Children, Sports and Exercise
Getting your child involved in sports is an excellent way to encourage exercise and prevent childhood obesity. This is a proud feeling for every parent, and the expectation is that the child will have fun, gain confidence and interact with other children in the process.
To determine what your child will enjoy participating in, help him / her decide by accompanying the child to different games and a variety of sports. The more sports and environments the child is made aware of, the higher the probability that the child will be able to pick a sport and enjoy it.
It is important to make sure that the child's sporting activity is age appropriate. In general, toddlers (aged 2-5) are too young to comprehend most organized activities and the importance of 'rules'. They need unstructured play to develop movement skills, attention span and social maturity. From the age of 8 and above, children can participate in team sports and group exercise.
If your child does not like athletic activities, take the opportunity to spend more time with your child and encourage physical activity with regular walks, swimming, tossing a ball around, or simply kicking a ball back and forth. Be creative and mix it up so your child does not get bored.
Importance of Safety First
Unfortunately, children can get injured while playing sports. When this happens, consult a physician immediately. In most cases, the physician may recommend the services of a physical therapist with extensive training in anatomy and physiology. The therapist will work closely with the physician to help your child recover as quickly as possible.
Specially trained in anatomy and physiology, a physical therapist will design a delicate, yet effective exercise program to help restore muscle balance and improve mobility in your child. The therapist will be aware of the child's limitations and will do everything possible to facilitate recovery as quickly as possible. Children tend to get restless during recovery, and a physical therapist will patiently work with the child to achieve compliance during the recovery process.
Physical therapy helps to heal, strengthen, and improve motion by treating your child's injured area with a variety of exercise techniques that incorporate fun and playful activities. With physical therapy, you can expect your child to recover quickly and resume athletic activity.
The Right Physical Therapist For Your Child
Although physical therapy can help children in the recovery process following an injury, there is a lot more that the therapist can do. As a parent, you can expect the physical therapist to use a variety of techniques to strengthen muscles and improve joint mobility. The therapist will make the exercises fun and interesting, and your child won't realize that he or she is 'being treated.' As a parent, you should encourage your child to participate and 'play along' with the treatment. The physical therapist may use play techniques including crawling, playing follow the leader, facilitating balance and coordination activities using beams, balls and other objects.
After an injury, a physical therapist will help your child regain full potential, allowing your little bundle of joy to experience the pleasure of sport and grow physically and emotionally in the process. Your child will look forward to the 'play sessions' and be an active participant in the recovery process. If your child (or another child that you know) is recovering from an injury, physical therapists can help the child return to normal as quickly as possible.
Make Time To Stretch at Work
An eight-hour work day, especially when associated with sitting in one position, can cause muscle tightness. The simple solution is to stretch your body at regular intervals whether you’re at the office, at home, or outdoors. Here are some tips to remember when stretching.
• Don’t rush. Start stretching slowly. Do not overstretch.
• Breathe normally. Never hold your breath.
• When stretching, hold the stretch for about 15 to 20 seconds and feel the tension in your muscles subside as they stretch.
• Repeat the same stretch 2 to 3 times to improve your muscle flexibility.
• Avoid sudden movements when stretching.
• Enjoy stretching. Use the time to relax.
• Maintain good posture while stretching.
• If you feel any discomfort, pain, tingling, numbness, or loss of strength, stop stretching and contact your physician or physical therapist immediately.
Stretching helps improve blood circulation, release tension, and boost energy. Don't forget to take a few minutes to stretch every day.
Benefits of Stretching
It's simple and easy to stretch your muscles. Regular stretching has several benefits including:
• Improved circulation. Stretching increases blood flow which brings nourishment to your muscles and gets rid of waste products. This helps reduce recovery time for muscle injuries.
• Decreased muscle tension, anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
• Increased flexibility and joint range of motion. You feel refreshed and relaxed after you stretch.
• Improved exercise performance. Stretching before exercise is a good way to increase the effectiveness of exercise.
