If You’re Taking Opioids for Your Arthritis Pain, This Blog is For You

130: that’s how many people on average die from opioids every day in the United States. It’s a stunning statistic that sadly impacts nearly every community in our country, since opioid abuse and addiction affects people from all walks of life.

Many people who become addicted to opioids were first prescribed them by a medical doctor as a way to manage an acute or chronic pain condition. The problem is, opioid medications:

  • Can be highly addictive
  • Only hide symptoms of pain—they don’t address the underlying causes, which makes opioids less cost-effective over time
  • Are associated with an increased risk of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and depression

Unfortunately, in addition to an opioid epidemic in this country, researchers believe there is also a chronic pain epidemic, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 5 American adults report chronic pain caused by arthritis and other conditions. If you’re one of them, we encourage you to contact one our our offices today to schedule an appointment. We can connect you with a compassionate and highly skilled physical therapist who can help you alleviate your arthritis pain along with the other physical and mental symptoms associated with it.

3 Ways Physical Therapy Can Alleviate Your Pain

Medications, even opioids, may be appropriate in certain cases. But experts believe people with many types of chronic pain, including arthritis, should try physical therapy first. Here are three ways a physical therapist can help you:

1. Physical Therapy Can Address Pain at It’s Source AS WELL As Alleviate Symptoms

Physical therapy uses a combination of “passive” and “active” techniques to help people reduce their pain and improve their overall health and well-being. Unlike medication, physical therapy services can make you feel better while also correcting the underlying issues contributing to your condition.

For instance, arthritis joint pain is often caused or exacerbated by weak muscles or abnormal movement patterns that increase pressure in the affected joint. Physical therapy treatments like therapeutic exercises and joint mobilizations can help minimize these issues while also decreasing discomfort, reducing inflammation, and improving joint range of motion. Joint mobilization techniques, including spinal manipulation, can also modulate your nervous system and trigger the release of powerful pain-relieving chemicals in your body for significant relief and whole-body healing.

Other techniques your physical therapist may offer you for your arthritic joint pain include:

  • Soft tissue mobilization and massage
  • Modalities like electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and diathermy
  • Kinesiotaping
  • Exercises to improve balance, coordination, and strength
  • Breathing exercises
  • Training to improve posture and ergonomic set up at work or home

2. Physical Therapy Helps You Feel Better So You Can Exercise More

Regular physical activity, including strength training and aerobic exercise, is one of the most effective ways to improve arthritis joint pain. But if you’re always in pain, you may not feel like you’re able to safely workout. This may lead to worsening joint function and even weight gain, which makes arthritis even worse. What to do? This is where physical therapy comes in.

By working with a physical therapist, you can get your pain under better control so you can go do those active things you know are good for your body. A physical therapist can also help you learn how to move more safely, such as by teaching you efficient ways to move or pace yourself so you don’t end up being unsafe or doing so much that you’re laid up in bed for days after your workout.

Our physical therapists are also able to help you problem-solve and compensate for mobility limitations by fitting you for adpative equipment such as canes, crutches, orthotics, and braces. These devices can be valuable tools that make you safer and more independent as you set out on your pain-relief journey.

3. Physical Therapy Helps You Better Understand Pain Itself

Research shows that a person’s beliefs and fears about pain strongly influence how bad their pain feels and how long it lasts. Many things like stress, temperature, movement, and even acute illnesses like the flu or common cold can also make your chronic joint pain feel worse.

Research-backed techniques such as therapeutic neuroscience education (TNE) allow a physical therapist to help you explore your beliefs about pain and understand why pain happens. Simply increasing awareness is proven to help people feel less fearful of pain and be in better control of their symptoms. This is strikingly different than simply taking a pill and hoping it’ll make your pain go away.

The Bottom Line

According to the CDC, prescription opioids are not considered the best choice for many types of non-cancer related chronic pain, including arthritis. Nonopioid approaches like physical therapy are the preferred first line of treatment.

A great physical therapist can help you live with less pain without having to rely on pricey and potentially harmful medications, and in many cases can help you avoid surgery.

Is Your Chronic Arthritis Pain Holding You Back?

We are so empathetic for people living with chronic pain—it’s a challenging situation that so many of our patients and even some of our loved ones face, too. If you’d like to finally see if drug-free pain relief is possible for you, contact TheraFit Physical Therapy today to schedule an appointment.

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The Truth About Physical Therapy For Arthritis

If you’ve already been diagnosed with a common form of arthritis such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you may have learned that these chronic joint pain conditions can’t be cured or reversed. It’s an unfortunate fact, but one that many people are forced to live with.

