 1400 hours of strain and stress on our spines. As a result, the number of people dealing with headaches, achy necks and shoulders and other associated pain has skyrocketed.
Trained to address postural changes and functional declines, physical therapists are well-versed in treating this modern-day phenomenon, widely known as “text neck.”

Over time, this type of poor posture can have a cumulative effect, leading to spine degeneration, pinched nerves and muscle strains. Scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist can help people learn how to interact with their devices without harming their spines. The PT will prescribe an at-home program that includes strategies and exercises that focus on preserving the spine and preventing long-term damage.

Exercise is an important part of taking care of our spines as we age, but what we do when we’re not in
motion matters, too. So next time you pick up your smart phone or curl up with your e-reader, do a
quick check of your head and neck posture. Your body will thank you for years to come.

Freedom Therapy Can Help Nip Potential Injuries in the Bud

You probably already know to make an appointment with a physical therapist when you sprain your ankle or develop tennis elbow. But what if you’ve felt a slight twinge in your knee during your daily walk or noticed that your posture has changed since you accepted a job that requires sitting for eight hours a day? Or maybe you’ve been thinking about joining a gym to get in shape. Are these reasons to see a physical therapist? Yes!
Each of these scenarios has the potential for injury. Physical therapists are experts in injury prevention and are trained to spot small problems before they become big problems—and often before you know that there’s a problem at all. Physical therapists evaluate, screen and assess patients
using a variety of tools to detect mobility limitations and muscle imbalances that, if left untreated, may leave you prone to serious injuries down the road.
When caught early, injuries —or the very beginning signs of an injury—are easier to treat and the recovery period is shorter, less expensive and less of a burden on everyday life. Knowing what to look out for—and when to see a healthcare professional—is often not as obvious as it sounds. Some signs and symptoms aren’t recognized as indicators of an injury while others may be brushed off as nothing serious. Here are a few things to look out for:
-Joint pain
-Tenderness
-Swelling
-Reduced range of motion
-Weakness
-Numbness or tingling
-Balance issues

If you’re experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment with us to rule out a potential problem or to nip one in the bud before it becomes more serious. Based on background, training and experience, PTs understand how a patient’s risk for specific types of injuries can increase based on participation in certain sports and recreational activities as well as identify physical strains due to on-the-job and household demands.
An individualized exercise program designed to strengthen your muscles, improve flexibility and optimize your physical ability can help correct and prevent issues that could turn into injuries in the future. For example, a teenage field hockey player can learn exercises to perform regularly to lower her risk of tearing her ACL. Your PT can design an injury prevention exercise program to suit your specific needs and ensure your healthy participation in sports, recreational activities and everyday life.