Returning to Activity After a Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, activity levels dropped for a lot of people. Between stay at home orders, gym closures and working from home, people became more sedentary. On top of that, there were shortages of equipment like dumbbells and bicycles, making staying active at home difficult even if you wanted to.

But this summer, things look different; vaccines are widely available, restrictions are loosening and people are looking to get active and enjoy the warm weather. That’s all good news, but if you had a long break from activity, your body might not be ready to jump right back in. Here are a few tips to help you get more active without getting hurt:

Start slow
● If you’re a runner, think about a walk to run program
● If you’re a weight lifter, start with lighter weights and less reps.
● Whatever your activity of choice is, start with short periods of activity and gradually work your way back up.
Warm up and cool down
Warming up gets your heart and lungs ramped up and prepares your muscles and tendons for the increase in activity about to come. Include some light cardio like jogging, calisthenics, or cycling, followed by active stretching like butt kicks, high knees, or yoga.

Cooling down transitions your body back to a lower state of stress – it brings your heart rate and breathing down, decreases blood flow to your muscles and back to places like your digestive system, and helps you relax. It’s also a great place for static stretches if you need some work on your flexibility.

Take a day off
Rest days let your body recover and keep you from getting burned out. Not enough exercise isn’t good for you, but too much of a good thing can cause problems too.

Watch for early signs of injury
Some soreness for a few days after activity is normal, especially if you’ve had a long break. But there are a few common issues to watch out for as you return to activity:
● Swelling or bruising
● Joint pain, especially in the knees or shoulders
● Foot pain, which could be a sign of plantar fasciitis
● Muscle strains – particularly common in the hamstrings
● Sprains – most common in the ankle

Any of these issues justifies a call to your physical therapist. Getting checked out early can prevent an injury that derails your attempt to return to activity. PTs see all of the issues just mentioned on a regular basis and can help safely guide you back into a more active lifestyle.

In Person or Virtual PT? Maybe Both!


Virtual physical therapy has quickly moved from a niche offering to the mainstream. Having more options is great, but it can also complicate decision making. Having an understanding of the benefits of both can help make clear which one would best help you meet your goals.


In Person Physical Therapy


The main advantage of traditional “brick and mortar” PT is that the therapist is in the room with you. That means they can move around to see how you’re moving from different angles, physically adjust your position or movement as you exercise, and physically examine you – testing your strength, measuring your range of motion, etc. They can also use things like manual therapy, electrical stimulation or ultrasound when you’re in the clinic. In person PT may work best for:

● New patients – the ability to physically examine you makes it easier for your PT to accurately diagnose what’s going on
● Less active patients – if you’re not used to exercising and moving, having someone physically present to coach you along can be a big benefit
● People with complicated or chronic conditions – if your back has been hurting for the last 5 years and you’ve been ignoring it, providing a diagnosis and treating it totally virtually will be difficult for your PT
● Less motivated patients – virtual PT requires you to do most of your exercises by yourself. If you need someone watching over you to make sure you do them, in person PT might work better for you


Virtual PT


The main benefit of virtual PT is convenience. Because virtual PT relies on you doing most of your exercise and treatment on your own, appointments can be shorter. This also means that motivation is a prerequisite to choosing virtual PT. The fact that you don’t have to travel to the clinic makes it easier to squeeze a visit into a busy schedule. Virtual PT works well for:

● Athletes and others with good body awareness – being on your own for your home exercise program requires you to be in tune with your body and how it’s moving
● People with common athletic injuries – things like tendonitis, sprains, strains, plantar fasciitis, and overuse injuries are commonly treated by PTs. Because of that, there is a template for treatment that is easily adapted to individual needs.
● People who are comfortable with technology – you don’t have to be a technology whiz, but having some familiarity with skype, facetime, or zoom helps!
● Existing and returning patients – if your physical therapist knows you, it’s easier to treat you virtually.

Both options have benefits and limitations. One or the other might be right for you and your needs, but they’re not mutually exclusive. Combining the two can work well for many people. Doing an in person visit for your initial evaluation and perhaps a follow up visit or two will let your therapist provide an accurate diagnosis and get you started on your exercise program. Once you’re comfortable with your exercise program, you can transition to virtual visits.

5 Reasons You Need a PT to Coordinate Your Fitness Regimen

Physical therapists aren’t just for people that are injured or have had surgery. Physical therapists can also help healthy people improve their fitness. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider seeing yours.


You Want a Baseline

When you see a physical therapist to improve your fitness, you’ll get an assessment of your strength, range of motion, posture and movement patterns. This not only helps your physical therapist design a customized program just for you, it gives them a baseline to compare things to in the future should you start having pain or suffer an injury.