Did you know that at least 50 million Americans are struggling with arthritis? That’s a sizable chunk of the U.S. population, and if you have joint pain, there’s a good chance that you’re included in that statistic!

You might be wondering why even bother to pursue a course of physical therapy for your arthritis since there is no cure for it, and this blog is going to explain that to you. As it turns out, physical therapy can do quite a lot to help you control your symptoms and optimize your joint function. Keep reading to learn more about arthritis and how physical therapy can ease your chronic pain.

Arthritis: The Leading Reason For Chronic Joint Pain

Did you know that over 100 different underlying conditions can cause arthritis, or joint pain? It’s true. Unfortunately, these conditions tend to be chronic, or long-lasting, in nature.

Take rheumatoid arthritis, for example. This painful condition attacks your joints over time due to an autoimmune malfunction, causing increasing amounts of swelling and damage to your joints.

The most common kind of arthritis, as well as the one you’re probably more familiar with, is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a progressive degeneration of the joint cartilage due to natural wear and tear. As the cartilage continues to disintegrate, your joints become increasingly stiff and painful over the years. This will end up hindering your mobility and functionality as it worsens, especially if you do not seek treatment.

Why not opt for surgery or medication?

There’s nothing more frustrating than sustaining painful physical damage that your body can’t repair or heal. In the most severe cases, some people with arthritis choose to undergo expensive, intense surgery to either fuse the joint in place (preventing painful motion) or replace the joint altogether with a metal implant. Surgery is not for everyone and it certainly is not the only option. If you can’t stomach the thought of major surgery, you might assume that your only recourse is life in a wheelchair or leaning on a walker, with a daily regimen of painkillers. The problem with this strategy is that the less you use your joints, the stiffer they will get, forcing you to take increasing amounts of medication just to get through the day.

Medications also only provide temporary relief and don’t get to the root source of your problem. They also won’t make you stronger and won’t preserve your mobility.

Preserving Mobility And Decreasing Pain With Physical Therapy

The sad truth is that we can’t turn back time when it comes to our health. Once a chronic, incurable condition develops, it’s here to stay.

There’s no reason to despair, however. Even if you can’t turn back the clock on the damage done to your joints, you can still do those joints a world of good through physical therapy. The kind of treatment our physical therapist recommends will depend in part on your baseline health and fitness, the type of arthritis you have, and the severity of the condition.

Your physical therapy plan will also be based on your specific goals, from relieving chronic pain to restoring your ability to perform particular activities. It may include:

  • Walking or cycling to keep your joints as limber as possible
  • Strength straining to build up the muscles that support and articulate your arthritic joints
  • Massage therapy to increase blood flow, relieve chronic inflammation, and reduce joint swelling
  • Corrective exercises and postural education to help you move around safely, either on your own or with an assistive device
  • The use of heat and cold to ease joint pain without drugs

These physical therapy treatment methods and other techniques can have a profoundly positive effect on your arthritis. You’ll find that you can move more freely and comfortably, and that you no longer feel the need to keep drugging yourself or enduring grueling surgery. By controlling your inflammation and preventing more stiffness from setting in, you’re setting yourself up for many more years of optimal mobility — despite your arthritis.

Are You Ready To See One of Our Physical Therapists?

If you’re interested in getting the ball rolling with treatment for your arthritis through physical therapy, don’t keep sitting around, waiting for us to call you! You have to take the first step towards bettering your health when it comes to a chronic condition like arthritis, so what are you waiting for?

Contact TheraFit Physical Therapy today to learn more about our services. Then schedule an appointment so that we can devise an effective arthritis management plan for you!

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Are Stress-Related Headaches Bringing You Down? Physical Therapy Can Help You Find Relief

Stress related headaches can put a huge damper on your quality of life, interfering with your ability to do your job, to enjoy time with your family, or to go about your business in just about any way. As headaches interfere with your ability to engage in regular tasks, things can start to add up and you may soon start to feel like you are totally losing control of your ability to manage even the most basic tasks—which in turn can add more stress to your plate, and in turn leave you pre-disposed to have even longer, more intense stress-related headaches. It is a vicious cycle, but there is a way to break out of it.

Physical therapy can help you to overcome stress related headaches. Working with a physical therapist can help you identify exercises that reduce tension and help you find long-term relief from headaches, without the need for reliance on pain medications.

What Causes Stress Related Headaches?

