Stretching 101

To get the most out of stretching to prevent injury and muscle soreness, dynamic stretching should be performed before your workout and static stretching performed after your workout.  If you perform a static stretch before you workout, there is more potential to tear a muscle due to the lack of blood flow at the muscle.

To get the most benefit out of static stretching, make sure you hold the stretch at a point you feel a pull within the muscle. The stretch should be held between 15-60 seconds.  Perform 2-3 repetitions of each stretch on both sides of your body. If a stretch is painful, you should decrease the range of motion of the stretch.

If you are unsure what muscle groups to stretch in association with your workout, contact Harbor Physical Therapy.  Our physical therapists can create you a customized stretching program.

Six Reasons to Start Walking This Summer

While walking may seem like an obvious form of exercise, most people do not walk enough for exercise. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week. The good news is that brisk walking falls under this category. Walking is a great form of exercise because it is easy to fit in your schedule, it can be done anywhere, and you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment to do it. Here are just a few of the many health benefits of walking:

  1. Walking makes you stronger. Walking is a good way to get your muscles activated and helps to improve muscular strength and endurance.
  2. It is good for your heart. Walking helps to improve cardiovascular and pulmonary health and can improve your endurance for all of your daily activities.
  3. It can help you to maintain a healthy weight.
  4. It decreases your risk for many health conditions and diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
  5. Walking can help to improve your mood and decrease stress.
  6. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that helps to build strong bones. Maintaining good bone health will decrease your risk of osteoporosis.

Written By:
Dr. David Reymann
Staff Physical Therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy

Knee Pain and Running

If you have been suffering from pain in the front of your knee while running, you may be suffering from patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee. Multiple factors including muscle weakness, tightness, and imbalances can contribute to increased stress on the knee cap and the structures underneath it. Patellofemoral symptoms increase the more that you run. The best way to decrease symptoms is to get a thorough evaluation by a physical therapist to determine the most appropriate exercises for you.  Listed below are several strengthening exercises that target the muscles in your hip and knee that are commonly provided to patients with knee pain.

Straight Leg Raise– Squeeze your quads in the front of your thigh to straighten your knee and lift your leg to the level of your opposite thigh.Clams– While on your side with your knees bent, lift your knee up. Do not let your hips roll forwards or  backwards.

Side-lying Hip Abduction– While on your side, squeeze your quads to straighten your knee. Lift your leg up without letting your hips roll forwards or backwards.

Bridges– While on your back, lift your hips up to the ceiling while squeezing your core and glutes.

If your symptoms still persist after performing these exercises, please call Harbor Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment.

 

By: Dr. David Reymann- Staff Physical Therapy at Harbor Physical Therapy

 

Wellness Event- October 2, 2018 at HPT!

Join Charm City Run, CITYFIT, and Harbor Physical Therapy for a FREE Wellness event at Harbor Physical Therapy. The event will include a dry needling demonstration and dry needling sessions with Dr. David Reymann, injury screenings with Dr. Amanda Macht and Dr. Holly Hibbard, Running Gait Analysis with Charm City Run, Yoga and Circuit training.

You will be able to cycle through the different stations to enjoy all the complimentary services being offered by locally owned Baltimore businesses.

If you are driving to this event, we will be validating parking in the Harbor Court Garage on 10 East Lee Street for a discounted rate of $3.

Managing Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, particularly in individuals 40-60 years of age. It is typically worst when taking the first few steps in the morning, after sitting for long periods of time, or after prolonged walking.

Try decreasing these symptoms at home by following these steps:

Rest: try to modify or limit the activities that are causing your heel pain such as prolonged walking or athletic activities.

Ice: Rolling your foot over a cold or frozen water bottle for about 15 minutes at a time can help decrease pain. Perform this 3-4 times a day.

Self Massage
Exercise: Plantar fasciitis is commonly associated with tight calf muscles. There are two muscles in your calf, the gastrocnemius and the soleus, that can contribute to heel pain. Try performing these stretches and strengthening exercises at home to help decrease pain.

 

If symptoms do not improve at home, be sure to contact your physician or physical therapist. Always check with your physician prior to beginning a new exercise routine to ensure it is safe for you.

 

Written by:

Dr. Holly Hibbard
Staff Physical Therapist at HPT

 

 

4 Simple Exercises to Prevent and Treat Low Back Pain

1. Bridges
Lie on your back with you knees bent. While maintaining a neutral spine, lift your hips off of the ground and squeeze your glutes. This exercise well help you to build core and glute strength for increased lumbar stability.

2. Clams
Lie on your side with your knees bent and feet together. Slowly raise your knee up without letting your hips roll forward or backwards. This exercise will help to build strength in your gluteus medius, which is important for stabilizing the hip and allowing you to have better control of the trunk and low back. Progress the exercise by placing a resistance band around the knees.

3. Lower Trunk Rotation
Lie on your back with your knees bent so that your feet are flat. Rotate your legs to the side while keeping your shoulders flat against the ground until a stretch is felt in your lower back. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat to the opposite side. This is a good exercise to improve lower back flexibility.