A Simple Office Chair Stretch
Working in an office usually means sitting in one area for several hours. This ultimately leads to bad posture and low back pain due to tight hip flexors and shortened hamstrings. You can help prevent these aches and pains by performing the following simple stretches:
• Finger and Hand Stretches. Place your hands on your desk, and stretch your hands while spreading your fingers until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
• Wrist Stretches. Sit upright in your office chair. Lift one arm and stretch it out in front of you with your palm facing upward. Gently grab your fingers with your other hand. Slowly pull the hand of your extended arm down. Hold 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
• Shoulder Stretches. Lift your right arm and reach behind your head. Place your hand on your upper back making certain your arm is as close to your ear as possible. Use your left hand to gently hold your right elbow while pulling it towards the back of your head. Hold for 15 seconds.
• Spine Twist. While sitting upright in your chair, place your left arm behind your left hip. Hold onto your chair as you twist your upper body to the left. Place your right hand onto your chair to increase your stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise five times with each side.
Maintaining flexibility is a key component to maintaining health.
The Top 5 Reasons to Exercise
You know that exercise is important and has several health benefits. However, there are hidden benefits of exercise that you may not be aware of. Here are the top 5 reasons to exercise:
Reason #1: To Reduce Pain
Individualized, regular exercise (the kind prescribed by your physical therapist) is a great way to reduce pain. For example, strengthening your core can decrease persistent low back pain and protect against future injury. It's amazing how many people who seem resigned to a life of chronic pain start to find relief after starting an exercise program provided by one of our experienced physical therapists. If you are not sure where to begin, we will be happy to assist you in the creation of a safe, effective exercise plan.
Reason #2: To Increase Muscle Tissue
Increased strength allows you to complete your day to day tasks with ease. Imagine if simple things like walking, going up the stairs, picking up groceries, or playing with your children became easier and more enjoyable. What would that do for you?
A well-designed, progressive exercise plan helps tone your muscles.
Reason #3: To Drop Pounds of Fat
The best benefit of exercise is fat loss. It is no secret that a combination of exercise and a balanced meal plan is the best known way to lose fat. Here's what fat loss can do for you:
- Your clothes fit better
- People around you begin to compliment you on your new appearance
- When you look in the mirror, you look several years younger
- Your energy levels soar
- You feel great!
Reason #4: To Control Blood Sugar
Regular exercise helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you or someone you know has type 2 diabetes (or is at risk for type 2 diabetes) exercise will help your body to better utilize sugar since exercise positively impacts insulin sensitivity. A combination of weight loss and improved blood glucose control has several health benefits. You should consult your doctor before you begin any exercise with the intention to control your blood sugar.
Reason #5: To Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels
Exercise helps your heart in 2 ways:
- Weak heart muscles pump a relatively small amount of blood with each beat. Essentially, your heart is putting in a lot of effort with every beat. By exercising, you strengthen your heart muscles so they pump more blood with less effort; this decreases the pressure on your arteries.
- Exercise increases HDL (the "good" cholesterol) levels in some people. This decreases your risk for heart disease. Other heart disease risk factors such as weight, diabetes, and high blood pressure also improve with regular exercise. You may want to speak with your doctor about your salt intake as well.
Exercise Boosts Your Energy Levels
The quickest, easiest way to guarantee that you'll meet your health
goals is to work with one of our highly qualified therapists. You will be provided with an exercise plan that best suits your needs and preferences. You will receive personal attention and will be shown techniques and strategies that will help you return to doing things with greater ease.
Your Primary Motivation
Your primary motivation to exercise is unique to you. Perhaps your
goal is to be able to play with your kids again, decrease the risk of falls, be able to lift things without difficulty, sit through a movie with your family / friends without pain, or return to playing sports.
Identify your primary motivation, write it on a sticky note and place it on your refrigerator. Use pictures of family or any other image that creates a positive association with your health goals. Share your goals with family and friends, which makes you accountable to them. Being reminded constantly of your primary motivation will help you achieve your goals faster.
A physical therapist plays an important role in the recovery process following most injuries. With mother’s day round the corner, it’s important to remember that women in particular experience a higher risk from bone-related injuries after menopause. In this newsletter, we try to dispel some of the most commonly-held myths about post injury exercise regimes, so that the mothers (and everyone else) in your family are aware of the do’s and don’ts of post injury exercise.
Myth #1: After an injury, “Bed rest is the best”.