The easy answer to this question is stress, but in reality the answer is a lot more complicated than that. Stress can manifest in all sorts of ways, and finding ways around the stress isn’t always an option. Stress can build from a wide array of activities, and some of those activities may be things that you genuinely enjoy doing, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t weighing on you, creating an added level of pressure that can manifest in painful headaches.

Stress is a common trigger for tension and migraine headaches. Rather than stressing about ways that you can outright avoid stress, it may be more helpful to think about strategies that will help alleviate headaches once they develop—as well as stress reduction techniques that may prevent the stress from reaching your head in the first place.

Relaxation Techniques for Headache Relief

If stress is causing headaches to develop in your life, then finding ways to relax to reduce the build-up of that stress may be helpful. Some of the most common forms of stress reduction therapy include meditation, yoga, tai chi and deep breathing techniques. Other habits that can also sometimes help to alleviate stress include listening to music, dancing, engaging in exercise, reading a book, or spending time with loved ones—especially pets!

Here are a few lifestyle habits that are shown to reduce stress:

  • Simply whatever is possible. While it sometimes feels that the only way to manage stress is to squeeze as much into a day so that you can tackle your endless to do list, sometimes what you actually need is to simplify your life. Ask yourself what really needs to be done and focus on that.
  • Eat as healthy as possible. What you put into your body makes a big impact on what your body is able to handle. Try eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help prepare your body for the stress you need it to handle.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep isn’t something that can be compromised on when it comes to managing stress. Staying up late to get a task done is only going to lead to more stress. Try to get a sufficient amount of sleep daily so that you can handle what’s ahead.

One of the most effective things that you can do to help reduce the impact that stress has on your life is to work on adjusting the way that you react to stressors. Changing your attitude and becoming more open to things that would have previously stressed you out can significantly help improve the way your body copes with stressful events. Try making simple shifts in the way that you think about stressful events. Simply shift from considering something as “impossible” to “tough, but possible.” Look at ways that you can rise to a challenge versus how overwhelming the challenge feels.

Physical Therapy for Stress Headaches

If you are experiencing chronic headaches as a result of stress, then physical therapy may be able to help you find relief from that pain. In many cases stress headaches will develop as a result of tension that builds up in the neck and back. Working with a physical therapist can help you to target areas of tension, thereby helping to alleviate pain and improve quality of life.

There are several strategies that physical therapists often use to help with stress headaches. These include:

  • Hot and cold therapy: Applying hot and cold compresses in an alternating rotation can help to reduce tension and alleviate pain.
  • Massage: Identifying areas that have tension build up and targeting them with massage therapy can help to alleviate head pain.
  • Manual exercises: Your physical therapist can help you to identify exercises that will help you reduce tension naturally by improving your range of motion and stretching your muscles in a relaxing manner.

If you are experiencing regular headaches as a result of stress, including tension or migraine headaches, then it may be helpful to contact your physical therapist to learn about therapeutic options that can help you experience relief from your pain. Contact TheraFit today to schedule a consultation and to get started.

Nutrition Tips To Decrease Pain and Inflammation

Nutrition plays a crucial role in preventing and eliminating pain and inflammation in the body. It’s important to understand what pain and inflammation are, the causes and symptoms, and how both nutrition and physical therapy can help. If you’re experiencing pain and inflammation in your joints, the cause could be more obvious than you think. Contact TheraFit to learn more about how we can help alleviate your pain and inflammation.

Understanding Pain and Inflammation

Pain and inflammation are often connected. Inflammation is the body’s natural response when it’s trying to heal or protect itself after an injury. Usually this a good thing, however, inflammation is actually harmful when it becomes a chronic condition. According to Harvard Health, chronic inflammation can also lead to a variety of health ailments such as heart disease and diabetes.

Recognizing Pain and Inflammation – Causes & Symptoms

Did you know the food you eat may be a contributing factor to increased inflammation throughout your body? Nutrition plays a big part in the amount of pain and inflammation you might have. Inflammation can be caused by many different kinds of foods. Here are some of the most common foods that contribute to inflammation:

  • Added Sugar – Foods with added sugar that isn’t naturally occurring can increase inflammation. Regular table sugar and corn syrup with high-fructose are the two main types of added sugar.
  • Pasta & White Bread – These refined carbs or “empty calories” can cause excessive weight gain, which can also lead to inflammation.
  • Processed Meats – Sausage, bacon, and smoked meats are usually processed and contain lots of extra sodium. Eating too much processed meat can cause inflammation.

Food is not the only culprit when it comes to pain and inflammation – even what you drink plays a role. Take soda, for instance. Sodas contain lots of unhealthy preservatives such as sodium benzoate, not to mention high amounts of sugar. Excessive alcohol drinking should also be avoided as it can cause issues with inflammation as well.

