Cold Weather and Joint Pain

With the fall season in full swing, colder weather is well on its way. A common question amongst people with joint pain is does the weather actually play a role in my joint pain? The answer to this is yes (to an extent). While it may not be the sole reason for your joint pain, changes in the weather can have certain effects on your musculoskeletal system.

Take colder temperatures for example, a decrease in temperature can cause our muscular tissue to tighten up which in turn can restrict joint movement, causing an increased sense of stiffness in the joints. Decreased temperatures can also cause the fluid in your joints to thicken slightly, which can decrease its ability to move around the joints as freely as it would in warmer weather, causing that sense of stiffness. 

Another element of weather that has a role in joint pain is atmospheric pressure. Before a shift in the weather (rain or snow), the pressure of the air experiences a significant drop. A drop in atmospheric pressure allows the pressure within the body to expand. This internal rise in pressure can cause subsequent increased pressure in the joints, causing increased aches and pains. So when a friend predicts rain because their knees are aching, you may want to make sure you have an umbrella on hand in the days that follow. 

Just because colder weather is coming to stay for a while, does not mean you should have to live with that increased pain and stiffness in your joints until Spring. This is a great time to get up and move, as increased physical activity will help increase blood flow to your muscles and help warm up those joints.

Written by: Dr. Taylor Ryan staff physical therapist at HPT

COVID-19- What is an In-Office Physical Therapy Session Like Now?

Harbor Physical Therapy has returned to providing in-office physical therapy sessions with new health precautions in place due to COVID-19. When you arrive, you will be asked a series of COVID-19 screening questions and your temperature will be taken by a staff member.  Our office waiting room has chairs placed >6 feet apart and we ask you come alone to your appointment to limit people in the facility. Every person in the office is required to wear a face mask at all times.

 When it is time for your appointment, your therapist will call you back to the gym and will ask you to wash your hands before the session begins. During your session, you will work with your therapist exclusively on one side of our large gym.  All pieces of equipment used during your session will be thoroughly cleaned immediately after usage.

 We understand that performing physical therapy while wearing a mask may be difficult or uncomfortable at times. If you find yourself out of breath or more tired than usual during your PT session, please request to have a break before continuing on with your exercises.  We have closed door treatment rooms where you can take a break. Your health and safety is our top priority. We appreciate your patience and your presence during this uncertain time. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any additional questions you may have.  We look forward to seeing you at Harbor Physical Therapy!

Written by: Dr. Chloe Smith

The Big 3 Ws (What, Why & When) about a Home Exercise Program (HEP)

What is a HEP?

A HEP is a set of customized exercises that patients complete at home to maintain and improve on therapeutic gains from their Physical Therapy sessions. HEPs are designed to be practical, simple and complimentary so that patients can perform at home with little to no guidance.

Why do I need a HEP?

For almost all physical therapy patients, an essential component of recovery is supplementing your physical therapy sessions with your recommended HEP. Poor compliance with performing the HEP will slow the rehab process and prevent the patient from reaching their physical therapy goals.  Here’s an analogy to help drive home the point.

Imagine if you had an infection, and your doctor gives you an antibiotic to take twice a day for 2 weeks. If you skip taking your antibiotics medication for 2-3 days, you don’t give your body the best chance to fight off the infection. The infection persists, and the treatment might take longer and be more expensive. So, performing your HEP is a way of daily taking your exercise medication to supplement the gains made with your physical therapist.

When should I get a HEP?

We as therapist have done you the patient a big disservice if we don’t give you the tools to maintain and progress the gains you make during your sessions with us. A HEP should be provided from day 1 of your therapy and periodically updated as you progress over the weeks and months. Upon discharge from physical therapy, an updated and final HEP should be provided. In the event of symptom exacerbation post physical therapy, your HEP should provide you with tools to manage your symptoms and maintain a state of wellness.


Written by:
Dr. Nelson Emokpae
Physical Therapist at HPT

Types of Physical Therapy

Physical therapists treat a large variety of conditions. Therefore, there are many specialties within the field of physical therapy.

Orthopedic physical therapy includes any musculoskeletal condition due to overuse, injury, accidents or poor body mechanics. This includes post-operative conditions from hip and knee replacements to surgeries on the shoulder, ankle, knee, neck or back. This category also includes any type of acute or chronic pain which have no apparent cause.

