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

How to Exercise Safely in Hot Weather

As the hot summer months approach, it is important to be aware of hot weather safety while staying active outdoors. Listed below are some precautions you should take before exercising outdoors this summer.

 

Stay Hydrated – The increased summer temperatures will lead to increased fluid loss through sweating. It is important to drink water throughout the day and increase fluid intake when exercising to replenish the body’s supply.

Dress Appropriately – Wear light-weight, light colored clothing to reflect heat and aide in the evaporation of sweat. Avoid dark-colored clothing that absorbs light and heat.

Take Your Time – Initially, decrease the intensity of your workout to avoid overexertion. As your body adjusts to the heat with more frequent workouts, gradually increase the length and intensity of your exercise routine.

 Watch the Temperature and Time of Day – Exercise in the morning or evening, when the temperature is cooler. If there is a heat advisory or the temperature feels too hot to exercise comfortably, consider taking your workout routine indoors.

Know Your Medical History – Certain medical conditions or medications may place you at an increased risk for an adverse event when too much stress is placed on the body. Consult with your health care providers to ensure that you are performing the appropriate types of exercises under the right conditions.

Listen to Your Body – If any of the following symptoms occur while out in the heat, it is important to seek immediate medical attention: confusion, irritability, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, visual impairment, headaches, or muscle cramping.

Swimming Injuries and Prevention

Swimming is a form of exercises which is non-weight bearing, low impact, and causes low stress on joints.  Injuries associated with swimming are usually not caused by trauma or impact, and commonly stem from overuse and repetition.  Swimming injuries most commonly occur in the shoulder joints but can also affect the knees, hips and low back.  Overuse can lead to fatigue and improper stroke and kicking mechanics.  Listed below are some examples of common swimming injuries associated with swimming:

  • Shoulder injuries result from muscle fatigue with repetitive motions and weakness of the rotator muscles.
  • Knee injuries results from repetition from breast stroke kick and irritation of the ligaments and tendons which allow bending and straightening.
  • Back injuries are common with too much back extension while swimming on your stomach.

Injury Prevention techniques:

  • Use good form and technique.
  • Lessen repetition.
  • Cross training.
  • Core, hip, and rotator cuff strengthening.
  • Rest when experiencing fatigue, pain or soreness to allow the muscles time to recover.

Common Gym Injuries

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Common injuries that occur at the gym:

  • Muscle Strain
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis

Common injury areas that occur at the gym:

  • Back
  • Shoulders

Muscle strain is the most common injury. There are different degrees of muscle strains from a minor overstretching injury to a muscle tear. To avoid muscle strains, make sure you perform a warm up and a cool down.  It is important to listen to your body.  If something hurts, stop and stretch.

Tendinitis is caused by a repetitive strain to the tendon of the muscle. If you overwork a muscle, you can develop tendonitis.

Bursitis is inflammation to the bursa.  A Bursa is a fluid filled sac that provides decrease friction and helps to give a fluid movement to the joint. Avoid doing the same exercises all the time; change it up to avoid overuse of one particular area.

Back pain is one of the most common areas injured at the gym because the back is at the center of the body for all movement and exercise. To avoid injury, bend with your knees and tighten your abdominal muscles during exercises.

Shoulder impingement injuries occur due to lack of rotator cuff strength and or overuse of the rotator cuff muscles. To avoid injury, limit overhead weighted exercises and make sure to work on shoulder stability before increases the weight with strengthening exercises.

Harbor Physical Therapy can evaluate your gym injury and determine the most optimal course of treatment to get you back to the gym as quick as possible.  Our physical therapists will review your gym routine, educate you on proper body mechanics, and exercise routine to reach your fitness goals without injury.

How to Exercise with a Foam Roller

A foam roller is a great tool to decrease muscle tightness, improve flexibility, and improve muscle strength/stability. It is inexpensive and easy to use anywhere in your home. Listed below are the benefits of using a foam roller and examples of foam roller exercises.

1. Decrease muscle tightness-  Place the foam roller on a trigger point.  You can either maintain pressure on the spot or perform gentle oscillations over the trigger point. Perform this self massage technique no more than 5 minutes per muscle.

2. Improve Flexibility- Laying with your back on the foam roller, elongate your arms to stretch your pectoralis muscles.

3. Improve muscle strength/stability- There are many exercises you can perform on a foam roller to improve muscle strength/stability. Laying with your back on the foam roller, alternate lifting your arms and legs. If you want a really challenging exercise, stand on a foam roller and perform a squat.

If you would like to learn more about how you can use a foam roller to achieve your exercise goals, give Harbor Physical Therapy a call.

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Foam Roller Squat
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Different Size Foam Rollers
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Pectoralis Stretch on Foam Roller

Common Injuries At the Gym

1. Muscle Strain– There are different degrees of muscle strains from a minor overstretching injury to a tear. To avoid muscle strains, make sure you warm up appropriately and do not lift more weight than you can handle.

2. Tendonitis-is caused by a repetitive strain to the tendon of the muscle. If you overwork a muscle, you can develop tendonitis.

3. Bursitis– is inflammation to the bursa. A Bursa is a fluid filled sac that provides decrease friction and helps to give a fluid movement to the joint. Avoid doing the same exercises all the time; change it up to avoid overuse of one particular area.

4. Back injury– due to placing increase stress on your back muscles with exercises. Avoid forward bent over postures at the gym. Bend with your knees and tighten your abdominal muscles during exercises. This will help decrease the likelihood of a back injury.

5. Shoulder impingement injury– can occur when you overuse the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff muscle can rub against the top part of the shoulder blade, producing pain. Avoid overhead weighted exercises.

If you experience pain while you are working out, you should stop and apply ice. If the pain persists for more than 3 days, contact your physician or your local physical therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy.

Sit to Stand Exercise

Do you ever want to give your therapist a standing ovation, but are unable to? Well the sit to stand exercise is a good exercise to strengthen the muscles in the abdomen and thighs to help with this activity. With improved strength comes improved balance and overall function. Here’s the proper way to perform the exercise:

1. Sit in middle or toward front of chair with your knees bent and feet flat on floor.

2. Slightly lean forward with your head and shoulders, while simultaneously lifting you buttocks from the chair. Use your hands as little as possible (or not at all, if you can)

3. Keep your back straight as you come up, so that you feel your abdominal/low back muscles do the work.

4. Slowly sit back down.

5. Keep back and shoulders straight throughout exercise.

6. Repeat. A good number to shoot for would be 5-10 repetitions.

The goal is to be able to increase your reps and require less use of hands as you become stronger.
Sit to Stand

The Importance of your Physical Therapy Home Exercise Program

Not performing your home exercises while undergoing physical therapy and even after discharge from physical therapy is comparable to taking only half of a prescribed antibiotic. You will not get the maximum outcomes from your physical therapy. The goal of the home exercise program is to re-condition the body, restore function, and reduce/manage symptoms.

Exercising at home helps to condition the body between physical therapy sessions. If a person relies only on physical therapy sessions and does not perform a home exercise program, the body will not build improved function or retain muscle memory between sessions.

Common reasons for not performing the prescribed exercises are decreased home exercises include pain with exercises, lack of motivation due to perceived lack of improvements, unhappiness from the loss of function caused by the problem, and just being plain busy. If you fall under any of the above categories, talk to your physical therapist so a practical and tailored exercise program can be developed and followed that match your lifestyle.

Tips on Staying Fit During 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!