Just like there are plenty of foods to limit or avoid in your diet, there are also a ton of healthy foods to eat that can help decrease your chances of experiencing pain and inflammation.

  • Garlic – Garlic alone may not be very appetizing, but it can add flavor to many everyday meals. Garlic contains diallyl disulfide, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Fish – Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which naturally reduce inflammation. Cod, tuna, salmon, bass, and halibut are all excellent choices.
  • Beans – Beans are great for easing inflammation and are also sources of protein and fiber. There are plenty of different kinds to try, such as pinto, garbanzo, black, or red beans.

There are several symptoms associated with inflammation. These often include swelling, redness, joint pain and stiffness. If you’re suffering from pain and inflammation changing your diet could improve your muscles, joints, and overall health.

How Can Physical Therapy Help You?

Changing your diet is a wonderful start, but it may not be enough to eliminate chronic inflammation and pain. Physical therapy may be able to help reduce or even eliminate the pain you’re experiencing. Physical therapists use several methods to help. A few techniques would be manual therapy, dry needling, or ultrasound treatments. They may also use heat or ice therapy. A physical therapist might even give you stretching and motion exercises you can do at home to better your chances of having a successful treatment!

Monitoring what you eat and drink every day may be able to drastically decrease the pain and inflammation you’re experiencing. Physical therapy is a great option as well. The American Physical Therapy Association states that there is a clear link between pain and nutrition. It’s important to find a physical therapist with experience in treating pain and inflammation. Call TheraFit today to learn more information.

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Opioid Addiction: Why Taking Painkillers For Arthritis Pain is Doing You More Harm Than Good

Are you taking opioids for your arthritis pain? Did you know that opioids like morphine and oxycodone are actually making your arthritis worse? Drugs like these alter your perception of pain, but they don’t relieve it. So if you’re taking an opioid and believe it’s relieving your pain, know that it’s actually doing nothing to improve the symptoms of your arthritis. Opioids are not the only option you have to get relief from arthritis! Call TheraFit to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist to learn more about how treatment can help.

How Arthritis Happens

Osteoarthritis, or “arthritis,” is a degenerative condition that affects the joints. The connecting joints between bones are made of cartilage, and if that cartilage becomes weak or depleted, it can cause bones to grind and scrape together. One of the main causes of arthritis is simply getting older; our joints just wear out as we age and that’s normal. However, there are other factors like genetics, repetitive physical jobs, playing high-impact sports, or being overweight, which can increase a person’s chances of developing arthritis. This condition also affects weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, but it’s common for it to also develop in many other joints.

How To Know If You Have Arthritis

Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt like a joint or two was stiff? The most common symptom of arthritis is pain in the joint or joints that have lost too much cartilage. Or what about every day activities, do you notice that simple tasks like bending down are painful for you? Activities that use an affected joint will cause pain; the joint will hurt if you touch it or apply pressure to it. A joint can also be considered arthritic if it makes cracking and popping noises when it is used. As a defense mechanism, your body might try to grow new bone structure in the affected joint, which will be extremely painful.

Physical Therapy Can Help Arthritis

As previously stated, opioids can alter how you perceive pain so that your brain thinks you are no longer suffering from the effects of arthritis. This is not a long-term fix. Your bones are still grinding together, your cartilage is being worn down, and ultimately your condition is worsening. Before you know it, you’ll be in need of an even stronger painkiller, and most likely a pretty expensive surgery down the road.

There are better options out there to relieve arthritis pain. Physical therapy is one of them! Physical therapy can help you get rid of painkillers once and for all, and also keep you from spending thousands for surgery. A physical therapist will examine you and determine what activities trigger your pain symptoms. From there, he or she will create a customized exercise program that will help support your joint structures, and ultimately relieve your arthritis pain.

A physical therapist will be able to show you how to adjust your work area and home so that you can put less stress on the impacted joints. There are a multitude of different therapies, but manual therapy (targeted massage of painful joints) will probably be included in your treatment.

Your physical therapy treatment will also include an exercise plan for you to do at home to improve your health. Losing weight can also be an effective way to relieve arthritis pain, so if you’re overweight, your therapist might include weight loss exercises and advice on nutrition in your exercise plan. It won’t all be on you to bear though, your physical therapist will be there to keep you motivated throughout your entire treatment!

Opioids carry significant health risks. While they may temporarily numb the pain of arthritis, they do nothing to slow it down. It’s time to try physical therapy, a safe and effective alternative that will improve your symptoms with no risk to you. Call Therafit today to get your appointment set up with your physical therapist, and get back to living a pain-free life.