You Want Expert Guidance

Sure, other professionals could help with your fitness routine, but the fitness industry is not well regulated. Some certifications just require an online course and paying a fee. There are no licenses or other requirements to use many titles. Becoming a physical therapist requires at least a bachelor’s degree and most PTs practicing today have a doctorate. Every PT has passed a national board exam and maintains a state license. That guarantees you that every physical therapist is a verified expert in human movement.


You Want to Prevent Injury

Physical therapists don’t just work to heal injuries, they are also experts in preventing them. After a thorough assessment, a PT can help you design a program that will not only help you reach your fitness goals, but that can address any issues that increase your risk for injury.


You Want Unbiased Advice

Yoga instructors will want you to do yoga. Personal trainers will want you to come to their gym. Pilates instructors will want you to do Pilates. Strength coaches will want you to strength train. A physical therapist doesn’t have a bias or vested interest as to what type of fitness regimen you choose. They are only interested in helping you reach your goals.


You Have a History

If you have some kind of history that affects your ability to exercise, a PT is the best person to help you design a fitness regimen. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old injury from athletics or work, back pain that comes up from time to time, COPD, arthritis or heart disease, a PT can help you safely work around it and meet your fitness goals.

5 Reasons You Need a PT to Coordinate Your Fitness Regimen

Physical therapists aren’t just for people that are injured or have had surgery. Physical
therapists can also help healthy people improve their fitness. Here are 5 reasons why you
should consider seeing yours.


You Want a Baseline

When you see a physical therapist to improve your fitness, you’ll get an assessment of your
strength, range of motion, posture and movement patterns. This not only helps your physical
therapist design a customized program just for you, it gives them a baseline to compare things
to in the future should you start having pain or suffer an injury.

You Want Expert Guidance

Sure, other professionals could help with your fitness routine, but the fitness industry is not well
regulated. Some certifications just require an online course and paying a fee. There are no
licenses or other requirements to use many titles. Becoming a physical therapist requires at
least a bachelor’s degree and most PTs practicing today have a doctorate. Every PT has
passed a national board exam and maintains a state license. That guarantees you that every
physical therapist is a verified expert in human movement.

You Want to Prevent Injury

Physical therapists don’t just work to heal injuries, they are also experts in preventing them.
After a thorough assessment, a PT can help you design a program that will not only help you
reach your fitness goals, but that can address any issues that increase your risk for injury.

You Want Unbiased Advice

Yoga instructors will want you to do yoga. Personal trainers will want you to come to their gym.
Pilates instructors will want you to do Pilates. Strength coaches will want you to strength train. A
physical therapist doesn’t have a bias or vested interest as to what type of fitness regimen you choose.
They are only interested in helping you reach your goals.

You Have a History

If you have some kind of history that affects your ability to exercise, a PT is the best person to
help you design a fitness regimen. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old injury from athletics or work,
back pain that comes up from time to time, COPD, arthritis or heart disease, a PT can help you
safely work around it and meet your fitness goals.

Are Your Workouts Giving You What You Want?

Are Your Workouts Giving You What You Want?

How much thought have you put into the exercises you’re going to use for your next workout?
Did you choose them yourself, or did you find them on the internet or in a magazine? What’s
your workout designed for? Do those goals match yours? Are the exercises even safe for you?
Using the wrong program can lead to wasting time in the gym, frustration, plateaus in progress
and injury. Let’s take a closer look at what goes into program design and the cost of getting it
wrong.

Exercise Selection
There are many things to think about when choosing specific exercises. Machine vs. free
weights, isolation vs. compound lifts, number of reps and sets, etc. Each one of these factors
affects the results, so making the wrong choices could lead to wasting time working on the
wrong things, limit your results or lead to injury.

Technique
If you choose the right exercises, but don’t know how to do them properly you will again limit
your results, or worse, end up injured. Poor technique leads to inefficient movement and limits
the power your muscles can create. It also changes the load on your muscles, joints, and
ligaments which can lead to pain and injury.

Volume
Volume is a way of thinking about how much work you’re doing during a workout. Doing a few
reps with a heavy weight or a lot of reps with a light weight could end up being the same
volume. Same goes for running a shorter distance quickly uphill vs a longer run at a slower pace
on flat terrain. If your volume is too great you won’t recover well between workouts and create
the possibility of injury. Too little volume and you won’t see results.

Progression
If you’ve been doing the same exercises with the same weight and the same number of reps
and sets, you’re not progressing. Same goes if you jump on the treadmill for the same amount
of time with the same settings each time. To make progress, things have to change and the
program that works for your first 6 months won’t work for you 2 years down the road.