Neurological physical therapy includes working with patients that have Alzheimer’s, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and strokes.

Women’s health physical therapy includes treating women with incontinence, pelvic pain, weakened pelvic floor muscles, and conditions related to pregnancy.

Geriatric physical therapy includes cardiovascular training, balance training, post-operative treatment, and acute/chronic pain conditions. This therapy can take place in outpatient orthopedic facilities, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers.

Cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy rehabilitates patients who have recently had heart or pulmonary surgery and need to regain their strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Harbor Physical Therapy is an outpatient orthopedic rehabilitation facility. Therefore, we fall under the orthopedic category. We also treat patients that might fall in some of the other categories listed above. If you are unsure what type of physical therapy facility you need, please contact us for more information.

The Benefits of Shape-up Shoes

Shape-up Shoes
Shape-up Shoes










Shape-up shoes are a new trend in the fitness world.  They are designed to challenge your balance while walking; therefore, increasing muscle tone to your calf, hamstring, core, and gluteus muscles.  There are many different brands that make these types of shoes and each brand has a different take on the idea. The Shape- up shoe has a built up sole which brings your center of gravity in a more forward position.  Therefore, your hamstrings, gluteus, calf, and core musculature are firing greater to maintain your balance.  Compared to wearing normal sneakers, you are working these muscles more with activity. 

 These shoes are beneficial to people that enjoy walking for exercise and would like to target their hamstring, gluteus, core, and calf muscles.  As with ankle/hand weights, shape-ups are another device to challenge your muscles in a different way with weight bearing exercise.  For people who work out at the gym or run, this will not substitute your typical exercise routine.  This is something you could add to your routine to challenge your balance, while performing your workout. 

 A lot of these shoes have a rocker bottom sole.  Rocker bottom sole shoes have been used for years to help treat patients with certain foot conditions.  However, most of the shoes made years ago are not stylish so compliance is always an issue.  With Shape-up shoes, they have inadvertently made a shoe with a rocker bottom that is in vogue.  Below are some reasons why a person would benefit from a rocker bottom sole shoe.   

 Depending where the rocker bottom is placed, it has different benefits.  If the rocker bottom is placed behind the ball of the foot, it aids in putting less pressure on the ball of the foot and the big toe.  Therefore, many people use this type of shoe to help diminish foot pain with walking.  When the rocker point is thicker in the back of the shoe, this limits ankle and mid-foot motion.  This helps to limit pressure placed on the heel of the foot.  

 Shape-ups should not be worn by people with balance disorders, chronic back pain, or a history of ankle pain.  If you are unsure if you are a candidate for these shoes, consult your doctor or physical therapist.

Office Question – Directions to our office

Where is Harbor Physical Therapy located?

The main entrance for Harbor Physical Therapy is located at 575 South Charles Street (look for the gray awning).  Once inside, take the elevators to floor 2. Our suites are found directly off the elevator on the left.  Please note that these directions are only for the main entrance of the building and do not apply if you are coming through the parking garage entrance.

To enter through the parking garage entrance, Harbor Physical Therapy is located in the Harbor Court garage at 10 East Lee Street.  Parking is attached to the office building and is covered (great for those rainy days!).  It is best to park on Level 3 since the Harbor Court Office Building entrance is located off that floor (please note, Level 3 of the parking garage is the same as Level 2 within the office building).

Of course you can always call us if you get lost or confused – our phone number is 443-524-0442.  For more detailed information on bus, train/subway and car directions, go to

Office Question – The Charm City Circulator

Have you used the **free** Charm City Circulator – Purple Route?

Baltimore’s Charm City Circulator services Harbor Physical Therapy and Macht Medical Group offices with two convenient stops.  The following is a list of Purple Route bus stops within walking distance of our offices:

  • Stop # 320 – Conway Street, Light St. & E. Conway St. (0.2 miles from office)
  • Stop # 321 – Lee Street, Light St. & E. Lee St. (0.1 miles from office)

For more detailed information on the Charm City Circulator Purple Route (stops and times), please call 410-350-0456 or go to