How Can Physical Therapy Relieve Your Chronic Back Pain?

After dealing with Chronic back pain for years, many people consider costly surgeries or addictive pain medication to deal with the problem. But did you know that surgery and opioids aren’t the only options available to people suffering from this condition? If you’ve been dealing with chronic back pain and are thinking about surgery to finally feel some relief, contact Therafit today to learn about how working with a physical therapist can be an alternative solution to your chronic back pain.

What Does It Mean To Have Chronic Back Pain?

Back pain by itself is pretty simple to understand. It is pain a person experiences in their back, usually along the spine or in the muscles attached to the spine. “Chronic back pain,” however, is a little different and in some cases, much more serious. Chronic back pain is pain that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. A person suffering from chronic back pain might say that their back feels better or worse depending on what time of day it is, but the pain is consistent and always debilitating. This kind of pain often interferes with a person’s ability to work and can even cause people to struggle with simple day-to-day tasks.

Recognizing Chronic Bain Pain and What Causes It

The main symptom of chronic back pain is intense pain in some area of the patient’s back. Other symptoms might include limited mobility; you may find yourself unable to move your body like you were once able to. Even simple tasks that you once never thought twice about, such as getting up out of a chair or out of bed after waking up can be an incredibly painful experience. Lifting even light objects can cause the pain to intensify.

Maybe the patient received a work-related accident or was in a car accident in which their back was injured. It could be that a patient was injured while lifting a piece of furniture too heavy for them to carry. Sometimes patients and their doctors know exactly what the root cause of the back pain was. In a majority of cases, back pain develops on its own over time, without one specific event that injured the person’s back. In fact, a 2014 article in the journal Clinical Radiology notes that in 90% of cases, patients can’t quite place the source of their back pain.

Three Ways Physical Therapy Can Alleviate Back Pain

It’s not a secret that physical therapy is a great way to treat chronic back pain, in fact, there’s a substantial amount of medical literature out there proving just that. Ask yourself if “living with the pain” is really going to work long-term for you. If the answer is “no” then understand that working with a physical therapist is a proven method for improving the symptoms of chronic back pain. Oftentimes, the need for surgery can be alleviated and patients won’t need to depend on prescription painkillers if they follow through on the physical therapist’s recommendations.

Here are three ways physical therapy helps chronic back pain.

  • Passive Physical Therapy: Exercise isn’t all physical therapy is made up of. “Passive” physical therapy involves non-physical treatments which can help relax a patient’s muscles and bring relief from their pain. With back pain, this can involve hot and cold packs applied directly to affected areas, electrical stimulation of the muscle structures, and more.
  • Active Physical Therapy: Your physical therapist has years of training and hands-on experience working with chronic back pain patients just like you. Your physical therapy plan might include specific stretches and exercises. This technique is known as “active” physical therapy. These exercises are great for strengthening the muscle groups that support your back and core. The stretches will be geared toward helping your body regain the flexibility and mobility you have lost as a result of your back pain.
  • Long-Term Support: Physical therapy takes dedication and patience. It takes time to alleviate chronic back pain through stretching and exercise, and it’s easy to get discouraged if you try to do it on your own. Your physical therapist is there to help you by providing emotional and psychological motivation throughout your treatment journey, until your back pain is a thing of the past.

Surgery and painkillers are not the only options you have if you’ve been struggling with chronic back pain. Call Therafit to schedule a no-risk appointment with a physical therapist and begin your journey to a pain-free life.

Losing Weight Through Interval Training

Are you one of those people who do various workouts for an hour or more every day, 7 days a week, but fail to see any real results? That’s because exercising at a steady rate doesn’t yield the same results as interval training does.

Interval training has been around for years, but it has recently gained a lot of attention as a way to increase fat loss. Read on to learn more about interval training, why it works, and the many ways you can seamlessly incorporate it into your everyday exercise routine.

Interval Training Defined

High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is a kind of training that involves doing quick, intense bursts of exercise and utilizing a shorter recovery period. By alternating your workout activity levels between bursts of intensity and moderate exercise, you can keep your heart rate at a higher level while simultaneously increasing your need for oxygen. An example of a basic interval routine could include moderate walking for 2 or 3 minutes followed by 30 to 60 seconds of jogging or running.

According to Healthline, “High-intensity interval training is a very efficient way to exercise and may help you burn more calories than you would with other forms of exercise. Some of the calories burned from high-intensity intervals come from a higher metabolism, which lasts for hours after exercise. Overall, HIIT produces many of the same health benefits as other forms of exercise in a shorter amount of time.”