Designing an exercise program is a complex challenge with a lot of factors to consider. Most
people have a history of injuries and don’t have perfect movement in every joint which further
complicates things. If you’re not making progress or just want to make sure your workouts are
as effective as they can be, have your physical therapist take a look at your program. Your PT
can help design an individualized program to help you reach your goals while keeping you safe
and injury free.

Your Physical Therapist Can Help You Keep Your Resolution

Your Physical Therapist Can Help You Keep Your Resolution

As one year comes to a close and another begins, people begin to set goals and make
resolutions. Losing weight, getting to the gym more often or getting into “better shape” are all
common. These all require increasing your amount of physical activity. More activity is great for
your health, energy levels, sleep, and mood. However, ramping up your activity level too quickly
after a holiday season of eating, drinking and being merry can lead to pain, injury and
disappointment if your body isn’t ready for it.

Your physical therapist is an expert in human movement, and can help you safely reach your
fitness goals. People think of PTs as the person to see after an injury, but a visit before you
change your activity level could prevent injury in the first place. An evaluation by your PT will
include assessment of your strength, range of motion, and functional movement patterns – think
jumping, running, squatting, carrying. Some PTs even like to use a standardized assessment,
such as the Functional Movement Screen.

Most common injuries from new fitness routines are caused by underlying weakness, range of
motion deficits, or compensatory movement patterns. Your PT will find these during your
assessment. They can then prescribe exercises or movements to address the issues found and
get you safely moving into the new year!

The other common way people get injured working towards their resolution is with overtraining,
or doing too much too soon. Physical therapists are also experts in exercise prescription and
program design. Your PT can help you create a routine specific to your needs and goals that will
progress appropriately and keep you out of trouble.

So stop only thinking of your PT after you’re injured. In this case, it’s true that an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure. Seeing your physical therapist before you start on your
resolution can keep you on track, injury free, and help you reach your goals for the new year!

Start Your Year With an Annual Movement Screen

Start Your Year With an Annual Movement Screen

Your car needs regular maintenance, so you probably have a mechanic. Your eyes and teeth
are important, so you see your optometrist and dentist regularly. You get an annual physical
from your family physician. You might even be getting ready to see your accountant to get your
yearly income tax done. What about your physical therapist? Do you and your family have one?
If not, you should. Your body is a lot like your car. It’s got multiple systems, all of which are
complex, and all of which have to be working well for it to function. Physical therapists are
experts in maintaining, diagnosing, and treating the movement system. Like the braking or
ignition system in a car, most people only think of the movement system when it’s not working
the way it should.

Don’t Neglect Your Movement System

Similar to the systems in your car, problems with your movement system are much easier to
deal with if they’re caught and treated early. This prevents small issues from becoming larger
ones. For example, if you have a little bit of weakness, and balance that’s not quite up to par,
improving those early could prevent a sprained ankle, or a fall and a broken wrist.
An annual movement screen from your physical therapist can find small issues that you may not
have noticed with your strength, balance, flexibility, or coordination. Many of these minor issues
can be fixed with a few exercises at home, or with just a few visits.
What to Expect
A screen of your movement system is quick and easy. Your annual visit may include:
● A history of your injuries, as well as a health history
● Assessment of your strength, balance, flexibility, etc.
● A review of your movement goals (do you want to run a marathon? Get on and off the
floor easily playing with your grandkids?)
● A review and update of your exercise program

What’s a Movement Diagnosis?

Medical diagnoses don’t need much of an introduction. They’re what you get from your doctor
when you’re sick. Examples would be influenza, diabetes, or hypertension. They describe the
underlying problem that is causing your symptoms.

When people feel sick, they know they need to go to the doctor and find out what’s going on to
get treated. We should treat movement the same way. If you’re having pain when you move,
can’t do things you used to be able to – like get on and off the floor easily, or can’t do things you
want to do – like go for a bike ride or pick up a grandchild then you need to get a movement
diagnosis.

A movement diagnosis does the same thing as a medical diagnosis; it describes what’s causing
your difficulty with movement. Some examples would be difficulty standing from a chair
secondary to decreased force production, scapular down rotation syndrome, or lower crossed
syndrome.

Diagnoses set the roadmap for treatment, so getting them right is crucial. Human movement is
complex and is influenced by more than just your muscles and joints. According to the APTA,
movement is impacted by the following systems:
● Endocrine
● Nervous
● Cardiovascular
● Pulmonary
● Integumentary
● Musculoskeletal

Because of the complexity and interplay between these components of the movement system,
getting a movement diagnosis correct is often very difficult. Physical therapists are experts in
human movement with doctoral level training and should be your first stop for movement issues.
Not only can a physical therapist provide an accurate movement diagnosis, they will also design
a treatment plan to correct the underlying issues and help get you moving well again.