Fact: A short period of bed rest (1 to 2 days) can help prevent further injury during the acute phase, but longer rest intervals can be counterproductive. In fact, resting and inactivity can actually cause more pain since a lack of activity leads to reduced blood flow and even muscle weakness. This, in turn, creates more pain and triggers an unhealthy cycle of pain and inactivity that feed each other and aggravate the situation.
Always start with low intensity exercises (your physical therapist will point you in the right direction) and ease into an exercise regime that progressively strengthens your muscles and improves flexibility of your joints.
Myth #2: Going to the gym is the best way to regain your strength.
Fact: It’s common for people to reinjure themselves if they return to the gym or engage in ‘unsupervised exercise’ too soon after an injury. Trust the expertise of the physical therapist and complete an exercise protocol before progressing to independent, unsupervised exercise.
Myth #3: With any exercise, if there is no pain, there is no gain.
Fact: When you first start an exercise plan, you’ll be using your muscles in new ways that may cause soreness the next day, but anything more than a little discomfort isn’t healthy. Contrary to popular belief, exercise doesn’t have to hurt to be effective. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong – if you want to avoid serious injury, listen to your body and back off at the first sign of pain.
Myth #4: Focusing on specific muscles (abs, arms, thighs) is the best way to recover after an injury.
Fact: The energy expenditure (amount of calories burnt) increases as you involve more muscle groups and increase the intensity of exercise. As healing continues, your physical therapist may recommend exercises like walking which involve several large muscle groups as opposed to single muscle group movements.
Aquatic Exercise Is Safe
Exercise done in water (swimming pools) is effective for injury recovery in all age groups.
The buoyant forces of water provide a calming, cushioning effect, which protects (and challenges) your muscles, joints and bones.
Water is several times denser than air and facilitates high energy expenditure with minimal risk of injury. Water exercise has several benefits and also provides a safe medium for strengthening your muscles post injury.
Exercise Techniques To Prevent Injuries
Your physical therapist can provide you with specific guidelines for injury free exercise, but here are a few tips:
- Dress appropriately. Replace worn-out shoes and wear the right clothing while exercising. This will reduce the rough impact on your joints and allow you to stay comfortable.
- Warm up and stretch. You should always start off with warm-up exercises, like walking on the spot for several minutes. Gentle stretching exercises after your warm up allow your muscles to get ‘primed’ for exercise
- Don’t forget to breathe! Deep, regular breathing can keep your heart rate steady and help maintain proper oxygen flow to your muscles. Never hold your breath while exercising. Your physical therapist will advice you when to breathe in and out while exercising.
- Technique and range of motion: Your physical therapist will teach you the correct technique, range of motion and speed to help you get the maximum benefit from each exercise.
- Cool down. At the end of your workout, decrease the intensity of your movements for at least 5 minutes, allowing your heart rate to return to normal.
If you suffer from arthritis, you are not alone.
Usually, the first thing most individuals try is nonprescription medications (like Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, or Aleve) for pain relief. If this doesn't work, the pain may increase to the point that surgery becomes a possibility (joint repair or replacement).
How do you manage arthritis?
There is no one best way to manage arthritis pain, and no single technique that is guaranteed to give you complete pain relief. In fact, a combination of methods work best. Think of arthritis pain management as a continuing journey. And this is your travel guide – you can pick your itinerary based on how your symptoms are.
Step 1: Learn about your arthritis pain
Patient education is probably the most important step in pain management, according to the American Pain Society. Learn all you can about your arthritis so you can break down the mental roadblocks.
Exercise Is Your Answer
- Regain posture. Proper posture is VERY important. Years of compensating for a sore/painful knee or hip can result in pain in the hip, knee, or even the ankle. Sitting slouched for hours, jutting the abdomen out when standing can lead to low back pain. Our therapists can observe how you sit, stand, and walk and teach you how to adjust your posture to decrease the stress on your joints, and help you move with less pain.
- Protect your joints. Sore joints can stop you from doing your daily activities like bathing, dressing, writing and driving. We help you find alternative ways to perform your activities by strategically integrating 'rest periods' and avoiding tasks that trigger joint pain and discomfort.
Do Try This At Home!