Why Does It Work So Well?

Interval training is successful because you will burn more calories during the actual workout while increasing the overall amount of fat you burn for the rest of the day. The “afterburn effect” causes a post-exercise consumption of oxygen that increases more fat to be burned than a regular workout would allow.

Interval training also works because it only requires about half an hour per workout, works for every fitness level, and can be done practically anywhere!

Running & Interval Workouts

One really cool thing about interval training is that the difficulty level is totally up to you. Your interval training could include a simple routine of walking for 2 minutes and then running for 1 minute. Your overall workout would be about half an hour. A more difficult interval routine could include jogging slowly for 2 minutes and then running for 4 minutes. You could complete this 5 times in half an hour. There are tons of other ways to set your preferred difficulty level, so get creative!

Using A Stationary Bike & Interval Workouts

Biking is another fun exercise method you can incorporate interval training into. Before starting a workout on a stationary bike, make sure the resistance level on the bike is high enough so that you don’t pick up speed too quickly and risk your legs spinning out of control during the harder part of the workout.

Begin your workout with a steady 5 minute warm-up at a moderate pace. Then do 30 seconds of intense pedaling followed by 30 seconds of easy pedaling. This should be repeated 4 or 5 times, then increase each rep to 1 minute of intensity followed by 1 minute of easy pedaling. This is another workout that may only take 30 minutes.

Swimming & Interval Workouts

Swimming is a great way to get an intense workout while exerting minimal strain on bones, joints, and tendons. It’s also another exercise method that allows for interval training. However, instead of timing your intense portions of the workout, it may be easier to divide swimming workouts into laps. For example, you could swim for 25 meters as quickly as possible, and then backstroke 25 meters at a slower, more leisurely pace.

Jumping Rope & Interval Training

Jumping rope isn’t just for grade school children. This is a great way to get your heart rate up! The easiest jump rope interval workout is to simply pick a number of reps. You could jump 100 times and then rest for 1 minute. Repeat this until you reach 1,000 jumps. You could also time yourself to get in as many jumps as possible in 30 seconds before resting for 60 seconds. Just 20-30 minutes would provide a fairly intense workout and help you lose more weight!

Contact Our Office To Learn More

There are so many different ways to stay active while incorporating high-intensity interval training into your routine. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to learn how this kind of training works, and it doesn’t take much to get used to. If you’d like to talk with a physical therapist at our office about interval training and how it can help you cut more fat, contact our office today or visit us in Hazel Green, AL Fayetteville, TN!

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Weightlifting or Cardio: How To Know Which One Is Best For You

Cardio exercise and weightlifting hold equally important places when it comes to physical therapy and exercising for good health. The only way to know which of the two is the better choice is to know what your end goal is. If building up stamina and endurance is your end goal, the best choice would definitely be cardio exercise. If building mass or regaining physical strength is your end goal, the best choice for you would be weightlifting.

However, just because you choose one doesn’t mean you should totally ditch the other! Even though your primary focus may revolve around one type of exercise, it is extremely important to include the other in your daily workout plan as well.

Read on to learn more about cardio and weightlifting exercises, and how a physical therapist can help you figure out how to get a good balance in between the two for your daily workout schedule.

Why Is Cardio Important?

Cardio exercises, or “aerobic exercise” as it’s also commonly referred to as, involves any kind of physical activity that increases your blood flow and gets your heart rate up. It’s recommended to get at least two and a half hours of cardio exercise per week. Some examples of cardio activities are as follows.

  • Speed walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Running

According to Healthline, “Aerobic exercise is recommended by the American Heart Association and by most doctors to people with, or at risk for, heart disease. That’s because exercise strengthens your heart and helps it more efficiently pump blood throughout the body. Cardiovascular exercise can also help lower blood pressure, and keep your arteries clear by raising “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lowering “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood.”

There are tons of benefits to cardiovascular exercise as well! A few are listed below.

  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
  • Reduces chronic pain symptoms
  • Regulates sleep
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Improves mood

If you want to learn more about cardiovascular exercise and how to safely incorporate them into your daily routine, contact our office today. One of our skilled physical therapists will be able to assess your body, strength and goals, and help create the most effective, efficient workout routine possible.

Why Is Weightlifting Important?

It is a good idea for a person who is focusing on endurance to work a few weightlifting exercises into their routine. The same is true for people who are weightlifting. You will only go so far with your progress without some degree of endurance. The key is to create a healthy balance between the two, and remember to constantly change your workouts so your body does not fall into a routine!

