As we age our balance will decline, and without maintaining a functional level of strength, flexibility, and balance you can become prone to an increased risk of injury like twisting an ankle, tripping or even a fall.

Balance is one of the fundamentals of a healthy, active body. Having a strong sense of balance and awareness to the elements around you can help you react swiftly and prevent injuries and accidents from happening. We are so lucky that Dr. Jonathan Seidberg from our Biltmore clinic specializes in all things balance.

We asked him about his favorite exercises to use with beginners to help improve balance. He recommended his top 3 exercises that you can do just about anywhere!

1.Single Leg Balance:

Balancing on one leg can help improve your strength, stability, and body awareness, all in one exercise. To perform it correctly, stand on a surface, bend one of your knees, and squeeze the buttock of your standing leg.

Be careful that your legs do not touch and try not to hold on to anything with your hands.

2. Ankle Sways:

There are three strategies for balance, and our ankle strategy is the first line of defense against falling. This is a great neuromuscular activation activity to improve your ankle strategy.

Stand with your feet together or with one foot in front of the other (tandem). Slowly, move your weight forward and backwards or side‐to‐side. Be careful not to bend at your hips and only move at your ankles.

3. Standing Hip Abduction:

This is a multifaceted activity that improves your balance and strengthens your gluteus medius, a vital hip muscle necessary for daily mobility.

Stand with your feet together, lift one leg out to the side without touching the ground, then return to your starting position.

Be careful not to lean your torso.

Scale up: You can make any of these exercises more challenging by placing a more pliable object underneath your feet.

Do you need help improving your balance? Schedule a free injury assessment (no referral necessary!) to see how we can help keep you healthy and active.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy provides an affordable, individualized, and professionally supervised program designed to build and maintain a functional level of strength, flexibility, and balance. Our highly trained staff is here to properly evaluate and quickly identify your balance concerns giving you the confidence to get you back to doing the things you love.

Jonathan Seidberg PT, DPT

Education – University of Arizona, A.T. Still University

Jonathan is a proud member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the Orthopedic and Sports Therapy Section.

Are you having trouble sticking with your exercise program because you’re bored with your usual program? Do you feel that you need to try something new but are afraid of re-aggravating an old injury? Do you feel like you need to improve your cardio and lose a few pounds? Do you feel there’s just not enough time to exercise? Or maybe it’s just too hot? There are a ton of excuses that we make up for not exercising. Being in the desert heat doesn’t make it easier. However, there is a perfect way to address everything listed above and even more with just one type of activity which is aquatic therapy.

Why Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy serves as a tool for many types of ailments and age groups. It’s not just for people with significant swimming experience or for a specific age group. Aquatic therapy can assist those with various musculoskeletal issues, such as, for pain relief, tight muscles, sore or arthritic joints, but also for strength building, balance training and resistance training. Neurological issues, such as those with a medical history of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis would greatly benefit too.

Benefits:

  • Decreased edema
  • Decreased pain
  • Increased blood supply to the muscles/Increased circulation
  • Increased buoyancy
  • Increased metabolism
  • Increased joint movement
  • Increased muscle power
  • Increased balance
  • Increased endurance

Did you know that Arizona is one of the most popular states for pool service companies in the country? And if there are more pool companies, there are definitely more pools! Whether you have your own private pool, or just use a public pool at a gym, there are many convenient opportunities to take advantages of this multi-beneficial exercise activity.

With locations all over the valley, we have a convenient clinic next to you. Come in to Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapist to Get Your Move Back.

Everyone living in Phoenix knows how congested our streets get when a car accident has occurred. Drivers slow down, and at some points stop, due to the curiosity factor. But, does anyone ever drive by those accidents thinking to themselves, ‘well, that person is going to need physical therapy’? People don’t, but they probably should.

According to ADOT, in 2017, there were 126,845 total crashes involving vehicles. Out of those, there were 56,636 reported injuries. That comes out to about 155 people injured by car accidents every day. Furthermore, the number of collisions is increasing. After a motor vehicle accident (MVA) it is important to receive timely medical care. That way, something as “simple” as acute neck pain doesn’t become a chronic impairment.

The old treatments for MVA-related injuries were to get lots of rest, take prescribed pain medications, treat with modalities such as heat or ice, and use a neck brace for those with whiplash. While these are important aspects of healing, these measures are Band-Aids; they do not address the origin of the pain. Nowadays, that philosophy has taken a U-turn with an overabundance of research concluding that activity and early intervention from physical therapy are vital to recovery in the short- and long-term.

