Looking for ways to get a healthy start to the new year? If you are like most, you are setting your New Year’s resolutions and preparing for a health “restart” come the beginning of January.
If you are unsure of where to start, here are three ways to get a healthy start to the new year that are good for your body, mind, and soul.
Adequate amounts of sleep eliminate risk factors for many diseases such as stroke, heart attack, and diabetes. We make better decisions when we are well rested too. Lack of sleep can cause you to crave junk food, salty or sugary snacks, and starches. This is because sleep deprivation causes your hunger hormone ghrelin to increase and your appetite suppressing hormone leptin to decrease. If you sleep less than five hours per night, your risk of obesity increases by 50%, according to research from John Hopkins Medicine.
[Learn more tips for health: Why Staying Hydrated Is So Important]
Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce depression, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure. Take a moment each morning to be mindful, count your lucky stars and make a note of what you are grateful for. Keep a gratitude journal if it helps. Focusing on the positives help you to realize how many things you have that are good in your life and takes the focus off the negatives a little bit more.
If you simply got out of your normal workout routine over the holidays, it’s time to pick back up where you left off. Or, if exercise is new to you, now is a great time to create a new workout routine. Either way, in order to avoid risking injury, start out slow.
[Considering hiking? Here are 3 Stretches For Avid Hikers]
A physical therapist can help to show you ways to get a healthy start to the new year, including ways of safely starting an exercise program. Contact us at 1-833-861-6161 to find an Empower Physical Therapy location near you.
“Lift with your legs, not your back!” We’ve heard it many times before, but what does it mean, and why should we do it? Lifting heavy objects is an easy way to injure your back if done incorrectly. In fact, just working a job that requires lifting is a risk factor for developing back pain. But whether you’re lifting at work, at the gym, or at home, it is important to use proper form to decrease your risk of injury.
Start with a strong, stable base. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart, and get as close to the object as you can. Brace your core to support your spine. Imagine drawing your belly button in towards your spine; this will activate a muscle called the Transverse Abdominis (your built-in back brace!). This will help you to maintain a neutral spinal position as well. While a healthy spine is built to move in many directions, it is safest to maintain the natural curve of your spine when lifting heavy objects. This means avoiding rounding your low back. Use your legs to lower yourself down to the object by sitting your hips back and bending your knees. Keep the object as close to you as possible. The closer the object is to your center of gravity (around your belly button), the easier it will be to hold. Use your leg muscles to return to a standing position, pushing through your heels. This will utilize your stronger muscles to do most of the work. To avoid injury while holding the object, avoid twisting. Make sure your feet and shoulders are facing the same direction while holding the object. And lastly, know when to ask for help. Some objects are simply too big, heavy, or awkwardly shaped to be lifted by one person. Don’t suffer from a back injury and bruised ego because you didn’t ask for help!
If you’ve already suffered from a back injury, come see us at Empower Physical Therapy. This is a very common condition that physical therapists are well trained to treat. We can help manage your pain and teach you proper lifting techniques for the future.
If you’ve been told to “lift with your legs,” but never understood what it meant, hopefully, this brought you some clarity. We also have a video with demonstrations of the techniques outlined above for your reference.
Posted by Ashley Warner, PT, DPT, from our Empower PT – Glendale MetroCenter location.
Empower PT’s performance score in national physical therapy benchmark reflects on-going commitment to delivering best in class patient outcomes.
Empower Physical Therapy voluntarily participated in CMS’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) which resulted in its clinicians being recognized as top-tier providers under the nation’s premier quality of care measurement program. The Quality Payment Program is part of Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) which is designed to tie payments to high quality and cost-efficient care, and is the only national benchmark for physical and occupational therapy services.
The Quality Payment Program rewards providers for creating value, achieving excellence in clinical outcomes, improving population health, reducing costs and empowering patients to take an active role in their care process. Individuals and organizations who score in the ‘Exceptional’ range are designated as top-tier providers and will be awarded a bonus on every covered Medicare Part B payment received in 2021.
In 2019, physical and occupational therapists nation-wide became eligible to report under the MIPS program. Empower Physical Therapy and its clinicians voluntarily participated in the program, understanding participation in this program provided an opportunity to create value and promote excellence in outcomes for patients. MIPS performance is scored on a scale of 1-100, with exceptional performance defined by scores at or above 75 points. Empower’s average performance score across the Phoenix area clinics exceeded 90 points, well above the Exceptional Performance Threshold of 75.
