Jumpstart Your Workout Routine with Plyometrics

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Jumpstart Your Workout Routine with Plyometrics

JUMPSTART YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE with Plyometrics

jumping

If you feel as though your workouts are getting boring and stagnant or you just want to mix it up, plyometrics may be just what you are looking for.  It involves fast, powerful movements and is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and fat.

What are Plyometrics?

Unlike typical strength training that generally involves long, slow movements designed to increase muscle strength and mass, plyometric exercises are quick, explosive movements designed to increase speed and power.  A plyometric exercise can be broken down in three phases:

  1. Eccentric phase—rapid muscle lengthening movement
  2. Amortization phase—short resting period
  3. Concentric phase—explosive muscle shortening movement

The ultimate goal of plyometric exercises is to decrease the amount of time in between eccentric and concentric movements enabling you to become faster and stronger.

History of Plyometrics

Developed by Soviet Bloc scientists during the Cold War, plyometrics exercises were created called “Jump Training” that used repetitive jumping to help increase the speed and explosiveness of Russian track and field athletes.  Fred Wilt, American track and field coach, took note of the Russians’ many gold medals at the Olympics in the 60’s and 70’s,  investigated their training and started implementing them with his own athletes. Plyometrics became the name of these new exercises and since then, U.S sports teams and others around the world have incorporated them into their training regimens.

5 Benefits of Adding Plyometrics to your fitness routine

1.    Increase muscle power—plyometric movements can strengthen both muscles and tendons in your upper and lower body by improving muscle explosiveness and their ability to contract and produce force more quickly.

2.    Increased Endurance—these exercises can be used to enhance power and endurance. Muscle endurance and stamina is improved allowing the legs to work and perform at a higher intensity for a longer period of time.

3.    Burn more calories—not only will you burn more calories during a plyometric workout, but resting metabolic rate will also be increased.  This means your body will burn more calories throughout the day at a resting state and even more calories during workouts.

4.    No equipment needed—all you need is your body weight, an open space, and things lying around at a park or your house

5.    Helps to enhance reaction time and balance abilities

For examples of some great plyometric exercises to kick start your new workout routine, check out these examples from Self Magazine.

Plyometric exercise is for athletes of all ages and skill levels. The physical therapists at Contact Physical Therapy can help to ensure a safe progression from injury based on individual assessment of strength, flexibility, conditioning and landing techniques.

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The Changing Weather & Aching Joints

The Changing Weather & Aching Joints

Brrr—the days are getting short and cold. If you experience joint pain, you may have noticed that during these cold winter months there is something about the weather that seems to make those joints ache more than usual. If you are wondering if it is just something in your head, it’s not your imagination. The reason for that extra ache can be attributed to changes in humidity and barometric pressure. In fact, any type of inflammatory condition such as arthritis, bursitis or tendonitis can be affected by such weather changes.

What causes most joint pain? Mechanical factors are the leading cause of painful joints and the most significant mechanical change is the decrease in the ability to move the joint through its full range of motion. It’s the lack of movement that tends to start the journey towards stiffness in the joint structures.

Here are three steps to make your joints feel better

1. Eat right. Load up your plate with food that will curb inflammation and ease pain felt in your joints. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and nuts help curb inflammation to ease joint pain. Leafy greens such as spinach and kale, or green tea may also help.

2. Add supplements. Make sure you’re getting plenty of Vitamin D to help keep your bones strong and prevent joint pain. Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin may help to increase lubrication in your joints.

3. Exercise. No matter what the reason for your joint pain, exercise should be an integral part in managing that pain. However, be sure to take care to avoid the use of heavy weight when exercising.

Instead, try to focus on stretching and exercises that will help the body achieve full range of motion. Some exercises beneficial for joint strengthening and range of motion are swimming, or using the Elliptical machine. Bring your workout indoors and don’t overdo it—intense workouts may trigger joint pain.

