There is nothing like a morning workout to get you going and ready to take on the day.  We all have busy lives and getting that workout in before everything else can help you check one very important task off your to-do list while helping you prepare for everything the day has in store for you.  The most important thing you can do to have a successful morning workout is being prepared ahead of time. Here are a few keys to getting it done.

Rest

  • Working out in the morning does not mean skipping out on your sleep.
  • Go to bed early, plan to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep before that alarm goes off.
  • If you wake up feeling too tired, plan on getting to bed earlier next time.

Fuel

  • Grab a little something to help fuel that morning session, find what works best for you, a piece of fruit, piece of toast, energy bite, coffee. Something small to jump start the day.
  • Plan a regular breakfast full of protein for after your workout.

Hydrate

  • Hydration is something you need to commit to everyday, all day.
  • Sip on water throughout each day in order to prepare you for tomorrow’s tasks. And bring that water bottle along with you during your workout.

Wake Up

  • At first you may have a hard time just getting out of bed. Set 2 alarms or try placing your alarm across the room to force yourself to get your feet on the floor. Once you’re up you will have an easier time getting going.
  • Splash some water on your face and hands to help wake yourself up.
  • Minty toothpaste can also help you feel fresh and ready to get your body moving.

Prepare Clothes/Equipment

  • Set out all your clothing, shoes, etc the night before so you don’t have to do any thinking or searching for things in the morning.

Make a Date

  • Talk to a friend and team up for the morning workout.
  • Schedule a class or session with a trainer to help keep you have fun while working out and hold you accountable.

Warm Up

  • Remember to prepare you body for your workout by performing a dynamic warm-up prior to getting into the more taxing parts of your workout. If you’re heading out for a run, you can walk down the street and do some knee hugs, side lunges, hip rotations, arm circles, or do some of these in the gym before you start.
  • Save the static stretching for after you are finished with your workout.

Plan Your Workout

  • Having a plan of attack is key. Know what your workout will be, whether it is a run, a weight session, a class, or working out with your personal trainer, have a plan!

Breakfast

  • Plan out what your post workout meal is going to be so you can refuel. You won’t feel as rushed as you head out the door for the day if you have everything ready and waiting for you.

Reward Yourself

  • Think about how you’ll feel to have that workout done for the day!
  • After a successful week of morning workouts, plan a rest day. A massage, a mani/pedi, a baseball game, a date night, or time with friends and family and sit back and enjoy! Working out is great time to treat your body well, but rest and relaxation are just as important!

Repeat

  • It takes some time to get into the routine, but persistence will help your body get used to the change in your routine. Soon enough, you’ll come to enjoy getting up, getting going, and having that workout under your belt before getting on with the rest of your day.

Get in touch with our FAST program if you’re looking for more tips and training on creating a morning workout routine or looking to get extra help with a personal trainer. FAST has the expertise to build customized programs to help you achieve your goals.

During a recent dinner table discussion with my family, my 8-year-old son brought up the subject of concussions in football. He was doing a research project called “Genius Hour” and had to come up with a topic/problem he was interested in, along with some ideas on how to solve a problem related to his topic. After a lot of brainstorming, he decided to research concussions and how it relates to young football players, and at what age they should consider playing tackle football. My son loves sports of all kinds, but football is by far his favorite. He has been playing flag football since he was four and has dreams of being the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings one day….while also being a drummer for his rock band. We have talked about when the right time is for him to transition from flag football to tackle. He has friends who are already playing tackle football now and have been playing for a couple of years.

I work as a physical therapist (PT) at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy and while talking with patients of mine in the clinic, football is often a topic of conversation. Many times I have been asked what sports my children play. Numerous times the response to my son playing football is something along the lines of “Why would you let him play football? That’s so dangerous.” I tell them that my son loves it and he’s only playing flag football for now. But, of course, all of the more recent talk and research about concussions is something that concerns me as a mom and as a PT. The fact that my son is performing some research on the topic made me want to learn more about concussions and young football players.