References:
https://www.neuropt.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/movement-systemdiagnosis-in-neurologic-physical-therapy-where-are-we.pdf?sfvrsn=0
https://journals.lww.com/jnpt/FullText/2018/04000/White_Paper__Movement_System_Diagnose
s_in.9.aspx
https://www.apta.org/MovementSystem/
https://www.apta.org/MovementSystem/Template/

Life is a Movement Journey, Here’s How PT Can Help

Now that spring has arrived, temperatures are starting to rise in many parts of the country. And
that means the transition from heating our homes to cooling our homes is right around the
corner. No matter what method you use to cool your home during the warm spring and summer
months (central air conditioning, window units, or fans and dehumidifiers), each spring you cross
your fingers that your approach still works. If not, you might be calling an expert for a tune-up,
or in extreme circumstances, you might need a complete overhaul.

Just like an AC system that has probably been dormant for many months of the year, a body
that hasn’t been physically engaged on a regular basis may have trouble getting started again.
And yet, this time of year, the warm temps draw many people to city and suburban streets,
tracks and trails, ready to take that first run of the season. A good percentage of these spring
runners haven’t kept up their strides throughout the winter. It should come as no surprise that a
4-mile run for a previously inactive person is going to stir up a few aches and pains.

Especially as we age, our ability to move undergoes changes. But whether we’re talking about a
college student or a retiree, returning to an activity without proper planning is a recipe for
disaster. That’s where physical therapy comes in. Physical therapists are trained to treat injuries
and ease pain, but they can also help their patients prevent injuries and safely prepare to
participate in new activities.

Think of physical therapists as “movement consultants” who can ensure that your body is
physically ready to tackle a new challenge—or resume a favorite leisure activity. Here’s another
example to illustrate what we’re talking about: Let’s say that you play in an adult soccer league
and you’re preparing to play in your first game of the season in a few weeks. You probably hung
up your cleats when the last season ended months ago, but expect to pick up just where you left
off. But it’s simply too much to ask for your 2019 debut on the field to be on the same level as
the last game of the previous season, when you likely had reached peak performance.

This is a good time for your PT to step in and help you shake off the rust. The rehab professional
can customize an exercise plan to help you slowly return to sport and avoid an injury that could
sideline you for the whole season. Or like cleaning the filters before firing up your air
conditioner for the first time this year, the rehab expert can help to ensure that your body is
prepared to return to its former activity level following a hiatus

Life is a Movement Journey, Here’s How PT Can Help

Now that spring has arrived, temperatures are starting to rise in many parts of the country. And
that means the transition from heating our homes to cooling our homes is right around the
corner. No matter what method you use to cool your home during the warm spring and summer
months (central air conditioning, window units, or fans and dehumidifiers), each spring you cross
your fingers that your approach still works. If not, you might be calling an expert for a tune-up,
or in extreme circumstances, you might need a complete overhaul.

Just like an AC system that has probably been dormant for many months of the year, a body
that hasn’t been physically engaged on a regular basis may have trouble getting started again.
And yet, this time of year, the warm temps draw many people to city and suburban streets,
tracks and trails, ready to take that first run of the season. A good percentage of these spring
runners haven’t kept up their strides throughout the winter. It should come as no surprise that a
4-mile run for a previously inactive person is going to stir up a few aches and pains.

Especially as we age, our ability to move undergoes changes. But whether we’re talking about a
college student or a retiree, returning to an activity without proper planning is a recipe for
disaster. That’s where physical therapy comes in. Physical therapists are trained to treat injuries
and ease pain, but they can also help their patients prevent injuries and safely prepare to
participate in new activities.

Think of physical therapists as “movement consultants” who can ensure that your body is
physically ready to tackle a new challenge—or resume a favorite leisure activity. Here’s another
example to illustrate what we’re talking about: Let’s say that you play in an adult soccer league
and you’re preparing to play in your first game of the season in a few weeks. You probably hung
up your cleats when the last season ended months ago, but expect to pick up just where you left
off. But it’s simply too much to ask for your 2019 debut on the field to be on the same level as
the last game of the previous season, when you likely had reached peak performance.

This is a good time for your PT to step in and help you shake off the rust. The rehab professional
can customize an exercise plan to help you slowly return to sport and avoid an injury that could
sideline you for the whole season. Or like cleaning the filters before firing up your air
conditioner for the first time this year, the rehab expert can help to ensure that your body is
prepared to return to its former activity level following a hiatus.