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What is minimalist running? Is it safe?

with advice from
Lee Couret, PT, MSPT, CSCS
and AlterG

What is minimalist running? Is it safe?

Trends come and go in fitness, and running is no exception. Minimalist running has been growing in popularity over the last decade, but some runners still question its safety. Barefoot or minimalist running is running that occurs either WITHOUT footwear, or with footwear that lacks high cushioned heels, stiff soles and arch support, a.k.a. minimalist footwear.

Lee Couret, a physical therapist and the owner of Southshore Physical Therapy in Louisiana, says there are many benefits to barefoot running. For example, he says, running barefoot can reduce the impact of the footfall when running. This is because most barefoot runners avoid landing on their heels, because it hurts! Landing with a heel strike is believed to be a potential cause of injury. A study published by the Skeletal Biology Laboratory at Harvard Medical School found that those runners that land on their heels while running were much more likely to suffer injury than those who land on the forefoot, or the ball of the foot. And Lee explains that reducing the impact can reduce running injures, as studies have found that people who run with greater impact often have more injuries.

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How to do the perfect squat

by Jeff Rothstein, MS, CSCS, CES
Director of Strength and Conditioning, PT Center for Sports Medicine

Squats

The perfect squat is different for every body:

  • A power lifter may utilize a low bar position to maximize hip torque and minimize anterior knee displacement, both of which will result in a slightly heavier one-repetition maximum (1RM).
  • A collegiate athlete may utilize a front squat to minimize forward torso lean, which will maximize range of motion and anterior core activation.
  • A pre-adolescent trainee may utilize a goblet squat to encourage proper squat form, as well as those benefits associated with a front squat, but without the significant spinal loading.

Regardless of which squat you choose, there are a few technique guidelines and cues that should be followed to ensure safety and maximize results. Keep in mind that while the following guidelines are for those working with weights, the points about engaging muscles and proper form remain the same for anyone doing squats with or without weights. And, for best results, consult with your physical therapist about exercise techniques that are right for your fitness level.

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Injury prevention for dancers

with advice from Elisabeth Wheeler, PT, DPT
Ann Cowlin, MA, CSM, CCE,
Mark Salandra, CSCS,
and Wayne Seeto, OT, MSPT

Injury prevention for dancers

Most dancers know that one of the challenges of the performing arts is to make it look easy, effortless – and painless. According to Elisabeth Wheeler, a physical therapist who works with dancers at Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy in Pennsylvania, up to 90% of dancers will have an injury at some point during their training. So whether you are a professional dancer in a company, or one who takes classes for physical (and mental) activity, it is important to pay attention to your body in order to avoid injury.

Elisabeth notes that dancers can have a variety of injuries throughout the body:

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Nutrition for stronger bones and muscles

with advice from Alyssa Cellini

Nutrition for stronger bones and muscles.

For most of us, it can be a struggle to make good decisions when choosing what to eat. If simply focusing on “good vs. bad” calories isn’t enough to motivate you, consider eating foods that will help strengthen your muscles and bones.

When choosing what to eat for strength, nutritionist Alyssa Cellini advises focusing on minerals and alkalinity. “Keep in mind,” she adds, “that this doesn’t mean that you simply eat a large quantity of mineral-heavy foods. It’s all about balance: consuming the right minerals, in combinations that assist each-other, while reducing the redirection of these minerals to contrast an acidic environment elsewhere in the body.”

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Carpal tunnel syndrome

with advice from Susan Cupples, OTR/L, CHT, LAc

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome: It’s something we’ve all heard about, but do you know what it really is and what to do about it?

The carpal tunnel connects the underside of the wrist to the palm. It consists of several tendons and muscles, the median nerve, and a thick ligament which covers the entire area. When any of these tendons get irritated and swell, they place pressure on the median nerve, causing the pain known as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can present in a variety of ways, says Susan Cupples, an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist, who is the owner of El Cerrito and Oakland Hand Therapy and Acupuncture, a Physiquality network member in Northern California. According to Susan, any of the following symptoms could be signs of carpal tunnel syndrome:

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What is the difference between reactive and preventive healthcare?

National Physical Therapy Month 2015

with advice from Kathy Blair, PT, DPT, OCS
and Raj Thangamuthu, PT, DPT

What is the difference between reactive and preventive healthcare?

Many Americans take a reactive approach to their healthcare needs: They only seek care once they have an injury or fall ill. This approach, says physical therapist Kathy Blair, often involves a costly progression of doctor visits, tests, medications, and procedures, in order to diagnose and treat conditions that might have been prevented. In addition, she points out, this type of care accounts for more than 75% of healthcare spending in the U.S.

Preventive or proactive care, on the other hand, means taking responsibility for your healthcare and well being before something happens. This includes taking simple actions, like exercising more and eating better, which can help you avoid unnecessary procedures and costly ER visits. Preventive healthcare, says Kathy, “stresses personal responsibility for staying well, and keeps healthcare spending in check as a result.”

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What are vestibular disorders? How do they affect balance?

with advice from Meghan Lass, PT, DPT

What are vestibular disorders? How do they affect balance?

The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, is integral to a person’s balance. It collects information on your position and location and works with the central nervous system to keep you balanced.

Out of the three systems that manage balance (the visual system, the somatosensory system, and the vestibular system), it is the slowest and last to react. When your vestibular system is not working properly, you cannot process your location in the space around you, causing unsteadiness, imbalance and dizziness. But physical therapy can help!

There are several types of vestibular disorders, explains Meghan Lass, a physical therapist who specializes in vestibular therapy at Conshohocken Physical Therapy, a Physiquality network member in Pennsylvania. One type, peripheral vestibular disorders, are problems in the inner ear. These can be caused by a number of things, including:

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How to treat shin splints

with advice from Lisa Cox, ATC
and Medi-Dyne

How to treat shin splints

Simply put, when you have pain in the shin bone or tibia (the front of your lower leg), you have shin splints. Most common in runners and dancers, shin splints can be caused by overuse or overtraining, or musculoskeletal issues like ankle instability or flat feet.

When you experience such pain, especially while exercising, it is best to back off from activity. If the pain continues, says Lisa Cox, “medical care should be sought sooner than later.” A certified athletic trainer at Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality member in Tennessee), Lisa explains that those who wait 3 – 4 weeks to seek treatment often have longer recovery times than those who seek treatment sooner.

In addition, she says, some athletes who simply shrug off the pain as “just shin splints” end up having stress fractures, which must be treated by a physician and usually require a walking boot or cast. Such treatment also requires a complete break from activity until the fractures heal.

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The material and information contained on this Web site is for information only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or consultation.

Consult your personal physician before beginning any exercise program or self-treatment.