Avoid the busy steakhouse and germ-ridden movie theater this year and try taking your sweetheart for an outdoor adventure this Valentine’s Day instead. Arizona’s average temperature on this lover’s weekend is a perfect 70 degrees. Our state offers unlimited outdoor opportunities to explore, made only sweeter when enjoyed with your loved one. The list is endless, but here are a few suggestions on some outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by everyone from the active, physical therapist types to couples who simply love to eat:

1. Downtown Glendale’s Annual Chocolate Festival

For the 23rd year, Cerreta Candy Company hosts this sweet event. During the weekend of Feb. 9-11, you can participate in romance writing classes, painting workshops, or indulge in chocolate galore! The best part, admission is free!

2. Bike Ride for Two

Arizona offers wide-open spaces and amazing landscapes to explore on two wheels next to your loved one. Check out downtown Tempe and Scottsdale where you can rent a bike or participate in the Grid bike share program. Grab a tandem bike and cruise down the miles of waterfront bike paths and bridges together.

3. Cuddling by the Campfire

Grab some extra blankets and a two-person sleeping bag and head up North to one of Arizona’s many camping sites. The campfire is perfect for grilling steaks and cooking some desert s’mores! Use this online camping resource to help.

4. Farmer’s Market

Grab your valentine, a re-usable shopping bag, and some cash and head down to one of Arizona’s many local farmers markets to pick up the necessities for a romantic dinner. There is one in almost every city this time of year, use this site to find one near you.

5. Picnic in the Park

Take some of the fresh baked bread, locally grown veggies, and locally-made cheese that you found at the farmers market for a picnic in one of the Valley’s many parks. Don’t forget the blanket!

6. Tennis, Racquet Ball, or Pickle Ball

There are many community racquet courts in the valley that will rent out equipment for cheap. Grab your sweetheart and sweat it out on the courts. It takes two to volley!

7. Miniature Golfing

Skip the expensive green fees but keep the lovely weather and grab a couple clubs. Miniature golfing is always a fun date! Loser makes dinner.

8. Hiking, of Course

Trails, trails, and more trails. This is probably one of my favorite parts of living in Arizona. Grab your partner and go! Don’t forget your Camelbak!

9. Pedal Boating or Gondola Ride

Rent a pedal boat at Tempe Town Lake and get in a little exercise or kick back and be steered and serenated by a gondolier at the Hyatt. Both can be equally romantic.

10. Horseback Riding

Throw on some cowboy boots and jeans and ride off in the sunset with your partner on horseback. There are many guided trails around the state.

Rain or snow may not be in the air this February 14th weekend, but love is! So grab your spouse, significant other, or crush by the hand and enjoy some of our LOVELY outdoor weather! Don’t forget the sunscreen and prepare to tell your physical therapist about the excursion the next time you’re at one of our locations.

Being able to go out on the golf course and play a consistent game is a goal for many golfers. However, there are several issues amateur golfers face that can affect their golf game. If your body is not properly prepared when the season starts, you could hit the ball improperly, which often leads to injury, worse performance, and further frustration—not a good recipe for the enjoyment of this popular sport.

Common issues include poor balance and stance, poor posture and decreased motion of the neck, shoulder blades, mid-back, and hips. Golfers with muscle tightness, joint restriction, or poor body mechanics can struggle to consistently execute their golf swings. An integrated evaluation and treatment plan can help you maximize your ability to transfer energy through your body and to the club with better efficiency and speed. A physical therapist will provide and guide you through exercises specifically designed to:

  • Improve mobility of all joints (e.g., the neck, shoulder, back). Limited mobility could affect your swing.
  • Improve flexibility of your hips and shoulder musculature as they are both critical to your follow-through and your backswing.
  • Improve dynamic balance and develop an improvement plan for improved shot follow-through. Poor control of hip, abdominal, and hip musculature could cause you to finish your swing off balance.
  • Improve core strength, which is the base of a good golf swing.

A golf swing is a complex and multidimensional movement with many body parts working in tandem. If one aspect of your form is lacking, other areas of your body will begin to compensate and this could lead to development of bad habits or possible injury. The basis of a good golf game is having a consistent, strong golf swing. Swing faults are most often manifested as poor form while executing the backswing and the downswing, or completing the follow-through. Over time, golfers may develop injuries or worsen pre-existing neck, shoulder, back, hand, wrist, or elbow injuries.

A physical therapist can help golfers achieve proper biomechanics and body movement to prevent injury, eliminate pain from an existing injury, and/or improve their game and level of consistency. Your physical therapist will help you customize a rehabilitative program to:

  • Identify the bio mechanic challenges that are impeding your peak golf performance
  • Create a treatment plan to address the deficit that is impacting your golf game
  • Provide manual therapy to decrease pain and expedite healing of any current injuries
  • Provide therapeutic exercises to achieve long-term recovery and prevention of injuries

With more than 11 million rounds of golf played annually in Arizona on its 350 courses—and an average temperature of 72° to go along with 300 days of sunshine—it’s no wonder the Grand Canyon State is one of the most popular golfing destinations.