My son is finishing up his research report and is writing letters to leaders in youth football, including the director of Pop Warner Football, about encouraging kids to wait to play tackle football until after age 12. He found research suggesting that children’s brains are more developed by that time and that prior to age 12 the brain is more susceptible to injury, which could lead to difficulty with school and behavioral/emotional issues down the road. The PT in me would agree with that, and also argue that children’s motor skills are also more developed by that age so they are better equipped from a physical standpoint to utilize proper tackling form.

Following my son’s lead, I delved into a little research myself. I found a study by Boston University which was published in the journal Nature’s Translational Psychiatry in September of 20171. In the study, which included 214 former American football players now with an average age of 51, the athletes who played youth football prior to the age of 12 had twice the “risk of problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive function” and three times the risk of “clinically elevated depression scores.” Research about this topic continues to be published and most of it points to the benefits of waiting beyond age 12 to play tackle football as it could lead to both long- and short-term neurological consequences.

Due in part to this research, we are seeing changes in the way the sport is played at all levels now, from youth to collegiate, and in professional play. In fact, if you look at the way the game of football was played when the athletes from the Boston University study played youth football compared to how it is played today, there have been significant changes already. Pop Warner has eliminated kickoffs and other leagues have eliminated tackling in practice. For those of us out there who are NFL fans, you can’t miss the “concussion tents” along the sidelines. It appears all the talk about concussions has improved awareness and spurred on positive changes to help improve the safety of the game for all ages.

So if changing some things in the game could help reduce the number and severity of concussions, how are we changing the way we treat people with concussions? Early treatment is key in assessing, recognizing, and treating most cases of post-concussion syndrome. At Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, we have physical therapists and athletic trainers on staff who have been trained in the treatment of individuals with post-concussion syndrome. They serve as a great resource not only for treatment but also prevention tactics for those who play contact sports.

Many aspects are involved in the evaluation process after a concussion, including assessing sleep, any changes in balance, dizziness, eye movement, concentration, coordination, neck pain, psychological changes, and headaches. There is still a lot to be learned about the effects of concussions and how to treat them, but all of the increased attention surrounding concussions may and should bring about tangible adaptations to the sport — in order to minimize the likelihood of negative consequences — and changes in how/when to treat someone post-concussion. These changes will help keep our young athletes safer when participating in youth sports.

When I told my son I was writing about concussions and some of the changes that are being made  — in how the game of football is played and how people with concussions are being assessed and treated — for the Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy blog, he put his arms up in the air, mimicking a touchdown call, and yelled “YES!”

 

  1. Study suggests link between youth football & later-life emotional, behavioral impairment. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2018 online

The pace of life is so fast now, isn’t it? It seems like everyone is running around with a to-do list a mile long, and only able to keep up with life rather than live it. Many of us are trying to juggle work, church activities, maintain the home, arrange kid’s schedules, and other errands. Our lives are exhausting, and at the end of the week we end up feeling stressed.

To keep up with our lives we need to find ways to manage our stress so we can continue to give each day our very best. Once we find ways to relieve stress, the ability to go through our week relaxed, and in charge of our emotions is much easier.

Exercise is an excellent way to help us achieve these goals. Our bodies are amazing, through exercise we release natural pain killers called endorphins. Endorphins affect us by improving how we function, how we sleep, and our overall attitude. There are many exercises out there that can help us release those endorphins, relieve stress, and improve our overall health. I have a selection of my favorite exercises below, so find the one that you enjoy to help stay healthy!

Aerobic Exercise: Getting your heart rate elevated can really help you to blow off steam, and learning to control your breathing can decrease your resting heart rate in everyday life. Some of my favorites are swimming, running, walking, and using various cardiovascular machines at the gym. Sign up for a local race or walk to give you even more motivation!

Weight training: Lifting, pushing, pulling, all challenge different muscle groups to help get your blood pumping. Start at a lower level and work up from there to avoid injury.

High intensity interval training: Switching between low intensity exercise and short bursts of high intensity exercise is a great method burn calories, while building muscle, and improving cardiovascular health.