Physical therapy treatment after an injury from a crash helps greatly reduce pain, minimize joint stiffness, and restore full range of motion for affected body parts. Not every injury type, severity, and location are the same nor show up immediately after the accident. The onset of some injuries can occur anywhere from days to even months after the accident. The severity of issues can depend on numerous factors, such as:

  • Seatbelt usage
  • Angle of the collision (front, side, or rear)
  • Speed of crash
  • Airbag deployment
  • Direction that the injured person was facing (forward or sideways)

The most common impairments/injuries seen for physical therapy intervention due to MVAs are:

  • Neck/shoulder injuries from whiplash
  • Low back injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Numbness/tingling, weakness
  • Dizziness/headaches

To improve general mobility and improve postural strength needed for proper soft tissue healing and nerve irritation reduction, these five fundamental exercises would be important to perform:

  1. Upper trapezius and levator scapulae stretch: perform three repetitions for both stretches, holding for thirty seconds
    Upper trapezius and levator scapulae stretchUpper trapezius and levator scapulae stretch
  2. Lower trunk rotations: perform fifteen reps each direction, holding for five seconds in each direction
    Lower trunk rotations
  3. Hamstring stretches: perform three repetitions for both legs, hold each repetition for thirty seconds
    Hamstring stretches
  4. Posterior pelvic tilts: perform twenty repetitions, hold each repetition for five seconds
    Posterior pelvic tilts
  5. Deep neck flexor activation: perform twenty repetitions, hold each repetition for five seconds
    Deep neck flexor activation

Not every injury is the same, and these exercises above are meant to be utilized in conjunction with physical therapy as this will allow the healing process to optimally occur. Ultimately, it is vital to restore function and allow oneself to return to everyday life without pain. Temporary relief measures are not the solution and do no address the damaged tissue/muscle or dysfunctional joints. Hence, early physical therapy intervention will allow for the best possible outcome after experiencing a motor vehicle accident. If you’ve recently been in a crash and are experiencing pain, schedule an appointment with us.

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There was once a belief that stretching before a workout was just as vital as eating breakfast before the start of a big day. If you wanted to minimize your risk of the possible tearing of muscles, injury to joints, or run without pain, then stretching was a must pre-exercise component to one’s exercise regimen.

But why do we really have to think about stretching in the sense of injury awareness? Does stretching before exercising really decrease the likelihood of injury? What was once thought to be the ideal precursor to our normal workouts has now revealed conflicting results.

Current research has exposed injury-prevention stretching to now be a misconception and is, at best, inconclusive in regards to preventing injuries.

“But I like to stretch before and after my exercises, so how could that not help me?” It is not as if stretching is deemed ineffective within the physical therapy community. What is vital to physical therapy is how stretching applies and translates to the activity that will shortly follow.

In essence, one should warm up as an adjunct to stretching in order to perform a functional activity. For example, if you want to increase your quadriceps and gluteus maximus strength by performing squats, it would be best to utilize light sets prior to adding heavier weights.

The following warm-up routines can be used as adjuncts to stretching.

  1. External Heat: Heat pack, gel pack, sauna, etc.
  2. Massage
  3. Self-Traction: Arm hangs, pendulums, etc.
  4. General or Specific warm-ups
    1. Jumping jacks, cycling, brief walk (General)
    2. Light sets of activity prior to adding heavier weights (Specific)
  5. Relaxation training

This is a simple method to help reduce and relieve pain, decrease muscle tension, and minimize anxiety and stress. The definition of relaxation training is “a reduction in muscle tension in the entire body or the region that is painful or restricted by conscious effort and thought.”

There are three types of relaxation training that one can use:

  1. Autogenic training: Conscious relaxation through self-suggestion and an advancement of exercises and meditation.
  2. Progressive relaxation: Using methodical, distal to proximal advancement of voluntary contraction/relaxation of muscles. Sequence for technique can be as follows:
  • Place self in a quiet area, in a comfortable position
  • Breathe in a deep, relaxed manner
  • Contract distal muscles in hands/feet for at least 5-10 seconds, followed by consciously relaxing those muscles for 20-30 seconds
  • Get a sense of reduced heaviness in one’s hands/feet, with a sense of warmth in the muscle that just relaxed
  • Realize a sense of relaxation and warmth throughout your limb and then throughout your body
  1. Awareness through movement: Combination of sensory awareness, movements of the extremities and trunk, deep breathing, conscious relaxation procedures, and self-massage to change postural abnormalities and imbalances in muscles to reduce muscle tension and pain.