Empower Physical Therapy provides the highest quality physical and occupational therapy rehabilitation services to communities, employers and athletes in Arizona and through its affiliate clinics in California, Texas and Louisiana.
Looking for hiking safety tips to prevent injury? Hiking is a fun way to enjoy nature, stay fit, and enjoy time with friends and family, so hiking safely is important to allow you to keep enjoying all these things.
Preventing injury on the trail starts with some basic preparation, the proper gear, and knowing your skill level. If you are just getting started hiking, don’t be afraid to start out slowly and work your way up to bigger trails, mountains, and hikes. Doing too much too soon is a surefire way of losing your interest in this outdoor activity.
Follow these hiking safety tips to prevent injury:
Wear layers. You might start out cool or cold, but will warm up as you progress down the trail. Wear layers that you can peel away as you warm up to help you prevent overheating and stay comfortable. Also avoid wearing cotton material as it holds moisture. Find material that wicks sweat away from your skin, whether it is in your shirt, pants, and/or socks.
Also, get proper shoes that offer grip on the trail and ankle support for climbing over rocky terrain. Carry a water pack or anything else that you need to stay hydrated. Also bring a first aid kit, and know what to do in case of an emergency.
If you are undertaking some of the most challenging hikes in the area, you will most definitely want to rest. Feel no shame in doing so, some of the most beautiful views will be alongside the trail when taking a break, so sit down and enjoy the view.
Know the terrain and the trail you are going on. Don’t take on mountains that are too high or where you can get easily lost. Don’t start out on the toughest hikes, take it easy and work your way up to the bigger trails that you really want to go on.
Common injuries are sprained or twisted ankles or knee injuries. Be sure to warm up before your hike and cool down afterward. Stretch out your feet and ankles, calf muscles, hamstrings, obliques, and back.
[Related article: 3 Stretches For Avid Hikers]
You’ll be sure to encounter other hikers during your hike. Wearing a mask is the best way to protect against the possibility of spreading COVID-19. When you encounter another hiker, put your mask on as a sign of respect and protection. You’ll have plenty of time to be mask free when you’re alone or in your close group. Stay safe!
If you are looking for more hiking safety tips to prevent injury in the form of learning how to properly stretch and exercise, or if you have suffered a hiking injury, contact us at 1-833-861-6161 to find an Empower Physical Therapy location near you.
Your Empower physical therapist will work closely with you, one-on-one, to develop a specialized treatment plan that is specific to you and you alone.
The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that surround the shoulder joint. They connect your upper arm to your shoulder blade and help to move and stabilize the joint.
Rotator cuff injuries are common at any age and can be due to trauma, overuse, or simply degenerative changes that happen over time. Common signs and symptoms of rotator cuff injury include pain, weakness, and difficulty with activities like reaching overhead, lifting, or reaching behind your back.
If you experience symptoms like these, a physical therapist would be happy to evaluate you and determine the best treatment plan for managing your condition. If you are not experiencing symptoms like this, here are a few exercises you can implement to help maintain a strong, healthy rotator cuff.
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The rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles that attach at the #shoulder joint. 💪 These muscles' purpose is to stabilize the shoulder. It is important to strengthen these muscles to keep this complex area working effectively. Here are 4 exercises that can help to build or keep a health #rotatorcuff.⠀ ⠀ #physicaltherapy #exercise #shoulder #muscle #PT #choosePT
Is having good posture beneficial for your overall health? There are varying and conflicting opinions about this, but I personally believe it is very important for long term health. Now, does this mean that one must stand at attention like a drill sergeant all day long to have good posture and be pain free? Absolutely not. However, there are certain postural abnormalities that can cause increased neck, shoulder, and spine pain.
In today’s world, we spend a significant amount of time sitting, driving, working on computers, and using our phones. When we get comfortable doing these activities our trunk starts to slouch, our shoulders round, our heads jut forward, and our jaws protrude. When these positions are held for prolonged periods of time, it can lead to increased pain due to the undue stress placed on the muscles and joints of the spine. Pain can occur in the neck, jaw, shoulders, and even low back. If this is not promptly addressed, worsening symptoms can occur including radiating symptoms down the arms and onset of headaches.
The good news is that posture and the pain associated with poor posture can be addressed with exercise! The focus is to counteract the forward position that the joints and muscles are in. Over time and repetition, the neuromuscular system of the body can correct these postural faults, leading to improvements in pain and overall function.
So how can you do that?
Try out these 5 simple exercises! They are the building blocks to improving posture and ultimately improving pain caused by postural abnormalities. But as always, if you are continuing to have pain or functional difficulties related to your posture, seek out a Physical Therapist for further assistance.