Outdoor activities: Fresh air is nature’s cure-all, getting outside and away from the hustle bustle of everyday life is another way to release endorphins. Whether you’re running on a trail, kayaking in a river, or simply walking around the neighborhood, you’re moving your body and decompressing from the pressures of life.

Group classes: There are so many choices when it comes to fitness classes, so try out several and see which one fits you best.  Working out with others is a great motivation strategy, and can make you try just a little harder, while giving you a healthy workout.

Team Sports: Playing in a basketball league, volleyball match, or even a dodge ball competition will empower you to keep playing. Think about all the fun you had as a kid, playing with your friends in the backyard, it’s still just as good! Try it out all over again as an adult!

Martial Arts: Some people need the discipline of learning form, technique, and the challenge of earning the next rank to keep them going. The great feeling of accomplishment when you move up to the next level makes the intense training all worth it!

Yoga and Pilates: There are many different types of yoga, and Pilates, some are performed on a simple mat, while other require specialized equipment. For both types of exercises, it’s all about connecting your mind, body, and breathing. It takes a lot of concentration to control your breath while standing on one leg or changing positions. However, by mastering these internal connections, you will find that your body is more flexible, stronger, and at peace.

These are only a few of the great options out there to manage your stress level. It’s also a great way to lead your children by example to a healthy lifestyle, that way they can learn from your successful techniques, and stay healthy. Grab a friend or family member to try them out with, and find the right one for the both of you.

Are you suffering from aches and pains that are holding you back? Schedule an appointment at one of our Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy offices to help you get back to the activities you love. Along the way, you may realize that you’re feeling more in control of your life, and all the stresses that come with your busy schedule just melt away.

Do you ever wonder what using your phone all day is doing to affect you or your family’s health? Like many parents, I am guilty of using a cell phone or tablet to distract the children and keep my sanity while running errands or taking an important call. Recently though, I’ve noticed that my three-year-old is developing some bad postural habits as a result of her time with my phone. If this is happening with my three-year-old, then what happens to adults who are on their mobile devices and tablets constantly and do not have a parent telling them to sit up straight all the time?

No matter how much you want to believe that you are exempt from these tendencies, the truth is that you and your family’s health is being affected in a negative way.

Cell phones and tablets are amazing forms of technology that can simplify and organize our everyday lives. We are able to connect with distant loved ones and friends, check the weather, respond to an email, plan a family trip, read a book and watch a movie, all in the span of a few moments. With so much to do our eyes are fixated on a screen, whether it’s a computer, phone, or TV, for a good portion of the day. This provides us many opportunities to fall into poor postural habits.

Sore Hands

The first postural habits that need attention are those of the hand. While holding the device, especially while using a cell phone, the fingers are curled, the wrist is bent upward, and the thumb is constantly moving. Have you ever had soreness in your hand when using your phone for a long period of time? And if so, what did you do about it? The first thing you should do is put the phone down! Then, take some time to stretch out your hand, fingers, wrist, elbow, and thumb. Putting your palms together in front of you and pushing your wrists down toward the floor can open up your fingers and extend your wrists to stretch those tight structures. Simply taking a break every fifteen to twenty minutes to stretch quickly will help ease the strain put your body by constant daily phone use.

Neck and Shoulders

It’s not just your hands that are affected by constant phone use throughout the day; using your phone too much can put your neck and shoulders under stress as well. This is caused by the strain from looking down at your phone. Bending your head forward and rounding your shoulders contributes to poor postural habits that are harder to break or retrain once they become “normal” for you. This rounded posture occurs when the muscles in front of your shoulders and neck become tight, while the muscles behind your neck and upper back are stretched and stressed. You may notice your shoulders starting to hike up toward your ears as well. The abnormal postural positions to which your body contorts during cell phone use have the potential to put stress on the spine, muscles of your shoulders, and neck. This can lead to stress headaches, difficulty concentrating, and eventually even some numbness and tingling down the arm.