So as the weather gets colder outside, don’t be alarmed if your joints seem to be aching more—but don’t let the chilly weather keep you from going about your normal routine. Contact Physical

Therapy can help to identify the cause of the pain and take steps to relieve the pain and strengthen the surrounding muscles to reduce the chance of further or long-term injury.

If you are your patients are experiencing aching joints, call today to schedule an appointment.

carpal tunnel syndrome

How Can Hand Therapy Help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

carpal tunnel syndrome

We don’t realize just how much we use our hands and wrists in our daily lives—until we begin experiencing pain.  Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a disorder that causes pain and weakness in the hand and wrist that can affect the use of the whole arm. CTS develops from pressure on a nerve in the wrist — not the muscles, as some people believe. Affecting 1 out of 20 Americans, CTS is a common condition.  Fortunately for most people who develop CTS, therapy can often relieve pain and numbness and restore normal use of the hand, wrist, and arm without the need for surgery.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CTS

CTS usually starts gradually, with symptoms such as burning or tingling.  Often, the symptoms are more noticeable during the night, and individuals can be awakened by the pain.  As the condition progresses, the symptoms are noticed during the daytime as well and often worse when holding items—you may find that you drop objects unexpectedly or have a weak grip.

HOW CAN A CERTIFIED HAND THERAPIST HELP?

After an evaluation, your handtherapist will prescribe your treatment plan based on your specific case.  Depending on the causes of your CTS, your therapy program may include:

  • Exercises to increase the strength of the muscles in your hand, fingers, and forearm
  • Stretching exercises to improve the flexibility of the wrist, hand and fingers
  • Use of heat/cold treatments to relieve pain and reduce any inflammation of tissues in the wrist that puts pressure on the median nerve
  • Massage to increase circulation and relax muscles
  • Proper neck and upper back posture education—avoiding slouching
  • You may be provided with a wrist splint to keep your wrist straight, generally at night
  • Tips about daily activities including how to use your computer and keyboard and minimizing repetitive activities.

CAN CTS BE PREVENTED?

There are no proven ways to prevent CTS, but you can minimize the stress to your hands and wrists.  The following strategies are effective ways to minimize stress to your hands and wrists.

  • Take breaks.  When doing repeated activities, give your hands a break by performing stretching exercises.
  • Reduce force.  Many people use more force than necessary when performing work with their hands.  Relax your grip to avoid muscle fatigue and strain.
  • Improve your posture.  Believe it or not, proper alignment of your neck and shoulders can prevent excessive strain and improper positioning of the wrists and hands.
  • Maintain good health.  Staying physically fit and maintaining a healthy weight may help control diseases and conditions that may contribute to the onset of CTS.
  • Neutral wrist position.  Try to avoid bending your wrists by keeping them in a straight or “neutral” position.  Your wrist should not be bent up or down.

As always, the goals of hand therapy are to reduce your symptoms without the need for surgery, to enable you to continue moving pain free, and to help you resume your normal activities.

Physical Therapists Treat THAT?

Physical Therapists Treat THAT?

Many people have seen a Physical Therapist (PT) for common reasons such as low back pain or knee pain.  There are also many less common conditions PT’s treat that you may not be aware of.  In many cases, physical therapy is an effective, low-cost, low-risk, and non-invasive alternative to surgery, helping patients manage the condition through simple exercises and changes in lifestyle.  Here are five health conditions that a physical therapist treats that may surprise you.

1. Vertigo: Vertigo is a spinning sensation and can occur even when you are perfectly still. The most common form of vertigo treated with physical therapy is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is a mechanical inner ear problem that causes short periods of this spinning sensation when the head is moved in certain positions. When treated by a PT, positional vertigo can be eliminated in as little as one session.

2. Concussion: In recent years, concussions have received a lot of attention in the news as doctors and athletes are seeking ways to manage long-term problems brought on by a concussion. These long term conditions can include dizziness/vertigo, balance problems, or complaints of headaches, all of which can be treated by a PT. There is a very specific balance of returning to normal activities with symptom management to allow the individual who had the concussion to fully recover.

3. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (Jaw Pain): Jaw pain can be due to a variety of problems, but one of the main reasons includes poor posture, which leads to increased stress on the joint. A PT can address postural issues, assess and improve the alignment of the joint, as well as improve joint mobility to reduce pain.

4. Headaches: There are many different types of headaches including tension headaches, migraines and cluster headaches to name a few. Often times, headaches can become a very frequent occurrence affecting a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. The most common type of headaches may be caused by poor posture, stress, muscle tightness, or a neck injury. A PT can help to determine the type of headaches and what the best treatments may be to help alleviate symptoms. A PT can perform manual massage to help loosen up tight muscles and can teach the patient about proper posture of the neck and upper body to decrease stress and tension that might be leading to these headaches.

1. Lymphedema: Lymphedema is swelling that may occur in the arms and legs that is stemming from your lymphatic system. It is very common after certain types of cancer treatments, such as breast cancer, where lymph nodes may be removed. A trained PT can perform certain types of lymphatic drainage massage or use certain wrapping techniques to help decrease swelling in a limb.

If you have patients who have experienced, or are currently experiencing any of these symptoms, consider sending them to a trained Physical Therapist at Contact Physical Therapy to help with symptom management.

Barefoot Running: Is it for you?

barefoot running

Have you seen people running around in those funny looking toe shoes? There’s a new trend in running catching on quickly, and is often referred to as the Barefoot Running Movement. It is easy to first be skeptical – don’t we need cushion to protect us from injuries? In 1960, Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila, the greatest Olympic marathoner of all time, won the first of his consecutive gold medals sans shoes in a world record 2:15:17. When you run barefoot, your body engages your vision, your brain, the soles of your feet, and all of the muscles, bones, tendons and supporting structures of your feet and legs.

Physical Therapists can help runners analyze both walking and running gait patterns with a particular focus on proper footwear, orthotics and the various types of running shoes available to the masses. Most people spend years in supportive footwear, which can cause weakness and fragile feet and ankles. This is why the transition to barefoot running has to be slow, deliberate and planned. It is best to seek professional help from a physical therapist or podiatrist when transitioning to barefoot running as they can address the muscles that may have become weak over the years, and help you strengthen these problem areas to decrease the risk of injury when transitioning to a new running style. It is also advisable to change your running technique first before attempting to change your footwear.

Running Pattern Changes for Barefoot Running

In order to run barefoot properly, your running pattern must change. Traditionally, the heel cushion in running shoes encourages you to hit the ground with your heel first (heel strike). However, people who hit the ground with the heel first tend to have higher rates of injuries such as stress fractures, patellofemoral pain syndrome (anterior knee pain), plantar fasciitis, shin splints, hip pain, and back pain. In barefoot running, the ball of the foot hits the ground first. This allows the large muscles of the calf to absorb impact forces (such as ground reaction force). With barefoot running, the knee is also bent more at initial impact when compared to traditional running. This allows the hamstrings and quads (quadriceps femoris) to contract without compressing the knee joint as much as with traditional running. As a result, step frequency increases, but more efficiently since oxygen consumption decreases when using a barefoot running technique.

Some of the benefits of running barefoot include fewer injuries, due to “natural running” and faster speed, due to increased running economy, from zero weight on your feet. In addition, your weight & speed will influence what sole, or lack thereof, works best for you. Discover what works best for your body in order to make the transition to barefoot running safe and successful.

 

strength & fitness in the workplace

Strength and Fitness in the Workplace

strength & fitness in the workplace

Although many careers today allow inactive lifestyles, others still require various levels of physical fitness. The employee sitting in an office environment on a daily basis may not need to lift heavy boxes, but being physically fit can help increase energy, handle more stress and enhance the performance in any job.  Researchers have found that employees who find the time to engage in physical activity are less likely to experience a deterioration of their mental health, including symptoms of burnout and depression.  Scientists state that employers will benefit from encouraging physical fitness of their employees.  Inspiring workers to be physically active lessens high health costs, reduces absenteeism, and increases productivity in the workplace.