Step 3: Do-it-yourself pain relief
In addition to doing your exercises (that we prescribe), here are a few things you can do in the comfort of your own home:
- Heat. Warming tissues eases arthritis pain by increasing blood flow to the affected joints. It can help relax tight muscles, eliminate waste products like lactic acid that cause stiffness and soreness. Here’s what you can do to increase temperature to affected joints:
- Hot bath or Jacuzzi
- Caution: If you have cardiac problems or if you are over age 70 (as we age, our bodies do not regulate heat as efficiently) check with your doctor first.
- Heating pads
- Caution: Although moist heat tends to be more effective than dry heat, you can use an electric heating pad. But be careful - it is estimated that 100,000 people burn themselves on it every year, so make sure you DON'T fall asleep with it on! Read the instructions before use. We can teach you exactly how to use a heating pad for best results.
- Contrast bath
- Use warm water (110 deg F) and cold water (65 deg F) for areas like hands and feet. Put your hands/feet in warm water for 5 minutes, then in cold water for 1-2 minutes. Repeat this process up to 3 times to help decrease pain and swelling in the joint.
- Cold therapy. This includes ice pack, cold compression wraps, or ice massage. It works by decreasing the blood flow to the area to decrease swelling, and reducing the pain signals to the brain (making it less painful). After an acute flare-up, for the first 48-72 hours, use ice for up to 15-20 minutes to decrease pain and swelling.
- Rest. Be sure to rest the injured part. You can either relax your entire body, or the joint specifically by wearing a brace to protect and support the joint.
Just a quick message to let you know what's new at Arundel Physical Therapy & Fitness -
We've made some changes and updates to our website. There is now a menu bar on the right with quick links to our newsletter, new patient information, a secure payment page, and other resources. Our new patient intake forms and newsletter archives are now available for download.
We finally have new neighbors in the building! For those of you who have been with us since the beginning, you'll notice that our community now includes many other medical specialtists from areas such as retina/eye care, sleep studies, and primary care.
We've also established social network sites on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Become a fan on Facebook and interact with our staff. Follow us on Twitter and gain access to our posts and retweets of other interesting topics. Check our YouTube site as we continue to add new content and post favorite links!
As always, we strive to improve the lives of our family of patients and fitness clients. Many of you are already taking advantage the website, the social media sites, and our newsletter. For those of you who have not, take the time to check them out. Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding physical therapy, fitness, or your health.
A new year usually means optimistic predictions and setting new resolutions. This year might be a little different for many people with the economy in a slump and jobs being lost. Many of us are under a great deal of stress. We all know that stress is bad for us, but it can difficult to avoid. That's why we decided to start the year with a few tips to help reduce stress.
1. Get Organized
A lack of organization can create a great deal of stress. Most of us have many things that we are responsible for doing. These things can include work tasks, family commitments, or any other "things" that we must do. A great place to start is writing down anything that you can think of that you are responsible for doing. If your head is cluttered with all of those "things", it's very difficult to decide where to start. Once you've written everything down, you can set a plan.
In his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen discusses how all of our to-do items can increase our stress level if they aren't managed well. He also presents a great system for getting things under control. For more information about the "Getting Things Done" or "GTD" concept, check out his website at www.davidco.com.
There are many other tools on the market to help you get organized. If you search Google or Yahoo for "GTD applications" for either Windows or Macs, you will find a number of links. Here are a couple of my favorite organization tools:
Things from Cultured Code - Mac only, but offers a free trial version
ThinkingRock from Thinking Rock - Mac or Windows offered free
Highrise, Basecamp, & Backpack from 37signals - offers free & paid versions of their web-based programs
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise helps to increase blood flow, decrease stress, improve muscle function, and guard against injury. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans gives more information about the types and amount of exercise that is recommended. The key is to find something that you enjoy and do regularly. You can find a link to the 2009 Guidelines on our homepage.
Getting enough sleep is more important than you might think. When your body is sleep deprived, your blood pressure and stress hormones increase. A good night's sleep gives you energy and makes you more alert. It can improve memory, keep your heart healthy, and help maintain proper body weight. Lack of sleep can cause a deficiency in serotonin which can lead to depression. While you sleep, your cells produce protein that forms building blocks for cells and helps repair damage.
4. Distract yourself
Focusing too much on stressful issues is exhausting and unhealthy. It's good to distract yourself from your daily stressors. Spend time with family, find a new hobby, or learn to play an instrument. It's important to realize that it's okay to put your "to-do" lists aside sometimes.