4. Cat/Camel
While on your hands and knees, alternate between arching your back up and down. Hold for about 10 seconds each time. Just like the lower trunk rotation, this is another exercise that can help to improve low back mobility and decrease stiffness.

**These exercises may not be suitable for you if they worsen your symptoms or are too difficult for you to perform. It is recommended to seek out the expertise of a physical therapist if you are suffering from low back pain to provide you with exercises that are appropriate for your specific condition.  Please contact Harbor Physical Therapy for further assistance**

Written by: Dr. David Reymann

5 Reasons to Ride Your Bike this Spring

In addition to saving money on the costs of other modes of transportation and being environmentally friendly, biking has many health benefits that make it a good option for getting around the neighborhood this spring. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Cardiovascular Health – Biking will help to elevate your heart rate and provide a great aerobic workout. This will promote heart and lung health and can lower your blood pressure and risk for heart disease.

2. Low Impact Exercise – Compared to other forms of exercise such as running, biking has a very low impact on your joints, which is good if you are susceptible to having joint pain.

3. Good for all Fitness Levels and Ages – Even though it is low impact, that doesn’t mean it has to be easy! By adjusting speed, distance, and resistance, the exercise you get while biking can be as challenging as you want it to be. This makes it a good option for everyone, whether you are a high level athlete or are trying it for the first time.

4. Muscle Strength – Biking works the muscles in the legs as you are pushing the pedals, core muscles as you stay upright, and the muscles in your arms as you hold onto and steer the handlebars. Having more strength in these muscles can improve your ability to perform all of your daily activities such as standing, walking, and going up and down stairs.

5. It’s Fun! – Biking is a fun way to get around and explore. For safety, make sure you wear a helmet to protect your head. If you have any health issues and are unsure if biking is appropriate for you, check with your physical therapist or doctor first.

Static Vs. Dynamic Stretching- How to Prevent Injury

As the weather begins to improve, people begin participating in more outdoor recreational activities. However, this change in activity level can come with an increased risk of injury. This article will briefly describe ways to decrease risk of injury through various stretching techniques.

Prior to any activity, it is good to perform an active warm up involving light cardio activities (i.e. walking, jogging) paired with a dynamic stretching routine. This helps increase range of motion and blood flow to the muscles being used to help decrease the risk of injury. Dynamic stretching is described as a continuous movement that maximizes someone’s active range of motion. Examples of this include hip in/out, forward kicks, butt kicks, and lunge with a twist.  Please see pictures below.

 

 

 

 

After activity, it is important to stretch as the muscles are recovering from activity in order to decrease soreness and increase muscular extensibility. Static stretching is typically performed after a workout and is defined as a stretch that is held for a period of ~30 seconds. It is recommended that each stretch be performed 3-4 times to maximize benefits of stretching and decrease future risk of injury. Good examples of static stretching that is useful post-workout include a hamstring stretch, quad stretch, calf stretch, or trunk twist.  Please see pictures below

 

 

 

 

Written by: Holly Hibbard, D.P.T. from Harbor Physical Therapy

 

How to Continue Exercising in the Winter

Winter weather is upon us! Even though temperatures are dropping, there are many options to continue exercising safely.

If you spent the warmer months exercising outdoors, but continued making monthly membership ‘donations’ to your local fitness center, use this winter to redeem your money’s worth of classes and workouts! Gyms offer plenty of indoor cardio, conditioning, and strengthening exercise options. Most gyms also offer fitness classes if you like the group setting. If a gym membership is not your thing, there are also many exercise options online, TV on Demand, or on DVD.

If you still plan to battle the elements and exercise outdoors through the winter months, be sure to make use of warm, protective clothing. Proper footwear, warm socks, hats, gloves, and layers are all important!

Also, remember winter brings shorter hours of daylight so use reflective gear whenever necessary! Always remember safety first and consider alternatives to outdoor exercise when icy or extra cold outside!

5 Reasons to Start Swimming to Benefit Your Health

Going for a swim in the summer can keep you cool when out in the sun. It can also benefit your health in several ways. Here are 5 reasons to hit the pool this summer:

  1. It offers a full-body resistance workout. In order to swim effectively, your body must incorporate the use of the muscles in your hands all the way down to your feet. The water offers resistance against the body that will help to keep your muscles strong.
  2. It promotes cardiovascular and lung health. Swimming laps in the pool can improve your heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. It can also improve lung capacity and efficiency.
  3. It reduces stress on the body and joints. Water provides buoyancy that lessens the impact of your body weight when swimming, providing a lower impact form of exercise than land based exercises such as running.
  4. It can decrease pain. Water can have a soothing effect on aching muscles and joints. It also promotes increased joint range of motion and body movement that may be difficult to perform on land if you have chronic pain.
  5. It is good for all ages and fitness levels. Whether you are young or old, in shape or out of shape, swimming is a fun way to help you achieve your fitness goals and keep you healthy.

Written by: Dr. David Reymann