One common misconception people have about weightlifting is that it’s only meant for those who are trying to build bigger, bulky muscles. This isn’t true at all. In fact, according to Forbes, “weightlifting can create non-bulky muscles that have stronger thicker fibers, which with power training have shown to enhance performance in endurance sports.” You don’t have to be a wrestler or professional athlete to lift weights!

Just like cardio exercise, there is a whole list of benefits that come with weight training! A few are as follows:

  • Building muscles combat the buildup of fat
  • Improves mood
  • Lowers risk of developing diseases such as diabetes
  • Improves heart health
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Speeds up metabolism
  • Stimulates bone tissue growth

If you want to learn more about weightlifting and how to make sure you’re lifting the right amount for your body, a physical therapist can help you out!

Contact Our Office Today

When it comes to setting fitness goals, changing things up and keeping them interesting is key! Make sure that you’re trying out new exercises to challenge yourself. Push your limits on occasion to find out just how well you are doing. A physical therapist can assess your current abilities and help you figure out the correct and safest plan of action when it comes to your fitness goals.

You may be surprised at your progress once you determine what type of exercises will best fit your needs, whether your workout ends up being more cardio heavy, or more oriented around lifting weights. Be sure to decide on a few goals first, such as “I want to lose weight and build muscle!” or “I want to improve my overall health.” Once you have those answers, you’re off to a great start!

Contact TheraFit offices in Hazel Green, AL and Fayetteville, TN today for more information. We’re here to help make your fitness journey a successful one!

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4 Types of Stretches That Can Dramatically Benefit Your Physical Health

When you begin a workout or physical therapy routine, you should complete a set of stretching exercises beforehand to help you limber up and prevent injuries. However, many people don’t receive any instructions on the proper way to go about stretching for their specific program. A licensed physical therapist can teach you how to complete the correct stretching exercises before you begin your workout. If you aren’t sure what direction to start, contact TheraFit today for more information!

To make sure that you can avoid hurting yourself, here are four types of stretching exercises and their health benefits to guide you!

Passive Stretches

When you think of stretching, you might tend to think of passive techniques. Whether the pose is held by hand or with gravity, one is largely stationary and exerts a force to extend the target muscle by reaching the outer limits of the range of motion.

Poses that can be held for a long time should signal to you that the muscle isn’t reaching its outer capabilities, and warrant a gradual, deeper stretch. Toe touches are stretches meant to strengthen the hamstrings, but they are typically done incrementally.

Passive stretching is great for promoting overall balance and flexibility. The extension of muscles before intense exercise or activity can hinder explosive abilities, making it a better choice for cooling down after a workout rather than immediately prior to major exertion.

Active Stretches

Active stretching techniques require you to hold a position or pose using only the muscles in the corresponding group to the one being targeted. For example, consider an ankle being flexed back and forth. The calf muscles involved in holding your toes in a pointed position or raised toward the shin are referred to as the “agonist” and “antagonist,” as they perform opposing functions. In any stretch, the agonist muscle is the one contracting, the antagonist is the one being extended.

Even though this technique can be applied all over the body, make sure to allow the limbs or joints in question to move naturally through their full range of motion, holding at each end. This is best for warming up before a physical activity, rather than lengthening the muscle as part of a proactive program to improve flexibility.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching

PNF stretching is a set of techniques most commonly utilized in a physical therapy or rehabilitation setting to restore range of motion to an injured or weakened muscle.

For PNF stretches, start by moving the specific limb or target muscle into a stretched position, and then contract that muscle group for 4-6 seconds while a helper or fixed object (like a wall or table) provides resistance that ensures nothing is moving. Release the contraction, and hold the stretched pose in place for 20-30 seconds before shaking loose and taking another 30-45 seconds to relax completely and then repeat in cycles.

By combining both passive and active elements, PNF stretching can be a highly effective choice, and create a safe set of exercises to aid in recovery.

Stretching is all about improving performance and preventing injury, so it’s critical you understand when each one is necessary in order to really enjoy the benefits. You don’t want to get overconfident by moving too quickly in an attempt to speed up gradual improvements!

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching techniques are a bit more interactive because they put the body in motion. Dynamic techniques rely on momentum to flow through a series of repeated movements. One example is a hamstring stretch, in which the leg is kicked upward through its range of motion, and gradually increases in height with each pass.

One example of how dynamic stretching can be utilized in sports is a baseball player or preparing for a throwing motion. They would begin their shoulder warm-up with widening arm circles, expanding the range of motion little by little until the regular full range is accounted for.