Encouraging employees to embrace fitness as a lifestyle choice pays off in numerous ways:

  • Fit employees are less likely to get sick
  • Fit employees have more energy
  • Fit employees have more self confidence
  • Fit employees tend to take on more leadership roles
  • Fit employees set and achieve goals
  • Fit employees tend to have better attitudes
  • Fit employees are less stressed
  • Encouraging fitness demonstrates a concern for employee’s well-being

Some jobs will weed out unqualified candidates immediately with stringent physical qualification tests and medical exams.  Even if the employee qualifies for training it doesn’t necessarily guarantee work in these occupations because by the end of training, candidates must demonstrate strength and skill.  Your company may save thousands of dollars by using the Physical Capacity Profile Testing System (PCP) which will help your company hire candidates who are physically fit for the job and implement a system should an injury occur. The PCP is a comprehensive testing procedure developed by an orthopedic physician that documents the test subject’s physical skills and American Medical Association related impairments.  It helps occupational and human resource professionals place employees in the appropriate job to minimize the potential of injury while documenting each employee’s physical capacity and impairments.

The Physical Capacity Profile Testing System can be utilized in post-hire testing as well as return-to-duty testing. In post-hire testing the procedure helps the employer determine an employee’s physical capabilities and limitations before they start work. It provides quantitative data that assists in the placement process while meeting all regulatory compliance criteria. Return-to-duty testing allows the employer to be responsible for returning the employee to what their capabilities were upon hire.

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Is Your Employee Ready to Return to the Same Job After Their Injury?

boxesdesk

Whether your employee can return to work full-time, part-time, or can’t return at all, it is important to begin to plan how and when they can safely return to work.  To aid in the return-to-work process, an employee may be offered modified or alternative duties until they are able to return to their previous position.

However, a worker should be given sufficient time to recover from the injury or illness and not feel pressured into returning to work.  Employers have an obligation to help the employee return to work and to ensure that they are not treated unfavorably because of their injury.  If an employee returns to work and finds their injury keeps them from completing the tasks at hand, they may request a collection of workers compensation benefits.

An effective return-to-work program can benefit employers in numerous ways.  Such a program can help avoid millions of dollars in fines and penalties, reduce workers’ compensation costs, retain experienced employees, improve employee morale, and help ensure equal opportunity of employment for persons with disabilities.  Here are some practices in returning an injured employee to work:

 

  • Contact the injured employee and start the interactive process
  • Describe essential functions and usual duties of jobs
  • Obtain work capacities and restrictions
  • Research and evaluate possible accommodations  and make an offer of work
  • Implement and monitor the accommodation

 

Your company can save thousands of dollars by using a system like the Physical Capacity Profile Testing System (PCP) will give definitive answers to often unanswered questions.   The PCP is a comprehensive testing procedure developed by an orthopedic physician that documents the test subject’s physical skills and American Medical Association related impairments.  It helps occupational and human resource professionals place employees in the appropriate job to minimize the potential of injury while documenting each employee’s physical capacity and impairments.

The Physical Capacity Profile Testing System can be utilized in post-hire testing as well as return-to-duty testing. In post-hire testing the procedure helps the employer determine an employee’s physical capabilities and limitations before they start work. It provides quantitative data that assists in the placement process while meeting all regulatory compliance criteria. Return-to-duty testing allows the employer to be responsible for returning the employee to what their capabilities were upon hire.

workers compensation

Reducing Work Comp Costs and Improve Performance

workers compensation

Due to employers asking for help in reducing their work comp exposures, Occupational Performance Corporation went to work to find another tool or resource to hire more physically-able bodies.  The Physical Capacity Profile Testing System was developed to help employers by:  1. Reducing injuries by ensuring employees have the physical strength to safely perform their job responsibilities, 2. Reducing workers compensation by documenting impairments an employee brings with them to the workplace, per the AMA Guides, and 3. Providing pre-injury baseline measurements on an employee, allowing treating professionals to expedite the rehabilitation process.

Across multiple states, the PCP System is performing thousands of tests in hospitals, physical therapy offices, and more, all aiding in supplying the answers and methods to help employers in the community reduce injuries.