Posted by Dr. Kyle Black, PT, DPT from our Empower PT – Chandler Ocotillo location.
During these unprecedented times, we wanted to remind you of our commitment to keeping our patients and employees safe. COVID-19 has affected our communities in ways we couldn’t have predicted. Our facilities are essential businesses and remain open to help you with your rehabilitation needs. We have also implemented Telehealth, or virtual visits, available for patients who desire to continue their care electronically from home. As a reminder, here’s what we’re doing to keep our patients and employees safe and healthy.
We believe a successful recovery comes from completing your recommended course of care if you are healthy enough to do so. If you feel continuing your care at a clinic is not the best option for you, we also provide telehealth so patients are able to continue their recovery from the safety of their homes. Please help us maintain a safe and healthy environment for our patients and employees.
Today’s work environment, whether in the office or at home, usually involves a significant amount of time sitting at a desk and computer. While sitting at a computer can be an efficient way to get work completed, it can also lead to problems in your spine, particularly the neck.
Last time I checked, the force of gravity is still pretty consistent on all of us. We get fatigued and then adopt the most comfortable position we can find. Prolonged sitting, especially in forward or “Slouched” posture, can lead to significant physical problems. This posture can be described as “Forward Head and Rounded Shoulders”. You know this position because you’ve probably been there thousands of times. The problem is, this is an unbalanced posture which can lead to a variety of physical problems including:
The good news is this condition can easily be treated! Physical Therapists at Empower Physical Therapy are experts at providing relief of the pain from these compression and strain injuries related to posture. We use a variety of hands-on treatment techniques and exercises for stretching, strengthening and re-training for proper postural positioning in sitting, standing and even sleeping.
If you sit at a desk or computer as part of your work or personal life, here are a few tips to start repairing your posture:
If you have aches and pains related to time spent at a desk or computer, why not set up an appointment to see an Empower Physical Therapist and get rid of it for good! Go to www.EmpowerPT.com or call 1-833-861-6161.
Matt Figueroa PT, DPT, Chief Clinical Officer
Whether your gym has been closed, you’ve had an injury, or have simply lost motivation, it can be intimidating to return to the gym after a long break. With the announcement that gyms have reopened, it is important to have a plan for resuming your gym activities safely. The following 5 tips may help your transition back to your normal routine be less frustrating, and decrease your risk of injury.
After a prolonged break from exercise, it is likely that your body has experienced some deconditioning; this is normal. You shouldn’t expect your performance to be exactly the same, and therefore your gym routine shouldn’t be either. Start slow, with 2-3 workouts per week and adequate recovery time in between sessions. Decrease the intensity of your workouts to what feels good to your body now. You will improve, but be patient with your progress. For safe progression, it is recommended that intensity or duration is increased by up to 10% per week.
Performing a warm-up before starting your gym routine has many benefits, including increasing blood flow to your muscles, preparing your cardiovascular system for exercise, decreasing risk of injury, and reducing muscle soreness. This can be brisk walking, or performing exercises at a slow, controlled pace.
Cooling down after a workout allows your cardiovascular system to adapt back to the body’s resting state. This helps to regulate your blood flow and blood pressure, and can potentially decrease muscle soreness following exercise. This can include continuing exercise at a low to moderate intensity, static stretching, or walking at a slower pace. Research suggests that foam rolling may decrease muscle soreness as well.
It is normal to experience muscle soreness after a change in activity level. In fact, it can be a good thing! It is often a sign that your training is effective, stimulating muscle healing into a stronger state. Muscle soreness can peak at around 48 hours following your workout. Monitor your soreness to determine the intensity of your next workout. If you don’t experience any soreness following your workout, you may be ready to increase the intensity of your next session. If you experience more soreness than you are comfortable with, you might not be ready to progress yet.
Setting goals is a great way to ensure your progression in the gym, but not all goals are created equal. A SMART goal is:
Example: I will be able to run 1 mile on the treadmill without rest breaks in 4 weeks.
Hopefully these tips will empower you to be confident in your return to the gym. While you may not be able to jump right back into your normal routine, using effective goal setting, adequate preparation, and safe exercise progression will get you back on track safely. Regardless of your end goal or starting point, know that you are taking steps to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
Posted by Ashley Warner, PT, DPT, from our Empower PT – Glendale MetroCenter location.
Below you’ll find an excellent infographic from our friends at the APTA on low back pain!
If you’re one of the 61% of Americans with low back pain, we can help you get back on your feet!