In order to combat all of this, take daily stretch breaks to help counter the rounded posture. For example, find a corner or doorway to put your arms up against, gently stretching out your chest and shoulders, or simply take a moment to roll your shoulders backward. Doing some exercises to strengthen the upper back can also make it easier for you to maintain proper posture without as much effort. A simple strength exercise you can do while at your desk is to sit up straight in a chair and squeeze your shoulder blades together. As an Arizona physical therapy expert, I come into contact with very few patients who don’t need to do some type of work to improve their posture.

Bring in Reinforcements

We all need to be connected to our phones and computers for various reasons, whether it’s to work or organize our lives. However, it comes at a hefty price if we are not making sure to take care of ourselves. I have found that enlisting the help of family or co-worker can be very beneficial. You can help keep your family and friends accountable by giving gentle reminders or making a game of trying to catch each other in the bad postures mentioned above.

In my house, my seven-year-old son has a tablet that he is allowed to use within certain restrictions. As a family, we have talked about posture, appropriate volume levels, and the appropriate times to use the tablet. Now that he has been taught the proper way to use the device, he is the one who helps my husband and me when we are using ours. He helps us to disengage from our phones, telling us to sit up straight and put the phone down at the table. I have had several patients tell me how much a similar accountability system has helped their families improve their posture while using their devices.

Even still, there are occasionally times when we all slip into bad habits. But the more aware you are of the habits you are slipping into, the better off you—and your whole family—will be at making better choices when using a cell phone or tablet. Simply making devices “off limits” for certain times during each day (such as meal time or family time) can help you reconnect with those around you. Because no matter how connected a cell phone or tablet may keep you, there are loved ones at arm’s reach that want to share moments and memories with you. So, in closing, put the phone down and go talk to someone!

 

Lynsey Schmidt, PT, DPT, has over seven years of experience working in outpatient physical therapy at the Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy location in South Chandler, AZ . Today, Lynsey shares her professional knowledge on how physical therapy can improve balance.

As a physical therapist, I’ve had many patients enter my office with a prescription from their physician for balance training. Several of these patients have asked me why they were sent to physical therapy for balance issues and how can physical therapy help improve balance over time.

The answer is simple. Physical therapists are trained in problem solving and are experts regarding the musculoskeletal system. It is our job to perform various tests to get to the heart of the problem and use those results to develop an individual plan to improve areas where we find deficits. Our goal is to educate patients in how to better care for themselves, and help them return to their previous activities with the least amount of restrictions or limitations as possible.

When someone with balance difficulties begins physical therapy, it is usually after they have experienced a fall, or have come close to falling. This fear of falling can make things worse by causing the individual to avoid things such as exercising or going out in public, and the decrease in activity can contribute to even more muscle weakness.

To ease this fear, we start with simple exercises and activities to build strength and confidence. In the majority of cases where balance is compromised, there is a loss of leg and core strength. We can begin strengthening with the patient lying down and sitting first, then try standing exercises while they are supported and closely monitored. We work on strengthening the muscles surrounding the abdomen, lower back, hips, buttocks, and upper legs to give the individual a strong base of support to work from.

As the patient gets stronger and the more basic exercises become easier, there is a gradual increase in the difficulty of exercises. While patients are in physical therapy, they are also given safe exercises to work on at home. Home exercises may include doing small squats while holding onto two chairs, or something as simple as standing on one foot while brushing their teeth.

By the time a patient is finished with physical therapy, they will have a complete home exercise program. In addition, patients may feel confident enough to begin taking classes such as Tai Chi or yoga to further improve their balance.

Another aspect of physical therapy includes giving patients helpful information to improve their safety. Some pointers I like to share include removing any throw rugs in the home, installing grab bars near the toilet and the bathtub or shower, and improving lighting where needed.

It is also important to talk with a physician regarding any possible medication side effects, including dizziness, light headedness or drowsiness. It is also a good idea to get regular eye exams to make sure any glasses are appropriate for the patient’s needs.

Armed with all these tools, there will be an increase in strength, mobility, safety, and the individual’s balance will improve right along with their confidence.

Our AZ sports medicine and physical therapy experts at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy know how to help you recover from injury and improve overall physical well-being. If you have questions about balance at any age, make an appointment today for your physical therapy consultation. To learn more about what our certified professionals can do for you, check out the Foothills blog!