If one is truly relaxed, the following indicators may be present:

  • Decreased muscle tension
  • Lowered heart and respiratory rates, lowered blood pressure
  • Increased skin temperature
  • Pupil constriction
  • Minimal to no body movement
  • Flat facial expression and closed eyes
  • Palms open with jaw and hands relaxed
  • Decreased distractibility

When it comes to preventing injuries, there are numerous factors to take within consideration: warming up in the correct manner, technique and postural mechanics, and duration/frequency/intensity of the stretch.

What research shows is that stretching may not matter solely on any of the above factors, but may benefit from risk prevention if stretching was accompanied by a warm-up routine.

The more prepared that the body is, the less likely the body is to get injured. Stretching is not a magic bullet and may not make as big a difference as one would think in regards to preventing injuries. But if it is going to have any sort of benefit of risk prevention, then it has to be performed with other means of warming up.

If you have any questions or would like your stretching and workout routine to be evaluated by a professional, visit us at your nearest Foothills location. Injury awareness is one of our specialties, and learning to stretch and warm up your body is essential. Read more from our physical therapists on our blog or contact your local Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy location to schedule an appointment.

If you feel pain after an injury, the reason behind the pain is fairly logical—there is a cause and effect relationship that can be observed clear as day. But in some cases, such as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), the origin of pain is not obvious at all. The American College of Rheumatology defines FMS as the presence of widespread aching and pain that has been present for at least 3 months, and tenderness with pressure in at least 11 of 18 sites across the body. For many years, FMS has incited considerable debate and controversy. What does the precise definition of the condition really mean for patients, and why would they care if all they know is that they are in pain? Due to FMS’s mysterious onset, it is safe to say there are a good number of people who haven’t been diagnosed or received adequate treatment for the condition.

Much like treatment for many musculoskeletal pain disorders, the optimal treatment for FMS includes an advanced therapeutic exercise program of physical activity. Because FMS can greatly affect physical and mental capacities, appropriate pharmacological management is also needed in many cases. Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Pain and morning stiffness
  • Swollen joints
  • Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMJ)
  • Numbness of the extremities or face
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Leg and foot cramps
  • Weight gain
  • Low grade fever
  • Lowered immunity to infections
  • Night sweats
  • Sensitivity to temperature changes

FMS can also have a severe impact on mental health. It can lead to overwhelming fatigue, irritability, apathy, impaired memory and concentration, insomnia or non-restorative sleep, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

With so many different symptoms, it can be difficult and overwhelming for individuals to figure out a proper plan of care. That being said, there are vast amounts of research available to support the use of strengthening programs and aerobic programs in treatments, along with education about FMS, to help patients manage symptoms and enjoy a greater quality of life. Regular exercise can boost your body’s endorphins, decrease stress, and improve energy levels, flexibility, and strength. Other benefits may include decreased mental stress and a lower risk of anxiety and depression.

Types of exercise that have been proven to treat chronic symptoms include:

  • Aerobic exercise, which is non-impactful, low resistance, and high repetition, such as:
    • Pool exercises
    • Brisk walks
    • Bike riding
    • Tai Chi
  • Flexibility and low resistance strength training in the following muscle groups:
    • Upper trapezius
    • Levator scapulae
    • Scalenes
    • Pectorals
    • Quadriceps
    • Hamstrings
    • Gluteus maximus

Patients with FMS have up to 18 tender points, so training usually has to address many different areas of the body. As with any exercise program, make sure your training is tailored to your individual needs before beginning a new regimen.

Physical exercise is not the only important component of managing chronic pain due to FMS. Two major keys to overall care include goal-setting activities and pacing. Goals should be realistic and meaningful. They should be specific, and not an umbrella goal of experiencing zero pain whatsoever. Lifestyle goals such as traveling to visit family or friends could be the initial focus. If you begin by putting too much pressure on yourself to achieve difficult or impossible goals, you might become quickly discouraged. Having a number of smaller but meaningful goals will help you continue along the path to recovery. Pacing is also incredibly important, and patients should remember to set tasks in a graded manner so you can build confidence and tolerance along the way. Remember, too much inactivity can be debilitating and could lead to more pain – however, overdoing it can be just as harmful.

As physical therapists, we are trained to properly evaluate, assess, and implement a proper therapy plan of care that can incorporate all facets of physical activities needed to alleviate symptoms of FMS. With the help of skilled professionals, plans of care can be properly organized and tailored to each individual’s needs, and realistic goals can be set so you can ultimately improve your quality of life. If you have further questions about Fibromyalgia and PT, contact your local Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy clinic today!