Only a 30 minute exam, The Components of the Physical Capacity Profile® Testing System Include:

 

  • Comprehensive Medical Review
  • Upper Extremity Strength
  • Lower Extremity Strength
  • Trunk Strength
  • Fitness
  • Spirometry
  • Active Lumbar Range of Motion
  • Lower Extremity Mobility
  • Maximum Lifting Capability
  • Safe Lifting Technique


Advantages Rapid delivery of test results allows management to quickly place newly hired employees. The data is electronically captured to avoid human error over multiple tests. This allows matching of physical capacity to job demands based on essential functions of the job.

Cost Justifications By reducing the risk of injury, the number of workers’ compensation claims and related premiums are also reduced. Cost-conscious management knows that fewer lost work days due to workers’ compensation claims will result in increased productivity and profits.

Medical Ratings The Physical Capacity Profile® provides medical documentation of impairment in accordance with the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides (4th Edition). This baseline information is critical in managing future workers’ compensation claims with each state’s workers’ compensation statutes. When applicable, the results are presented in accordance with AMA guidelines.

How Can This System Benefit Me as an Employer? When employees are physically matched to the job they are substantially less likely to be injured.

Many companies require a post-hire physical. However, the typical physical does not adequately document musculoskeletal imbalances, which could lead to injuries. The standard physician physical is simply not cost-effective or protective in reducing workers’ compensation claims.

This system can only help human resource professionals correctly place employees. It also can help reduce costs and increase productivity. Fewer lost workdays due to workers compensation claims will result in increase productivity and profits.

Stretching & Exercise

Stretching & Exercising: The Why & How

Stretching & Exercise

Stretching is the unsung hero when it comes to fitness

Stretching is critical towards achieving peak fitness condition. It is ideal to stretch before and after your workouts as you are more prone to injury if you do not stretch before exercise. Stretching prior to exercise warms up your body, making it less prone to accidents and injuries. Stretching following exercise relieves muscle tightness, improves flexibility and cools down the body.

Many people opt out of stretching but it is an important part of any exercise with many benefits:

The Benefits of Stretching

o Increased flexibility and joint range of motion

o Improved circulation

o Better posture

o Reduces stress

o Enhanced coordination

o Lengthens your muscles

o Increases blood flow

o Provides a sense of peace and well-being

 

Proper Stretching Techniques

o Warm up first. When muscles are cold, the risk of pulled muscles is increased. Do a cardio exercise for at least five minutes prior to activity.

o Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.

o Don’t bounce. If you bounce as you stretch it can cause small tears (microtears) in the muscle.

o Relax and don’t forget to breathe

o Stretch both sides

o Stretch before and after activity

occupational injuries

Occupational Injuries

OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES

occupational injuries

An occupational injury is bodily damage resulting from working.  On average, there are 23,000 on-the-job injuries in the United States every day. Annually, this adds up to 8.5 million injuries and a huge cost to workers, their families and our economy.  But, it’s not injuries alone that workers deal with. Hundreds of thousands of employees develop illnesses on the job, costing $58 billion a year.

Common causes of occupational injury are poor ergonomics, manual handling of heavy loads, misuse or failure of equipment, exposure to general hazards, inadequate safety training and clothing, or jewelry/long hair becoming tangled in machinery. Other general hazards in a work environment include electricity, fire, height, powerful or sharp moving machinery, poisonous gases, or working under weak or heavy structures.

There are many methods of preventing or reducing occupational injuries, including anticipation of problems by investing in something such as the Physical Capacity Profile Testing System.  The PCP Testing System helps employers reduce on-the-job injuries by ensuring employees have the physical strength to safely perform their job responsibilities.  It also aids in reducing workers compensation exposure by documenting impairments an employee brings with them to the workplace, per the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides.  The information gathered from the PCP Testing System can prove to be extremely valuable for a number of professionals involved in injury treatment and injury compensation including the employee, physicians, employers and insurance companies.