It’s important to know your limits when it comes to your own range of motion, as excess momentum can overextend the limb and cause a painful injury to be sustained.

Other Ways Stretching Can Benefit You

There are more ways that stretching can benefit you and help improve your overall performance and health. Healthline lists out a variety things in your life that can be made easier by a regular stretching routine:

  • Improves posture
  • Improves flexibility
  • Helps to heal and prevent back pain
  • Can calm your mind
  • Helps decrease tension headaches
  • Increases range of motion
  • Improves your performance in physical activities
  • Increases blood flow to your muscles

Contact Our Office Today

Whether you’re an athlete in need of some stretching guidance, or you just enjoy working out in your free time and want to make sure you’re avoiding possible injuries, physical therapy can help! One of our trained physical therapists here in the clinic will talk with you about your levels of physical activity and show you simple exercises to make sure you’re staying safe and in shape!

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Should You Be Wearing Weightlifting Shoes In The Gym?

If you’re an athlete or someone who enjoys copious amounts of exercise, you need to maintain a high fitness level. This requires relying on strong core muscles to stabilize our bodies so that we can perform to the best of our ability. One of the primary exercises to strengthen the core is the squat.

This seems like a pretty typical and easy exercise, but in order to perfect it, athletes must improve their form. For squats, this means reducing forward lean, getting the thighs as close to a horizontal position as they can, and keeping the hips at or below knee level. What happens to the feet during this exercise is a matter of debate. Some people think the feet should be flat on the ground. Others believe the heel should be slightly elevated. Those who believe in elevating the heel often choose running or weightlifting shoes.

Read on to learn more about the effects of using weightlifting shoes while squatting!

What Are The Differences Between Weightlifting Shoes and Running Shoes?

Running shoes and weightlifting shoes are two different things. At first glance, weightlifting shoes appear to be the better choice. Most weightlifting shoes come with a lateral stability that running shoes don’t offer, thanks to a wider base and differences in construction, like a less flexible midsole. Running shoes are also cushioned, and absorb energy when exercising. If you lift weights, you want to redirect as much energy as possible during the movement vertically.

Don’t use your running or other athletic shoes for lifting purposes. The ideal lifting shoe should be hard with a raised heel, as this comes in handy with exercises such as squats and deadlifts. You don’t need as much arch support when weightlifting, either.

The differences in cushioning, shape, and construction between weightlifting shoes and other kinds of footwear produce a different result when wearing the weightlifting shoes. Scientific studies can show exactly what kinematic differences will manifest when wearing either type of shoe.

What Happens When You Wear Weightlifting Shoes During Squats?

A study conducted by three researchers at the University of Northern Colorado observed the differences when fit, college-aged males performed repetitions of squats at 60% of their maximum ability. The study participants randomly switched between running shoes and an unnamed brand of weightlifting shoes. The researchers observed the range of motion (ROM), trunk displacement and ankle flexibility.

The weightlifting shoes made a difference with ankle flexion, which was expected due to the lifted position of the heel in weightlifting shoes. This meant it was easier for the study participants to maintain proper squat form during the exercise. Their thighs and hips remained vertical and there was less leaning forward. The knees moved over the toes more easily, which also promoted better form and performance.

The weightlifting shoes also produced less displacement in the torso region than the running shoes did. The athletes exhibited much less forward lean during the exercise and were able to redirect the energy upward. The researchers surmised this was due to less stress on the lower back.

The participants in the study stated they thought it was easier to perform squats in the weightlifting shoes than in the running shoes as well. This may have been due to the reduced stress on the lower back or through some other factors, such as the mental conditioning of being told they were using shoes specifically for weightlifting rather than for running.

To Wear Weightlifting Shoes Or Not….

Weightlifting shoes may not be for you if you’re a runner, but if you spend a lot of time in the gym with barbells and the like, it’s probably a good idea to consider getting a pair! If you’re just starting out, it may be even more beneficial to wear shoes with less heel lift so you can focus on proper form. For strength athletes or powerlifters, weightlifting shoes may help maintain form during heavy lifting or competition.

Proper form when executing squats will help prevent injury. The study results suggest that the weightlifting shoes promote better form, and should then help prevent injury. Athletes at any level of experience can benefit from this aspect of wearing weightlifting shoes while performing squats.

If you aren’t quite sure what kind of shoes would be best for your level of physical activity, no problem. Contact TheraFit today. One of our experts in physical therapy will be able to assess your form, ask questions about the kinds of sports or athletic activity you participate in and make an educated suggestion about what type of footwear would be best suited to your needs!

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