Whether you are an avid golfer or someone who puts on your spikes only a couple of times a year, physical therapy can promote optimal fitness to improve your performance and prevent golf-related injury. Schedule an appointment today to help make the most of your pastime.

In The Wizard of Oz, the Tin Man sang about his desire for a heart and the Scarecrow for a brain. They searched along the Yellow Brick Road to find their missing organs. As these two characters discovered, the answer to replacing or restoring biological tissues can be found within oneself.

In reality, stem cells and other biologically harvested materials are being explored as treatment options to regenerate impaired or nonfunctional human tissue. Regenerative therapy, while still experimental, is being used to treat conditions such as heart failure, neurological disorders (Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis), orthopedic issues and even cancer.

There are many questions and concerns surrounding this fairly new and still controversial approach. My goal is to answer some of these questions for you: How does it work? Is it effective? What are the risks? How can physical therapy assist with the recovery? Is it possible to end up with super-human powers? Can I clone my favorite dog?

The (amazing!) body heals itself in four overlapping stages: hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and maturation. The short and sweet description of this process is as follows. Platelets play a crucial role in clot formation during hemostasis. The inflammatory stage is characterized by the debridement of the injured tissue. Growth of new tissue occurs through epithelialization, fibroplasia, and angiogenesis during the proliferative phase.

Meanwhile, granulation tissue forms and the wound begins to contract. And finally, during the maturation phase collagen forms tight cross-links and increases the tensile strength of the scar. Cellular therapies are being investigated to boost the regenerative potential and augment the body’s physiology naturally, or by means of bioengineering. These treatments include prolotherapy, platelet rich plasma (PRP), and mesenchymal stem cell therapy.

Prolotherapy introduces an irritating agent to pathologic tissue to promote a healing response. The exact mechanism is unknown, but these irritants seem to trigger an inflammatory cascade, which leads to the proliferation of fibroblasts and deposition of collagen. Three solutions are commonly used in prolotherapy: D-glucose (dextrose), phenol-glucose-glycerin (P2G), and sodium morrhuate.

There is no real protocol and the number, dosage, and concentration of the solutions vary. Many clinicians use their judgment and intuition depending upon the severity and size of the injury. The nature of the solution is to cause a local inflammation, which can cause pain and discomfort lasting from 24 hours to a week. There are few quality trials conducted on humans that can build a solid case for prolotherapy; however, it has been shown to be an effective treatment for sports injuries including Achilles tendinosis, plantar fasciitis, and lateral epicondylitis.

Platelet-rich plasma is a higher concentration of the patient’s blood platelets that are condensed by use of centrifugation. Platelets are involved in blood-clot formation and in the modulation of inflammation and healing. Studies have demonstrated that PRP injections have improved function and decreased pain to various injuries including elbow, wrist, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle tendinosis. Side effects of the injections are limited as the patient is using their own blood, which they should have no reaction to. Some relative rest is needed immediately following the procedure. Dosage varies but is typically given up to three shots recommended within a six-month timeframe.

The most recent area of regenerative medicine that is being explored is the use of mesenchymal stem cells. Stem cells are unprogrammed cells that have the ability to differentiate into other types of cells, replacing diseased or damaged cells. Scientists are veering away from the controversial use of embryonic stem cells, and are harvesting them instead from the patient’s own adult stem cells. These stem cells are available from various tissues including blood, adipose, bone marrow and synovial tissue.

The literature supporting stem cells therapies for orthopedic conditions is limited, consisting of mostly animal studies and low-level evidence. These studies indicate that improvements can be seen in patients with osteoarthritis, meniscal tears, and rotator cuff tears; however, no reliable conclusions can be made. Treatments are being investigated with all diagnoses and the future holds great potential. Currently, they are using stem cells to find a cure for cancer, dopamine-producing stem cells for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, retinal cells to cure blindness, and insulin-producing cells for Type I diabetes. Wow!

Physical activity has been proven to be one of the most powerful regenerative medicine tools, and maximum benefits can be achieved when it is simultaneously applied with these treatments. For patients who have undergone these procedures, it is important to account for how the different treatments may affect healing times.

Prior to these procedures, physical therapy can maintain range of motion, decrease pain and inflammation, and restore altered biomechanics. PT modalities, including neuromuscular electrical stimulation in combination with stem cell transplants, have shown to improve the force-generating capacity of injured skeletal muscle compared to stem cell therapy alone.

As physical therapists, we understand how to combine rest, biomechanical loading, and tissue mobilization throughout the stages of healing, with the goal of regaining maximal function. While advancements in the medical field are being made at an astonishingly rapid pace, the technology to clone your favorite dog or gain super-human powers may still be several years away.

The Scarecrow and the Tin Man may not have to travel over the rainbow to find a new heart or brain. It is up to healthcare providers, such as physicians and physical therapy professionals, to acknowledge these upcoming treatments, and to both educate and guide patients in their healthcare options. Speak to your local Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy expert about how some of these treatments may benefit you.

 

Reference:

Malanga, G., & Nakamura, R. (2014). The Role of Regenerative Medicine in the Treatment of Sports Injuries. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, 25(4), 881-895. doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2014.06.007